Faerie Wars I: The Six Kingdoms - Part Five
The girls have been gone four days now, Morwen wrote. They should be returning within the next three or four. My scrying bowl has, since the eve of their departure, been muddied and unclear when peering on the enemy tribe; my best conclusion is that great evil took that place, and my apprentices walked through a wretched land. Of course, no harm shall befall them, if what I have done is as I expected.
There is still much to study of them, yet the time is failing. This entry has been prompted by the utmost importance: I have found a prophecy regarding my girls. Near us to the west is a dense forest labyrinth, and I have discovered something most marvelous about the location: it is the home of the Oracles. Many have taken on the form of Neopet, which disgusts me, but nevertheless, I was able to successfully project myself into the labyrinth and capture one. It was in the form of a being of light, the natural state of Oracles, and I procured of it a most thrilling prophecy, which I shall proceed to record in detail.
It appears that the days of the tribes are numbered.
"Erased your names?"
The grey faerie nodded. "They are vanished; they have never been," she explained. "None of us remembers any of our names... and it appears the power of a faerie is tied to her name, as the old stories say."
Nereza frowned. "Haven't there been grey faeries with names?" she questioned. "As according to 'the old stories'?"
The faerie looked over Nereza's shoulder at Uriele. "The light faerie is a story-keeper, is she not? Ask her."
Uriele's frozen shock was rattled when the attention was drawn to her. She rubbed her arms, and dared to step forward till she stood beside her sister. The sight of the grey faeries so close was unnerving.
"What's all this, Ellie?" her sister asked.
Uriele licked her lips nervously. "Well," she began, "the stories say there are many ways to make a faerie grey. One can lose one's wings and become grey, but still retain one's name. The loss of one's name also makes one grey. A lengthy period of great sorrow can do this as well, as can curses. Whatever way one is turned grey, the only cure is to give the faerie a new name. But that is not as easy as it sounds."
"Certainly not," agreed the grey faerie. "A faerie is born with her name. It takes great power to bestow a new one."
"Can I not just give you one?" Nereza wondered.
"It is not that simple," answered Uriele. "For faeries, anyway."
Nereza did not accept that answer. "Well, I am going to try anyway," she declared. "We must do all we can to help."
Uriele looked at her, puzzled. Was not the purpose of coming here to assert 'justice'? Why would Nereza want to help these faeries when leaving them was more than enough punishment for what they did? Still, she stayed silent. She could ask later.
Nereza took the grey faerie's hand in her own, and closed her eyes. All of a sudden, she felt an empty blackness. At the same time, without understanding how, she knew exactly what to do. Something was stirring within her. It was as if she had known this all her life; as if the gift of naming was part of her very being.
She searched through the blackness that was the grey faerie's spirit, and, finding nothing, she settled herself in the center of it. Something bloomed within her, and she felt it cover her entire self, until it was almost overwhelming. Channeling the power into her hands as if she'd done this hundreds of times, she felt it seep into the grey faerie, and the blackness began to glow. Something appeared on her tongue, hot and bright like an ember, and she said it:
Uriele and the other grey faeries had been watching intently as Nereza and the grey faerie whose hand she held began to glow with a bright pink light. Nereza said a word, and the grey faerie burst into flame. The other grey faeries gasped, and began to rush to their leader's side in an attempt to rescue her, but Uriele held up a hand.
"Wait," she said. "Look!"
They did, and saw that the fire engulfing their leader was reaching out into what looked like long wings. The rest of the fire disappeared inside the faerie, who was no longer grey, though not as she was before, either. She had dark skin and her wings were made entirely of fire.
Nuria and Nereza opened their eyes.
"Thank you, Nereza," said Nuria. There was a power behind her voice that seemed to make the very air tremble. "I know not of your methods, but you have rescued me from a woeful future. I would be honored if you might do the same for the rest of my tribe, and in return, we shall ally ourselves with you."
Nereza was a little stunned. "You are most welcome," she said. "And I thank you... the Morwena tribe will appreciate friends—"
"You are mistaken. We will have nothing to do with the tribe run by Morwen the light faerie. We shall ally ourselves with you and you alone."
"We are to replace Morwen as fyora," Uriele put in suddenly. "The both of us. We do not know when that is, however."
Nuria bowed her head to Uriele. "Then when that time comes, we shall befriend your tribe. Until then, it shall be only to Nereza."
Uriele was insulted, and put her fists on her hips. "I will have you know that I am more powerful a magical practitioner than my sister. If she can give back names, then so can I."
She stormed over to another one of the grey faeries and snatched up her hand. The faerie looked at her nervously. Uriele closed her eyes and focused.
Nereza watched, somewhat sheepishly. She almost wished Uriele would fail, so she would have a wondrous ability which her sister would not, but cast away the thought. She would not be envious or spiteful of Uriele. That was unthinkable.
"Ember," said Uriele, and the faerie, like Nuria, was swallowed by fire, which she then absorbed. She was every bit a normal fire faerie, but she was a fire faerie nonetheless.
