Being Grey: Part One
Also by psychopsam
It was dark, the streets of Faerieland only lit by a few lights. The streets were mostly empty. A few stray Doglefoxes wandered, searching fruitlessly for food, but other than that, there was little movement in the deserted alleyways and roads.
Laeren walked these streets, looking down at the hard ground. She had nowhere to go and nothing to do -- she just kept walking aimlessly down the dark streets. She felt as though she had no purpose but to walk, at least for the time being. She believed them, all of them, and their harsh words. They were right, after all. What good was she in the world? Everyone would have done just as well without her.
In the dim light she could see she had come to a dead end. She sat down, right then and there, and looked up into the night sky. The stars were shining brightly, for there was little light. She could hear the rustling inside a garbage can nearby, and soon saw a Doglefox poke its dirty head out of the top. It was lonely too, she thought, but at least it had a chance. Someone could pick it off the desolate streets and take it in. Someone could love it, Laeren thought, something that was impossible for a faerie like her.
All of a sudden Laeren heard another noise, strikingly familiar, and looked to see where it was coming from. She curled into a defensive pose, and tried her best to stay hidden. Someone was coming for her again. This would be the third night in a row.
It was quiet for a few minutes, and for a split-second Laeren thought she was safe. Maybe they would stop to take pity on her for once. There was nothing she could do, so why were they attacking her in the first place? Did they want her gone that badly? It wasn’t as if...
But a warm line of fire lit the dark alley, missing Laeren narrowly. She whirled around to find a fire faerie smiling menacingly, holding up her finger, on top of which was a small flame. Immediately, Laeren ran, trying to evade the fireballs flying at her. She had just come out of healing from her last injury, and Fyora knew how long she would be able to survive these attacks. She would have to find a hiding place soon enough.
The fire faerie continued the harassment, sending a barrage of sparks at the poor faerie. If this were daytime, the fight might have been stopped already, if Laeren was lucky, but under the cover of the night sky, many faeries got away with things.
Soon, Laeren came upon the near-center of the city, and began to run. The fire faerie followed in hot pursuit, continually sending fire at the helpless prey. Someone ought to have heard it, but they didn’t want to know what was happening.
And then there was a moment, one that neither Laeren nor the fire faerie could describe. They both knew what was going to happen next, without even having to try. Laeren knew that she could try to dodge, but it was inevitable. The fire faerie had locked on, taking a good second to think about her shot, and fired, with perfect aim. No matter which way Laeren bent, she could not escape the fireball. In perfect time, it slammed into the tattered left wing of the faerie, who yelled in pain. The last thing she could remember was writhing in seething pain. Her wing was burnt, and she rolled around in search of relief.
She blacked out.
The courtyard was beautiful, strewn with pink flower beds and precisely cut hedges. There was a fountain in the middle of it all, spraying water high into the air. Laeren marveled at it in awe as she walked down the path. It was her first day of Mini-Faerie School, and she was extremely excited. Since she had learned about it, she was anxious to get there. It was a great chance to make new friends, and maybe she would finally find someone who liked her.
It was a beautiful campus. There were lush green trees all around, and the sky was clear and blue. The air was crisp, and the magnificent building stood humbly at the end of the small courtyard. It was white, probably the house of whoever owned it, and it looked quite welcoming. She could see other faeries her age wandering down the path, some talking with each other. They all seemed pretty nice. Laeren thought she was sure to make some friends.
Finally she reached the door of the school, and opened it. It creaked, but not like the creak in frightening stories. It was more of an ancient, wise creak, one that you would expect of an old building that had stood the test of time. As she walked in, she could hear a friendly voice. “Please, come right in! I’m Ms. Gouda, and I’ll be your Mini-Faerie School teacher! May I ask your name, and faerie type?”
Laeren walked in and looked around. There were books lining the shelves, growing thicker the higher up the shelf she looked. On some of the walls were posters, set to teach the numbers and alphabet, and one of Queen Fyora in all her regal beauty. She smiled, feeling excitement, and heard the door creak behind her.
“Hello, Ms. Gouda,” Laeren offered shyly, walking up to a nice looking earth faerie at the back of the room, tending to a dark faerie who was crying, probably out of fear. “My name is Laeren, and... I don’t really have... I don’t really know my faerie type. I think I’m a late bloomer.”
