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At Last


by blackwell

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This story is the third a final part to my previous stories, The Nothing Faerie and A Water Faerie And A Promise.

Years and years had passed since Nereid been in the ocean. Years since she had seen her friends, and years since she had seen her aunt. True, she had made new friends, like the Fountain Faerie, and the soup kitchen faerie, Sara. Occasionally, Queen Fyora stopped by for a quick chat, or to give her an occasional birthday present, but otherwise, Nereid was alone.

      Except for all the sick neopets, of course. “Welcome to my home of healing and relaxation. What can I do for you today? Maybe I can heal your Neopets, or perhaps you would like to purchase some of my healing potions?”

      “Hi,” a young, cheerful looking Xweetok said, swishing her tail around. “I was wondering what potions you have in stock right now? My sister is quite ill, damaged from the Battledome.”

      Nereid bobbed her head up and down sweetly. “Of course, I see people come by all the time looking like they went though a paper shredder. Let me just see. How bad is she hurt?”

      “Pretty badly. Money really isn’t an issue, I just need the best you got.” The Xweetok looked worried for a moment, but then smothered the agony. “As soon as possible please.”

      Nereid nodded thoughtfully, and dove, going to her underwater caves where she kept inventory. Since she had started working here, her cloud had tripled in size due to the increase of neopet population, so now she kept most of her items underwater to make way for the huge line waiting for her services.

      She was fast, her fingers skimming along the bottles and shelves, before grabbing a blue and orange one and resurfacing. “How about this?” she said, holding up the bottle while she shook out her hair. “It's called Super Strength Healing Potion, and your sister will definitely regain full health, unless she has an illness. Two thousand neopoints.”

      The Xweetok pulled out her purse, and counted out the coins, before taking the bottle. “Be careful; it shatters easily,” Nereid warned.

      “Thanks!” The Xweetok smiled, before running away.

      As her next customer stepped up, three Maraquan painted Ixi appeared, identical in every way, except each had a different collar. The one with the purple collar was Penny, the one in the blue color was Benny, and the one in the white collar was Wennie. Nereid threw up her hands. “Where have you been? Do you see this crowd?”

      “Sorry, miss,” Penny said, looking down. “It's just Benny dropped his collar on the ground and since it’s blue, we had a hard time finding it, which delayed us.”

      “Sorry, miss,” Benny and Wennie chorused together, looking just as upset as Penny.

      Nereid shook her head. “It’s ok, but you know I can’t handle these crowds by myself. Benny, come with me to help heal, and Wennie and Penny, you guys manage the shop.”

      “Yes, miss,” the three chorused, and Benny obediently followed Nereid to the other side of the fountain, where a twice as long line stood. Nereid sat in her own pool, and Benny was in charge of letting people go or wait.

      First came an injured Kougra, which Nereid healed fine. Then another injured Kougra, who was probably fighting the first. Neopet and neopet came, and Nereid tired herself only a little when she reached inside for her healing powers.

      But after five hours, when a baby Kau with NeoMonia was presented to Nereid, she tried and tried, but she couldn’t make the illness go away. A very worried older Kau looked at the water faerie desperately. “What do you mean you can’t heal him?” she gasped, clutching her baby close. “Please, can’t you try again. We can’t afford to pay for the cure. Please!”

      Nereid’s hands were shaking, she was so weak now. “I’m sorry,” she whispered. “You’ve come so late; my magic is weaker now.”

      “But we’ve been waiting in line all day!” the mother wailed.

      “I know,” Nereid said soothingly. Benny had vanished, and returned with a potion. “Take this. It won’t heal your son, but you can sell it, to try and raise some money. And come back very early tomorrow. I’ll try again.”

      The mother took the potion. “This is all your fault! You’re supposed to help us neopets, not make everything worse. You’re terrible at this. We need a faerie that’s better than you to save neopets’ lives. I’m going to the faerie council.”

      She stormed off, leaving Nereid weak and upset.

      “You’re turning gray, miss,” Benny said, picking up Nereid and telling the neopets that he’d be back in five minutes. “You’re too ill to continue. I’ll just hand out cheap potions to the rest, Wennie can handle the buyers, and Penny can go start making tomorrow's batch, ok?”

