A Conversation with the Darkest Faerie
“Here you are, Xandra,” Queen Fyora said, using her magic to carry the Speckled Xweetok statue as she walked.
Xandra glared at the faerie with as much hatred as she could muster; unfortunately for her, it didn’t register on her face. She had been turned to stone and was perpetually frozen in form: her arms stretched out laughably in front of her, her hair was curled in stiff tangles, and her face was wrought with a murderous expression that had been directed at Hanso as he impaled the amulet with his dagger.
They were in the Queen’s palace, the gardens to be more exact. Xandra had hoped that Fyora’s personal plant nursery would have been destroyed when Faerieland crashed into Neopia’s surface, but unlike most of Faerieland, the gardens seemed completely unscathed. Paths of white pebble stones formed a number of windy walkways through the garden, leading to small sitting areas with stone benches and ivy-draped gazebos. A few choice paths even led into the heart of the palace. Everywhere the speckled Xweetok looked—which was a task in itself since she could hardly move her eyeballs—she saw green plants, grasses, and vines, while large flowers flourished, exploding with dazzling displays of color. Sweet scents like the richest of perfumes wafted past her nose and made her want to sneeze; of course, even that simple biological act was impossible as stone.
The garden was interwoven with layers of magic, but Xandra knew that it wasn’t merely to ensure that the plants would prosper; the garden was for all intents and purposes a prettier looking prison than the dank dungeons beneath the castle. And sure enough, as Queen Fyora magically levitated Xanda’s statue across the gardens, she saw her: the Darkest Faerie.
The dark faerie that had almost succeeded in corrupting all of Altador and making it her own was no more than a few feet away, nestled in the dirt like a plant herself and shaded under a tall willow tree. She had been turned to stone too for her wicked deeds, and she looked just as inelegant as Xandra: her hands were clenched, her long hair was splayed wildly above her head like flames, and her face was contorted in rage.
Queen Fyora, as flawless as ever, waved her hand at a bit of grass beside the Darkest Faerie, revealing rich brown dirt. It was there that she positioned Xandra. She even took a moment to brush away the dirt that had wound up on her petrified shoe before staring at her sadly.
“Xandra, Xandra, Xanda,” the Queen said, her lilac eyes sad. “You had so much promise.”
And YOU have so much annoyingness, Xandra thought, wishing her gaze could set Fyora’s fine silk gown on fire.
“I still have hope for you, though,” the Queen said, putting her hand on Xandra’s shoulder. “But for now, you must rest here and reflect on what you’ve done.” Fyora withdrew her slender fingers, and without looking back she walked away from the two statues, disappearing into her palace.
Xandra was about to resign herself to throwing a silent tantrum when she heard a voice floating through her head that was most definitely not Fyora’s.
I promise you, the voice said, that “reflecting on what you’ve done” lasts for a total of five seconds. After that, you just get really bored.
Xandra almost jumped out of her petrified fur. She glanced to the left, where the Darkest Faerie’s statue was. It hadn’t moved a muscle, but she was fairly certain the deep, rich voice had come from it. You can hear my thoughts? she directed at her. Ugh, I should have known. When Hanso and I were frozen, he just kept blathering insults at me like we were still fighting. “Until I met you, I didn’t even know there was such a thing as an Ugly Paint Brush!” Please, who does he think he’s kidding?
You can’t go wrong with the truth, hon.
Xandra glared at the Darkest Faerie. Here she was, one of the most powerful beings in all of Neopia who had nearly taken over the world. Normally Xandra would have been impressed, but now all she could see was another meddling faerie getting in her way. It wore her patience extremely thin. Oh hush. You’re just another faerie. You’re no better than the rest of them.
No better? The faerie scoffed. If what I heard about you is true, you’re as power hungry as the rest of us! You don’t have to lie to me—I know all about the allure of power. So just quit all of your “I was just trying to save Neopia” garbage and see yourself for what you are: a villain. The Darkest Faerie paused for a moment, but Xandra could hear the note of smugness in her voice. Just like me.
Xandra would have loved to refute her, to throw the statue’s words back in her face, but she couldn’t. Sure, long ago when she had first realized that the faeries of Neopia were selfish magical beings, her plans had been noble. But as time progressed and her dream got closer to becoming a reality, it became less and less about fixing Neopia and more and more about gaining power for herself. The first time she had ever cast a spell, she had loved the feeling flooding her veins, the knowledge that she could do things most Neopians couldn’t. And as she played Hanso, Brynn and all the others like chess pieces, she felt the same rush, the same surge of energy. The Neopian Times had immortalized her ultimate rise to power in a cover story only a few weeks ago. On the front page was a picture of her standing tall with her long green hair flying in the wind as Faerieland crashed behind her. She had never felt anything more amazing in her entire life.
And it had ended all too soon.
What a beautiful daydream, the Darkest Faerie smirked.
Xandra shot her a look, feeling blood rush to her cheeks. Wow, you’re intrusive. Is that how you amuse yourself? Reading other people’s private thoughts? And what are you even doing in here? I thought there was news that King Altador was out looking for you?
They misplaced me when they evacuated Faerieland. For a while they thought I was just another dark faerie, but Altador found me pretty quickly. And you’re the only one I’ve gotten to speak to in a while, the Darkest Faerie admitted. Fyora walks through here occasionally, but her mind is so protected with spells that she can’t even hear it when I curse at her. She doesn’t even realize it’s possible for me to see and hear everything that’s going on. But it’s no fun provoking someone who can’t argue back; you’re a welcome change of scenery.
Xandra felt her blood boil at the nerve of the statue beside her; obviously the dark faerie had never heard of common courtesy. Well then, she snarled, if you’re reading my thoughts, I’m guess that means I can go ahead and read yours. And before the Dark Faerie could stop her, Xandra was in her head. But instead of reading her thoughts, she seemed to have found her way into the Darkest Faerie’s memories, one memory in particular: the faerie taking over Altador.
