Another Chance: Part Three
As I examined Faerieland, I couldn't help thinking of Cyndi; the place was so feminine. The ground was made out of lavender clouds and the shops, though not as odd as the Neopia Central ones, were quite ridiculous. I wanted to get out of here now; after that incident with Jhudora I learned that I could not defend myself against a faerie. I was careful to not make eye contact with any faeries; they probably all hated me as much as I hated them.
I wanted to run as fast as I could away from the large castle, but once again my baby body grew exhausted quickly. I scanned through the crowds of faeries and Neopets and users for a place to rest where I couldn't be bothered. I left the cloudy gates of the city and hopped down to a cloud. I could see the edge of Faerieland. There must have been some way to get down from there.
As I squeezed through a crowd of pets and users, I heard a clear voice call out, "Hey you, little Lupe, you look exhausted; would you like to take a dip in the Healing Springs?"
I searched for the voice and saw that it had come from a Water Faerie sitting in a pool. The pool was actually a large fountain full of little pools and rainbow monuments. In each pool, there were injured and sick pets washing themselves off. At the top was the Water Faerie who had spoken to me. She had bouncy blond hair with a shell at her ear. Her tail was a sparkling cyan and on her face was a caring smile. The fountain looked a bit too cuddly for me, but then again it wasn't nearly as bad as Cyndi's.
"C'mon, have a quick swim to wash away those aches," she urged as she gestured to the water.
"I... have... no... mon... ey," I squeaked with a bit of difficulty.
"No, no, it's free," laughed the Water Faerie.
I couldn't believe it; this Water Faerie was offering me a free chance to heal myself. But she didn't know that I was Balthazar; if I was going to take a bath, it had better be quick. I tentatively placed one paw into the pool. It was so warm and soothing. I immediately jumped in and felt the healing magic flow through me. It was so relaxing and since my easily sleepy body was already worn out, I was not surprised that I fell asleep in the pool.
"Wake up, little fella," I heard a gentle voice say.
At first I thought that I was back in bed at Cyndi's, but Cyndi was never so soft. She would call my name until I opened an eye. This Faerie was gently stroking me as she continued to urge me to get up. It felt nice to be treated gently for once; it was never like this in the woods. I cracked my eyes open and caught sight of the beautiful Water Faerie.
"Where's your owner? No one has claimed you all day," she asked a little worried.
"I... have... no... owner," I explained.
"No owner!" gasped the Water Faerie. "Well, that won't do. It's my job to make sure all Neopets are healthy, so how would you like to live with me?"
I don't know what surprised me more, the idea that she was offering her lifelong enemy a home, or that she was offering and not demanding. I didn't have time to spend with this Water Faerie, my old side said. But it's not like I have anywhere else to go, my Baby self pointed out. This place was so nice, I could relax here for the rest of my life. I would be happy, for once. However, once she found out that I was Balthazar, she'd then give me the boot or worse. Until that day came, though, I would make the best of her generosity. I nodded.
"Oh, how splendid," she cheered. "I've always wanted a pet. You can call me Mama."
"Mama," I tried out the word. It felt wonderful and yet so foreign on my tongue.
I had never called anyone mama with affection in my life before. My mother had abandoned me in the woods; I could never love her.
It had been a few days now since Mama had adopted me. The first little time I had rested on a warm stone, but I found that it was easy to get along with my new mother. She was a sweet type of person, but not like Cyndi. She tried to make me happy, not force happiness upon me. She knew when I wanted to be alone, but she tried to get me involved with her too. I actually felt loved by her when she stroked me or washed me. Every now and then Mama would ask me to do something, such as clean out the pools or bring in some customer. I did what she said; she chose times when I was in a good mood, which I found came more and more often.
One day I was lying on my rock when Mama came by with a ball and said, "Wanna play with this?"
I noticed one thing about Mama was that she never referred to me as any name; maybe she knew that no name could match my old one, which was a secret. As for the ball, I knew that I would feel childish if I chased after it, but it might actually be fun. I had never played ball before, but I had heard of it. Now was my chance to do all the things that I never did as a child.
I nodded and Mama tossed the ball. I pounced after it and laughed with glee as I splashed into the pool. I had never had fun before, but I found that I liked it. Maybe I would have looked foolish if I had been the bounty hunter, but now that I was a baby Lupe it was expected of me to play. As I chased after that ball, I jumped into the next pool and caused a splash to hit Mama.
She smiled and giggled, "Now, you're going to get it."
She waved her hand and a wave washed over me. She started laughing and then I did too; her joy was the contagious kind. This is what a family should feel like, I concluded. As days went by, I became more giddy due to Mama playing with me, me accepting the fact that I was a Baby, and probably the magic properties in the fountain.
