The Forgotten Tale of the Grey Faerie
The elderly, wise Aisha looked around him, surveying the five or six wide-eyed faces that were turned towards him in the dim lamp light. “Grandpa, tell us the story like you promised,” one of the young Aishas chirped, his eyes as round as saucers. “Why do we celebrate Grey Day today? You promised you would tell us!”
The elderly Aisha chuckled, stroking his long white beard with one paw as he shifted his gaze towards Kisara, the young Aisha who had spoken. The light from the lamp flickered across her face, dancing across her youthful features and pooling in her dark eyes. Outside, the grey fog that had settled over Neopia since the dawn of Grey Day rolled silently past the windows of their Neohome. “Patience, my grandchild,” the Aisha said. “The story is a long one, full of sadness and troubles. Yet since you have asked me for so long, I will tell you this story.” He took a deep breath and closed his eyes, allowing his memory to take him back to a time long forgotten by most other Neopians. As he began telling his tale, the fog settled ever deeper over the normally sunny valleys of Brightvale, blanketing all of Neopia in its misty shroud.
“It was a long time ago, in the distant land of Faerieland,” began the elderly Aisha. “Back then, we did not have this Grey Day that happens every year on the 14th Day of the Month of Eating. Instead, every day was bright and beautiful, and on this particular day, all the Faeries in Neopia were rejoicing over the birthday of Queen Fyora...”
Baelia opened her eyes to the bright sun filtering through her window in Faerie City. She could hear the bustle of activity and chatter of voices that floated up from outside. In the streets, Faeries were darting everywhere, putting up streamers, preparing fresh wisps of cloud to line the streets, and readying the city for the celebration of Queen Fyora’s birthday. On every street corner, the Light Faerie was busy hanging up golden orbs that glowed with warm and bright, bathing everything in the vicinity in pure light. Off in the distance, the Rainbow Fountain Faerie was tending to her pool, readying it for the stream of Neopets that would be lined up as the day wore on, ready to take advantage of the free painting they would receive on Fyora’s birthday. Baelia smiled as she watched the city transforming before her eyes into a grand festival, full of colors, music, and laughter. Today was her favorite day of the year.
Tap tap tap. A loud and urgent knock at the door awoke Baelia out of her daydream. Reluctantly, she got up and unlocked the door.
“Baelia! Your presence is requested.” As soon as the door handle was turned, a Faerie Kougra messenger burst into her bedroom, without even waiting for Baelia to open the door fully. He gave her a disdainful look, obviously not impressed with the fact that she had just woken up and had not started preparing for the festival. Giving a curt bow, he handed her a sealed note. Baelia opened the note and found an unfamiliar scrawl:
Urgent. Meet me at Jhudora’s Cloud. It is in regard to Queen Fyora’s birthday.
Confused, Baelia opened her mouth to ask the Faerie Kougra who the letter had come from, but it was too late. He had already turned tail and flown away, hurrying to get to his next errand. As she watched him fly away, purple and white stripes disappearing into the distance, Baelia folded the note and followed him out the door.
Jhudora’s Cloud was located on the outskirts of Faerieland. Passing by the numerous shops that lined the streets, Baelia could not help but pause at the numerous sights, smells, and sounds. The Faerie Foods bakery was in full operation, and the delicious aroma of Cherry-tastic Faerie Pie, Earth Faerie Brownies, and Heavenly Roast Turkey fresh from the oven filled the air. Around the corner, Neopets were dashing to and from the Faerieland Employment Agency, hurrying to find the precious items to complete their assigned job before time ran out. Yet, as Baelia flitted her silver wings and left Faerie City further and further behind, the hustle, bustle, and noise of the city gave way to the peace and quiet of the outskirts of Faerieland. Before her, Jhudora’s Cloud rose ominously, billowing sickly green smoke from its sharp crags. Baelia had always avoided Jhudora’s Cloud – rumor amongst the Faeries was that Jhudora did not take kindly to visitors, although she occasionally assigned Quests to any brave Neopets who ventured into her abode. Her heart beating slightly faster, Baelia beat her wings several more times and alighted on the dark purple cloud.
“Hello, Baelia. You have finally come.” A soft, purring voice greeted her. Baelia spun to find herself face-to-face with a Darkness Faerie. The Faerie was tall and imposing, clad in black robes and carrying a dark obsidian scepter.
“What are you doing here? And why did you want to meet me?” Baelia’s voice came out softer than she anticipated, belying her nervousness. Darkness Faeries usually did not show themselves in Faerieland during the daylight hours, and it was especially unusual for one to appear on this most festive of days. Not much was known about them, and how this particular Darkness Faerie even knew her name was another mystery.
