Fyora and Jhudora: Secrets Within the Clouds - Part One
Our story begins at the blight of Faerieland: Jhudora’s Cloud. Though Faerieland was a wondrous place of endless sunlight and pure white clouds, still that vile place brought naught but shadow and gloom. No comforting breeze blew across those clouds; no sense of warmth or joy could ever hope to flourish near that horrid place. The air was stifling and oppressive, and even the very sunlight seemed dulled and cold. The entrance to the lair of clouds looked like the gaping maw of some swarthy beast, threatening to devour all who dared enter into its voracious gullet.
A tiny young Air Faerie, Aurora, flitted over towards the gloomy cloud. Aurora was very young by Faerie standards, and also unusually small, about the size of a faerie that had been trapped in a bottle. She was the caretaker of all the petpets of Faerieland, who accepted her as one of their own due to her small size. But today was not the day for frolicking amongst the clouds with the Faellies and Cirrus, but of a grave and important matter.
She stopped by the furthest edge of Jhudora’s domain, and whispered quietly to all of her petpet friends, “Stay right here, my friends; it’s not safe for you to come any closer. Wait right here for me, and I shan’t be gone too long.” The Faerieland petpets chirped and squealed in agreement, although one rather odd Barbat wiggled its ears and stood on one leg for no reason in particular. Aurora said farewell to them all, and continued her sojourn to the darkened cloud.
Her clear blue eyes, a blue that shamed the sky itself, examined her surroundings carefully to attest that she was not being watched or followed. Once satisfied, she brushed a strand of her short blonde hair away from her face, and continued to cautiously fly ever closer to Jhudora’s lair. Her heart beat faster the closer she got to it, as if her very body was trying to pull itself away from that place.
Many of her faerie sisters had tried to uncover the secrets hidden within those ominous clouds, but none of them had returned. She suspected Jhudora was the malefactor of these disappearances, but in order to obtain justice for her kin, Aurora knew she had to find proof; she would have to brave the darkness within the clouds. She planned to use her small size to her advantage, as she could slip into Jhudora’s lair undetected.
At the entryway, however, her heart faltered. I am but a small faerie, without any strong abilities; what can I hope to do, when others much stronger and braver than I have failed? she thought to herself.
But she remembered something very important to her, something that was once told to her by Fyora, the Faerie Queen herself: “A great faerie is not determined by her power, or even magic ability; it is in doing what we know must be done, even if we do not always have the courage to do so.” Empowered by the words of her Queen, Aurora ventured where few dared to go; into the very font of evil.
She cautiously fluttered into the entrance of the ghastly chasm and lay hidden beneath the darkened clouds, watching. Deep within the clouded lair sat Jhudora upon her throne. Her large wings were webbed, and translucent in what little light there was; her skin was a pale purple, as if it had never been touched by sunlight. But her eyes were what truly frightened Aurora: for they were full of an uncontrollable power, and flickered like the lightning before the full onslaught of the storm.
A yellow Kacheek crept up into the lair of clouds, and kneeled before her throne. Though he came willingly into Jhudora’s lair, his legs were visibly shaking, and Aurora could feel that he no more wished to be here than she did. Jhudora, drumming her spyder-like fingers across the armrest of her throne, glared upon the lowly Kacheek impatiently.
“Have you brought me what I’ve asked of you?” she whispered, her voice almost hissing through her teeth. Aurora flinched, against her will, at the sound of her voice.
The yellow Kacheek at the foot of her throne, whimpering, said, “Yes, Jhudora, I have.” He rose up his arms to her with the item in question; a Bartamus swooped down and grabbed it, then dropped it in Jhudora’s open hand.
“I shall find this most useful.” Jhudora grinned, her eyes gleaming. Her smile is more frightening than without, Aurora noticed. “Now be gone,” Jhudora announced coldly to him, before leaving her throne and turning to leave.
With a snap of her thin fingers, a pair of Bartamus flew out from the darkness of the clouds; each taking one of his arms with their claws, they began to slowly pull him out of her sight.
