"You're crazy, Ria!"
The light faerie ignored the taunting voice in her head and carried on with furnishing the empty house. She thought that it would be easy, that everything would all fall into place. But could a faerie really run an orphanage all on her own? She sighed and sat down on the old oak chair beside her and considered her options. She could just give up this seemingly hopeless dream and rejoin her sisters back in the city. But she knew that she couldn't give up, not now, not ever. Not after that fateful day...
"So, what do you want to do after graduation?"
The light faerie absentmindedly looked at her earth faerie friend. She was grinning from ear to ear, and she supposed she could understand. Graduation from the faerie academy was only two weeks away, and everyone had been busy making plans to either train as apprentice faeries to the famous ones in Neopia, or open a business on Faerieland like the ones in the city. But Ria didn't do that. She was a bit of an oddity among light faeries, and faeries in general, with her apathetic attitude and distant eyes.
"So!" the earth faerie continued. "I'm seriously thinking about opening a business in the city selling magic items. I mean, they're pretty easy to make, and the other faeries won't have to go all the way down to Neopia to get the ingredients for their spells!"
She nodded and said, "Yeah... I guess so..."
The earth faerie looked curiously at her friend and frowned.
"Well, what about my original question? What are YOU going to do after all this?"
"Well, honestly, Melissa..." She looked down at the dirt floor. "...I don't know."
The earth faerie sighed and looked at her friend.
"You're always like this, you know? You keep going around with your head in the clouds and never decide anything. One of these days you'll really have to step it up and consider your future for once."
She nodded solemnly, but didn't look up.
"Well," Melissa sighed, "break's almost over, so I'm going back in. You come inside soon too, okay?"
The earth faerie took to the sky and flew into the window of the academy's third floor.
She looked at the sky and then said, "Right..."
It was about a few hours till graduation, but Ria could only sulk in her room. She had no plans for her future, and she was tired of people telling that to her. Without a thought, she decided to take a short walk down in the nearby forest. She quietly opened the large oval-shaped window that connected her room to the outside, and without a sound, she was gone.
The faerie landed clumsily on the path leading to the entrance of the forest, but aside from a few bruises, she was fine. She walked into the shadowed glades, and began to think things through. She wasn't like all the other faeries in more than personality. She couldn't see the point in mixing potions and casting spells, and merely desired to find something that she felt she wanted to do. But during all the time at the academy, that wish never came to pass.
She continued onward on the path, and was staring at a white bloom, when she heard crying coming from behind a bush.
"Hello?" she called out hesitantly "Is anyone there?"
The crying immediately stopped, and a child's voice called out "Yeah..."
From behind the bush emerged a faerie Lupe, who looked thin and frail.
"What's wrong? Why are you out here all by yourself?"
The Lupe sniffled, and then said, "My-My owner abandoned me here because he said he didn't want me anymore."
Ria stared at the Lupe. "What!? But isn't there a pound where owners are supposed to do that?"
The Lupe sniffled even more. "He said he didn't want to bother going all the way down to Neopia to when he could just drop me off here."
The light faerie was shocked; she didn't know that these kinds of things could happen on Faerieland, and what's more, listening to the small Lupe's story stirred something inside of her. Was it... sympathy?
The light faerie crouched down to the Lupe's height, and said, "Don't worry. I'll get you some help. Just promise me you'll trust me, okay?"
The Lupe slowly nodded, and she lead the frail Lupe out of the forest and into the city, ignoring some of the stares some passing faeries were giving her. Finally, the duo reached the Healing Springs, where a water faerie was enjoying the morning mist.
The water faerie gasped as they approached. "Ria!? What are you doing here! You should be at the academy getting ready for your graduation!"
Then the faerie noticed the frail looking Lupe trailing behind.
"Who's this poor thing?" she said with concern.
"I found him in the forest; apparently his owner didn't even bother to abandon him at the pound. He just left him there in the cold darkness for who knows how long. Anyway, I need a favor."
"What is it?" the water faerie said while looking with sympathy at the Lupe.
"Could you take care of him? At least, until after he gets better enough to decide for himself?"
The water faerie hesitated, but then said, "Of course I will. I promise."
Ria looked over at the Lupe who was staring at both of them and gently said, "I have to go now, okay? But I promise I'll be back soon, alright?"
The Lupe nodded, and in a flash, she took flight to the skies, flying toward her graduation.
That event changed Ria; for the first time in her life, she knew what she really wanted to do.
Snapping back from her memories, she noticed knocking on the door. With a bit of hesitation, she walked over to the door and opened it, revealing a rather cheerful looking faerie Lupe.
Ria could hardly believe her eyes, but the image was real.
" You...? Are you..."
The Lupe stifled a laugh and said, "Yup! In the flesh."
She reached over and hugged him as tears of joy were welling in her eyes.
"I thought--I thought I would never-"
"Same here," the Lupe said, tears welling in his eyes as well.
"What happened to you? I went to my graduation and when I came back you were gone!"
The Lupe snickered. "I decided to take my chances and sneak out of the springs. I found an Eyrie carriage still accepting passengers and went down below."
"But-But how did you-"
"Manage to prosper?" The Lupe's eyes had a mischievous twinkle. "I found the Soup Faerie, who gave me lodgings in return of my assistance. From there, I did odd jobs around Neopia Central until someone pointed out that the Faerieland Employment Agency was my best bet at being self-sufficient."
"Then does that mean that..."
"Yup," the Lupe said. "I'm here to stay."
She was overwhelmed by the surge of emotions drifting through her now, but slowly, she managed a smile.
"You said you were doing jobs here, right?"
"Well, I have a proposition for you. You could help out here and assist me in furnishing this place. In return, you would be paid with lodgings and food."
The Lupe rubbed his chin. "Tempting. I just might take you up on that, Miss-"
"Ria, my name is Ria."
"Come to think of it, you don't know my name either, do you, Ria?"
The faerie gasped and tried to hide her embarrassment.
"It's fine, my name's Wayne."
She looked at the Lupe who stood in front of her, and maybe, just maybe, she thought that things really wouldn't be as bad now.