The Princess of Flowers: Part Nine
Did you girls have a nice rest last night?" asked Cassie. She was eager to take them to the Wobbleshire Public Archives, and Mildred was more than happy to chat.
"Your room was fabulous," Mildred gushed. "It was the perfect place to recharge our senses." She twirled, her dress whirling around her. "These dresses you loaned us are so comfortable! They feel just like silk!"
Cassie beamed. "I’m so glad you were comfortable—and those dresses you’re both wearing are wonderful! If you wish, you can keep them as souvenirs for your trip to Wobbleshire."
"No need to," Rose insisted. "I already have plenty of clothing." she added to herself. She hated the red zigzag pattern on the dresses, and she disliked that she and Mildred were wearing the exact same dress in public! Cassie may have meant well when she offered to have their clothes washed and pressed while they wasted their day at the archives, but Rose thought she was still very naïve and had poor fashion sense. Rose thought. She was also glad to have refused Cassie’s offer of jelly slippers; Mildred, however, thought the pink-jelly shoes were adorable and then exclaimed they were the most comfortable shoes she’d ever worn. Rose had a feeling she was just being overdramatic to seek Cassie’s attention.
"Oh my, is this it?" Mildred gasped, staring up a round dome-like building in front of them. The entire building was made up of red, blue and yellow jelly bricks. A bright red-jelly roof shone overhead the structure, and the doors were orange-jelly. "This looks like a piece of art than a public archive!"
"Yep, this is it," Cassie insisted. "Isn’t it pretty?"
Mildred nodded and clapped excitedly. "Absolutely stunning."
Rose sniffed. "It looks like a baby designed it with play blocks," she muttered as she followed Cassie inside. The interior of the building was much more appealing: tall bookcases framed the circular room, which was tastefully decorated with blue-jelly tables and red-jelly chairs, sofas and settees. The yellow-jelly chandelier was hung underneath a skylight, and the twinkling light it reflected into the space was heavenly and quite peaceful. "Where shall we look first?" asked Rose, surveying the various bookshelves.
"Let’s ask the librarian," Cassie suggested. She walked over to a jelly Bruce, who was busy sorting a cart full of books, and asked, "Excuse me, my friends and I need your help."
The Bruce looked up at her and smiled. "How may I be of assistance?" she asked, pushing her blue spectacles back up her nose.
Mildred stepped forward and curtsied. "My friend and I are looking for a book about Air Faerie relics. It would be ever-so-helpful if you could help us find some reading material."
"Yes, of course." The librarian nodded. "Now, where are the…?"
Feeling extremely impatient, Rose snapped her fingers and smirked when a light-blue book descended from one of the highest shelves and cascaded gracefully towards her. "There we are," she declared, gripping the book with both hands. "This book will due us perfectly."
The librarian smiled and walked away. Cassie was stunned and peppered Rose with questions. "Oh my stars! How’d you do that? Are you a magician? Do you possess magic powers? Are you a member of the Defenders of Neopia?" She bounced on her toes. "Oh, you HAVE to show me another magic trick later!!!"
"We could have waited for the librarian to assist us," said Mildred.
"I wasn’t going to spend the rest of my day in this poor excuse of a wannabe library," Rose countered. She glanced at the book. "? Sounds promising."
Cassie and Mildred peered over her shoulder as Rose opened the book and hurriedly flipped through it. They fawned over all the pictures of artifacts—all of whom were made of silver—before Mildred gasped at the illustration of a silver hand mirror. "That’s the relic Cassandra was talking about," she breathed.
"What is it?" asked Cassie.
"The Mirror of Reflection," Rose explained. "According to this book, the mirror had, in fact, sealed away a Darkest Faerie named Mira. The Faerie was accused of war crimes during the Faerie Wars, and was immediately sealed away by an unknown Faerie—though many Altadorian historians believed the first Air Faerie Queen as responsible for sealing her away."
"Wow! Sounds just like a faerie-tale," Cassie remarked.
"What else is there?" asked Mildred.
Before Rose could continue, a sudden blast of black lightning struck her hands. She yelped and dropped the book, which quickly fell to the ground. Rubbing her sore palms, Rose looked up and saw a wraith Usul glaring at her. "What did you do that for?" she demanded.
"And who are you?" asked Cassie. "Are you another magician?"
The Usul bowed. "They call me Jill." She pointed a finger at Rose and said, "I have come to retrieve your Rose Rod! So you’d better surrender before I raise the stakes!"
Before Rose could respond, Jill clapped and, in just a few seconds, everybody in the archives—including Mildred, Cassie and the helpless librarian—were imprisoned in jagged blocks of purple crystal. "Now what did you do?" Rose fumed. "Do you honestly think your trick will force me to surrender so quickly?"
