Chapter 84

“Care for a cup of tea?” Stella asked and waved her arm. A teapot that was resting on the table in the corner of the chamber sprouted legs and waddled towards the fairy; two teacups hopped after it. “Have a seat.” Stella gestured at a cushion across from her.

“You’re not going to fight me?” Vur asked as he approached the cushion.

“Why would I? You were the one that freed me after all. If you were someone else, I’d dissect you in a heartbeat,” Stella said as Vur sat down on the cushion. She raised an eyebrow. “You seem awfully relaxed for someone who was expecting a fight.”

“And you seem awfully cohesive for someone who’s supposed to be insane,” Vur said and shrugged as he watched the teapot vomit out a fountain of clear liquid into the two cups. “Why did you imprison Rella and Bella? They helped free you too.”

Stella smiled. “Imprisoning them was the only choice I had. And I’m not insane, not at all. Is that what they’re saying about me?” she asked as she pulled out three green orbs from a bin and dropped them into her teacup. “Would you like some? They’re quite chewy. I call it tapioca. Such a nice sounding word, don’t you agree? Taa-pee-oh-kah.” She giggled as she brought the cup to her lips and took a sip.

“I don’t eat bugs,” Vur said as he shook his head and picked up the cup in front of him. He sniffed it and tilted his head. “What’s in this?”

“The tears of orphans boiled with the crushed dreams of the just departed. It’s good for the soul,” Stella said as she chewed on one of the eggs. A miniature worm popped its head out of her mouth as she spoke, but she slurped it back inside before it got away. “So what made you come visit little old me? You got here pretty quickly considering the fact you were in the human capital not too long ago.”

“I got lost,” Vur said as he took a tentative sip from the cup. “I was supposed to get rid of the worms, but I ended up here instead. I guess that means Aunty got lost too, since she’s not here.”

Stella’s horns glowed red as her eyes narrowed and her body stiffened. The cup in her hand squealed before it shattered. “You really did come here with her then,” Stella said. After a moment passed, she sighed and watched the pieces of the cup crawl back together. “It’s not fair. Why does that backstabbing butt-cow get all the nice things?” She pouted and crossed her arms over her chest as her horns dimmed.

Vur stayed silent as he took another sip of tea. “Why did you attack her? After I freed you, I mean. Even if I was hung over, I could tell you were genuinely happy to see Rella, Bella, and Yella again,” Vur said, his gaze locked on the tea’s surface. “What happened between you two in the past? Is it really so bad that you have to try to destroy the continent to get back at her?”

Stella tilted her head. “She never told you?” she asked as she poured herself another cup of tea. “Well, that’s to be expected. If I was a backstabber, I wouldn’t want my allies to know either. Do you want the long version or the short version?”

“The long version,” Vur said.

Stella nodded. “I’ll need to cast an illusion to keep that wrinkled tomato preoccupied,” she said and closed her eyes. A line of smoke flowed from Stella’s hands out the door. “That should do the trick,” she said and gazed into Vur’s eyes. “You’re a blue mage; Rella told me. I can teach you a truth curse that you can cast on me.”

“You’d go that far?” Vur asked, raising his eyebrows.

“Fairies are notorious for lying,” Stella said and lowered her head as one corner of her lips quirked upwards. “I want you to believe me.” Vur nodded and the two exchanged curses.

Stella took a deep breath. “I come from the first generation of fairies. We were born from the flowers that sprouted from Aeris’ body when she was buried. There were twenty flowers, one for each of us. We decided to part ways and establish our own colonies. I was lucky and discovered the fountain of youth. My siblings were less fortunate and eventually passed on and their offspring were later incorporated into my colony with the condition of surrendering their birthflowers to me. It was lonely at the top,” Stella said and sighed as she stirred her tea. “Fairies had developed a bad reputation from the start with our pranks and tricks. The other races learned not to trust us and I was always suspected when I wanted to converse with them. As for my own children, how can you become friends with someone whose life belongs completely to you? It’s not the right dynamic for a meaningful friendship.

