Faeries Can Wear Jeans?
Dedicated to my family, and Isi, who inspired this story.
She walked through Brightvale, her only possessions the clothes she was wearing, a walking stick, and a hiking backpack. People might have dismissed her as just another hiker or quester- except for the bright orange wings on her back and the Werelupe by her side.
"Mommy, who's that?" she heard more than one small child whisper.
"Is that a fire faerie?" some people muttered. "Why's her hair blue?"
"What's she doing with a Werelupe?" wondered many others.
"Faeries can wear jeans?" blurted out one Quiggle, staring at her in astonishment.
She had to smile at all of their questions, especially the last one. She knew she was an unusual faerie: she'd dyed her hair blue though a fire faerie, she had glasses, she preferred jeans over dresses. And having a Werelupe for a pet would have been unusual for anyone, but especially for a faerie, as Werelupes and faeries were enemies. Then again, Zaanko wasn't like most Werelupes, a fact she had discovered when he saved her from certain death at the hands of his brethren...
Koph, daughter of Adryana, started, and looked up to see her teacher, an air faerie named Caoimhe, looming over her with her hands on her hips.
"Do you not care to learn how to properly arrange flower bouquets?" she asked. Koph replied without thinking, "Not really, no."
The look on Caoimhe's face was priceless. The whole class dissolved into laughter. Realizing that she must have sounded quite cheeky, Koph tried to explain herself, "I mean, there's really no point, is there? I don't plan to work in a flower shop or anything, so why bother learning how to arrange flowers? I mean..."
"Just stop while you're ahead, Koph," snickered the dark faerie sitting behind her, Ciara.
"Seriously, what a dork," agreed Ciara's friend, a fire faerie named Enat. Koph growled and turned towards them, raising a fist threateningly, "Call me a dork one more time and see what..."
"Koph! No threatening in class! The same goes for name-calling, Ciara and Enat!" added Caoimhe.
"Busted!" snickered someone.
Caoimhe shot the person a stern look, and resumed teaching. Koph managed to look like she was paying attention this time, but in her mind she was miles away exploring Neopia, wishing she could be anywhere but here.
A lot of Neopians would love to be a faerie. Koph would love to be anything BUT a faerie. Sure, she could fly, and the powers were awesome, but she also had to suffer through boring classes- besides the usual reading, writing, and arithmetic, faeries also had to learn ways to "benefit and/or beautify Neopia"- and the complicated politics of Faerieland court. And if one was different from other faeries, like Koph, one was teased mercilessly by their peers.
When Caoimhe finally dismissed the class, Koph flew- literally- out of the door.
"WHEW! FREEDOM!" she shouted, punching the air triumphantly. "FREEDOM FOR THE WIN!"
"'For the win'? What are you, a geeky human?" asked a voice behind her. Koph turned and saw Ciara and Enat sneering at her.
"What do you want?" snapped Koph.
"Uncivilized as ever, I see," snorted Ciara, rolling her eyes. "Enat and I were talking-"
"Yeah, you seem to do that a lot."
"-and we got into a disagreement about you."
"What? You couldn't decide if I was a geek or a nerd?" Koph asked sarcastically.
"Actually, we couldn't decide about your courage. See, I think that you're all bark and no bite. Enat disagrees. She says that all fire faeries are plucky, including you. So we were wondering if you would settle the matter by doing something for us..."
"I'll gladly punch you, if that's what you're asking."
"Don't be ridiculous," Ciara scoffed. "We want you to spend a night in the Haunted Woods."
Koph gawked at her. The Haunted Woods? Was the dark faerie insane? Even though they were now neighbors, Queen Fyora had advised against any faerie going into the Haunted Woods. So many of the faeries' enemies- evil sorcerers, Werelupes, the Dark faerie Fiona, etc.- lived there.
"Of course," said Ciara, smirking. "If you're too much of a coward to do it, I'll understand..."
On the other hand, Fyora had only ADVISED against going there... she hadn't specifically FORBIDDEN it... and besides, her honor was at stake here. What was the worst that could happen?
"Oh, no, I'm going. I'll bring you back some souvenirs to prove it," said Koph. Ciara looked taken aback, then smirked again. "Fine. It's your decision."
She might as well have said "it's your funeral".
