The Faeries' Trial
If you know where to look in the Faerieland Library, you can find at least one book about the legendary "Faerie's Trial." It's a brutal thing to read about: one Neopian is placed in a random location within their homeland and must survive on their own for two weeks. No asking for help from anybody you may encounter, no fleeing for home, no nothing. But if it becomes too much, that Neopian can admit defeat. But he or she will never be able to attempt the Trial again.
How do I know all this?
Because I took, and passed, the Faerie's Trial myself.
My name is Urasina. I'm a Speckled Uni. But I'm no prissy princess. I often call myself "Neopia's Biggest Uni Tomboy," and to this day, I have yet to find another female Uni who shares my love of getting messy and undertaking battle training.
And yes, I passed the Faerie's Trial.
Let me tell you about it.
I live in the Lost Desert with my owner, an adult human man named BG, and my adopted siblings: Ming the Royal Girl/Faerie Bori, Ludroth the Darigan Peophin, Ketdav the blue Peophin, Cali the Maraquan Bori, Pyoga the Royal Girl Peophin, Chessii the Baby Bori, and Titance the Tyrannian Uni. I'm the second-oldest, the leader, and by far the best at battling. Training and getting stronger is something I love to do.
But when I first began to train, everybody laughed at me. "A Uni filly like you will never amount to anything," I was told over and over. But BG believed in me. And after a scary adventure, I had another ally: Kouren, a mighty Light Faerie. The two of them trained and blessed me, giving me abilities well beyond those of most Neopians. I was a champion of the Light Faeries, and I upheld that role with all my heart.
Truth be told, I didn't plan on taking the Faerie's Trial. I didn't even know it existed. But all that changed when Kouren told me about it.
"That sounds really rough, Kouren," I said to her after she finished.
"It's even rougher on winged Neopians like you," she replied. "They can use their wings once. ONLY once. And then they're prevented from using them again until the Trial is either completed or failed."
"You must have a reason for bringing this up, though," I pressed her.
"I do, but the final call is yours," she sighed, looking worried. "Do you want to take the Trial? If you succeed, you will be one of very few living Neopians to pass, and we Light Faeries will honor you as our True Hero of Light. If you fail... well, either you don't make it out alive, or you lose that opportunity. You'll still be our champion, but you'll never advance beyond that level."
I thought this over. I actually wanted to do this, but at the same time, I wasn't sure what my family would say.
Once Kouren had left, I went and talked to my family. Ludroth, Pyoga, and Ketdav begged me not to do it, Ming looked quite worried, and Cali seemed scared. But BG repeated what the Light Faerie had said: It was my choice in the end. And it didn't matter to him if I took it or not, or if I failed or not.
"No matter what your choice is, Urasina, I will still love you as much as I do now," he told me. "And I will continue to train you and take care of you. Never forget that."
Titance said something similar.
"If anyone can complete this trial and come out alive, it would be you," he said kindly. "And on the odd chance you can't finish it, so long as you don't try to tough it out and thus do yourself in, I have no problems with you giving it a shot."
And so, I decided to take the Faerie's Trial.
Bright and early one morning, Kouren came for me. I said my goodbyes to my family, but BG had to pry most of my siblings off of me. They were so worried. I could tell BG was worried too, but he had faith in me. Titance, despite his strong words earlier, also looked worried, and was the last one to leave, giving me a look that almost seemed desperate as he turned to walk away.
Once all that was sorted out, I stood alone before Kouren.
"I must put you to sleep so you don't know where I'm taking you," she said, ALSO looking worried. "Are you ready, Urasina?"
"Ready as I'll ever be," I replied firmly. "If we don't do this now, we'll never do it."
The Faerie nodded, and I felt myself becoming very drowsy. I didn't fight it, and soon fell into a deep magical slumber.
When I woke up, I was lying in the middle of the barren sandy plains of my homeland. No shelter or recognizable landmarks in sight. I got to my hooves and pondered my first move. Kouren had said that I could only use my wings once, and then she'd magically disable them. Most Neopians would have saved that single use for an emergency, but I was going to use it now.
I took off, flying as high as I could, then turning to look at my surroundings. My plan was to find an area that I could set up camp in, and stay there for the duration of the Trial. And I was successful: maybe two miles from where I had been left, there was an oasis that still had water in it.
I dove down again to fly low across the sand, not knowing when my wings would be disabled. I was maybe a quarter of a mile from the oasis when I felt them becoming heavier and heavier, and quickly landed. Not even ten seconds later, I lost all feeling in them, and they hung limply against my sides. I was ground-bound for two weeks.
But once I reached the oasis, I felt better. There was lots of water, and several kinds of edible cacti. I took a quick drink, ate a piece of cactus, and set about securing shelter for the duration of my stay. After checking which way the winds blew, I located a suitable dune on the edge of the oasis and began to dig my way into it.
