Back in the realm of Iris...
The girl came charging down through the tall shelves, skidding around the corners, before sliding to a stop in front of a shivering Layla.
"What?" the girl gasped. "What do you need?"
Layla flipped through the book frantically, shoved it into the girl's hands, and pressed her finger onto one paragraph. "Read it," she gasped. "Out loud. Read it to me. This paragraph to the end. Quick!"
"Um...okay," she murmured. She scanned the page and cleared her throat.
"The siren Alena is one of the many magical deities of the island, worshipped as a goddess of the sea. Legend has it that the siren Alena has a magical and mental connection with any fairy associated with water in any way. In order to establish communication with the fairy, the fairy must have water-based powers, extract her power from water, and/or originate from a water-based region of the universe. Most of these fairies may hear voices or maybe even singing coming from Alena by the age of eighteen."
"However, some fairies may have very strong emotional, mental, or other feelings within them that deny the siren Alena's access to mental communication. The siren Alena often has words of wisdom or comfort for fairies, so denial, even if it is unconscious, can often be an extremely serious problem." The girl looked up from the book. "Yeah? So?"
Layla whirled around. "Voices!" she gasped. "I haven't been hearing them. How do I fix this? Can you tell me? Do you know?"
"I'm sorry," she sighed. "I don't know much. Well...um...first, start with trying to figure out what's blocking out Alena. Is it emotions? Pain? Think about it."
Layla was shaking. Her lip was quivering, and she could feel rage inside of her. She wanted to scream and yell and tear out her hair and yell at the siren, "Why are you doing this to me? I'm not blocking you out! Talk to me!" She bit her lip and tasted blood. Hot tears welled up in her eyes.
But on the other hand, Layla knew that what the book was saying had to be true. She thought about what the girl had said. Something deep within her was so strong and raging that it was blocking out one of the most important things in a water fairy's life.
The rage was uncontrollable, and the tears were starting to roll down her cheeks. The girl reached out her hand to put it on her shoulder, but the anger possessed Layla's body, causing her arm to slap it away brutally. The soothing voices from her friends around her blurred, and she stiffened even when Nabu's arms encircled her. Nothing could stop her anger.
All at once, Layla remembered what Faragonda had said about Lunarix. A fairy had to conquer something that had been haunting her her entire life, in spite of her achievements. And Layla had remembered that in order to earn her Lunarix, she had to learn to control her emotions, a seemingly daunting and impossible task.
But Layla knew that this time, it wasn't about the Lunarix. It wasn't about getting stronger and grander and more beautiful. She needed to hear that siren's voice. That was all that mattered to her. Without that first melodic sound of Alena's voice, her life was going to be forever incomplete.
Restrain. Yourself. More tears. More flames of anger. She tried to surrender herself to the comfort of being surrounded by her friends. She tried to pull away from the burning grip of her own anger.
Layla. You are a fairy of water. Water fairies don't have fire within them, she told herself. Water fairies are all water...cool...calm...patient...fluid. You need to hear the siren. You can do it.
Layla repeated this to herself over and over. It took a lot of effort, and at first, the words were forced. But slowly, over the course of several minutes, her heart rate slowed, and the flowing river within her put out the flames of rage. She allowed her friends to comfort her as her breathing steadied itself into deep breaths instead of short, shallow gasps. She thought of crystalline drops of water, and cool water stirring around her bare feet. There. That was better.
Suddenly, Nabu gasped. "Layla, you're glowing!"
Layla opened her eyes. "What?" She looked down at her hand, and it was glowing. It glowed a deep pink, and ribbons of light swirled around her.
She suddenly had the sensation of being underwater. She was still sitting in the library, surrounded by piles of books and her friends, but she felt fluid, cool liquid against her arms and legs.
Layla, do you hear me?
Layla's eyes widened. The voice was a female voice, slow, deep, and melodic, like the strings of a harp.
Can you hear me? I'm talking to you. Answer me if you can hear me.
A very shocked Layla murmured to herself, "Yes, I can hear you."
"Layla?" Flora asked slowly, sounding worried. "Are you okay?"
In Layla's mind, she could hear a delighted gasp, like a girl had just opened a wonderful present. You can hear me! I am speaking to you! Do you know who I am?
Layla's lips curled into a smile. "Yes," she said calmly. "I know who you are."
Slowly, her friends started to smile, and Timmy murmured, "I knew it. The siren Alena."
You know who I am. You're speaking to me. I'm so proud of you.
Layla felt tears of happiness in her eyes. "Thank you."
Oh, restrain yourself! You can do it. No more crying.
To her surprise, Layla's tears vanished immediately. "Right. Of course. Thank you."
Farewell. I'll be in touch.
Layla's feet left the ground as she was surrounded by glowing bubbles. The ethereal librarian stared up at her, mouth open in wonder.
Layla was in a dark space, skimming along the surface of glowing water with pale purple streaks. As she flew, she dipped her hand into the water and splashed some on her face, laughing. The water gathered into a trail behind her and formed two long vertical streams. She wrapped her legs in the water and flipped upside down with her legs open in splits, suspended by the water.
She grabbed some of it and pulled it around her, the streams of water concealing her. The water formed a bubble around her and exploded, and there was Layla, a Lunarix fairy. Finally, the water, sparkling with bubbles of morphix, disappeared into her back, and a stunning pair of wings that glittered with jewels sprouted out.
Layla, in her magnificent Lunarix form, landed in front of them.