Koph shook her head as she remembered. Why had she taken that dare? Talk about headstrong and foolish. Oh, well. A lot of good had wound up coming from it, including Zaanko and the courage to head out on her own.
Zaanko made some whining noises.
"Huh? What is it, Zaanko?"
He looked up at her pitifully and licked his lips.
"Oh. Hungry, huh? Hang on a second." Koph reached into her backpack and pulled out a steak. She tossed it to the Werelupe, who swallowed it in one gulp. He barked happily. Koph laughed and patted his head, "You're welcome."
By now the two were out of the village and had entered the forest that separated Meridell from Brightvale. Koph checked her map and let out a sigh. It was going to be a while yet before she reached her destination. This was way more boring than her journey in the Haunted Woods. Then again, that adventure had had more trouble in it as well...
Before she could talk herself out of going, Koph bought a hiking backpack and filled it with some food and two changes of clothes. She also took along a wooden blocking shield and a sword, several healing potions, and a dark gray cloak to conceal her wings with.
She flew about half of the way, then put on the cloak and walked the other half. By the time she reached the Haunted Woods, the sun had almost completely disappeared.
Koph lowered the hood of her cloak and gawked at the scenery around her. No wonder they called this place the Haunted Woods. Even though it was spring, the trees around her were covered in dead leaves, and random moans and screams came from every direction. Add that to the gloomy darkness and the evil aura permeating the entire wood, and this place truly screamed 'Place of Evil'.
Koph shivered as a cold gust of wind blew around her, then she pulled her hood back up and kept walking, making extra sure that her wings were completely hidden.
Her instincts were screaming at her to go to the gypsy camp or Neovia and spend the whole night safe and sound there, but she refused to take the coward's way out. She wanted to go to a few sites like the Brain Tree and the Deserted Fairground before she headed for shelter.
She headed for the Brain Tree first, deciding that she'd start at the back of the woods and make her way "up" to either the gypsy camp or Neovia. Along the way she saw several strange sites, including some ghost meepits scurrying by, an angry witch chasing a running nose (literally, a nose that was running away) and a hunched-over, warty old Techo cooing over a ring and referring to it as "my precious". Twice she thought she heard footsteps and a low growl behind her, but she dismissed it as imagination.
Finally she heard a booming voice up ahead, and a moment later saw a tree with red eyes, a mouth, and a giant, orange, pulsating brain where leaves should have been.
Koph was both disgusted and fascinated. She lowered her hood and slowly walked up to the Brain Tree as it argued with a red Mynci.
"I GROW TIRED OF ALL THESE WRONG ANSWERS!" the tree was yelling.
"That answer wasn't wrong! It's the same one I gave you the last time you asked me that question!"
"THE ANSWER IS DIFFERENT THIS TIME!"
"SO NOW YOU'RE CALLING ME, WHO KNOWS ALL, UNINTELLIGENT?!"
"Oh, you know all, huh? Then why the heck do you bother asking people things-"
The yellow Xweetok standing beside the Mynci slapped her hand over his mouth.
"Wingreski, we don't argue with our elders. Especially when they can get us banned from the Haunted Woods for up to 24 hours," the Xweetok hissed into his ear. She addressed the Brain Tree, "I'm sorry about him, sir. We'll go seek out the correct answer now."
"YOU HAVE THIRTY MINUTES!" boomed the Brain Tree. The Xweetok nodded, and walked away, never taking her hand off of the Mynci's mouth.
The Brain Tree muttered something about "crazy Elbuorts", then boomed, "AND WHAT IS YOUR BUSINESS WITH ME, YOUNG FAERIE?"
"What in the name of Fyora- how did you know I was a faerie?!" blurted out Koph, shocked.
"IT IS OBVIOUS BY ONE LOOK AT YOUR FACE."
"How? I mean, I assumed people would think I was just a human-"
"HUMANS DO NOT HAVE POINTED EARS OR ORANGE EYES. IF YOU'RE GOING TO DISGUISE YOURSELF AS A HUMAN, BE MORE THOROUGH. WHY ARE YOU EVEN HERE? IT IS NOT GOOD FOR FAERIES TO COME TO THESE WOODS, ESPECIALLY AFTER NIGHTFALL," added the Brain Tree.
