Stillness. All was quiet, for once. There should have been faeries flying here and there. Faerieland, after all, had always been popular with visitors, and its own radiant citizens had always been so very visible there.
Instead, now, the faeries were silent, cold stone, and the pleas for help that had always rung out across Neopia now went unanswered.
Gallynah shivered to herself, her wings curling gently. When the graceful Faerie Eyrie had heard the news, her first thought, to her great shame, had been the terrible fear that whatever had claimed the faeries would next petrify Faerie Neopets. Her next thought, however, had been for all those souls who depended upon the faeries for help.
What would happen to the storm-tossed and blizzard-lost, the hungry and the frightened and the sick?
Gallynah didn’t know. She didn’t know what would happen in her own case, either. Not the fear of petrification – she’d got over that...
But Gallynah had for so long wanted to be a healer.
The life of a pampered pet was a lazy one, Gallynah knew. Living in this wealthy home, she’d never wanted for anything. The young Eyrie restlessly prodded at one of the many books that had been bought for her. She knew she should set herself to her homework, but the motivation wasn’t very strong just now.
It was all too easy. Book after book had made her intelligent enough that her schoolwork was boringly simple. Training session after training session had made her strong, as had strange Neggs brought home every so often.
Not that she actually fought in the Battledome, of course; her owner feared to risk some harm coming to her, and, truth be told, she’d never had much appetite for violence.
One of her siblings, a Royal Draik, had won the Beauty Contests five times now, and was forever preparing for the next contest, keeping herself stunning. At least buying gifts for her was simple – beauty products sent her into paroxysms of joy.
Gallynah’s Christmas Kacheek brother, on the other hand, was a noted member of the Gourmet Club, and it was almost startling to see how much food someone so tiny could eat.
The youngest of the family was a Baby Cybunny with a truly vast collection of toys.
Gallynah, by contrast, felt rather plain. Unlike her siblings, she had not yet been painted, and remained a simple, unassuming red.
She could change that, she knew. She could choose a colour and she would be painted, just like that, and would no longer look so plain in comparison. But... what colour?
She toyed briefly with the idea of going for the Darigan look, just to stand out, but dismissed it. She had a Darigan friend and had seen how younger Neopets tended to shrink from him in fear of his intimidating appearance. That didn’t appeal to her very much at all.
She sighed, and slipped quietly out of her room, looking to go for a walk and gain some inspiration. No-one saw her leave.
In the end, her choice had almost been made for her. A pair of quarrelling Skeiths had stumbled over her amid their fight, and had accidentally injured her.
Her owner had swiftly ushered her to the Healing Springs, vowing all the while to stock up on healing potions so that this never happened again. The faerie there had looked at her so kindly, and had healed her wounds in an instant.
Overcome with admiration, she’d begged to be painted Faerie, and had swiftly been obliged. She might have lost herself in the surge of attention directed her way by people now that she looked so pretty in the Faerie colours, but she’d decided already that her desire to emulate the one who’d helped her wasn’t just about appearance.
“Ex... excuse me,” Gallynah whispered shyly, and saw the water faerie turn to look her way.
“Yes? Do you need help?” the faerie asked kindly.
“Not to be healed, no. I’d... I’d like to learn how to heal people like you do.” She ducked her head, feeling nervous.
“Oh. Dear... I’m afraid that’s not really possible. My healing comes from my faerie powers.” The water faerie rested one cool, damp hand on Gallynah’s shoulder. “I’m very sorry.”
Tears of disappointment stung Gallynah’s eyes. “Could I learn any kind of healing? I want to help people,” she said earnestly. In truth, the line of ailing Neopets making their way to the Healing Springs had shocked her, since she had always had access to the best medicine.
“Well...” The faerie thought about it, and then gave Gallynah a smile. “You could help me here, and I could teach you to mix the healing potions I sell and give away. I’ll teach you what I can, though you don’t have the magic to heal as I do.”
“Thank you!” Gallynah laughed out of sheer joy. “I’ll work really hard, I promise!”
She hadn’t been learning for very long at all before this tragedy had come. Now, there was no water faerie at the Healing Springs to teach her more. She didn’t know enough to do anything, she reflected sadly. Maybe if she had some great magic, she could bring the faeries back, but she didn’t.
Still... she wasn’t the only one for whom the loss of the faeries was a terrible thing. More to distract herself than anything else, she began to send out inquiries, to find out what was going on in the places that most needed faerie help.
Somewhere far away, a lone Acara stumbled again and again in the snow, lost and freezing. Once, Taelia, the Snow Faerie, would have heard her quiet sobs and come to save her.
Now, there was no-one.
Or was there?
“It’s all right,” a cheerful voice told the lost Acara. Tarla the Ixi helped her to stand. “Come back to my shop with me and we can have a nice hot drink.”
Tarla, Mika and Carassa had lived on Terror Mountain long enough that they knew its dangers. Now, with Taelia gone, they would protect the weary travellers upon the mountain in her name.
Somewhere else, far from Terror Mountain, a small boat foundered, the Lupe and Blumaroo within it crying out in fear, the waves threatening to crash over them. They were too far from land to swim to safety, especially in a storm like this.
The boat rocked violently, and then was overturned, casting its occupants into the merciless seas. The Lupe had hit his head, leaving him dazed and confused, and his Blumaroo friend desperately clung to him, trying to keep their heads above water.
Suddenly, the Blumaroo felt gentle hands supporting him. Squinting, he made out a Maraquan Aisha beside him.
Isca smiled in reassurance, and guided the Blumaroo back to his overturned boat. A Peophin nearby supported the Lupe, keeping him from drowning.
The Blumaroo clung to the wrecked boat as it was towed through the water. Soon, he was within reach of land, and could let go, crawling exhaustedly up onto the welcome safety of a beach. He saw his friend being gently settled beside him on the land.
“Thank you,” he called, the wind and waves catching the words and carrying them away.
When Gallynah heard the news, she found herself feeling so much less fearful. The citizens of Neopia were helping each other, even with the faeries gone. Those who needed help would get it.
The Eyrie heard a pitiful little whimper as she stood beside the abandoned Healing Springs. A Baby Kougra with scratch-marks all down one side of his face looked around in desperate hope for the faerie who could make the pain go away.
Gallynah blinked away tears. There was no-one to help this poor little one.
...No-one except herself.
“You wait here, sweetie,” she told the Kougra, and hurried away.
When she returned, she was laden with the healing potions her owner had stored up for her to use in emergencies. If this didn’t count as an emergency, Gallynah thought, she’d hate to see what did.
“Here you go.” She helped the little one to drink a potion, watching as it magically healed his wounds.
Waving away his childishly lisped thanks, she almost blushed. Recovering herself, she began to set up a tray of her potions. She knew where the water faerie kept her own for sale, but she had no right to give those away. She’d sell them and keep the money safe to give back to the water faerie when something restored her to life, Gallynah decided.
Her own potions, on the other hand, would be for those who couldn’t afford to pay.
The Faerie Eyrie watched as the first new customers made their way toward the Healing Springs.
Despite herself, she smiled.
She was a healer after all.
Hi! If you're reading this, it means this is the first story of mine to get into the Neopian Times. I hope you enjoy it!