"Well, that was actually so I could level the playing field," Jill insisted. "Don’t want any innocent jelly-folk to get mixed up in this, right?" She poofed up a long, black rod and pointed its diamond-shaped tip towards Rose. "Now, are you ready to fight me?"
"Rose Rod!" Rose poofed up her signature weapon and shouted, "Rose Blaster!" Just as the trail of rose petals were swarming around her, Jill managed to slither away. As soon as she reappeared by the doors, Rose tried her attack again—only to have Jill slither away towards a settee. "Rose Blaster!" The attack was used a third and a fourth time, yet with each attack, Jill was able to slither away without getting hit by a single petal. "This is…impossible…" Rose panted, collapsing to her knees.
"That was wonderful exercise, princess," Jill chuckled. She pointed her weapon towards Rose and shouted, "Dark Lighting Inferno!"
Just as the bolts of lightning reached her feet, Rose leapt back, amazed and terrified by Jill’s power. Not feeling fazed, Jill continued her attack four more times. Though she was able to avoid her opponent, Rose found herself so exhausted after the fifth attack that she collapsed to the floor, panting heavily. Her rod was still held firmly in her hand, yet she couldn’t help but loosen her grip a little. Rose thought, her mind feeling the weight of fatigue.
"My, aren’t we being a bit fussy right now?" Jill slithered her way towards Rose. She grinned. "Oh well, Your Highness. I suppose Queen Mira will have to use your worthless hunk of junk now."
"Mira?" Rose gasped.
Jill laughed victoriously. "Now it’s time for me to finish you off!"
Rose braced herself for another bolt of lightning. Instead, she heard a loud shriek as a blue ball of light formed in front of her and promptly disappeared. Feeling remarkably better, Rose stood up and surveyed the archives. Everybody had been freed from the crystals, and nobody seemed to have the slightest idea what happened just moments before. "What in Neopia just happened?" Rose thought aloud as Mildred and Cassie approached her, acting as if a wraith Usul hadn’t interrupted their visit.
"So Rose, what else does the book say?" asked Mildred.
Rose blinked. Then she walked over to where the open-faced book laid and picked it up. "According to this," she said, "Mira was a power-hungry Faerie who yearned for control of a sacred weapon conjured up by the Earth Faerie Queen. This weapon was the most powerful piece of weaponry in all of Neopia at the time, and it was known as the sacred…"
"Rose Rod," a voice interrupted. The girls gasped, and Rose choked a bit, when a blue Ixi strode towards them. He wore a sky-blue shirt, trousers and matching shoes. In his matching gloved hand was a book, which he placed on a nearby cart.
"My, isn’t he something or what?" Cassie sighed.
"His hair looks heavenly," Mildred gushed, her eyes sparkling.
Rose was tempted to throw her book at the Ixi, but decided—for the sake of good manners—to decline. Instead, she placed her hands on her hips and glared. "So , of all the twits of Neopia, know about where the Rose Rod originated?" Rose scoffed.
The Ixi nodded. "I’ve also heard that exquisite rod was kept hidden in the Air Faerie Kingdom because of its private location."
"If that’s so, then why is Rose able to poof it up from thin air?" Mildred wondered.
"And who are you, really?" Rose demanded.
"My name is Nathaniel," the Ixi explained, bowing. "I came to the Wobbleshire archives to do some research." He glanced at Rose and added, "I was very lucky to have run paths with you…again."
Rose was fuming and, unlike Mildred and Cassie, she wasn’t finding herself fawning over Nathaniel. "To be completely honest," she chided, "my life was almost perfect until YOU decided to show yourself again! And in this supposedly-secret town—what are the odds??"
"Ooh, you two know each other?" gasped Cassie.
"Was he the one…?" Mildred’s voice trailed off.
"Rose," he said in an urging tone, "If you wish to find the answers you seek, then you must travel with me to Terror Mountain. I know somebody there that can lend a hand."
"How exciting," Cassie said. "I always wanted to see Terror Mountain!"
"And what will happen if I refuse?" pressed Rose.
Nathaniel became crestfallen. "Then the citizens of Floritua—and your parents—will forever be trapped in the curse cast upon them…by Mira."
Rose was infuriated that her mortal enemy was forcing her to visit yet distant land! Then again, if the twit was telling the truth, surely he would be able to stop this ‘Mira’ once and for all. Sighing, Rose nodded. "Alright, we shall follow you," she agreed.
"Excellent," said Nathanial, showing a slight grin. "We shall leave immediately if we wish to stop Mira. Then, by the end of the day, all of your remaining questions will, hopefully, be answered."
"They better be," Rose scoffed, already regretting her decision.
To be continued…