Royal at Heart
“Look, Ajobi,” I whispered to my little baby JubJub, “Can you see it?” I pointed off into the clouds, which where gradually turning pink, and more... fluffy.
“I can’t see anything, Dad!” Tiihs, my starry Kau, complained, craning his short little neck higher, and squinting his eyes. “Are you sure we’re even near Faerieland?”
“Yes, Tiihs, as a matter of fact, I am,” I said dryly, reaching out over the side of the ship. I grabbed a pink cloud, tore a bit off, and tossed it at him.
“Whoa! That’s awesome!” he yelled, trying to eat it. Apparently, the cloud disliked being eaten, as it slipped out of his mouth, and re-attached itself to its bigger counterpart. “Why are the clouds like that?” he asked, sticking his head in between the ship’s rusty old railings to get a better look at the solid clouds.
“How else do you think Faerieland stays up?” I asked, scratching his head. “The faeries have a special spell that makes the clouds solid enough for them to live on.”
“No, they don’t.” Lyeshi, my split Poogle, snorted. “Honestly, Ty, do you believe that garbage? The clouds probably aren’t even real, and the whole place is probably just on a mountain or something. Faerieland isn’t really floating,” she finished with a humph, as if saying how totally stupid Tiihs and I were. I looked at her, daring her to make it pour on Tiihs’s parade. She sighed, and went quiet. “I still don’t think it's floating,” she muttered, spitting over the side of the ship.
“C’mon, Tiihs,” I said, looking around, “Let’s go to the viewing deck! Then we’ll really be able to see Faerieland!” Tiihs grinned, and followed me. I gave Ajobi, my baby JubJub, to Lyeshi, and started up the stairs, just as the loud speakers went off.
“Land Ho! Land Ho! Faerieland has been spotted!” the captain shouted from the control room excitedly. He sounded so excited, so thrilled at the sound of it, even though the man had probably seen it dozens of times before. Everyone on deck all turned to the starboard side, looking among the clouds for any trace of the faeries. There was nothing but pink clouds for a few moments, until the ship hit one and sent it rocketing off into the distance. Suddenly, Faerieland was revealed.
Pink clouds formed a giant dome on all sides, completely encasing the dwelling of the faeries. I looked down, and saw a huge river of sparkling water, pouring down waterfalls and into small pools. A giant sign identified it as the Healing Springs. Opposite the springs was a huge waterfall that must have been at least three hundred feet tall. The rainbow water glided down the drop, to land softly in the pool below, not making a sound. There were several gasps from the people of the ship as they saw people painting their pets amazing colors.
“Everyone!” the captain shouted once more. “Look ahead!” All heads turned towards the front of the ship, and we saw the true attraction of Faerieland.
The best way I can describe is as a pink version of the Darigan Citadel. There were no clouds beneath the city; instead, it rested on a hugely massive pink stone pillar, with several pink stone bridges connecting it to the surrounding clouds. The city itself was a giant castle surrounded by thousands of houses, factories, windmills, turbines, towers, and every type of structure that I could imagine. The whole place glowed with a shiny brilliance that was the power of Fyora, which kept the evil aura of Jhudora’s Cloud at bay.
I could hear the captain chuckling at our amazement over the loudspeaker, saying that we should “see your faces right about now!” Lyeshi and Tiihs were transfixed by the city, which was reflected in their shiny eyes as brilliant as they wanted it to be.
Slowly, the ship started to drop, aiming toward a giant landing space just outside of the city. When we saw that the ship was going to turn off all engines on a cloud, several people screamed in horror, thinking that we were going to fall to our doom. Instead, the ship came to rest softly on the cloud, which did not break. I noticed that the captain hadn’t lowered the gangplank yet; there was no way to get off. Apparently, a passenger had asked a similar question to the captain, for he said, over the loudspeaker once more in his gruff voice our instructions for leaving the ship.
“Jump, yah bunch of baby Babaas!” He laughed.
We all started to demand to be let off when, of course, Tiihs jumped.
Lyeshi and I screamed at him, as he had a two hundred foot drop from the deck to the ground. But, I could see his grinning face all the way down, until he hit the clouds. Tiihs disappeared in a puff of pink, only to bounce several feet back up again, until he finally settled on the ground, laughing his head off. After that, several more people decided to jump off, screaming and laughing all the way down. I took Ajobi in my arms and closed my eyes tight; I absolutely hated heights. I couldn’t jump.
Lyeshi, being Lyeshi, pushed me.
