The Sleeper of Altador: Part Two
A desert Aisha and a faerie Ixi landed in the Lost Desert a few hours after they received the emergency neomail from Jerdana, Altador's famed sorceress. Biscuit, the desert Aisha, had spent the Virtupets ship ride concocting the best plan to apprehend their villain, and she delegated the task of contacting Torikor, their blue Grarrl commander, to Ciebatta, her faerie Ixi partner.
Torikor, who was better known as the illustrious gladiator of Altador, immediately set to work notifying the leaders heading to the Lost Desert summit that their lives were in imminent danger. Unfortunately, none of them seemed too keen on stopping the meeting altogether. With the threat of the Darkest Faerie looming uncomfortably close, they were even more convinced that they must have the meeting at once, even at the risk of exposing themselves to her. They reasoned that they were an order of the most powerful Neopians in the world, so they would be able to hold their own against their old enemy.
Torikor and Biscuit, however, were convinced otherwise. It seemed that after several wars, these Neopians still had not learned that the Darkest Faerie could not be left to chance, no matter how optimistic the situation looked. They had underestimated her before, and now they were about to make the same mistake. After consulting Jerdana on the type of time spells that the missing book in the Altadorian Archives contained, Biscuit ascertained that the Darkest Faerie was going to take advantage of the congregation of Neopia's most powerful leaders and try to freeze them all in time, effectively erasing them from the planet.
"Ciebatta," Biscuit addressed after they had finished going over the plans, "we're going to have to split up and cover as much ground as possible. Try to find our thief contacts and see if they have spotted the Darkest Faerie anywhere. I will stay and protect the pets at the summit."
Ciebatta nearly whimpered. This was not his idea of a simple work day; not in the slightest. "And if I do find her?" he asked meekly, not really anticipating a positive response.
Biscuit stopped in her tracks. She turned on her heel, and smiled gently at the faerie Ixi. She swatted his arm reassuringly and said, "You'll do what's best for the world, of course. I have complete faith in you, Agent Puff Pastry."
And with that, she took off for Sakhmet Palace, leaving Ciebatta in the dust while he watched her form melt into the horizon. "Complete faith, eh?" Ciebatta sighed, the corners of his mouth curled upwards. "I wish I felt the same about myself, too."
* * *
The Sakhmet Palace was about a twenty minute Eyrie taxi ride from the Virtupets port that they had landed at. Unfortunately, Biscuit did not have that sort of time. So, she wisely threw a couple of pets out of a nearby Uni carriage and barked at the Nightsteed-resembling Unis to take her to the palace on the order of the Altador Defenders. The Unis merely snorted at her threat, but the desert Aisha narrowed her eyes dangerously and squared her shoulders, suddenly transforming from a dainty little girl to a seasoned boxer.
She got to the palace in less than two minutes.
As the carriage closed in on the palace, Biscuit's heart sank. A magical shield of some sort was surrounding the premises, and hysterical villagers were milling about the perimeter, trying to either get through or flee. Inside the shield, unconscious Sakhmet palace guards lay strewn about the stone steps, and Biscuit feared that she was too late. The Darkest Faerie seemed to have arrived already, and was no longer taking precautions to conceal her presence.
Biscuit shoved her way through the crowd, tossing villagers aside as easily as the Uni carriage had swept up cabbage stands on the way here. Upon reaching the shield, she first tried breaking through with brute force. That didn't work. She then whipped out her trusty Ylanas Blaster and fired a few shots at it, but only succeeded in producing a few ephemeral holes in the field. However, they were of a decent size, so Biscuit fired another volley of shots, ripping a hole in the shield big enough for her to slip through before it closed again.
The desert Aisha then flew up the stairs and barged through the unguarded entrance doors. The inside of the palace resembled the outside, with an even more disturbing number of palace guards lying unconscious on the polished marble floor, or slumped against the wall. But where were the leaders all meeting? Biscuit quickly reasoned that there would be more guards in the direction of the meeting hall, and followed the path of the fallen pets.