The girl started clapping so hard that everyone jumped and then laughed and joined in.
"Let's go, Nabu!" called Layla. "We need to get to that island."
"Bye!" cried the girl as she waved with everyone else.
Layla paused for a minute, then turned back and strode over to the girl.
"You said you didn't have a name, right?" she asked gently.
"Um...yes," said the girl.
"If you were to have a name, what name would you like?"
She looked a little surprised. "Um...I always wished people would call me 'Caelestis.' It sounds strange, but in the language of the Island of Stars, it means 'ethereal light'.'"
"Okay then," Layla said nodding. She put her arm around the girl's shoulders and turned to her friends. As she gestured grandly to the girl, she announced, "From now on, she's not just 'the ethereal librarian.' From now on, she is Caelestis."
Through the pine needles, Bloom and Musa peered at the two beautiful figures, clad in sparkling lavender robes. One had white snow floating off of her shoulders and spoke in a soft voice, and the other spoke very loudly and had sharp ice crystals dripping off of her shoulders.
"Okay," Bloom whispered. She hoped that their Lunarix wings weren't too noticeable. "That one with the white fur on her robe is Amaryllis. You and Riven will take care of her. Once you're done and you need to find and help me and Sky..." She shuddered. "Then just follow the sound of my screaming."
Musa smiled. "You'll be fine, Bloom."
"You be careful," said Bloom.
"You too." Musa hugged her and flew away silently. Bloom crouched low and began making her way towards them. She was not really one to come up with plans. This time especially, she just had to improvise.
Her knee scraped against a log, creating a loud, sccrrraAAATTCHHH!
The Crystal Ladies stopped talking.
"Holy crud!" Bloom hissed quietly to herself. Solstice looked at the log, puzzled, and quietly told Amaryllis, "I'll take a look at that. You go and do...whatever you need to do."
Amaryllis quietly walked away in the general direction of where Musa and Riven were lying in wait. Bloom felt a little relieved. Now there was only one of them to battle.
"Okay," she whispered to Sky, and he drew out his sword.
"You distract," she whispered. "And I'll get the eye."
He nodded and disappeared around some pine trees.
As a puzzled Solstice investigated the log, Bloom could see the tip of Sky's blue blade around a pine tree.
Then, he gave a loud yell and leapt out. Solstice whirled around and created a huge wall of ice to deflect his blow. Bloom soared out from her nest of pine trees and readied her first attack.
"Flaming Thunder!" She flung a golden orb at Solstice, who whirled around and literally batted it back at Bloom, screaming, "Who do you think you are?"
The spell got Bloom right in the chest and she went spiraling into a ring of pine trees. She brushed them off of herself as fast as she could and soared back.
Sky swung at Solstice as hard as he could, but every time she would disappear and reappear somewhere else.
"This is fun!" she laughed sadistically as she teleported right behind Sky and sent a ring of explosive icicles right into his back.
Bloom saw Sky on the ground and quickly muttered to herself. "Think me against Icy, think me against Icy." Then she swooped down and yelled, "Dragon Blaze!" She sent a ray of sparks into Solstice's direction.
Solstice sent another beam that collided into Bloom's, and they pushed back and forth at each other.
"You're not going to win!" yelled Bloom as she pushed harder and harder against the blue ray.
"I'd like to see you try!" Solstice yelled back right as her spell overcame Bloom's. Bloom was slammed into a pine tree, and she slid down the trunk, the breath knocked out of her.
"Take this!" Sky leapt up and managed to whack Solstice on the back of her head with the hilt of his sword. She stumbled forward, whirled around, and sent some gigantic, glowing icicles at Sky. He managed to slice most of them in half, but the others hit the surrounding pine trees, froze them, and shattered them.
As Bloom recovered from her blow, she heard a shriek in the distance. It didn't sound like either of her friends, so she decided that Musa and Riven had successfully obtained Amaryllis' eye.
Her claim was confirmed when they both came bolting through the trees. Musa was covered in scrapes and bruises and one of her wings had gotten torn a little bit, and Riven looked rattled and his cape was tattered, but he was clutching the white-and-purple jewel in one hand. He quickly slid it into a bag and zipped it shut. They both helped Bloom to her feet.
"Let's go!" she called. Riven darted over to help Sky, and Musa and Bloom readied their Convergence.
"Sonic Fire!" Red sound waves spiraled towards Solstice. She curled herself into a ball and expanded again, sending a huge globe of icy wind that knocked all of them back.
Riven and Sky ran forward again and swung at her, cutting two deep gashes in her arm that instantly healed. Enraged, she sent an arc of blue light at them, which sent them flying several yards away, yelling wildly.
"You're not getting my eye!" she yelled, and knocked Musa out of the air with a bolt of icicles. As she towered over her, ready to finish her off, Bloom soared up behind her.
"Yes we will!" she yelled. She locked her hand around the crystal in Solstice's forehead and yanked as hard as she could. Solstice screamed and tried to shake her off, but Bloom held on firmly. She yanked with all her might, using her wings and kicking her feet for strength. Finally, the crystal gave away, and Bloom stumbled backward, triumphantly clutching it in her hand.
Riven and Sky caught up, and as they all fled, Amaryllis burst through the trees, flailing her arms blindly and screeching, "I can't see! I can't see!" Then, both the Crystal Ladies collided and collapsed into a heap on the ground.
They all ran until they reached the middle of the spring sector. Then, they collapsed to the ground, panting. One down, three more to go.