Before the Fall: A Water Faerie Story
Ree woke up slowly. For a few seconds she found herself still caught up in the wonderful dream she'd been having, full of rainbows in the clouds. She opened her eyes, gazing at her pale blue ceiling without really seeing it. Then she realized that it was a work day. Her eyes flashed to her alarm clock. It was already nine. Groaning, she rolled out of bed and got dressed.
As she headed out the door of her aquatic neohome, a Maraquan Eyrie passed by.
"Excuse me!" Ree called. He stopped to look at her. "Could you fetch me a Tales from the Deep?" He sighed, giving her a look that clearly said, Why can't you get it yourself? and swam away with a flick of his tail.
And this is why I hate giving out quests to just anyone, she thought rebelliously as she locked the door behind her and swam off down the lane. It was a sunny morning, even here in her neighborhood, was below the surface of the ocean. She took her time gliding through the water and down the road. As she reached the Maraquan Notice Board, she spotted her best friend.
"Mari!" she called, waving.
"Ree!" Mari's voice, more bubbly than the fizzy drinks she loved, was high with excitement. "C'mere, you're late again! You have got to see this." She grabbed Ree by the arm and pulled her over.
A giant sign posted over most of the notices, eye-smarting white-on-red, proclaimed:
IMPORTANT MEETING IN FAERIE CITY FOR ALL FAERIES. TRANSPORTATION WILL BE PROVIDED TO ALL WATER FAERIES. MEET AT THE EDGE OF THE RUINS AT NOON FOR FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS.
"What kinda meeting?" Ree asked, confused.
"Who cares! We can finally see the city, Ree!" Mari exclaimed gleefully.
Ree and Mari, both Maraquan natives, had never seen the legendary Faerie City. Ree dreamed of what it would be like nearly every night. All the bright colors, the fluffy clouds, the Wheel of Excitement, and all the other faeries.
Unfortunately, it was the kind of trip only the richest of water faeries could afford. Both Ree and Mari originated from Old Maraqua, the poor end with dilapidated houses and hungry faeries. This could be their only chance to go on their dream visit.
"Aren't you excited?" Mari squealed.
"Of course!" Ree smiled at her companion. They set off to find Neopians and give out their daily quota of quests.
Because Ree and Mari, were fairly new to working quests, each had to give out at least thirty quests a day. Older, more experienced faeries in Faerieland worked the Faerie Quests station, receiving items that were then donated to the Money Tree, and giving out the rewards. The whole system had been dreamt up by Fyora years ago, and is still in place to this day.
As noon approached, the two faeries slipped into the Kelp kitchens to get a meal of leftovers from Maya, overseer of the kitchen. When no one else was able to help them and they were going hungry, it was Maya who had made sure they had enough to survive, and that they stayed in school. Maya had worked herself out of poverty when she was a girl.
"In a rush?" she asked pointedly while the two faeries scarfed down their lunch.
"Meeting. Faerieland. Noon," Mari mumbled around a mouthful.
At 12 o'clock sharp the two blonde girls swam into the small crowd of water faeries at the edge of the ruins, arriving out of breath.
"Oh, you're finally here!" a bossy faerie named Bexi called, seeing the two. "That's everyone."
"How are we gonna get up there?" This voice sounded like Nereid, a very quiet faerie Mari and Ree rarely saw.
Almost as if in an answer to her question, the water suddenly rushed around them. When it ceased, four figures clad in pale periwinkle surrounded the little crowd of water faeries.
"Air faeries!" Mari exclaimed. "Ree, real live air faeries! Oooh, this is so exciting!"
Ree could only stare, awed. The air faeries didn't look all that different from the water faeries she knew so well – same pale skin and blonde hair, if a little less colorful than the water faeries. The swirling air bubbles around their heads distinguished them more than anything else.
Slowly, the four air faeries lifted their hands. As they did, four towering walls of air slid down from the surface and boxed in the water faeries. The walls shifted and curved, forming a bubble around the faeries. The air faeries rose gracefully from the ocean floor as the water bubble rose with them.
"Ree," Mari whispered, "this is the best day ever."
Ree laughed giddily. Spinning in graceful circles, she started an old water faerie lullaby,
When the deepest waters boil
And your life is in turmoil
Let the gentle currents soothe you
Let a little magic flow through
Let your mind drift with the flow
And leave all your cares below
All eyes were on her, captivated. As she began to repeat the song, Mari joined in with her high soprano tones. Soon all the faeries were singing and dancing through the water.
Suddenly, the pull of the ocean on the bubble stopped, and it floated above the surface.
It was beautiful. Ree had never seen the sea from above; she had only heard tales from travelers about the beauty. Now she understood. The vast, endless plain of blue was enchanting.
"It's so pretty," Mari squeaked. She looked like she might cry.
Soon they ascended higher, and Ree could see the mainland and the islands that she and Mari sometimes visited. They, too, were picturesque.
Abruptly, they were plunged into cold dampness, with only white visible around them.
"What happened?" Ree cried, confused.
"We're in a cloud." Bexi was bobbing up and down in excitement. "We'll be able to see Faerieland in minutes."
Ree swam closer to the edge of the bubble, eyes wide.
And then it appeared. Gloriously clean, high, shiny buildings of pink brick. Clouds a paler shade of the bricks' pink hue. Giant fountains with crystal-clear water. It was so much more than beautiful.
"We're here!" Mari hugged Ree fiercely, this time actually sobbing. "We're here! We made it!"
Ree couldn't speak.
