The Play's the Thing: Part Five
In which the play continues, a solution becomes apparent, and our heroines consider the future.
The curtain lifted, revealing Edna leaning over the fallen Scorchio. Edna had removed her hat, and her green hair hung down haphazardly over her face.
“What’s going on?” someone in the audience whispered. “Who’s that?”
“I think it’s meant to be Esmeralda,” someone else answered.
“That’s a completely different actress from before!” the first voice pointed out.
“It’s obviously supposed to signify Esmeralda’s transformation into a maddened witch after she lost the Baron,” the other voice said knowledgably. “Gosh, don’t you know anything about the theatre?”
The first voice was suitably embarrassed into silence.
On the stage, Edna, now playing the role of Esmeralda, held up the journal. It was now infused with the power of the Fire Faerie, and the crimson circle on its cover had transformed it into the Book of the Crimson Circle.
“With this, we can be together again,” Edna whispered down to the Baron.
Carefully, she opened the book. Even those present who were not even slightly magically inclined could feel the power radiating off it. Edna began to chant, strange words unrecognisable to the audience that seemed to make the book glow with magical energy.
Edna’s chanting reached a crescendo, and a shockwave of yellow energy that gained several ‘oohs’ and ahs’ from the audience shot out from the stage.
“Magic to all!” Edna declared triumphantly. “Now everyone can use it, not just those greedy Faeries.”
She stood up. “And that means I can do things like this.”
She stretched out her hands over the lifeless body in front of her, and the magical energy coursed through them. On the floor, the body of the Baron convulsed, writhing as if it was in agony.
The movement abruptly stopped, and the Baron opened his eyes.
“Esmeralda?” he croaked.
The relieved smile that spread across Edna’s face looked uncharacteristic. She leaned down and hugged him tightly.
“There must be something you can do!” Archie hissed from the side of the stage.
“We told you, nothing,” Sophie said dismissively. “This Shade has all the power of Esmeralda, and she was the most powerful Witch who ever lived.”
“You beat her once before, though,” Archie pointed out. “That’s in the play. The three of you killed her, so you must be more powerful!”
“It didn’t happen like that,” Morguss explained. “Edna challenged her and beat her, but in order to do that she needed to borrow magic from other creatures. She made a deal, and it came back to haunt her. In any case, the creatures she took the magic from are gone now; we couldn’t repeat that no matter how hard we tried.”
“But you can steal magic from other things?” Archie asked, clutching at straws. “Surely you can do that with something else?”
Sophie shook her head simply. “There’s nothing we can use that’s close enough.”
“It’s better this way,” the voice of Heston said from behind them.
“What!?” Archie shouted.
“Better it is one of us than someone innocent,” the Tonu added.
Morguss wheeled round, fire in her eyes.
“One of us!?” she spat. “That woman has saved this planet more times that you can imagine, and because of you she is going to die! It’s because of you this happened in the first place! If you hadn’t written the play, none of this would have happened. If you hadn’t demanded that the play took place here, none of this would have happened. This is all because of you! Don’t you dare try and lump us all together!”
“I... I never intended...” Heston tried to defend himself.
“Be quiet!” Morguss shouted, pointing her finger towards him in a sudden burst of magic.
The Tonu shrank away as the magic swirled round him, replaced by a small Mortog that croaked apprehensively.
Morguss turned back to the action on the stage. “Mr. Twaddle, you are the new director.”
Archie nodded, glancing nervously back towards the Mortog.
On the stage, the scene had changed, the magic of the Shade rearranging the set to look like the Baron’s mansion. Edna stood alone, staring bleary eyed into a mirror. The Baron stumbled onto the stage, his skin visibly greyed.
“Where have you been?” Edna asked, staring at the Baron in her mirror.
“An all night Cheat game,” the Baron replied playfully.
“That’s the fifth time this week,” Edna observed.
“The fifth time I’ve won, too!” the Baron replied.
“You’re never home anymore...” Edna whispered to herself. “You’ve changed... you’re not the man who protected me in the forest.”
“Did you say something?” the Baron asked.
Edna sighed, before turning to face the Scorchio.
“I have to leave,” she announced.
The Baron’s smirk seemed to lessen slightly, as concern surfaced momentarily.
“Why?” he asked.
