Spiral: Part One
Part 1: Serendipity
Many a hero’s tale involves at least one Faerie. Well, ours begins with one.
“Ahhhh.”Four friends screamed as a ghastly gale swept them into a mid-air tumble. Her widened eyes, her sudden gasp; the last thing they’d caught before she’d enveloped them in a glittering windstorm.
Lighter swirls of blue and white began to deepen, before…
Dust rose momentarily before being swept away by the freezing air that continued to whisk around them. Although somehow this air felt different… colder…with a touch of angst and a hint of remorse. Cree furrowed her brow as she set herself up onto her front knees. Shaking, she peeked open an eye. In the distance she could see icy mountains, but beneath her was something that felt quite like… sand. The Uni’s elegant, black and gold dress began to billow slightly less. Rising onto her hooves Cree took in her surroundings. The wind had settled somewhat, and she was now able to easily open both eyes.
“Charmifire, Blaz, Frostrym.”Cree said, as though asking them to join her in witnessing the sight before her, as if knowing they were alright.
“Five more minutes.”The yellow Shoyru with beautiful, glistening, glowing wings stated, still flat on his stomach.
“Gee. I don’t think Hanso would approve very much.”Cree taunted. The Shoyru acknowledged the Uni’s jab. Swiftly Charmifire bounded to his feet. In his left hand he held a golden stave and on him he wore a button up jacket resembling Hanso’s own. Looking up, his expression morphed into one of fear. Dark, twisting, claw like branches scraped at the friends, barely able to reach, as though trying to slash at them. The Shoyru stepped back a few paces. They certainly weren’t where they had started, in fact, far from it.
“Can you tell where we are?”the blue Uni with sparkling turquoise and gold bracelets asked her friend
“Th-The edge of the Haunted Woods, bordering the Lost Desert.”The Shoyru replied. The silvery ornament on his head, adorned with water droplets, glistened. One half of the Uni’s mane drooped across her face. Separated into sides of dark and light, her mane resemble faerie hair. Charmifire and Cree turned their heads in rapid motion as they sensed movement. The Cybunny in their group rose to her feet as she shook herself off.
“Brrr.”she shivered. The white hat on her head resembled that of a gnome’s. It sat flopped atop a mass of edgy, angular, blonde hair
“Ahh, Frostrym, glad you could join us.”Charmifire jested. The Cybunny wiggled her nose.
“What an odd sensation.”Frostrym stated simply.
“Arrwww.”came a response from the Lupe who was now rising to his feet. Blaz stretched out his bandaged paws. The pocket-watch on his waist swayed. Standing up straight, he adjusted his top hat.
“And here I thought Faeries liked to give quests to Neopians who accidently stumbled upon them.”Blaz said “Why’d we get sent so far away?”
“Something had her worried. I think she was trying to protect us.”Charmifire guessed “And it must’ve been dire. Something tells me Fyora doesn’t scare easily”
“But do you?”A deep, unfamiliar voice caused the four friends to jump.
Black, slithering, tendrils of hair flailed about as the figure approached; his eyes glinting. Loose trails of gauze flapped in place, whipping his bandaged body; he seemed unfazed. Charmifire stood his ground, his friends huddled behind him. Suddenly the Nightsteed stopped. His once menacing eyes seemed glazed. Charmifire winced one eye and raised the other. Lowering his stave he checked behind him, trusting that his friends would alert him should the Nightsteed make any sudden movements. It was then that Charmifire realised what the Nightsteed was staring at. Cree shifted her translucent pink wings uncomfortably. Suddenly a blaze of fire pummelled the Nightsteed away, causing him to topple onto his side. Embers flew into the air. Quickly the Nightsteed hoisted himself up, recomposing himself. Transforming into a funnel of flames the blaze lashed out at their foe. The dark furred fury bounded out of harm’s way. The Nightsteed bared his teeth as the mass of fire began to re-form. Again, the crackling vortex crashed down towards the creature, attempting to ensnare it. The Nightsteed took flight.
“This isn’t over.”he threatened into the night.
“Are you alright?”another unfamiliar voice spoke. The four friend attempted to seek out the gentle tone that had addressed them.
