The Elements of the Exploring: Part One
Aeriana ran through the thick forest on the outskirts of the Haunted Woods, glancing behind her after every few steps she took. Her breathing was ragged and her wings fluttered madly as she passed through endless rows of tall trees, trees that blocked the sun and made everything almost completely black. She ran over uneven dirt, almost tripping several times as her eyes searched the woods around her, looking for any signs of movement. She saw none and kept running, until she could see her resting place, the mouth of a large cave, just visible through the leaves. She smiled to herself and sped up, thinking she had won, until suddenly, a cloud of fire appeared before her, and Aeriana skidded to a stop.
Her heart beat madly at the sight of the massive flames, and once she regained balance, she took a step back, though not to run the other way. Instead, she stood up tall, took a large breath, and blew a gust of icy air onto the flames, dousing them and leaving behind a small, shivering fire faerie.
“That was totally uncalled for,” Fayeroh said as she relit her wings, and Aeriana burst out laughing at her pouting friend.
“And you always say being an air faerie is useless.” She smirked, and Fayeroh rolled her eyes.
“I still say fire trumps air any day.”
“In your dreams!”
“And everywhere else in Neopia.” Both girls started laughing at that, until they felt a sudden temperature drop as leaves began to swirl around them. They looked at each other with wide eyes and smiled, bolting towards the cave. The leaves rose higher, blocking their sight and forming a rope that tied around the girls, who fell into a heap of laughter as they were forced to the ground. A young earth faerie appeared in front of them then, laughing at their position and then ducking to avoid a dark shadow, a shadow that grabbed her by the ankle and lifted her off the ground, her long brown hair sweeping against the dirt as she was held there.
“Disparity, put me down!” the faerie yelled, and Fayeroh and Aeriana just laughed at her.
“I’ll let you down, Eerine, once I’ve won,” another voice called then, and Disparity appeared in a cloud of purple smoke, her hands on her hips.
“Well, that’s three down, so we’re just missing...” She looked around, as did they all, and saw nothing. Disparity began to creep slowly towards the cave, as the others watched with bated breath, waiting to see what would happen. It seemed as though the dark faerie was going to win, but just as she was nearing the cave entrance, a blast of light from within shone out, making Disparity cover her eyes and stagger back. The other three faeries cheered for Listanie as the light faerie came out of the cave, the light dimming around her.
“Had you all beat from the start,” she said with a grin as Disparity released Eerine and she in turn released Aeriana and Fayeroh.
“Yeah, yeah,” Fayeroh said as she dusted herself off, “I’ll get you next time, just you wait.”
As the five friends continued to run around the forest, racing each other to the cave and each doing their best to stop the others from beating them to it, another faerie watched from the distance, her eyes filled with longing. Winith sighed as she watched them, her arms resting on the edge of the pool of water she swam in. She had seen them here before, and she wished that she, too, could be a part of their games. However, she was a water faerie, and she could not survive on air without the aid of magic, magic she did not yet possess. She had even considered, once or twice, inviting them to join her in the pool, but she was shy and nervous about asking; she had only ever known her family and close neighbours back at her underwater home—she didn’t know what other faeries were like, and she was a little afraid to find out.
After a while more of watching, Winith noticed two of the young faeries making their way towards her. She didn’t quite know what to do as they grew closer, so she plunged down under the water, looking up and listening to them through the self-created waves.
“This’ll teach Fayeroh to keep showing up in flames,” Eerine said with a smile. “We’ll douse her with water and she’ll be out for the rest of the night!” The two girls giggled and knelt down over the water, the earth faerie holding out the bottom of her dress as the air faerie poured handfuls of water into it. Winith swam up near the surface to see them better, but as she did, the air faerie noticed her eyes beneath the surface and gasped.
“What?” Eerine asked, and the other faerie stood up.
“I think we should leave,” Aeriana said in a tiny voice. “There’s something in the water.” She took a step back and Eerine frowned, glancing at the pool and then standing up as well, careful not to spill any water. The two stood there for a brief moment longer, and then they both began to nervously walk away, though before they got too far, Winith poked her head out of the water in a moment of bravery, determined to meet them at last.
