The Dark Faeries' Apprentice: Part Six
“That little brat!”
She slammed her fist into the old wood of the tree. It moaned, bending to her will, as her silky black hair waved behind her. Small petpets scurried down the branches and trunk fearfully. Such a place was not a good home.
“Calm down,” hissed a Dark Faerie wearing a long black cape. He wings twitched in annoyance. “Can’t you see I’m trying to clean this up?” She gestured unnecessarily at a pool of thick, bubbling liquid on the ground. From time to time it shot off beams of sparkling light, which all three Dark Faeries dodged fearfully. “I don’t need you breaking things!”
“Are you lecturing me?” demanded the first Faerie, rounding on the other. “This is your fault! You were supposed to be watching the gate!”
“No one ever keeps watch!” snarled the caped Faerie. “You don’t! Why should I? This is your fault for thinking you could relax while I did all the work!”
“Didn’t I tell you I sensed something coming!?” shrieked the first Faerie. “Didn’t I tell you!?”
“That’s it!” snapped the last Dark Faerie. Her yellow eyes flashed dangerously, and the other two Faeries turned to face her. “We have control of the situation. Your anger is misdirected. No damage was done.”
“But she knows-” started the Faerie with the long dark hair.
“What? What does she know, Cin?” retorted the yellow-eyed Faerie. “She knows about the traitor Draik? I do not care; let her know. The information is useless. We are in control.”
“Hmph,” said the Faerie in the cape, “Myseraine is right. That Zafara doesn’t stand a chance against us.”
“Well, then how did she get past us?” snarled Cin, ducking a beam of light as she spoke. “Why don’t you answer me that, Yalfeda?”
Myseraine cut them both off. “She simply caught us off guard. And what was the point? Coming up to us and demanding such a trade... Our power for some pathetic student that is of no use to us anymore! Who does she think she is? Was that all she wanted to hear? That we had thrown out Denriada?” Her eyes glowed in agitation. “No matter. We’ll have our revenge.”
Back in Neopia Central, NSQ carefully fit the last piece of a puzzle into its place. She sat back, her hand bumping into the couch as she did so. She jumped at the touch, but realized it was only an inanimate object that was behind her. Denriada was still on the other side of the room.
The Draik was quite nervous as well. She sat perfectly still, scribbling on a piece of paper that NSQ had given her. The girl had failed to realize that not everyone could entertain themselves for hours with only paper and a pencil.
“So,” squeaked NSQ suddenly, her voice unnatural and forced, and scratchy after she had not spoken for half an hour. Denriada could tell that she had been planning the statement for a long time. NSQ cleared her throat, mortified that her carefully thought-out question had not gone as planned. “Would you like something to drink?”
Denriada, whose throat was parched and dry, croaked back, “Yes please.”
The girl left as quickly as possible. Denriada noticed that NSQ kept her back to the wall until she had to turn to leave the room. ’Or maybe I’m just being suspicious,’ thought Denriada.
She wasn’t the only one who was paranoid. NSQ let out a huge sigh as she opened the fridge. “Oh man,” she muttered to herself, “when Neoangel gets back here, the things I’ll do to her...” She continued talking to herself as she pulled out two cups. “What was Neoangel thinking, anyways? Leaving me alone with Denriada... what am I supposed to say to her?”
She nearly dropped the carton of orange juice as a thought snuck into her mind: ’What if she can hear me?’ But there was no point trying to silence herself. NSQ couldn’t stand not talking for more than an hour, unless she was sleeping. “I’m a chatterbox,” she murmured, “I’ll just go out there and force myself to start talking.” She was about to leave when she came to a sudden stop in the doorway, splashing juice over her hand. ’I can’t do that!’ she thought. ’I’ll end up saying something really, really dumb!’
For a minute she fretted in the doorway, the glass cups jiggling in her hands. Then she realized that she had probably spent too much time in the kitchen. She rushed back into the living room, and was struck with yet another thought: ’I have to cross the room to give Denriada her juice.’
Suddenly the short distance separating the two ends of the carpeted living room seemed like it would cover all of Neopia twice. NSQ steeled herself, and taking forced steps, she crossed the room.
’Almost there’, she thought gleefully, ignoring the fact that crossing a comfortable living room was hardly an amazing feat. ’Almost!’ Then she tripped over the hem of her pants and went down.
She crashed face first into the floor. She waited to hear the tinkle of breaking glass beside her head (or on top of it) but it never came. Propping herself up on her elbows, she noticed the cup dangling dangerously above her head, secured by a thin red rope.
