When the Sky Met the Land: Faerieland's Land Dispute
Over the past few years, we have spent a long time analyzing, discussing, and writing about the faeries' transition from the sky to the ground. Yet we've lacked a bit on reporting about the residents that had their lives changed when Faerieland came crashing down into their backyards.
Although many have accepted and embraced their new neighbors, the relationship has been far from harmonious. In fact, there's still a small group that wishes to have nothing to do with the faeries at all.
We went to the villages that were impacted by Faerieland's fall to collect the voices of those that found their lives transformed thanks to Xandra.
Our first stop brought us to the small town of Stratusville that was a part of Brightvale but now sits near the edge of the Faerieland crater. Most residents of Stratusville depend on agriculture as a living. Recent developments to the town have added a new road that connects the village to the rest of Faerieland. Several Neohomes were also rebuilt after Faerieland's fall caused a large wildfire. King Hagan gave this land to Queen Fyora as a part of a friendly agreement.
We stopped by a small diner for a bite to eat. The usual crowd streamed in for breakfast and there were plenty of eggs and and sausages sizzling on the grill. The smell of a warm freshly baked scones filled the air.--
"Coffee?" asked a Speckled Techo carrying a coffee pot.
"Sure! That sounds good."
At an adjacent table, a family of farmers sat down. They carried their tools for the day with them.
"Hello! Good morning to you," we greeted them.
"G'mornin! What brings ya to our neck of the woods?" an elderly Ogrin responds, introducing himself as Randy.
"Oh well, we are here to gather thoughts about being neighbors with the faeries."
"Oh, those neighbors...not sure if I want to talk much about them."
"Grampa! What's wrong with the faeries?" asked a young Lupe also at the table.
"Oh, and what's your name little one?"
"It's Kristy! I love faeries. They are so pretty and friendly. Grampa doesn't like them because they took some of his land."
"Kristy, I don't hate the faeries. It's just everythin' has gotten much noisier than before with our new neighbors and new laws and taxes now that we are a part of Faerieland. They're takin' my hard earned Neopoints!"
"I see. But, dad, haven't you thought about what those taxes are meant to do?" quipped a brown Kyrii, the mother of the family.
"Yeah, I guess they do take care of the elder pets once they are done working. I'm just having a hard time adjusting."
"How long have you been living here sir?"
"I’ve been here since I was born. The land was a part of Brightvale then. Now it's been annexed to Faerieland. I wasn't too happy about that but it happened so I'm just going to have to deal with it."
"Why aren't you happy?"
"I just mentioned it, taxes and noisy neighbors!"
"Dad, I think it's time to calm down a bit. Don't mind him, he hasn't had his morning coffee," the Kyrii said.--
Another group entered and we were intrigued when an Earth Faerie came in with them, as if she was part of the family.--
"Oh hello!" the earth faerie said.
"You guys all look like family."
"Oh yes, Joanna's been with us since we found each other when Faerieland came crashing down. Hi, the name's Allison but I go by Alli," said an Eventide Cybunny.
"Oh? Tell us more about how you guys met."
"Well, when Faerieland came crashing down, the amount of energy had started a small brush fire that grew larger. The fire grew out of control for this town to handle. Several faeries came to the rescue and I happened to be one of them. While several water faeries came to try and put it out, I was working with some earth faeries that threw dirt to stop the flames. The family here was caught in the path of the fire so I made sure they got out of the way safely."
"Wow, that's quite a story isn't it?"
"Yes, and she's helped us with our crops too," piped Alli.
"Is it different living with a faerie?"
"No, not really. She's practically one of us, except she has wings," blurted a young Gelert.
"What is your name little one?"
"It's Andy. The best part about a faerie is their magic tricks. They do a lot of cool things! One even did my chores for me."
"Huh? What's this about not doing your chores?!" exclaimed Alli.
"Uh, nothing. The faeries only helped me with my chores."
The Gelert then turned to us and winked slightly.
"Anyways, do you like being a part of Faerieland now?"
"Oh yes, definitely. The faeries have done a lot for us and it's nice to have some friendly neighbors. Life on a farm can be a real drag sometimes."--
We drank the rest of our coffee and scones and then made our way to our next destination, the Village of Cirrus.
The Village of Cirrus was originally part of Faerieland, but being part of the underclouds, it was completely destroyed. Since then it has been rebuilt near the border with the Lost Desert. Its primary industries are textiles and wand-making.
We stopped by the rebuilt Faerieland Staff and Wand Factory. Although the wands and staffs are primarily target toward faeries, they do produce a sizable amount of wands for Neopians. Not all employees of the factory were faeries either.
Inside, we saw many strange-looking machines with many flashing lights and beeping sounds. A Green Yurble stood at the beginning of the assembly line with a bunch of rods, some made of metal and others wood. He loaded the rods onto a conveyor belt and pushed a large blue button, causing the belt to move the rods forward.--
"Hello there, how's it going?"
"Visitors? Without hard hats?!" He frantically scrambled to a stack of hard hats and grabbed a few.
"Put these on! Safety first!" He thrusted the hats toward our crew. We hastily put them on.
