Faerie Wars I: The Six Kingdoms - Part Six
Everyone was silent, for just a moment. When the shock wore off, the whispers started up: "Did she say what I think she said?" "I would have assumed they would mix the girls' names..." "What does she mean, 'Uriela'? What about Nezza?" "Well, I can't imagine that's right... Uri can't lead on her own, can she?" "If I had had to pick one, I certainly would not have chosen Uri over Nezza." "Oh, poor Nezza..."
The sisters glanced at each other in confusion. Nereza's face was burning with humiliation.
"I'm sure she has made a mistake," Uriele whispered in her sister's ear, though the shake in her voice betrayed her uncertainty.
"Uriele," said Morwen loudly. "Please come forward."
The light faerie gulped, but did as she was told. "Morwen," she said quietly, "I think there's been a mistake..."
"Many blessings to our new fyora, Uriele, daughter of Demelza!" cried Morwen, ignoring Uriele completely. "May she lead us safely through these dark days." She held out her staff to Uriele, who hesitantly accepted it.
Nereza could not keep still any longer. She stepped forward. "What is the meaning of this, Morwen?!" she demanded. "You said Ellie and I would be fyora together!"
"Things have changed, Nereza," said the light faerie sternly. "It has become clear to me for some time now that Uriele is more than capable of doing this on her own. Your services are not required."
"This is preposterous! You said yourself the night before we left—not a fortnight ago—that Uriele and I need to be fyora together because we are not strong enough apart!"
"You misunderstood me, as usual. You are not capable of being fyora without the aid of your sister. She, on the other hand, can function by herself perfectly well. It is not wise to put someone in power that must be dependent on another."
"No," said Nereza. "That is not what you said or meant. You said you were pairing us together because we complete each other. 'Apart, you are both inadequate. Together, you would be indestructible.' That is exactly what you said. Forgive me if I fail to see what I might have misunderstood."
Morwen laughed, and stated plainly, "I said no such thing." To the crowd, she said, "It looks as if I made the correct choice. Not only is our beloved Nereza incapable of accepting my decision with grace, but she is also a liar."
"I am no liar!" the dark faerie exclaimed. "Ask anyone in the tribe. They will agree I am an honest faerie. They will attest to my integrity." She looked at her sister. "Ellie, please, help me here."
"Even now you need your younger sister's assistance!" yelled the former fyora.
The crowd was becoming extremely confused and uncomfortable. None wanted to oppose Morwen (whom they considered was still more or less fyora), but they also knew Nereza. They knew she was truthful and humble, unlike her sister, who enjoyed playing pranks and boasting.
The proverbial ball was in Uriele's court, and she didn't know what to do with it. She knew she should come to her sister's aid and face down Morwen together as a force. She knew she ought to instate Nereza as fyora herself, as was now her right to do. She knew this was unfair. And yet... it was terribly enticing. The power that came with the position of fyora was unlike anything else. She would be entirely in her right to command the entire tribe, including her older sister, and they would have to obey without question.
She examined the staff that was now hers. It was beautiful: the color of the sky, long and slender, with a pink-purple orb at the top. Morwen had explained once that it had been passed down to her by her teacher, and her teacher before her, since its creation at the hands of the ancient faeries. Uriele had believed it at once, and feeling it in her hands now as she was, she believed it even more. This was a staff of the ancients, and now it was hers. She understood it was only as powerful as the one wielding it, but as far as she was concerned, she was the most powerful faerie in the world. She felt the staff's spirit thrumming through it, and made up her mind.
"You must fix this, Ellie," implored her sister. "You can make me fyora yourself; you must do this."
Nereza flinched, completely startled. The rest of the tribe was stunned into silence. Even Morwen seemed taken aback.
"I apologize, Nereza," said Uriele, surprising everyone with the use of her sister's full name. "Morwen has made her decision. She would not have done this without very good reason. As fyora, I will respect this and perform my duties the way I must. You are freed from any further obligation. I accept this burden for myself."
One of the earth faeries fainted. Those near her caught her and tried to bring her to. One of the air faeries cried out, "You will be a miserable fyora without your sister to keep you in check! You have not her reason or wisdom!"
Uriele scowled, deeply offended, and before she realized what she was doing, she flicked her hand and the air faerie was flung aside. "Listen here," she said loudly, sweat beads on her forehead; "I am your fyora now. If anyone takes offense or issue with this, you are free to seek out another tribe." She smiled then, tossing some of her blond hair behind her shoulder. "Besides, you all know me. I am the most powerful faerie here; probably even in the entire world. You ought to be honored."
No one said anything. Even Nereza was unable to speak. She felt only numbness inside.
