Cloud Flute: Part One
"Very long ago, before Faerieland crashed to the ground, before many of the lands we know today were discovered, there was one creature that roamed the lands.
"He was a Draik, though he was different from the ones we know now. To say he was huge would be an understatement. This beast was colossal, with a tail so thick it could uproot mountains and wings so massive they could blot out the sun.
"At first he was rather mild-mannered and he ignored the Neopets that he often passed by. But one day he decided he would like some company, so he flattened the lands for Neopets to build homes and live their lives in peace with him.
"This arrangement went on for many a year, but gradually the Draik grew agitated. The sounds of merriment coming from the Neopets he lived alongside were beginning to annoy him. He wanted some peace, but he had nowhere to go. Every space was occupied by pets.
"The Draik was very angry once he realized this. In his rage, he swung his immense tail and shattered buildings and houses. In his mind, he thought this was the only way he could find peace. It was devastation on a huge scale.
"The faeries up in the clouds watched the destruction in despair. What could they do? They wanted to help their grounded friends, but there seemed to be no way forward. They called upon the wisest faeries, and one of them had the answer. She said the Draik's ears were sensitive to calming melodies. With this newfound knowledge, the faeries crafted the instrument that would save the Neopets of the land below. This instrument was dubbed the Cloud Flute.
"One faerie was brave enough to fly down and play the flute to the Draik. The beautiful tune immediately slowed the Draik's ferocious onslaught. He let his wings fold at his back and coiled his tail around him. However, he wasn't finished with his demolition. Raising his sharp claws, he crashed them down to the ground and dug a gigantic hole. He settled into this hole and curled into a ball, falling into an eternity of slumber. The faerie explained that to wake the Draik again, one would have to play a short tune on the Cloud Flute – though she knew no one had any intention of waking the beast.
"The creatures of Neopia rejoiced, burying the Draik in his earthy chamber. Together with the faeries they rebuilt their homes.
"And so it was that Vacerus the Draik finally found his peace, and the Neopets found theirs."
Fericeus closed the book and smiled at his enraptured audience. The white Xweetok stood up and dusted himself off. "I hope you enjoyed that tale, my friends."
Laerya nodded slowly. She had been listening intensely throughout the whole thing, which almost never happened. Usually she would hear the beginning of a story and then lose interest, but this tale had her in awe. She twitched her purple Cybunny ears as she cradled her legs. "Is this all true, Feri?"
Fericeus shook his head and frowned. "Some say–"
"Hold it, I know how this goes," Elora the shadow Zafara interjected. She straightened up in her seat and cleared her throat, preparing an imitation of Feri's voice. "Some say it is true, and others say it is a myth. No one knows for sure." She assumed her normal voice and grinned. "Am I right, Mr. Feri?"
The Xweetok clicked his tongue. "Yeah, you're right. But this is just a simplified version of the myth. In reality, I know there is much more to this story..." He frowned. "And I don't sound like that."
"Oh, sure you do." Elora wafted her hand as if it were a sign of dismissal.
Laerya yawned and stood up, looking around the Storytelling campfire. Most of Fericeus's audience was getting up to leave, though they all had amazed looks on their faces. Lae elbowed Fericeus and smiled. "You told a good story today."
"I'm glad it went down well," Fericeus replied with a flick of his long tail. "I hope you were inspired."
Laerya twiddled her thumbs excitedly. "Oh yes, I was, believe you me. This makes me want to find out whether the story is true or not. But I wouldn't know where to look, for a start." She sighed.
"Well, I know the Cloud Flute is kept in one of Faerieland's galleries, though everyone dismisses it as a pretty plain instrument. Everyone just believes that flute was created based on this story, and it's been forgotten by so many people now that some say it's not worth keeping the flute in the gallery." Fericeus started to walk out of the Deep Catacombs, with Elora following. Lae skipped alongside them.
"So where did you find this story anyway?" Elora asked, only half paying attention. Lae noticed the Zafara was looking longingly at the coffee shop.
"Back in my old home," Fericeus replied curtly.
Laerya blinked. Feri's reply was rather blunt. She scratched her head in confusion, wondering if Fericeus was hiding something. She shrugged, deciding not to pursue the matter.