The scenes were ones of utter destruction. Purple vines shot up from the earth, covered in black thorns the size of daggers. Citizens screamed in terror as buildings cracked and toppled. The sky meanwhile was nearly black with pink bolts of lightning crackling like fire and the deep ominous rumble of thunder. It was a horrible vision, but beautiful in a completely evil way.
Hmm, not bad, Xandra complimented halfheartedly, withdrawing from her thoughts. She was actually a bit impressed. For a faerie, you’re not half bad. At least you’re not prancing about Faerieland asking for items or trying to save the world.
I pride myself on not “prancing” about, hon. I worked hard, harder than any of those good-for-nothing sisters of mine do. I trained myself for years to take over that land, building up my power, mapping out plans. It’s a ruddy shame that I was thwarted in the end.
Her words struck a familiar chord with Xandra. The painful memories of Hanso tricking her into overloading the artifact still stung. She had been so close! But her own curse on the faeries had backfired, and now she was stone as well.
You know, despite the obvious failures in your plan, the Darkest Faerie said, I have to admit that I was pretty impressed that you turned Fyora to stone. I mean, as a faerie—she emphasized the word and Xandra knew she was relishing the fact that it made the speckled Xweetok’s skin crawl—it’s not too difficult of a spell. But you, a Neopet, managed to do it... and to the Queen no less! Ever since she first banished me to an eternity as a statue, I wished someone would do the same to her, let her know what it felt like. Sure, she was like that for only three months, nowhere near long enough, but I took what I could get.
How did you even know what was going on in Faerieland? Xandra asked. You’re trapped in here. I doubt Fyora gives her enemies the royal treatment here with complementary issues of the Neopian Times and all.
I brainwashed a palace servant who was foolish enough to walk in here one day into updating me, the Darkest Faerie answered nonchalantly. I do it every so often once I build up enough residual power. That’s the thing about being turned to stone: you still have magic inside of you, but it’s so solid and sluggish that it takes forever to accomplish anything.
Xandra instantly knew she was right. Even now she could barely feel the traces of magic inside of her; she couldn’t imagine how long it would take to garner enough to cast a competent spell.
I’ll never gather enough to break out of this prison, the Darkest Faerie continued, but brainwashing Neopians into telling me about the latest going-ons keeps me occupied. I hear it all: the Advent Calendar gifts, the New Games Challenge, and of course that stupid Altador Cup. Did you know they resurrected it once Altador was rediscovered? I thought I had rid myself of that stupid game when I nearly destroyed the land.
Of course I know, Xandra said wearily. For the past five years I’ve watched the Faerieland team lose game after game. They really need to change up the roster or the coach or something; it’s a bit pathetic.
Maybe the team colors, the Dark Faerie suggested, sounding disgusted. Pink isn’t working. The purple is all right in my opinion but it needs to be darker. I mean, who can take them seriously when they look like cotton candy on the field? Sometimes I’m tempted to root for Altador since it’s my homeland, but it’s not like they do much better.
I understand you. Believe me, I do. Xandra looked at her. It was odd, but she had never expected to feel any sort of kinship with a faerie. Yet here she was, chatting it up with the Darkest Faerie as if she had known her for years rather than minutes.
But it was at the moment that a door to the garden suddenly swung open and in glided none other the Queen of Faeries. Fyora took careful steps down the pebble paths, gently touching flowers as she passed and watching them bloom widely at her touch.
What’s she doing in here? Xandra asked, disgusted, but the Darkest Faerie didn’t have a reply.
Fyora continued walking through the garden until she stopped in front of the two statues under the willow tree. Her lilac eyes brushed over the Darkest Faerie for only a second; it was Xandra whom she studied.
The speckled Xweetok glared back at her defiantly, feeling strange as the Queen looked at her with an odd sadness on her face. Be sad, she thought. You saved that stupid Ixi and left me as a stone. She could hear the Darkest Faerie silently laughing at her side.
Finally, with a sigh, Fyora left the gardens and disappeared into the palace.
Ugh, what’s her deal? Xandra complained grumpily. Does she do this often? Come in the garden just to stare at the faces of her enemies and gloat about how she won yet again?
Actually, the Darkest Faerie said, sounding a bit thoughtful, she doesn’t.
Then why was she looking at me like that?
I think it’s because she still believes in you.
Xandra blinked. Believes in me? Who are you kidding? I nearly destroyed her entire kingdom and she still believes in me?
Well, she never comes in to study me, the Darkest Faerie said bitterly. I’ve betrayed her twice, way too many times for her to ever think of letting me free. She paused, letting silence fall between them for a few moments, before adding, I think one day she’ll let you out.
Really? Xandra didn’t entirely trust the faerie, but at the same time she could feel that longing to be free. Already she could feel her heart pounding in her chest, her limbs aching to move, the weakened magic inside of her stirring.
But she knew that even if she was released from her stone prison she wouldn’t truly be free. Fyora would have her in her pretty manicured clutches, ready to try and convert her star pupil to the side of good. Something Xandra knew would never happen. At least having her own skin back would give her a second opportunity to have the power she craved, but without the element of surprise and with everyone watching her so closely, there was no way she’d be able to do it alone.
She glanced to her right. You know, she said slowly, maybe if I get free, I’ll figure a way to get you out too.
The Darkest Faerie snorted. I doubt it. You’re a villain, remember? You don’t think about others, just about yourself.
Xandra couldn’t help but smile. Maybe I do, but maybe I’m just a bit less conventional of a villain than you are. It could happen. But now, she said, let’s get serious: If we could redo the entire Team Faerieland roster, who would you put on it?