The Pianist's Quandary: Part Three
"So what did you do?" Nevan asked Ellamara as he swept the
ballroom's floor the night after Ellamara had agreed to let him restore her house
to its former beauty.
As she played the piano, her song slightly a
bit less doleful than the night before, Ellamara answered. "I cannot recall
if I was truly a princess or not, but my father always called me his little
princess. After I became a ghost, when I woke up here, he was nowhere to be
seen. I am not quite sure what happened to him... I miss him terribly."
Nevan sighed sadly, though he continued to sweep.
"Anyway, though, I used to play the piano at
all of my father's banquets. We had at least a dozen chefs and they would cook
the finest food in all of Neopia! Of course, I had not tasted all of the food
in Neopia, but that is what my father used to say. It is sad how, when I awoke
here, playing my piano, all of them were gone. Sometimes, I wonder if they have
all died as well, or if they simply moved away and forgot about me..."
Nevan had nothing to say in response, so he let
However, she did not continue talking of her
past. Instead, she asked of Nevan's. "What did you do before you moved to Faerieland?"
"I had my own Neohome in Neopia Central," Nevan
answered, wiping the sweat from his brow and admiring the large pile of dust
that he had already swept up. "I used to work with the Neopian Stock Market.
I made millions, still have most of it, too, but that life simply wasn't fulfilling
for me. I wanted something more. So, I moved here."
"But why Faerieland?" Ellamara asked and stopped
playing for a moment to gaze at Nevan as he swept, trying futilely to sweep
up every last fleck of dust that had become, in the past hundred years, a part
of the floor itself. "There are so many wondrous places in Neopia; what made
you choose to move to Faerieland?"
Nevan thought for a moment before he answered.
"I had initially thought of Mystery Island, but there was nothing there for
me. It's too carefree there. I need to work to keep sane. I need order to be
happy. Yet, I needed to get away from the ordered chaos of Neopia Central. It
seems everyone new to the world ends up there, and that causes a lot of confusion.
I didn't want that. Faerieland seemed to be the place for me. It had work, yet
it wasn't chaotic like Neopia Central has become. Not too overcrowded, you know?"
Tentatively, he added, "And it's a good thing
I came to Faerieland, otherwise I would've never met you." Glancing sheepishly
at Ellamara, Nevan caught the slightest twinge of a blush in the ghost Xweetok's
cheeks. Happily, she returned to her piano, and he, to his broom.
The next night, Nevan showed up to the house
with a long rod that had a claw-like structure on one end that had been covered
with hundreds of scraps of cotton fluff. When Ellamara asked him what he planned
to use it for, he didn't answer with words, but instead reached it deeply into
the high shadows of the room and started gathering the innumerable amount of
cobwebs that littered the ballroom.
"Nevan," the Xweetok asked as she played her
piano, "what day is it?"
"It's a Tuesday," Nevan answered, grunting slightly
as he swung the long rod around a chandelier, only narrowly missing it mid-swing.
"And what is the year?"
"I've always considered it to be Year Eight."
"Year Eight of what?" Ellamara asked, her song
"I'm not sure," Nevan said lightly. "Since about
eight years ago, Neopia has been using a new numbering system for their years.
Come to think of it, I can't remember what year it would be now if we hadn't
changed to the new calendar system."
Ellamara sighed. "I remember when I was alive...
I do recall it was the year 1453 of the reign of Morrighan, who was then the
Faerie Queen. Now, the Faerie Queen is Fyora and the year is eight." Ellamara
played a few sullen notes on her piano and sighed. "Do you know why Morrighan
is no longer the Faerie Queen? And is it, perchance, that it is the eighth year
of Fyora's reign?"
Nevan grunted as he lowered the rod and sighed.
"I don't think it's year eight of Fyora's reign; she's been the Faerie Queen
a lot longer than that." The blue Wocky looked around the high shadows of the
room, trying to see any cobwebs that he might have missed. "To be honest, Ellamara,
I've never even heard of the name Morrighan."
"Oh, I see," the ghost Xweetok said quietly,
her voice as soft as ever as she returned to playing her piano. "Once must wonder,
or at least I must wonder, what happened so many years ago that the world as
I knew it has changed so much since then... "
The next night, Nevan spent his time with Ellamara
scrubbing the walls of the ballroom, which had already begun to recover some
of its lost sparkle with simply one less layer of dust on the floor and all
of the cobwebs removed.
