The Light Faerie and the Kacheek
Once upon a time, there was a Light Faerie who fell from the sky.
Faeries falling from the sky have, sadly, not been an uncommon occurrence in the past years; the entire city, after all, once tumbled to the ground and has been there ever since. But this Light Faerie fell to earth long before; the pink-and-purple city was still in the clouds back then.
It was a very, very long time ago.
* * *
Her name was Carona and she was a young Light Faerie who spent her days skipping amongst the cottonball clouds instead of studying spells. Oh, there'll be time for that later, she said, and I've a whole sky to explore. And so she never learned how to do light magic, or how to bless Neopets, or even how to fly (although she did become very skilled at jumping from cloudtop to cloudtop). It's a common misconception that all Faeries know how to fly (well, the ones with wings, of course), but it isn't so. Faeries must learn how to, and even then they can only do so with constant practice. Unfortunately, Carona liked the feel of clouds underneath her feet far more than the rush of wind through her wings, so she stayed flightless as a Poogle.
Well, I cannot say that she wasn't happy. She loved her life, and cloud-hopping, and greeting the rays of sunshine, and looking down upon all of Neopia. Happiness radiated from her like light. She was always smiling.
Then, as you know, she fell.
There were Faerie Cloud Racers back in young Carona's time, and she especially loved following the cloud trails. They were different colors, and so very interesting; Earth racers left light green paths that smelled like forests; Fire racers left cloud trails that were a little warm and tickled Carona's feet; Snow racers left trails of ice that she could skate on with her bare feet. Carona avoided the Dark racers' trails, though, for good reason. Dark Faeries were the only things that could make her stop smiling.
Well, she was skipping along an Earth cloud trail one day; it felt like soft grass and was warm with sunshine. Then she heard the roar. A Dark racer was barreling straight towards her, the faerie on it laughing wildly with delight, and Carona stopped smiling and started running. But the racer followed her, and then the Earth cloud trail grew thin in a spot, and she fell.
* * *
Carona woke up in a dark place with a terrible headache.
She sat up, wincing. There were shadows everywhere, and long gnarled branches and twisted tree trunks. The ground was grayish-green and moldy.
She didn't know where she was. A faerie spending her days in the clouds won't know at all of the Haunted Woods, or the nasty dark things that reside within. But Carona did know that she didn't like the place, and she wanted to get out and back to the clouds.
But how could she do that if she couldn't fly?
She got up and began walking. Her feet were bare—it made cloud-hopping so much more fun— and the squishy, wettish texture of the ground was extremely unpleasant. And there wasn't any easy path through the forest; more often than not, the shrubbery was too thick to even see through. And it was dark and cold and windy, and she was scared.
She didn't know how long she'd been walking for. She sank to the ground and cried. Then she got up and pushed her way through more brambles, arriving at a clearing, before finally sitting down and crying. Only this time she didn't get up again.
Eventually, there came a noise from between the trees.
Carona looked up, tears streaming down her face. The noise came again, a strange hissing sound. Then a tree branch was pushed aside by a grayish paw, and a Neopet stepped into the clearing.
She was a Kacheek.
Carona had seen Kacheeks before, occasionally, when she'd passed through Faerieland. And she'd seen enough to know that there was something wrong with this one. Her eyes were pitch-black, except for small red irises; her skin was a sickly color of blue gray; her brain had swelled until it had burst out of her skull, pinkish and twisted.
"Who are you," she said, and it wasn't a question, for the Neopet spoke in a dull, dead monotone.
"I—" she stammered, "I'm—Carona."
"What are you doing here," she said.
"How'd you get lost. Nobody gets lost. Nobody comes here."
"I fell," said Carona. "I fell from a cloud in the sky."
"Do you want to get out."
"Yes!" she said eagerly, sensing hope. "Oh, yes, if you'd help me, I'd do anything—"
"Change me back," the Kacheek said.
"Change me back. I was colored Cloud. Then the lab ray turned me. And my owner abandoned me. But I escaped."
"Change me back. To Cloud. Then my owner will take me back."
"I'll try my best," she said. "Really I will, but I don't know much magic, so I might not be able to."
"Your best," said the Kacheek.
"I can speak to the Fountain Faerie. She has a pool... you probably know about the Rainbow Pool. Maybe she can turn you back to Cloud."
"Follow me," she said, seemingly satisfied with the answer. "We will get out."
They traced a twisting path through the Haunted Woods, and as they did, Carona learned much about the Kacheek. She had forgotten her own name, but thought that maybe it had begun with a L; she had sisters, she didn't remember how many, but she'd had them; she'd lived in Faerieland with her sisters and her owner.
(Then she'd turned Mutant and fell from the sky.)
And then, soon enough, the trees burst open to reveal a campfire, and in the distance, a town. A few Neopets sitting around the fire turned to look at the strange pair; a flightless Light Faerie and a Mutant Kacheek.
"Do you know how we might get back to Faerieland?" Carona asked.
They didn't, but pointed the two to Neopia Central, where they were able to get transport to Faerieland. Carona, of course, got many funny looks, being a Faerie who couldn't fly. But she decided that even if she was able to fly, she wouldn't have left the Kacheek behind. So they rode together in a taxi up to Faerieland, where the Rainbow Pool sat on a cloud.
The waters bubbled and glimmered, and Carona saw, out of the corner of her eye, the Kacheek staring hopefully at the pool. The Fountain Faerie was, as usual, gently turning away a long line of Neopets and owners. Then she saw Carona and the Kacheek, and waved hello.
"What brings you here?" she said, and even though the Fountain Faerie didn't know Carona by name, she treated the Light Faerie like a close friend, anyway.
Carona stepped forward nervously and gave the story in a single breathless sentence: "She was turned mutant because of the lab ray and her owner abandoned her and she wants to turn back to Cloud so her owner will take her back."
"Oh," said the Fountain Faerie, pushing a strand of golden hair away from her pool-colored eyes, "I don't think I can do that."
"I really don't think I could send her back to an owner who would abandon her just because she was Mutant, do you understand?"
"Yes," said Carona nervously. "But it would still be nice if she didn't have to be Mutant any longer."
"Faerie," said the Kacheek.
Both Carona and the Fountain Faerie looked at her in confusion.
"Maybe I could be Faerie," said the Kacheek. "Also I just remembered my name. It's Lea."
"That's a lovely name," said the Fountain Faerie. "Well, jump in."
Lea dove into the pool, sending rainbow spray everywhere, and leapt out with shimmering wings, and Carona stood on the clouds again, and felt incredibly glad to be home.
* * *
Carona later taught Lea how to cloud-hop, and Lea taught Carona how to fly. Neither of them ever fell from the sky again.
They often went running on the Faeries Cloud Racers' cloud trails, feet bare, wings fluttering. A Dark Faerie, perhaps the same one that had done it the first time, aimed her racer towards them. They flew up into the air, giggling. The Dark Faerie looked as if she could spit fire, and then crashed into her opponent's cloud trail and lost the race.
They were in Faerieland one day, in the library—Lea had finally convinced Carona to learn light spells—when a girl walked in, picked out a book, turned, saw them, and said, "Lea?"
"Let's get out of here," Lea whispered. "Try the blinding incantation."
So Carona summoned a huge flash of light, and they darted behind bookshelves and escaped the library. Lea's former owner never saw either of them again.
And that's the story of the Light Faerie who fell from the sky and rose up again with a new friend and a pair of working wings. May all your falls end as well, or better.