Isolde and the Faerie Statue:Part Five
Isolde woke up to the sound of softly gurgling water. She was having another dream. However, in this one, she woke up not in the forest, but in Faerie City. Stranger still, the city was in the clouds! She’d never seen Faerieland like this before. There were Neopians there, faeries and Neopets alike, and as far as she could see, there were beautiful pink and purple clouds and gorgeous buildings everywhere. This was very different than the Faerieland she knew, which, while still beautiful, was situated on mainland Neopia and was on a lush, verdant landscape. This was a city in the clouds! She walked gingerly, worried that if she stepped too quickly, the clouds would give way and she would fall out of Faerieland and into the ocean.
It was perfectly serene there. The soft lilt of the faeries’ voices, the pale mauve clouds under her feet, and the amber sunset in the distance all made her feel calm, safe, and at peace. She looked out at the city and its beauty took her breath away. The Wheel of Excitement was gorgeous, and, from where she stood, she could make out the major streets in Faerie City. They were lined with pink and purple cobblestones, and faeries swarmed the streets with goods and bags of Neopoints. The major shops were small, but cute: vendors sat behind their stands and sold pastries, coffee, or books, depending on the booth. There was a massive building at the edge of the city whose purpose was unknown to her, but was obviously of great importance, as most Neopets in the area visited it at some point. Regardless, the city and its architecture fascinated her, and she loved how such a city could be complex without being overwhelming at times like Neopia Central often was.
She was aware, of course, that all of her previous dreams of Faerieland ended up turning into nightmares, so she braced herself for some horrible turn of events that might ruin this idyllic dream. But nothing seemed to happen. Everything was peaceful, everything was calm, and for the first time since she arrived in Neopia Central, she actually felt at peace.
That morning, the package came. Gertrude anxiously waited outside their home until the delivery Weewoo deposited it in her mailbox. She immediately went inside and tore off the packaging to reveal a book with a beige cover. It didn’t have a title from what she could see, but there were large meteors flying across the sky drawn in red ink across the front. She opened it to find that there wasn’t any narrative or even any words, either; it was a huge portfolio of drawings. One page was a statue of a Dark Faerie very similar to the one Isolde had described. There was a plaque at the statue’s base, though the words weren’t legible from the etching. On other pages were drawings of a city, quite similar to Faerie City, though parts were hardly recognizable due to damage over the years; worse, columns of fire erupted from buildings in some places. Faeries and Neopets alike were drawn turning into stone from the head down. Some drawn in black ink, some drawn in red ink. Gertrude wondered what these could mean; not only were the drawings unusual, but there was no context for them, no clear narrative to make sense of. For all she knew, this could just be an artist’s sketchbook.
She turned to the end, though, and on the last page of the book was a mysterious script written in a combination of what seemed to be ancient Lost Desert hieroglyphics and runes from Altador, remnants of an old system of writing that hadn’t been used for hundreds of years. Fortunately, an editor to the book made an annotation translating it: “And all will turn to stone, but for one brave Neopian.”
Sometimes, when Gertrude was younger, she would read. Of course, with work being as busy as it was, she hardly found the time now, but she did still enjoy a short novel when she had the time. She found she related more to Isolde than Siegfried did and it was easy for her to see herself in her daughter, whom she often found curled up on the sofa after school flipping through pages of adventure novels or science books. But, for some reason, she thought of some of the books she read when she was younger. Sometimes these books would have heroes who experienced these visions and were meant to save the world. On the surface, she knew such an idea was ridiculous. Not that her daughter didn’t have the intelligence or the courage to be a hero, but was something like that really happening here? Really? This was her life now? Right as she and Siegfried about to close a huge deal for their business?
Things were going well, of course, at least on the business front: the order was going along smoothly and the factory had already produced a good three thousand of the four thousand plushies ordered. The days at the factory were long, though, and it was often difficult supervising the workers, taking inventory on the plushies, and making sure the Zomutts were well-taken care of, especially considering Isolde’s difficulties. But prophecies often involved danger and widespread destruction, didn’t they? What would this mean for Isolde? And what would this mean for her work?
“Isolde?” Gertrude called for her daughter. “Isolde? Honey, come look.”
Isolde walked over to the table and looked over her mom’s shoulder at the book. She flipped through the pages and her eyes slowly began to open. “No way,” she said. “This is exactly like what’s happening in my dreams. Except there’s the Dark Faerie.”
“I was thinking about this and… do you remember all of those old fiction books? The ones where doom and danger spread all over the land, and there’s nothing anyone can do except for one hero?”
“Yeah… but why, mom?”
“Take a look at this,” Gertrude said, pointing to the annotation. “What do you think?”
“I don’t know,” Isolde said, laughing. “I don’t think prophecies really happen in real life. I don’t believe in them, really.”
“They may not look the way you want them to,” Gertrude said, “but they are real.” Isolde wasn’t sure what to make of this, but it seemed rife with meaning, so she went to her room to think about it for a bit before breakfast.