“But my prize-” the Kacheek started to say, but then he fell silent almost immediately. For Jhudora’s eyes were fixed at him, glowing with sudden anger; her hand began to fill with green sparks of lightning, crackling with energy. The Kacheek dared not question the Darkness Faerie any further, and so he bowed lowly, and allowed the Bartamus to drag him outside, before running off in fear.
As Jhudora slipped into the shadows with her newest acquisition, Aurora hesitated as to whether or not she should follow further. The farther away she got from the entrance, the less her chances were of being able to successfully escape. Not to mention the clouds themselves were poisonous, and those who tarried too long in Jhudora’s realm would quickly fall under their power.
Yet, she thought, I must: I must discover the truth, and inform the Queen! And so Aurora, with a motion of her hands, surrounded herself in the poisonous clouds to conceal herself; as an Air Faerie, she could last longer than most before it would take effect. Then, she would belong to Her.
She flittered silently behind Jhudora, who was drifting down a spiraling staircase that seemed to go on forever. Torches of bright green flame lit the stairway, and the walls of cloud were covered in tarnished tapestries depicting horrors Aurora could not even bear to look at. Finally, the bottom of the stairs was in sight, yet the little air faerie found no solace in what she saw.
A massive cauldron, possibly the size of the Healing Springs, lay bubbling atop an unceasing green fire. A gold ring surrounded the rim of the cauldron, etched in archaic symbols. Aurora stared in horror at the monstrous mixture; that potion could have the power to destroy Faerieland itself, if not all of Neopia!
“Bring me the offerings!” Jhudora hissed. A hoard of Bartamus, each one carrying an item, flew over the cauldron and dropped them into the frothing concoction; wisps of smoke rose into the air, like Hissis writhing in the dark. Jhudora raised her arms, and in a low rasping voice, began to chant. The harsh notes of her song carried with them a sense of despair and unrelenting anger; a song of whirling storms and lightning, with Jhudora’s dark voice the roaring thunder. The poisoned clouds echoed her baneful words, giving the effect of a dissonant choir joining the chant, lurking somewhere in the darkness. Aurora could not hear the exact words, yet they chilled her very bones at their utterance.
The symbols encircling the cauldron began to glow a deep red, but then faded just as quickly. Jhudora smiled, making Aurora instinctively shudder yet again.
“It is almost complete, and my centuries of planning will have finally come to fruition!” Aurora let out a small gasp upon hearing this; she quickly covered her mouth, but it was too late. Jhudora heard, and her baleful eyes darted about the room. With a wave of her hand, Jhudora cleared away Aurora’s shroud of clouds, and Aurora shook with fear: for she certainly could not escape Jhudora’s wrath.
A Bartamus instantly grabbed Aurora and brought her to Jhudora, who clasped her tightly in her hand.
“It seems we have a little spy in our midst,” she said menacingly. “Perhaps I’ll find a use for you as well!” Taking an empty bottle out of the folds of her sleeves, Jhudora tossed Aurora inside of it, and put the stopper in place.
“What treacherous things are you planning, Jhudora? Where are the other faeries?” Aurora demanded of her. Jhudora’s eyes glared at her, and a green spark crackled in her hand; Aurora was fearful that she would be destroyed right there on the spot.
“You insolent wretch! You dare to order me? I shall des-” However, Jhudora stopped and composed herself; her cruel smile crept upon her lips once more. “No, I shall not be rid of you yet; let me show you to your brethren.”
Setting the bottled Air Faerie down upon a table, Jhudora cried out, “To me, my servants!” The countless multitude of Bartamus flew down, and circled around her; a flurry of purple wings and haunted stares. Upon seeing Aurora’s look of dismay, Jhudora laughingly declared, “Yes, my little faerie, your brethren are right here: the very faeries sent to spy on me have become my own personal minions!”
“How far has your treachery run, Jhudora?” the Air Faerie cried out. “What other monstrosities have you committed to your kin?”
