Five Hundred Years
My name is... or was Glina. I am a faerie. Not one of darkness, light, water, air, or earth. I am a pitiful slip of a faerie, with tattered wings and heavy eyes. My hair falls on my shoulders like tassels of yarn- a strand for every year I've been breathing. Five hundred, is it? Five hundred at least, since I've become a Grey Faerie.
I was young. Foolish. A faerie of fifteen at most, with fluttery wings and curls and soft, red lips. A pretty little thing with mostly air between her ears and dreams hammering her heart. I had trusted in the wrong faerie, and for that lost my wings. It's funny, how something so lovely as naiveté could melt into something ugly and foreboding when dealing with Darkness.
She had had wings as black as midnight and eyes the same, inky hue. Her teeth were this feral-white that rattled me even then, but I was still naïve. She promised me adventure, journeys to new worlds, if I only helped her. Help the Darkness Faerie. Toil and tremble and bring to her power in your palms, place it in her awaiting claws and let her wreak havoc.
Young, so young, how I long to be young and erase my mistakes--
But I brought it to her. She had asked for one of Fyora's most precious items, a sword from the Hidden Tower. Sword of Skardsen. And me, pretty and penniless, slipping through hidden passageways, risking my neck and my life for a handful of moments of limelight and adventure and adrenaline and then---
Not making it very far. At all. I have glimmers of the memory---the guards with their faces pulled back in rage, their weapons curled into their fists as I escaped them, and a Darkness Faerie, her gnarly teeth poking into her ruby lip, and then the glowing of her palms and the ache, oh the ache in my bones, my shoulders split by a blade---
And then, nothing. Nothing at all. The curse of an evil faerie, the birth of a grey one, the death of a beautiful one. I failed her---this obscure, evil faerie--- and she left me with a choice; surrender to her or to Fyora. And, with my ignorance I left my life in her hands and she stole it away. She was not my keeper, but instead the clipper of my wings. I had forsaken myself Fyora's mercy, and left myself to the tricks of a wily witch-woman, whose name is eternally lost on me. All I have is her voice, that cackling, blearing noise, murmuring wickedly:
“Remember yourself, and the curse will be lifted.”
And then she left me there, with my hair white as bones and face pale as my cowardly heart , my hands throbbing with brittle, rain-like veins. With nothing but my name and tattered wings, swept of any memories of my past-face, my past self. Was I a faerie of the skies, or of the seas? Of the flames, the light, of the trees?
Nobody recognized me, and for one reason or another, all of the faces of Faerieland were lost on me, shrouded beneath a curtain of misty glass. I was left to solve the riddle on my own accord, without memories of anything but the now-pallid face, sobbing back at me in the mirror, and the deed that had caused it all. The wispy silhouette of beauty.
Did I ever have a sister? A mother? A friend?
I screamed this into my fists, as I tore at my trembling tresses and cursed my powerless spells.
No answer came.
It isn't in the norm for faeries to live to even one hundred. By that time, they finally become one with their element. I learned this from the buckets and buckets of books I'd read in my expanse of leisure time, alone somewhere, anywhere. A vague silhouette of my girl-child self in a classroom, raising a delicate hand in question, the nod of a teacher and the soft, “Yes, Glina?” is all I remember from my academy years.
The first thing I did, once I managed to free myself from my self-pity, was to look for my old identity. I was brimming with hope—the foolish faerie had let me keep my name, which would be enough to free me! I scanned through old yearbooks which listed the Faerie Academy's graduates---surely my past-self had been a smart, sensible faerie. Surely there was hope. There was always hope. Always.
But while there were plenty of Glindas and Galinas and Linas, there were never Glinas. None of the faces clicked. Nothing was right. With those thoughts in mind, I shut the faerie-winged books, glittery and lovely and full of years of beauty and memories. Simple things I didn't have.
My quest seemed to have stopped short. But I was still young and while I didn't have beauty or memories I had hope. I always had hope. Had.
I'd sometimes take long, sad strolls through the lush parks of Faerieland in hopes of something catching my eye, something finally clicking as a reminder. I'd pad around the small cottage I had claimed as home. Nothing. Nobody. And I heard nothing of anyone searching for a missing Glina, their little girl, their best friend, their sister.
Maybe it was better that I didn't know.
One hundred came and went. I had grown so sick of the long, laborious days, hope slipping from between my fingers as the sun rose and set. And when I woke up one morning and sleepily murmured to myself that it must have been a hundred years since I had “gone Grey”, I nearly sprinted out of bed and and into the fields of Faerieland to really look at the world around me.