“Wait,” she called softly. “Don’t be afraid of me; I won’t hurt you.” She smiled at the faeries, who looked confused, and beckoned for them to come back to the pool. The two stared at her for a few moments before glancing at each other and nodding, cautiously walking back to the water’s edge, though Winith noticed with a bit of annoyance that they stayed back farther than they had the first time they had been there. Nevertheless, she smiled again as they stopped walking, and for a while the three just stared at each other, Winith taking in the two standing faeries, and Aeriana and Eerine taking in the one floating in the dark water.
“Are you a water faerie?” Aeriana asked at last, startling Winith a little. She had been deep in thought, but she brought herself back to the present and nodded at the question, her hair pooling around her under the surface of the water.
“Do you live out here?” Eerine asked, looking around her with distaste.
“No,” Winith said with an edge to her voice, a bit aggravated that they thought she lived in such bleak conditions, and a bit angry at the look the earth faerie was giving her; the meeting with these faeries that she had so long awaited wasn’t going quite as she had hoped, and she sighed a little before pointing to her right. “I live down that stream, out in open waters. I came here once to be alone and saw you guys playing... now I just come to watch you sometimes. You look like you have a lot of fun.” She tried putting on a smile once more, hoping that perhaps the faeries would suggest they come to play with her sometime.
“Don’t you have friends of your own?” Aeriana questioned instead, and Winith shrugged, getting rather frustrated by their assumptions that she was a lonely faerie that lived by herself in a shallow pool in the Haunted Woods.
“Yes, but they don’t really do much. They like to sit above the water on rocks and style their hair; I would rather actually do something, you know?” she said in a bored tone, crossing her arms over her chest at the thought of the other water faeries she knew.
“That’s too bad,” Eerine said, looking down at the water pooled in her dress. “We have to get back before I spill this water everywhere,” she said then, looking to Aeriana. “My dress may be water-resistant, but this is getting heavy to hold!” Aeriana nodded, and then gave Winith a quick smile before turning away.
“Well, we have to go, sorry about your friends!” she said as she turned, and she and Eerine left without another word, leaving Winith rather hurt and annoyed. They hadn’t meant to seem mean or uncaring, but they had been in a hurry to get back to their friends before Eerine spilled the water they had collected. Winith, however, took their quick departure as a statement of dislike towards her, and that was not something she was pleased by.
“They didn’t even offer to see me again,” she huffed, putting her arms on her hips and whipping her tail, “or even say it was nice to meet me!” She huffed again and her cheeks began to burn as her quick temper flared up. She had been so nervous about meeting them, and while they hadn’t exactly been rude, they hadn’t been nice and welcoming as she had hoped, either. She watched them hide in the trees and wait for their friend to run by before throwing the water on her, watched them all laugh as the fire faerie tried miserably to re-ignite herself, and wondered if she was close enough to drench them all with a powerful wave. She began to sway gently back and forth in the water as she thought about it, and the more she swayed, the more she liked the idea of a massive crash of water to dampen their fun. She focused her magic into making the water in the small pool swell, and each new sway made the crest of the small wave grow higher.
Winith was known among her water faerie friends for having a horrid temper, and in her small community of faeries everyone knew not to get her angry. Now, however, her temper was in full swing, and her face was a dangerous tinge of pink as she swung her arms back and forth, willing the water to move faster.
The water began to rage, as much as it could for being in such a small pool, and it began to splash over onto the dirt. Winith focused her energy on the faeries not too far from her, but before she could send the wave off with one final push of her magic, she heard a sound that stopped her in her tracks. The waves splashed everywhere, covering the dirt around the pool and matting Winith’s hair to her face, but she didn’t care and barely even noticed. She pushed her hair out of her eyes and looked towards the nearby cave where the sound had come from. It had been a shriek, a distant one, and as Winith heard the other faeries approaching, she dipped down into the water and swam back to up the stream.
All five of the faeries had been close enough to hear the shriek just as Winith had, and they came together as they approached the cave.
“What do you think it was?” Eerine asked quietly, holding onto Aeriana’s arm as they walked.
“Sounded like a girl,” Listanie offered, and the others all agreed.
“Should we leave?” Aeriana asked, looking to her friends.
“Let’s check it out,” Disparity said, and Fayeroh nodded. Aeriana looked at Eerine and shrugged, and Eerine in turn looked at Listanie, who sighed.
“Since Fayeroh is drenched, I suppose that means I’m leading the way?” she asked, and they all smiled as the small faerie opened her wings, light radiating around her. Disparity and Fayeroh walked on either side of her, and Aeriana and Eerine followed closely behind as they entered the dark cave.
To be continued...
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