Biscuit knew she had finally reached her destination when she reached a set of closed doors that were glowing with some sort of enchantment. She gave them a few hard front kicks. They barely budged. She backed up and fired a shot at the doorknob, pleased to find out that the enchantment seemed to be the same as the shield that was securing the area. The blast tore a small hole in the enchantment, lasting a few seconds before it was magically sealed again. She got out her Hubrid Nox Memorial Shield, fired a few more shots to rip a bigger hole, and then charged straight through the doors, gladiator-style. Torikor would have totally given her a high-five.
That is, if he wasn't also lying unconscious in the corner of the room that Biscuit had broken into. He had clearly been incapacitated by the Darkest Faerie, who was standing in the middle of the room casting a spell. Biscuit gulped as she wildly surveyed the meeting hall that all of the world leaders were held captive in. It was nowhere near as large as the Hall of Heroes, but it certainly was grand, with red carpeted floors, white walls and golden ceilings. The dozen or so leaders that had gathered today were currently seated in intricate thrones, bound tightly by magical ropes. Their captor was facing them, hair and robes flowing as she muttered an incantation.
"Who dares to interrupt me?" the Darkest Faerie hissed, her ebony hair falling gracefully around her shoulders as she looked behind her to see the intruder.
Biscuit's nerves shook so violently that she almost dropped her blaster. The Darkest Faerie gave off an insanely powerful aura, and Biscuit knew that she could be reduced to ashes if the infamous faerie even looked at her wrong. But there were bigger stakes at hand, and she could not afford to lose her cool now. "Let them go," she said in her most imperious voice.
Unfortunately, it came out with a few squeaks, and the Darkest Faerie laughed at her valiant attempt at authority. "Who are you, another one of their pawns that they're trying to throw at me? I'm almost insulted at how weak you look," she sneered.
Biscuit glared at her, equally offended. "Hey, I am not just a pawn," she snapped. "I'm a well-paid pawn, thank you very much. My employer also provides me with paid vacations, health insurance, dental insurance, and a 401k. I bet no one has ever offered you those benefits before."
The Darkest Faerie's smirk turned sour, and she whipped around to fully face the desert Aisha. "I don't need such perks," she hissed, "I work for me, and me alone."
And to emphasize her point, she threw a pulsing green blast at Biscuit, who instinctively dodged to the side. Biscuit rolled, and then fired a charged shot from her blaster. The impact of the attack brought the Darkest Faerie flat on her glutes, and a shocked look flashed across her face.
"That's a Ylanas Blaster, isn't it?" she demanded. "That's a thirteen-icon weapon! It shouldn't have even fazed me!"
Biscuit shrugged. "I tinker around with it from time to time. The Virtupets engineers are good, but not that good. There were plenty of improvements that they could have made, so I souped mine up a bit."
The Darkest Faerie let out a grumble of agitation. "Never mind. Next time you won't be so lucky-"
She was interrupted by a second blast straight to her forehead, which knocked her out cold. Biscuit hurried over to the imprisoned leaders, who were now all trying to shout various warnings and advice at her. Biscuit furrowed her brow, and turned towards Jerdana. "First things first--do you know the spell to undo these bindings?" she asked the blue Aisha sorceress.
"Yes, but hurry! The Darkest Faerie will not stay down for long," Jerdana said quickly, squirming in her bonds. "We can't assist you, since our hands are bound, but do you remember that unbinding spell I performed on Ciebatta a few days ago? It takes a few minutes to cast at your level, but it should undo the ropes-"
Biscuit was sent careening into a wall by a powerful green blast. Evidently, the Darkest Faerie could recover quickly, but now her aura had darkened with a chilling vengeance. Her sickly blue face was contorted with fury, and if looks could kill, Biscuit would have already died about three and a half times already. The Faerie slowly stomped towards the pile of rocks where Biscuit currently laid, body crackling with green sparks.