Tonight, it was Nevan's turn to initiate the
conversation when he asked Ellamara what Faerieland used to be like when she
was alive, or at least when she wasn't a ghost. She stopped playing her piano
and closed her eyes for a moment, conjuring a mental image of the past before
she finally answered the question.
"It was very different than today. The houses
were simpler, and Faerie City was very much smaller. Then, only a few towers
existed where Morrighan dwelled. Fyora must be a much kinder Faerie Queen if
Faerie City has expanded so much.
"When I was alive, Neopia was under the rule
of Faerieland. At that time, the rule of Neopia shifted. At first, long, long
ago, Tyrannia ruled, and then there was rule from Terror Mountain. Those times
were cold... not necessarily dark, but cold. Then... well, my knowledge of Neopia's
history is not as good as it once was. Who rules Neopia now?"
Nevan couldn't help but laugh. "No body 'rules'
Neopia. Many countries are independent now, like Tyrannia, Terror Mountain,
and of course, Faerieland, too. The world is such a vast place... I guess they
just realized it was too much for one person to rule peacefully. What was the
rest of Neopia like?"
"Oh, I do not know, Nevan," Ellamara said. "I
never left Faerieland. My father was quite protective of me; he hardly even
let me out of the house. It was like he was hiding the world from me. I have
no idea why he would have done that, but it always seemed as if there were more
to the world than what I was allowed to see. I guess it was just a child's curiosity;
after all, I was quite young then." Without hesitation, Ellamara turned back
to the piano and begun playing it once again.
Over the next few nights, Nevan and Ellamara
talked very little as Nevan explored the rest of the house and was unable to
talk while he cleaned if Ellamara was to play the piano. Nevertheless, the two
chatted now and then when Ellamara would take a break from playing the piano
to welcome Nevan or to wish him a good night when he left.
Another few weeks or so passed before the entire
house, which was much more like a mansion than a simple Neohome, was entirely
swept and relieved of its thousands of cobwebs. However, the entire house was
far from finished. A few stairs needed repairing and many doors had fallen off
of their hinges in the house's disuse. Many more of the chairs and furniture
needed repair as well. In the last days of this house's life, Nevan imagined,
it must have been trashed by monsters, or at the very least, angry Neopians.
After a few weeks, Nevan had completed all of
the house's repairs, though the house was still grey with more than a hundred
years of grime. As time went on, however, the house continued to get brighter
and brighter as room after room was cleaned entirely. Finally, Nevan took his
work outside and finished the last bits of work that had to be done.
At long last, after months had passed, the house
had been restored.
"It is beautiful," Ellamara said with awe as
she and Nevan ran through the house, admiring its newfound glory. The wooden
floors were now a dark brown like the brown fur of most Xweetoks. The walls
had been painted and repainted until they shone with a new splendor the likes
of which Faerieland had never known. The ballroom was the most beautiful of
all. The floor scintillated in the starlight; the burgundy and deep-blue stone
tiles that made up the floor were celestial in their beauty. The high ceilings
were illuminated by dozens of luminous candles, the light of their serene flames
sparkling off of the shimmering, golden chandeliers. Even the piano had been
polished and it now glowed with a newly restored aura of beauty and elegance.
"It's wonderful," Ellamara exclaimed as she gazed
around the ballroom and then directly at her piano, which was still tucked beside
the tall window that encompassed nearly the entire right wall of the room. The
window itself, which weeks before had been strewn in tattered rags and shattered
glass, was now draped with burgundy curtains that flowed flawlessly over glass
that was now clearer than the purest of waters in all of Neopia.
Ellamara could think of no more words to say,
so instead she turned towards Nevan and reached her arms out to him. But her
hug was unfelt, however, as her arms passed through him. Over the past few months,
the Xweetok had come to love dearly her new friend. And yet, as much as she
wished to thank him with a caring hug, she could not.
The ghostly Neopet drifted somberly back to her
piano bench and sat down. She placed her paws upon the keys and for the first
time in weeks, her song was sad and doleful once again. Her sadness, having
been pushed aside by a friend, had since returned.