And... and... it wasn't the same. The young girls from the academy were moseying around the city and there were not many Darkness Faeries at all except for a young, wicked thing named Jhudora who would give smuggled artifacts in return for quests. And I hadn't aged a day. I was still ugly and pale and grey but I still had the countenance of a tear-stained girl, and it was on the day I reached one hundred that I truly understood the severity of my crime and punishment, and how I would never become one with any element and that I would live as a Grey Faerie forever---
I didn't go outside for a long, long while.
I went to see Fyora many, many years later. I looked worn but still young as ever, my only sign of age being the hideous dinginess of my eyes.
The guards on post were new, and wouldn't have recognized me anyway, I quickly realized. They let me through, pity in the backs of their hardened eyes, as if they'd seen cases like me before, pathetic and decrepit, begging for some form of assistance from the powerful Faerie Queen.
Fyora was at her violet throne, beautiful as ever with her hair spilling over her shoulders like a lavender waterfall, but the haggard look in her purple-orbs was not lost on me. For the first time in nearly two centuries, I felt guilt, and some sort of... sympathy for the queen. I had been in the world for less than a quarter of time than she had, and felt like I was too old, felt miserable for knowing I'd never connect with my element. And here was Fyora, elementless, Faerieland's eternal, crystal queen.
So, while she stared at me expectantly, I blurted:
And the story came out in broken pieces. Of the sword, of the faerie, of my curse. I sobbed into my ragged hands as the tears spilled from the corners of my misty eyes and felt more ugly and alone than ever as the mighty Faerie Queen peered down at me with pity.
The Queen waited for me to stop trembling before she spoke, as if from a distance. “My apologies.” Pause. “I can be of no help to you. I am not skilled in the reversal of the crafts and spells of Darkness.”
I was taken aback. She thought I had wanted her to transform me back? Then again... what had I wanted? I inhaled a shattering breath before saying:
“Y-Your Highness...” and then I realized I didn't know what to say, but I knew it had to be something. “How old are you?”
It was her turn to be taken aback. She said nothing, the shock in her eyes evidence enough of her silence. I continued with, “I'm some years past two hundred.” And the pity came back. “I don't age. I have no element. I will never become something as grand as the ocean, as free as the air, as powerful as fire. I will live as I am... forever.”
I knew she was sincere, but I still felt sick with her reply of: “My apologies.” A sad, long pause. “I can be of no help to you.”
Two hundred melted to three hundred which dappled into four. Faerieland was still sparkling in the sky, and I was only an inclusion on the winged crystal. I would take long walks around Faerieland sometimes and nobody would wave or smile. I cast this depressing air over the faerie-parks and fountains and decided one day that it would be better if I just remained in my little cottage, away from faces and wings and fear.
The day before my five-hundredth birthday, I went outside again.
It's strange really, because everything was the same, and yet... not. The Fountain Faerie still painted neopets beautifully; the Healing Faerie still swam in her spring. Jhudora still grumbled on her wisp of a cloud and... and I knew that it was all home.
I wondered if one day I would become a staple of Faerieland. “Glina still mopes around the clouds.” or “Still grey and thin and wingless.”
I was so lost in my thoughts that I didn't notice when I stumbled into her, the little Uni-girl with her pale-pink wings and pastel-blue coat.
“I'm sorry,” I mumbled quickly, picking myself up. I offered my hand to the fallen pet, and I expected her to flail or wail or something, but instead she smiled sweetly and accepted my help.
“Sorry... again,” I repeated; it had been... centuries since I had really interacted with anyone, and my heart was hammering. As an afterthought, I blurted out, “I-I'm Glina.”
She grinned. “And I'm Hope.”
I stared for a while, kind of emptily, and when the silence went on for too long, I lost control of my words. “I... I used to know that word.”
Hope's face fell a bit, and she stepped toward me. “I'm sorry.” She stopped after that, and from the look on her face, she was searching for what to say. “I think... my mama gave me that name so people would remember it.”
Something inside of me warmed, and I felt lighter. “Well... maybe her idea has worked on me after all.”
Hope's face broke out into a wide smile. “I'll let her know.”
My name is Glina. I am five hundred years old, and I am a Grey Faerie. I don't remember who I was before becoming a Grey Faerie, but... but that is behind me now. I've spent half a century living in the past, when I have an entire future waiting for me. Perhaps I will never be one with the sea or the sky. Perhaps I will never have my wings again. But I do have hope. Maybe not hope that I will wake up beautiful or strong or powerful and not Grey, but hope that I will do something, make an imprint on the world---and finally come to terms with myself, and move on.