"To make a long story short, I'm here on a dare," sighed Koph.
"SO YOU'RE HERE TO ENSURE THAT NO ONE WOUNDS YOUR PRIDE? YOU'RE MORE FOOLISH THAN THE ELBUORT BOY, THEN."
Koph didn't know who the "Elbuort boy" was, but she knew an insult when she heard one.
"Foolish, am I? Then I guess you don't need my help in your quest for knowledge," snapped the fire faerie, and started to walk away.
"A WERELUPE IS STALKING YOU," the tree called. Koph froze, and turned back, "What did you say?"
"A WERELUPE IS STALKING YOU. I SAW THE SILLOHUETE OF ONE FOLLOWING YOU RIGHT BEFORE I SPOKE AND SCARED IT AWAY."
"That's ridiculous," said Koph, recovering from her fear. "Why would a Werelupe stalk me?"
"FAERIES AND WERELUPES ARE NATURAL ENEMIES-"
"But the only way to tell that I'm a faerie is by looking at my face, and my hood has been pulled up until I approached you. I think you're lying to get me to go back to Faerieland with my tail between my legs."
"WHAT REASON WOULD I HAVE TO LIE TO YOU, CHILD? I SIMPLY DO NOT WISH TO SEE THE UNSAVORY DENIZENS OF THESE WOODS TAKE YET ANOTHER VICTIM. EVEN ONE AS HEADSTRONG AND TEMPERMENTAL AS YOU."
"I am NOT temperamental! And I made a pledge to stay here all night, and I'm going to fulfill that pledge, Werelupe or not!" snapped Koph, storming away. The Brain Tree shouted something about how foolish and childish she was being, but she tuned him out.
However, though she tried to ignore it, one thought kept coming back: if a Werelupe wasn't stalking her, where were the strange footsteps and growling noises coming from?
Koph and Zaanko emerged from the woods onto the plains of Meridell. The only scenery for miles was the gently rolling hills, and the occasional farm here and there. Koph had to admit, though, that it was gorgeous, with bright green grass and wildflowers against a backdrop of turquoise sky. A light breeze and a spatter of clouds made it just right.
She decided that it was time for a rest, and made her way over to a hill, where she sat down in the lotus position and pulled out some Altadorian bread. As she munched on it, breaking off some pieces and feeding them to Zaanko, she remembered how she'd discovered that the Brain Tree had been telling the truth...
It was only 9 p.m., and already Koph was exhausted. She'd been everywhere from the Brain Tree to the Deserted Fairgrounds; she had to have walked at least four miles in total. Her backpack was now bulging with all sorts of items, like a rotten jack-o-lantern bomb and a meepit lamp. She'd won 110 neopoints in the Test Your Strength game- and gotten into a big argument with Arnold about whether or not the game was rigged- and had to threaten to use the bomb to ward off a rather suspicious-looking Tonu trying to sell her scratchcards.
As she walked away from the Fairgrounds, Koph decided it was high time to find a place to sleep. Perhaps an inn in Neovia would be open...
She heard it again. A low growl, right behind her. Koph whirled around, but nothing was behind her. She could have sworn, though, that she heard some leaves rustling like someone was walking through them.
After a moment of nothing happening, Koph shrugged and resumed walking. What if there wasn't an inn, or it was full? She should have made sleeping arrangements before this...
Koph jumped, but again, when she turned around she saw nothing. Shrugging, Koph turned back to continue walking...
And found herself staring at a pair of big green eyes, a few feet away in the shadows.
She forgot all about concealing her wings. She FLEW. She soared as fast as she could away from that place. She could hear something big and heavy running after her, angrily howling...
And then, suddenly, the angry howling turned into a howl of pain.
Confused, Koph circled back and found a Werelupe tangled in a net very similar to the ones that poachers used to capture rare magical creatures and sell them on the black market. With an unexpected pang of pity, Koph realized that it probably WAS a poacher's net. Poor Werelupe. This time tomorrow, he'd probably be in some evil millionaire's home entertaining party guests.
Well, that was one thing faeries and Werelupes had in common: sickos wanting to abduct them just to make some neopoints. Koph had been captured by Balthazar once. Being shrunk and stuffed into a magical bottle, and then being freed by some grubby little anklebiter who wanted her to "bless" him, was highly unpleasant and very damaging to one's dignity.