Feeling unable to do anything to comfort his
friend, Nevan whispered a good night and left, walking sadly back to his house
down the street. As he crawled into bed that night, the blue Wocky decided to
take a day off. He had more important things to do than work.
* * *
"Ellamara," Nevan said the next night as he stood
in the ballroom's doorway, holding his paws behind his back, "do you remember
the question you asked me a few months ago?"
The ghost Xweetok stopped playing her song and
turned to face her friend. "No," she whispered, shaking her head lightly, "what
question was that?"
"You asked me to find out if you were dead or
not. I didn't have an answer then, but I have an answer now. I know how we can
figure out if you are dead or alive."
"How?" Ellamara asked, her voice sounding hopeful
as she stood from her piano bench and floated nearer to Nevan.
"With this," Nevan said and pulled a Faerie Paint
Brush out from behind his back. "If you can be painted, we'll know that you
aren't dead, but alive."
"But..." Ellamara whispered, "I cannot go out
in the daylight, and we will never make it to the Rainbow Pool in time..."
"Yes, we will," Nevan said, "I have a Uni Taxi
waiting outside." Ellamara's eyes burst to life with a new sense of hope and
she ran towards Nevan, who led her outside and into a two-wheeled carriage that
was attached to a friendly-looking Uni. The Uni began striding forward, the
carriage's wheels rolling along the street and the sound of the Uni's hooves
like a heartbeat in the sky. A moment later, the carriage was lifted from the
street and the Uni began flying them towards Neopia Central, the wind blowing
into their faces.
* * *
"Here we are," Nevan whispered as the two walked
up to the Rainbow Pool hardly an hour after they had boarded the carriage. The
pool's water was still before them, the reflection of Neopia's moon flawless
upon its silvery surface.
The two Neopets were silent as Ellamara walked
to the water's edge and then slowly waded into the pool until she floated in
the center, treading the water around her. Nevan walked quietly up to the pool
and dipped into it the Faerie Paint Brush, which dissolved into a pastel stream
of colors that soon covered the entire Rainbow Pool.
Hesitantly, Ellamara submerged herself beneath
Nevan was silent as he waited. The water became
still, yet Ellamara still had not emerged from the pool. The wind blew quietly
past, rustling through the leaves of a nearby tree. The stars sparkled in the
sky. An orange flash scuttled across the surface of Kreludor. The waters of
the Rainbow Pool became clear as crystalline glass, the pastel colors fading
away and the few ripples left there rippling towards the center of the pool
Ellamara broke free of the water, rushing into
the sky upon wings of translucent glory as silvery drops of magic departed from
her tan fur and fell through the air, catching the moonlight and igniting the
night with wonder and amazement, silver rainbows sent cascading across the pool.
A moment later, the Faerie Xweetok landed before her friend and flapped her
diminutive wings, still not believing that this was all happening.
"Thank you," she whispered to her friend, taking
his paws in hers for the first time in her life. "Thank you, Nevan, so very,
very much. You have given me new life, allowed me to be whole again." She smiled
happily, feeling more elated than she had ever felt before. "More importantly,
Nevan, you have been my friend, my very dear friend." She dropped his hands
and gave him a hug, wrapping her arms tightly around him until they almost tumbled
over in happiness.
* * *
"Might I have this dance?" a blue Wocky dressed
in a suit asked a Faerie Xweetok who was playing the piano in a ballroom full
of dozens of Neopians, all dancing in unison.
"But who would play...?" the Xweetok asked quietly.
"Nobody has to," Nevan said with a grin.
"But somebody has to," Ellamara protested.
"I can play," a nearby Shoyru said and Nevan
recognized her as the Employment Agency's receptionist.
"There you have it," Nevan said, taking Ellamara's
paw and lifting her from the piano bench. "Someone will still be here to play
"Yes, I suppose," Ellamara said, still reluctant
to leave her piano.
"Now," Nevan said as the Xweetok followed him
to the center of the ballroom, "let us dance." And dance they did, the Xweetok's
burgundy and deep-blue gown spiraling around her, conjuring an image of sheer
royalty and splendor that would never be matched again upon the cloudy, enchanted
streets of Faerieland.