No Height, No Weight, No Problem: Part Three
Ruach put Peopeo447's journal in the safest place she could think of, under Mama's mattress. Then she wrapped her striped coverlet around herself and tried to fall asleep. It was wonderful that Faerie Fae wasn't a dusty grey color any more. It was awesome that she could fly, even if she needed the wind to help her. It was amazing that a wild Spyder could have made all these things happen. However, the Faerie, like all living things, would grow as she thrived. Her natural wing would grow with her, but her artificial wing wouldn't. What would become of her when Rachna could no longer weave? These thoughts and others kept the Starry Peophin's mind racing most of the night.
The next evening, a thunderstorm pummeled Maraqua. Waves pelted the windows of the Neohomes and the sea moaned and churned. It was the perfect weather to cuddle up under warm blankets and listen to stories.
When Ruach and her sisters clamored to hear more from Peopeo's journal, Splash offered to read aloud. He took his position quite seriously and insisted that they all take warm baths, brush their teeth, crawl under the covers of their respective beds, and be absolutely silent.
"I can't read if you're talking," he stated firmly when everyone was in bed. He addressed Galadriel and Jewels with a stern glance. They dutifully quieted themselves and gave him big sisterly smiles.
Splash cleared his throat and began: "The Journal of Peopeo447 Part III."
22nd day in the month of Hiding
Today at breakfast, Fae wasn't at the table. We called for her, but there was no answer. My sisters, Ally and Phan, searched the house while my brother YB and I checked out the gardens. Have you ever had that queasy, fearful feeling in the pit of your stomach?
YB found her sitting cross-legged on an uncomfortable pebble bench under the heart fruit tree with tears streaming down her delicate pink checks. If you knew anything about our little Faerie, you'd know that she would never allow anyone to see her cry if she'd had the choice. YB is one tough Chomby, but the moment he looked at her, he started to sniff and look away. He let out an earsplitting Chomby roar and shouted out Fae's location. It took us only a moment to get to our Faerie guest.
Fae was beginning to remember her captivity. She wiped her violet eyes on her sleeve and blew her tiny nose on a piece of wrinkled pink tissue that Ally had in her pocket. She began to tell her story in a voice that was hardly more than a whisper. We gathered on the grass as close to her as we could.
"I fell asleep under an apple tree on soft velvety grass in the center of Faerieland. I'd been playing with my friends, you see. We wanted to explore the cave a few yards to the left of the tree, but there was a sign that said "Cave Closed Today" so we played tag around the Rainbow Fountain instead. After a while, we went back to the apple tree. I listened to the others recite Faerie tales. Then, when they started to dance, I didn't join them. I remember closing my eyes and turning over on my tummy. By the time I'd opened my eyes again, one star was already in the sky. My friends were gone and I knew I should go too, but it was so beautiful and peaceful." She paused for a moment unsure of how to continue.
"At first I didn't understand what was happening. Someone scooped me up in a net and ran into the cave a few feet from us. His dirty hand was covering my mouth. It smelled rancid and I started to gag. I was in terrible pain, but no one could hear me scream. I knew that one of my wings was horribly bent."
The young Faerie's eyes started to tear again. "He ripped my other wing off getting me into a jar."
She paused again for almost a minute. No one said a word.
"He must have been the one that put up that sign at the cave entrance earlier that day. I guess no one questioned it; we certainly didn't. He was dressed in brown. He blended in with the cave. He probably watched us the whole time we were under the apple tree, just lying in wait for the perfect moment to commit his foul act without being noticed." Her eyes narrowed and her shoulders hunched up around her little Faerie neck.
"My friends were in jars too. I saw them. They looked groggy. He must have sprayed us all with something to make us sleep, but I was on my stomach so I didn't breathe it in. Maybe he went back to the apple tree to make sure no one was left behind and found me."
It was Phan that spoke first. She twitched her Cybunny nose and scratched it with one furry white paw. "Fae, I don't understand. You said you were listening to the others tell stories and watching the others dance. Why didn't you join in?"
Fae lost herself in thought for a moment. "Why didn't I join in?"
Then she said aloud, "I didn't join in because I was much younger than all the others. I was so happy they let a baby like me tag along with them."
"I just don't see how a poacher can capture a bunch of Faeries in the center of Faerieland with no one noticing," YB snorted. "I don't see how scruffy, smelly thieves can walk into Faerieland with nets and sleeping potions and signs and jars and no one thinks it's a little strange."