Perhaps that was why she flew up to the net and unsheathed her sword.
The Werelupe, seeing this, yelped and struggled more fiercely than before.
"Shh! Cut it out! I'm not going to kill you, I'm trying to HELP you... why in the name of Meridell am I talking to you?" wondered Koph as she cut the net. Finally it fell off of the Werelupe.
"You're free!" exclaimed Koph, proud of herself... until she realized that she was standing not three feet away from one of her mortal enemies. One who had been chasing her just five minutes ago.
Koph yelped, tossed the spooky raspberry pie at the Werelupe in hopes that it would distract him, and flew away as fast as she could.
Looking back, that incident was kinda funny, Koph thought as she stood and stretched. But the rest of the story wasn't...
She didn't stop flying until she spotted a campfire. She flew over to it and saw that it was in the middle of a gypsy camp. Nobody appeared to be near it except a large pink Elephante, who was tossing some more wood onto the fire. His eyebrows shot up when he spotted her hovering over him. "Hello, young faerie. What brings you to these woods?"
"Long story," said Koph, landing. The Elephante smiled and nodded, apparently accepting this answer, then looked concerned. "Are you alright? You look like you've seen a Werelupe. Why don't you come sit by the fire?"
Koph suddenly realized that she was shivering.
"Oh, I HAVE," she said as she plopped down on a rock beside the campfire. "In fact, I'm pretty sure that Werelupe's been hunting me."
She explained about the Brain Tree's warning and the incident with the Werelupe. The Elephante wasn't very surprised. "Well, Werelupes and faeries are mortal enemies-"
"Yeah, I'm well aware of that."
"-so it isn't too surprising that a Werelupe would be hunting you. He'd consider a faerie a great prize."
"What I don't get is WHY Werelupes hate faeries. What'd we ever do to them?"
"You really don't know?" asked the Elephante, surprised.
"It was faeries that caused the Werelupe's curse in the first place."
"Well, one faerie, anyway. The Dark faerie Fiona. Ages ago Werelupes were just mutated Lupes, peaceful and simple creatures. Then Fiona cursed them and turned them into horrible monsters, 'bred on hatred and spite', as the Neopedia says. Now they run rampant, terrorizing Neopians. Not even Fiona can control them, except for her special pack, direct descendants of the Werelupes she cursed. And unlike the Werelupes of old, this breed can turn other species of neopets- and even petpets- into Werelupes."
"Wait... petpets can become Werelupes? How come I've never heard that?" asked Koph skeptically.
"Because there's only one recorded case. Usually when a petpet has the misfortune of running into a Werelupe... well, you can guess what happens. One doglefox, though, managed to escape. His owner, a faerie named Adryana, thought he had gotten off with no injuries, but the very next night the doglefox turned into a Werelupe. They say he's now a part of a pack in these woods."
After all that she'd seen that night, Koph was willing to believe that.
"And then, the Elephante's friends decided they didn't like a faerie in their camp and pulled a classic gypsy move while I was sleeping..." Koph commented to Zaanko as the two passed by a farm, having resumed walking.
At around midnight she woke up and found that she'd been gagged and tied. The cause appeared to be a large green Skeith carrying her over his shoulder, and possibly the red Wocky and red Aisha walking behind him carrying lanterns. She recognized them as the gypsies that had made such a fuss when they discovered that the Elephante had allowed her to spend the night in their camp.
Koph screamed at the top of her lungs, but thanks to the gag it came out as a pitiful yelp. The Aisha rolled her eyes, "Don't bother. No one's going to hear you."
The company suddenly came to a stop.
"I think that this is as good a spot as any," commented the Wocky. The green Skeith nodded, and dumped his cargo unceremoniously on the ground. Koph sat up and looked at her captors with wide, disbelieving eyes. She tried to ask what they were doing, but the gag muffled her.
"Sorry, but we're not stupid. We're not about to bring the wrath of the Werelupes upon us by allowing a faerie they're hunting to take shelter at our camp," the Aisha said. "Nothing personal."