“My name is Jennumara,” the Darkness Faerie responded, her voice low and soft. “My fellow Darkness Faeries and I would like to pay our respects to Queen Fyora. To show our gratitude, we have brought her a gift in celebration for her birthday.” She parted her robe to reveal a small royal blue box, bound tightly with gold ribbon. “We would like you to present this to her.”
“Why can’t you present it yourself?” asked Baelia, eyeing the box suspiciously. “How do you even know who I am?”
“We are not allowed inside Faerie City,” Jennumara breathed. “Fyora has decreed long ago that the City is forbidden to us. While we have had some disagreements with the Faerie Queen in the past, we would like to start anew. We ask for forgiveness and a reconciliation.” Jennumara bowed her head, and for a moment looked so lost that Baelia’s heart twinged a little in sympathy for her exile. “I chose to ask you,” Jennumara continued, “because I have seen you often around Faerieland. While the other Faeries wear bright colors like yellow, red, green, or blue, your robes of purest silver have always caught my eye. You are no doubt one of the loveliest of all the Faeries, and I come to you for your help.”
How could Baelia not be moved by this simple story? Nodding at Jennumara, she accepted the wrapped box. “I will present this to Queen Fyora at her birthday gala this afternoon,” she said. “I hope that you and the other Darkness Faeries will find your reconciliation with our Queen.” And with a nod and a flutter of her wings, Baelia flew away in a flurry of silver.
As she sped through the cumulus clouds on her way back towards Faerie City, Baelia’s mind was full of thoughts on the strange event that had just occurred. Darkness Faeries were so rarely seen by the inhabitants of Faerie City, they were almost fables. Baelia recalled Jennumara’s long black robes, long black hair, and strangely soothing voice. Although the Darkness Faerie had spoken to her in a soft voice, she had sensed great power in voice, and in the way that she stood upright with her obsidian staff in one hand. In fact, underneath the tangled black hair, the resemblance of Jennumara to Queen Fyora was quite uncanny...
CRASH. Baelia had been so preoccupied with her daydream that she ran headlong into a Shoyru heading in the opposite direction, knocking them both to the ground outside Faerie City. The box that Jennumara had given her fell from her grasp, falling and bursting open upon impact with the cobblestoned street. Out tumbled a beautiful dark necklace, cut from obsidians and rare black pearls. “I’m so sorry!” Baelia apologized as she scrambled to her feet, dusting herself off and hurrying over to see if the Shoyru was okay. “Are you hurt?”
“No, I’m fine,” the Shoyru wheezed, struggling to catch her breath. The fall and the strength of the impact seemed to have winded her a bit. “But the street isn’t... what did that thing do?”
Baelia followed the direction of the Shoyru’s pointing finger, and gasped in shock. The necklace lay exposed on the street, sparkling in its beauty and seeming to reflect the rays of light that fell on it into a million different fragments. However, it was no longer lying on cobblestone. The necklace had turned the cobblestone it touched immediately to glass.
“Don’t touch the necklace!” Baelia shouted as a warning to the Shoyru, as realization slowly dawned on her. The necklace had been meant for Queen Fyora. If she had presented it her at the Gala, the Queen would surely have touched it to try to put it on... and she would have been turned into glass. The necklace was not a gift; it was a curse, meant to dispose of the Queen and throw the entire Faerie City into chaos.
Baelia’s felt her mind racing as she used the box, which seemed to be impervious to the necklace’s dark magic, to carefully scoop up the necklace. She had to get rid of the necklace. She could not leave it lying around, where there was any chance that it could be found by an unsuspecting Faerie or Neopet. Most importantly of all, she had to make sure that the necklace never made it to its intended target. She had to get it as far away from Queen Fyora as possible. With these thoughts racing through her head, Baelia turned around and flew as fast as she could out of Faerieland. Her silver robes whipped around her as she flew at lightning speed, past Krawk Island, past Mystery Island, and finally into the murky waters of Maraqua. Holding her breath as she dived into the depths of the ruined city, Baelia tossed the box containing the necklace as far as she could into the abyss of the whirlpool, where she hoped that it would never be found again.
Upon her return to Faerieland, Baelia was utterly exhausted. Her robes were wet and her hair was plastered to her forehand, with bits of Maraquan kelp still clinging to her arms and legs. It was all she could do to keep in the air as she flew slowly toward Faerie City. Suddenly, a dark shadow appeared before her. Baelia looked up just in time to catch a glimpse of Jennumara, before the Darkness Faerie knocked her to the ground with a powerful blast from her obsidian scepter.
