The Legend of Faerie Caverns
Aiyrorah shuddered as she walked through the small moss-covered cavern. An unnatural breeze swept past her, and she hated to imagine the depths and endless miles of tunnels that scattered around her, above and below. She could only feel a sense of panic as she stepped cautiously around enormous thousand-year-old stalagmites, and stopping every few feet to listen to the sounds around her, straining to hear voices of her family.
Thinking back to the events just an hour before, she was frustrated with her choice to wander off. Aiyrorah knew she shouldn’t have strayed, even for a split second, but she could simply not help her curiosity when a sparkle in the tide pool caught her eye. She could see the small object emitted a translucent turquoise green light, just barely illuminating the bottom of the pool on which it lay. Aiyrorah needed to find out what it was. She took her lantern, and crept away from the group tour in the direction of the glowing pool.
Aiyrorah made her way over to the clear water, ducking and climbing around the ancient mineral deposits that make the caverns famous. She reached the water, and to her dismay, the object she lifted from the pool was a pitiful Tombola booby prize, just a bottle of glowing sand. She let the vial drop back into the dark water with a small ‘plunk’ noise, and she watched it sink, lighting up the sand where it fell.
Aiyrora shifted her gaze back to the area that her family had stood. Now that Aiyrorah turned to see where she had come from, she realized that the stalagmites and stalactites mixed together looked something like the scene from a horror movie. They suddenly looked entirely like a giant mouth, with rows of sharp teeth on the top and bottom. Aiyrorah tried to find her way back to the tour, but she heard no one. She climbed around the tremendous deposits, trying her hardest to recognize anything in the dim light from her lantern. “I only turned the corner and walked straight! Why does none of this look familiar??”
“Aiyrorah, pull yourself together” she thought, as she continued to walk forward. She had to keep moving. She dare not distract herself with thoughts of old tales told to her as a young girl. She need not remind herself why she should be terrified. She had been told many stories of the creatures that crept in the dark caverns. Creatures that live in the lakes far underground in the caverns, creatures that burrow into the mossy stone walls, enchanted beasts that have never seen daylight. Generations of different families speak of the treasures that are hidden far below the safe tour, but nobody Aiyrorah knew had ever found treasure. Nobody Aiyrorah knew would have been foolish enough to get lost in the caves.
Returning her thoughts to her current situation, she was now wildly guessing on which direction to walk. Aiyrorah thought it smart to keep to one side of the caverns when she came to the forks. Both the left and right sides seemed equally daunting. Vines mangled together and covered the walls, floor, and even draped the ceiling of the cave. This made walking at a reasonable speed nearly impossible. Thousands of years of slow dripping from the walls and ceilings of the caverns eroded the ground and created puddles and pools of varying depths all throughout the cavern floor. Her lantern was making it difficult to see far ahead of her, and the harsh light was creating terrifying shadows on the cave walls.
Aiyrorah could see a white mist in the distance. She was not yet able to distinguish what it was, but as she carried forward, she saw that it was a layer of dense fog that stretched over the floor. She could not see what lay underneath the fog. Aiyrorah looked around for a stick to use to prod the ground, to make sure she was safe to carry forward. There were no such sticks or useful items. Aiyrorah got down on hands and knees and grasped the floor to move forward, feeling her way across, while holding her lantern in her mouth. As she placed her hand down to inch forward, she screamed as she felt herself topple downward, falling head over tail. Aiyrorah was toppling into vines and thick wet peat moss - lessening her fall, as she landed 20 feet with a loud thud and splash.
Aiyrorah had not opened her eyes yet. She wanted to lay still, to recover momentarily before trying to move. She wiggled her toes and fingers, stretched her claws. She opened her eyes and looked the hole which she fell from. She could make out the barely visible light from her lantern, which remained on the edge of the hole. Aiyrorah felt stiff as she pushed herself upright. She felt good considering the height which she dropped. She paused to look forward now. She could see a dim reflection of light in the stream that trickled down the cave wall in front of her. “Wait a second... My lantern is up there... Where is the light in this room coming from?” Aiyrorah swung herself around to face the direction of the hazy yellow light.
