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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 25th day of Awakening, Yr 22
The Neopian Times Week 75 > Short Stories > A Different Faerie

A Different Faerie

by tdyans

"What does a faerie need us to bring her other faeries for anyway?" the Meerca asks irritably.

     The Krawk shakes his head. "You got me. And why's she always shivering and complaining about how cold it is? I mean, she's the Snow Faerie - shouldn't she like the cold?"

     I hear their questions as they leave my dwelling at the top of Terror Mountain, but I do not answer them. I cannot tell them.... I cannot tell anyone. As the door shuts behind the two dissatisfied travelers, I am left alone once more, and I feel myself being pulled back into my memories-memories that haunt me but that I cannot escape, for I am the only one I have to share them with and they are all that I have...

***

I was a fire faerie once, so long ago that sometimes I wonder if I only dreamed it. I was warm and vibrant... and ordinary. This was my problem back in those innocent days, you see. I was a fire faerie, a creature with powers that most Neopians can only imagine, living high above everyone in a dream world of magic. But I was just like every other faerie. And I longed to be different, to prove myself to be unique, special... somehow better than my sisters. I wanted the world to recognise me, to know my face and my name, rather than simply see me as just another fire faerie.

     But the fulfillment of my desire seemed hopeless. Day after day I searched for some way to distinguish myself while the other faeries frolicked, carefree, through the clouds. But nothing ever appeared. The faerie world was perfect then-separated entirely from the flawed world in which the humans and Neopets lived, with only the most powerful of faeries from Fyora's court allowed to intervene in the affairs of the Neopians below. With all of this perfection, what could I possibly do to prove myself superior?

     And then, one day, as I wandered aimlessly across a cluster of clouds that I had never taken notice of before, I met her. "You seem as if you're looking for something," she said, smiling at me invitingly. I had heard of Jhudora before. Certainly, some said that she was evil and sought to antagonise Fyora at every step-one of the few blots of imperfection in our enchanted world. Others, however, said that there was no such thing as an evil faerie, that she was simply misunderstood and meant well-that Fyora was not perfect either and perhaps we needed Jhudora to question her from time to time. I had never taken much interest in either side of the debate, but now I was inclined to believe the latter. There were few faeries left who would actually deign to listen to my laments and desires. To them, my talk was crazy-wasn't it enough just to be a faerie?

     I opened my mouth to explain myself, but before I could utter a word, Jhudora spoke again, her smooth voice filled with sympathy. "You're not like the other faeries, are you?" she asked. I shook my head, awed at her insight. "No, you're special.... If only there was some way to show that to everyone else."

     "Yes!" I cried. "That's what I want. That's what I've always wanted!"

     "Well, of course!" Jhudora replied. "Now if we could only think of something.... Ah! I think I have the perfect idea. Come with me!" Before I could ask where we were going, Jhudora snapped her fingers, and suddenly in a rush of air, we were standing on a completely different cloud. I was amazed again at Jhudora's abilities; I had never seen a faerie capable of doing that. Perhaps she was even more powerful than Fyora.

     "Here we are," she said, breaking me away from my thoughts so that I looked around at my new surroundings. This was another cloud that I had never seen before-small and almost perfectly circular, and strangely separated from the other clouds that composed Faerieland. In the centre of the cloud was something even stranger: a piece of wood, a door I realised, surrounded by an odd yellow glow.

     "What's this?"

     "That, my dear, is a doorway to Neopia. Fyora created it long ago, just in case she might see a need to use it, but she never has. Open that door, and you will forever change the world. Neopia and Faerieland will be permanently connected-Neopians will be able to enter Faerieland and all faeries will be able to make their way into Neopia."

     "Why hasn't Fyora ever opened it herself?"

     "Because she's an old and selfish fool!" Jhudora's violet eyes flamed and I took a step back. Instantly, she calmed her demeanour. "She simply refuses to see all of the good that it would do. Just think about it. Instead of only a few faeries being able to help those poor Neopians, all of us could! And everyone knows how boring it is for all of us, being cooped up in the clouds all the time; it's time we were free to explore, to see the world. Why, you'd be a hero to Neopians and faeries alike! Everyone would know you.... Everyone would love you!"

     Jhudora's words fell on my ears like music. "A hero;" I'd be a hero, loved and known, and... different. "But why don't you open the door? Why are you letting me--?"

