Faerie Wars I: The Six Kingdoms - Part Two
"Well... what do you think?"
What did she think? What did she think?
It was a Neopet; that she knew—she had seen them now and again, but she did not recognize this one's type. It had wings and a tail and claws, and looked almost reptilian; perhaps a dragon of some sort. But that was not the direct issue which concerned Nereza. The creature before her was unmoving, for it was entirely of stone.
"Is... is this a decoration?" she asked stupidly, too befuddled to think properly.
Uriele tapped her finger against her chin as if in thought. "Hmmm, I suppose that that is a possibility. I hadn't quite determined what to do with it yet. Though I am not yet certain the effects of the spell are permanent."
The dark faerie looked at her sister, aghast. "You—" She pointed accusingly at the stone Neopet. This was beyond her comprehension. "You did this?!"
"Indeed!" said Uriele proudly. "Do you see now why I did not fear danger? I am positive I could do it again."
Nereza gaped. "I... I thought it was... a stone carving you had found," she breathed. "I thought with dread that it was the sign of some great Neopet civilization we knew not of, or... or something else as terrible."
The light faerie laughed. "Ha! Don't be absurd, Nezzie. A Neopet civilization? The very idea!"
"Do not laugh; it could very well happen someday. But it is not so horrible as this!" She flung her arm out to indicate the statue. "You turned a living creature to stone—to living death!"
"It is only one Neopet," Uriele retorted, waving her hand dismissively. She was irritated and hurt that her sister was not happy or excited about this amazing new development in her skills as a magician. "There are plenty of others. Besides, I am not even entirely certain as to this one's type... I did not get around to asking it, unfortunately."
Nereza scowled. "Why is it in this position, Ellie?" she demanded. The mysterious Neopet was frozen in what appeared to be the beginning of a run. Only one foot touched the ground, and its wings were poised as if to take flight. Its stone eyes were undeniably fearful. "Why does it look as if it were running away from you?"
"It was. I was turning it to stone, for goodness' sake."
The dark faerie took a deep breath to calm her anger and to settle her extremely rattled nerves. Slowly, she asked, "What happened? Tell me everything."
Morwen the Fyora, a light faerie, looked up from the tome she had been working on. The bowl of rose petal water to her left had rippled. She frowned. That was strange. She put down her quill and took a closer look. At first, nothing happened. Then, after five moments had passed, it rippled again, and harder.
She ground her teeth. This was not supposed to happen today. Quickly, she returned to her tome and wrote:
They are not yet due, and yet they come now. My apprentices are away in the woods, safe from harm. They shall meet sorrow upon their return... I believe the ultimate sorrow will now come to pass.
I must away, and hide myself, for my life is precious. It is not yet my time. I must make haste, and hide this book, for if the enemy would find it, and obtain it for their own, all is lost.
Perhaps—and I am reluctant in this idea—but perhaps I must hasten the ascension of my apprentices into fyora. Uriele is magically competent, but foolish, while her sister Nereza requires further training, yet is wise, albeit mayhap too cautious for proper leadership.
The rose petals sway harder; I must go now, if I am to survive the attack.
The magician gathered her staff as well as the tome, and pulled back the rug on which she had sat. A magical earthen trapdoor, which looked no different from the rest of the ground, lay underneath. She waved her staff and the door's outlines began to glow with a dim light until the ground entirely faded away. There were narrow stairs beneath, and she hurried down them. Knocking her staff twice on the roof of the door, the rug flew back into place and the door solidified, hidden once more.
"I was wandering through these woods, which I happened upon one night during my solitary travels. Now, don't make that face, you knew I sneaked out some nights! In any event, I happened upon this clearing, and I found this bizarre creature all by itself. I had wanted to practice my magic in a place where I could be thoroughly undisturbed. You can imagine my surprise and frustration upon finding this Neopet.
"It seemed afraid of me, as Neopets rightfully are of faeries, and should certainly be of me. I decided then and there that I would practice on the creature. Oh, I spoke to it at first—making consolations and the sort, saying I was not going to hurt it and it had nothing to fear, though naturally I was lying. Of course, the thing did not understand me at all, as Neopets do not speak—"
"Neopets can speak," Nereza corrected, annoyed by her sister's supremacist attitude.
