Part Four: Healing

For part one, click here

A pink wocky with a creamy scruff sat on a chair before her Queen, Queen Fyora. She had never seen the Queen before. She was just a lowly citizen of Faerieland, one of the Faerie wockies, but not anything special. She was a little unsettled by the royal presence in front of her. Perhaps the only notable faerie she really knew was Marina, and even that was a bit of a stretch.

In fact, everyone in this council room made Smileni a little bit nervous. They all sat in the mahogany wood chairs around a table, joined by an emergency meeting called in the wee hours of the morning by that darned, high-strung purple xweetok from last night. Smileni was in the chair directly across from the queen. She realized she accidentally trapped herself into eye contact with the most intimidating person in the room, and she may have reconsidered her seating were it not for the fact that the council room chairs were already filled in. At Smileni's left was a pretty pink xweetok who looked equally as unsettled about being there as she did. And to her right was... Delina the crafting Faerie? The room was full of such an odd cast of characters brought together by a common sense of urgency that none of them quite understood.

Smileni vividly remembered the night before.

She thought she recognized that purple xweetok who was coming to the springs with an acara in arms. Smileni thought to herself, that's Schmuse, right? That really quiet girl that worked at the healing springs for a while and then quit one day about a month and a half ago, that's her... right?

Once they got close enough for her to see better, Smileni was able to confirm that the purple xweetok was, indeed, Schmuse, but did Schmuse even recognize her? Smileni decided to not bring it up in order to not embarrass anyone.

The acara was a little hesitant at first to step in, but the purple xweetok held her paws and assured her it would be alright. Smileni watched the acara's face light up a litte as she felt her injured arm start to tingle.

This was exactly why Smileni worked at the healing springs. She loved to heal those who were hurting. she loved seeing someone's life improve. Neopets travel from all across the universe to use Faerieland's finest springs, and Smileni takes her role as an assistant healer very seriously.

"Are you starting to feel better?" The wocky called out. She was so excited to see the acara be healthy again, and she was excited to do right by Schmuse. Maybe she was even hoping the xweetok would finally recognize her coworker of several months and acknowledge her progress. The last time they had worked together, they were both Springs Supervisors, but now Smileni had been promoted to an Assistant Healer.

As the acara dipped her arm into the springs, the water began to fizz. The acara's arm glowed with a purple and green aura that seemingly warded off the energy of the water, and prevented it from seeping in to her body. Startled, the acara pulled her arm out of the water, which stopped both the fizzing and the glowing.

After exchanging a confused glance with both Smileni and her purple companion, the acara shrugged it off and tried again. This time, the water hissed much more violently and began to spray in the directions away from the acara's arm.

"Erm, not to worry!" Smileni nervously rubbed the back of her paw. "The silly water doesn't always behave... That's why they have assistant healers... am i right?" She awkwardly chuckled. "I can get my spellbook. There's probably something in there that can help us..."

Smileni was trying not to let her first ever failure at the healing springs hurt too bad, but it didn't help that Schmuse gathered everyone to an emergency meeting to discuss it in front of the Queen. Why was a customer service complaint at the Healing Springs being escalated to the Queen? Was she going to be cast out of the healer's guild forever for this mistake? Was this all an elaborate prank that Schmuse was pulling on Smileni? What was that xweetok's deal, anyways?

"Thank you all for coming on such short notice." Schmuse announced.

The pink xweetok next to Smileni dazedly rubbed her eyes. "Not like you gave us a choice."

Schmuse ignored her and kept speaking, "I need your help, everyone. I was wrong. I was so wrong, I'm sorry." She covered her face in shame. "Jhudora is a vile dark faerie and I was wrong to trust her. I'm an idiot. I can't believe I didn't see this coming" The acara at her side looking uncomfortable.

"Schmuse, come on, it's fine, I really don't need you to make this a big deal-"

Schmuse kept speaking. "Last night, at the healing springs, we tried to use the water to heal Thano's arm, but it didn't work. Smileni here-" Schmuse gestured at the wocky, "-is an expert in healing magic. We went through entire volumes of spellbooks, she tried everything she could to heal her arm, but nothing would work. She believes that Thano's arm has been hexed with some kind of heal block..."

"It's fine, guys, really..." Thano leaned back in her chair. She rubbed her sling with her good arm. "I can fix this myself, you know."