She felt her stomach lurch. “It CAN’T be!!” Aiyrorah exclaimed. Her eyes fell on a wooden chest, whose age matched that of the surrounding stalagmites. It was gray and colorless from the dampness of the caves. Mushrooms grew on the sides of the trunk and it’s copper handles were now oxidized to a brilliant turquoise.
Suddenly her stiff body could not move fast enough. Sticking out of the wooden chest, Aiyrorah could see a stained and polished wooden handle, she could see the purple silk wing that gently swayed with the smallest rise and fall of the air in the cave. Standing right there in front of the chest, Aiyrorah haulted in disbelief. She had never seen one in person before. She slowly tilted the lid of the chest backwards, it creaked and rust broke loose from the hinges. Aiyrorah gasped audibly, “EUREKA!!” She exclaimed. Atop a gleaming pile of gold Neopoints laid a Faerie Paint Brush. SHE HAD FOUND THE TREASURE! She grabbed the artifact and felt the smooth surface. She saw up closer the ornate carvings in the handle of the paint brush, and it gave off a shimmering, lavender glow. Aiyrorah felt an overwhelming sensation to cheer and scream! “This was supposed to be a myth!” She shouted. Dancing and holding the Faerie Paint Brush, she heard a loud whistle.
“AIYRORAH!! Aiyrorah, where are you??” She heard the high-pitched voice from a distance. She was able to hear more than one set of footsteps drawing near her. “Ma’am? Miss Aiyrorah, is that you?” asked a gentle voice. Aiyrorah beamed with happiness. “MOM! Im here, I'm right here! I found something incredible!” Aiyrorah could now see the shadows portrayed on the wall, coming towards her. She felt a deep sense of relief as she saw her mother’s face. Her mother’s worried expression melted, and her tear-filled eyes sparkled as her face cracked into a smile. “Mom, I'm so sorry for wandering off, I di-” Said Aiyrorah. “Rora, what’s THAT?” Mom interrupted.
“Mom, I found the treasure!”
Aiyrorah was so distracted with the excitement that she hadn’t paused to see who else lead her mother through the cave. Floating alongside the wooden chest, examining it, was Illusen, the Earth Faerie.
Illusen was other-worldly. Her long orange-red hair stretched past her elbows, encasing her in what looked like fire. Her giant leaf wings were unlike anything Aiyrorah had ever seen before, stretching a foot on either side of Illusen’s shoulders, and her dress was composed of leaves and earthen materials, bound with leather cinches and ties. She was adorned with an intricately woven pure gold tiara, and rings with stones older than the Caverns themselves. She was very kind, and soft spoken. “Aiyrorah, I know your excited, but we should be on or way, the creatures that guard this chest will be back soon.” Illusen explained. Without hesitation and Illusen guiding their way, the three scurried back through the winding caves, and the bright light when reaching the entrance was a very welcomed sight.
“Come visit me for a quest sometime Aiyrorah. I can see you are a very brave young lady. I will reward you well for helping me.” Illusen smiled and hugged Aiyrorah. Then Illusen jumped, hovered a few feet from the ground momentarily, and waved as she floated higher into the air. All at once, Illusen vanished, leaving a handful leaves that cascaded to the ground gracefully.
Aiyrorah could not be more thankful and excited than in this moment. Before leaving the treasure chest she managed to gather a satchel-worth of gold, unbeknownst to her in that moment how much she made away with. Aiyrorah could now return to her home with the rarest of stories to tell. She was amongst the few in Neopian history to have ever found any treasure. She found the jackpot: A Faerie Paint Brush and 25,000 Neopoints. She will continue to tell the Legacy, the Legend of Faerie Caverns.