Vahallula's Note: This story takes place when I was a filly, before I turned Zombie.
"Snorkle in the middle! Snorkle in the middle!" my classmates jeered as they carelessly tossed my plushie amongst one another. They zoomed by me and laughed at my failed attempts to snatch my favorite toy as they passed.
"Give it back!" I cried, desperately trying to get airborne myself. This only made them laugh harder.
My name is Vahallula, but I prefer to be called Lula. I live in a small forest community not far from Meridell. I am a perfectly normal Brown Uni filly, except for one small thing: I was born with deformed and under-developed wings. I can't even fully extend them and they are missing several feathers. Being a winged Uni that can't fly is probably one of the most embarrassing things in all of Neopia. A lot of my classmates who can fly make fun of me almost every day. They like to take my stuff and play keep-away, knowing that I can't keep up. Just like today.
"Hey!" yelled a voice from behind me. To my relief, it was my best friend Kvik. The Royal Boy Uni was the only one who stuck up for me in Neoschool. He is also the only Neopet who has ever wanted to be my playmate. Our parents are good friends so I've known Kvik for as long as I can remember. He comes from a family of warriors that protect our forest town and he feels obligated to protect me, too.
Kvik spread his large wings wide and chased down my classmates. He retrieved my plushie and landed next to me while the others skittered away.
"They ruined your Faerie Uni plushie," he said as he handed it over. "I'm sorry, Lula."
"It's alright, I can ask Momma to fix her up," I replied, though I couldn't disguise the disappointment in my voice. My Faerie Uni plushie was my favorite out of my collection. I always wanted to have beautiful wings just like it. I hoped someday my parents could afford a Faerie Paint Brush for me. The plushie was smudged with dirt and had a bit of stuffing spilling out of a tear on its leg. "Thanks for getting her back, Kvik. I don't like that you always have to come to my rescue, though. I wish I could at least fend off those Neopets by myself."
"Either you're going to have to intimidate them into leaving you alone, or you'll have to find a way to keep up with them," Kvik told me as we began walking back to my house. "And I don't think you can do the first without doing the second. Since your father is a blacksmith, has he ever tried to make you a pair of wings before?"
I stopped in my tracks.
"... No," I admitted. My dad forges armor, weapons, and other kinds of metal work for a living. He adds magic to his creations to give them extra defense or whatever the customer needs. I never thought about asking him to make something that could help me fly. "Do you think that could really work?"
"We won't know until we ask," Kvik grinned. We galloped the rest of the way to my house.
My dad's workshop makes up most of our Neohome. There are small rooms in the back where we sleep, eat, and where I do my homework. It may be a bit cramped, but it gives our house a cozy feel. My dad has the furnace going when he's working, so it's always nice and warm in my house.
We stopped in front of the workshop and took a minute to catch our breath. My dad was in the midst of working on a sturdy shield. His orange fur and cream mane and tail were blackened with soot and grime, giving him a hardy look.
"Hey, you two," he chuckled. "How was Neoschool today?"
"It was okay," I automatically replied. My parents aren't that well off and have to work all the time. I don't talk to them much about my teasing classmates because I don't want them to worry. Kvik gave me a nudge.
"Well, not really..." I continued. I showed my dad my ruined plushie. "I brought Sparkle to school today. My classmates took her from me and wouldn't give her back. Kvik had to come help me again." Tears brimmed my eyes at this point. My dad stepped away from his work table and gave me a small smile.
"It's okay, Lula. We can sew up her leg and clean her off. She'll be as good as new," he assured as he bent down to nuzzle me. "I've got something to show you that I think will cheer you up. Do you want to see it?"
"Okay," I sniffled. We followed my dad to the back of the workshop. He used his magic to bring something out that was hidden underneath a table in the corner. He lifted the cloth off to unveil an unfinished set of what looked like mechanical wings. They consisted of a sturdy frame and had several bronze feathers attached to them. I gasped and grinned at Kvik, who was beaming back at me.
"There's my smiling girl! I wasn't going to show you until they were finished," he explained. "But maybe you'd like to help me finish them instead?" I squealed and nodded enthusiastically. My father grinned back and we got to work.
With Kvik's help, we were able to finish my wings over the next few days. Every day after Neoschool we would race back to the workplace and would pick up where we left off. The process was very slow; my father insisted we had to craft each bronze feather and attach them perfectly. Any feather out of place could cause a malfunction and I would remain land-bound. After a week and a half, although it felt like an eternity, we were finally finished.
"Well, what are you waiting for?" Kvik prodded me with his muzzle. "Take them for a test drive!"
My new pair of wings had a harness that attached it securely to my chest and shoulders as well as straps to connect each wing to my own malformed wings. The bronze contraption attached to the back of my own wings, lengthening and widening my wingspan enough for flight. Gears and hinges on the frame allowed me to move freely. I was finally ready to fly for the first time!
I stepped out of the workshop and prepared for take-off. Passersby stopped and stared but my soaring confidence could not be wavered by the gathering crowd, even as some of my classmates joined in. I took a leap of faith and frantically flapped my wings...
... and I was airborne!! Up and up I went, through the trees and over the rooftops. Oh, it was wonderful! But soon I was shedding those precious bronze feathers and I landed roughly, falling onto one knee but thankfully not wiping out entirely. The neopets who were watching started to cheer and clap me on the back; even Kvik and my dad came over to nuzzle me. I stuck my tongue out at my classmates, who stood there with their jaws on the ground, and headed back inside to start making repairs.
Yes, the wings did start to fail after a little more than a minute of flying. But you know what they say: one small step for Uni, one giant leap for Uni-kind! My dad and I will keep making new sets of wings until I can stay airborne as long as anyone else can!