"Well, if the spell really is sealed, that means only Jhudora's magic can undo it." Delina replied. "So ya really can't."

"Is there anything that Smileni can do about it?" Sappho interjected.

Smileni swallowed. "I mean... I can go through all of my healing spells a second time, but-"

"Oh no, darling, I mean about the magic block. Is there anything you can do about the magic block?"

Smileni sighed. "I'm afraid that healing is the limit of my spellwork."

"But you're a faerie neopet." Schmuse responded. "You have a magical essence. Sappho and I need to use incantations, runes, staffs, or potions to do any magic. You just have it in you, like the faeries do. You can just waggle your finger and think about a spell to cast!"

"I know..." Smileni looked away. "I guess that's why I could sense the seal immediately when I tried to do some spellwork on her arm... But that was the limit of my ability, I can't... I can't do anything about removing it-"

"Hghhhh!" A sudden strained grunt from Fyora interrupted the wocky. Fyora was tightly gripping her staff with two hands, a vein popping out of her knuckles. The crystal ball on top began to glow bright white.

The Queen had a solid form, an extraordinarily luminescent staff, if any healing spell was going to work, it would be this one. She slowly moved her staff towards the direction of Thano, who was a little startled by the spell suddenly being cast on her. The glow emanated from the staff, convulsing and writhing before finally finding its target and reaching the acara's arm. As soon as a steady stream of magic began to flow between the staff and Thano's arm, it petered out, slowly at first, and then all at once. Fyora lost her focus and dropped her staff, exhausted.

"Fyora!" Sappho and Schmuse quickly caught Fyora, each grabbing one of her sides, to protect her from falling and hitting her head.

"I'm alright..." The queen spoke with labored breaths. "She's right... there is some kind of seal. I don't know if I can get anything through to her arm, even with my most advanced healing spell."

Thano looked embarrassed that the Faerie Queen's most advanced healing spell didn't heal her arm, as if that was her fault. "It's okay, guys, really..."

Schmuse gulped. "So... What are we gonna do?"

Smileni looked at the purple xweetok and tried to pretend she had some hope, but it was getting hard. "I mean, I could ask Marina, but... if Fyora's magic didn't work..."

"Well..." Thano looked dejected. "I'm gonna go back to the bluff and wait for Jhudora to get back. When she does... I'll figure something out. I can protect myself. Just don't let Schmuse follow me." Thano grunted and stood up from her chair, getting ready to leave.

"Thano! Don't do something like that, especially not alone. The faeries and I can help you-" Schmuse stood up and grabbed the acara's paw.

Thano rubbed her temples. "Purple... I don't want you to end up like me."

"But-"

"Please! You're on Jhudora's good side right now, I don't want you to end up with some kind of curse like this..." Thano looked away. "Especially not because of me."

"It doesn't matter, Thano." Fyora interjected. "You can be on Jhudora's good side or bad side. She'll step on anyone to get ahead. Please don't go after her, we can find another way to unhex your arm."

"But what if she never battles again?" Schmuse asked. "We have to help her-"

"What do you care?" The acara replied weakly. She wiped a tear with the knuckle of her good arm. "It's not your problem, purple. You gotta... look out for yourself. And I'll take care of myself. Please, don't follow me." She couldn't bring herself to make eye contact. "I'm serious... This won't be pretty, and I don't want any of you to get hurt."

Smileni didn't like the tension in the room. She rubbed the back of one of her paws and tucked her wings close to her body. "I'm sorry. I wish I could.... fix it for you all. I wish I was a better healer..."

"This isn't your fault, Smileni." Sappho answered.

"Well, no matter what you all do," Schmuse gruffed. "I'm gonna be helping Thano. If she decides to go to Jhudora's bluff, I'm going with her!"

Fyora took a deep breath. She exchanged a glance with Schmuse, who was looking determined as ever, and not ready to back down. She knew deep down that she might lose the precious purple xweetok that she just got back. Schmuse would follow that darned acara off a cliff if she jumped, and she was about to go bounding straight towards one, one with Jhudora on top of it. She had to stop her.

"Actually, Thano, there's something else you need to know." The acara turned around, but didn't look persuaded. "...I'm sorry, I, um, tried to tell you earlier, I wanted to tell you privately, but Schmuse rounded us all up before I had the chance." Thano's eyes widened upon hearing this.

