A Faerie Tale: Part Five
Avresi's ship rocked quietly on the ocean, following the shoreline south from Meridell. Our next destination was the Lost Desert. We would find the fourth Draik Egg there before returning to Krawk Island to find the last. Our journey was nearing its end. Yet I didn't feel the least ways excited or accomplished.
All I could think about was Sunrise, about the betrayal on her face as the Pirates surrounded us in the Meridell marketplace, about how I'd done nothing to stop them from taking her away.
We stopped around midnight, Avresi letting his boat come to rest along Faerieland's shoreline. In the distance, further out to sea, I could just see, in the moonlight, the outline of an island not far offshore. Sunrise's island. Where the Balthazar was now, bottling the Faeries she'd tried so hard to protect. The thought made me ill.
"Hey, you alright?"
Starting, I turned to see Avresi surveying me. Quickly, I nodded, averting my gaze. I didn't particularly want to talk about it, especially not with Belinda's dark glare fixed on me.
When my companions finally drifted off to sleep, I remained awake, staring over the ocean at the distant island. Finally, I could stand it no longer. Standing abruptly, paying no heed to whether or not the rocking of the ship woke my companions, I went ashore, heading swiftly for the crater in which Faerieland rested.
I don't know how long my feet carried me, or how far, but at last they allowed me to sink to the ground beside a small copse of trees. The trees bordered a pool of turquoise water, and I stared out over this pool, watching the moonlight twinkle on its surface, letting my thoughts consume me.
It was a moment before I became aware of her light. It flickered like flames on the surface of the pool as she fluttered towards me, hovering before my beak, head tilted curiously as we surveyed each other.
"What is the matter, Fire Eyrie?" the Fire Faerie inquired. "Why do your flames not burn brightly tonight?"
I couldn't help but to smile at the sight of the Faerie. I have a particular fondness of Fire Faeries. They are, after all, how I got my fiery coloring. But that is another tale for another time.
"It's a long story," I said quietly, in response to the Fire Faerie's query.
"I have time," the Fire Faerie said, settling herself upon a branch above me.
And so it came to be that I related the whole story of spying Sunrise with Dardyn and Carvar in Smugglers Cove, to meeting her at the Ice Caves, to losing her to Carvar's schemes in Meridell.
The Fire Faerie was quiet when I finished, considering my words. "I don't understand," she said finally, bracing her hands on the branch and leaning curiously towards me. "Why don't you help her?"
"I..." I trailed off, realizing that I wasn't quite certain of the answer myself. "I lost the opportunity to help her, didn't I? I don't know where Carvar brought her. And besides, even if I could find her, she doesn't trust me now."
"Perhaps I can help," the Fire Faerie suggested.
My hopes rose at the Fire Faerie's words. If she thought there was a way she could help then maybe, just maybe, I would be able to find Sunrise.
Taking back to the air, the Fire Faerie gestured for me to follow. "Come on."
She led me past the thicket of trees, to and down a cobblestone road, until she came to a halt at last, at the edge of a small pool of water.
This pool was as turquoise as the first. The difference was the single great tree standing beside the pool. The tree was old, its trunk knotted and grey. In spite of this, I could tell immediately that there was something special about the tree. Wisps of silver cloud clung to its trunk, and high in the branches, a single lantern glowed, casting its dim light upon the pool. From somewhere in the lofty leaves, a trickle of water fell, gleaming in a rainbow of colors as it passed through the light of the lantern.
"Where are we?" I started to ask the Fire Faerie, when a movement in the pool caught my attention. As I watched, a Water Faerie rose from the pool, her hair streaked with blue, her dress as turquoise and shimmering as the water.
"Why do you approach my waters, Fire Eyrie?" the Water Faerie inquired.
"He seeks a way to help his friend," the Fire Faerie answered for me. "Her trust was betrayed and he seeks a way to earn it back." And she explained my situation.
The Water Faerie surveyed me carefully once her fellow Faerie was finished speaking. I tried not to squirm under her gaze, though it was hard not so, she watched me so thoughtfully.
"I see." The Water Faerie drifted away from the shore, her delicate hands softly moving through the water. "You have a difficult task ahead of you, Fire Eyrie. My help will be minimal. The rest you must discover on your own."
"Of course," I agreed softly. "I'd appreciate any help you can give."
Nodding, the Water Faerie dove beneath the surface of the pool. When she returned, it was with a flask marked with rings of color in hand.
"Take this," the Water Faerie said, holding the flask out to me. "It will help."
"What am I supposed to do with this?" I asked, staring into the liquid inside the flask. It shimmered in a rainbow of colors, shifting like the misty clouds that hovered about the elderly tree.
"If you cannot gain the Peophin's trust, perhaps another shall," the Fire Faerie proposed.
Confused, I looked between the Faeries then back into the shimmering water in the flask. Slowly, as I watched the rainbow of colors, I came to a realization.
This was no ordinary Water Faerie. This was the Fountain Faerie, and the pool of water her Rainbow Fountain. The trickle of water that came from the old tree was the source of her magic, tired and dried up after a day of visits from various Neopets. The water in the flask must have been saved from earlier in the day, when the magic was still running strong.