It was slow going. Every few inches I dug, I'd stop and use my magic to sear the sand grains together, preventing any cave-ins. After maybe four hours, I had dug out a cave large enough for me to rest and sleep in. I took another drink from the pool, ate another piece of cactus, and went back to my digging. This time I dug out an even deeper cave to store food in. Sandstorms are always a threat in the Lost Desert, and I didn't want to be trapped in my cave with no food.
By the time my cave was ready, the sun was going down. I'm heavily attuned to the day cycle; strong in the sunlight, weak in the night. I can even substitute sunlight for food or drink if I have to. But that meant I'd be too weak to do anything to defend myself once night fell. So I wasn't going to risk it. I ate a few pieces of cacti this time, then entered my cave. After raising a few defensive wards over the entrance, I curled up and fell asleep.
The second day of my Trial dawned hot and sunny. I spent the whole day training, meditating, and napping. Kouren had warned me that boredom and loneliness would be issues, and I could feel those emotions starting to manifest. But I held them down. One of my special magic skills allows me to summon a Doppelganger, which is basically a smaller, weaker, semi-transparent version of myself. If I desperately needed company, that would do the trick.
As the sun set, I just sat outside my cave staring at the stars. I was wondering how my family was doing. I figured Titance was probably doing the same thing I was; he loved to stargaze. He knew ALL the constellations, even the ones that the Altadorian astronomers didn't know. And he was teaching me to find them. I managed to find a few, but couldn't keep looking because of the strong feelings of loneliness that came up unexpectedly. Still, the fact that I could push them aside and get a good night's sleep felt good.
Day 3 brought a very unexpected, but quite welcome, surprise. I was awoken by voices outside my cave. Voices I recognized. As I looked through my wards, I saw that the voices belonged to two scouts of the Losa Uni tribe. The Losa Unis used to prey on caravans heading into Sakhmet, until I challenged and defeated one of their best warriors. Now they worked with both General Dacon and with me.
"What are you guys doing here?" I asked as I emerged from my cave.
The scouts jumped in shock, but when they saw who I was, they were relieved, then puzzled.
"The chief wants to know if we can use this oasis for a temporary camp, if we have to come this way for any reason," said the older scout, a spotted Uni stallion. "But what are YOU doing out here, Lady Urasina?"
I snorted. The Losa Unis insisted on calling me "Lady Urasina," and no matter how many times I told them to stop, they never did. Something about old traditions or who-knows-what.
"I'm taking the Faerie's Trial," I admitted. "This is my third day."
The younger scout, a blue Uni stallion, looked both horrified and awed.
"R-really?" he stammered. "You're out here alone, risking your life, for THAT?"
"Yes, I am," I responded firmly. "And I have no regrets."
The spotted Uni looked thoughtful.
"Maybe it was more than just fate that we happened upon you, Lady Urasina," he mused. "I know you're not allowed to ASK for help in your Trial, but if we OFFER you help, there's no penalty for accepting it."
"Kind of defeats the whole purpose, though, doesn't it?" I asked.
"Kind of, but I've read enough about the Trial to know that this is allowed," the scout went on. "Do you want us to bring you some supplies?"
I mulled it over, but in the end, knew that this was the way to go.
"Yes, please," I said finally. "I'm not ashamed to accept help when it's offered."
Both scouts nodded.
"We'll send someone out here with food and other things as soon as we can," the spotted Uni said. "Be strong, Lady Urasina, and come back to us safely."
With that, they flew away.
I spent the rest of the day doing the same things I had the day before. But as night began to fall, the winds shifted. I could tell that a sandstorm was brewing. I cut down a bunch of cactus pieces and stored them in my cave, then cut down a small barrel cactus, seared off its spines, hollowed it out, and filled it with water. Then I went to bed early.
The sandstorm hit in the middle of the night, and raged until the evening of Day 5. As it faded out, I was able to leave my cave and stretch myself before going back inside and going to sleep.
That night, what I feared more than any other aspect of the Trial, came true: a nightmare. I have chronic nightmares stemming from my troubled past, and it was only now that I realized how much I depended on BG being present to comfort me when I had one. I woke up screaming, crying, and thrashing around, and my fears only intensified when I realized where I was. I couldn't calm down, and I certainly couldn't go back to sleep. I huddled in my cave, curled up in a crying, shivering ball, until the sun rose.
Day 6 began with me erupting from my cave and collapsing in the sand by the entrance, still crying. I missed BG and the others terribly, and knew that if I had another nightmare like that one, I would have to give up the Trial.
But it seemed that fate was smiling on me once more. After maybe an hour of sobbing alone, I felt another Uni nuzzling me. Then I heard a most welcome voice.
"What's wrong, Lady Urasina?"
It was Tycho, a Shadow Uni stallion and the Losa warrior I had beaten to win the tribe's trust. He was also my best friend in the tribe. I was overjoyed to see him. I finally managed to stop crying and tell him what had happened, and he comforted me.
