Part 11

Gaia led them out of the forest. They emerged about three miles away from the village. Helen began to lead from then on. Nostalgic thoughts came to her as she approached her home. Mostly of Daniel. What had happened to him? Was he dead or alive? An ocean of questions she could not answer. They came to the Naydy River, the last obstacle she had left to return home.

"There is a bridge right?" Aysh Ra asked her.

"Well...there was one, but it was destroyed a long time ago," Helen answered apologetically.

"I'm not swimming across it," she said instantly.

"Don't worry," Marina told her. "I'll take care of it, you won't get your regal hide wet."

She walked up to Naydy, clapped her hands together then separated them slowly.

The river divided in half leaving a small space of dry land for them to cross. With a satisfied smile she turned to face them.

"Happy now?" she asked proudly.

"Remarkable!" Helen said astound.

"Thank you!" Marina answered in a self-satisfied way.

As they crossed, Helen couldn't help but look through the walls of water and see the sub aquatic life that surrounded her. As soon as they stepped on the other side, the river returned to its normal state. Helen led them over the last small hill, and looked down on a morose looking village.

"We're here," she told them at last

"And we go there, I bet," Vyndi said pointing to the castle to their right.

"Yes...I'm not sure what to do now, though..." she said doubtfully.

"Don't worry," Gaia told her, "we know what to do."

"We do?" Marina asked her.

"Yes, the same thing we would have done any other time."

"But..." Aysh Ra began

"Oh come now," Vyndi interrupted. "It's not that bad, we can do it. Be positive for a change."

Aysh Ra answered her with a fierce glare.

"Ok," Vyndi said meekly, "I'll shut up."

"C'mon, you guys," Gaia told them. "What else can we do?"

Aysh Ra reached into her clothes and pulled out a blood red ruby. "If you say so...then that we'll do." After looking it for a time she returned its place.

"Good. Now, then," Gaia turned to Helen, "we need you to take us to him."

"Me? But I've never been in there..." she said pointing to the castle.

"Do you know of any other way in besides the main entrance?"

"Well...I've never seen it myself, but my parents say that there is a 'back door' on it's east side."

"We'll start there then," Gaia decided.

"I don't mean to rain on anybody's party, but if you get any closer to the castle, he'll know you're here," Saria said.

"Any other way, then? We'll just have to risk it, and hope he isn't paying any attention to his surroundings," Gaia told the fairy.

"Might as well go now, then," Marina said starting down the hill. They all left behind her.

"What's that?" Saria said pointing to a figure that was leaving the village and coming toward them.

"Someone...I can't tell who right now." As the figure grew closer and more defined, Helen's heart began to beat faster. Could it be? But how on earth...

"Helen!" Daniel said running up the hill and hugging her.

"Daniel!" she exclaimed. "How did you...look at you, you look awful!"

"Don't ask," he told her.

"I won't. How's mom and dad and..."

"Their fine, you did well in not telling them." He seemed to recover by just seeing her.

"Excuse me," Aysh Ra interrupted, "who are you?"

"Aysh Ra, this is Daniel, my fiancÚ," Helen told her. "Daniel," she told him, "this is the help I left to get. This is Gaia, the witch of earth. Aysh Ra the witch of fire, Marina the witch of water and Vyndi, the witch of wind."

Daniel smiled at Helen. "Thank you for coming," he told them, "we really need your help."

"We're only glad we can help," Gaia told him.

"Yes, we are!" Vyndi added happily.

"Gaia," Helen told her, "Daniel has been inside the castle before. He can help us get in."

"Have you now? Excellent! We could use a guide," Gaia said.

"I'd be happy to help in what I can," he replied. "Follow me then." They followed him the remainder of the way.

"Gaia..." Saria told her quietly settling in her shoulder.

"What is it small one?"

"I don't know...something isn't right..."

"Yes, I know, don't worry. I can feel it too. I think it's our evil friend's presence."

"Yeah that...but also...I don't know..."

"If you figure it out, let me know, ok?"

"Yes, Gaia."

******

Daniel led them in. Just like Helen had said, there was an entryway in the eastern side of the castle. He cautiously led them through a narrow passage that ended in a large circular room. Its only occupant was a marble statue in its center, illuminated by a single sun ray entering through a sky light on the eastern wall of the circle. Helen noted that similar sky lights were located all around the room. Interesting, she thought, that means the statue is illuminated all day long. Gaia stopped dead in her tracks when she saw it.

"No!" she exclaimed softly. She passed them and walked up to it. The rest followed wondering at her sudden reaction. When they reached her, Helen noted tears rolling down her cheeks. She looked up to the statue. It was the most beautiful woman Helen had ever seen. The statue was looking east with it's body turned in the other direction. When she looked closely at it's face she noticed it had the most pained expression she had seen.

