Daring to Fly
The morning outside her window was bright and crisp. A rain shower the night before had refreshed the plants and perked up the flowers in the planter on her sill. Vivi, a young Aisha, sat at her desk and admired the view. Sometimes she still found herself amazed by the sight - trees and grass and the call of birds. Faerieland had been on the ground for some time now yet it still felt strange.
Sighing, Vivi flipped open the book in front of her. With its spine well-worn it lay open easily and allowed her to scan the familiar words.
Vivi had never left Faerieland before. She wasn't like the others, coming and going as they pleased by the wings on their backs. The faeries had always told her growing up that she came to them from a comet; it had zoomed across the sky and down into the clouds, and there she was, curled up where it landed. That meant she had flown once too. Farther than any of them. She had flown through space and moon beams and sunlight. That is why her coat was tinted in those hues, blues, reds, and yellows.
She didn't believe in that story much anymore, though. It was kid stuff. What they had told her when she was sad, or when some other pet had picked on her for looking a bit different.
Then everything changed. It wasn't a time she liked to recall, although the reminders were all around her. Faerieland was no longer in the clouds. All the other lands she had grown up hearing about were suddenly nearer, right within her reach. All the days she had spent yearning to explore were over. And yet....
"Staying in again, Vivi?"
Vivi looked up from her desk to see Estella standing in the doorway of her room. She was an earth faerie, kind and caring, and had watched over Vivi all her life.
"Yes. I decided to read a book. I went to the castle, but Queen Fyora said there was nothing I could help with today."
Estella huffed, trying to hide a laugh. "You go almost every day. I am sure if there was something for you to help with, she'd let you know right away." Estella walked over, looking over Vivi's shoulder to see the book she had chosen. "Maraquan Faerie Tales? This must be your tenth time reading that book."
"Maybe." Vivi blushed a bit, quickly closing the book up.
"You know, Vivi..." Estella's voice turned gentle as she placed a hand on Vivi's shoulder. "It would be easy for you to go and see Maraqua yourself now."
Vivi shrugged. "I know. But it's alright. I'm happy to just read about it. I want to stay here, where I can help out."
"As you wish." Estella sighed, patting Vivi on the head before walking back toward the doorway. She turned, giving a last glace back at Vivi before leaving. "I hear the ruins are quite lovely in the spring when the water is cool and clear."
Then Vivi was again alone. Well, not totally. Sinclair, her pile of soot, looked at her with concerned eyes from his jar.
"Oh, not you too, Sinclair. I don't need every one worrying about me! Come on, let's go outside for a little while."
Vivi had settled under a tree with Sinclair by her side, carefully nestled in the grass so he wouldn't fall over. He seemed content to shift around in his jar and watch the branches above them blow in the wind. Vivi had picked another book to bring with her, still feeling slightly embarrassed about Estella's comment, but so far she hadn't even opened it.
She stretched her legs out, rubbing her feet against the grass. "Do you ever miss the clouds, Sinclair?"
"You're right. The grass is nice, too. Although kind of prickly sometimes."
Sinclair blinked again.
"I know." Vivi rolled her eyes. "I'm avoiding the subject. I don't wanna talk about how great it would be to swim among the Maraquan ruins. Or to climb the Shenkuu Mountains and touch the clouds again. Or star gaze in Altador." Vivi turned on her side to face Sinclair. "Definitely don't want to talk about it."
Sinclair bounced, giving a strange little chirp that he did when he got excited.
"You wanna go too, huh?"
All her life Vivi had dreamed of seeing those sights. She had grown up on stories, in books and from the faeries around her, all about the wonderful lands that were far below her floating home. She imagined putting on a pirate hat and sailing the seas, not coming home until she had seen every land and met each hero from those tall tales. Now that dream could be a reality.
And she was terrified.
"What if all those places aren't as great as I've always imagined? It would be so disappointing." Clutching the book tightly to her Vivi lowered her voice, almost a whisper. There was no one else in sight but Sinclair and still her cheeks burned. "Or what if I'm no good at being an adventurer. I could get scared, or lost, or a million other things..."
It was the one thing she never wanted to admit. What if she failed at her dream? The only dream she had held onto since she was small and she could mess it up. Do things wrong. Then where would she be? That kind of uncertainty and disappointment had kept her in Faerieland all this time. If she didn't try, then she couldn't fail.
Sinclair gave another cheep and flattened himself down to the bottom of his jar, looking at Vivi with sad eyes. She smiled, patting the jar lid. "Don't feel down on my account, Sinclair. It's alright. I'll... figure something out. Maybe there is a faerie spell for courage."