"You should be able to burn through that rope if you work at it long enough. I wouldn't count on finding your way back to our camp, though. Your best shot now is getting to Neovia before the Werelupes find you. Or just flying away from here. I'd recommend the second," said the Wocky helpfully.
With that, the gypsies faded away into the shadows.
Koph lay there in total darkness for several moments, her heart beating wildly. She couldn't believe what had just happened. It was all she could do not to panic. Finally she remembered the Wocky's comment about burning through the rope, and proceeded to do just that. Once her hands were released, it was easy to untie her legs and rip the gag off.
Now what? Even though her eyes were adjusted to the darkness, she couldn't see a path. And the treetops were too thick here for her to fly away. She decided to walk off in a random direction and pray that the trees would eventually thin out enough for her to fly. She could care less about that stupid dare now; all she was concerned about was surviving.
As she walked, though, one of her feet fell into a hole, and she landed face down on the ground. She felt a searing pain go through her ankle.
Some barking rose the hairs on the back of her neck. She looked up to see a Werelupe advancing towards her.
She screamed, and tried to run, but when she shot to her feet, her ankle couldn't take her weight and she collapsed. By now the Werelupe was less than five feet away. She crawled back and found herself backed up against a tree. The Werelupe was nose-to-nose with her now...
And much to her surprise, he barked happily and licked her face.
"Wha'...?" she sputtered, then realized that this was the same Werelupe she'd saved earlier. Still, why wasn't he attacking her...?
He started to growl. Koph yelped, but he turned away and growled at some bushes.
"Well, well, Zaanko, you've turned traitor, huh?" chuckled a deep, raspy voice as its owner- a large brown Werelupe- emerged from the shadows. "Just 'cause she rescued you from a little net and fed you?"
Zaanko continued to growl. Koph wondered why he didn't talk. Three more Werelupes emerged from the shadows as the first one addressed Koph, "'Ello, faerie. It's been a while since we 'ad a faerie for dinner. Why have you lot stopped coming 'ere?"
Koph was too scared to speak. She tried to recall the spell for fire, but couldn't, and the gypsies had stolen her shield and sword. The leader Werelupe laughed, "Don't worry, I promise this'll be quick and painless... more or less."
With that, he and the other Werelupes lunged at her.
Koph would never remember what exactly happened next, but she knew that she screamed and Zaanko attacked the other Werelupes.
I'll spare the gentle reader the details of the struggle. Suffice it to say that Zaanko fended off the other Werelupes, but was severely injured. He stood just long enough to watch the other Werelupes run off, then collapsed, unconscious.
Koph ran over to Zaanko and looked over his wounds. It looked bad.
"Oh, no... don't die on me!" pleaded Koph. "You saved my life!" She rummaged through her backpack. The gypsies had, at least, left her some healing potions.
As she withdrew a potion, Zaanko started to change. To Koph's astonishment, he became a doglefox.
"You're the... you're the doglefox that Elephante mentioned," whispered Koph. A chill went down her spine as she recalled who the doglefox's owner had been: a faerie named Adryana. Koph's mother. Zaanko hadn't been hunting her. He had been following her because she reminded him of his previous owner.
And he was obviously hurt really, really badly, or else he wouldn't have transformed back into a doglefox. Koph hastily set to work on healing him.
Ever since then, Koph and Zaanko had been inseparable. After terrifying Ciara and Enat with Zaanko- "That proof enough for ya?" Koph had laughed- she'd decided that surviving a night in the Woods showed she was ready for anything, and headed out of Faerieland to have more adventures. She and Zaanko had wandered Neopia for two months, until Koph saw a want ad. for a librarian in her favorite land, Meridell.
Speaking of which, they had finally reached their destination: the Meridell Castle Royal Library. Koph entered and walked up to an old Gelert sitting at a large marble desk, reading.
"Master Abramm?" she questioned. The Gelert jumped, then saw her and laughed sheepishly, "Sorry, Miss..."
"Koph. I'm the one who responded to your want ad."
"Ah. And the Werelupe must be Zaanko. Wait, you're a faerie!" cried Abramm, spotting her wings.
"Yes, sir." It was all she could do not to say "I noticed".
"But... but faeries can wear jeans?"
Koph smiled, and patted Zaanko's head. "Yeah, and some of us can do a whole lot more."