The Forgotten Years
Our story begins when Roberta of Brightvale and her close friend, Tormund Ellis, strolled through the Hall of Heroes in Altador. The sounds of their footsteps on the marble floor echoed off the stone walls. Gigantic stone statues of the eleven council members cast long dark shadows across the floor. King Altador’s stood foremost of them all.
The twelve statue was a mere pile of rubble. It still had not been cleaned up from the Altador Plot from years ago. Either the janitor of the hall was lazy, or hadn't had time to finish the task. You'd think with the crowds of tourists the city gets, he'd find the time to clean it up. No one knew if it would be replaced or left empty, a reminder of a dark past.
The weather for today proved to be sunny as ever. Warm rays of sunlight poured in through the open windows. It gave the room a soft yellow glow. It felt cozy and peaceful. In the background was the sound of waves crashing by the near sea shore. The kingdom of Altador had always been the most peaceful place to live.
Well...when it wasn't under attack or during the Altador Cup.
Roberta and Tormund had already become familiar with the city as they saved it from the wrath of the Darkest Faerie, years ago. Neopia declared them heroes, honoring their faithful deeds. The high council of Altador thanked the heroes and always welcomed the two into their fair city.
A short orange Yurble stood in the corner of the room. He kept occupied by sweeping, often looking up and glaring at those who dared enter. The young Neopets avoided his gaze, hoping they wouldn’t anger him. Doing so would result in a disaster or a massive headache.
The two heroes had been walking in complete silence, through the grand hall. Tor and Roberta made their way across the room to the entrance of a stairway. As always, Roberta had led them away. She considered herself the reasonable one, as Tormund always rushed through things without thinking. It created difficult situations for them, so he agreed she could lead the way.
“I don't see why we had to come all the way to Altador for a silly tea party,” Tor muttered as he followed his dear friend up the council chamber stairs. His words broke the silence between the two. It was something Roberta wished he hadn't done.
The blue Acara shushed him as she climbed up the stairs. “We came to have tea with the queen, you dork.” She actually looked forward to the small event. Talking to an ancient and famous Neopian always excited her.
“It's still just a tea party.” the yellow Lupe rolled his eyes, “besides...Queen Nera is-”
Roberta stopped in the middle of the stairway, turning around to face him. “She's what?” A frowned formed on her pretty face.
“She's kind of...strange.”
“You seriously did not just call the queen of Neopia’s most famous city, strange.”
Tormund groaned, not wishing for an argument. “Can we discuss this later?”
The Lupe immediately wished he hadn't opened his mouth. Even if it was the truth, some things just shouldn't be said. He didn't know how well the people of Altador would respond to him calling their beloved queen strange.
“Fine.” Roberta let out a huff, continuing their way up the staircase.
They eventually made it to a large chamber room. The back wall was mainly large windows, covered in vines and ivory leaves. Engravings of the fine city decorated the other chamber walls. The council hired a fine artist, Winton Hedrix, to sculpt the drawings, which had taken him weeks to complete. Twelve yellow chairs formed an arch in the room, which is where the high council discussed issues of the kingdom. Currently, the now eleven heroes were absent from the chamber.
Sitting peacefully in the middle of the room, was Nera. In front of her stood a marble table. It held three teacups and a small pot. The queen picked up her cup, taking a small sip from it. Being queen wasn’t always as glamorous as it looks from the outside. The brown Xweetok appeared tired from the responsibilities of her royal title. Despite the stress, Queen Nera always wore a soft smile and spoke softly.
“Ah….Lady Roberta and Sir Tormund, I'm very pleased you could have made it.” Nera looked up from her teacup and smiled. She placed the small cup back down on the table. Her expression appeared soft, despite the tiredness in her eyes.
Tor awkwardly shifted his weight to his other leg. “Uh...we're happy to be here?” He wasn't sure how to reply, as the Lupe didn't talk to the queen often. He was more accustomed to speaking to King Altador. Tor knew nothing of the queen or what to talk about.
Roberta nudged him in the side. “We're both happy to be here your majesty.”
“Good.” Queen Nera smiled. “Take a seat and I'll pour you both a cup of tea.”
The two took their seats beside the older Neopet and waited patiently as she poured them a cup of tea. She did so with grace and ease.
“As you both are aware…” Nera set the teapot down on the table. “Zai- I mean...the Darkest Faerie had come back into our lives recently.”
Altador’s queen was referring to last year's tragic event. The Darkest Faerie had escaped her stone prison. Using dark magic, the faerie turned innocent Neopets into wraiths, forcing them to do her bidding. Thankfully, the victims of the event were healed and the damage had been reversed. The dark faerie escaped and is currently residing somewhere in Neopia.
“Yeah...we heard about that. We're sorry she caused trouble once again.” Roberta said, gratefully taking a teacup from the queen. She knew both the king and queen of Altador were worried over the safety of their people. Going through betrayal once more had to be hard for them.
The yellow Lupe also took a cup. “Have you been afraid ever since she came back?” He sipped his tea, not realizing it was hot. Tor coughed, and waved his hand to cool his mouth off. The action almost made Roberta laugh, but the Acara kept it together.
Nera shook her head, causing her brown hair to slightly sway. “No...not really.”
“Why?” Tormund asked, genuinely curious.
Roberta glared at him, as she wanted to smack him in the arm for asking so many questions. She didn't want him stressing the poor Xweetok even further. She seemed to have enough on her plate.
In Tor’s opinion, the dark faerie posed a threat to the wellbeing of Neopia. Someone as powerful as she should have struck fear in the hearts of all. Nera’s behavior towards the faerie was different from other Neopians. It appeared the queen felt more sadness than fear.
“She was once a dear friend of mine. I can't see myself being afraid of her”, answered Nera.
“What...exactly happened?” Tor tilted his head, growing curious. To many Neopets, Nera was kind and gave so much of her time to others. Her associating with someone so villainous, felt off.
Queen Nera sighed and stood up from her chair. She stepped over to a nearby wall, resting her hand on it. Sliding her hand across the stone , Nera felt the engravings that were carved so long ago. They held many memories, times of hope and despair. Seeing them always brought up the unpleasant my memories. Nera asked her husband if they could cover the engravings, but King Altador assured his queen time always heals wounds.
Nera wished that time would hurry and heal hers.
“She betrayed me and the entire kingdom of Altador. I haven't told my side of the story, but...”, the queen looked over at her guests, giving them a sad smile. “I figured you two would be the best ones to tell her story to.”
The thought of the betrayal still cut deep into Nera’s broken heart. Considering someone a friend, to only to have them break your heart was extremely painful. Maybe discussing this with the young heroes would release the weight from Nera’s shoulders. They did ask about it after all. Not often did the Xweetok like speaking of her own life and point of view, but lately, she found herself being more open to such. Neopia deserved to know more about herself and what had happened those many years ago. It was time for the queen of Altador to step out of the shadows and into the light.
Roberta and Tormund glanced at one another, wondering if there was truly more to Darkest Faerie than her misdeeds. Was she once the hero that the council spoke fondly of? Why would the queen of Altador consider someone so dark and evil, a friend? Were there more reasons for her betrayal? And where is the Darkest Faerie now? Will she return anytime soon?
Hopefully, their questions would soon be answered.
To be continued…