The Prophecy Faeries 2: Imagen's Revenge - Part Two
PART TWO: THE SPELL
The four friends sat up late that night, discussing what Clarisse had seen and what it might mean.
“Maybe it’s nothing,” said Victoria. “Maybe the twins really are just starting a club.”
“It didn’t feel that way,” insisted Clarisse. “This sorcerer named Drake... I don’t like the sound of it at all.”
“Me neither,” said Hortensia, who was truly concerned for her sister.
“You know what’s really bothering me?” mused Bernadette. “One of the twins said that they had asked to meet with us, and that we refused. But they’ve never talked to me at all.” The four friends exchanged glances; it was clear that none of them had ever spoken with the twins.
“Why would they lie about something like that?” Victoria wondered aloud.
“I think it’s all a lie,” said Bernadette. “To convince Elesempra, and those other light faeries, to spy on us and give information to Drake, whoever he is.”
“Who in Neopia would want information about us and our magic?” said Hortensia.
“I can only think of one person. Imagen,” said Bernadette.
“I suppose their story about a scholar wanting to know about us could be true,” said Victoria. “Some scholars study magic, after all, so it could be perfectly harmless. But it seems odd, doesn’t it, that a scholar who wanted information about us would rely on Harmony and Melody to collect that information for him. Wouldn’t he just try to meet with us?”
“Unless he’s really Imagen,” said Bernadette. “With everyone in Neopia looking for an Eyrie named Imagen, he can’t use his real name. Maybe Drake is an alias that he’s using. Somehow he met Harmony and Melody and convinced them to spy on us or something and find out everything about us, so he’ll know how to defeat us.”
“It’s a good theory,” said Hortensia after a moment. “But I don’t think Harmony and Melody are interested in dark sorcery or world domination. If they’re working for Imagen, they don’t know that they’re working for Imagen.”
“That must be why the vision felt so strange,” muttered Clarisse. “When I sensed the twins’ feelings, they didn’t have emotions like they were lying, but everything they were saying still felt like a lie. It must be that Drake, or Imagen if that’s who it is, is lying to them, but they don’t know it.”
“They’re still dangerous,” said Bernadette. “They’re probably spying on us and everything, trying to find out all about us.”
“Hopefully they’re just relying on Elesempra to do it for them,” said Victoria. “How much do you think Ella will tell them, Tenny?”
“I need to talk to her,” replied Hortensia. “If all of this is part of Imagen’s plan, we need to find out as much as we can. If I explain to Ella that all of this has to do with the prophecy, I know she’ll agree to help us. She can give false information to the twins, and spy on them for us. Maybe she can find out more about this sorcerer, and where we can find him.”
“I don’t know, Ella seemed awfully happy to be accepted by the Shallow Elite,” said Bernadette. “Are you sure she’d understand?”
“If I tell her that the twins really believe what they told her, but that they’re being tricked by a dark sorcerer, she’ll help us,” said Hortensia.
“If she believes you,” said Victoria.
“I’ll find her today and talk to her, and see what she says,” said Hortensia.
“Don’t talk to her today,” Clarisse reminded her. “Remember, this vision is of the future. The meeting hasn’t happened yet. When I overheard the twins inviting her, they said it would take place on Friday. Since it’s after midnight right now, it’s officially Friday, so the meeting takes place later today. Wait until tomorrow to talk to her.”
“Okay,” Hortensia agreed.
Their conversation ended several minutes later, and they were all going back to sleep when Clarisse stopped and stared at the poster on the bathroom door. She read through the prophecy several times, realizing what it was that she had nearly discovered the day before.
“Claire, what’s up?” asked Victoria, moving to stand beside her friend.
“What does the word ‘duet’ make you think of?” Clarisse asked.
“Music,” said Bernadette, who had joined them. Hortensia slid off her bed and walked over to stare at the prophecy as well.
“Two people playing music,” Hortensia clarified.
“And what do the names Harmony and Melody make you think of?” Clarisse asked. Hortensia gasped, understanding what Clarisse meant.
“A duet,” said Victoria and Bernadette at the same time.
“ ‘Beware the duet,’” Clarisse recited. “The duet is the twins.”
“But we thought it was just another word for duo,” said Victoria. “Imagen and a partner, maybe.”
“ ‘Who cloak darkness with light,’” said Bernadette. “Of course! They’re light faeries. Nobody suspects light faeries of doing anything dark, right?”
“But how powerful can they be?” scoffed Victoria. “Why would the prophecy tell us to beware them? I thought it would be something very serious, not a couple of light faeries starting a club.”
“Good point,” said Hortensia.
“But if they really are spying on us, they could be dangerous,” said Bernadette. “If they’re giving information directly to Imagen, that could be very bad for us. Plus, the prophecy mentions an informer.”