     Jhudora waved a hand dismissively almost before I could finish my question. "Oh, everyone knows who I am already, don't they? It would be selfish of me to hoard all of the fame. And when I saw you today.... Well, it was obvious that I'd found the deserving faerie I'd been looking for to offer this opportunity to."

     I beamed under her praise and walked over to the strange door stuck into the cloud-ground. I reached down for its handle, pausing at the strange, tingling sensation that wove its way up my delicate arm when I touched it. "Go on," Jhudora coaxed behind me. "Open it." Without further instruction, I gripped the handle tight and pulled with all my might, falling back onto the soft cloud as the door came swinging open, its surrounding glow slowly fading and leaving me with a sudden sinking feeling.

     "What have you done?" a quiet voice asked from behind me. I turned to see Jhudora vanished-and the Faerie Queen herself standing at my back, her eyes burning.

     "I-I just-"

     "You opened the door," Fyora said for me, the softness of her voice betraying anger, and something else... fear? I could only nod dumbly, feeling suddenly, now that Jhudora's encouragement was gone, that I had done something terribly wrong.

     Fyora's head fell, looking desperately down at the cloud-ground before she visibly steeled herself, looked up again, and with a flick of her wand, I found myself transported once more-this time to the centre of Fyora's elaborately-decorated court. The eyes of the powerful faeries who spent their days in Fyora's court, enjoying feast and song, swept curiously to me as I appeared before Fyora's throne, no doubt looking small and frightened. I looked up at Fyora, who towered above me in her throne, but she did not speak; it seemed almost as if she did not know what to say. "My queen," Illusen spoke, approaching the throne, "who is this young faerie and why do you bring her here before us?"

     Fyora stared hard at me before replying. "She has opened the door." A chorus of gasps filled the room at the announcement, followed by a symphony of murmurs. "Enough!" Fyora shouted after a moment, and the room fell deathly silent. "Do you know what you have done?" she asked, looking down at me. "You have opened the door that will allow Neopians and faeries to go back and forth between each others' worlds."

     "Yes," I said quietly, afraid of the echo of my own voice as the still room strained to hear my words. "But... but isn't that a good thing? Faeries have always helped Neopians, but now we can help them even more-even those of us who are less powerful. And, and-"

Fyora shook her head. "Not all Neopians are good and should be helped by our magic, and-much like you-not all faeries are powerful or wise enough to know the difference." She closed her eyes, her face twisting with emotion. "I see... a creature... large and fearsome, with a great hatred within his heart... capturing faeries, imprisoning them in bottles, and... selling them like objects, allowing others to balance their freedom against greed." Anxious murmurs filled the room again, and Fyora paused, a tear rolling down her beautiful face before she took a shuddering breath and continued.

     "Neopians, meanwhile, can be even more foolish than young faeries; they will be made vulnerable to a darkness they will not know better than to serve." As she said this, I saw her eyes move across the room, and I followed them to see Jhudora smirking in a dark back corner. Fyora glared at her, and I wanted more than anything to say that it had been her fault, that she'd made me do it... but I couldn't. Jhudora had set me up, but the decision, the action, had been my own. As the Faerie Queen looked back at me, I realised that she knew the truth, but that I must take responsibility for what I had done.

     "Isn't there any way to close the door again?" Fuhnah asked, interrupting our silent communication.

Fyora shook her head sadly. "The moment the door was opened, it became impossible to close back up. The magic of Faerieland is now shared with all of Neopia-our power is reduced. Our world will never know such innocence and enchantment again as it had before this day."

     "I'm sorry," I said, feeling the inadequacy of the words.

     "You must be punished," Fyora said firmly, but her eyes spoke compassion. She had never had to punish one of her subjects before.

     "How?"

     "Banishment."

     My own gasp drowned out the others this time. Of course, it was possible now, but to be banished from Faerieland forever was unimaginable. "Come here, closer to me," she commanded. My feet felt like stones and my head was swimming, but somehow I carried myself forward, unable to disobey.

     Fyora closed her eyes in concentration and waved her wand over me, and suddenly I began to change. I looked down at myself and saw my skin turning pale, my hair growing short and turning as black as night; looked back and saw my wings transform from delicate, orange to heavy, bird-like, blue and white. But worst of all, I felt the warmth leaving me. A fire faerie knows no other existence than heat-to feel the one thing you have known all your life and taken utterly for granted seeping out of you is something that can hardly be described.