Fyora gulped before she continued. Her hands began to tremble. "It's... Mira... She returned my message. She's in town, but... she's leaving Faerieland tonight. She can send you off to space tonight, but it will be a while before she has the opportunity to again. It's okay if you're not ready to leave yet. I just don't want you to give up on your chance to leave just so you can spite Jhudora-"

Thano rubbed her forehead with her good arm. This changed everything. She had a choice to make. She could leave everything and go to space tonight. Mira would send her off and she would get to find her ship, her petpet. Her old life of flashy battledome fights, cameras and lights in her face, taking her cutest fan back to her ship after a match, and doing it all again the next day. But could she really go back to her old life? She would be leaving behind Jhudora, and therefore leaving behind the chance to ever heal her arm again. She could learn to fence left handed, but that would be nearly impossible. And as much as she loved the old thrill of getting with any stranger who would give her attention... she had a new cutest fan. She didn't really want any more strangers in her ship, she wanted Schmuse.

Of course, she could also stay. Go through with her original plan. But what if it didn't go well? What if Jhudora destroys her in battle and she remains trapped on this miserable planet? Perhaps with even more bodily harm? What if Schmuse doesn't feel the same way and there was never a reason to stay in the first place?

Thano didn't like either of those options. She slumped in her chair. "I... I don't really know what to do. I mean, there's no point in going to space if my arm will never get better."

Schmuse tried to comfort the acara. "Hey... don't worry. I mean, you don't have to be a battledomer again." Smileni watched as her old coworker, that weird nerd Schmuse became someone very loving, very thoughtful, and very emotionally available to that acara. "Maybe you could travel the galaxy and collect magic artifacts... You used to like going through Jhudora's old relic room-"

"A relic room... of course!" Smileni excitedly blurt out. "Does... Jhudora have any artifacts with her magic in them by chance?" Everyone turned to face her, so she continued. "I mean... If it's true that Jhudora's magic is the only way to undo the magic seal..."

"That's a good idea, Smileni. Does Jhudora have any artifacts with magic?" Sappho agreed.

Fyora nodded. "She is known to collect many rare and arcane items, It would be fair to assume there is something imbued with a little bit of her magic-"

"And then..." Schmuse picked up on where they were going. "I could use my essence draining spell to get Jhudora's magic out of there..."

"And you can heal Thano's arm before the space faerie arrives!" Smileni cheered.

Fyora stroked her chin contemplatively. "But I don't know how you would get ahold of one of her valuables in such a short time..."

"Hey, Schmuse?" The acara had a smug look on her face. This new optimism in the room gave her the confidence boost she needed to do something risky. "Could you, er, make one of those two sided voids? You know, one here, one at Jhudora's place."

"What?" The xweetok was confused.

"You know, those voids Jhudora taught you how to make. I remember you guys talking about them. It's just like a portal, right? I'll go in and take something of Jhudora's that has her magic in it."

"Thano! That's incredibly dangerous, so many things could go wrong." Schmuse blurted. "Walking through a two ended void would be incredibly painful, not to mention I'm not sure if I can even cast one that far away..."

Smileni nodded "That sounds like a one way ticket back to the healing springs, Thano..."

Thano rolled her eyes. "You guys don't have to follow me in. I just need Schmuse to open the void."

Schmuse scoffed. "Thano! I will not be allowing you to walk through a portal that I don't know whether or not is safe, and that's that."

Fyora reluctantly sighed before she spoke. "I may have a solution. And Thano... I'm only doing this because we know that Jhudora is off in Meridell and because... You mean a lot to my dear Schmuse. I can see it in her eyes when she looks at you. She doesn't look at anyone else like that, you know."

Schmuse tensed up and her face flushed. She tried to look away, but Thano noticed her rosy cheeks. The acara felt butterflies in her stomach hearing Fyora say this and seeing how Schmuse reacted. She chuckled.

Fyora continued. "I do know a spell... It's rather complex, a combination of a few different types of magic. Have you ever heard of a rift through space?" She fiddled with a decorative part of her signature crystal ball staff as she explained. "I can let you slip into Jhudora's house for a bit... but I haven't done this spell in a while. I won't be able to keep it open for very long."