The little Faerie had no answer to that. She just shook her head, sighed, and uncrossed her legs.
"Who are you?" asked Phan sweetly. "Do you remember what your real name is? What kind of Faerie are you? There must be so many Faeries worried about you."
"Donnknow," was all she could say.
Fae looked into the eyes of each of her new friends. She wondered if they made nets and jars big enough to trap a Chomby, an Aisha, a Cybunny, and a Ghost Peophin.
30th day in the month of Hiding
This morning we gathered together in the kitchen for one of Ma's spectacular breakfasts. Ma went all out at least once a week on one of our meals to our everlasting joy. Today the feast before us included an enormous fruit salad with apples, oranges, cherries, tchea fruit, and my favorite, strawberries. There were fluffy Faerie pancakes, lots of maple syrup, Kau Kau farm milk so cold that ice crystals had formed on top, and caramel hot chocolate. Even ghosts deserve to eat if they want to!
I could sense that Fae wanted to talk to me alone. She would take a bite of Mama's fluffy Faerie pancakes and look up at me. Bite, look, bite, look. Everyone else noticed too and started to mimic her. Bite, look, bite, look. We all burst out laughing and Fae stuck her tongue out at us. Then Ally wrapped her charcoal-colored antennae around our little Faerie guest's checks and gave her a grand Aisha hug and all was forgiven.
After breakfast, Fae cornered me by the spiral staircase. She'd remembered something that happened while she was in captivity in the Deserted Tomb and had to tell me. Her little knees shook with urgency.
She told me that the Faerie in the jar next to hers rocked back and forth until it lost its balance and shattered. Fae's jar got knocked on its side and fell too, but it hit the ground on its lid and didn't break. Fae watched the doomed Faerie's life end.
The memory of it made her sob so hard she began to hiccough. "Fae," I began gently, "my family and I buried that Faerie in our underwater garden in a lovely small box my sisters made. We placed a rainbow paving stone over her and gave her a solemn and heartfelt burial."
She thanked me and kissed me on my translucent cheek. Then she dropped down on her knees and implored, "Please, Peo. Please. Take me back to where you found me. Help me bring the Ghost Faerie back to live with us."
I didn't see that coming. First, I didn't sense any ghostly presence when I was there. The Lizark didn't mention it, though I don't suppose he would have. The poachers didn't seem to fear anyone or anything. Second, there's no way I would ever take Fae back to that booby-trapped tomb.
"She's there," Fae insisted, biting her bottom lip. "They hurt her badly before they threw her in her jar. I think she was there alone for a long, long time. She's... not nice."
From what Fae then told me, I assumed the deceased Faerie had gone insane from pain, deprivation, and loneliness. I understood now why the two Faerie jars were separated from the rest. They'd been the rejects, left to die. I tried to be diplomatic and sensitive to Fae's request, but I guess my response hurt her feelings.
"You want me to bring your dangerously demented acquaintance back to OUR house???"
"I don't think you're a real ghost," Fae stated emphatically, angry that I wouldn't consider taking on this quest. "Mama doesn't either." (Fae had completely become one of us in her heart and in ours and had 'adopted' our owner as her own.) "I think you live in our dimension, but really exist in a dimension different from ours. You have a heart-light and you drink Borovan and you need to go to the bathroom sometimes and ..."
I'd do anything for Faerie Fae, but I'm not sure I agreed with her assessment of me and was pretty certain I wouldn't be able to help her. The likelihood of a crazed ghost wanting to be best friends forever with my family and me was pretty unlikely.
"Take me with you," Fae insisted again. "Rachna will spin a line strong enough to attach my wrist to the arm of your jacket and still give us room to maneuver in case we get into trouble. You have lots of Abilities to keep us safe."
"No, I don't have lots of Abilities. They're only for the Battledome and only for me and they only last a little while.
Fae mulled over a response capable of changing my mind. "Together, we can make things happen. We proved it with Coiley, the Hissi we met in the garden. Don't you remember?"
"I have no idea what you're talking about, Fae."
"When Coiley surprised us in the garden, you used Abilities the Faeries blessed you with to protect me... protect us. It was brilliant how it worked."
"You're wrong Fae. It was just the weather. There was electricity in the air, and the wind started to act up."
Fae looked me deep in the eyes. "What Abilities would cause pebbles to fly through the air and send a shock through someone?"
