Faerie Wars I: The Six Kingdoms - Part Ten
Fyora abandoned her illusion, and was suddenly standing alone in her tower. She sank to her knees, and her hands shook terribly as she threw the hood back from her face. Her staff lay fallen beside her.
Nereza had recognized her. She had worked so hard to keep her true identity a secret, and now it was all for naught. Worse yet, her sister had exposed her in front of the entire council—that ridiculous council the Dark Queen had set up. Now all the faerie queens knew her for a fraud.
Well, that's what you are, aren't you? came the treacherous voice of her conscience. She squeezed her eyes shut tightly and pressed her hands to her ears, but the thoughts were coming from within. When she opened her eyes again, she looked around desperately for her mirror. It lay against her bureau, and gripped its sides tightly, turning it toward her and looking into her reflection.
She was wild-eyed, with some hair falling into her face. For a moment she looked crazed, but it quickly faded, and she decided she'd imagined it. Even after ten years, she still found it strange to see herself this way—purple everything, even eyes. She knew she looked the part of an ancient faerie, but she couldn't possibly fathom why. She was one of the youngest faeries in the world. The ancients were all either gone, or had become typed.
That night, ten years ago, when Morwen had abandoned her and left her to her nightmares, she had dreamed a terrible idea, and had that morning done what she knew no other creature had ever done before: she gave herself a new name.
The darkness in her nightmare had challenged her and planted the seed of the idea in her mind, and she knew it would never go away. She didn't dare try it on anyone else; that would be too cruel, and if she were unsuccessful, she would be no better than a wraith—than a monster.
"You can give names. Can you take them away, fyora?"
She had known fully well that the darkness had been addressing her by her title, and yet it seemed to suit her for a name. She acknowledged the gross hubris that would be associated with such a name, but she hadn't cared. If she were truly capable of such a fantastic feat of magical power, then surely she deserved the name.
The process had been both grueling and simple—grueling in that it sapped her of all her energy, and she fell into a sleep that lasted a whole day; simple in that she found the task extremely easy to perform. She had gone inside herself to where the magic of her name resided, and then cut the thread, erasing the name Uriele forever. Quickly, she did like she had done with the grey faeries, and a new thread was created inside her, and Fyora the Faerie was born.
When she woke, she found her entire body transformed. She was no longer a light faerie; no longer had a type. No one knew what she was, except those who happened to know the old tales. She, naturally, knew what she was instantly. As to why she was what she was, she couldn't say.
Regardless, she had been accepted into the Light Kingdom, and joined the Light Fyoras, as was her right. There she stayed for six years, until she could no longer stand the tedium of the whole charade. She served Queen Endrita faithfully, but the queen refused to give her higher status for her superb magical abilities. Naturally, Fyora kept her naming powers and her stone-turning ability to herself; those were not things she planned to ever share. Despite this, she was still clearly more powerful than any of the other fyoras. Since renaming herself, her power had flourished and grown beyond what she could have ever imagined. It was as if her old name was holding back her potential, and this was the real faerie she was born to be all along.
Of course, she had experienced hostility regarding her name. For a long time no one believed it was her true name, but eventually they came around when they realized how immensely powerful she was. Still, she had no friends in the Light Kingdom. She was truly and utterly alone, just as she had left her sister.
"You're going to leave me? All by myself?"
"Nereza is all by her own self. She hasn't a friend in the world anymore."
Fyora often wondered if that was still true. Nereza was personable, so surely she had made friends in the Dark Kingdom. It also became evident over time that Nereza was pursuing a relentless search to find her. Only Fyora knew what had happened to Uriele, and she did not plan to divulge that secret to anyone, lest it get back to Nereza.
There were a multitude of reasons why she did not want to be found by her sister... but if she were to be completely honest with herself, it was because she was ashamed. How could she face Nereza now, after she had betrayed her, abandoned her, and then renamed herself? So when she discovered, shortly after becoming queen, that the Dark Queen's advisor was her sister, she knew she could never attend the meeting—or, at least, not without a disguise. She had to project herself there from the safety of her tower; otherwise, they would force her to show her face. It was the only way. And yet...
And yet, Nereza still knew it was her! She had let her guard down; she had exposed her disbelief in the wraiths. That alone would have identified her. How could she have been so foolish?
Fyora put her face in her hands and ran them through her hair, trying to breathe properly. Worst of all, not only had she been discovered by her sister, but she had made a complete and utter fool of herself in front of the council by letting her anger and her pride get the best of her. She had, in the presence of the five other faerie queens and their highest officials, declared war on the Dark Kingdom.
War... It was the last thing she wanted. But did she have a choice now? Her anger had consumed her, surely, but if she did not follow through, she would look like an impetuous and emotional child, thoroughly unfit to be a queen. She had to keep her title. She had worked hard for it. She deserved it. She could not let it slip through her fingers, not when she finally had it in her grasp.
"So, war it is, then," she murmured to herself. She stared into her reflection, and realized there were tears in her eyes. She wiped them away and pulled herself together. She had an announcement to make to her people, and she needed to look presentable, not half-mad.
It does not need to last long, she thought. Just long enough to save face. And anyway, the people would do it themselves. She wondered if this were the type of 'great queen' Morwen had seen she would be.
As she descended the tower to make her announcement, she wondered also briefly about what she had become, but pushed the question away. A memory from eleven years ago rose to mind to fill its place.
"Let me tell you something, Uriele," said Morwen, lighting the tent with her magic and slamming shut the thick, heavy tome she had been writing in. "It is true that we feud with fire and earth faeries, and that the common enemy of faeries are the wraiths. But do not be fooled: the true enemies are dark faeries. They are made of shadow and darkness, which are things of wraiths, things of evil. In fact I have suspicions that they are, in fact, faeries born of wraith-stuff."
"Nezzie is a dark faerie," said Uriele skeptically. "She is not evil."
"No, and thank goodness for that," the elder faerie replied. "I believe that is largely due to being raised by air faeries, however. Had she been raised by her own kind, well... who can say?"
Uriele said nothing. This conversation was making her uncomfortable.
"You see this book, Uriele?" Morwen patted the tome. "Someday it will be yours. The truth is in these pages, and someday you will know."
"Know what?" asked Uriele, curiosity blooming within her. "What truth? What's in there?" She reached for it, but Morwen lifted it up and tossed it into the air. It spun quickly and then vanished.
"You are my great accomplishment in this life, Uriele. You and your sister."
Uriele grinned. "Maybe for Nezzie, sure. She works hard and needs your guidance. But I have raw talent."
"And an ego too large for this tent," scolded Morwen. "You'd do best to keep that in check. Pride can do great damage if left to its own devices. Do not let it rule you, even for a moment. When you and your sister are fyora, you must be vigilant that your pride does not destroy this tribe."
The light faerie scowled. "I love this tribe," she insisted. "I would never do something like that. I am not wicked."
"One is not wicked for leading their tribe to ruin if they had the tribe's best interest in mind and made a mistake. One is wicked for letting one's own agenda get in the way of what is good, and what is right."
Fyora gave her announcement and received a mixed response—cheers from some, silence from others. She gazed at her subjects from her balcony up high, her face saved from humiliation at her folly, and knew she was a fraud. She doubted she would even personally see this war she had just begun. So, Morwen, she thought, am I wicked now?
As her subjects hurried to make their preparations, some more eager than others to begin, she murmured to herself, "I must be."
To be continued...