      Nereid didn’t speak, but allowed herself to be limply dropped into her personal pool, filled with a special potion that helped her regain her healing powers if she spent eight hours in it. This is what had begun to happen every day. So many neopets were sick that Nereid simply could not heal them all, and eventually turned herself gray and was dragged away to be healed while her workers worked through the night.

      She closed her eyes, letting the potion seep into her skin. But something felt wrong, and the air around her grew cold, and she felt very cynical all of a sudden.

      “Why, Nereid, I did not know you were so incompetent,” a voice purred from the darkness.

      “Good evening to you too, Jhudora,” Nereid said, and opened her eyes. Jhudora looked just as cruel as ever, evil glinting in her eyes, green smoke surrounding her as she hovered. But in fact, Nereid hadn’t spoken to Jhudora once since she had arrived to Faerieland. Part of the reason was that she was far too busy. The other part was that Nereid loathed Jhudora.

      “You look positively sickening,” Jhudora said. “You should go to the healing springs.”

      “What do you want?” Nereid asked warily, masking her anger and fear of tiredness.

      “Quite a place you have here,” Jhudora said, leaning forward and snatching the shell out of Nereid’s hair. Nereid was too tired to react quick enough to snatch it back. “Your mother would be so proud.”

      Nereid pushed herself up, but Jhudora flew up too high for her to reach. Her evil laugh made Nereid shake. “Don’t you dare talk about my mom,” Nereid growled.

      Many years ago, when Nereid was less than a year old, water faeries did not have tails, but wings. Her mother was brilliant and famous, known for her jewelry and scientific discoveries. By day she worked on making Queen Lyra her jewelry, and by night she combined precious metals and stones together to see what they could do. One evening, while combining two stones with diamonds, her mother had created a glass like substance that was immune to magic. The only thing that was ever immune to magic. It was something never heard of before.

      Though her mother had planned on keeping her discovery a secret at the moment, word got out, and a bounty hunter named Balthazar managed to steal the formula, and he began making jars, to capture faeries. Faeries began disappearing, and when they turned up in shops, faeries flew into a panic.

      Queen Lyra, mother of Fyora, had always known Nereid’s mother was doing research around this new substance, and Queen Lyra knew it was the mother’s fault. Queen Lyra was an amazing queen, but her one flaw was her enormous temper. Using her royal magic, Queen Lyra unleashed her wrath upon all water faeries. Every water faerie’s wings fell off, and tails formed where their dainty legs used to be. Then all water faeries were banished from Faerieland, unless they worked there, or they were a prisoner. And for Nereid’s mom? Queen Lyra did not change her, but instead handed her over to Jhudora. Jhudora ripped off her wings, and for all eternity Nereid’s mom was to work as a maid in the dungeons of Jhudora’s cloud.

      It wasn’t until Nereid was sixteen that she learned why everything in her world was the way it was. Until then, she had simply lived with her aunt in the ocean, but once she had learned the truth, she desperately wanted her mother back. Queen Fyora could not bring back her mother, but she had given Nereid the job as the healing faerie at the healing springs, so at least she could be near her.

      But years had passed, and Nereid had forgotten her mother, her life was so busy trying to save other lives or neopets. The only thing Nereid had to remember her mom was the shell in her hair, the shell that her mother used to wear a long time ago.

      “Tisk tisk,” Jhudora said, shaking her head cruelly. “I come here to offer you a deal, and in return you yell at me?”

      Nereid’s hand dropped. She sat back down, too weak to stand any longer. “What deal?”

      Jhudora floated down and sat at the edge of the pool. “My birthday is coming up, and I have a little present I’d like to give to the rest of Neopia. Unfortunately, it’s quite unwell, and it needs a bit of healing. Heal it, and I’ll set your mother free.”

      “I need to know what I’m healing,” Nereid said, drumming her fingers.

      “I can’t tell you unless you agree,” Jhudora said, shrugging. “But before you say no, I must warn you, your mother is one of my favorite maids. This will be your only chance to ever get her back.”

      Nereid closed her eyes. Whatever Jhudora had planned sounded terrible, hideous, and in reality, Nereid wanted no part in it. What if she helped the beginning of the end of Neopia? But this would be her only chance to save her mother.

      “I have two questions before I tell you my answer,” Nereid said, her fingers skimming the water. “First, how is this thing sick?”

      “A great and terrible sickness was bestowed on it by a powerful faerie,” Jhudora said.

      “Second, with the sickness, how weak is this thing?”

      “Barely able to move,” Jhudora said remorsefully.

