Herald of Darkness: Part Five
“You what?” Niante the water faerie asked, staring wide eyed up at Fyora. “You what?!”
“I believe you heard me, Niante,” the Queen said softly, looking around the Court room. Today, the mood of the hundreds of spectator faeries was somber. Their own Queen had committed a horrible act, one very unlike her indeed.
“My faerie court, what I did was wrong,” Fyora said, taking a deep breath, “and I apologize. I am ready to accept whatever order you have for me.” This caused a multitude of murmurs to rise up around the Court, each faerie whispering to her neighbor. The Faerie Queen had never stood trial before, never sat in the chair of the accused, instead of her own throne, which now stood empty.
“Punishment?” Chleofa the air faerie called. “Punishment? You had better believe you will receive a punishment, my Queen!” Fyora flinched-the way the air faerie had said the word “Queen” was not at all loving, but rather poisonous...
“It’s nice to see you recovered from your hostage situation, dear Chleofa,” Fyora said, chewing her lip. “Do you have any idea who took you?”
Chleofa paused, looking confused. Miles away, inside of her castle, Jhudora frowned into her crystal ball. It was exhausting trying to control each of the seven faeries of the Court at once, much less answer direct questions from Fyora. Xandra should be there herself, in the form of Seria, Jhudora thought, where is she?
Seria the light faerie spoke up, standing from her chair. Unnoticed by anyone, she wove a spell into her words, causing anyone around her who was unguarded to believe her every sentence... “Excuse me, Queen, but I agree with Chleofa. What you did is unacceptable--attacking one of our own sisters without provocation! I think it is time for a serious consideration...” The light faerie stood, and addressed the entire Court. “My sisters, for weeks now, our Queen has proven again and again that she cannot rule with as much authority and power as she once did. She has grown weak, confused, and tired. I fear that her time as our leader is nearing an end.” Seria raised her fist up into the air, and spoke louder still. “It’s time to elect a new Faerie Queen! Time for us to move out of the age of Fyora, who has proved that she cannot handle ruling Faerieland! Look what happened with her beloved pupil, Xandra! She wasn’t able to detect a single thing wrong with her, and yet looked where we ended up! What happened to us?!” The crowd in the Court roared their answer, sounding angry and excited. “Was Fyora there when we needed her most?”
“Was she there to support us in any of our Altador Cup matches?” Fyora flinched again--the Altador Cup remark was an accusation way below the belt.
“Was she able to lead us to victory against the Shadow Fiends?!” The spell was really taking hold now, and the audience screamed, unawares that they were being tricked by magic.
“Did our Queen need the help of lowly Neopets to rescue her own land? Did she have enough power to restrain Xandra, who is even now roaming free throughout Faerieland? My sisters, our Queen is even selling priceless artifacts of our ancestors to outsiders in a black market called the Hidden Tower!” Seria was positively screaming by now, and the crowd was so worked up that several faeries were up out of their seats, flying around the hall.
“We need a leader capable of victories, of ruling with a just and fair hand! Someone who is powerful and wise enough to navigate Faerieland around the pitfalls that Fyora blindly blunders into time and time again! We need Jhudora!!”
There was no stopping the screaming now, and Fyora knew it. She also knew that something was seriously wrong with Seria.
“JHUDORA! JHUDORA! JHUDORA-”
Why had she suggested Jhudora, the most hated faerie for Queen? Her blunder had been bad, but certainly not bad enough to elect a new Faerie Queen!
But she had no choice. When Fyora had become Queen, she had agreed to step down if her subjects so willed it. And now she had no choice but to hand over the crown to the dark faerie.
As if on cue, the doors of the Court burst open, and Jhudora flew into view, smiling and waving her hand.
“I promise peace! I promise you all will be well! That Xandra will be caught! I can rule you better than Fyora ever dreamed!” Jhudora yelled, and the crowd screamed louder. “Faeries seven of the Court, do you accept me as your new queen?” Jhudora looked around at each faerie in turn, and each shot up a fist of green sparks of their approval. The dark faerie shivered on the inside with a gleeful madness. The seven crystal balls rested in miniature form in the folds of her dress, from which she could easily control her puppets. Finally, the last faerie, Seria, shot up green sparks.