“Fair enough,” said Victoria. “Okay, so if the duet is Melody and Harmony, what’s the Dragon? I thought the Dragon was the informer, not the duet. What’s a dragon, anyway?”
“It made me think of dragonbud,” said Hortensia, who, being an earth faerie, was an expert on plants. “You know, the plant that eats pests. And there’s snapdragons, the flowers.”
“Like in Chokato Snapdragon Lollipops,” added Bernadette.
“Ew, you actually eat those?” asked Victoria, looking rather disgusted.
“But it’s got to be a pet, because it says ‘his wings’,” Clarisse said, interrupting Bernadette’s reply. “I don’t see how it could be a plant.”
After a moment, Clarisse added, “That’s a good idea, Tenny.” Hortensia blushed as she realized that Clarisse had heard her thoughts.
“What’s a good idea?” Bernadette, who was often annoyed when Clarisse’s mind-reading powers left her out of a conversation, asked exasperatedly.
“I was just thinking that maybe Dragon is a name,” said Hortensia. “Maybe he’s named after dragonbud or snapdragons. After all, Hentoff wrote it with a capital letter. It’s capitalized because it’s a name.”
“Good idea,” said Victoria, “but I don’t see what that has to do with the twins. They’re listed one after the other, like the duet and the Dragon are connected.”
“You’re right,” agreed Hortensia, “I think they’re connected somehow.”
“You know what I just thought of?” said Bernadette. “My little sister has this toy, called a New Year Yurble Dragon.”
“Oh, I’ve seen those,” said Victoria. “I wonder why they’re called dragons.”
“Maybe that’s what this Dragon guy looks like,” laughed Bernadette, “except with wings!”
“Maybe he’s blue, and that’s what the sky reference means,” said Victoria with mock seriousness.
“This is getting ridiculous,” sighed Hortensia.
“We should probably get some sleep,” said Victoria. “We’ve got Magic History class first thing.”
The other three agreed, and soon they were all asleep once more, resolving to uncover the meaning in the prophecy another day.
Later that morning, the sun was just beginning to rise over Meridell. A thin fog clung to the grassy hills and slopes surrounding the city. The air was damp with an early morning mist. A chilly breeze blew gently along, rustling the leaves of the trees. The sun’s orange rays pierced through the fog, blocked only by the looming shadow of Darigan Citadel, suspended high above.
There was little activity on Meridell’s farms, for it was early in the month of Storing, and harvest season had ended. The small shops that lined the grassy lanes were coming to life. Meridell’s citizens rushed about, preparing for the day’s work. Turdle Racing and Cheese Roller were just opening for the day, and many tourists headed into Illusen’s Glade, hoping for a quest.
A small starry Draik and a mysterious shadow Eyrie were making their way up to Meridell Castle. The Draik wore the uniform of a servant in the castle. The Eyrie wore a long, sweeping black cloak with the hood pulled up about his face, hiding his features.
“Keep up, Imagen,” called the Draik as the Eyrie, who was stepping gingerly to avoid mud puddles, fell behind.
“Drake, don’t use my name!” Imagen hissed. “I told you, someone might overhear us.”
“Sorry,” said the Draik with a careless shrug. He turned and trudged up the dirt path once more, heading for one of several servants’ entrances to the castle.
Imagen glanced around warily. The dirt path wound around the back entrance of the castle, out of sight of the guards at the front. Except for the occasional servant, like Drake, the path was deserted. Better yet, it was lined with trees. Of course, most of them had lost their leaves by now, and the bare branches did little to hide the path from onlookers. However, the scarce protection of the trees was far better than being out in the open.
When Imagen had first come to Meridell to study the entrances to the castle, he had decided that the servants’ entrance would be the best way to enter the castle without being seen by many people. It had been a stroke of luck that his cousin Drake worked in Meridell Castle. All he’d had to do was bribe Drake to go along with his plans.
“Come on!” Drake called, glancing back down the path. Imagen gritted his teeth irritably. As soon as possible, he decided, he would try to dispose of his obnoxious cousin. That, however, would have to wait, for he had more important things to do at the moment, and he needed all the help he could get.
The two pets continued up the path and approached the guard, who was standing beside the smaller drawbridge across the moat, checking the identities of the numerous servants of the castle as they arrived for work.
“Why, hello, Drake,” said the Moehog guard as the Draik approached. “And who is this?” he asked, eyeing the Eyrie suspiciously.
“This is my cousin, Idris,” said Drake. “He’s visiting me and my family for a while. He wanted to see where I work.”
“I’m not really supposed to let in visitors without authorization,” said the Moehog hesitantly.
“He’ll leave in a few hours, I promise,” said Drake.
“All right,” said the guard, “but if anyone catches you, I never gave you permission, all right?”
“Thanks,” said Drake, and he and Imagen walked past the guard and into the depths of the castle.