“You insolent little Faerie! How dare you sabotage our plan?” Jennumara was beside herself with fury, her face livid and teeth gnashing as she screamed at the silver Faerie on the ground before her. No longer was the Darkness Faerie’s voice soft and soothing; instead, it was sharp and infused with hate in every syllable. “That necklace was meant for Fyora! With her out of the way, the path would be clear for the Darkness Faeries to take over Faerie City, and begin our own Dark Reign!” Screaming in frustration, she stamped her foot and sent black sparks out of her scepter.
“Why... why do you hate Fyora so much?” Baelia asked as she gazed at the towering Darkness Faerie before her, ferocious and terrifying in her anger.
“Why?” Jennumara screamed, near hysterical, her voice two octaves higher than it should have been. “Why? I’ll tell you why! Because Fyora has always gotten everything she wants! My parents loved her! She was always the favorite child, and now as Queen, everyone in all of Faerieland loves her! She is always the one who gets all of the praise and the honor, and no one remembers that I am her sister. She doesn’t deserve to be queen. That title belongs to me! For too many years have I lived in her shadow – for once I deserve rule Faerieland!”
Baelia’s eyes widened as she listened to Jennumara’s tirade. Finally, the truth dawned on her... Jennumara was Fyora’s twin sister. The Dark and the Light, the Evil and the Good, the Queen and the exile – they were two halves, two opposites that sprung from the same parents. For years, Jennumara must have plotted in her dark home, dreaming of ways to take the crown from her sister, and today was supposed to be the day...
“Today, you have made a grave, grave mistake, my friend,” Jennumara hissed, her voice lowering dangerously as she stepped menacingly toward the silver Faerie, her eyes narrowed in hatred. “All you had to do was deliver the necklace to my sister, but you just had to meddle and open the box, didn’t you? Now you will pay dearly for your insolence.” She raised her scepter once more and pointed it at the silver Faerie, and Baelia remembered no more.
The elderly Aisha sighed deeply as he neared the end of his tale. “And so, Jennumara stripped Baelia of her beautiful silver wings and her magical powers in order to punish her, and placed her in a cage on a stormy mountaintop. The cage was locked with a magical lock that would not open unless someone could utter Baelia’s name in front of it. To prevent anyone from helping Baelia to escape, Jennumara placed a powerful spell across all of Neopia, so that no one could remember Baelia’s name, or even her existence. From then on, she was known only as the Grey Faerie, and her existence on the mountaintop was a lonely one filled with sadness and tears. She had no friends and visitors, and only the wind and rain on the mountaintop to keep her company. Her beautiful silver robes gradually wore down to dull grey tatters, and her lustrous silver hair lost its sheen. It was said that when she cried, a mysterious fog would settle over all of Neopia, and all the citizens would feel a brief melancholy without knowing why. For many years, she remained an unsung hero, one who had given up all she had in order to protect Queen Fyora, but was now forgotten and alone on a mountain.”
“Is she still there now?” asked Kisara, her young eyes round and brimming with tears. “We have to go help her! Where is she being held, grandpa? We need to rescue her!”
The elderly Aisha chuckled. “You are very brave, my dear. Fortunately, a clever Kyrii named Tavi passed by her cage one day, and managed to figure out her name in order to open the lock. The Grey Faerie is now free among us, and we celebrate Grey Day every year on the anniversary of her escape to remember all that she has done for Faerieland, and Neopia.”
“Is that why there is this heavy fog every year on Grey Day?” chirped Kisara. “And all of Neopia is melancholy for the suffering of the Grey Faerie?”
“Yes, my dear Kisara, that is why,” the elderly Aisha answered. “But do not fret – for the Grey Faerie is free now, and the necklace is in the depths of the Maraquan whirlpool, never to be found again.”
“But if everything is all right again, why is there fog at all on Grey Day?” asked Kisara, a confused look on her face. “Shouldn’t we be celebrating the anniversary of the Grey Faerie’s escape with laughter and music, instead of melancholy?”
The elderly Aisha smiled a true, genuine smile as he gazed around at the half-a-dozen young faces all peering intently at him, waiting for the answer. “We need the melancholy on Grey Day as a reminder not to take for granted the joy that we feel on every other day. It is a soft reminder that even on the darkest of nights, there is always the dawn right behind, and that we mustn’t give up hope.”
And as he spoke those words, a thin beam of sunshine broke through the clouds.
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What was I, but a single speck of dust in a world that expected me to be great, before I could find myself?
All of a sudden, a thought leapt into my mind. What had become of that Kougra, that bright little spark, whom I had seen nearly four years ago?