The Faerie Academy
Joura stared at the paper on the desk before her, pencil poised and ready to write. She knew she would be forced to make this decision before graduating from the Faerie Academy, but it had come so soon. She looked around at her fellow Faerie students, watching them scribble excitedly as they answered the question that most of them had probably known since they began their training. Yet, Joura didn’t know how to answer the question before her.
“What form of magic will you specialize in after graduation?”
All Faeries begin as neutral beings, able to use all Faerie magic. As they grow older, they begin to specialize in one kind of magic, and this determines the kind of Faerie they will become. For most, the choice is easy - Faeries tend to be born with a natural talent for one form of magic over the others. Even now, with graduation still weeks away, Joura could see the clear wings of some of her classmates already changing colors. Her own wings were still clear, giving no hint as to what path she should choose. Letting out a sigh, Joura wrote “undecided” on her paper and turned it in.
“Have you chosen what you will be yet?” Petra, Joura’s older sister, asked that evening, “You’ll have to take the placement test soon.” The placement test was another important part of specializing in a certain magic - each new faerie had to prove that they were able to master the type of magic used by the Faeries they wished to join. Petra had graduated from the Faerie Academy three years ago, and had impressed the earth faeries with her natural talent. She now worked here in Faerieland, handing out quests to capable-looking Neopets.
Joura laid her head on her pillow, “No. Nothing feels right. I just can’t imagine using one type of magic for the rest of my life!” Magic had always come naturally to Joura, but one type had never felt more natural than another “How did you know you were meant to be an earth faerie?”
Petra seemed to ponder this question for a moment, “I was always good at earth faerie magic, and plants have always been comforting to me. It was a natural placement for me.” Petra’s beautiful green wings sparkled in the Faerieland light that poured through the window. Joura knew Petra was right. Even at a young age, Petra always found herself in the woods, usually at the top of a tall tree. Joura considered if she had any habits that could indicate what path she should take. Unable to pinpoint anything, she decided to head to the library, hoping the Library Faerie knew something that could help her decide.
The Library Faerie was delicately dusting the books when Joura entered, “Joura! Welcome, did you have a book in mind for today?”
“Not in particular, I was hoping you had something that might help me figure out what type of Faerie I should choose to become?” Joura asked hopefully, trying to hide her worry.
The Library Faerie was not fooled, “You still can’t decide?” Joura shook her head, and the Library Faerie motioned to a chair. Joura sat, and the Library Faerie pulled a couple of old books from the stacks. She opened an especially old one titled ‘Faerie History’ and ran her finger over the text, “There are more than just the basic faerie types, you know. The space faerie, tooth faerie, and negg faerie all felt that they did not fit into the defined faerie types either.” Hope sparked in Joura. Of course! There were always special faeries, perhaps she was one of them? The Library Faerie quickly added, “However, they were also not good at any magic other than the ones they now represent. That still makes you a bit of an anomaly among Faeries.”
Joura lifted her head to peek in the book, “Is there any instance of a faerie like me existing?”
The Library Faerie continued reading, stopping when she seemed to find her answer. Her eyes widened, “Well… There does seem to be one faerie,” She began slowly.
Joura leaned forward in anticipation, “Who is it? Are they close? What type are they?”
The Library Faerie slowly lifted her eyes from the page, “The Faerie Queen, Fyora.”
Joura had told her teacher about her findings in the library. Her teacher only laughed. Of course she did, everyone laughed. Even Petra laughed at first, thinking that Joura was joking. Realizing that it was no joke, Petra then treated Joura like a child, telling her that it was okay to wish she was special, but Fyora had been queen for as long as anybody could remember, and had never taken in a student or discussed the future of the Faerie Queen position.
Now, standing in front of the gates of the queen’s towers, Joura planned to meet with the Faerie Queen and demand that she be given a placement test. She knocked, and a faerie tonu opened the gate, just enough that he could see Joura.
“Do you have an appointment with somebody on the royal council?” He asked, clearly confused as to why a clear winged faerie was knocking on the gates.
“No, but I demand to see Queen Fyora and take the placement test for Faerie Queen!” Joura announced as confidently as she could.
The tonu laughed, clearly thinking it was a joke. As he closed the gate, Joura stuck her hand out to stop it. “Please,” She begged, “I just need one chance.”
“The towers of the Faerie Queen are by appointment only. Queen Fyora cannot be bothered with such nonsense.” The tonu said, forcing the gate fully closed.
Joura slumped to the ground. All she needed was one chance with the queen, but it seemed that it would not be that easy. How was one supposed to get an appointment with the queen anyways? She only appeared a few times a day for her royal court. It was said that she spent much of her time running a shop, of all times. A Hidden Tower…
The idea hit Joura suddenly. Of course! The Hidden Tower! It was only a rumor, but so many Neopets spoke of the hidden shop, there had to be some truth to it. Joura quickly headed to the library, hatching a plan.