“Lindyss, that banana nosed outcast, was my first friend. At least, that’s what I believed up to the moment I was imprisoned. We first met when she came to the fountain and got trapped in my illusions. She told me she was looking for a cure to her condition and I yielded after listening to her story. She was lonely, never had any parents. Her adoptive mother—which wasn’t even an elf—was killed by a bear. A dragon—Grimmoldesser—was bored and decided to plant the elder lich’s soul inside her body because she didn’t want to be weak anymore. When her batty bloodline awakened, it conflicted with the lich’s soul and her body almost fell apart. She needed the power of the fountain to stay alive and I decided to let her stay.

“It was pleasant. We used to explore the region together. I’d show her places she’d never been. She showed me some of the more dangerous regions occupied by dragons,” Stella said as she popped another worm egg into her mouth. After chewing, she washed the remains down with the rest of her tea. “She was too interested in the humans. By that time, our continent had been at war with them for close to four hundred years. There were times where I’d leave the fountain and preoccupy myself for weeks to make seeds for more birthflowers while Lindyss did her own things. I didn’t know her ‘things’ involved selling me to the humans.

“One day, after I had just finished making a fresh batch of seeds, an army of humans were waiting for me. Even when I was under the cover of my illusions, they knew I was there. And they let me know, using Lindyss’ name to bait me out of hiding, saying that she sold me out,” Stella said and ground her teeth. “I didn’t believe them until after they captured me. I was too weak to resist and my guardians were slain by an ambush. I cast a truth curse on them and interrogated them as we fought. I confirmed that she really did betray my trust in her. They managed to defeat me and locked me up on the spot, demanding for me to give up my powers or they’d hunt down every single fairy and present me their heads. I refused, believing the rest of the continent would fight against the humans for my children, if only because of a mutual enemy.

“Even though I refused, they managed to extract my powers from me, but I infused as much of it with my hatred and bitterness as I could. The results of the forced extraction were obvious, and the group of humans who took my power and drank tea made out of my children’s birthflowers gained immense magical powers compared to the other humans, but they sprouted horns and became demons. They were ostracized by other humans, but they were a sizable group and managed to hold their ground, establishing a city around my place of imprisonment,” Stella said and trembled. “They kept me weak, unable to do anything. A spell formation in the room would absorb all the mana in my body, twice a day. Another chain would forcibly inject mana into me to keep me alive.”

“The worst part was that they kept their word,” Stella said. Her horns flared up, bathing the room in a red glow, and the teacup in her hand shattered once again with a pitiful mewl. “Even if Lindyss did betray me, the least she could’ve done was keep my children safe. With every head the humans brought, I could feel a part of me dying. It made my heart ache; the pain was unbearable. They would bring my children in front of the door and rip their heads off while they were still conscious. They’d tell them that it was my fault. That I was the reason why they were going to die so pitifully. I could feel my children’s fear within the room and I’d see it on their heads moments later when they’d be teleported inside, faces still contorted in a silent scream with tears streaming down their cheeks. I couldn’t even save their heads because the rats would eat them, yet I still tried every time. There was a long period of time where they stopped, but then brought hundreds of fairies at once. It was then that I vowed to torture the humans and everything they held precious if I were to ever be set free.”

Vur’s eyebrows furrowed as he frowned and scratched his cheek. Stella blinked and her horns dimmed. “Not you, of course,” she said. “I could tell there was something different about you, dragonlike. You brought me a feeling of awe and fear rather than resentment and undying hatred. I understood when Bella told me you were imprinted by the matriarch. Everything has an innate sense of respect and a healthy dose of fear for dragons, those that don’t are dead.”

“It’s a nice feeling that you bring,” Stella said and smiled. “And it’s gotten even stronger since I last saw you ten years ago. It helps keep my head clear. More tea?”

Vur nodded and the teapot vomited more liquid into his cup. “You don’t know why Lindyss betrayed you?”

Stella shook her head. “It doesn’t matter. What’s done is done,” she said. “No reason of hers can ever allow me to forgive her.”

 

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