It couldn't be the Abilities Spark and Magic Pebbles, could it?
"I can prove you're wrong, Peo," Fae insisted. "Come really close to me and think about making it dark."
I reluctantly stood beside the little Faerie and tried to darken the daylight around us. "Nighttime," I demanded. Nothing happened, of course; Neopets can't use Battledome Abilities outside of the arena.
Fae looked truly dejected and tears started to stream down her perfect pink cheeks.
"Try again! Do it! Don't give up!" she yelled at me. I never saw her so worked up. I held tightly to her outstretched hand, the best a ghost can, and concentrated with all my might.
A small dark cloud formed around us both for about half a second. Nighttime? Impossible!
"I think I understand what's happening," Fae concluded through her tears. "Peophins are magical creatures, and you're extra special. Faeries are magical too. I'm not, of course, not anymore, but maybe my new wing has awakened some spark of magic in me. So you + me + strong emotion = our own kind of magic. NOW can I go to the tomb with you?"
Fae and I discussed the plan with my brother and sisters, plus Coiley the Hissi and Rachna the Spyder. If I relented and agreed to take her to the Lost City, I had to plan our journey carefully and needed all the help I could muster. You noticed, of course, that I neglected to mention this to Mama; she was still kind of sensitive about my trip to Krawk Island.
"Why can't we all go to Geraptiku with you?" my brother YB suggested, his eyes shining. "There's no one stronger than I am. Phan and Ally are brave and resourceful. They can sew a disguise so that the poachers would never suspect that Fae's a Faerie."
The others nodded in assent at YB's brilliant idea.
"What part of 'violent, insane ghost and dangerous poachers' don't you all understand?" I asked in vain.
4th day in the month of Collecting
Three gregarious Faeries have been spying on all of us for several days. They appeared fascinated by Fae's color, her eyes, and her inherent sadness. They were especially awed by her wings, and watched as she lifted off when a breeze blew by and landed when it ebbed. They smiled and giggled and whispered to each other and flit around the garden. Fae is captivated by them and wants so to play with them, but they haven't approached us.
Today they slowly and tentatively inched close to us. Fae told them about her capture and the Ghost Faerie. She described in detail her new home and the ones who've cared for her. Finally, she showed off her wonderously-woven wing. She offered to introduce them to Rachna, but they thought it best not to become acquainted with poisonous wild Spyders, no matter how talented they might be.
"We have heard your story and are deeply touched by it," said the eldest of the Faeries. "We cannot go to the Lost City lest we meet the same fate as our ghostly sister. However, we will tell Queen Fyora about you two and ask her to bless your journey."
When they flew off in the direction of Faerieland, Fae rested her sweet Faerie face on my ghostly tail and wept.
7th day in the month of Collecting
Our little Faerie has been badgering me incessantly about taking her with me. In my heart, I don't want to go at all. I especially don't want to do anything to endanger her. I gathered up my focus group, my brother, sisters, and friends Coiley and Rachna, again. They all agreed that we should conduct one final test before I even think about journeying to the Lost City again. We decided to test the Ability Bubble Shield at the beach on Mystery Island's eastern shore not far from where we took the Tiki Tour with Coiley. With the others standing on shore, Fae held tightly to my jacket sleeve, took a deep breath, and walked out with me into the cold water until it covered her tiny head.
"Bubble Shield," I commanded. Again and again I commanded it. The others began to shout the words in unison. Finally, Fae could stand it no longer and lost consciousness. In a panic, I grabbed her and rose with her to the surface. When we broke through the water, there was a nice shield of bubbles surrounding both of us. Fae woke up inside the shield, spit out a mouthful of seawater, and began to breathe steadily. She motioned for me to jump back into the water with her; against my better judgment, I did. The shield held for about five minutes. All the while, Fae was having a wonderful time laughing, spinning, diving, and playing Peophin under the surface of the water. When the bubble began to dissipate, however, there was a look of terror on her face. She grabbed my sleeve and I pulled her to shore by sheer ghost power.
There was total silence on shore. My owner was standing there glowering at all of us. In my entire life, I've never seen Mama so angry. She picked little Fae up in her arms and carried her all the way home without saying a word.
