A Star-Spattered Sky: Part Eight
'Log: 24th of Sleeping,
Today feels special for some reason. I don't know why but it just feels special. The day is nothing out of the ordinary; the boat is rocking in its usual, peaceful manner and I've already had my flying lesson. Garie says I'm getting better and better, although I'm not sure.
Deriun seems upset and Silver is busying himself with training the crew to be more and more skilled. I'm beginning to think they know something that I don't. What if there's something they're not telling me? I worry about things like this. I worry about them every day.
I have been reading of late. Deriun has lent me such a large stack of books, reading is mostly what I do besides practising my swordsmanship and flying lessons in the morning. I'm going to go and see Deriun now; he needs some cheering up. I'll also find out what's going on at the same time. Perfect.
Jessica signed her name neatly and put down her quill. "Now, to get the information from Deriun that I need." She rubbed her hands together and stood up only to have the door open.
"Jessica, I have to talk to you," Deriun said, on another chair. He'd insisted that she have a cabin, even if she slept under the stars. A cabin was necessary to keep books and quills and ink -- things which she had plenty of.
"I was just coming to see you, Deriun," Jessica said dryly and her eyebrow rose. "What is it that you need to tell me? I'm curious." She positioned her chair so it was facing him. She fidgeted to get comfortable and Deriun waited, obviously this update was going to take more than a minute.
Deriun cleared his throat and said, "There's been word that Fyora is looking for a certain, small air faerie that got separated from her mother. We both know this is you, Jess. What are we going to do when she finds us? She might arrest us, she might take you, she might not even find us. She might put a curse on us; she might turn us to stone!"
"Those are all possibilities," Jessica said coolly, "but what we really need to consider is what's going to happen to me and what's going to happen to the ship when I leave. And more importantly, what's going to happen to Garie when I leave. She will have no pupil to teach and no purpose to stay on the ship. How will you get her back to Faerieland?"
"I will fly," Garie said from the doorway. "It is an easy journey, one I could make ten times back and forth before I felt my wings cramp. You need not worry about me, Jessica. We need to worry about you."
Jessica sighed. "I do not really want to go back to Faerieland. This is more like home to me than I have ever known. My mother is lovely and she does not deserve to have a rebellious daughter but I just do not see how I will return to Faerieland. I hoped this day would never come."
"Who didn't?" Deriun said. "We've all grown so fond of you, Jess. It's almost unbearable to think that you might leave us, never to return. But there is a world bigger than this ship. There is a seat up in Faerieland that is waiting for you. There is people missing you and there is a mother looking for her daughter."
"But Deriun, to relinquish my newly-found strength and swordsmanship, it's unspeakable! To be just another prissy faerie who can use magic to do everything and who can only blow a breeze at her attacker! I do not wish for such things. I want the pirate's life, Deriun! I want the fighting and the raiding and the fear of getting caught. I want the breeze in my face as we sail at full speed, my hair blowing wildly as I lean over the bow of the boat. I can not give this up."
"But you must," Garie said. "In our lives we make huge sacrifices. Some of them are for the greater good of our kind, Jessica. Some of them are not for our deciding, they are for our people's deciding. This is what we learn when we are at Faerie Towers, we learn that we can not always have what we want. It is for your family's sake that you must give up this life and live in Faerieland, a prissy, magic-using air faerie."
Jessica's eyes dewed up and she turned away from Garie and Deriun and looked out the porthole. 'This could be one of the last days I spend on sea. This could be the last time I will spend in a ship's cabin. This might be the last night I will get to sleep under the stars.'
She shook her head slowly. "No," she said. "I will not go. I have lived in Faerieland for a very short time -- perhaps thirteen years -- and in that time Faerieland and its people have done nothing for me. I shall stay aboard this ship if I have to magically chain myself to the mast!"
"That's our Jessica," Deriun said with a smile. "But Garie is right. You deserve better than to be on a pirate ship, Jess. You deserve to be in Fyora's court in fine dresses, drinking tea and using magic to do your best friend's -- who is just as prim and proper -- hair. That is the life of a faerie."
Jessica nodded. "Indeed, that is a faerie's life. It is not mine. How can you call me a faerie? I can't do magic, I can only fly. The rest are abilities and talents that any Neopet could have!"