“Oh, umm, thank you,” she stuttered, hastily sitting up. “That’s one of yours, right?”
“Y-yes,” said Denriada, carefully setting the cup on the floor. She clasped her hands in her lap awkwardly.
“Is it... well, I mean, what kind of magic is it?” asked NSQ. “Like, Neoangel usually uses light Faerie magic or general light magic, but your... rope-thing... I’ve never really seen it before.”
Denriada blinked. “Oh, well... it is a type of magic unique to me, I suppose. Most people have a special magic skill that they can use, but it usually gets lost once they start studying all different other kinds... and sometimes they forget their original magic completely.”
“Really?” said NSQ. “I didn’t know that.” Her curiousity getting the better of her, she asked, “What was Neoangel’s original magic ability?”
The Draik did not seem to have an answer. She thought for a minute before answering, “I do not know. W-while I attended the academy... she showed no sign of her original magic.”
“Hmm,” said the human girl. “That’s pretty interesting.” She crossed her legs to move into a more comfortable position. “And your original ability stuck with you? I guess you must be really attached to it, right?”
“I...” Denriada paused, thinking. ’Am I? Attached to it?’ “I guess I used it quite often, because it was handy. I’m not quite sure how original magic skills work, if they stay because you use them constantly or because you grow attached to them.” She fell silent awkwardly, taking a sip of juice because it was something to do.
“Can you learn other people’s unique skills?” piped up NSQ. She flushed pink. “U-umm, sorry if I’m asking too many questions, though. I’m just curious.”
“That’s alright,” said Denriada. “I think you can learn these abilities, although it is rare. I’ve only seen a few pets or Faeries learn others’ original skills.” Struck with a memory, she continued, “Neoangel tried to learn mine, once.”
“Really?” said NSQ eagerly. “And she couldn’t do it? Hey, that’s pretty neat... I mean, having this one thing that only you could do would be cool... I wonder what mine would be? Probably like jumping... I can jump pretty high... I’d be pretty mad if someone could jump higher than me, though. Not like Blumaroos, though; that doesn’t count. Only humans. And not athletes either. I guess I can’t jump all that high after all...”
“NSQ?” asked Denriada timidly. “May I... may I ask you a question?” The thought of asking such a personal question worried Denriada, but she simply had to know.
“Huh? Oh... sure,” replied NSQ, although she was apprehensive. “After I asked you so many questions.”
Denriada chose her words carefully. “How did you come to find Neoangel?”
After observing the family for a while, the Draik had noticed that Neoangel did not quite fit in. The rest of the family members appeared to be easily excited, dynamic and energetic, and often chaotic. Neoangel, with her quiet wisdom and knowing smile, seemed out of place among them. Was it the need for a mature, caring figure in the family that had attracted them to her? And when had Neoangel left the Light Faerie Leader? Remembering the old Alithiora’s craving for more and more magical education, it was hard to believe that she had left that to live in quaint, ordinary Neopia Central.
“Oh. Well... she was in a tree.”
“... A tree?”
“Yeah. I found her in a tree.” NSQ stared, aware that she should elaborate but unsure of what else to add. “Umm... a tree in my yard.”
It was not quite the answer that Denriada was looking for. “I remember hearing that the... the first night I came here. But... do you know anything else?”
“Nope. Actually she seemed to be pretty confused. She said she wasn’t sure where she had come from, or where she was going. I thought she was just a lost pet, so I took her in.”
Denriada frowned deeply. This was getting even more confusing. “I remember her saying, that night, that she had forgotten everything... but I thought... she just didn’t want me to know... did her memories really disappear?”
NSQ opened her mouth to respond, but a clunking down the stairs made her turn her head. A moment later Neofaerie appeared, his shoulders hunched as they had often been lately, and his tail low.
“Don’t mind me, I just came to get a snack,” he muttered, slinking past them. “You two can continue your nice little chat about magic. You’re really getting along quite well, aren’t you?”
Denriada shrunk back against the wall, while NSQ looked up angrily. “You don’t have to eavesdrop, Faer, you can come talk to us too if you want. Come on, you’ll learn something new...” She grabbed one of his feet, and he leaped away.
“Stop it!” he growled. “Owww!”
“What’s wrong?” panicked NSQ. ’Oh no,’ she thought fearfully, ’what if I’ve caught that curse from Denriada?’
