How to Be a Fire Faerie: Part One
The whole thing started in one of those tacky, tourist-trap
Mystery Island fairs - the ones where everyone dresses up and makes things and
there are stalls with games on, and everyone has a brilliant time trying to knock
off coconuts that are glued to sticks and throw balls in holes that are smaller
than the balls, buying tiki tack from the stalls and going on tours and so on.
It was a beautiful summer's day, sweltering hot; pets were dancing, owners were
singing, happy children playing, petpets frolicking merrily in the grass, and
I was slouching down a dirty, dusty track, feeling as grumpy as Jhudora on Illusen
I was dressed up as a red Skeith - huge fake
fangs, stick-on spines, scales - the whole thing. It looked really weird - the
enormous bulky suit on top of my skinny striped Kougra's body.
Although, I reflected bitterly as I wandered
down the bumpy track, I was only here because Dad had made me. I growled softly
under my breath, glancing up at my father, an enormous red Kougra dressed, ridiculously,
as Fyora. His purple skirt cut in at his bulging waistline, and his beefy legs
were encased in lilac-striped over-the-knee socks. To top it all off, there
was a purple crown, which used to have small fake diamonds, but half had fallen
off and one was just hanging, half on and half off, like a five-year-old's wobbly
tooth. The whole effect was absolutely, freakishly, ridiculous. I had never
seen anything so stupid.
It had been his idea to do this whole stupid
fair thing. And of course, he had forced me to come along and join in the festivities.
I growled bitterly, scratching at a passing ghostkerchief and making it squeal.
All my family were red Kougras - I had been,
until I'd found a striped paintbrush once when I'd been exploring the caves
on the beach. It had been the most incredible thing - one minute I'd been flicking
aside old rusting cans of Neocola and food wrappers, the next I was gawping
in astonishment at the glittering paintbrush lying before me. My parents would
never have let me go off the island to get painted, so I'd caught a lift with
my friend Dyrna, a yellow Lutari. She had her own boat.
It had been the best feeling of my life, being
painted. I had gone into the Rainbow Pool a plain, boring, dull and common red
Kougra, and emerged from the clear water a beautiful, exotic, blue, pink and
purple striped one. Of course, I'd had to tell my family how I'd 'changed my
stripes,' as the expression goes. They were so angry, you wouldn't believe.
They forbid me to ever, ever go off the island again. Then they put bars on
my bedroom window. I wasn't even allowed out of the Neohome. They just want
me to make them drinks and stuff, I thought angrily. I'm practically
Dad, the bossy, angry and stupid one with a two year
old's sense of humour.
Mother, the bossy, angry and stupid one who's
obsessed with jewels.
Aunt Marki, the bossy, angry and stupid one who
doesn't know the meaning of "shut up, I'm doing my homework!"
Grampa, the bossy, angry and... oh, never mind.
I could go on, but it would take forever...
I could have easily swapped my family for another
one, right then and there.
And then I saw the door.
It was carved into the cliff face, a rocky stone
arch, with a slab of old, dark and cracked wood stuck on rusting metal hinges.
It looked hundreds of years old - but oddly enough, I didn't remember seeing
I glanced round. Nobody was watching. I was,
by nature, very curious, inquisitive, and - this was the part that annoyed people
most - very, very mischievous.
I pulled off my ridiculous Skeith suit, and darted
over to the door. I turned the rusty, large old handle... Yes! It was open!
I pushed it, and with a loud creak it opened, to show a dark space, an emptiness,
a complete absence of light. I looked back over my shoulder. Yep, coast still
clear. I darted inside.
At once, the darkness closed in around me. I
felt squashed, hemmed in, I couldn't breathe - and then, without a sound, light
burst from the darkness, beautiful, lilac-coloured light, filling up every corner
of my eyes - I closed them, but still the light pushed through, filling my very
bones. I felt as if I was being stretched, down a long tunnel - my limbs seemed
to be getting longer, my head rounder - then there was a thump, a burst of white-hot
pain, and I knew no more.
