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Then There Were Six: Part Three


by jade_steel

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"Explain." Tanelle's eyes were cold. "I personally would love to know how anything could be worse."

     Triesta pressed her lips together, and her fists clenched at her sides, white-knuckled. "It's the destruction of our existence. Something has happened - is happening - to the Faeries' source of power. Slowly, one by one, all our wings will crumble into dust, our powers become nonexistent. We will be more like humans, and Neopia will be without the protection of the faeries in its darkest hour."

     Mayra, Sanalre, and Kanal'te became pale; Talusai's hair stood on end as her eyes widened in shock, and Tanelle's hair began to blacken as her mouth opened in a wide O.

     Finally, Sanalre regained enough composure to ask the question that was hanging over them all: "Mayra, how can we fix this?"

     Mayra passed a trembling hand over her skirt, smoothing the wrinkles out nervously. "It's...complicated. I haven't gotten nearly as clear a vision as Triesta. It's almost as though there was a fault in the crystal. I know where all our power comes from, I know where to find it, I know how to approach it without being destroyed.... I just can't quite see how to fix it. It's fuzzy, as though I was nearsighted and it was far away."

     "Oh dear." Triesta looked almost close to tears. "How can we fix it, how can we survive as faeries if you can't see it?"

     "Well, why don't we just go talk to Fyora?" Kanal'te suggested. "She might actually help us this time, now we're in a real fix."

     Talusai twisted one side of her mouth into a scowl. "Last time, we were turned away at the gate."

     "Well, we're still faeries, not pets," Tanelle pointed out. "Or, at least we were last time I checked."

     Triesta managed a weak laugh. "Yes, that would seem to be the wisest course."

     "Can we go?" Sanalre shifted from foot to foot impatiently. "If you're all okay, that is. We're wasting daylight."

     "I'm fine." Triesta was regaining some of her usual vigor. "Let us be off, then." She looked around the group for confirmation. The five other faces looked drawn and pale, but they were ready.

     A few minutes later, they stood outside the castle. A fresh breeze ruffled their hair, and Talusai lifted her head up and reveled in the wind. "I hope this can be resolved soon. I want to go back to just being normal."

     "Yeah, that'd be fun," Tanelle commented ruefully, stretching her firey, butterfly-like wings. The other Faeries stretched similarly, preparing to fly hard and fast to reach Faerieland before night fell.

     ***

     Talusai swooped inside the gates of Faerieland as the last rays of the sun sank below the horizon. The others were not far behind her.

     "I feel like I could sleep for a week," Tanelle groaned. "We've been all over Neopia in the past two days, and I need a rest."

     Sanalre looked at Mayra. "It would be good to rest. Surely this can wait 'til morning."

     The others agreed, but Mayra gazed at the setting sun. "And with the setting of the sun comes eternal night for our race," she muttered.

     The next morning, they were all ready, Talusai most of all. "Can we go yet?" she asked, pushing lightly against the door of her home, where they had spent the night.

     "Patience, patience," Kanal'te laughed, her eyes sparkling. "We'll go soon."

     Talusai was jogging in place at the door when they were all finally ready to go. Mayra still seemed a little out-of-sorts.

     "Are you all right?" Sanalre asked her.

     Mayra shook it off. "Fine, fine."

     The walk to the palace seemed to take hours, though in reality it was only a few minutes before the Draik guards opened the doors to admit them.

     "This seems strangely...empty," Mayra commented, a sinking feeling in her stomach as they paced slowly through the purple-and-pink halls.

     "Well, this is the throne room," Tanelle commented as they entered the room with the large, cloudy throne. "But there's no Fyora. No one, in fact."

     "That's not strictly true," Triesta pointed out. "There's a girl in here."

     As one, they all looked in the direction that Triesta gestured. Sure enough, a tall girl with pale brown hair that fell to the small of her back sat sobbing in a corner, her face averted. On the ground near her lay a crystalline staff with a purple sphere atop it.

     "Doesn't that look like Fyora's staff?" Kanal'te commented idly.

     Mayra's eyes widened; they scanned the room until she found the things she was searching for: two piles of ash, or dust, near the throne. A tiara not unlike Fyora's lay, discarded, in a corner.

     "Oh, no," Mayra murmured. "Oh no, oh no, oh no...."

     "What?" Triesta turned to her sister, fear evident in her eyes. "What's wrong?"

     Mayra pushed her aside gently and turned to speak to the girl. "What's your name?"

     The girl raised a tear-streaked face to them. Her pale eyes were red from sobbing. "A - Aroyf."

     Talusai, the cleverest one of the Four, drew her breath in sharply. "Oh no."

     "Would you care to enlighten the rest of us as to what's happened here?" Kanal'te demanded. "I for one am confused. I'm not entirely sure what is light and what is dark. Explain?" She crossed her green-sleeved arms over her chest and took on an offensive stance.

     Tanelle, Sanalre, and Triesta saw it at the same time, and their combined gasps paused Talusai before she could answer. Whispers of 'oh no' echoed through the room.

     "Explain now." Kanal'te tapped her fingers on her upper arm.

     "Reverse Aroyf and you get Fyora," Talusai explained to her friend. "It's already begun."

     "Oh dear," Kanal'te muttered, paling.

     "Well, it's a change from 'oh no'," Tanelle commented, trying to bring some light to the dark situation.

     Mayra blew her breath out in a silent chuckle. "Indeed. For now, though, we must ascertain what to do. Talusai, perhaps you could speak with Fy - Aroyf?"

     "Sure." The Air Faerie paced slowly over to the still-weeping girl and placed a hand on her shoulder. Talusai began to murmur in comforting tones.