"You want me to use this on myself?" I questioned slowly. "To change my color?"
I have to admit, the suggestion made me unhappy, even if it could, possibly, give me the ability to rescue Sunrise. Lucky for me, both Faeries shook their heads.
"Reach into your pocket," the Fire Faerie urged gently.
I did as she asked. To my surprise, I pulled from my pocket the Blue Draik Egg.
"You want me to use the water on the Draik?" I asked. "But I would have to return to Meridell to hatch it. I don't have time for that."
"The magic of the Rainbow Fountain may help," the Fountain Faerie suggested. "Try."
Hesitantly, afraid that the Faeries would be wrong and the water would go to waste, I set the Blue Draik Egg in the shallow waters of the pool. Tilting the flask above the water, I poured it slowly over the Egg.
At first, nothing happened. Then slowly, ever so slowly, the Egg began to change. Its color lightened, turning as turquoise as the pool. Blue spots appeared on its surface. Then a crack split its top, spreading gradually, branching out, until at last, the shell fell away, leaving a small Faerie Draik sitting in the water.
Raising its head, the little Draik shook the moisture from its head, its wings slowly unfurling, spreading so that they dazzled in the starlight. Blinking her bright blue eyes, she looked up at me and the Faeries with a curious gaze, the tiny whiskers on the sides of her long muzzle quivering.
"Hello, little one," the Fountain Faerie greeted the Draik gently, drifting closer to her. "I know you just awoke, but I'm afraid your help is needed. A fellow Faerie is in danger."
Tilting her head, her large ears twitching, the little Draik nodded her understanding. "Wha... what do you need me to do?" she asked slowly. Her voice was quiet and tentative, as if she were uncertain of the integrity of the sounds.
"I will find some friends, and we will locate the ship and Faerie Peophin," the Fire Faerie said, rising into the air. "Then you and your new Draik friend can free her."
The little Draik turned to me, beaming, seeming very pleased with the suggestion that I was her friend. Unable to argue, I prompted gently, "What can I call you?"
The Draik stuck her tongue from the side of her mouth, appearing to consider my question carefully. "Tazyah," she said finally, nodding decisively. "You can call me Tazyah."
"Tazyah," I repeated, smiling. "I like it. Come on then, let's get you dried off while we wait."
The Fire Faerie returned within the hour, accompanied by several other Faeries. I sat up immediately against the tree I rested against as they drifted lightly from the sky. Tazyah, who'd hung upside-down by her tail from one of the branches of the tree, dropped down beside me, curiously watching the approaching Faeries.
"They are northeast of Faerieland, in the bay," the Fire Faerie informed me.
I couldn't help but to shake my head wistfully at the news. I knew what bay the Fire Faerie spoke of. We'd sailed past it though Avresi had wanted to dock the boat there for the night. Belinda was probably aware that this is where Carvar planned to dock for the night and purposely avoided the bay, telling the Baby Gelert to dock on the eastern shore of Faerieland instead.
"And Sunrise...?" I pressed.
"Locked in one of the boat's cabins," the Fire Faerie replied.
"Thank you," I told the Faeries. They nodded their acknowledgement and drifted off. Once they were gone, I turned to Tazyah. "Are you ready?"
The little Draik nodded.
Together, we took to the air, heading northeast. Within minutes, the bay came into view, along with Carvar's ship.
"Stay close," I called, as we flew above the sandy shoreline.
I saw Tazyah nod again out of the corner of my eye. Willing the flames on my wings to extinguish themselves, I swooped down upon the ship, landing lightly on the deck.
Tazyah didn't follow. Together, we'd worked out a plan while we awaited the Fire Faerie's return. She would be clinging to the side of the ship now, out of sight of any Pirates that might be keeping watch over the ship. There were several that I'd seen whilst descending upon the ship, but they were not in my line of sight at the moment, nor I in theirs, and with the flames on my wings burnt out, they were unlikely to have seen me boarding the ship. I reignited the flames now, unperturbed by the thought that I would be drawing attention to myself – that was exactly what I wanted to do.
Only, before I got a chance, I found a sword pointed up under my beak.
He appeared so suddenly, I hadn't a chance to prepare myself. I hadn't seen him from the air in spite of his Magma glow and supposed that he must've been sleeping curled up amongst the barrels and ropes lined up along the back railing of the ship.
"Dardyn, right?" I inquired carefully of the Magma Hissi.
"What are you doing here?" the Hissi demanded, ignoring my question. He kept his voice quiet, much to my surprise, as if he were fearful of alerting the Pirates to my presence without first knowing my intentions.
"You haven't answered my question," I replied lightly. "Why should I answer yours?"
My response seemed to irritate the Hissi. Still, he didn't call for the Pirates, as I'd expected him to.
"Are you here to help Sunrise?"
Startled by the question, I eyed the Hissi suspiciously for a moment before nodding slowly. Dardyn lowered his sword in response.
"Then I'm not going to stop you."