"I don't want you to suffer out here by yourself, Lady Urasina," he said. "Do you want me to stay with you?"
I shook my head.
"I have to bear my burdens alone, Tycho," I sighed sadly. "But if I get another nightmare, I may have to give up... and I really don't want to."
"Our chief has some special herbs that he burns to help the foals sleep when they have nightmares," he told me. "I'll gladly bring you some."
"Please do," I replied. "I can't stand the thought of another night like that one..."
It was only then that Tycho gave me a leather bag full of various Lost Desert fruits and vegetables.
And he had an offer for me.
"You say I can't stay with you and comfort you," he sighed. "I'll do the next best thing. I'll come out here every few days to make sure you're all right. And on my next trip, I'll bring those herbs."
Tycho remained with me for most of the day, and we trained together. Then he flew back to the Losa camp, and I headed to bed.
Things smoothed out after that nightmare incident ended. It wasn't until the night of Day 10 that another nightmare hit. When I woke up, I quickly shot a ray of Light magic at the dish of herbs Tycho had brought me. They promptly started to smolder, and I felt my fears and terror lifting. That was the first time in my life that I made it through a nightmare without either losing my self-control or having BG around to calm me down.
That felt good, very good. I knew BG would be so proud of me.
Tycho kept his word, showing up every few days to check on me. I knew Kouren well enough that if this was against the rules of the Trial, she'd have told me. But she said nothing about it, so I knew she was OK with it.
Finally, Day 14 arrived. When I woke up, I packed up my herbs, cactus "drinking gourd," and the remaining food I hadn't eaten, then carried them out of my cave. I didn't know when Kouren would come for me, but I only had to endure a few more hours before the Trial would be over, and I'd have earned my place as a Hero of Light.
Tycho arrived a short time later.
"Lady Urasina, you've done it," he said, reverence in his voice. "When I told the chief what you were doing, he didn't think you'd make it."
"I don't blame him," I replied. "I honestly wasn't sure I'd make it, myself."
"But I believed in you," the Shadow Uni went on. "You are probably the only Uni in Neopia who could have completed the Faerie's Trial."
He bowed to me, making me blush a bit.
"Come see us again soon, once you've recovered from your ordeal," he finished before flying away.
Once he was gone, I settled down to wait for Kouren.
She came at noon, smiling radiantly and aglow with magic.
"I am more proud of you than you know, Urasina," the mighty Light Faerie said with a bow. "You passed the Faerie's Trial."
I blushed at her praise, then felt even better as I regained use of my wings.
Kouren picked me up and took to the skies. At the speed she could reach while flying, I'd be home in no time. But I watched the ground intently, trying to figure out where she had left me to begin the Trial. It didn't take long for me to pin down where my oasis was. It was just far enough from the western edge of the Lost Desert that the great mountain range was out of sight, and only about a half-day's flight from Sakhmet.
"You didn't take me very far, did you Kouren?" I asked her.
"No, I didn't," she admitted. "But I placed you in an area where you still wouldn't be able to orient yourself and find your way."
"Did you send the Losa Unis to me?" I asked next.
"No, I didn't do that either," she responded. "That was just luck, I guess.
"Luck, or fate," I thought to myself.
Soon we reached BG's Neohome. Kouren set me down in the garden, then gave me a hug.
"Hail to you, Urasina, True Hero of the Light," she said quietly before vanishing.
I had passed the Faerie's Trial. I felt wonderful. And I felt even better when my whole family came out the front door to welcome me home.
Ketdav, Cali, Pyoga, and Ming latched onto me, both crying and cheering. Ludroth tried to say something, only to break down in hysterical happy tears. Titance nuzzled me lovingly, eyes sparkling with joy. BG simply picked me up and cuddled me. But even he had tears in his eyes. I did too.
"BG, I did it," I whispered in his ear. "I almost had to give up when I had a nightmare... But I did it."
"'Proud' is too small a word to describe how I feel right now," he said. "But there really is no better word to use. Welcome home, Urasina. And congratulations on passing the Faerie's Trial."
It felt so good to be home again. BG made my favorite meal that night, and once the sun had set, we had a bonfire in the backyard and our own little celebration. There was music and dancing aplenty. But the highlight was when BG picked me up and held me high above his head.
"Here she is, Neopia!" he called into the night. "Urasina, the True Hero of Light!"
My siblings began to cheer, but suddenly, their voices were joined by hundreds of others. Then the sky seemed to explode with light as Light Faeries, hundreds of them, swirled around us, all cheering for me. It was very overwhelming, and I was struggling not to start crying, I was so happy.
Once the fire was out and the Faeries had departed, we all went indoors to prepare for bed. The big bed had never felt as good as it did that night. And when I curled up next to BG, I knew that even though the Faerie's Trial had been tough, it had been worth it.
I was glad to be home.