I screamed. Loud. Ajobi giggled hysterically, his huge cheeks being pushed open by the wind, his drool flying out. He looked so funny that I started laughing too. Suddenly, my face was enveloped by softness, and I was bounced up again. I came to rest on my back, with Ajobi screaming with delight in my arms. In a daze, I reached in my pocket, took out a binky, and put it in Ajobi’s mouth. He quieted instantly, and went cross-eyed trying to see what he was sucking on.
Lyeshi landed next to me with a poof, smiling slightly. I gave Ajobi to Tiihs and marched over to her. Except, on the squishy, bouncy clouds, my march turned into a bounce, and I fell over. Getting back up, I brushed the cloud off my shirt, and blew it out of my hair.
“Lyeshi! What in the world possessed you to do that?!” I yelled, waving my arms in the air. I don’t usually blow my top that often, but being pushed over the side of an air-ship seemed like a good enough reason as any to.
“Do what?” she asked, her voice dripping with sweetness and sarcasm. “Push you? Into a cloud? Oh, I’m so sorry, I didn’t realize that you would,” her voice fell flat and hard, “be fine.”
“Well,” I spluttered. “What if, what if the clouds had been-“
“Not there?” she asked dryly. “No clouds in Faerieland? Hm, that’s a new one.” I sucked in a deep breath, realizing that I had been beat.
“C’mon, you guys,” I said tiredly. “Let’s go to the City.” We started walking, but all fell over anyway on the spongy clouds. Tiihs eventually found that we could just bounce instead of walking here, being as the clouds returned too much of our energy to make walking possible. Think of it like trying to walk normally on a trampoline. It doesn’t work.
Finally, we reached the stone bridge that led to the main gate in front of Faerie City. At first, the bridge appeared to be just cobbled pink stone. But upon closer inspection, each pink stone was a tiny mosaic. Hundreds of tinier stones made up beautiful pictures of faeries or places, all brightly colored and wonderfully made.
Lyeshi and Tiihs raced across the bridge, ending in Lyeshi winning by at least half a minute. I jogged across the bridge, which had miniature train-like things going across the sides, carrying bucket loads of tourists and their pets. When Ajobi and I finally made it to the other end, we were greeted with yet another amazing spectacle - the Main Gate.
The Gate was the entrance to the entire Faerie City. The gate was a huge, sweeping piece of pink iron, spanning a hundred feet long and two hundred feet tall. It was a giant arch, split into two giant doors, which were open. The doors themselves were giant mosaics of the land behind us, and it was so detailed, it almost looked like we were looking in a mirror, without us in it. In a state of awe, we walked through the main gate and into the city.
The interior of the city was much less showy than the exterior. Small, humble pink cottages lined cobbled roads and lanes, and libraries were everywhere. Faeries flitted to and fro on the streets. Most were shining brilliant colors; all were tall, elegant, and beautiful. We walked in a trance through the city, until we reached the Town Square.
The square was actually a circle lined by shops and houses. In the center was a giant hole, with a huge, white, shining iron pillar sticking out of it. The pillar was covered with runes and symbols, all of which were shining different colors. The colors pulsed up the iron rod, and out into the cloud ground, as if renewing them. A faerie tour guide was just starting her presentation on the square, and we snuck in the crowd so we could hear her.
“-Square has been the heart of Faerie City for centuries. All the shops and houses that you see around you are all decades old, as are the streets.” Everyone’s head turned this way and that, looking at all the buildings. “If you will turn your attention to the center of the Square, you will see the Gigalith. The Gigalith is a stone that Fyora created millennia ago, infused with great and powerful magic. This is the source of the power that makes the clouds solid enough for us to live on.” The faerie winked at us. “Of course, it is also solid enough for anything in the entirety of Neopia. You see, the clouds and support...”
We slowly backed out of the crowd, and I gently elbowed Lyeshi. “Told ya so,” I said smugly at her.
“Whatever.” Lyeshi sniffed, turning a corner. “Let’s just go to the library.” I rolled my eyes, and followed her inside the building.
We had just sat down in a comfy plush chair when the screaming started.
We all raced outside, to see people yelling and running in all directions. Then I saw the pillar. It had a giant crack running through it, and the runes weren’t glowing so well. Then, the whole of Faerieland gave a giant lurch, and a slight breeze started... going up.
“Dad?” Lyeshi whispered. “If Faerieland falls at two hundred miles per hour, and it's ten thousand feet in the air... how long until it would...?” Lyeshi was smart. But even she couldn’t figure that out quickly. I did the math in my head, and whispered back.
“If it was falling at two hundred miles per hour... about thirty four seconds.” Lyeshi whimpered, and her ears went flat.