     "We'll leave Talusai to help Aroyf," Mayra ordered. "Triesta and I will attempt to figure out what must be done to fix this. Tanelle, you and Sanalre and Kanal'te will scout out the other faeries, trying to see how far the blight has extended. We must work together if we're going to fix this at all."

     Kanal'te nodded. "Yes. Tanelle, Sanalre, come." She motioned to the other two, then walked out the door. Her voice faded into the distance as Kanal'te began to order the inspection.

     "So, what do you suggest?" Triesta asked Mayra. "I have no ideas, so it's entirely up to you what to try."

     "Hmmm." Mayra's brows snapped together. "What if you tried returning the offending memories to the crystal? Then we could examine it, to see if there's maybe a fault."

     "Good idea," Triesta agreed. "Shall we begin?" She placed her fingers on Mayra's temples and closed her eyes, sending tendrils of light into her sister's mind, looking to isolate the memories which would save them from a terrible fate.

     ***

     "Well, Lexica seems fine," Sanalre observed as they left the Library. "Next up is Jhudora, right?"

     Kanal'te winced. "Yeah."

     "I'll go check on Fuhnah," Tanelle said worriedly. "I'm not going near that Cloud. I think much of the Council are here."

     Sanalre's mouth twitched at the corners. "That's good. We should split up anyway; it'll get more ground covered."

     Tanelle raced hurriedly off, back toward the palace, as Sanalre and Kanal'te strode nervously toward the roiling purple and green mass.

     "Hello?" Kanal'te called nervously as they entered the gloom.

     "Who goes there?" a raspy voice called, and green flames sprang up in front of them.

     Sanalre raised an eyebrow. "Stay, Kanal'te." She extended her power over the stretch of flame in front of her, holding it quiescent long enough for her to pass through.

     She walked farther into the Cloud, eventually coming upon a large, dark throne. On it sat a Dark Faerie, dealing with several streams of pets coming for quests. Kanal'te and Sanalre had taken the back way in.

     "Well, Jhudora looks fine," Sanalre muttered, and turned to go.

     An earsplitting scream caught her attention, and Sanalre whipped around and darted around to the front of the throne in time to see Jhudora's wings begin to crumble into dust. Her hair became more black than purple, her regal robes changed to a skirt and T-shirt.

     Sanalre's eyes widened: the realm's most powerful Dark Faerie had just changed into a human.

     Kanal'te dashed through in a moment; with her transformation, Jhudora's magic had all fallen to pieces. "Everyone out!" she cried, herding the pets toward the exit, Sanalre helping her to shepherd the gawkers out.

     As the last of the pets left, Sanalre rushed to the throne. "Jhudora?"

     She smiled bitterly. "Aroduhj," the new human corrected Sanalre.

     Sanalre and Kanal'te exchanged glances. "We'd best go find Tanelle," Sanalre suggested. "We need to find and check up on the rest of the Faerie Council, and then we'll have to find a way to check on the Faeries who don't live up here. Illusen and Taelia are the two biggest concerns, as they're the ones who give quests."

     "Right. Plus, if Jhudora's gone, Illusen's going soon," Kanal'te told her, and the two raced for the back door, beginning to fly as they exited the Cloud and headed for the palace. "We've got trouble on our hands."

     ***

     "It's flawed," Triesta announced, examining the dark violet crystal. "You'd better take it back, and then we hope you can play it by ear."

     "I hope so." Mayra's green eyes were filled with worry, and her purple wings trembled as she re-folded them against her back. "If I can't do it, then...." Mayra trailed off as she realized the terrible fate that awaited them all if she could not succeed.

     "I know you can." Triesta placed her hand on Mayra's shoulder, trust evident in her eyes. "I know that this disaster can be averted."

     Mayra smiled genuinely for once. "Thank you, Tri."

     "Don't call me that," Triesta mock-growled. "Or I'll call you May!"

     Mayra placed her hand against her forehead and faked a swoon. "You wouldn't!"

     "Fine, no name-calling," the Light Faerie agreed. "Now get that memory back. We have work to do."

     "Right." Mayra nodded and began to stare deep into the violet depths of the stone. Soon she was deep in concentration.

     On the other side of the room, Talusai had managed to get Aroyf to talk sense, though she burst into tears every so often while she spoke. "I - I don't know h-how it happened!" Aroyf sobbed. "I-I was j-just going to s-sit down and m-m-my-my wings just-"

     She dissolved into tears once more, and Talusai sat, patting the former queen on the shoulder, continuing to murmur soothingly. "It'll be all right. The Prophecy says-"

     Talusai broke off with a gasp. "Kyar! I almost forgot! I have no idea whether or not she's all right! And as far as I know, Tanelle and Sanalre and Kanal'te aren't planning to check on her."

     She patted Aroyf on the shoulder and bolted over to where Triesta was helping Mayra re-absorb the crystal. "I'm going to go check on Kyar," Talusai murmured, and began to run, feeling the wind beneath her wings as slowly she transferred her weight to the delicate, butterfly-like structures.

     Talusai retraced the path she'd flown so few days ago, down through the tunnels and to the Seer's cavern. She arrived, breathless, in the middle of the cave, almost skidding to a stop as she put her feet down. "Kyar?" she called, not immediately seeing any sign of the Seer.

     Then Talusai caught sight of the old woman sitting where Kyar usually sat. "Rayk?" she asked cautiously.

     Pale eyes raised to meet hers, filled with pain. "Yes."

     "Oh, curses!" Talusai exclaimed as she patted the Seer, made sure she was comfortable, and began to retrace once more the path to the palace.

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


» Then There Were Six: Part One
» Then There Were Six: Part Two



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