"They do not speak the faerie tongue, if what you say is true," Uriele continued, cross at the interruption. "Some crude Neopet speak, doubtless. Anyway, I knew I had to keep the thing still, or it would run away from me and I would be unable to perform more spells on it. I tried a basic Standstill spell, and was successful, but for only a moment. Before I could do anything more, it burst from my magic and turned to run. I thought as quickly as I could, and cast a spell, thinking of nothing but freezing the creature solid in its tracks. When the spell hit true, the thing stopped instantly. I approached it and found it had been turned entirely to stone. It has been two weeks now and the effects have not worn off. I'm not entirely certain how I did it, but I did."
The dark faerie was silent. She didn't know what to say.
"Perhaps..." she said finally, almost breathing her words. "Perhaps you can use it against wraiths?"
Uriele sighed. "Are those all you think about?" she demanded. "You know they do not exist. They are tales one tells children at night to make them behave."
Nereza shot her sister a dark glance. "I fear for you, Ellie. For are the wraiths not the very reason we cannot stay in one place? Have you not yourself seen the desolation of places where they have walked? You know not what you say."
"Just stop it!" Uriele cried. "You do not support me, ever! You have clearly no idea what a feat this is; what power I have. You are only thinking of how you would best use it! Wraiths, pah... I am just so certain. It is unfair that I shall have to share the title of fyora with you, when it so clearly is fit for only me!"
"How dare you," said Nereza, but she stopped short, for she was trembling. The fear, anger, and shock she had experienced, combined with this new pain wrought by her sister, was simply too much to handle. She turned away fiercely so her sister would not see the tears streaking down her face. Bitterly, she snapped, "You are selfish and cruel, with no regard for anyone but yourself. You will be an unfit leader. You will lead our tribe to ruin."
A few moments passed where neither faerie said a word. Nereza, with her back to her sister, began to suddenly fear for her own safety, despite herself.
She turned slowly. Uriele was looking downcast, her hair casting her face in shadow. She was breathing heavily.
"Ellie... forgive me. Please, may we go home?"
The light faerie's jaw clenched, and she turned her head away. Nereza saw her tighten her fists.
Frightened, she cried loudly, "Ellie!"
Almost instantly, as if broken from a spell, Uriele's demeanor changed. She looked at her sister, her eyes ringed with terror, and then ran to her. Nereza accepted the embrace warmly, though it felt more like a desperate clutching than an embrace.
Meanwhile, Uriele's eyes remained wide, and she was shaking noticeably. She had been so blinded by her anger, she had contemplated attacking her sister. She had thought, I'll turn her to stone. She can rot here with this Neopet for the rest of eternity. But upon regaining her senses, she had become afraid of herself.
I'll never do that. I can never do that.
"Please, Ellie," murmured her sister, breaking her out of her thoughts. "Let us return home and forget all this."
Uriele nodded, and they let go of each other. She called her ball of light back to her, and, taking her sister's hand, hurried as quickly as she could out of the forest.
They knew something had happened before they'd even got there.
The two sisters were completely devoid of expression as they took in the scene. Some of the tents were still burning. There were several injured faeries strewn about the ground, which was scorched in places, and more still sitting up or by the wounded. The entire village was smoking.
"Fire faeries," Nereza whispered when she could breathe again.
Their tribe, which was made up of a grand total of twenty-one faeries, consisted of fourteen air faeries, two light faeries, four earth faeries, and one dark faerie. Just as faeries and Neopets were not friendly toward each other, faerie tribes in general kept to themselves. It was not uncommon to have enemies.
As it were, the Morwena Tribe, so named after their fyora, had a particularly poor relationship with most fire, dark, and earth tribes, despite having earth and dark faeries of their own. The insignia of one of their great enemies, the Faratha Tribe, was burned on the ground in the center of all the tents; the center of the village. Nearly everyone was hurt.
"Where is Morwen?" asked Uriele quietly, noticing the absence of their fyora. "Why is she not helping our people?"
Uriele remained rooted to the spot, but Nereza walked forward into the wreckage. "Mother?" she called. "Mother!"
An air faerie, called Annalys, was leaning against a tent post. She had scratches and burn marks on her arms but nothing very serious. She had been lucky. She approached Nereza, walking with a small limp.
"Nezza, Uri," she said, "where have you been? Thank goodness you were not here..."
"Annalys." Nereza said the name almost bewilderingly. "Annalys... where is our mother? I do not see her among the... injured..."
At this, Annalys, who had not yet cried, broke down into tears. She fell against Nereza, who held her gently, worry seizing her chest.
"Oh, Nezza. We were so lucky. It could have been so much worse. Almost everyone should be just fine."
"Annalys, please," urged Nereza. "My mother."
The air faerie sobbed. "Demelza... your mother... she died."
To be continued...