“But,” I said, “if Faerieland was supposedly falling, we don’t know its weight. And, the clouds could slow it down... plus the remaining magic in the pillar... Why do you ask?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” she said slowly. “Maybe because, oh, the magic pillar that’s keeping us up here is, um, CRACKED?” I stared at her for a few seconds, then back at the pillar. Finally, something clicked in my head.
“RUN!” I screamed, and boy did we run. “Let’s see,” I thought out loud, trying to calm myself down, “if the pillar still has magic left, then it could slow our descent by quite a bit of time. Plus, if the faeries pitch in...”
“Dad!” Lyeshi yelled at me, angry. “We need to find Fyora!”
“Why?” I yelled back, over the screams of other people.
“Because! She made the pillar! Maybe she can fix it!”
“Where would we find Fyora?!” I said, just as Ajobi started crying. Lyeshi thought for a few seconds, then pulled me into an alley. Instantly, all the noise vanished.
“Look,” Lyeshi was whispering quickly, very quickly. “I read in the Neopedia that there was a rumor of a place in Faerieland called the Hidden Tower. They say that that’s where Fyora spends most of her time. But the Tower... it’s invisible. And... It's kinda like in a different dimension. So, Fyora wouldn’t notice that Faerieland was falling, until it crashed, and the Tower was destroyed, and she would be trapped in that dimension forever.”
“So why don’t we go to the tower and get her?” I asked. Wrong question. Lyeshi looked at me like I was a three year old.
“Because it's Hidden, you dolt!” she hissed. “No one knows how to access it!” She looked at the ground. “And we don’t know how, either.”
“Wait a sec,” I said, frowning. “Why would anyone want to destroy Faerieland, anyway? Why would they want to trap Fyora...” Lyeshi and I both looked at each other, and said it at the same time-
“Hasn’t she, like, always wanted to be Queen or something?” Tiihs asked, scratching his head with his hooves.
“Yeah, she has. She hates Fyora. So it makes sense that she would want to destroy her and Faerieland.”
“But why would she destroy Faerieland if she wanted to be Queen of it?” Tiihs said, blinking.
“I dunno,” I retorted. “Probably so she can rebuild it in her own image, like, the way that she wants it?”
“That doesn’t matter right now!” Lyeshi was practically foaming at the mouth with frustration. “What we need to do is find Fyora!”
“How are we supposed to find her if the Hidden Tower has never been found?” I asked, sweeping my brain for an answer. I needed something, anything... the library! “The Library!” I shouted excitedly. “Come on!” Lyeshi’s eyes burned with anticipation as we raced back to the library; I could just see it consuming her.
After what seemed like forever, we reached the library. I looked behind me, and saw that the crack in the pillar was bigger than before. Darkness now seemed to be seeping out of it, as if Jhudora’s hold on it was getting stronger. The upward breeze had now also turned into a wind. The library we went into was a different place than what we left.
Books were scattered everywhere, chairs were upturned, and pages were floating around. Plus, not a single soul was in the building. It was eerily quiet in here, compared to the noise outside.
“Look for anything on towers!” Lyeshi said, rushing off into the maze of bookshelves and spiral staircases. “There has to be something!” We frantically searched for several minutes, upturning bookcases, knocking furniture aside, but we found nothing. While I was looking, I came across a huge window. It looked out onto the castle, capturing it perfectly. The window was a stained glass one, and there was a picture of the castle on it, fitting with the real one perfectly. I almost went on with my searching... but something seemed wrong about the window. I pushed it open, and looked at the castle. I closed it again, and looked at the castle through the stained glass. Something wasn’t right... I opened and closed the window several more times until I found it - The stained glass showed an extra tower on the castle.
“I found it!” I cried. “I know where it is, c’mon!” Tiihs tried to ask a question, but I shushed him and ran out the door, my pets in pursuit. Lyeshi was yelling out a stream of insults and curses at me for wasting our time, and Ajobi was crying. As I was tearing across the road, I saw that little bits of cloud were breaking up and floating up into the sky. No, they weren’t going up; we were going down.
I looked up at the castle, and saw the spot where the extra tower was supposed to be. I frantically searched around for way to get up there quickly. There was nothing... wait! I saw bits of cloud sticking to something in mid air. I squinted, and saw the all the bits of broken-off cloud were all in a vertical line. I frowned... Of course! Invisible stairs for an Invisible Tower!
“Dad, what’s going on-“ Lyeshi tried to speak to me, but I ignored her, and raced toward the stairs. Suddenly, my foot caught on something, and I fell face first into stone. Except there was nothing there.