"What is it?" Vyndi asked her.

"This..." she said between soft sobs, "is Dyana."

"Who, or rather what was she?" Marina asked her.

"She was the fairy queen...the one you knew as Zoray, Helen."

"Zoray! The enchantress that ruled over us!"

"Yes, but she was not an enchantress...she was my protector. When we began to suspect the northern wizard would expand...I put her to rule over your people. This I did to hide my influence on you. It would seem it was her not me the one that would cause all the crops to grow as plentiful as they did. Since her only true powers were that of a fairy, when...Deones I believe, invaded, there was little she could do about it....and nothing I could do to help her. He quickly destroyed her, and since she did not reveal my location, he gave her this." She looked up at the statue. "I'm sorry I couldn't help you my friend," she said softly and looked around her. "I can't leave her like this another minute..."

"Gaia...I have read of this spell...you cannot move her from the light," Vyndi told her. Gaia paced back and forth.

"There must be a way..."

"No, Gaia, only the one who casted it can break it. Sorry..."

Gaia wiped the tears from her cheeks.

"Then let us end it." She motioned for Daniel to move on. He led them out of that room and into the following one. This one was a rectangular hallway that led to another room, similar to the one before it. Gaia saw that Helen had a troubled expression on her face.

"Gaia..." Saria said from her hiding place on her shoulder.

"What is it, small one?" Gaia asked her.

"The feeling is getting stronger...it isn't the wizard, I know it." In that moment Aysh Ra stopped dead in her tracks.

"What on earth..." she started and looked at Gaia with an urgent expression on her face.

"Gaia," Saria told her, "it's him!" she said pointing at Daniel.

"What?" she searched beneath the surface and knew. "Saria, get out of here now!" the little fairy immediately left her shoulder and flew away. Daniel turned to face them and did a fast motion with his hand, the doors behind them shut trapping them in that room.

"Helen..." Vyndi said softly, "what kind of a boyfriend is that?"

"What? Daniel?" She looked at Daniel, or was he Daniel? It looked like him, but something didn't seem right.

"Yes, Helen?" he said calmly, he gave her a short bow, "Oh yes, thank you." He smiled cruelly.

"Well done!" a new voice said from behind him, "I new I could count on you, brother."

Helen saw as a figure that looked a lot like Daniel came from behind him. Alike but not identical. He looked older, more evil and taller. He was dressed completely in black, matching his eyes and hair. Helen then looked at Gaia for some sort of reassurance, and saw that she seemed to be analyzing everything around them. The same as all the others.

"Daniel? What's going on?" she asked him, her voice was beginning to brake.

"Daniel?" the other said, a wicked smile on his face. "There are no Daniels here, my young puppet. If you mean my brother, then his name is Dairniss."

"Gaia..." Vyndi said softly.

"Yes, I know...there's no way we can fight two."

"There not getting me without a fight," Aysh Ra hissed. Marina walked up to Helen and began pulling her back toward the group. Helen seemed in a state of shock as everything began to sink in. Once Helen was among them, Aysh Ra moved her hands in a swift motion causing a circle of fire surround them separating them from the wizards.

"This won't hold them long..."Vyndi told her nervously.

"Then do something to help!" Aysh Ra snapped, then she saw to her horror as the mural around them began to die.

"Sorry," Deones said, "fire won't help you." His next attack was focused on the weakest.

Vyndi began to gasp for air. Gaia looked at her and realized what was happening.

"Ironic isn't it?" Deones told Dairniss. "A wind witch will die because of lack of air."

"Yes..." Dairniss began.

"Drop her," Gaia interrupted. She closed her eyes and concentrated on something she rarely used. The ground around them began to vibrate. It grew stronger rapidly and all but her and Deones began to have trouble keeping their balance. Vyndi fell on her knees, with both hands around her neck and beginning to change color.

"If you think an earthquake will scare me, you're wrong. You'll only do my work for me faster by crushing all of you." Deones told her, still holding Vyndi.

"Yes..." Gaia agreed, "but you'll be coming with us, meaning everything you have built will be destroyed. We would win at the end." Everyone but them two where on their hands and knees now, small chunks of the ceiling began to fall around them. Vyndi seemed about to pass out by now.

"You have a point." He seemed to think it over just to waste time. "I guess I could let her live a while longer." He then released Vyndi. She began to gasp for air and slowly began to change back to her normal color. The earthquake stopped when Gaia's attention shifted to Vyndi's health.

"As I said before, I still won," Deones said. A bluish wall grew from the floor around them.

"Gaia, we're stuck. Our spells won't go through this," Marina told her.

Looking up, Gaia saw it was true. They were really trapped now.

Part 12