Song of Silence: Part Four
"Are you sure it's a good idea?" Rosemarie said that evening, pacing uneasily about the mouth of the cave as moonlight reflected off her red scales.
"What have we got to lose?" Damien said, not voicing his fears from that morning for his daughter's sake.
"Everything," Rosemarie said desperately. "What we lose is our daughter's faith in herself, in her ability to ever be normal. She's hanging by a thread as it is Damien, we can't let her down like that."
"Exactly, she's hanging by a thread, if we don't do it, we'll lose her for sure. Besides, who's to say it won't work? Maybe the faeries really can help her, what if they can give her her voice back?"
"Then it's all they'll be giving back," Rosemarie snapped. "You haven't thought this through, Damien. Just because she'd be able to make noise doesn't mean she'd be able to talk. Hatchlings have a very small window of opportunity to learn to speak easily, after that, it becomes much more difficult. Desdamona knows what the words mean, but who's to say she'd be able to learn how to form them vocally?" Rosemarie shook her head and sighed. "It's just not practical."
Damien's eyes flashed in anger as his frustration mounted. "Not everything is about practicality, Rosemarie," he said stonily. "Desdamona and I are going to visit the healing springs faerie tomorrow, and that's final." He turned around pointedly and stalked back into the cave, leaving Rosemarie watching after him anxiously.
Hearing her father's footsteps approach, Desdamona quickly closed her eyes and pretended to be asleep. She was grateful to have the opportunity to visit the faeries, but she didn't like the idea of her parents fighting over her. She wished her mother wouldn't worry over her all the time; she was different, but that didn't make her an invalid. There had to be something she could do to prove to her that she was no different than her siblings; maybe the faeries would be the answer.
"Rise and shine, Dezzie!"
A voice split the silent morning air, and Desdamona blinked sleepily, casting a dazed look at her father, who was bustling about the cave in high spirits. Slowly she sat up and yawned. By now she was used to Damien's early morning wake-up calls, though that didn't mean she enjoyed them any. Fumbling for her chalk and board, which lay beside the nest, Desdamona scrawled lazily, Are the faeries even up this early? Stumbling out of the nest, she dragged herself toward her father, who was busy toasting breadfish on a stick with his jet of flame. She tapped him on the arm and handed him her board, closing her eyes as she drifted off again.
"Of course they are!" Damien laughed, startling Desdamona awake again, "The healing springs get very busy during the day, so we'll want to catch the water faerie early. Come on then, eat your breakfast and we'll be off." He handed her the toasted breadfish, then skewered another and seared it with another white-hot jet of flame.
Desdamona yawned again and meandered outside to watch the sun rise up over the hilltop. She picked at her toast absently; she wasn't hungry, she was too anxious about visiting the faeries to eat. Part of her wanted more than anything to get her voice back so she could be like everybody else, but a smaller, darker part was scared of what would happen if she started talking. What if she changed? What if she became someone different, someone she didn't like? Perhaps fate had made her this way for a reason, and it was a mistake to tamper with it. Desdamona snorted silent laughter and shook her head at that; of course her silence wasn't some predestined event that would change the course of history. She pushed the thought aside and crammed the last of her bread into her mouth then stood up. She was getting a voice at last.
"Come along then!" Damien said, heading for the mouth of the cave. "Let's go and see what the faeries have to say."
Desdamona smiled and joined her father. They flapped their wings once, twice, and were off. Rosemarie watched them go until they were just tiny specks of colour against the orange-blue sky.
Sirius, who had just stirred awake, approached his mother and regarded her uncertainly. "Do you really think the faeries will be able to give Dezzie her voice back?" he asked.
Rosemarie looked down at her son and rested a hand on his head. "I don't know," she sighed. "I really don't."
In the sky, the clouds were starting to roll in, making the flight rather bumpy. Desdamona struggled to see through the fog, and shivered as water droplets collected on her scales. A few yards ahead, she heard her father calling to her.