“Lyeshi! These are the stairs to the Tower!” I said. She looked at me like I was nuts, but I just shook my head, and started crawling up on my hands and knees. Lyeshi’s eyes went as big as saucers when she saw that I really was climbing something. She sucked in a breath, and started to follow.
Climbing the stairs was difficult. More than difficult. For one thing, I couldn’t see them. They twisted and turned, and it looked like I was going to fall off at any moment. Plus, the wind was blowing so hard that I was afraid that I would slip, and plummet to my death on the cobbled streets below. After an eternity, my hand pressed against something flat. I felt around some more, and felt wood. I found the doorknob, and turned it.
A tower room was revealed to me. There was piles and piles of stuff, all worth more than I would ever get in my life. Paint brushes, weapons, books, everything I could ever want was in here.
So was Jhudora.
She had Fyora all bound up with magical, glowing rope made out of black darkness. Fyora’s eyes widened at the sight of us, and Jhudora smiled.
“What are you doing up here?” she asked calmly, silently. She seemed almost... happy that we were here.
“I-I came to rescue...” My voice trailed off as I looked into Jhudora’s eyes.
“Come, child,” she said, beckoning to me. “Come and resssst.” I felt my eyes go heavy, and I couldn’t quit remember why I was up here... “Why would you want to rescue dirty old Fyora? I’m the good one.”
“You’re the good one...” I slurred. Why would I ever want Fyora? Of course Jhudora was the one who should be in charge-
“Dad!” I blinked, and saw Tiihs and Lyeshi yelling at me from the door. I blinked again, and saw Lyeshi lunging at Jhudora, knocking her to the floor... the spell was broken. I bolted up and grabbed a sword. Half of it was fire, the other half ice. I raced to Fyora, and cut the darkness ropes. She smiled at me, and stood up.
I haven’t words to describe how Fyora looked. I can’t quite remember. All I do remember, though, is that she was absolutely magnificent. She reached out, and a pink staff appeared in her hand. Fyora stood over Jhudora, speaking strange, foreign words, raising her glowing staff-
The tower fell.
Jhudora screamed in delight, and disappeared in a burst of black smoke. Fyora was thrown off balance, and smashed into the wall. She lay still. I rushed over to her, and saw a trickle of blood coming from her head. She was out cold.
“Dad! The staff!” Lyeshi said, panicking. I tried to stand up, but was thrown to the ground, landing on the staff. I picking it up, not knowing what to do. I closed my eyes. I couldn’t work Fyora’s magic. I couldn’t. In the back of my mind, I heard Tiihs screaming as the Tower was about to hit the ground. I opened my eyes, which started glowing along with the staff. Of course I could work Fyora’s magic. Odd words that I didn’t know started coming from my mouth, and the staff started glowing brighter and brighter.
The Tower hit the ground.
I raised the staff.
Medic faeries were rushing around everywhere, trying to calm the frantic tourists. Somebody was helping me limp across the road, Lyeshi, Tiihs, and Ajobi in tow. The faeries told me that I had shattered my femur and collar bone when the tower had hit the ground, and that I was lucky to be alive. Lyeshi had a sprained ankle, as did Tiihs. Ajobi was fine, except for being tired and with a dirty diaper.
I raised my head to see Fyora gliding towards us. She raised her hand, and the faeries that were helping us along stopped. The Queen bent down to my face level, and spoke. Her voice... it was as hard to describe as her looks. Ageless.
“You did an incredible action, young man.” Fyora’s eyes were shining, and she had a slight smile on her lips. “You broke Faerie Law. You used my staff and magic without permission, you entered the Hidden Tower without my consent, knocking it down in the process, and used a priceless item that you had not bought.” She was beaming by now, glowing a soft, pink light. “Well done.” As she was walking away, she said something over her shoulder. “I sincerely hope that you enjoy your gift, Mr. Haven.”
She strode away, and I stared, speechless, after her. I had broken practically every law in the book, and she had given me a reward. Not that I knew what it was yet, but it was amazing nonetheless.
“Dad?” Tiihs asked, licking his ankle, “What’s that in your pocket?” I frowned, and reached into my jeans pocket, only to pull out a dripping, hissing Royal Paint Brush. Attached to it was a tag that read
Dear Mr. Haven,
You may not be of royal descent, but in my book, you have a heart as royal as mine. So will one of your pets.
I stared in awe at the paintbrush, blinked a couple of times, and started walking.
“So,” I said, staring at my pets, “Which one of you wants to be painted Royal?” I was attacked by a mass of purple, orange, blue fur, and yellow stars.