Garie shook her head with a smile before saying, "No, Jess. No one on Neopia has achieved as much as you. Some have achieved half of what you have -- but that took them years and years and years, the best part of their lives in fact. You are special."
"And you want me to waste it on being another prim faerie in Fyora's court," she said, tears gathering in her eyes. "I shan't! I shall stay aboard this ship!" And she ran up to the deck where she could smell the sea breeze, feel the wind on her face.
Garie looked out at the horizon. She could already see the flying carriages that Fyora was bringing. By nightfall they'd be right at the pirate ship. The court would search the ship until they found Jessica and they'd take her away and that would be that. She probably would never see Jessica again and the thought saddened her.
"They're coming," Deriun said from next to her. He leaned on the rail as well and the wind ruffled his coat. "I wish they'd give Jess a choice. It's not fair that she should have to comply against her will."
"I know." Garie sighed. "The queen can be harsh if she's dealing with the daughter of someone that she likes and knows. She can be dead ferocious, you know. She won't lose this, not for anything." She brushed a strand of hair off her face and smiled weakly. "She's going to leave us... and there's nothing we can do about it."
"I know," Deriun said sadly. "It was going to happen some day but this just seems too soon. She's come to mean so much to me. She is so much to me. But it's bigger than just me. It's this whole ship. Except that one Lenny that she had a spat with. Teair, I think his name was."
"That must have been who poisoned her," Garie said with a smile. "Odd we find out now, isn't it?"
Deriun didn't reply. He simply walked back to his cabin, leaving Garie alone. She didn't mind, she really preferred to be alone, watching Fyora's court coming ever closer. 'It's over,' she thought. 'Give up. She's leaving this ship to go and live with Fyora in Faerieland. What you want doesn't matter.'
That morning, Garie cried for the first time in her life.
Arrive the Faerie Court did. Jessica came upstairs as soon as she heard the tell-tale sound that reminded hearers of a large wind. "Ah, Jessica!" Fyora exclaimed. "I suppose you're dying to get home, are you not?"
Fyora tried to ensnare Jessica in an embrace but Jessica side-stepped her. "Indeed not," Jessica said haughtily. "I do not wish to go home in the slightest. I am a pirate through and through, Fyora. I want to stay aboard this ship."
Laughing like a tinkling bell, Fyora said, "You are funny, Jessica! Fancy, you wanting to stay on a pirate ship! It's preposterous! You shall be going home with the Faerie Court and myself and then going home to your mother -- who, seeing as we're talking about her, is worried sick."
Jessica sighed impatiently. "Fyora, I shall not go back to Faerieland" -- the word was dripping with scorn -- "I shall not go home to my mother but I will stay here. I shall visit home if that is what Your Highness and my mother wish, but I shall most certainly not live there."
Blinking in surprise, it fully dawned on Fyora that Jessica was serious. "You do not wish to live in Faerieland?" she asked in a confused manner. "Why in the world not? It is the best place on Neopia!"
"I am not saying it is not a wonderful place; it is just not the place for me, Fyora. Please, let me stay aboard this ship. I am a fighter by nature. Only with Garie's wonderful help and guidance I have even managed to fly. I am -- as they say -- the best swordsman in all of history. Please, Fyora, find it in your kind heart to allow me to stay."
"If it is as you wish," Fyora said solemnly, "you may stay." The whole crew -- who had gathered around to listen -- whooped with joy and hugged Jessica. "But there is a condition," Fyora said and everyone went silent. "You are to send in-depth letters at least once a week, visit once a month and if anywhere over the world they need your help in a war, you are to help them. Understood?"
"Oh, and your public name is the Battle Faerie -- hence the fighting that people shall know you for. For people who like a little more detail, you're name will be Valeane. You can still live here and be Jessica, just remember these things."
Jessica nodded vigorously and Fyora and her dumb-struck court left. Jessica hugged every member of the crew, even Teair. "No hard feelings for poisoning me," she whispered in his ear and he looked at her in amazement.
"She knew all along," he whispered. "Wow."
Jessica rose up into the air gracefully and flew into the air and did a little acrobatic performance even the most skilled of flyers would be proud of.
"Now who's up for sparring match?" she asked with a wicked grin.
Author's Note: A great big thank you to my family -- for letting me stay up all those nights and for always being there for me. This story wouldn't be finished without you.