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Jolla and the Magic of the Dream Fortress:Part Two


by miraday

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     Jolla woke during the afternoon and emerged from her bedroom to see Phanta sitting in the fortress’s hall, visibly tired. Jolla herself felt exhausted, too.

     As she walked toward the crucible, Phanta asked, “How was your first night of observation?”

     Jolla shuddered and answered, “I’m not sure of its origin, but I have identified the problem. The crucible did intake dreams at the beginning of the night, radiating the light blue colour that you said. In all my training, this seemed to be the extraction of air magic from the dreams, but—soon after, the entire atmosphere changed. The crucible flashed a crimson glow and instead of hearing the magic flow like river stream, instead I could only hear…”

     “Whispers?” Phanta asked. Jolla nodded. “I hear them, too. At night, that is. I suspected they co-occurred with whatever was cursing the crucible, but I didn’t have anyone up here to confirm.”

     “Do you reckon it’s dark magic…?”

     “I suspect so,” said Phanta, “but I’m not sure of its nature or where it’s coming from. If the crucible is collecting dreams to start, then Neopets below are surely dreaming… but something is intercepting these dreams and causing us to possibly collect dark magic. As the Dream Fortress functions, we are then distributing a spell imbued with dark magic back onto Neopia from our turrets.”

     Jolla gravely nodded. “So what should we do this evening?”

     Phanta rose and inspected the crucible. With a little hesitance in her voice, she proposed, “I think that we should not collect dreams tonight. There’s too great of a risk now that we suspect dark magic is entering the crucible at night; we should not risk dispersing a dark spell back onto Neopia—that will only propagate nightmares. I’ll navigate the fortress to glide along the time zones that remain in daylight.”

     “Understood, Phanta. Since I slept in through most of this day, would you like me to take the evening and night shift again to keep an eye on the crucible just in case?”

     Phanta look around the fortress. Again, Jolla noticed how tired she looked. Seemingly aware of Jolla’s thoughts, the Dream Faerie answered, “Yes, that sounds good. I’ll try to get some more rest, though we shall be in daylight for the foreseeable future. Before I return to my room, I’ll leave you a smaller version of the Dream Crucible—it was meant for fieldwork, but procures dream magic in small quantities just the same. We’ll keep it out in case either of us encounter that magic again. I’d like to identify once and for all if this is dark magic we’re dealing with. But first… ” She leaned over and cast her hands towards the Babiths opposite themselves. Little gusts of air softly bounced them up and down and they squealed in delight. Jolla giggled, but her worries about dark magic entering the fortress lingered in the back of her mind.

     ---

     During the late afternoon, Phanta retrieved a vessel identical to the one in the hall except in size; the entire handheld crucible without its cables fit within Jolla’s two hooves. The Dream Faerie demonstrated how to safely release the contents of the smaller vessel into the air and stratify its properties by elemental type with a spell—if the magic was truly dark magic, the spell would sink the crimson substance to the floor of the hall. Several hours passed before Phanta retired to her room, and Jolla was left alone again with the Babiths by her side.

     The Dream Fortress was flying above Shenkuu midday, but the mists trapped between the regions’ peaks permeated above and blocked out the sun. The dull sky matched the stone interior of the fortress—all was grey save for the gold filaments on the Dream Crucible.

     Jolla paced around the hall, looking outside the windows to catch a glimpse of the world below her when the mists permitted. She wondered how long she would be stationed at the fortress, away from the world. While she was daydreaming about her placement here, the Dream Crucible behind her started to ominously glow again like the night before.

     “How…? The vessel is activated during the day?” Jolla said aloud. She approached the crimson light and picked up the miniature vessel that was placed by its side. She hurried to the window and propped it open. She held the vessel outside and allowed it to garner whatever entity it was detecting. The vessel in her hooves accumulated enough to work with—it, too, glowing a deep red-- and she pulled it back inside.

     In the fortress hall, she released the inside of the vessel and then cast the identifying spell that Phanta demonstrated earlier. The floating liquid substance was petrified and fell to the ground like pellets of hail. On the floor, the spellbound magic glimmered like rubies and whispers ominously emitted from them, echoing through the hall. Without a doubt, dark magic was entering the fortress through the Dream Crucible.

     Jolla looked on with disbelief at the crystallized dark magic. She quickly scooped them back into the small vessel and before she could decide what to do next, she felt a tug on her cloak. The same Cloud Babith from last night was pawing at her again.

