Faerie Wars I: The Six Kingdoms - Part Seven
Uriele watched in despair as Nereza fell away from her and she was forced to fly with Morwen away from the tribe until she could no longer see it. They were accompanied by two air faeries who were leading the way. They explained to Morwen when she asked that the Light Kingdom was several days' flight away and was located in a glorious plain by the sea. The Water Kingdom was, as expected, in the middle of the ocean; the Fire Kingdom in the desert; the Earth Kingdom in the northern forests; and the Dark Kingdom in the dark western woods, rather nearby where their tribe had been.
What caught Uriele's attention most was that the Air Kingdom was located on a cloud to the north. She thought over the placement of the kingdoms and couldn't help but notice their similarity to the old stories... the stories she had just told her sister only a week earlier.
The air faeries kept to the clouds, while the earth faeries made their homes in forest dens, fire faeries in the heart of volcanoes and deserts, the light faeries in the open and sunny fields, the dark faeries in caves and under the ground, and the water faeries in the oceans.
With the exception of the dark faeries, almost all the locations were almost the same. And it made sense, she knew; if the ancient faeries had developed into types because of their locations, lifestyles, and the magic they used, what could possibly be more appropriate?
They eventually made camp for the night, and Morwen cast a barrier to hide against wraiths before Uriele could. Morwen did not bother to warn her about running away, for they both knew she would not. She clutched her staff tightly, and realized that she did not miss her sister.
Who was she, anyway, to think we could be equals? she thought bitterly. And how would we share this? It belongs to me now... It could never accept her as its master.
During her training, Morwen had explained that in order for the staff to accept a new master, it had to have been given freely by its previous one. Otherwise it would not work properly. Well, she would never give it up. Already it felt like a dear friend, and an incredible symbol of her power and status. Though what status she may have in a kingdom with every light faerie in the world, she couldn't say...
She stood up. The obedience spell had worn off during the fly, though she had already accepted that there was nothing she could do but go along. She glanced at the air faeries and Morwen, all of whom were sleeping. She had been given the first watch. She had to laugh at the thought, though she knew they were only sleeping because they knew she wouldn't leave. In a way, that irritated her.
She walked over to where the first air faerie was and lifted a hand. It wouldn't matter if one air faerie kidnapper was turned to stone, would it? She was better than them all anyway, and she would prove it.
She sought inside her the power she had been perfecting in secret for the past year. She had had only leaves and sometimes trees to work with for the most part, but it was all purely experimental, of course. Only recently had she bothered to try to take the spell off and found that she didn't know how. If there was a way, she hadn't figured it out yet.
Suddenly, as she began to cast the spell, dark blue sparks shocked her hand, and spread quickly to the rest of her. It was incredibly painful and, with a cry, she fell to her knees. She dismissed the spell and the feeling of being burned began to fade.
"What in the world?" she muttered to herself.
"What in the world indeed," came a voice behind her. She turned, but it was only Morwen, looming over her.
"Let us take a walk, Uriele."
She extended a hand, and after a moment's hesitation, Uriele took it. Morwen helped her back on her feet, and they walked through the barrier. Uriele protested, but Morwen cut her off, saying, "Fear not; you don't need the protection."
Uriele frowned, wondering what in the world she could mean by that, but said nothing. The air seemed colder than it had been within the barrier.
"Now, Uriele," began Morwen, "listen to me. I named you fyora so soon because I foresaw this event. While you and your sister were out on your silly little adventure, my scrying bowl began to show a vision, and I looked; and I saw that the tribes were almost all but vanished. We will be safer in the Light Kingdom, Uriele, as will Nereza in the Dark. I do not suggest that you go after her."
"I did not intend to," said Uriele, a little surprised that that was true. "Perhaps some time apart is what we need. She could not accept your decision... Our decision..."
"Well, of course not. I betrayed her, and so did you."
Uriele felt as if she had been struck across the face. A single tear slid down her cheek.
"I am so conflicted," she admitted quietly. "I wanted—I still want—the power and the position all to myself. Though I suppose there is no position for me anymore... I am so much better than she at magic; how could we ever be equals? And yet... I am ashamed. She is my sister, after all."
"She is more than your sister," said Morwen. "One day, Uriele, you will know the truth, and understand everything. But now is not the time."
Uriele looked curiously at her former mentor, who stopped walking and turned to face her.
"Do not perform any more of your dark magic, Uriele," she warned. "It will only bring about misfortune."
"You know that of which I speak. That magic which you meant to use on our escorts. Well, do not harm them. Let them take you to the Light Kingdom. I am going to tell you this now and vanish, possibly forever; do not seek me out."
Uriele gripped her staff tighter. "You're going to leave me?" she squeaked. "All by myself?"
"Nereza is all by her own self," Morwen reminded her. "She hasn't a friend in the world anymore."
At the thought of her sister, Uriele lowered her head and let her hair fall in her face. Morwen would have none of it, though, and took the young faerie's chin in her hand and forced it up. They locked eyes.
"I also had a vision," continued Morwen, "that you would become a great queen one day. Rule and protect as you see fit. I have faith in you."
She left no time for Uriele to speak, and drew away suddenly, almost fading into the air, before disappearing completely.
When finally she slept, Uriele dreamed vividly of things she did not understand. She saw the silhouette of a faerie, which she reached for; the faerie became purple, and she recognized her as an ancient. The faerie was sad, and Uriele soon realized that it was because she was trapped within a glass bottle. Uriele had heard of these glass bottles—containers on which faerie magic did not work, and from which a faerie could never escape on her own—and had had many nightmares as a child once she had learned of them. She felt a surge of fear at the sight of the bottle, but was relieved that the faerie inside was not herself.
The ancient faerie pressed her hands against the inside of the bottle, and then pounded them against the glass, apparently yelling, though Uriele heard not a sound. The faerie's eyes caught sight of something, and they widened in horror; she pressed herself against the opposite side of the bottle. Uriele tried to look but saw only a shadow of writhing black and purple descending forth.
Suddenly, a large hand took hold of the bottle, and pulled free the cork, releasing the faerie inside. The shadow met to swallow the faerie and the two fell into a crucible. The large hand and its double surrounded the bowl and began to glow with magic.
Inside the crucible, the shadow laughed at the faerie and spoke to it in a language Uriele didn't understand. The faerie angrily screamed her protest and attempted to protect herself, but then the two were stunned and made powerless by the magic of the hands. The scene then faded away.
In its place, a darkness rose up and surrounded Uriele. It asked a question, and its voice sounded like knives scraping together, but Uriele understood it.
You can give names, it said, challengingly. Can you take them away, fyora?
Uriele woke with a start, sitting straight up. She was sweating and trembling, and her heart was beating fast. She tried to grasp at the memory of her dream, so as to not forget it, but the harder she grasped, the further it slipped away. She could remember nothing, but was filled with a strange sensation, and plagued by a terrifying idea.
The two air faeries were still asleep beside her. It was not yet dawn, but almost. She saw no sign of Morwen, and then remembered that she had left. A feeling of loneliness descended upon her, but she managed to shake it off.
She had something else to consider.
To be continued...