Thano lit up with excitement. "Thank you, Aunt Fyfy... I don't know what to say."

"Please..." Fyora could hardly smile. "just say you'll be careful-

Schmuse was fascinated. "Don't worry! We only need 5 minutes tops. Jhudora has a lot of weird magic stuff, we'll find something so fast-"

"We?! I'm sorry, Schmuse," Fyora interrupted. "Do you really need to go with her? I don't want anything to happen to you..."

"Then why are you okay with sending Thano in by herself?" Schmuse retorted. "I can protect myself. I can protect her."

"If anything happens to you... so help me Borovan..." The faerie queen rubbed her forehead, realizing she couldn't win this one. "You two promise to go straight in and straight out, right?"

"Of course!"

The Queen sighed. "Fine."

Smileni, Delina, Sappho, Thano, and Schmuse all watched in awe as Fyora adopted a wide stance and motioned everyone to step back. She lifted her staff above her head with a lot of vigor, and it began to glow. She closed her eyes and tensed her muscles as she tried to focus.

With one swift motion and a loud battlecry, Fyora swung down her staff and ripped a hole clean through the air. Everyone flinched at the motion, but when they realized it was safe to open their eyes, they were all in awe of what they saw. Light was emanating from the rip, but the Faerie Queen could make out a grim looking interior on the other side. "Is that it?"

"That's it, alright." The acara affirmed.

"Promise me you'll be careful, you two."

"I promise" The xweetok replied as she took Thano's paw in her own. They lead each other into the unknown, through the rift in space and time. Their muscles clenched and they gripped onto each other's paws tightly as they stepped through, expecting something horrible to happen but not much happened. They felt a little.... off, for sure. But not in pain.

When the funny feelings stopped, they opened their eyes and loosened their grasp on one another. They did it. They were in Jhudora's house again. They exchanged a quick glance at each other to silently acknowledge their pride in their accomplishment.

Schmuse surveyed Jhudora's magic artifact shelf. There were orbs and potions, fungi and toenails. Leaned up against a wall was a staff. It was black, had many jagged edges that almost seemed to form symbols, and a dark sphere was levitating between the two prongs of the staff. When Schmuse touched the staff, it began to glow a little bit. "This staff will work, right?" She asked. Thano nodded.

On the other side of the rift, Fyora gripped onto her own staff as she held the rift open. Smileni and Sappho were observing the rift with awe. They barely noticed the fatigued Faerie Queen as she looked up at Delina desperately.

"Delina... Please!" The Queen's frantic speaking caught everyone in the room off guard. "You need to go find Mira."

"What?!"

"She hasn't really returned my message." The Queen spoke through labored breaths as she struggled to keep the rift open and to be honest with her friends at the same time. "But I do know she's in town!"

Sappho, Smileni, and Delina all gasped.

"Oh, come on!" Fyora defended herself. "I had to lie! She was going to go running off to Jhudora's bluff, following that acara..."

"That acara has a name!" Sappho retorted.

Smileni raised her paw as if to ask for permission to speak. "Pardon me, but... isn't that exactly what just happened? She went to Jhudora's bluff following Thano, did she not?"

"This is different..." Fyora began to hyperventilate as she struggled to defend herself. "They're just on the other side of that portal."

"No, actually, you're exactly right, Smileni." Sappho agreed. "Fyora's lie didn't improve the situation at all, did it?" The pink xweetok looked hurt, like she was taking Fyora's betrayal of their trust personally. She couldn't even make eye contact with the Queen.

"Fyora, this'd better be a wake-up call for you and yer secret-keeping habit" Delina snapped. "You about traumatized both your xweetoks by not sittin down n' having a proper talk with them about Xandra, and now this?!"

Sappho flinched when she heard that name. Smileni picked up on how uncomfortable the pink xweetok was and sat a little closer to her, giving her a comforting smile. In this moment, they both felt like bystanders and collateral damage in a conflict that ultimately wasn't about them.

"Yer lucky Mira still owes me a favor... I was gonna use it on those hot chips they only make on Kreludor..." Delina grunted and kicked the floor as she left the room.

Fyora was hurt. She knew Delina was right. Her rift wavered a bit as she struggled to stay focused. Luckily, before it could waver much more, two figures stepped through it, one clutching a black, jagged staff.