"How did she get here?!"
"I don't know, I've checked all the main entrances..."
"There isn't another secret way in, your majesty?"
"Not that I know of, no."
I heard the voices as if they were speaking at
me whilst I was underwater. Fuzzy and blurred. They were both female voices,
one sounding annoyed, one puzzled. I was lying on something soft. My head was
still throbbing, and my entire body felt very strange, sort of different, stretched,
maybe, and there were some things sticking into my back. Maybe I'd forgotten
to take off my Skeith spines.
With an enormous effort, I opened my eyes.
"She's waking up!" said one voice. Two faces
swam into view. They looked human, but one had greeny brown hair and bright
green eyes, and the other lilac hair and purple eyes. She was wearing a crown,
and both had large wings sprouting from their backs.
"Faeries!" I yelped, sitting up and stumbling
backwards. I saw the one with the crown and registered her appearance for the
first time. "Fyora!" I yelped, trying to curtsy sitting down - an event people
would probably have paid good Neopoints to see, and which still makes me blush
to think of it. My paws felt weird, but I couldn't look away from the two faeries.
Fyora smiled. "Why so shocked to see your own
kind?" she asked kindly, smiling puzzledly at my look of confusion and apprehension.
"What?" I babbled, trying with all my brainpower
to comprehend what she had just said. It didn't work. "My own - my own -"
I looked down - and froze. Where was my fur?
My tail? My claws?
Instead of a furry chest, I saw one with no fur,
but smooth pink skin, wearing a reddish-orange sleeveless top. Instead of short,
chunky, striped legs, I saw long, thin ones, in orange trousers. I lifted my
paws up to my face - but they weren't paws. They were thinner, with four fingers
and a thumb, no claws, and also furless. My back paws were long and thin, with
five toes and no claws. I ran a hand over my head and was glad to feel soft
fur - but this fur was so long it reached past my shoulders. I pulled a strand
towards me. Instead of being purple or blue, it was as red as it had been before
I had painted it. I ran my tongue round my mouth. My fangs had gone, to be replaced
by flat, square-shaped teeth. And sprouting out of my shoulders was a pair of
orangey-brown flame-shaped wings, softly fluttering in an unseen breeze.
I screamed. I screamed and screamed and screamed.
Maybe if I screamed enough, this whole thing would go away. I was a Kougra!
A striped Kougra who lived on Mystery Island! Not a - a - not - not this! This
was all some weird dream - a fair attraction, maybe - this could not be happening!
The earth faerie was staring at me as if I was completely mad - looking back
after the whole incident, I probably looked like I was.
"What's wrong with her!?" yelled the earth faerie,
backing off slightly.
Fyora bent down and touched me gently on the
forehead. Her hand glowed lilac, cool and refreshing and peaceful, and I stopped
yelling. "What is your name?" she asked quietly.
"S... Simma Starclaw..." I stuttered.
"Starclaw?" wondered the earth faerie. "That's
a weird name for a faerie."
"I'm not a faerie!" I yelled at her, my temper
rising up at once at this mad, mad person who thought I was actually a faerie,
and not just dreaming. "I'm a Kougra, a Kougra, and this is a dream! Just a
very weird dream! I want to wake up!" Any minute, I thought desperately, my
alarm will go off and there'll be Dad saying, "Wake up and make me breakfast."
"Rysta, just be quiet for a minute please," said
Fyora quietly. Then she said to me, very slowly and carefully, not raising her
voice above the tiniest fraction. "We are sitting here in a room in the Hidden
Tower in Faerieland. I am Fyora, Faerie Queen. That is Rysta Vineleaf, earth
faerie. And you..." She paused and gave me a long, hard stare with lilac-coloured
eyes. Fyora's eyes, I have since found out, can be either totally unnerving,
or friendly and cheerful, or soothing, or really just plain scary, depending
on her - and your - mood.
And then she said the words that changed my life
"You are Simma Starclaw, Fire Faerie."
To be continued...