The night after, Isolde had another dream. She found herself in Faerieland in the clouds again, like before, but the city was very different. It was dark out, though warm; it was winter, too, which made it all the stranger. She looked up at the sun, which was still in the sky, and saw that it was a deep purple. The air carried an ominous silence. She descended from the cloud she was on and stepped into the city, and was shocked to find that the same faeries she’d seen the night before selling their wares and singing in the street the day before were all made of stone. Their expressions were horrified. What had happened since she last visited?
Either way, they were all facing the massive tower that Isolde didn’t know the purpose of the last time she visited. She found herself walking over to it this time in the dream—or not walking, really, but she found herself being pulled toward it again. And, at the door to the tower, she could make out another statue. One a little larger than the others, she could tell, even from a distance. As she got closer, she realized that it was the same Dark Faerie statue that had been haunting her all this time. She tried to move away from it, but she found herself powerless to resist the force that was drawing her to the statue of the faerie. As she approached, she could tell the statue’s expression was markedly different from the previous encounters. Instead of the confidence the faerie displayed previously was sadness and also surprise; the faerie was just as bewildered as everyone else. Was she someone to be afraid of? Or just like the others who had been petrified in the city?
On the weekends, when she didn’t have school, Isolde made a point to read through the Neopian Times. She usually preferred books to newspapers and she was busy with her studies anyways, so she often didn’t read the weekday issues, but she still thought it important to catch up with current news, especially considering her present circumstances. Maybe others were suffering from similar issues, she thought, and some hint, some subtle clue from the newspaper could give her some sense of direction to figure what was happening to her.
She flipped through distractedly. BUZZ, TAG, and TSRC were doing well in the Stock Market, she noted; the market price of many items from the Spooky Food Store had mysteriously skyrocketed, though the article failed to give a convincing explanation as to why; and an old Lupe who really liked the beach wrote a travel guide for Mystery Island, urging Neopia Central residents to travel there to avoid the coming winter. Not that the stuff wasn’t interesting; it just wasn’t what she was looking for. It wasn’t until the second-to-last page that she came across something that really caught her attention: it was an unusually long piece written by a Transparent Blumaroo that covered mysterious landmarks and strange illnesses and the possibility of the two being linked. At first, there was nothing that was pertinent to her malady. The article mentioned trenches drawn in the Lost Desert many years ago in shapes that roughly resembled certain Petpets, like the Horus and the Scamander, and how Neopets mysteriously caught terrible cases of Kikoughela after coming into contact with them. Another finding related a story of massive glowing torrents of water in Maraqua that made residents dizzy and left them unable to talk weeks after seeing them. These were strange happenings that Isolde was fascinated by, but she didn’t see how they could help her. However, as she read through the article, she came across a section that particularly interested her.
“A mysterious statue of an unidentified Dark Faerie appeared several months ago in a small clearing in Neopia Central,” the writer averred. “Though one cannot, as of yet, definitively claim whether the statue has caused any issues among Neopia Central’s population, Neopians have complained of bad luck recently. Moreover, it does closely resemble statues found several years ago in parts of the Haunted Woods and the Lost Desert. Reports from those in the immediate vicinity of these statues mention blurry vision and intense headaches, frequent nightmares involving fire and widespread destruction, a difficulty moving after these nightmares that intensified over time, and rare reports of petrification. Residents are strongly discouraged from examining, moving, or damaging the statue in any way of form. There are small solaces, however. One positive statement that can be made is that these statues inevitably seem to disappear and, with them, the nightmares cease, petrified Neopians are restored to their former selves, and the headaches cease. More, the statues, once gone, do not seem to resurface anywhere in the world for months, or even years, at a time. One can only hope that the statue has no negative effects on Neopia Central’s population, but anyone living near this new statue should contact the Neopian Times the moment they experience anything out of the ordinary.”
So this wasn’t an isolated case, then. Neopets throughout Neopia had been experiencing nightmares about these things for years now. What could be the reason for them, then? Well, the statue, sure, but nothing the article mentioned had said anything about why the statue was linked to the nightmares. Was it behind everything that happened or merely the sign of a more sinister force?
Should she contact the Neopian Times or should she not? Isolde ruminated over this for the entire day. What could it hurt? But on the other hand, maybe knowing more would be scarier and she’d have to do something about the faerie statue.
After hours of deliberation, she finally decided to write the letter.
Dear Claudia Greenbate:
I enjoyed your thoughtful article on landmarks and illnesses in Neopia. You mentioned that if someone is suffering from issues they think the statue near the Neopian Plaza may be causing, they should contact you immediately. I think it’s important to tell you about the nightmares I’ve been having because maybe you can shed some light on them. My nightmares are very close in nature to those you mentioned others having. Would you like to talk sometime?
Several days later, she received an envelope in the mail cordially inviting her to talk to Claudia Greenbate at her mansion in the Haunted Woods.
To be continued…