"Did we really just do that?" Schmuse asked, clutching dearly onto her new staff. "That felt too easy... We just looted Jhudora!"

"I know!" Thano put her good arm around Schmuse as she cheered. "Woo! Woo! Take that, Jhu-dog!"

Everyone who was already in the room was too shocked by the revelations of the previous conversation to really register that Thano and Schmuse had returned. Fyora took a moment especially, as she was a bit delayed in closing the rift. She was so close, just a second too late to close it. She inadvertently had let something else slip through.

A booming voice interrupted them. "I think you should put. that. back." Everyone in the room turned around at once. Something in this plan had gone terribly wrong, because there stood Jhudora, with her arms crossed and her scrawny, bony frame towering over the lot of them..

"Jhudora, I thought you were in Meridell-" Schmuse hid behind her new staff and wrapped her tail around her ankles. Thano instinctively stepped in front of her and shielded the purple xweetok with her good arm.

"Oh, please. If I had business over there I would send my shadow." The dark faerie idly fiddled with her fingernail. "I just sent you off so I could have some me time. Your sad little acara doesn't have any friends or family I could have pawned her off on, so I haven't had the castle to myself in quite some time." She pulled a bit of dead skin out from underneath her nail and flicked it towards Fyora, not looking up. "I guess this also could have doubled as a loyalty test... It wasn't originally going to be one, but you still somehow failed, Schmuse. Like you always do..."

The xweetok grumbled as the dark faerie spoke.

"Oh, please. I'm not stupid. This isn't Moltara, and you and I both know that..."

Fyora stepped in.

"Jhudora, you have no business cursing this innocent acara and preventing her from healing. Lift the seal on her arm and Schmuse will return your property. That's all we're asking..."

Jhudora snort-laughed. "Oh right, the seal. Did you know once upon a time, that acara used to actually be helpful? I think she was just desperate those first couple of days. And I didn't want my free help to leave just yet." She yawned, interrupting her words. "I forgot all about that whole thing. Honestly kind of a mistake, in retrospect, I was stuck with that stupid acara for much longer than I needed to be..."

"Then undo the curse!" Schmuse demanded, pointing the staff at Jhudora. "If you don't need her work any more, then it shouldn't be a problem..." The xweetok was breathing heavily.

"Oh, Schmuse. You don't scare me, I've seen your spellwork. Put that down. You'll hurt yourself." Schmuse didn't listen, but she began to tremble. "You know, it really is a shame. I thought you were something, something special. You and I could rule Faerieland one day. But your emotional attachment to your faeries and your acara are holding you back from seeing your full potential right now."

Smileni hid behind Sappho while this went on, taking deep breaths. This was way above her pay grade. The pink xweetok was surprisingly well receptive to having a stranger hide behind her in the presence of a dark faerie.

"Jhudora, please." Schmuse's knees were shaking. Thano was standing in front of her, ready to fight to protect the purple xweetok, even though she still had one arm in a sling. "I don't want to fight you... I'm just going to drain some of your magic from this staff so I can undo the seal and heal Thano, and then, you know what? Maybe you can have it back, but... you have to promise to never touch her again-"

Jhudora laughed. "Is that all? Well, that staff doesn't have my magic. That's something else entirely... Now, just give it back before you make a mess-" She reached out for the staff, to which Schmuse reflexively pulled it back.

"Why won't you just do this, Jhudora? We're not asking for much. Are you... just... not able to unseal her or something?!" Schmuse demanded.

"It's not that I can't fix her." Jhudora rolled her eyes. "I just think she doesn't deserve it She's been nothing but a nuisance to me. And she's a nuisance to you too, Schmuse. I mean, what are you getting out of this?"

Smileni took another deep breath. This was probably the most terrified she had ever been in her life. Everything about this plan was falling apart at the seams. Why did she agree to come to this meeting anyways? It wasn't her fault that some random acara's wound didn't respond to the healing springs, and it certainly wasn't in her job description to be conducting followup appointments for these kinds of things. And yet, here she was. Smileni thought it was ironic, because as she grew up, she was often told that choosing to be a healer was the easy way out. Because if she really wanted to help the people around her heal, she had to do something hard. Really hard.