The bubble moved them to the largest, deepest fountain available. Several clouds poured water into other clouds to form a system of tiny waterfalls. As they got to the water, the bubble around them faded away, and the faeries splashed into the fountain. Ree swam to the surface, trying to find out what was happening. As soon as she emerged, something cold and wet slapped her on the forehead.
"Ow!" She felt her head, but couldn't tell what had hit her. She looked down into the water to see an electric blue teardrop just above her nose. She gasped. And then she realized that she was breathing air.
"How...?" She whispered.
"Magic," a low, warm voice informed her. Ree's head snapped up to find a tall, stately faerie in a familiar purple dress standing above her. The purple eyes and pale purple hair were even more familiar, the faintly tinted skin instantly recognizable. But it was the crown and staff that made her sure.
"Fyora," she said, attempting a curtsy—which, she learned, was rather difficult while half-in and half-out of a fountain.
The Queen smiled at the curtsy. Her eyes turned away from Ree for a minute, her hand flicked, and Ree watched as two hovering paint teardrops flung themselves at the foreheads of the other emerging water faeries.
The meeting began when Fyora had finished enchanting the water faeries, and they all could speak comfortably above the water.
"I've called you here to see if there is anyone willing to help me address a certain problem which the Neopian public has been complaining about. There also is another matter I wish to address, regarding something I've noticed in the past few months."
"First, there is the matter of the Rainbow Pool. As I'm sure you know, I enchanted the pool in Neopia Central several years ago. Since then, some colors have been discovered for pets, while the paint brushes for them have not been. Owners and pets alike are getting frustrated."
"My idea for a solution is to have a Rainbow Fountain, which will be similar to the Rainbow Pool. I will be selecting one faerie to manage the fountain. That faerie will be responsible for selectively giving quests out to users in exchange for a trip into the enchanted waters. This fountain will have colors available that the rainbow pool does not, and vice versa. Your opinions?"
"Brilliant," Bexi exclaimed.
"It's a wonderful idea, don't you think?" Ree whispered to Mari.
She jumped at the sound of Ree's voice. "Uh, yeah!"
"The other thing I've noticed is sickness among pets. Many pets that become sick cannot be healed at a low price. They remain sick while their owners attempt to raise the funds to cure them. I would like to enchant the springs over there," she pointed to the springs almost carelessly; most of the faeries turned to look, "and give them the property to heal pets. A faerie would guard the springs and make sure that everyone who needed to would have a chance to bathe in them."
"I brought you all here today because it is the water faeries that I need. You faeries know what it's like to be at home in the water all the time. If you are chosen, you will be given permanent markings like the ones on your heads now to allow you to breathe above water. This is a lifelong commitment."
"If you're interested, waterproof forms and pens are right here." She patted the pile of papers and the box beside her. "And I believe that is all. If you have a question, feel free to ask. I'd love for you to fill out the forms now. Once everyone's done you can go home. I'll be calling you all here again in three days time."
Ree and Mari both went up to get the applications. They dove to a small alcove under a cloud and filled out the papers. Most of the faeries were doing the same, either alone or in small groups.
All too soon, the last paper was turned in, the faeries crowded together once more, and the water bubble reappeared around them. The sun was just touching the ocean as they sank peacefully below the surface.
Three days later, the water faeries once again raced to the edge of the ruins as noon struck. Ree's stomach was a mass of butterflies, and she thought Mari looked more green-tinted than she should.
As the air faeries came down again and the bubble surrounded them, Ree felt her nervousness turn into sheer panic. What if she hadn't been chosen? What if she had? What if Mari got chosen instead of her for that dream job at the gorgeous fountain? The question bounced around the inside of her head, synchronizing with her bobbing movement in the water.
Too quickly, the bubble reached the same fountain. The teardrop smacked onto her head, allowing her to breathe above water. And there was Fyora, smiling slightly. Ree bobbed another curtsy, only slightly less awkward than the last one.
Once all the faeries had their teardrops, Fyora stepped up to announce her decision. Ree's panic increased.
"I spent a lot of time reading over your applications, and this decision was more difficult than many I've made while Queen. But I believe that I've made the right choice."
Ree's heart stopped. She couldn't believe it. All their lives they'd been best friends, always sharing and supporting each other, one always looking out and protecting the other. That was about to be gone forever.
"You will be the Healing Faerie."
Marina was gleeful as she swam forward to float beside the Queen.
A little better than what Ree had expected. But now her panic reached a new high. If she wasn't chosen, when would she ever see her best friend again? How would she cope?
She almost screamed in joy.
"You will be the Rainbow Fountain Faerie."
She glided forward, beside Marina, smiling so wide her face hurt.
"Marina," Fyora wasn't done. "These marks will allow you to forever speak and breathe above the surface. As a mark of this physical change, you shall now be called by your full name." Fyora siphoned off the teardrop and marked Marina's lips, eyelids and eyebrows with the bright blue paint. "This shell will allow you to control the healing properties of the Springs and help those in need." The Queen delicately placed the pretty pink shell in Marina's long blonde hair.
"Reenaia, these marks will allow you to forever speak and breathe above the water. To symbolize the physical change, you shall now be called Naia." The Queen left Naia's teardrop, turning to acquire fresh paint to mark her lips and eyelids. A funny tingle ran through Naia as the two marks under each eye were added. "This bracelet will allow you to control the magic in Rainbow Fountain, while this necklace will allow you to conceal its' powers from those you have not given a quest to." The Queen fastened the bracelet and necklace, both the same pretty shade of freshwater-blue. The Queen explained her confidence in them and their ability to do their duties.
All Naia could focus on was the fact that she had made it. She was a Faerieland faerie now, and no one could ever make her go back.
First NT story. (: A big thanks to Emmy (o0aeris0o) for all her help!