"As my first motion as fyora," Uriele went on, "I hereby exile Morwen from the Uriela tribe and forbid her from ever returning."
Morwen's face drained of color. "Now wait just one moment—" she began, but the rest of the tribe would never know what she was about to say next, for at that moment, someone yelled from the other end of the settlement.
"Faeries of the Morwena Tribe!" they called. "You are hereby ordered to pack up all your belongings. It is time for you to join the ranks of the Six Kingdoms!"
Distracted from the issue at hand, the faeries began to mutter again among themselves. "Six Kingdoms? What are they?" "Who is she?" "Why is there a large army of faeries with her?"
Uriele moved through the crowd and came forward to see the newcomers. "This is the Uriela tribe now," she declared. "I am the fyora. Who are you and what do you want?"
The faerie, an air faerie, stepped forward. "I am Aeris," she said, "and we are here to claim those of our type. All air faeries are now members of the respectable Air Kingdom. Likewise, we have heard your tribe has four earth types, two light, and one dark. This was very annoying, by the way; most tribes have the good sense to have only one or two types."
"I don't believe I follow you."
"Then let me make it clearer." Two other air faeries came up behind her. "All of you are to come with us, now. The air faeries are to make their new home in the Air Kingdom; meanwhile, we will leave the rest of you with your respective kingdoms. So, as I said, pack your things."
Uriele narrowed her eyes. "You intend to separate my tribe?" she asked. "Under whose authority?"
Aeris smirked. "I had hoped you wouldn't be difficult. This is my final warning: pack your things and come quietly, or we will take you all prisoner. Believe me; it is far easier to do it my way."
"Ha!" Uriele tossed her staff into her other hand and smacked it against the ground, as if to prove a point. "I am afraid you have no idea who you are dealing with."
"Nor do you."
Everything from that moment happened so quickly that hardly any of them understood it. The air faeries seemed endless, and they fought relentlessly. Uriele prepared to turn Aeris into stone, but Morwen, with a bag around her shoulder, came up behind her and knocked her down, stopping the spell. She cast a spell of her own, and Uriele found herself crippled by it; it was an obedience spell, and she hadn't been quick enough to block it. Morwen commanded Uriele then, and they went agreeably with several of the air faeries. Uriele gripped her staff for dear life in one hand, but reached out with another, screaming, "NEZZIE!"
Nereza, holding back several air faeries with her magic, broke her focus at the sound of her sister's screams. She dropped to the ground and managed to roll out of the way of the incoming faeries, then jumped into the air after her sister. Morwen turned round and shot her down with a blast of magic energy, sending her falling to the ground.
"Stop that," she commanded Uriele. "Fly faster."
The fighting was over as suddenly as it had begun. Nereza stopped resisting, coming to the conclusion that her sister was going to be in the Light Kingdom, if that was what it was called, and she would be able to find her there. After the tribe's air and earth faeries had been restrained and were being flown off, Aeris came up to her and scowled.
"You're their darkness faerie," she said coldly. "That's just not natural for darkness faeries to affiliate with other types."
Nereza glared into her eyes, but said nothing.
"Come along, then," said Aeris. "We shall deliver you to the Dark Kingdom. It is not far from here."
"What are these kingdoms?"
"You don't know?" Aeris shook her head. "I suppose you have been moving around more than most. Half a year ago some of the same-type tribes decided to band together to create kingdoms large enough to keep away the wraiths. Your tribe is one of the last that has not been assimilated. Mixed-type tribes like yours put up a resistance, but most tribes were already separated into types. It has not been a difficult thing."
"You're destroying families," Nereza pointed out. "These tribes? They're our families. As a matter of fact, my sister and I are now being separated. She is a light faerie."
Aeris shrugged. "No one is saying there will be no communication between the kingdoms. It depends on the relations. As it is, it may be harder for some than for others."
"Why not merge all the tribes into one kingdom, then? Would that not be the most powerful defense against the wraiths?"
"You don't seem to understand, so I will explain it to you. We faeries do not trust one another, see? I am sure your tribe had enemies. Tell me, of those enemy tribes, what were the predominant types?"
Dark, earth, and fire, Nereza knew; but she said nothing.
"No one wants to be in the same kingdom as their enemies. Since most tribes are same-type anyway, it generally follows that people assume other faeries of the same type as their enemies are also enemies. Trust me; this is much simpler, and far more effective."
Nereza was not convinced, but she nodded nonetheless. She'd already made up her mind to reunite with her traitorous sister and figure out a way to fix all this. "Very well. Take me to this 'Dark Kingdom,' then."
Aeris smiled. "I'm glad you are so agreeable. If only all darkness faeries could be like you."
To be continued...