      Nereid pondered for a moment. “Fine,” she said. “I will heal this thing. But come for me on the third day today, so I can regain my full strength.”

      “Agreed,” Jhudora cackled, and the shell in her hand turned bright green. She held it out to Nereid, and the healing faerie took it gingerly. Her entire body shone bright green for a moment, and then the light faded away. “By taking that shell, you cannot speak of this happening to anyone unless you are talking to me, or are in my castle. Wear the shell in your hair.”

      Nereid slipped it in. “I will see you in two days.”

      “Two days,” Jhudora laughed, licked her lips, and then vanished in a cloud of purple smoke.

     **

      The next morning Benny came to fetch her. “Actually Benny, I’m not working today. Or tomorrow. And the day after that I’m taking a vacation.”

      His eyes were wide. “Miss, what are you saying. What about all the sick neopets?”

      “Oh, them,” Nereid said cheerfully, brushing her hair in a mirror, and readjusting her shell. “Don’t worry, I’ve called in five water faeries from my old village in the sea. They can heal too, and they’ll work while I’m away. In fact-” She glanced as the clock beside her mirror. “They should be here any second. I can’t meet with them now, I’m far too busy packing.”

      “For two days?” Benny asked.

      “Yes, now stop being such a bother.” Nereid waved him off, ignoring his sad look.

      “Ok,” he said miserably. “By the way, you have a visitor. The Queen.” He exited, and Queen Fyora entered. Nereid ignored her as she flew across her room, stuffing her makeup into her bag.

      “Hello, Nereid,” Queen Fyora said carefully.

      “Good morning, Queen Fyora,’ Nereid said, pausing to bow, then continuing on. “Sorry you’ve caught me at a bad time. I’m going on vacation.”

      “So I’ve heard,” Fyora said, confused. “I’m here about a complaint to the faerie council, about how you couldn’t heal a neopet?”

      “Oh, that.” Nereid waved her hand. “It was late, and as you can see from the tips of my fins, I was turning gray. I couldn’t heal anymore. You know not everyone gets healed in the way they want at the healing springs. That’s why I’ve hired five interns. When I come back, I’ll keep some of them on, to help me heal. But for now, I need to fully restore my powers. It’s just three days of me not working. Two days of me healing, one day of my having fun. Is that so bad?”

      “No,” Queen Fyora said, shaking her head. “Sorry for doubting you. I need to go now. Have fun relaxing.”

      “Goodbye!” Nereid said cheerfully, and distractedly. As soon as the queen was gone, though, Nereid’s whole face turned thoughtful. She swam out of her room, underground, to the storage room, where Penny was gathering potions.

      “Hello, miss,” Penny said, looking a bit worried. Nereid pretended to be cheerful and uncaring again.

      “Hey Penny, I was wondering, I’ll be in my workroom all day today, trying to make some more of my lotion. My medicine’s beginning to make my skin itch. Can you send one of the interns down to me for assistance? And make sure the rest of them have rooms to sleep in. OK?”

      “Yes, miss, right away, miss.” The Ixi vanished, and Nereid quickly grabbed a couple of potions before swimming to her workroom. She set them down and she began swimming back and forth, curious.

      The young water faerie arrived. “Hello, Miss Nereid,” she said, flipping in respect. “Thank you for this job opportunity.”

      “You're welcome,” Nereid said. “I have a special job for you. You can’t tell anyone what is going on down here until three days have passed, ok? And if something goes wrong, go straight to the faerie council and tell them everything.”

      The young water faerie looked lost. “Ok,” she said. “My name is Sapphire, by the way.”

      “Alright, Sapphire, let’s get to work.”

     **

      After two days, at the stroke of midnight, Nereid paced her pool carefully, trying not to make any noise. She was waiting.

      Jhudora appeared. “Nereid,” she said. “Are you feeling well?”

      “Of course,” she said, forcing a smile. “I’m going to see my mother; that is healing enough.”

      “Are you ready to go?”

      “Yes.” She bobbed her head and picked up a knapsack. “If you don’t mind, I’m bringing some ingredients, because I doubt my magic alone will help.”

      “I have faith in you,” Jhudora said wickedly, and held out her hand. Nereid reached forward, and grabbed it, and was whisked into the air. Despite the fact she had no wings, Nereid quite enjoyed flying.