“You have no idea, my little faerie,” she replied. “Who do you think informed Balthazar that faeries can be caught? Who gave power to Scarblade, Razul and Krawley? Who do you think made a jar of pickled olives that can never be eaten?”
“NO! Stop, it is too much to bear!” Aurora exclaimed, covering her ears lest any more evils be heard. For a Faerie to do so much evil, even a Darkness Faerie, was a thought that Aurora was just not able to comprehend; Faeries were meant to help others, not to commit such vile acts.
“And now that I have you in my clutches, my little faerie,” Jhudora whispered discordantly, leaning to look down upon the poor bottled Aurora, “I intend to make you one of my servants, like so many on your kin before you. Although I must say, I am rather disappointed. The faeries who had come before you to spy on me were much more powerful than you, and could at least put up a struggle before I enslaved them. And to have a faerie as small and weak as you to even dare think you could best me, is practically insulting! Reflect on your complete and utter uselessness, and despair!” Having said this, Jhudora began to laugh fiercely; an unholy cacophony that echoed throughout the cavernous lair of clouds.
After witnessing her friends enslaved, and having her own existence belittled, Aurora could not withstand Jhudora’s presence any longer. An intensifying power began to surge through her; Aurora raised her delicate arms to the air, and a small whirlwind began to swirl about her feet. Jhudora stood motionless, too bewildered to do anything but stare with twisted mouth agape. The whirlwind began to amplify in power, so much that the bottle shook and rattled upon the table; until it finally could contain it no longer, and shattered haphazardly. Aurora was free from her glass imprisonment, if only for the moment.
Jhudora, who had covered her eyes at the moment of explosion, felt the sharp shards of glass embedded in her arm. Upon seeing her own dark blood spilt, her eyes glowed with the intensity of a lightning storm; a storm dreaded by all, that could shake the very foundations of Faerieland. She no longer wished for Aurora’s subjugation: she wanted that detestable wretch of an Air Faerie to be annihilated from existence.
Aurora sensed the bloodlust emanating from the dreaded darkness faerie, and using what little power she had left, rushed to the spiraling staircase of clouds, in the desperate hope of escaping that dire and dismal place.
“After her, do not let her escape!” Jhudora bellowed at her Bartamus army. The horde of petpets began to chase after the small faerie, who beat her wings as fast as she could. Aurora flew towards the stairway entrance, barely missing the talons of a Bartamus claw. Jhudora, seething, placed her hand on the wall; a fierce green flame ignited and began to spread along the wall towards the small faerie.
Aurora’s heart pounded erratically, her breathing abrupt, as she raced to avoid being engulfed by the flames. The cloud itself was attacking her, flashing with blasts of lightning throughout the cavernous enclave. Aurora tried desperately to dodge them all, and barely managed to create a shield of air when she could not, due to her weakened state. With each bolt, the cloud lit up like the sun, and the ensuing thunder shook the cloudy foundations. She could see the opening of the clouds in sight, yet the Bartamus were quickly catching up with her. Her small body could not hold on much longer; her power was dwindling, and she feared for her very life.
Just as a pair of sharp claws reached out to her, they were pushed aside. Aurora, glancing up, saw that a multitude of Faellies, Barbats and Cirrus had come to help her. As a pair of Faellies held Aurora up to take her away from the dark domain, the rest of the Faerie petpets fought against the Bartamus horde.
“Thank you, my friends,” Aurora whispered weakly, barely able to keep consciousness. Jhudora dared not pursue her farther, beyond her cloud; for she would quickly be seen and punished. But her anger could not be quenched, and she threw a blast of green flame and lightning upon the petpets, foe and minion alike.
Aurora’s widened eyes could not comprehend the atrocity she saw, as her petpet friends, as well as the Bartamus, her former faerie friends, were destroyed in a matter of seconds.
Tears streaming across her gentle face, Aurora, with languished voice, said to the Faellies, “Please, take me to her Highness the Faerie Queen.” Her vision began to dim, then suddenly went black as she collapsed within their arms. The two Faellies took wing, carrying her into the night; by daybreak the walls of Faerie City would come into view.
To be continued...