That night all Vivi did was toss and turn. She had never been one to have trouble sleeping, but when it was time to get up, she felt like she had never gone to bed at all. With a groan, she pulled the covers over her head, curling into them. She knew she couldn't fall back to sleep, but she didn't want to get up either. A nervous flutter had taken up camp in her stomach and she was sure a family of buzzers had crawled in there while she was asleep.
A very annoyed chirp from her desk finally got her to pull the covers down from her face. Sinclair was practically rocking his jar back and forth trying to get her attention.
"Alright, bud, hang on. Breakfast coming right up."
Slowly Vivi set about her morning routine. Very slowly. The night before as she had relaxed in bed she had come to a decision. That was probably why she slept so terribly, and why she was moving at a slugawoo's pace right now. By the time she finally got around to feeding Sinclair, he looked ready to bite her as she put the food in his jar.
"Sorry, Sinclair. I'm just nervous is all. I need to go find Estella and talk to her, but I really... don't want to. But I do. I don't know."
Sinclair didn't look ready to forgive her just yet, but as he nibbled on his snack he gave her a quick cheep of encouragement. That made Vivi smile.
"Thanks. When I come back, I should have good news! Hopefully."
Vivi set out into Faerieland. Estella wasn't always the easiest to find. She had many duties and helped out all over the kingdom, but today Vivi had a good idea of where she might find her. There was supposed to be a big clean up organized by the water faeries today of the lakes and rivers in Faerieland. Having leaves and twigs clogging up the Rainbow Fountain and Healing Springs was a new challenge to face, and until they found a more magical solution there was an effort like that every month or so.
First she traveled out of the city and to the great lake that lay in front of it. Luck was on her side and Vivi was glad that she wouldn't have to wander long, already spotting Estella at the water's edge talking to a few other faeries. She approached but hung back for a moment, half because she didn't want to interrupt and half out of nerves. Finally she found her voice.
Estella turned to look and when she saw who it was, she gave a wave to the faeries, parting from their company and walking to Vivi. "Hello, my dear. Come to help?"
"Er, sure. Yeah. I can help. But first I wanted to ask something."
Looking over the Aisha, Estella frowned. She could tell the girl was tired and she wasn't used to seeing her look so unsure, back slumped and shoulders tucked in. "Is something wrong?"
"No! No." Vivi was quick to answer which only made Estella's brow furrow more. She took a deep breath before speaking again. "I was just wondering. If, hypothetically, I wanted to go to Maraqua... could you maybe help me plan my trip? Hypothetically."
Just as quickly as she had frowned, a smile started to spread on Estella's face. She tried to hide it, keeping her tone neutral. She had been waiting for this moment, probably as long as Vivi herself, and she wasn't about to scare the girl out of the idea with her own enthusiasm. "Of course. Thinking about going?"
Vivi was quiet for a moment. Once she said it out loud there was no taking it back. Not if Estella had anything to do with it. It was now or never. It felt like her lungs had shriveled up and stopped working, but finally, she found her voice.
"Yes. I am."
What happened next Vivi certainly hadn't been expecting. Estella let out a loud whoop, throwing her hands in the air. "Our girl is finally gonna spread her wings!"
As Estella wrapped her arms around Vivi in a tight hug the other faeries around them cheered and clapped. Vivi's dream of adventure was no secret to all of Faerieland.
"I didn't know everyone would be so excited. More so than me, I think." Vivi laughed, squeezing Estella and allowing herself to be smothered. The faerie didn't seem like she would be ready to let go any time soon.
"Oh Vivi, I have been waiting for this day since Faerieland dropped out of the sky. It was one bright spot I focused on, that you could now do what you've always wanted to. Everyone else thought the same."
"Is that true? I never knew you cared so much. You'd mention it, but you never harassed me about it... like you do so many other things."
That earned her a flick on the ear from a laughing Estella. "Hey now. I'm not that bad. I couldn't do that, though. The other faeries and I would do anything for you, you know that. But this was something you had to do yourself. It's your dream isn't it? So I knew when you were ready, you would come to me."
"Sorry it took so long, then."
Estella finally let go of Vivi, looking at her with a smile. "Better late than never, right? Come on. Let's start that planning! Hey, after Maraqua, how about a quick stop to Mystery Island? I'd love some fresh tropical fruit."
As Estella practically dragged Vivi away, the Aisha wondered what she had gotten herself into.