      It was an extremely short trip over to Jhudora’s cloud. Nereid was pulled inside the front door, and placed onto a small floating cloud, since she could not swim in air. The inside was dark, and damp, and smelled terrible, but yet Nereid wanted to go in deeper. This was the way of the dark faerie.

      People stared as her as she followed Jhudora down many halls, and Nereid almost curled up in fear, but whispered to herself to remain strong. She could do this.

      Deeper and deeper they went, until, they were inside a large dark room, only green fire showing any light.

      “I want my mom first,” Nereid insisted, clutching her knapsack.

      Jhudora sighed dramatically. “Fine,” she said, waving her hand to a door, and it opened. A grey faerie stepped out, looking warn, tired, and beautiful. The faerie looked up, shocked. “What is a water faerie doing here?”

      Jhudora looked incredibly bored. “This is your daughter, Baelia.” Jhudora turned to Nereid. “By the way, I did not do this to her. My sister Jennumara originally cursed her, because I had no need of her. But after some neopet climber managed to free her from her prison, I took her back, because my sister is an idiot. She’s worked her like that ever since.”

      Baelia ran forward to Nereid, but Jhudora sighed and flicked her fingers, and dark purple chains strung from the ground and held Baelia’s back. “Not yet,” she said. “First your daughter needs to heal my friend.”

      “Wait,” Baelia said, looking lost. “You don’t mean... oh, Nereid, don’t do it, don’t heal her. She’ll ruin Neopia. She’ll make everything like in here.”

      “Silence,” Jhudora snapped, and Baelia lost her voice, and hung her head.

      “It's worth it, Mom,” Nereid said. “I promise.”

      “Anyways,” Jhudora said cheerfully. “This is Ora, and a long time ago, she was my prisoner. She is very powerful, you see. She is so powerful that she can rid all of Neopia of all light. For good. But Fyora found out and cursed her so she could never take away light, only bring more light. But I’ve discovered that you can heal the curse. And then she can do as I say and rid the world of light. Dark faeries will rule!”

      The poor light faerie lay huddled on the ground with a chain around her ankle. She glowed faintly, and looked deathly ill. “I can heal her,” Nereid said, her sadness welling up for the young faerie. She set herself next to the faerie, and pressed her hands on her cheeks. Moments passed, and suddenly, the whole room lit up. Then, the room resumed its usual gloominess.

      The light faerie sat up, stretching. Nereid pulled a flask from her bag. “Here, drink this,” she murmured, and the light faerie held the bottle to her lips and chugged the entire thing. “This will keep the curse from coming back.”

      Nereid stood up. “My mom, please?”

      Jhudora cackled, and absent-mindedly waved her hand. The chains vanished, and Baelia rushed forward to hug her daughter. “Thank you, Nereid,” she whispered. “But what have you done.”

      “Don’t worry, Mom,” Nereid said, stroking her hair. “Only good, I promise you.”

      Then the two left the castle.

     **

      One hour passed. In one hour, Nereid took her mother home, and gave her some medicine to sleep, and then put her in a healing pool. In one hour, Nereid sent Sapphire off to the faerie council with a message. In one hour there was pure terror, because there was no light in the world. Only Nereid sat patiently, waiting, for one hour to pass.

     **

      Jhudora was punished for her deeds. After one hour, Ora the light faerie was no longer healed. Yes, Nereid did heal her, but the potion she gave her made the magic last only one hour.

      What Jhudora did not expect was that Nereid was full of healing magic, so she was always healing herself. So when Jhudora attempted to put the silencing curse on Nereid, the water faerie instantly healed herself, and was cured.

      Realizing she needed to save her mother and defeat Jhudora, Nereid needed to come up with a way for Jhudora to commit a crime and be easily punished. So she spent two days working on a potion that would only temporarily heal someone. She told Sapphire, so that the water faerie could tell anyone what was going on if something went wrong.

      Ora was later healed, and set free, so that she could spread light, and be healthy. Jhudora was punished by not being able to leave her cloud for ten years. And Baelia? Nereid and Baelia spent one week together, before Baelia left. Because as much as her mother had wanted to stay, it was in her nature to wander, and look for a cure to her grey disease.

      Occasionally, Baelia visits Nereid, who's doing much better now. Nereid has helpers, and is stronger, and is very happy. Because in the end, she didn’t get quite what she wanted, but she was finally happy healing pets, and could finally live her life.

The End

 
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