"I've been fine, I'm just glad I've gotten a job here recently."
"You're a new worker?"
"Oh, yes. I'm just starting out so they got me inspecting the rods that come in," he replied.
"And where do the rods come from?"
"The wooden ones come from a factory near the Faerie forest and the metal ones are made in Faerie City and shipped out here."
"Are you happy with your job right now?"
"Well, it pays well and the faeries are a pleasant bunch to work with so yeah, I do enjoy it. This factory keeps this village alive and I am thankful for it."--
Further down the assembly line was a faerie that was dumping some faerie dust on various gemstones which would go at the tip of the staffs and wands. She seemed very busy with her work and didn't hear us asking her if she had time to answer questions so we moved on down to a Checkered Buzz who was sprinkling faerie dust on completed wands.
"What are you doing?"
"Adding some magic to the wands. Such a boring task. I would rather work with the machines."
"Oh? How long have you worked here?"
"A couple years and I'm still doing this monotonous work. Every day it's sprinkling dust. Only the faeries get promotions here."
"Really? Is that really what's happening? That's against Faerieland Law."
"Well...no...but only those that get on a faerie's good side get the better jobs."
"So are you thinking of going to a different job?"
"No. But life was much better at a Lost Desert mineral mine I worked at. The shockwaves of Faerieland's fall caused an earthquake that damaged and closed the mine. Nobody was in it at the time so there were no injuries, but it forced me to find a job within Faerieland, hence why I am here, doing this job."
"You don't like working for the faeries?"
"Well, I guess you could say that. Anyways, this chatting isn't going to get me on the good side of anybody here. See ya."
As we were on the way out, a light faerie stopped us.
"Hello there, I'm Alice, the manager of this factory. I noticed you guys poking around. May I ask what you were discussing?"
We felt a bit nervous at this line of questioning, but told her honestly.
"We are here to listen to the opinions of residents affected by the fall of Faerieland."
"Oh I see. Well, I hope they like living in Faerieland. We've tried very hard to get workers from the group of new Faerielanders. Hopefully we've done well there."
"Why did you ask us that question?"
"Oh, we want to make sure that there's no talk of separating from Faerieland among the residents here."
"Huh? Tell us more."
"Well there are a handful of dissatisfied residents that want to leave Faerieland. Their land was given to Faerieland by the respective rulers of their former kingdoms. Not all of them are too happy about it. Still, we would rather not see an uprising of sorts."
"Do you think trying to oppress any talk of that might backfire? I'm sure there's a talk about uprisings because they think the faeries are taking over their land."
"Hmm, I guess you have a point there."
"Is Fyora ordering this?"
"No, I'm just scared that this village will no longer be a safe place for us faeries.
"Have there been any violent clashes?"
"No, like I said, it's only a small handful of residents. Most of them are at least indifferent if not happy to be a part of Faerieland. Anyways, I'd better get back to work too."
"I see, well, we'll best be on our way."
"Alrighty, take care."--
The conflicts mentioned by the light faerie are indeed true although uncommon. There have been a sizable, yet small, group of Neopians that thoroughly reject their new kingdom and wish for independence from Faerieland. Although often known for her gentle hand and kindness, Queen Fyora hasn't exactly embraced such movement although she continues to allow them to raise their voices, believing that any sort of censorship would be counterintuitive.
Our next stop leads us to the city of Nimbostratus where more Neopians have moved in alongside the faeries, resulting in a diverse city where the population is about half Neopets and half faeries. It is considered the second largest incorporated city after Faerie City. It is also an important port city as it is located along Faerieland's new coastline. The primary industries reflect that, fishing, shipping, and ship-building. Shenkuu has started to purchase flying ships from Faerieland to replenish some of their aging fleet. The Faerieland ships aren't quite as large but are adequate for bringing goods to far corners of Neopia.
The diverse demographics of the city hasn't always been smooth. The influx of Neopets has caused a shortage of housing and soaring living costs. Things have settled down since Queen Fyora diverted some of the Hidden Tower fund to make housing more affordable with more construction. It has done a decent job in providing adequate housing.
For this city, we spent more time interviewing faeries since they had to adjust to the changes in their city. At the shipyard, we met a water faerie who was inspecting hulls of ships.--
"Hey, there are quite a few ships here!"
The water faerie swam up to our dock.
"Oh yes, but this one has sprung a leak. Oh dear, I better get the team to fix this."
A group of Koi swam up to the hull and began the repairs on the ship.
"It looks like you guys are all a team."
"Yes, we've known each other for almost two years."
"How did you guys find each other?"
"We met in the sea. Aurora was looking for someone to work in her shipyard and while she swam around, she came across us. We were all excited to move to Faerieland so we couldn't say no to this opportunity."
"Are you all living in Nimbostratus?"
"Yeah, we all live in one Neohome and each of us splits the rent."
"Is rent pricey here?"
"It can be, which is why we are sharing. The Neohome can hold all of us."
"Does Aurora live with you?"
Aurora shook her head.
"No, I'm a water faerie so I live among the waves of the sea."
