The Spells of Slumber: Part Three
The particular feeling something was going to happen hadn't left Jerdana the following day, even though the day seemed a normal one. The council had met in the palace garden, to discuss matters concerning the city of Altador. Fauna had been right; it looked like Torakor was recovering quickly from his injuries.
Yet things were not as normal as they seemed to be. Never before, Jerdana had seen a king teach his queen the art of archery to protect herself. It had to be said that Monya was no ordinary queen, though. The Spotted Lupe had been a servant for most of her live, until King Altador and Herme rescued her from under the collapsed building where once Altador's sister used to live. Altador had promised he would make Monya a queen and he was known to keep his word.
Either Altador was a really good teacher, or Monya was really talented, for she was almost as good with a bow and an arrow as Altador himself. It looked like the archery lesson was actually turning into a competition between Altador and Monya and neither of them was willing to loose!
The Air Faerie Psellia, one of the members of the council, could not have chosen a worse time to fly in, doing her very best to avoid two arrows. The message she had was enough to take everyone's mind off bows and arrows right away.
"Averna is under attack!"
There was no need to tell who was attacking Averna; the island's magic was strong enough to withstand the attack of most Neopian rulers. Most Faeries on the other hand would not even think about attacking this place of ancient Faerie magic.
"No!" Jerdana cried.
"So that's where the Darkest Faerie went," Herme said, pondering, "but why would she attack Averna?"
"I think because the island means a lot to us," Monya said thoughtfully. "She's trying to hurt us in that way, bring our moral down by attacking a place that has been sacred and untouched for centuries. Besides, to make it more personal, Altador has always given his protection to Averna and Jerdana, well, we know she was raised there and still sees it somewhat as her home."
"It's not what you think it is, Monya," Jerdana said, shocked, when she started to realize why the Darkest Faerie had attacked Averna.
Yes, it was true. King Altador had been the protector of the small island for a long time. It had been true deep in her heart Jerdana would always be a sorceress of Averna. By hitting Averna, the Betrayer was hitting them in a place that was dear to them. But it was only a side effect she would have enjoyed for sure.
"She's after Averna's magic. Averna has the largest collection of spell books of all Neopia. What is even worse is how it is the only place where still spells of ancient Faerie magic are being kept. Those spells date from a time when the Faeries where even more powerful, when their magic ran deeper than it does today. A time when they were more willing to share their magic with common, yet magically gifted Neopets. I've seen those spells; I've been taught how to use them. If she gets her hands on them... There is no hope left for the future. It will not be just Altador, it will be all of Neopia that will fall for her!"
The council had listened to Jerdana, stunned and in total silence. Averna was a place they all loved and the attack on the island was bad enough news already. The idea that the Darkest Faerie would take Averna's magic and use it somehow for her own plans, whatever those might be, was much more disturbing.
"It's true what Jerdana is saying. If she really gets her hands on the magic that is kept in Averna," Psellia whispered, "then we are lost."
"Mirinam is a strong sorceress," Herme said. "Surely she'll do anything in her might to prevent that from happening."
There was a shadow on Jerdana's face, when the old conflict flared up in her again.
"Mirinam has both the knowledge and power to stop the Darkest Faerie. But to do so, she'll have to use powerful ancient Faerie magic, which she refuses."
"The use of this incredible powerful ancient kind of magic is frowned upon by many Faeries these days and Fyora is known to be strongly opposed to using it," Psellia nodded, "still, if it the only thing that can prevent a disaster..."
"We need to do something!" Monya shouted.
"We'll never make it to Averna in time." King Altador sounded worried. "All that will be left for us to do is...."
None of the council and Monya ever found out what King Altador thought there would be left for them to do, because Jerdana's spell was searing through the air like a golden arrow. Those who followed its direction knew it was aimed at Averna straight away.
Jerdana tried to look as steady as possible; the long distance spell asked a lot of her strength.
"We'll make it in time, because I just stopped the time on Averna."
She cast Herme a look.
"This is the third Spell of Slumber."
If there would be any need to use ancient Faerie magic to stop the Darkest Faerie, it would be best to start using it right away.