"Let's get below these clouds!" Damien shouted, almost invisible in the dense mist, "Just follow my voice!"
Desdamona did so, and soon she dropped out the bottom of the mass of clouds, and found herself flying over a great kingdom she'd never seen before.
Damien dropped back and flew level with his daughter, "That's Brightvale," he said. "King Skarl's brother Hagan rules here. You see that building over there?" He pointed to a large, imposing fortress whose eggshell-coloured paint reflected the sunlight streaming in through the clouds and hurt Desdamona's eyes. She squinted and nodded, dropping a few metres to get a better look.
"That's King Hagan's castle," Damien said. "And you see all that water up ahead?"
Desdamona nodded again, suddenly becoming uneasy at the prospect of crossing that much water.
"That's the Bay of Faerieland, and Faerieland itself is just a few miles inland of the peninsula on the other side," Damien said, swooping lower as they approached the water. "Get a bit lower, Dezzie, the sea winds can get a little strong if you're too high up!" he called.
Desdamona dropped below her father and followed him closely, trying not to look at the vast expanse of ocean that stretched out before her. It was at that moment she knew she'd make a terrible pirate.
They had been flying over the bay for nearly half an hour when the peninsula came into sight. Damien banked right sharply and headed inland, catching Desdamona off-guard. She scrambled to correct her course, almost losing her balance, but managed to right herself just as they reached the shore.
It wasn't long before they could make out the purple towers of Queen Fyora's castle, and soon the rest of the city of faeries came into view. Desdamona gasped; she'd never seen anything so beautiful before in her life. The little pink and purple houses dotted the winding cobbled streets like gumdrops, clustering closer and closer together as they approached the castle at the centre of the city. Tall trees the likes of which Desdamona had never seen before bloomed with white and pink blossoms that sparkled with faerie magic, and every now and then she saw a shimmer of light as the sun reflected off the wings of faerie pets that bustled about the city. Desdamona stared; their wings were even more beautiful than hers! Suddenly she wished she were a faerie; doing magic seemed like so much more fun than hanging around Meridell singing all day. Maybe she could change her wish and get the faeries to change her colour instead. She smiled and shook her head at the notion. Her father would be devastated if she did; he was ever so proud of her.
They approached the grassy knoll that surrounded the castle, and Damien swooped lower as he made to land.
Desdamona followed him, but almost crashed into a tree when she caught sight of the rainbow fountain that bubbled and splashed down the hillside. It was dazzling; she wished she could just stay here and watch it forever.
Damien chuckled. "Come on, Dezzie, there'll be plenty of time for sightseeing later. Right now we have a faerie to see."
Desdamona's heart jumped a little as she remembered why she was here. Suddenly becoming very nervous, she kept close behind her father as he made his way down the hillside toward the healing springs.
When they arrived, they could see that a small cluster of pets had already formed beside the shimmering pool where the water faerie sat. Desdamona now understood why her father had wanted her to get up so early, and was grateful that she had. As she stood watching one pet after another jump into the healing springs, her anxiety started to mount, and it grew worse until she was trembling so badly she thought she'd shake all her scales loose.
Damien rested a hand on his daughter's shoulder. "Don't be nervous," he murmured. "She's a healing faerie. It's her job to help you; it's not like you're going to seek audience with Fyora. Just watch the other pets. They don't look scared, do they?"
Desdamona shook her head, but inside she was thinking, Yeah, but they're not here to try and change their entire future.
Finally she and Damien reached the healing springs, and Desdamona gazed into the shimmering water.
"How can I help you?" A serene voice startled her so badly she almost fell into the spring. Desdamona looked at the faerie, then at her father; what should she do?
"Go on," Damien said encouragingly. "Tell her why you're here."
Still shaking, Desdamona fumbled with her chalk, feeling the faerie's patient gaze on her. Finally she managed to write, My name is Desdamona. I'm here because I need your help; I was born without a voice, and I was wondering if you could give me one.