     “Not now, little one,” Jolla tried to say kindly.

     Another Babith joined and then she had two of them tugging at her cloak. Jolla looked at them, confused, and then noticed a congregation of Babiths gathered near the corridor looking at her.

     “Please let this be important, we’ve got a pressing issue at hand…” Jolla sighed as she followed the squeaking Babiths to the corridor.

     Jolla had not been to this part of the fortress before, and she had only seen Phanta enter and exit from this side. The noisy Babiths’ squealing increased as they reached the end of the corridor and they opened the door to Phanta’s bedroom.

     Jolla felt like they were intruding, but her apprehension dissipated when she realized why they brought her here. Phanta was asleep, but barely. She was tossing and turning, her closed eyes twitching and her mouth murmuring silent words. A light red aura emitted from her hands and was pooling above her bed. The Dream Faerie was locked in a nightmare—the type only a curse can set.

     Jolla realized immediately that this was the source of dark magic that was entering the Dream Crucible. This was the reason why Phanta was not able to detect it or resolve it herself and why her sleep was restless. The Dream Faerie was the medium of the dark magic. The Babiths looked helplessly at Jolla and she knew she needed to intervene.

     Jolla set the handheld crucible down, placed her hooves on the Dream Faerie’s arm and tried to shake her away. Phanta did not budge. One Babith let out a crying wail.

     “Perhaps they tried this already…” thought Jolla. “What can I do? The curse is probably dark magic, too, but I can’t say for sure… a-ha! The identifying spell!”

     Jolla created some room between herself and the cursed Dream Faerie. Doing her best to emulate Phanta earlier, Jolla casted the spell again this time on the faerie herself. Phanta’s eyes opened and a noxious red light hovered above her vaguely shaped like a Wraith Uni… Whispers filled the room and the crimson aura glowed angrily as the shape began to sink back down upon her— it was the same dark magic entering the Dream Crucible. The awakened Dream Faerie reacted quickly to its movement and with an outward motion of her hand, the dark magic was whirled away in a spiral towards the opening of the handheld crucible Jolla brought into the room.

     “There. It should be trapped in there for good. Jolla—that nightmare…” trailed Phanta’s voice.

     “You were locked deep in it. It seems to have been the source of the dark magic that was entering the Dream Crucible. It was all I could do to wake you… thank you for ridding it,” Jolla cried with relief.

     Phanta sat up in bed, knowingly nodded and said, “It must have been a curse placed on me… something dark, something powerful that prevented me from realizing that these nightmares were plaguing me. Thank you for identifying this and breaking the curse.” The Babiths hopped up and down, rejoicing. “They must have known about this after all,” Phanta acknowledged.

     “I wouldn’t have recognized it without these little fellows,” Jolla admitted. “I’m glad they were here to help.”

     “And I’m glad I was blessed with Jolla, Sorceress of the Seven Skies, to help rid me—and Neopia-- of these nightmares. How the curse was placed on me will be another assignment we will have to address—if you could be asked to remain here in the fortress with me for a while longer.”

     Jolla’s emotions were scattered. The combined terror and thrill of ridding the curse, the longing to be back on land, but the sheer honour of being asked to remain in the fortress… “Yes, I would love to stay and help you,” beamed Jolla.

     “I am overjoyed to hear that, and I’m sure the Babiths are, too.” Phanta fluttered to her feet and embraced Jolla as the cloud puffs of Babiths floated around the room, unable to contain their excitement. “Now come, let’s get this fortress back flying with the sunset and start collecting those dreams again.”

     From the ground, several Neopets in the fields outside Shenkuu could see a gleaming cloud castle peak from behind the misty skies and change direction. The Dream Fortress created an airstream of its own and was gone just as suddenly as it appeared, vanishing into the golden clouds that marked coming nightfall. It was a promising sign for more dreams to come.

     ---

     Drifting in the winds' airstream,

     Jetting along the stratus, gleaming,

     Dreaming of the fabled flight.

     The clouds storm, a warning—

     Jolla, Sorceres of the Seven Skies

     ,Floats the fortress sunset to sunrise.

     As it strays into the stratus, effortlessly she

     Guides the Dream Fortress beseeming

     Of Phanta’s wind guardian sorcery.

     Jolla and Phanta with calm navigating

     Steer the castle, the fortress to safety

     Into a golden cirrus reality.

     To be continued…

 
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