“I AM YOUR QUEEN!” Jhudora hollered, and she threw out her hand. Fyora’s staff zoomed into her waiting palm, and instantly it began to change. A dark purple seeped up the clear crystal like an invading poison, and the gentle pink sphere turned an ugly green, like that of ancient acid.
Fyora bowed her head in silence, letting her hair curtain her face. She felt her powers draining out of her body and into Jhudora’s, until she felt as she had before she had been elected Queen--like a normal faerie. She raised her head once, trying to catch the eye of any of the faeries on the court, but they were all surrounding Jhudora, congratulating her.
Then, Seria flickered from view, and was replaced, for a half second, by a Spotted Xweetok dressed in purple robes...
Fyora didn’t think. In a split second, everything made sense. Everything clicked, just from actually seeing Xandra with her own eyes... Seria had acted odd that first day because Xandra had impersonated her. All the other faeries were puppets of the Xweetok, because she remembered teaching her how to do it, and the girl taking an unusual interest in it, not to mention the warning from Veliant warning her of her capture... The castle dissolved because it too, was a puppet thing, made of magic. Jhudora held the faeries of the Court hostage, and the cell... the first warning, the prison cell... it had been something else, something not real, like the castle. Fyora guessed another, pocket dimension in which Xandra would overlay with the real...
Fyora sprang up, and threw a shining pink cord, considerably weaker than when she had the extra powers of Queen, around Seria’s neck, and dragged the light faerie down to her side. It took a couple seconds before the crowd of faeries realized what had happened, but when they had, every eye turned to the former Queen, with the light faerie hostage by her side. As soon as the cord touched Seria, her spell of infatuation broke, and most of the hundreds of assembled faeries blinked in confusion, wondering how in the world Jhudora had just come to be Queen.
“Sisters, you have been fooled.” Fyora spoke gently, looking up at the faces around her. “You have been tricked. Do you see those faeries, the seven of the Court? They are nothing more than puppets, controlled by Jhudora. And this,” Fyora motioned towards Seria, who was struggling against the magical rope on her neck, “is not whom you think.” In one fluid motion, Fyora cast a spell of cleansing on Seria, and her face began to shimmer, and melt. Finally, when it stopped, Xandra stood by Fyora, still bound by the ropes.
Instantly, the Court erupted into chaos. They yelled at Jhudora, screamed at Xandra, and argued with each other about what in Neopia was going on.
“LIAR!” Jhudora swooped down at Fyora, pointing a trembling finger at the faerie’s face. “That is not Xandra! That is a mere trick! You a villain, a scoundrel, a fraud!”
“No,” Fyora said, calm as ever. “I think you will find that this is Xandra. Any one of you, come down and perform whatever spell you like on her, to see if she is real, I urge you.”
“No! Do nothing!” Jhudora spat, chest heaving and eyes wild. “I am your QUEEN! I rule you now, not HER! SHE IS A FRAUD! I AM YOUR QUEEN!”
“You are the fraud, Jhudora,” Fyora said back, still not raising her voice. Without looking the other way, the former Queen stretched out her hand and threw a pink, magic made spear straight through Niante’s chest. The water faerie clutched it in surprise, and then fell backwards, the material that made up her puppet body dissolving into purple sparks.
“The rest of the seven are the same,” Fyora said, setting the crowd murmuring again. “And I think you need to make a decision about where your loyalties are. Xandra seems to be escaping.”
And indeed it was. Slowly, the cord around the Xweetok’s neck was thinning, and she gave a little gaggle of triumph. Being found out was not at all in her plan, and Jhudora seemed to be falling apart at the seams. Xandra could see that she could not salvage their plan, and it also looked like Jhudora never intended to share the throne anyways. It was time to go.
But, as soon as the cords broke free, hundreds more of varying color twisted themselves all over her body, binding her so tightly that she couldn’t move. Every faerie in the Court had thrown out spells of binding at the Xweetok, and now Jhudora looked ready to explode.
“How... dare... you... disobey... me...” the dark faerie said in a soft, quivering voice. “How dare you... I... am... your... QUEEN!!” And suddenly, with a great scream of anger, Jhudora threw herself at Fyora, trying to claw her face. Fyora threw up a weak shield, and staggered back. The dark faerie had the powers of Queen now, and was much more powerful than any normal faerie. The shield broke with Jhudora’s impact, but again, the Court came to Fyora’s aid.