Despite herself, Nereza felt her stomach sink in bitter disappointment.
"Ha!" The light faerie twirled to face Nuria, smirking triumphantly. "See?"
After all the grey faeries had been healed, Nereza and Uriele were exhausted. They were given beds for the night, and the newly-made Nuria tribe offered them provisions for their journey the next day. Nuria decided to move her tribe far away from this cursed spot, and gave the sisters a small glass sphere with a living flame inside.
"Should you ever have need for us," she said, "merely break this sphere, and we shall come. We are heading into the deserts now. These plains are far too temperate for us, and we have no reason to follow your tribe any longer."
On the travel home, Nereza and Uriele discussed their newfound power. Uriele referred again to old stories, which reminded her sister of what Nuria had called her—a story-keeper.
"What did she mean by that?" Nereza asked.
"I don't know how she knew," replied Uriele, "but Morwen told me once that I have a gift for stories. Namely, I can record them in my mind and never forget them, without ever having to write them down. I do not know if it is a magical gift or simply mundane, but that is all it is."
"So what stories do you have regarding name-giving?"
The light faerie shrugged. "I know little about it, save that the ancient faeries were rumored to have the ability. It may have only been one of them, but I don't actually know. Morwen has not been generous in talk of the ancients, and I cannot decide whether it is because she is withholding information or if she simply knows nothing more."
"Somehow I have a feeling it is the former," Nereza murmured.
There was a period of silence, after which Uriele asked, "Why did we help them? Wasn't the goal to punish them? 'Justice' and all that?"
Nereza stared at her. "You jest, surely. They had been turned grey by wraiths. We had to help them."
"But they're our enemy tribe. Morwen won't approve, you know."
"I don't care if Morwen disapproves," said Nereza hotly. "It was the right thing to do. That is all there is to it."
They arrived home days later to welcoming arms and an oddly impatient fyora. Morwen ushered them away from the crowd and into the tent where she demanded they tell all. Nereza was inclined to say little, but Uriele babbled away, bragging about their accomplishment. One thing she did omit, much to Nereza's surprise, was Nuria's gifting of the sphere to them.
"I see," Morwen said. "Well, while I do not understand your insistence on saving our enemy tribe, Nereza, I am intrigued by this new power you two have discovered."
The dark faerie scowled. Why was she getting blamed? Uriele had been just as eager to help them, after the initial buzz of arrogance had worn off.
"Meanwhile, certain events have prompted me to initiate you two as fyora as soon as possible."
This caught them both by surprise. "What do you mean?" asked Uriele. "Is something happening? Are you all right?"
"I am perfectly fine," replied the fyora. "I will explain it all in good time. I will still be here for guidance if you need it after you have taken on the position. Now, we cannot afford to waste any more time. Get yourselves ready; I shall assemble the tribe."
"Now?" the sisters exclaimed.
"Yes, now. Be outside within ten minutes." Without another word, she left the tent.
Uriele and Nereza looked at each other in amazement. Then they smiled. "It's about time," said Uriele with a laugh. "Let's go change into less-traveled clothing."
"I have some news," Morwen announced. The tribe waited with anticipation; if the fyora had gathered them all, it must be something important. "The time has come at last for me to retire from my post as your fyora."
Fervent, excited chatter broke out. Only Uriele and Nereza remained silent. Nereza felt her sister's hand slide into hers, and she looked at her curiously. The light faerie gave her a reassuring smile, and Nereza felt herself smile back. They squeezed each other's hands. This was it. They were finally going to become the fyora together.
"As you all know, my lovely apprentices, Uriele and Nereza, daughters of the late Demelza, have been training with me for this position for most of their lives. The honored role of fyora is one that belongs to those who are wise, are just, are merciful, and are powerful. The fyora is the protector of the tribe and its secrets, is the leader of the tribe, and gives the tribe its name. As of this moment, we are no longer the Morwena tribe."
Nereza could feel her sister trembling with excitement, and was rather giddy herself. It had been decided long ago that the new tribe name would be a mixture of hers and Uriele's; after a long list of possible names and a subsequent debate, they had settled on Ureza.
"I understand any confusion that this may be sooner than expected," Morwen continued. "Believe me, it is. It is traditional for the fyora to have her apprentice succeed her only in the event that she is no longer able to fulfill her duties. However, there is a pressing need for the change, and while I may not tell you why, it is my dearest wish that you all will accept this choice as much as I have."
A buzz of confusion ran through the crowd. What was Morwen talking about? A pressing need? Was there something that was about to happen? Were they in any danger? Was Morwen ill?
All as well, Nereza thought. Morwen is no longer fit for the role. Ellie and I shall do a far better job.
"And so," exclaimed the fyora, "without any further ado, I relinquish my position to my successor, and take back my name from the tribe. Please pay your respects to your new fyora, as honored members of the Uriela tribe!"
To be continued...