"You wretched thing," she snarled, raising her palms as she swirled her magic within them, "you'll pay for that little stunt."
Biscuit struggled to stand up, panicking as she realized that she wouldn't be able to move in time for her to avoid the Darkest Faerie's next attack. But, just as the Darkest Faerie let out a ferocious roar and prepared to zap the desert Aisha into oblivion, she was unceremoniously interrupted by a frying pan, which collided with her skull with a resounding clang.
And for the second time that day, the Darkest Faerie was brought back on her bottom, rubbing her head in shock. A faerie Ixi stood triumphantly over her, with the aforementioned frying pan slung over his shoulder. "What the-? Are you kidding me?" the Darkest Faerie shrieked painfully. "How could a mere frying pan do that much damage?"
Ciebatta beamed at Biscuit. "She souped it up for me," he replied, walking over to help his partner up.
"Of course she did," the Darkest Faerie grumbled.
"Ciebatta!" Biscuit exclaimed, steadying herself. "How did you get here so fast? I thought I sent you to talk to the thieves!"
Ciebatta shrugged. "The action apparently already started without us. The thieves were all trying to get through the shield around the palace to see if they could loot the place, now that palace security is, uh, nonexistent. Some of them apparently saw a desert Aisha pass through, and decided to copy her, so I followed them after they punched a hole in the shield."
Behind them, Princess Amira gave a cry of indignation. The pair ignored her, mostly because the Darkest Faerie was now on her feet and pursuing them in a rage. "Now you've really done it," the Darkest Faerie roared. "When I'm finished with the two of you, there will be no trace of either of you left on this pathetic world-"
"Distraction!" Ciebatta shouted.
A Kau-shaped cinnamon roll hit the Darkest Faerie square between her eyes. Unfortunately, the baked good had not been souped up by Biscuit as well, but it had the intended effect of startling the great villain, and giving Ciebatta enough time to leap up and deliver a painful blow to her side with his frying pan. The Ixi tried to follow it up with another good conk on the faerie's head, but this time, she was ready with a magical shield that blasted him back about ten feet. Oh, well. Three separate blows to her head was already pushing their luck anyway.
"You think that you can defeat me with such puny strength?" she cackled as she bound Ciebatta in her magical ropes. "That'll be the last trick you'll ever pull on anyone, Ixi!"
Ciebatta's sides ached so bad, it felt like Biscuit had just used them for target practice. He groaned as he slowly pushed himself up to a sitting position, and managed to hold up a finger. "Not quite," he wheezed, "I have one more trick up my sleeve."
He pointed the finger behind the Darkest Faerie, and suddenly all of Neopia's leaders were on her, binding her with magic enchantments and pinning her to the ground. "What? How? What have you done, Ixi?" she screamed as a dozen heavily-armed pets and faeries simultaneously tried to sit on her.
"Please, I can't even steal candy from a baby, let alone beat someone like you," he laughed, feeling waves of relief wash over him. "All I needed to do was give Biscuit enough time to cast the unbinding spell, which would then free all of the Neopians actually capable of defeating you."
The Darkest Faerie let out one last, eerie wail before she disappeared in a puff of deep blue smoke. The leaders cried out in outrage at how they let her slip away. Ciebatta groaned. "Man, did she really just escape?" he sighed, laying back down on the floor. "I wasted a really good roll on her."
Biscuit army-crawled over to where he laid, and grinned at him. "She lives to fight another day, but I think she'll be laying low for a while after pulling a stunt like this," she said. "But you did fantastic."
"Not just fantastic. I was fabulous," Ciebatta grinned. "You think Torikor will commission a spandex superhero costume for me now? I want a giant letter P on my chest. P for Agent Puff Pastry."
Biscuit laughed. "Well, I'll certainly vouch for you as hard as I can," she said reassuringly. Then, as an afterthought, she added, "No capes, though. They get caught in everything."
Ciebatta nodded. "No capes," he agreed.