"Would you say this city has changed due to the large amount of other Neopians that moved in?"
"Certainly, most of my faerie sisters are indifferent. They don't really care whether you are a Neopet or a faerie. Yes, there have been some incidents where the faeries didn't seem so welcoming. That's a very small minority group that Queen Fyora is keeping a close eye on. She doesn't want any Neopian to feel unwelcome."
"Why do you think some of the faeries aren't so welcoming?"
"Well, I don't think any of them have a legitimate excuse for not being welcoming. Some faeries are just like that. They are probably the same faeries that are too lazy to go bless Neopians with their magic. Maybe they're just too full of themselves."
"I found the breach in the hull! Let's get to work!" one of the Koi shouted.--
The Koi and Aurora swam to the underside of the ship and began some construction work. We departed for a nearby dock where several fishing boats were docked. We could see several barrels full of Breadfish and Butterfish. There were a group of water faeries on a fishing boat casting nets.--
"Hello. You folks caught anything good?"
"Oh hi, no, just Breadfish and Butterfish. We are looking for some Cubefish but those Neopets over there might have caught every single Cubefish without leaving some for us. It didn't used to be this way."
"Is it really their fault though?"
"No, but they know we are trying to catch some more Cubefish. Yet they don't listen to us when we ask them to leave some for us."
"Is Cubefish valuable?"
"It's rare and we need some. The shortage only happened when more Neopians showed up."
"But they have to do what they can to make a living too right?"
"Ummm...I guess. Could they at least make a living elsewhere?"
"They can choose what they want to do right? Queen Fyora wouldn't be too happy if she found out Neopians were denied something, no?"
"You're a Neopian from the Neopian Times. You don't understand."
"I'm am a reporter that reports on Faerieland issues so I would like to think after many interviews with Fyora and other faeries, I would somewhat understand faeries."
"Yeah, okay. We don't care. Goodbye."
The water faeries swam away with their haul of fish leaving us quite incredulous.
"You don't have to take that, but thanks for standing up for Neopians that aren't faeries," said a very familiar voice.
We turned to see a faerie in a dark brown cloak. She rolled up her sleeves slightly and we saw the familiar armwraps."
"Shhhh! Nobody else can know who I am," she whispered.
"Why are you..."
"I'm worried about those water faeries who don't like Neopets. I'm just out here to see how the transition is going in this city with many Neopets traveling to live and work here. Here, let's go to my Neohome. It's right over there."
Fyora pointed at a small NeoHome made out of pink bricks and a small wooden door. It was quite non-descript. We headed inside.
The interior looked much roomier. Perhaps there was a magical spell that made the home appear smaller on the outside. As for the layout, it looked very much like Fyora's chambers in her castle except for the lack of a balcony.
The Faerie Queen took off her disguise.
"Well, this city is quickly changing huh? More Neopets than ever."
"Yes, and it's been mostly great. I think after the whole Xandra incident, pets and faeries have come to appreciate each other. But there are a handful of pets and faeries that clash with each other."
"What do you think will solve that problem?"
"Oh well, aside from stricter non-discrimination laws, we've done what we've can to ensure that Neopians and faeries have a safe place to live and work. Also reminding them that they don't want to prove Xandra right. Xandra did not want pets and faeries to coexist but we want to prove her wrong."
"I see. Do you think that's worked?"
"Mostly, there are still small pockets of disturbances but I've instructed faeries to keep their eyes peeled and try to break anything up before it happens. That's brought down violent incidents down to near zero."
"What would you say to the residents that used to be a part of other kingdoms but were annexed by Faerieland?"
"Just to be clear, they were not annexed. Their kingdoms gave us land as a gift. I would say give Faerieland a chance. I want them to let me know what we can do better. However, if they absolutely don't want to negotiate, then I guess we'll redraw borders to accommodate them."
"Have you actually redrawn the borders for any of them?"
"No, I would like to see if we can work something out that doesn't resort to that. We can't have this constantly happening. It will certainly be destabilizing."
"Do you like how Faerieland has turned out?"
"We've certainly come a long way so, yes. There's always more work to do though. I hope that Neopians will see the welcoming side of Faerieland. Now that it's much easier to get to our land, there's no need to fly or use the cloud elevator, I would like to see faeries and Neopians get along very well in our kingdom."--
While Queen Fyora continues to push a message of unity, and while the message is generally well received. There are small pockets of unrest. Still, recent efforts to make peace with their neighbors have been fruitful. The farmer we spoke to has since warmed up to his faerie neighbors, even inviting them over for a picnic.
The worker at the wand factory, on the other hand, is now actively in a labor dispute with his employer. Both sides wish to settle this amicably. They will see each other in court two weeks later.
The cranky water faeries were sent back to Faerie City for some training classes about treating pets fairly and performing community service.
Queen Fyora has established a commission on making peace with the border residents that felt wronged and many of them have stopped their unrest in exchange for more compensation for their land. Most of them are satisfied with their situations now.
In the meantime, we will continue to keep track of the border situation in Faerieland. We hope that you have gained some insight into Faerieland's more complex affairs.