21st day in the month of Collecting
Our owner didn't talk to any of us for two whole weeks, not even to YB who forgot we were keeping our quest a secret and let Mama in on it. We've been banned from playing with Rachna and Coiley, a truly unfair edict on Mama's part. I am forbidden from using any Abilities the Faeries blessed me with, as though I could control them. Fae can't play with me alone. She can't even stand beside me if we're in a group. She can't go further than the edge of Aunt Kitty's gardens and is forbidden to even think about visiting the place where she had been held captive. The little Faerie keeps giving us imploring looks, but is following Mama's instructions. We can often hear them arguing, though.
3rd day in the month of Storing
It was a grim time in our lives, but not hopeless. Mama invited us all to a family meeting in the dining room. She finally allowed me to explain exactly what our "Ability" theory was. She'd heard basically the same story from Fae. I could see that she was trying to find a way to help us without having us endanger our Faerie guest or ourselves.
"Fae, I am not your owner, but you are as much a child of mine as the four I've adopted," Mama explained. "I don't want you taking unnecessary risks. This is what we're going to do," she said in a tone no one would consider challenging. "Will you follow my instructions exactly as I give them?"
I should have included Mama in our planning right from the beginning, but I was certain she would veto any hint of a trip. I was wrong. Mama's plan was airtight.
"Pets, come into the living room," Mama advised. "I have something to discuss with you."
We gathered around our owner. Coiley and Rachna were waiting for us when we came in. Several of Racha's hairy legs were resting on a curvy sand sculpture on top of the red brick fireplace. The Hissi was coiled comfortably on a purple Meowclops pillow, his head resting against the wall. Each gave the other a wide berth. I gave them both a big ghostly smile.
"I've been giving your trek a lot of thought," our owner began. "If there is a ghost trapped in that tomb and she is willing to have you rescue her, then I think you should. You must understand that she may not want to be rescued. From what you told me, Peo, if you use good judgment and take utmost care, you shouldn't have any problem. Now, it seems you have certain Abilities that work in conjunction with Fae's magic, but not very well.
These are my feelings in this matter, and I'm not open to discussion:
1. I believe Abilities are given only to those who wish to engage in battle in the Battledome. The Battledome is a place none of you will ever enter. If by sheer luck or magic or who knows what Peo and Fae have some other-worldly power that focuses in on those Abilities and bends them to their use outside of the Battledome, it is out of my hands.
2. Phan, Ally, you're staying here. Don't even think of arguing with me. That decision is final. You can't sew your way out of danger and you're too young to go on adventures. Stop the pouting and the tears. The answer is NO.
3. YB, you're not going either. You're immensely strong and I know you would be an asset to your brother and Fae. You'd also be the largest target in Geraptiku. You might as well paint a bullseye on your large Chomby backside. If someone has set ingenious traps, I don't see how you could avoid setting them off. I'm sorry, but my decision is final.
4. Peopeo447, I haven't forgotten about Krawk Island and should have grounded you. I trust you to always tell me the truth and will accept nothing less from you. Is that understood?
5. Rachna, you can attach Fae to Peo's jacket sleeve with strong, fine Spyder silk. Make it about six feet long. That way, they'll be close, but not trip over each other. It will be up to them to keep from tangling themselves up in it though.
6. Fae, when you get to the tomb, call out to the Ghost Faerie and talk to her. You must explain her intentions loudly and clearly. Peo, you call out to her too. Your voice is much louder than Fae's. Don't scare the ghost. Explain who you are and why you're there.
7. Peo, the emotion I believe you and Fae should work on is "anger." Get furious if it becomes essential for you to use one of your Abilities. Just don't count on it working. Use your head and come up with alternate plans.
8. If this Ghost Faerie can't or won't leave the tomb, allow her to make that decision. Keep your wits about you. She may be malevolent. Don't force her into anything and be especially careful she doesn't hurt Fae in order to have eternal company."
Our owner paused. Her throat constricted and tears filled her old brown eyes. It was against her better judgment to let the little Faerie go back to the tomb where the poachers left her for dead. There are no words to express how grateful I am that the only owner who ever loved me, trusts me.
Splash silently put Peopeo447's journal down. He was jealous that Cousin Peo could have these wonderful adventures, but not sure how brave he, himself, would be in Peo's shoes. He was angry that there were Neopians willing and able to cause misery and even death, but unable to do anything to help. He was happy that Peo was having a great time, but sad that Peo would never be truly alive. He handed the journal to his big sister, Ruach, for safe keeping, and then floated in the air to the lamp and doused the bedroom light.
To be continued...