“The magic I used to raise you from the dead, it angered the Faeries,” Edna explained. “They have decided that they want to take back the magic from Neopets. Those who support me are preparing to fight back. It will come to a battle, and I must fight.”
The Baron stared at her, “You’re... coming back, right?”
Edna bit her lip, before returning to her night stand. She took a small amulet from it, an unimpressive grey in colour.
“The Faeries are stupid creatures, I will outwit them.” She smiled. “But if they manage to strike me down, I have prepared this.”
She placed the amulet firmly in the Baron’s hands.
“It has the power to raise the dead, to create Zombies like yourself,” she told him. “After the battle, if I don’t return, come and find me. Raise me, and we can be together again.”
The Baron nodded, “I won’t need it. You are coming back.”
Edna took her journal from the night stand, but said nothing, only smiling at the Baron.
The scene changed again as Morguss, Sophie, and Archie watched on. A battlefield materialised before their eyes, and from the opposite side of the stage they saw another actress waiting in a daze to begin her part. The Cybunny had a pair of cardboard pink wings, and a staff with a cheap pink glass orb atop it that seemed to indicate she would be playing the part of Fyora.
The Cybunny made her way onto the stage, and Edna turned to face her, not bothering to conceal the hatred on her face.
“Fyora,” she spat.
“Esmeralda,” Fyora greeted her calmly. “It is time to stop this. You stole magic from us, give it back and this will go no further.”
Edna clutched her journal tighter.
“No!” she shouted. “Magic should be for everyone! You’ll never get this book!”
Fyora sighed. “Very well then.”
She took the staff in her hands, and suddenly the glass globe atop it seemed a great deal more magical. She pointed the staff towards Edna, and a beam of pink magic shot out from it. Edna countered with hr own magical abilities, producing a beam of green energy that collided with Fyora’s.
Archie shielded his eyes from the magic at the side of the stage.
“That’s powerful magic,” he observed.
“Powerful magic...” Morguss repeated distantly.
Morguss gasped suddenly, “The book!”
“What?” Sophie asked.
“The book!” Morguss repeated. “It’s the power of the book!”
She didn’t explain any further, but rushed forwards onto the stage. As she did so, Fyora’s magic overcame Edna’s, and the Zafara stumbled to the floor. The journal fell from her hands, and Fyora walked forwards to claim it.
But Morguss got there first. She scooped up the book in her hands, and both Fyora and Edna looked at her in surprise as if she had just appeared out of thin air.
“Esmeralda’s book!” Morguss declared. “The source of all the magic running through Neopia, and you’ve made it again!”
Morguss glanced back to Archie. “With this, we have enough power!”
Morguss opened the book and began her work. Winds whipped up out of nowhere, causing her robes to billow slightly as magic circled her. Once again, the room began to shake as the Shade’s power fought back, but this time Morguss was stronger. She drew power from the book, the Shade’s own power, and used it against itself. Edna and Fyora were forced to the floor, their bodies convulsing as the possession waned.
The quaking increased, becoming far more violent than before. The wood of the stage began to splinter and split, and plaster began to fall from the ceiling of the theatre. Suddenly, a large crack echoed through the room, deafening everyone present. Edna and Fyora stopped shaking, and the book fell to the floor. All the magic was gone; it was an innocent prop once more.
Archie wasted no time; he signalled the stagehand to lower the curtain.
Edna got to her feet shakily.
“You did it?” she asked.
Morguss nodded happily, “I added the Shade’s magic to the magic that was already running through Neopia.”
Sophie joined them on the stage. “What now?”
“Home,” Edna answered firmly. “I have had more than enough of the theatre for one day.”
The audience watched the curtain fall.
“Very impressive special effects,” a voice whispered.
“Too flashy,” another decided.
“I don’t get the ending,” one announced. “Where did Morguss come from? She wasn’t on the cast list.”
Another voice sighed. “Honestly, some people just don’t understand the theatre. Obviously, Morguss appeared as a statement that the present is a lot more progressive than the past, leaving the audience on an optimistic note as to the nature of modern society. That was obvious.”
“Oh...” the confused voice replied. “That sounds very artsy.”
“Good plays always are.”
“Ah, well in that case, it was a very good play.”
Gradually, thunderous applause spread across the seats.