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the healing springs


by pandora

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she is lovely, a braid of bones, with golden wings ribboned round her shoulder-blades. her honey-brown hair falls like summer, threaded into a triangle of white-scarlet, her palms emerging from under thick, candy-cotton sleeves. conch-pearl powder skims the haggard, ashen rings that fall just above her lashes, and as she stirs into the ashen pot, sweat beading into her brows, you decide she is the most beautiful, kindred faerie.

     you wish to be just like her, to attain this beauty that transcends lacy, faerie-dust dresses and petty quests. you yearn to nourish neopia, with kindness, with the graceful gentility that glimmers brightly beneath the sleeplessness of the soup-faerie's eyes.

     you wish, you wish, you wish-

     x

     you are a faerie of the sea; it is not long before you slip from the market-place rivers and return to the oceans of maraqua, the salt and shells welcoming you home, as they twist into your sunswept tangles. the waters are thick with life, with power, and you have been twirling through miles of sand and seaweed when a blur of blue and white is caught in the web of your gaze. you swim closer, closer, squinting to clear your glossy vision; there is a winged koi, with glittering jewel-scales, glaring up at an ivory jetsam. the jetsam raises a fin, the koi's eyes narrowing into slits of stardust; before you blink, they are at battle. it is only as they crash into each other at blinding speeds that you realize that this is maraqua's water-arena, its battledome.

     the koi is fragile as she looks; it is not long before she has fallen, brokenly dipping into the ground. the jetsam, victorious, flashes a razor-sharp grin, her miles of teeth curving into a wide smile. you stare, open-mouthed, open-hearted, unaccustomed to the sudden hollowness of your form, the trembling of your lips. you remain in your spot, hiding behind the emerald sea-brush, for several moments before you start swiping at your eyes.

     you cannot make soup from faerie-tears. crying helps no one. the soup faerie is the savior of the poor; you, you are the heroine of the weak.

     you dart to the koi's side instantly, easing her tired form upwards. she stares at you from beneath heavy lids, and you smile gently, murmuring, "let me help you," in your high, heady soprano.

     a grateful expression sweeps over her features, and you smile- smile as you hum the healing melodies, smile as your magic glows from just beneath her shimmering, paper-scales, smile as she swims away and you feel like you've just clambered throughout the entirety of the sea, like you have climbed the highest mountain in neopia, like you have sung the most beautiful song.

     the healing waters thrum like music in your veins, and it is not until that moment that you feel truly alive.

     x

     all water-faeries can heal. they are neopia's unsung protectors, what with their tremulous, lilting voices and gentle, mending spells. you have always known the basic cures, known how to dress the lightest wounds. but suddenly (tumultuously, beautifully, quickly, excitingly) that is not enough anymore; you want to be the best. there is only one soup faerie; there are thousands of healing faeries. but you, you will be the best, and that will be-

     (wonderful, amazing, unimaginably lovely-)

     -enough.

     x

     the world works in mysterious ways, and you find yourself in neopia central again. you slip into the little vein of ponds, reserved for water-faeries and aquatic pets, and thread your way to the book shop. there you bundle all the books that you can manage into your lithe, doll-arms, smiling sweetly at the confused passerby.

     "why doesn't she send pets on quests to get those books for her?"

     "i've never seen a faerie so close up before, mama!"

     "isn't she beautiful?"

     you are beaming all the way to the hospital, where you study cures and diseases and practice by healing more than a few sick neopets. there is a delicious thrumming in your fingertips, where the cool, healing magic glows from. you can almost feel your dreams, right in your palm, right beneath your nail-beds, dotting over the lines of your skin and singing in your veins.

     you will be the best. you will be the soup faerie of the sea.

     x

     you rarely sleep. you have a little shell-framed garden made of sea-curls and herbs that you call your home. sick pets and water-faeries crowd your healing sanctuary, and after years and years of reading and practice and sweat and tired-tears, you are soothing illnesses and lacing wounds together like some sort of ethereal queen. maraqua is never sick, maraqua is never injured. maraqua has become a haven because of you.

     but what of the neopia above the sea? many water-faeries have learned several of your healing spells, but none of them are strong enough to journey land. there is only you.

     and so, leaving maraqua's health to your apprentices, you leave-

     x

     -and never do return.

     faerieland is something like utopia. even the faeries of darkness have lingering traces of kindness, and you decide that from this grand cloud-castle, you will heal.

     you start small, claiming a patch of pond-water as your own and mending and soothing and singing away every inch of pain your palms circle around. it takes time; in faerieland, the water-faeries spend lifetimes refining spells and cures, and suddenly, you are not the best anymore.

     it stings for a moment. but a moment is all it takes to remember the soup-faerie, with her fawn-hair and her kindness that did not stem from the want of fame or fortune. there is no "best" or "worst" when it comes to helping others.

     and so when a water-faerie swims towards your pond, younger, stronger, and prettier than you, with a bright wound on her arm, you smile and whisper the words of the cure, before you teach her the spell for herself.

     x

     you have lived many, many years by the time your pond has evolved into a spring. you have no name for the soothing waterfalls, but the one cycling around neopia is the "healing springs"; you are dedicated and determined and so pets and faeries come from all over for you. the sick and wounded are always welcome; you rarely sleep. you rarely eat. you always, always are healing-

     -and there are dark rims powdering the bottoms of your eyes and your wrists are thin as china-bones and you still heal. you will always heal. you love to heal and you have become the soup faerie of the skies, the soup faerie of the sick.

     you are busier than you used to be, but it does not matter, because you, in the end, have finally cupped your dreams into your hands. you have won.

     x

     you cannot leave your spring. you are needed. so you never really do return to maraqua, you never do visit the soup kitchen again. but you often tell the pets you heal about your hero, the soup faerie. you tell them about how you wished to help, to heal, to make a difference. and one day, years and years later, a blue usul with a bruise on her cheek comes to your springs.

     you heal the purple bloom easily. she smiles, shyly whispering, "thank you."

     you return her smile warmly. "my pleasure."

     she does not leave, and remains planted in place for a few moments, her pondering evident in the ocean of her eyes. finally, she hands you the cloth-wrapped package in her hands, saying, "for you"

     you raise a quizzical eyebrow, and allow the gift to be placed into the lines of your palms. it is warm, and when you peel away the white cover, you cannot hide your surprise. "soup?" you ask, perplexed.

     she nods daintily. "from the soup faerie."

     and you cannot help it; even when the usul is long gone, and countless pets and faeries come in injured crowds, your smile does not subside.

The End

 
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