But to her relief, Neofaerie merely grumbled, “I’ve stepped on something sharp... here, it’s Neoangel’s stupid pendant, tell her not to leave it lying around...”
“Oh...” NSQ stared into the depths of the tiny mirror. “Hey, this is weird. There’s someone in here. Looks like a Light Faerie.”
Denriada gazed at the mirror as well. “I don’t see it,” she breathed. “NSQ... can you describe it?”
“First name basis now, huh?” barked Neofaerie. “Good, good...”
Ignoring him, NSQ explained, “She looks like a high-ranking Faerie or something... she’s wearing this gold sash and crown, and I think she’s sitting at some sort of- wait yeah, there’s a similar looking Fire Faerie sitting beside her and then- oh man, it’s the Faerie Queen!”
“It’s the Light Faerie Leader,” gaped Denriada, “it must be. But... why? Why can you see other people in this mirror? W-what is it?”
“Well, I dunno,” said NSQ in a rather flabbergasted way, bring the pendant closer to her face. “I sometimes see stuff in here. I dunno why. I saw volcanoes once, I think. But what is the Light Faerie Leader doing in this mirror?”
“Are you sure it’s not the entire Faerie council?”
“Nope, I think the mirror is just trying to show me her. And wait, now it’s changing- it’s the Turmaculus now! What’s going on?”
Neofaerie thumped his tail against the ground agitatedly, reminding both females that he was still there. NSQ jumped.
“If you’re done your little magic show, I’m going upstairs now,” he snarled.
“Fine, go!” snapped NSQ. “No one asked you to stay, anyways!” She regretted it immediately.
“I will!” He thundered back up the stairs. They could hear him cursing in his room.
NSQ looked back at the mirror, but it was empty. She jammed it into her pocket in frustration. “Well... yeah. Like I was saying, I can’t understand why I see stuff in this mirror. No one else can, you know? Not even Neoangel. She found it one day in the pond near that tree I discovered her in. I’m the only one who can see anything in it other than just a reflection. Isn’t that weird?”
Denriada emptied her glass. “It is,” she agreed.
After a little more discussion and a lot of silent pondering, they heard the main entrance door open. “Weee’re baaack!” called Happiness. “You’ll never guess what happened!”
She rushed into the living room and jumped onto NSQ’s head. “We were going through Meridell, and I took Furzy to the Turmaculus, and it tried to EAT ME! The Turmaculus, not Furzy. Isn’t that exciting!?” She sighed happily and slid down into NSQ’s lap. “To think that the Turmaculus has done me such an honor... I think we could be really good friends!”
“It must have mistaken her for a petpet,” said Neoangel, chuckling a bit. “And how did you two do?” she asked purposefully.
“Okay,” said NSQ. “We finished the juice, though. And hey... the Turmaculus! That’s really weird. I just saw-”
“Hey!” giggled Happiness. “There’s no more orange juice!”
“Right! Well... we can make some!” said NSQ suddenly. “Hey, you guys got fruit, didn’t you?”
“Not oranges,” said Happiness. “We got potatoes, tomatoes, a watermelon, some Snidberries, a few Conkerberries-”
NSQ raised her hands. “Alright, we’ll have to go shopping again then! There’s other stuff we need to buy- and cookies, since we seem to be incapable of making them. Hmm, I should make a list...”
“Grocery shopping!” sang Happiness, dancing about.
“I’ll come as well,” said Neoangel.
“Great!” chirped NSQ. “Denriada... do you want to come?”
Taken aback, Denriada blinked. “I...” she stood up shyly. “Yes, I would like to go with you,” she said, smiling just a little.
When Neofaerie skulked downstairs for a drink, he found the house to be empty. He checked every room, carefully looking in closets and under tables until he found his Pirate Doglefox sleeping peacefully in a cupboard.
“Savvy,” grunted Neofaerie, prodding the petpet unceremoniously. “Where’d the others go?”
“Grrrfff,” sniffed the Doglefox. He managed to wave a paw in the general direction of the front door before he rolled over.
Neofaerie rolled his eyes. “She’s so unbelievably irresponsible,” he growled. “They both are. Great. Oh well, not my problem.”
And he set about pouring himself a glass, or rather a bowl, of milk. He’d hardly filled it halfway before a sneaky idea crept into his mind, chuckling darkly like such ideas did.
Checking once more that the house was empty, he went up the thin, rickety set of stairs and into Neoangel’s room.
To be continued...