Unbottled: The True Story of Balthazar
History has never been kind to Balthazar, but every story has two sides, and though this Faerie Hunter may seem like your common storybook villain, the truth about this sharp-toothed beast is much more interesting than you would have ever expected...
His upbringing was never was an easy one, as his father left home while he was still a newborn cub, but Balthazar’s mother would always make sure that Balthazar felt protected and safe; little did she know that this could not be the case for long. Because one day they would venture to the inner Haunted Woods, where Balthazar’s story would begin, and a nightmare would plague Neopia.
“Are you ready, Balt?” his mother said as a chuckle escaped her mouth, knowing full well that Balthazar was as eager to explore the Woods as she was to pick the berries she heard were found within them.
“Coming, Mama! Don’t forget to take two baskets in case one breaks; you can never trust the workmanship of a Skeith.”
The day seemed to promise adventure, but fate promised a twisted history that would only worsen the pain that Balthazar was about to feel. “Mama, Mama, we’re here!” he chorused, his Mother simply giving a smile in return.
The darkness of the deep woods did not scare Lupes, but what lay within the darkness would shake even the heartiest of Pirates. The unknowing Lupes continued onward, through the thick branches and leaves, so blissfully blinded by their quest to find berries that they did not see the pack of Werelupes approaching from the distance. They never saw the Werelupes jumping up toward the mother Lupe. And they would never see this unfortunate event written in history as it really happened.
She had been bitten. Now yelping in tremendous pain, she could no longer protect her child. But the fierce Werelupes decided that wounding a mother Lupe would be satisfactory enough, and they could leave the child whimpering.
Balthazar ran to his mother, and burst into tears when he found her very badly hurt indeed. He licked her wound but she seemed to be beyond the help he alone could give. “Mama! I promise I will return! You... you’re gonna be okay!” he murmured through his tears, failing to convince his mother or himself.
His fur soggy and covered in dirt, he shot through the Haunted Woods, shouting out for help with no avail. But there would be one person who could save his mother, and as fate would have it, she too would be wandering the deep woods that day, and as the wind carried the scent of tears to her she knew that someone’s story was about to have an unhappy end.
His sweat and tears no longer distinguishable, he looked forward to the dark green blur that greeted him. Could it be someone who could help his poor mother? Or just a another disappointing pile of leaves? He lifted a weak paw to clear his vision and to his delight he saw that this “pile of leaves” had wings. An Earth Faerie! But she didn’t seem like the other Earth Faeries. Her eyes, they seemed... soulless. But whether or not the faerie was different, he needed her help.
“Hello, child. You have sought my help for your mother, is that correct?” the faerie questioned, with no emotion leaving her lips.
“Y-y-yes,” Balthazar stuttered, “How did—”
“I am Ilere,” she interrupted bluntly, “And what the trees see, I see. Now, if you want to save your mother, there is a cost.”
Balthazar swallowed. “I don’t have anything of great value...”
“I do not require that sort of payment. And in all fairness, you shall not be paying the price yourself. It is your mother who requires assistance, and your mother who shall pay.”
Balthazar didn’t have any other option, so with a fearful glance back to where his mother lay, he nodded his head.
A dark green mist filled the air as Ilere pointed her hands toward the direction Balthazar had left his mother. All of Balthazar’s fur was now sticking straight up toward the sky, which had now seemed to fade to pitch black. Ilere suddenly chanted out a string of complex and mystifying words, each one longer and stranger than the one before it. “There,” she declared. “Your mother is once again healthy, as you wished.”
Balthazar’s face suddenly lit up, his cold eyes now flashing with joy. “You... she’s... thank you!” He bounded toward her, when suddenly he found himself magically held in place.
Ilere had turned away from him. She was silent. Balthazar’s face fell, knowing this must be to do with the ‘payment’.
“Ilere... what was the payment you requested from my mother?”
“I... I’m sorry, child. There must be choices made when performing magic...”
“TELL ME!” Balthazar shouted, tears now streaming down his face.
“I truly am sorry. But I have turned your mother into a faerie. A very unique faerie. She has no memory of her life as a Lupe, and she has already flown out of the Haunted Woods.”
“WHAT?! How could you... why would you... she’s my mother! I want her back! I miss her!” He was now in a heap on the ground, his face away from the faerie that had stolen away his mother. Ilere was thankful for this, as she would not want anyone to see her as she wiped away the only tear she had ever shed.
“Child, there is a way to get your mother back. She will never be the Lupe you knew, but she would remember you.”
Balthazar looked up, hoping that this was not some trick Ilere was playing on him, as if this pain was not enough.
“Find her. If she hears the name she was called as a Lupe spoken to her by her only son, her memory will be returned to her.”
Determination filling his heart, Balthazar stood up to face Ilere. “I will find her. And she will remember.”
“I warn you, child,” Ilere spoke softly, “she is not like the other faeries. And she will encounter another terrible thing in her journey...”
“I don’t care. I will have her back.”
Ilere gave a small smile, a rare thing to witness indeed. “I believe in you, child. I trust that you will find her. Good luck; your journey will be a tough one.”
With that she faded into the darkness, leaving Balthazar once again alone.
“I will find you, Mama, and when I do, I will speak your beautiful name and bring you back.”
He has spent the last few years catching faeries in the hope that one will be his mother, but he has yet to find the one faerie he wants so badly. At first he would kindly release the faeries with an apology for catching them, but they would be so angry and yelling so loudly that they would never hear him, and they’d attack him once he let them go. Then the faeries started the rumors of Balthazar getting revenge for his mother by catching faeries after Dark Faeries attacked her, which was of course not true.
So now he just catches and sells the faeries once he knows that they are not the one he seeks. But he will continue forever, and only he and Ilere know why, and when he finds his mother, she will remember what she once was, but she will never forget what happened to her as a faerie, and what a Dark Faerie really did do to her. Balthazar will finally feel safe once more, and his mother will have another companion to help her when she most needs it. And she’ll be his mother again, as soon as he finds her and speaks her name: Baelia.