"Thano!" Smileni blurted out. "Fyora lied! She lied to you! Mira's not here! They don't know if she's coming! Fyora lied to you!-" The wocky looked way too excited and triumphant for the words coming from her mouth

Thano turned around, she suddenly felt like everything was moving in slow motion. Schmuse kept her gaze locked on Jhudora in this critical moment.

"She what?" Thano snarled, her eyes seemed to turn extra red for a brief moment there.

"Smileni!" Fyora protested. "Now, I don't know what you think you're-

The wocky ignored Queen Fyora. She kept talking to Thano. "Yeah! You're angry, right? Just so furious, how could she do this to you? How could she lie..."

"Yeah..." The acara balled up her good arm into a fist. "How... could.... she."

Schmuse kept the staff pointed at Jhudora, she didn't know what they were planning over there, but she knew she couldn't let Jhudora out of her sight.

"Good! Now use that anger!" Smileni suddenly sprinted toward Jhudora as she spoke, launching into a full on quarter-back tackle, using all of her extra wocky weight to pin the Dark Faerie down. "Help me hold her down! You're the strongest one here..."

Thano let out a ferocious yell and grabbed Jhudora into a Nelson style chokehold, joining Smileni in the efforts to hold her still. Jhudora was writhing around in their grasp, but unable to break free, and too startled to come up with a good spell to get herself out of there.

"Schmuse! Now! Drain!" Smileni called out. "Fill the staff!"

"Right!" Schmuse nodded. She pressed her feet into the ground, getting into a firm stance. She had done a drain essence spell before, but never in her life had so much been riding on a single spell. She had just one chance to get this right. Luckily, she was holding onto a powerful looking staff, she wasn't quite sure of all the nuances, but she knew it could probably amplify her spell. As soon as she started murmuring the incantations, the staff began to glow ghostly pink again. The black ball held at the end began to spin around on its own, and a magic trail began to flow from Jhudora to the staff, signaling that the essence withdrawal had began.

"No! No, no!" Jhudora began to scream. She used one of her wings to help her flail about, desperate to somehow make her way out of the bodybuilder bicep around her neck and the 150 pound wocky weighing her down. Right as Schmuse raised the staff and prepared to finalize the spell, Jhudora realized she was running out of time. In one final, futile, attempt to set herself free, she jerked her body backwards, slamming her spine into Thano's slinged arm. The acara yelled out as the sharp pain hit her. She was unable to hold on, and tumbled over as she lost her grasp.

At this point, though, it was too late for Jhudora. A portion of her essence was already out of her body and on its way into Schmuse's new staff. But as Thano fell over, something else happened. She intercepted the beam of magic, and as she did, her eyes glowed with power and her body began to change.

Two demonic wings, very similar to Jhudora's, clawed their way through her signature leather jacket as they sprouted out of her back. Her claws grew a little bit longer and sharper. Her arm did not heal, though. After this transformation, she felt less pain than she had originally from Jhudora's shove, but she was still shaken up.

As all the magic dust began to settle, Jhudora realized what had happened. She felt weaker now that she had been drained, but without the acara holding her back, she was finally able to shove Smileni off of her. "You may have gained some of my essence, Thano," She growled. "But your arm will never heal unless the seal is broken."

Thano stood up and laughed. She flared out her new wings. "Are you kidding me, Jhu-dog? I don't need my other arm. I have wings."

On the other side of the room, a loud noise and a flash of light startled the lot of them. Fyora was holding open the rift again. She held her crystal ball staff much more confidently than before, and she gave Jhudora a nasty stare.

"Go home, Jhudora. Don't bother us again." The Faerie Queen stated.

"Hmph." Jhudora muttered. "Fine. I'll go. But only because this isn't the end." She stood up and walked towards the rift, hesitating a moment before stepping through it. She turned around to say one last thing, "When the purple moon rises, and the green tide sets in.... Faerieland will be laid to waste, and you will all be sorry." She grumbled something else to herself as she stepped through the rift. As the final tips of her wings slipped through, Fyora closed the rift. All five of them in the room gasped in relief once she was gone.

After a bit of an awkward silence, Fyora was the first to speak.

"Thano... you don't have to forgive me. I'm sorry. I was trying to protect you and Schmuse... I thought..." She wiped a tear, "I thought that if you two ran back to Jhudora's bluff... I might never see you again. I guess I felt better about sending you through the rift... because I knew you could come right back. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have been so overbearing." She began to weep into the wrist of her right hand, while her left held her staff.