The trio slowly made their way back to their home in Neopia Central. Laerya was slightly annoyed at the Slorg's pace they had set. She twitched her ears, eager to be back at their home.
Laerya was often away. She had the adventurer's spirit and would frequently head off on journeys if she thought they would be exciting. Despite her young age, her family let her go, for they believed it was best for Lae to use this energy in a positive light. And to her, adventuring was always positive.
For today, however, she wanted to spend some time with her family. It had been a while since she had seen them, and she missed the house too, despite her room being too small to fit anything of value into it.
"Oh, come on, guys!" Lae groaned, practically dragging her feet across the ground. "We're walking like Slorgs here. You wanna pick up the pace?"
Fericeus chuckled. "You're free to go on ahead if you want, Lae."
Laerya hopped about impatiently. "You wanna race me to the door?" she asked.
"Are you kidding me?" Elora grumbled, folding her arms. "You're too fast for either of us. Just go on ahead, girl."
Lae pouted, slightly disappointed that she wouldn't have the chance to beat Elora or Fericeus in a race. However, she was happy that she could leave them to eat her dust – not literally of course, as there was no dust on these clean footpaths. The purple Cybunny waved them off. "Okay, I'll see you back at the house!" she cheered. Springing her well muscled legs, she zipped off along the footpath.
She rejoiced at the exhilaration this gave her. Laerya was a speedy runner – she had the honor of being one of the fastest in the family – and she reveled in feeling the wind rush through her hair as she sprinted down the path. She held up a hand and shouted, "Yeah! I'm so fast, I'm so fast, I'm so fast, I'm so—"
Her chant was abruptly interrupted by her slamming into the door of her own house.
"Whoa..." Laerya took a step back, moaning as pain exploded in her head.
The door opened and a bespectacled strawberry Zafara poked her head out. "I heard a crash and assumed it was Sloth or something firing a weapon at us. But it's only you, Lae. Nice to see you here, but what did you do?"
Laerya stumbled towards the Zafara and stared intensely at her. "Banged my head on the door," she rasped, trying to ignore the throbbing. The impact had left her quite dizzy, and it was apparent in her uncertain gait. "Can I come in, Kyra?"
The strawberry Zafara opened the door wider and allowed Lae to stagger in. Once she sensed the couch was in her vicinity, she increased her pace and flopped onto the couch, rubbing her head.
"Uh... should I ask why you hurt your head in the first place?" Kyra asked with amusement.
"Nah. All you need to know is that I don't look where I'm going," Lae sighed, flushing with embarrassment.
Kyra nodded. "So, are Elora and Fericeus with you?"
"They were, but I ran off ahead because they were taking too long to get here. They should be here any minute now."
"Feri was reading at the Storytelling campfire again, wasn't he?" Kyra mused, looking out of the window to watch for the approaching Elora and Fericeus.
"Oh, yes!" Laerya sat up straight, her pain momentarily forgotten. "He told this cool story about a Draik called Vacerus. Apparently his wings were so huge they uprooted mountains and his tail was so thick it blotted out the sun! Or... something like that." Lae ran a hand through her hair in exasperation. "But anyway, the Draik made, like, a flat land for Neopets to build houses and live in, but Vacerus was angry so he destroyed everything, but then the faeries made a Cloud Flute and played it and Vacerus fell asleep and..." She trailed off, feeling the pain in her head again. "Oh, my head."
Kyra's eyes were wide. "That's a lot to take in, Lae. But it's good that Feri told a story that you actually paid attention to."
"Uh-huh..." Lae nodded, wincing at the pain. "Can I get something for this headache, please?"
"Sure, Lae. But let's try and avoid these collisions in the future, shall we?" Kyra chuckled, heading out of the room.
Laerya let her head rest on the couch cushions, her head spinning with thoughts on the Vacerus story. Wouldn't it be cool if that story was actually true? she pondered.
She wasn't the only one thinking such things. There had been another Neopet listening intently to that story.
But, unlike Laerya, this pet was prepared to find out whether it was true or not. And if it was, then she was that much closer to achieving her goals.
To be continued...