One day Mama tossed the ball for me again and I pursued it as usual. This time it had gone farther than normal; it was off the springs. I continued to hop after it, not aware of how far I was getting from the fountain. When I finally caught out with the ball, I found that I was at the edge of Faerieland.
In front of me was something that made my blood go cold, Jhudora's Cloud. It resembled the Faerie it was named after very much. It was a poisonous violet and looked very ominous. I could not get my mind around the fact that the Faerie who had tried to kill me had been living next to me for almost a week. My baby side wanted to run back to Mama, but my Balthazar side wanted to take revenge on Jhudora. The impulse was too strong to resist. This Faerie deserved to be punished. I backed up and took a leap towards her cloud. On the door was a note that read "Not Home Go Away". This was a perfect opportunity that I could not pass up.
I pawed at the door, which swung open with ease. I walked into the cloud as a gust of wind shut the door behind me. There was very little light in the cloud; I could barely make out my front two feet. I walked in a straight line until I came to a brighter larger room. In the room was a pile of random items and an empty throne. I examined the items and realized that these were the things that Jhudora had been collecting for her spell. If I could destroy these, it would ruin her life's work.
I was beginning to form a plan of how I could get rid of these items when I heard an icy voice say, "It took you long enough; I've been waiting in here for days."
I turned around and saw the same Dark Faerie who had kidnapped me, Jhudora. She had been hiding behind her throne the whole time.
"There were some questions about our encounter last time, but I've kept the truth a secret," she explained. "This time you will not escape."
She brought up her wand ready to strike me with a blast of dark magic. I realized how idiotic I had been in coming here. Then, just as I was about to close my eyes, a brilliant green glow blasted through the room. When I finished shielding my eyes from the glow, I saw a familiar Earth Faerie, Illusen.
"Ha, I knew that watching you would pay off," boasted Illusen. "You've lead me right to Balthazar."
"You will not get in my way again!" snarled Jhudora with hatred that was comparable to mine. "Not now or ever again."
The two Faeries clashed wands. Both Faeries pulled back and began to prepare a spell. My luck was exceptional; once again these faeries were two busy fighting to notice me making my escape out through a wide window in the back. Just as I crawled out, I glanced back and saw the two faeries blasting at each other with purple and green magic from their wands.
I was out of the deadly cloud now, but I had to put a stop to these faeries. I was the only one who knew how cruel these faeries truly were. If I didn't do something now, they would always be a threat. I told myself that I was doing it to protect myself, but a part of me knew that it was to protect Mama. She was the only person who had ever shown me true kindness in Neopia. If these faeries remained at large, they would always be a threat to all of Faerieland. And what if there were people on Faerieland who were like Mama? I had never thought of Faeries that way.
I looked for something that I could use to trap the Faeries. My eyes caught a cannon marked "Faerie Bubbles". I had heard about this game; users shot the cannon and tried to dissolve multicoloured bubbles. A lesser known fact that Mama had told me once was that the bubbles were incredibly sticky. This could be used to catch Jhudora and Illusen. Currently it was unoccupied, so I tilted it to face Jhudora's Cloud. I took aim for the window and pressed the button marked Fire. A green bubble burst forward and shot through the window, hitting Jhudora in the shoulder. She turned to the window with a look of rage on her face. I fired again, this time hitting Illusen in the forehead. I continued to bombard them with bubbles until they were covered and stuck in position.
"What is all the commotion here?" asked a voice with authority behind me.
I turned around and faced the tall, majestic, and beautiful Queen Fyora. I just pointed at Jhudora and Illusen. Their looks of hatred and violence really did say it all.
"Hmm, those two have been acting suspicious," claimed Fyora. "I will commence an investigation; until then they will remain imprisoned. Good job, Balthazar."
My jaw dropped to the ground at hearing my own name. How did Fyora know? Had she always known that I was here? Then I saw Mama come up behind Fyora. Her face was no longer cheerful, but serious.
"I truly think that he has changed," she declared to Fyora.
What?! Mama had always known that I was Balthazar the Bounty Hunter? Yet she had still offered me a home. Was this all part of a test?
"Balthazar, you have proven that you have goodness in you," stated Queen Fyora. "I can allow you to live anywhere you want in Faerieland to relive your life the way you want."
This was such a shock for me. All my life I had thought that Fyora had forgotten or abandoned me. Yet now, she was offering me a relief from all the suffering I'd had to live through. I finally had a chance to have a life like another pet; my Balthazar side had forgotten, but that was what I really wanted. I could play and have fun and a mother who would take care of me. And there was only one person I would choose. I stepped forward and hugged Mama.
"I love you, Balthazar," she whispered with sincerity.
I whispered back, "I love you too, Mama."