“Okay,” Imagen whispered once they were inside. “I need you to distract the king for me, so I can sneak up behind him and cast the spell.”
“I know,” said Drake, rolling his eyes. “You’ve explained this a thousand times. Get into the room, tell a joke, distract the king, cast the spell. I’ve got it. But why did we have to come through the servants’ entrance? We could have just pretended to be tourists and entered with everyone else.”
“I’ve told you before,” said Imagen irritably, “Fyora knows what I look like. She may have warned other rulers to look out for a shadow Eyrie. If Skarl told his guards, they will be suspicious of me. Word that I’m here must not get to Fyora. She can’t know until it’s too late to stop me.”
After entering through the servants’ door, Drake led Imagen through a confusing maze of twisting corridors, lit only by torches anchored upon the walls. Their footsteps echoed so loudly on the stone that Imagen feared it would draw attention to them. As he muttered a spell under his breath, there was a small flash of magical sparks, and their footsteps were silenced.
They walked through stone corridors for several minutes until they reached the front of the castle, where they joined the long line of Neopians who waited outside the throne room to tell King Skarl a joke. Imagen eyed the guard at the entrance carefully. He was a small Techo who was clearly bored, and barely glanced at each Neopian who approached the king.
“Next,” called the guard as the Shoyru in front of them finished his joke. Drake and Imagen both moved forward. “Wait,” said the Techo, “only one at a time.”
“But we’ve practiced our routine together,” argued Drake. “We’ve worked very hard on it, and we really think that Skarl will be impressed—”
As Drake spoke, Imagen whispered a spell, and brushed up against the guard so that the orange light emanating from his paw made contact with the Techo.
“All right,” said the Techo suddenly as he fell under Imagen’s spell. “You may go together.” The guard stared forward blankly, in a trance, as Imagen and Drake entered the room.
The room was mostly circular, with grey stone walls like the rest of the castle. The ceiling was unbelievably high, arching up so far over their heads that they could barely see the massive beams that held it up. In the center of the room was the king’s ornate throne, mounted on the center of a round stone dais. The rounded outer wall was covered with a thick royal tapestry, richly coloured in yellow, red, and blue, depicting the faces of all of Meridell’s past kings. The stone floor was covered in a massive round carpet; it was bright yellow and ringed by a red border. A curving red rug led the way from the doorway where they had entered to the steps of the king’s throne.
Sitting upon the plush red cushion of the throne was, of course, King Skarl. Dressed in rich red robes trimmed in fur, the king looked just as Imagen had always imagined him: slightly bored and extremely grumpy. Imagen glanced quickly at the small gold crown set atop Skarl’s head, the crown that Imagen wanted.
“Tell your joke,” said Skarl grumpily, barely glancing up as they walked in. Drake stepped forward to begin his joke.
“What should you do if a team of intelligent sorcerers pays a visit to Meridell?” Drake began. With Skarl distracted and the guard in a trance, Imagen sneaked around behind Skarl’s throne and began his spell.
Skarl seemed to consider the question for a moment, giving Imagen plenty of time to cast the intricate spell. Imagen muttered a long string of words in the sorcerer’s language, and a strong orange light began to swirl around his fingertips. As he continued speaking, the light grew larger and larger until it spread away from Imagen and engulfed Skarl, who was oblivious to its existence.
“I don’t know,” said Skarl finally. “What’s the answer?” At that moment, the spell took hold, and Skarl’s eyes glazed over, becoming empty and dead.
His spell complete, Imagen emerged from behind the throne and stood beside his cousin. He looked Skarl straight in the eyes and Skarl, entranced, stared back, his expression completely blank.
“You do as I say,” said Imagen softly, magic coating his voice.
“I do as you say,” Skarl repeated dully, his face expressionless.
“Send everyone away, including your guards,” commanded Imagen, “but tell them to let us remain.”
Skarl quickly ordered his guards to force all the Neopians out, and commanded them to remain outside themselves. The guards looked suspiciously at Imagen and Drake, but they followed the king’s orders.
“I can’t believe it worked!” said Drake when they were alone with the king.
“I told you it would,” said Imagen smugly.
“Remember, you’re going to make me ruler of the Lost Desert when you take over,” added Drake. “Since I helped you get in to see the king.”
“Of course,” Imagen said smoothly. “I made a promise, didn’t I?” If Drake had been facing his cousin, he would have seen that Imagen’s eyes betrayed his lie; but Drake was staring at the bewitched king, and noticed nothing.
“Are you going to make yourself king now?” asked Drake excitedly.
“Not right now,” said Imagen. “It will be too suspicious. I must make sure that the king is completely under my control. And I have to get to Hagan, too. This will be easier if I can get Brightvale’s support. But soon, very soon, the throne will be mine, and all of Neopia will follow.”
To be continued...