     I looked down at my strange, new body, trembling and struggling to hold back the tears that beaded in my eyes. "Why?" I asked, unable to form any more words.

     "You will need this body where you're going," Fyora explained, "and this as well." She handed me a long, thick coat that she had conjured up while I had been examining my new state. I'd never seen such a thing in my life, but I put it on obediently. As soon as I had it wrapped around myself, Fyora waved her wand again, and she and I were once more swept away.

     Half a second later, I opened my eyes to find nothing but whiteness swirling around me, and for a moment I thought that something had gone wrong with Fyora's spell. But then her hand was on my arm, leading me through the strange white substance that covered the ground. It looked almost like cloud, but did not feel like cloud at all; I did not like it.

     Finally, we arrived at an odd-looking hut and Fyora led me inside. Free at last of the engulfing whiteness and cold, I looked at her desperately. "What is this place?"

     "This is your new home."

     A sob escaped my throat. I had known the answer, but didn't want to. Fyora's hand came up to rest on my shoulder. "You will get used to it," she said, sounding almost as uncertain and sad as I was. "You are the Snow Faerie now." I didn't even know what snow was then, but I nodded my head sullenly.

     "I have one more spell to cast on you," she continued. I looked up at her, wondering what it could be. She placed the tip of her wand above my head. "From this day forward, you will not be able to tell anyone your story, to share with anyone what happened to you today and why you are what you are now." With a quick flick of the wand, the final curse was cast.

     Fyora gave me one more sorrowful look then-the pity in her eyes telling me that this was goodbye, forever. I watched her disappear and then turned to the window, watching the endless white-cold and dark and cruel, everything that I had never known before-flying relentlessly before me. It was hard to believe then... it still is... that my life was changed so completely in one moment-not the moment that Fyora cursed me to live here, but the moment I cursed myself, the moment I opened that fateful door, or perhaps even further back than that, the moment that I decided I should be better than everyone else...

***

A light knock on my door snatches me away from my memories. With a tight heart, I walk to the door and pull it open, flinching at the cold wind that whips past me. No, I shouldn't feel the cold. I'm the Snow Faerie now-the cold is a part of me. But I feel it just the same. Perhaps it's only in my mind-a memory I cling to of the warmth that once coursed through me and surrounded me each day. Once I would have given anything to be different from the other faeries; now all I want is to be the same.

     As I swing the door shut, I look down to see a shivering pink Kacheek clutching a few objects to his chest and staring up at me expectantly. I remember this Kacheek; I remember what I asked him for. A small flurry of hope wends its way into my heart as I hold my hands out for the items. "Thank you."

     The little Kacheek looks at me questioningly as I set the bottled faerie aside, but he says nothing. Instead, he watches intently as I place the other items into my cauldron and close my eyes to concentrate on my spell. I want to give him something good, to reward him for his generosity, for bringing me the one thing I truly need... but my powers are limited so far from the place I still consider home. With a grateful smile, I hand him the Neopoints and items I've managed to conjure up. He looks at his reward and shrugs, a dissatisfied look on his face as he walks back out the door. I sigh, wishing I could have pleased him.

     I turn back to the small, clear bottle and lift it up to peer inside. A fire faerie-my heart clenches at the vision of my former self. I can sense her fear as I peer in at her, as she wonders what I've planned. Will I leave her in this bottle forever, stick her on a shelf so that no one will ever be able to release her from her tiny prison? If I must suffer this fate, be stuck in this cold, dreary place, why shouldn't others suffer with me?

     No, I could not do that to another. I know what it is to be trapped. I place my hand on the lid and twist. As the jar pops open, she quickly flutters out and out of my reach, but stops to stare curiously back at me for a moment. She is too young to know of that day so long ago, but I know that there are still rumours about me in the faerie world. I look back at her, pleading with my eyes. Please tell her. Tell Fyora I released you. Tell her I'm trying to make it up. Tell her I've changed... ask her to give me another chance.

     The tiny faerie turns and flies away, and I wonder if she saw anything in my eyes but the cold. I turn away and go back to my work, reminding myself that I could not speak the words to her, couldn't tell her my story. All I can do is hope.

     Sometimes I wonder, though, if Fyora really cast that final spell to keep me from being able to share my story, my shame, with sympathetic ears - and thus to begin to forgive myself for it. For the truth is, I've never truly tried.

The End

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