“A late bloomer?” the teacher asked aloud. “I’ve never heard of a late bloomer.”
Laeren smiled nervously.
“Could this mean...?” Ms. Gouda continued. “No, that’s impossible. Especially considering the age? I’d better go tell Fyora.” She stood up and ran to get some pen and paper. Laeren sat down on the picked carpet, flustered, when a water faerie walked up to her, a few others following close behind.
“So the rumors are true,” she said in a squeaky voice, looking back at all of her friends.
Laeren looked at her curiously, and cocked her head to the side. Everyone seemed to be squinting at her. She looked around, but did not see one friendly face.
“My caretaker told me about you,” the small water faerie continued, scowling at the innocent Laeren. “You’re the grey faerie.”
Laeren frowned. “C – c – come again?” she stuttered.
The water faerie rolled her eyes at such ignorance. “Well, you are one, aren’t you? A grey faerie. They don’t have any powers. They can’t fly. They can never be as good as everyone else. And it is said that if you get too close to a grey faerie, you’re just as weak as them, even though you have powers. Their hearts are evil too – blacker than any night you’ve ever seen. Grey faeries are a disgrace to society.” The faerie paused, and then smiled cruelly as she added, “You’re a disgrace to society.”
Laeren shook her head, disliking this faerie more and more. “That’s not right. I’m not evil. I’ve never done anything bad.” She was close to tears, wincing at the lies that slipped out, and she stood up, looking at all of the others who had gathered around.
“What’s going on, children?” Ms. Gouda appeared from the back of the room, watching the small faeries curiously.
“We figured it out!” the same water faerie at the front of the pack shouted, as she pointed to Laeren. “She’s a grey faerie! I can’t believe no one saw this faker! And I say we don’t let her stay in the school! Force her out of here; use magic if you can!”
Laeren was scared to death. This was wrong, wrong, all wrong. Maybe she didn’t have powers, but she wasn’t a grey faerie! She wasn’t evil! She’d never hurt any of them. She looked to Ms. Gouda for help, but saw a faintly smirking face. Slowly she backed away to the door, and flung it open, running with all of her might. Something tingled, jingling her nerves. It felt like something was building up inside her, something was flying from her fingertips.
Something hard flew her way. She ran a little faster.
She did not know where she was going, and started crashing blindly through the low branches of the surrounding forest. She could hear someone behind her, and that’s what kept her going. It was instinct, the yearning to stay alive.
“That’s right! Run if you can! See how long you can survive! For soon you will die by the hands of all of Faerieland and Neopia. By the hands of all who are right!” She turned around to see the water faerie running after her, holding a small ball of water in her hand. “Take this!” The faerie threw the ball and it slammed straight into Laeren’s neck, but Laeren kept running.
“You will die by the hands of all who are right!” the water faerie called one last time before turning around and heading back to the school.
Slowly, Laeren opened her eyes. The first thing she could see was sunlight, and she could hear the wind, a blissful breeze, blowing through. “I was sleeping,” the faerie mumbled to herself, as she rose up.
“Wait... I’m in a bed. Why am I in a bed? Have I been dreaming?” She looked around to find that she was in a room, and it was warm and peaceful. So she added, dazed, “I haven’t slept in a bed for ages.”
She stretched her arms out and wondered what was going on. It had been ten years since she had run away from that school, and she had been running ever since, sometimes just barely escaping the claws of death. All of Faerieland wanted her head, so she should be dead now, but... Maybe she’d unconsciously walked into this house with this bed?
“The last thing I remember was getting attacked,” Laeren whispered to herself, trying to sort things out. “My wing!” She touched her hand to her wing, but found that there was hardly a scorched feather to be seen, and it was barely in any pain. It was no worse off than it’d been before—even better, in fact. “I don’t understand. How long have I been sleeping?”
“You’ve been sleeping for about fifteen hours now.”
Laeren’s head whirled around to the doorway. Her eyes widened in fear, and she backed into the headboard of the bed.
“Oh no,” Laeren whispered. “No.”
Standing inside the doorway was a smiling water faerie.
To be continued...