The faerie's eyes flicked across her board, and she regarded the little Draik sadly. "I'm so sorry to hear that," she said. "I'm not certain if my magic covers things like this, but you're more than welcome to try. And if it doesn't, I think I have another way I could help you."
Desdamona's heart fluttered with hope. She smiled gratefully at the faerie, then turned toward the healing spring, but stopped suddenly. Looking past the shimmering light on the surface of the pool, she gazed into its depths. She saw flashes of rough, dark water, bubbles swirling around her in a dark green murk. She gasped and stumbled backward, trembling harder than before as she remembered her accident at the lake. She looked at her father pleadingly, It's too deep, she scrawled, looking back at the spring with mixed feelings of longing and dread.
Damien's gaze flicked from his daughter to the pool and back. He nodded understandingly and took her hand. "You get in, and I'll hold on to you; don't worry, nothing's going to happen this time."
The water faerie regarded them both curiously as Desdamona removed her board and clung to her father's arm with both hands as she inched her way up to the pool.
Shutting her eyes firmly, Desdamona took a deep breath and plunged into the shimmering water until her head was submerged. Her first instinct was to panic, but something inside her persuaded her to open her eyes. When she did so, she found herself bathed in a beautiful white light that felt as if it transcended her physical being, melting all her fear away; she'd never felt more at peace than she did right then.
A sharp tug shattered the moment, and Desdamona found herself being dragged from the water by her father, whose hand she was still clinging to. She gasped for breath as he deposited her on the bank like a fish, and stared up at him for a moment. She was about to reach for her board when she stopped, remembering the reason she'd jumped in the pool in the first place. Nervously Desdamona took a deep breath and opened her mouth. She pushed the air out and...
She was as silent as she'd always been. Desperately she tried again, then again and again and again, as she had done on the day she was born, the day she realised she was broken. Tears of despair filled Desdamona's eyes as she looked pleadingly at the water faerie.
"Is there anything else you can do?" Damien asked her forlornly.
The water faerie sighed, looking almost as sad as the two Draiks. "I'm sorry," she said, shaking her head miserably, "but faerie magic can't interfere with the way you are made. If the healing springs can't give you a real voice, I'm afraid there's nothing else we can do."
Desdamona wiped her tears away with the back of her hand. The way the faerie had said "real voice" made her suspect she had another trick up her sleeve.
As if reading her mind, the water faerie said, "However, there is something I can give you, which will enable you to communicate in a different kind of way, and which, if practised hard, will enable you to participate in the Draik Day Festival, though be warned; this kind of voice can only be truly understood by those who love you most."
Desdamona cocked her head on one side, confused; she didn't understand. She watched as the water faerie dipped her cupped hand into the healing spring and scooped out some of the shimmering water. With her other hand, she made a tight spiralling motion which drew the water up into a thin funnel, like a liquid pipe. She tossed it into the air, where it hovered, twisting and moulding until it created a shape that Damien recognised, but that Desdamona had never seen before.
The water faerie then blew a wisp of magic over her creation, and ice crystals crept up the long tube, freezing it. Gently she plucked it from the air and handed it to Desdamona, who took it carefully, examining it with awe.
"It's an ice flute," the water faerie explained. "It's made of magic, so it will never melt. If you learn to play it well, it will create the most beautiful music in Neopia."
Desdamona held the instrument reverently, watching the sunlight sparkle off it in shimmering rainbows. It was beautiful. Tentatively she held the mouthpiece up to her mouth and blew. A sputtering, feeble sound came out, but it was more than she had ever accomplished before. She handed the flute delicately to her father, snatched up her board and ran up and hugged the water faerie, who was caught off-guard for a moment, but laughed, her voice sounding like tinkling silver bells.
Desdamona let go of her and smiled, tears of gratitude shining in her eyes. Thank you, she wrote. It was all she could think of to say.
Desdamona and her father flew home that night, her new flute wrapped in purple cloth to keep it safe. She couldn't wait to show her family; it was going to be the start of something wonderful.
To be continued...