I saw no lie in the Hissi's eyes. He regretted what he'd done, I was sure of it. And yet, it was too late for him to regain Sunrise's trust, just as it was too late for me to.
"You're going to want to get out of here then," I said, glancing in the direction in which I knew those Pirates that were keeping watch to be.
Dardyn hesitated. "Why?" he asked warily. "What are you planning on doing?"
"Unless you want to be part of it, you'd better do as I ask."
Without waiting for his response to this, I raised my paws and released a burst of fire into the air.
All at once, the Pirates were shouting and Dardyn was fleeing, making himself scarce before the Pirates came running. They took one look at me then pulled out their swords, shouting for Carvar.
I had no intention of allowing Carvar to catch me. Darting to the collection of barrels and ropes in which I suspected Dardyn had been sleeping, I set them aflame with a flick of my paw. Confident that this would keep at least some of the Pirates occupied, I took to the air, flying for the bow of the ship.
Several of the Pirates met me there. One, an irritable looking Kougra, stepped towards me, threatening to pin me against the railing with his sword. "What do you think you're doing?" he demanded with a snarl.
I merely shrugged in response. "Having some fun," I replied casually. Then I pulled a sword of my own from my pocket.
I wouldn't be able to hold them off for long, I knew, but all I had to do with give Tazyah enough time to find and release Sunrise. So I slashed and blocked and jabbed with my sword, fending the Pirates off more often than I drove them back, until one of the blades cut far too close to me for my liking. It was just as well anyway; out of the corner of my eye, I could see Carvar emerging from one of the cabins, his eyes immediately turning in my direction.
Sliding the sword back into my pocket, I swept my wings downward with enough force to propel myself up onto the railing. Then I dove into the ocean below.
I hit the water hard, instantly extinguishing the flames on my wings. I felt cold without the presence of the fire, but I'm a strong swimmer and I felt confident that I would be able to get far enough from the ship to be safe once I came up for a breath. Not that any of the Pirates would be able to spot me in the dark water anyway, what with my flames not burning like a beacon.
Using my paws and wings together to propel myself through the water, I managed to exit the bay, coming to shore on the eastern edge of Faerieland. Flopping back into the sand, I struggled to catch my breath, all the while wondering if Tazyah had managed to free Sunrise.
I got my answer shortly. The sound of wings alerted me to their presence first. Then they touched down in the sand only a couple of dozen yards from where I lay. I was concealed from their gazes only by a cluster of rocks that lay in the sand between us. Remaining silent, I listened as they spoke.
"I don't know how to thank you," Sunrise was saying.
"There's no need to thank me," Tazyah replied, giggling. "You did most of it yourself."
"I was waiting for a distraction," Sunrise told her. "I knew once no one was watching, I could unlock the door and escape. Something tells me you know what provided the distraction?"
I heard Tazyah giggling some more. She didn't answer. It was part of our plan, I reflected grimly. The Faerie Draik was not to tell Sunrise that I'd been involved in her escape. I'd involved myself enough with her, I realized. I'd sacrificed a lot in order to help her, though I barely knew her. It was time I saw for certain that this was the last I saw of her, for the good of us both.
"Where will you go now?" Tazyah inquired curiously.
"Back to my island," Sunrise replied. "I know Carvar will suspect that I will do just that, but I can't leave the Faeries to Balthazar. Besides, my owner will be worried about me."
"Owner?" Tazyah inquired, while my heart sank. Sunrise had an owner. I wouldn't have guessed it, though I ought to have. Somehow, the news made me more certain than before that this should be the last time I saw her.
"Don't you have an owner?" Sunrise pried gently.
Though I couldn't see her, I knew Tazy shook her head.
I could hear the frown in Sunrise's voice at this response. "Well, we can't have that, can we?" She was quiet, as if considering the dilemma. When she spoke again, I knew she was smiling at the young Draik. "Why don't you come home with me? I'm sure my owner can find a place for you..."
Tazyah was squealing and throwing her arms about Sunrise before she'd finished speaking. I couldn't help but to smile. This had worked out well for both Faeries.
Laughing, Sunrise gently pushed the little Draik away. "Alright, alright... let's get you home then, Tazyah."
I listened to the gentle sound of the Faeries' wings as they took to the air. There was a smile on my face, I could feel it. A melancholy smile, but a smile nonetheless. Rising to my paws, I headed further down the shore, towards where Avresi's boat floated.
Belinda was awake and waiting for me when I arrived, dripping wet and covered in sand. Her arms were crossed, her foot tapping in the sand, and her scowl darker than I'd ever seen it.
"Where have you been?"
I didn't answer her. I didn't need to answer, she already knew. There was nothing she could do about it now, it was already done.
The sun was rising on the horizon, turning the sky an orange-red. Climbing wearily onto the deck of the boat, I flopped onto my back, rousing Avresi with the rocking. When Belinda boarded after me, standing above me, looking down at me with that same demanding scowl, I merely grinned at her.
"Come on, Belinda. Let's get those last two Draik Eggs."
To be continued...