"Oh, Aunt Fyfy." She sighed. "One day, I'll find Mira, but it doesn't have to be today... Just..." The acara's new wings tensed up a bit before she said the next few words. "You didn't have to leave me in the dark about it, and lie you know? I'm sorry, I need some time."

Smileni wiped a drop of sweat from her brow. "I've never done anything like that before... Sorry if I was too, I don't know, too much... I just wanted to help-"

Sappho wrapped her arms around the wocky. "Smiley! Are you kidding? That was awesome! I thought we were all toast, and then you just-" She lets go for a second to make gestures with her hands, mimicking the way Smileni came out of nowhere. "You were all, yahhhh! And then you guys held her down for so long-

Smileni purred a bit upon hearing all of this praise. "Aww, Sappho! Don't hype me up too much... I didn't really do anything"

Everyone in the room said something different in response to this, so it was all a hodge-podge of incoherent sound. But they all seemed into be in agreeance in disregarding what Smileni just said about her own accomplishment.

"Okay okay" The wocky was completely overwhelmed. "I guess I kinda helped... But I'm sorry, Fyora. I didn't mean to say that about you..."

"Smileni, dear" Fyora replied. "Don't apologize. I needed to hear it. I was in the wrong, and I wouldn't have seen it without you."

As they Fyora said her words of apology, Delina came bursting through the door. At her side was none other than Mira, the Space Faerie.

"Greetings, Fyora, it's been a while." Mira diplomatically bowed her head down to the Faerie Queen. "I was in the neighborhood and Delina practically hunted me down and begged me to get here as fast as possible. I understand you have an acara you desperately need to send to space..."

Schmuse felt her heart sank. "Oh... right." She lost the joy of their victory as soon as she remembered what it was all for. It was for Thano, in the end, and Thano wanted nothing more than to leave them all behind and get back to her thrilling life.

"Thano..." She flinched as she spoke. "I know I can't convince you to stay, but I'll never, ever, forget our time together-"

"Purple..." A single tear flowed down the acara's cheek. She noticed Schmuse was about to cry, and tenderly held up a paw to her cheek and wiped the tear off of her purple fur. Schmuse leaned her face into Thano's paw. "This doesn't have to be a goodbye, you know..." She didn't let her gaze move away from the xweetok's prismatic eyes, even though she was terrified to ask her next words. "Would you... fly away... with me?" She awkwardly smiled at Schmuse, and Schmuse's entire face changed to something much more hopeful. She looked over at Fyora, who gave her an affirming nod.

"Go, Schmuse." Fyora said. "I'll be fine here. We all will. Besides... It'll probably be safer for you and Thano to be away from Jhudora."

"Don't worry... I'll come back soon, I promise..." Schmuse tightly gripped onto Fyora with one last hug before she joined Thano.

Mira nodded in understanding. "Yes, ma'am. I can take these two into space." She turned to face the neopets. "Any particular destination in mind?"

"I don't know, I guess." Thano replied. "I need to find my ship, last time I saw it was at the dome-"

"Roger that, ma'am. Currently calculating a random destination within 25 galactic miles of the Cosmic Dome. We are preparing for take off in T minus one hour." Mira saluted Fyora.

The queen took a deep breath after she waved Mira off. Once they were out the door, she spoke softly. "Sappho, I need to ask you a favor. I... Need you to go to Meridell. There's a place called Illusen's glade. I don't know what Jhudora was saying about the purple moon rising and the green tides, but I know that Illusen will know..." Fyora seemed saddened, realizing that she would essentially be sending away both of her xweetoks today, but she knew she had to. "I'm sorry, Sappho. To tell you the truth, I don't know if it's safe for you to be here right now..."

Sappho took a labored breath. "It's okay. I can go. Really, I want to do my part-"

"I-I'll go with you." Smileni stammered out, trying to speak before she lost any of the confidence she had to build up for this. "I want to help too. Plus, I mean, if Fyora doesn't think it's safe around here, I don't want to be around either..."

Will you follow Mira, Schmuse, and Thano into space?
Or will you follow Sappho and Smileni to Illusen's Glade?