A/N: Thanks to Gishki and Coderrafan4 for le reviews! X)
The skeleton was tougher than Sabrina had expected, but she fought back just as hard. Rattlebones played high level death spells without batting an eye, laughing as he carved Death symbols into the air. He tossed skeletal dragons and wraiths at the Theurgist. He attacked her with his scimitar and with bolts of dark energy. Sabrina only grew angrier, casting stronger and stronger spells when she got the chance. Rattlebones barely flinched as she cast a minotaur on him. The really infuriating part about the duel was that an irritating smirk never left the skeleton's face.
"Face facts, girl- you'll never beat me!" He laughed, casting yet another wraith. Sabrina growled deep in her throat, but she knew that he was right- the skeleton's health had barely gone down at all since the duel began. She didn't respond to the taunt- her reply would have been too profane for the human mind to comprehend- and instead chose to continue pelting the skeleton with attacks. Surely he would run out of cards eventually …
He never did. For what felt like hours, he threw attack spells and insults at Sabrina, and she tried her hardest to refrain from screaming at him. Slowly but surely, though, Rattlebones began to gain the upper hand. He never needed to heal- the Death spells did that for him- and with his continuous stream of attacks, Sabrina quickly found herself healing more than she would have liked to be.
Despite her efforts, the Theurgist's health was slowly dropping. She was gasping for breath and having trouble drawing her Life Symbol, and the infuriating skeleton was still smirking at her. Sabrina was on the verge of unconsciousness when her savior arrived.
A glow of green filled her vision, and she heard a soft voice speaking to her. A sudden rush of energy filled her, and the Theurgist realized that her health had been refilled. She glanced over to her left, and there was Lady Oriel, back in her finery and looking ready to tear Rattlebones to pieces. The seraph held her glowing white blade tightly, and she was pointing it at the skeleton.
"You have committed an act of treachery worthy of death, you beast," she hissed angrily. Her green eyes flashed as Rattlebones grinned cockily.
"Sorry, sweetheart, but someone already beat you to it." He gestured to his revealed ribcage.
"Then you shall suffer tenfold in your second death," the seraph spat, holding her blade aloft. "Young Theurgist, take care of yourself; my fairy will not return you to full health. I will handle this fiend." Sabrina nodded, still trying to recover her breath. She played a unicorn on herself and watched Lady Oriel in awe. The seraph appeared in front of Rattlebones before he could blink, and she brought her sword down with a flash, severing his arm from his shoulder. Another swing and he lost a foot. She glared at the skeleton as she pointed her blade at the center of his ribcage, and a pure white fire exploded from the tip of the sword, weaving its way into him.
Rattlebones howled in pain. Sabrina had been waiting for that exact sound since she begun the duel, and she smiled in satisfaction as the skeleton burst into dust, leaving behind only the crown.
"That was … impressive," the Theurgist remarked, nudging the pile of dust with her toe.
"You were right, young Sabrina," Lady Oriel replied, sheathing her sword. "There was nothing I could do for the fairies back in the Hedge Maze, and by staying there I was only watching their demise. It seems like you needed help, anyways." She smiled slightly.
"Let's check this place out; maybe there's a way to save the fairies." Sabrina headed over towards the large desk in the back of the room. She flipped through a stack of papers- all of them were orders for food. She frowned. "Food orders … I thought skeletons didn't eat."
"They do not," the seraph replied. "There are letters of instruction here, and I believe he was working to supply and army for … someone. I'm not entirely sure who. These letters are marked 'Lord N,' but there are no lords in Wizard City, as far as I know."
"Lord N …"
"Ah, here's a name. Lord Nightshade." Sabrina dropped the book she was holding with a bang.
"Nightshade? Alexandra's pet wraith is named Nightshade!" Realizing the connection, she quickly picked up the book again and flipped to the tagged page. "Look at this, my lady. I think I've found out what he was up to." The seraph flew over to Sabrina and peered over her shoulder at the book.
"Oh, no … this is awful!" The page that had been marked instructed the reader on how to corrupt souls. First they were stolen, leaving behind a nonliving shell. The soul had to be held in a dark prison for one day, and then it was returned to the body. The creature would live again as an evil being, and the process was completely irreversible once the souls were corrupted.
"We have to find where he was keeping the fairy souls now. There's no telling how long they've been in the prison already!" Lady Oriel held her sword out, point down, and she spoke a single word in a language Sabrina didn't know. The sword point glowed green, and a beam of light shot out of it.
"Follow the beam of light. It will lead you to my fairies," she told Sabrina. "I must stay here in order to keep the spell working. Hurry!" The Legendary didn't need to be told twice. She sprinted after the beam of light, following it up a flight of stairs and into the tower attic.
Bone cages woven with darkness hung from every available inch of the attic. They covered the floor, they hung from the rafters, and some had even been suspended in midair. When Sabrina peered inside one, she saw a see- through copy of a fairy's body. She quickly slammed the end of her staff into the side of the cage, shattering it instantly.
"I guess dark prisons weren't made to resist Life magic," she remarked to herself, grinning ruefully as she watched the soul fly away, probably back to its rightful owner. She quickly broke open the other cages, each of which disappeared soon after being opened. As soon as the last fairy soul was freed, Sabrina ran back down the stairs to where Lady Oriel was waiting. "They're all free, every one of them!" She reported.
"Praise the light," the seraph breathed, releasing the spell and sheathing her sword once again. "We must return to the Hedge Maze immediately; the fairies will be awaiting me."
"I can't come, Lady Oriel," Sabrina apologized. "I've got to find Alexandra Firesong."
"The Firesong girl? I haven't spoken to them in many months, but I have heard news from Ceren Nightchant. He saw Alexandra and a large group of her friends in Unicorn Way just a few days ago. They were hunting for the Krokotopia Spiral Key."
"Thank you so much, Lady Oriel!" The Theurgist bowed to the seraph and then sprinted outside, pulled herself into Stella's saddle, and galloped towards Ravenwood.