Hundreds of faeries all cast spells at Jhudora, who deflected them with fury unlike that ever seen before.
“BOW DOWN TO ME, SISTERS!” Jhudora called, forcing every faerie to bow to her whim. Even Fyora couldn’t resist the spell... it was too strong... a voice spoke in her head, telling her to obey Jhudora, that everything would be alright... then, the entire north wall of the Court exploded, and standing amidst the rubble stood the seven faeries of the Court, each with her hand outstretched. As one, they attacked Jhudora, and broke through the magic, destroying the little voices in Fyora’s head. The seven faeries joined together, chanting under their breath. A shining, molten golden circle appeared in the air, and a triangle formed inside of that. A square traced itself inside the triangle. The faeries were summoning the most powerful faerie glyph of binding possible.
Then, with a single shout, they threw out the gleaming shape. It smashed into Jhudora, and slammed her against the wall of the Court. Ropes made of thread woven from what looked like sun fire wrapped around every inch of the dark faerie’s body, and when they finished, threw her down next to Xandra.
“Sorry we were late, Fyora,” the real Chleofa said, brushing a bit of dust from her shoulder. “Captain Riggs had trouble finding us, but she got there eventually.”
Fyora smiled, and embraced each of the seven in a hug.
“Now, I believe you have some business that needs taking care of?” Seria asked, stepped forward. “All in favor of re-electing Fyora as Faerie Queen?” A mass roar came from all the faeries, and each of the seven on the court shot green sparks into the air. Smiling, Fyora walked over and plucked her staff from the stone floor besides Jhudora. Another surge of encouragement came from the crowd, and Fyora flew slowly out of the Court room, onto the balcony of the Court Palace, were thousands of faeries had assembled when they had sensed the magical transition of a new Queen being elected. Fyora stood on the balcony, and swept her eyes over all the faeries, smiling gently.
“My sisters, many wrongs have been done in the past few weeks,” the Queen said. “I am terribly sorry. I acted as I should not have, on the fear that my old student was coming back and Jhudora as well. Unfortunately, I was right. I acted rashly, though, out of fear for Faerieland. I did not want a repeat of a few months ago. For that, I apologize. And now I must ask something very big of all of you--too much magical destruction has been wrought of late, and it has left scars of both physical and spiritual damage on our precious home.” The Queen raised her staff, which emitted a bright beam of light, illuminating the coming evening dark. “I must ask all of you to assist me in a spell that will undo the magics that have been cast recently. A magic to Undo magics.” Silently, hundreds of thousands of heads nodded, and, without another spoken command, each and every faerie began to hum.
Every faerie child was taught the ancient spell of Undoing when they were old enough to fly. It was embedded in their very blood, the Undoing, and they needed no practice in the casting. Slowly, in the Court room, stone crept up Xandra’s body, and in the dungeons of Faerie City, her cell began to rebuild itself. The remaining faerie puppets dissolved into dust, and their controlling crystal balls melted away. The repairs of the last days tore down as well, for there was no controlling the Undoing’s boundaries. The pocket dimension in which the seven faeries of the Court were held collapsed in on itself and many other things besides righted themselves once again.
When the song was sung, and the last voices died down, Fyora strode one last time into the Court, found Jhudora standing there, staring transfixed at the Faerie Queen.
“Go,” Fyora said tiredly to Jhudora, then turned and left. The dark faerie needed no further punishment--her fellow sisters would give her hard enough times as it was.
The Faerie Queen found once again herself looking out the window of her personal chambers, staring at stained glass. It seemed all was well once again with Faerieland--the rebuilding was going smoothly, and quests were continuing, as always. And for once, the Queen felt puzzled. There had been no sudden end to the conflict, no massive fight at the end, nothing to mark the stop of an era that would have plunged all the faeries into darkness, far beyond that of the dark faeries.
“Maybe how that’s how it’s supposed to be,” Fyora whispered, the corners of her mouth twitching slightly. “An end without an end.” And with that, the sun set below the lip of the last hill, and the land was cloaked in a deep darkness, but not that kind that brought danger and destruction. This darkness welcomed all, and heralded a kingdom of shining stars, awaiting the light of the morning sun.