Guided on the waves by Marak, the Wave and guardian of the sea's and blow forward by Psellia's air magic, the ship with the sun sign of Altador on its sail was almost soaring through the sea. Jerdana could feel how the spell she had cast was wearing off. The third Spell of Slumber only worked for several hours. It wouldn't matter. Those few hours would be enough.
She felt how the magical barrier that usually protected the island appeared and raised her arms. The spell she spoke was only a simple one, but it has only been known to the sorceresses of Averna. Fluently the ship glided through the barrier. While this was happening, Jerdana realised the Spell of Slumber was wearing off. Time would soon have its normal course on Averna again. Even though she had bought them some time in that way, they still needed to hurry.
Averna was burning.
Fire magic had always been a strength of the Darkest Faerie and she had used it when attacking the island. If it had not yet been guessed yet she had been after Averna's magic, it had been clear now. All the buildings were people used to live were on fire, but the larger building, that held the library and the vault containing several magical objects was untouched.
With Altador and Herme standing close beside her, Jerdana was looking at the disaster. It looked like most inhabitants, both the sorceresses as the island people had been able to get to safety in time, but it also looked like no one had tried to put up a fight.
Even now, Mirinam looked dignified when she was walking towards them.
"Good King Altador," she said, "my island has been destroyed by the one who has been called the Darkest Faerie. I ask you to offer us refugee."
"Were you and your sorceresses unable to protect the place?"
The king asked the question Jerdana had wanted to ask.
"There was no fighting against her. I ordered my students and sorceresses not to fight, for if I would not have been able to fight against her, no one would be."
"Yet a fight without hope would be more honourable then a simple surrender. The Darkest One would not have spared you once she had finished what she had to do here. There was no guarantee we would be able to come, while at the same time, you had enough magic here to defend the place for a long time."
Mirinam looked stubbornly at King Altador.
"Even if that was the case, I gave orders not to fight. Our magic is not to be used for an ordeal like this."
"Why?!" Jerdana felt there were tears in her eyes. "Why didn't you even try to stand up against her, Mirinam? You have the magic, why didn't you use it?"
When Mirinam answered, it was like nothing had changed. As if Jerdana wasn't one of the greatest sorceresses who currently lived in Neopia, but still an apprentice who wanted to use magic that was beyond her reach.
"These spells are there to be conserved, Jerdana. They were never meant to used by ordinary Neopians."
"Not even to save Averna? Or Neopia for that matter?" Jerdana yelled out. "What's the point of conserving spells if you cannot even use them to save everything you care about?"
For one moment, Jerdana thought Mirinam would use her magic to strike at her, and she drew upon her own power to raise a magical shield. However, either Mirinam was able to restrain herself, or she had very little magic left, for she only shouted at Jerdana.
"You don't understand! These spells you are talking about, full of ancient Faerie magic, you don't cast them in an instant. Maybe I don't have the courage to cast them, but when it comes down to it, you'll never have the courage to cast any of these spells either!"
Jerdana felt how the magic was searing inside her. It was crawling under her skin, ready to be used. She wanted to act; she needed to act, or else there would soon nothing be left to fight for. Mirinam already had given up, but Jerdana wouldn't let the Darkest Faerie get het hands on the powerful spells. Not as long as she still had any magic left to fight with.
With a cry she turned herself away from Mirinam and ran toward the buildings where once students had lived and learned. King Altador did not try to stop her.
Even though Jerdana had left Averna more than many years ago, she knew the place better than most of its inhabitants. She could have found the way to the library with her eyes closed if she wanted to. This part of the buildings wasn't on fire; no one had been there yet. Jerdana breathed out with relief. She had arrived here in time; it was not yet too late.
Then suddenly she heard a voice.
"I knew you would come, Jerdana."
Jerdana turned around, while raising her magical shield at the same time. She felt how magic was almost dripping from her fingertips, making her ready to strike out.
She stood at the entrance of the library, her large bat-like wings filling up the place, her hands filled with flames and her eyes glowing red with power.
The Darkest Faerie.
She too was ready to strike out with her magic.
It was between the two of them now.
To be continued...