“Uh…yes?”Charmifire replied, still trying to search out the owner of the seemingly disembodied query. Suddenly, from behind a tall rock, emerged a figure cloaked in an orange-red. Removing her hood, the figure’s pointy ears and yellow eyes were illuminated by the fiery wings on her back
“Hello young ones. I am Nuria.”the figure introduced
“You’re- You’re- You’re- You’re…Nuria!”Cree squealed
“Yes, I think we’ve established that.”Blaz quipped
“How odd.”Nuria tilted her head nonchalantly, putting a bent finger to her lips. The four Neopians regarded her statement in puzzlement. “It seems strange that the Faerie Queen would-.”Nuria mumbled something incomprehensible “Have you any ties with her?”Nuria asked
“We completed one of her quests once…but other than that…”
“Well. It seems as though she’s entrusted you with a gift, a blessing far more potent than any other.”Nuria explained, interrupting Charmifire’s train of thought “I sensed it when you first arrived, as I’m sure the Nightsteed also had. You dabble with such ancient, mysterious forces, and yet you seem unaware of the threats that may befall you”
“It’s not like we had a choice. It’s not like we had any time to prepare. One moment we were exploring our home’s mountain forest, the next….”Blaz trailed, not quite sure exactly what had happened
“Sometimes only time’s passage holds the answers that we seek.”Nuria stated “Oh, and don’t worry young Cree, the Nightsteed was merely reminded of another time long ago, of himself”
“Typical Uni. Vain as ever.”Cree thought to herself whimsically.
“Those trees block the entrance to the Haunted Woods. Come. I shall accompany you to an entrance at the western gate.”Nuria stated
“Uhhh. We weren’t really planning on going into the Haunted Woods.”Frostrym pointed out. Nuria blinked at her.
“You must.”Nuria stated simply, turning around. The Cybunny, in her sparkling pink dress and glittering green shoes hopped after the Faerie reluctantly. Charmifire, Blaz and Cree also followed. The chilly night’s wind continued to batter at the group, though, in the glow of Nuria’s wings, the harsh Winter air seemed dulled. As suddenly as they’d appeared, Nuria’s wings of flame vanished. Nuria had vanished. Ghostly whispers dashed past them forebodingly in strips of air as a fog began to roll in. In the darkness only the night’s moon sought to provide them with any means of light.
…Their shadows seemed to bounce in place to an unheard beat. Leaping up the shadows danced around the four friends in a rhythmic swirl…
“Wraiths.”Charmifire whispered, mist riding on his breath. The swirling came to a halt. The wraiths displayed disturbing grins as they lingered, mid-float. Clear liquid oozed from their mouths, corroding the sand as the salivated substance met the floor. Pre-emptively Charmifire raised the golden stave in his hand. It glowed with a radiant light. The wraiths shielded themselves; grins becoming anguished frowns. Leaping up, Cree burst through the dome of shadows with her wings. Charmifire sent a wave of sparkling, gushing water out at his enemies. Attempting to faze, to allow the attack to pass through them, the wraiths instead found themselves thrust back by the impact. Swooping up into the air, the stave’s light vanquished any darkness sent wayward by the droves of gust generated by Cree’s wingbeats. On the ground Frostrym’s Negg staff emanated a chime that caused the shadows to disperse, whilst the glowing charm, held to his chest by his jacket, allowed Blaz to fend himself with his fists. Eventually, the group of four once again found themselves alone.
“Well done young ones.”
The four friends jumped, poised to defend themselves
“I see now why Fyora would entrust you with such a gift.”Nuria stared up at the sky, sitting upon another tall rock similar to the one she’d initially emerged from. It was only now that the four Neopians noticed that these rocks speckled the desert’s edge. Each rock seemed to once have, carved into them, strange glyphs, that were now nothing but eroded remnants of a time far fled. Nuria spoke “Though, at the moment, you might not-”
A resonant, haunting whinny interjected her sentence. This was followed by the strike of a rusty spike-ended chain into the sand. Impending wingbeats and the galloping of hooves. Many a distorted creature filled the sky. The Nightsteed was back, and this time he’d brought company. Scaly, fanged, sharp-clawed company. Nuria rose. Turning to the four friends she blasted them with a glimmer of sparkling orange lights; sending them through a gap within the wall of trees guarding the Haunted woods.
“I’ll handle this.”Nuria scowled.
Thorny, navy-green vines crunched to a shut, barricading any way in or out…
To be continued…