It was four days later when Joura returned. She had found exactly what she was looking for at the library - a map that showed the supposed location of the Hidden Tower. She wouldn’t enter through the main gate this time. Instead, the map showed an underground tunnel system, the entrance to which was near the back of the towers.
Reaching her hand out, she slid her fingers along the wall felt for what that map described as an invisible lever. Feeling something cold and metallic, she wrapped her fingers around it and pulled. A trap door seemed to open near the lever, with stairs that sank into the dark depths of the underground. Joura looked around once more to see if she had been spotted, before following the tunnel down.
According to the map, it was supposed to be a straight tunnel that led straight to the tower, up the stairs, a hidden courtyard, and a secret door. Yet Joura found herself at a crossroads, forced to choose between two equally dark paths. She used light faerie magic to look at the map again. Did she miss something? Was the map old, and Fyora added additional protection to her tower? Either way, there was no turning back. Choosing the left tunnel, Joura continued forward.
Joura wasn’t sure how long she was walking, but she became suddenly aware of a noise that she hadn’t noticed before. She quickly extinguished her light, unsure if it was the tower guards. Was it… Crying? Slowly allowing her light to return, Joura followed the noise. She did not have to travel far to find a blue Shoyru, sitting in the dark, crying.
“Are you okay?” Joura asked nervously.
“I got lost. I wanted to get a faerie paint brush from the Hidden Tower, but it's so DARK!” The Shoyru said through sobs.
Reaching her hand out, Joura helped her stand. “I’m also headed to the hidden tower. Would you like to travel with me? I’ll keep it lit,” she added, indicating the light she had created, “What is your name?”
“Leena” The Shoyru replied, “and yes, I would be very grateful if you would travel with me.”
Joura smiled, “Well, Leena, according to my map, if the Hidden Tower is down this path, it should be just ahead.”
The map was correct, they did not have to travel much farther to reach the set of stairs. They climbed together, coming to a small hallway. “It’s a hidden door behind a bookshelf” Joura explained, reading from the map.
“Here!” Leena announced, pulling the trapdoor open. Joura went though, matching the abandoned courtyard before her to the one described in the map. It was the same. If that was the case, the hidden door should be… There! Reaching out, she turned the doorknob...
“Joura!” Leena’s frantic cry jolted Joura, she had been so focused on the map, she had walked ahead without Leena! Turning around, Joura could not see the blue Shoyru.
“Leena? Leena!” Joura called, fluttering her wings to get a view from above.
“Down here!” Leena’s voice cried. Joura didn’t see her, but as she focused her eyes, she noticed the ground was moving…
Slorgs covered everything, their green color blending into the grass. Joura spotted Leena’s blue hand reaching up, the rest of her body covered by the sea of slorgs. At the same time, the slorgs began to cover the hidden door. If Joura didn’t go through now, she would miss her chance at meeting Fyora. There was no way she would risk coming back into this slorg infested trap.
Joura threw her map aside and flew down to help Leena, grabbing her and pulling as hard as she could.
“Fly!” Joura shouted through the slorgs. She could see Leena’s wings breaking through. Moving towards the trap door they came through, Joura felt Leena break loose and began flying behind her.
Once on the other side of the trap door, Joura pushed the bookshelf shut. Once she was sure it was secure, she turned and put her hands on Leena’s shoulders.
“Are you okay? I’m so sorry, I shouldn’t have left you like that-” Joura stopped as she noticed Leena’s expression. She was… Laughing?
“You did well.” Another voice entered the hallway. Joura turned quickly to see the glowing figure of Queen Fyora approaching. Turning back to Leena, Joura was shocked to find that she had transformed into a gelert.
“I-” Joura began, but stopped abruptly. What was happening? Wait. The Queen? The Queen! This is what she wanted, right? But where was Leena? Who was this gelert? Taking a deep breath, Joura confidently turned to face Fyora, “My name is Joura. I attend the Faerie Academy, and I have reason to believe that my talents indicate that I am to become a faerie queen as well. I ask that you allow me to take a placement test. I also would like to know where Leena went.”
Fyora smiled kindly, “You have already passed my test, dear.” She said. Joura was amazed how kind a gentle her voice was, “I do apologize for deceiving you, this is Celandra, my most loyal servant. I disguised her as Leena to oversee your test. I will admit, she was a little over the top with the slorgs.”
Celandra did a curtsy, smiling mischievously, “Only to follow your orders, my queen.”
“Wait, wait.” Joura interrupted, still confused, “What test? I barely used my magic at all!”
Queen Fyora smiled, “Being queen isn’t about your magic. You sacrificed your chance to see me in order to save a Neopet you had just met. That is what I look for in a leader. I have been watching you for a long time, Joura, waiting for you to realize your path.”
“So, does this mean you accept me?” Joura asked hopefully.
“Of course, dear” Fyora replied, “You’ll join me here in the towers after your graduation. The training will be hard, but I have faith that you will do marvelously. Now, I believe we’ll have to start with some new clothes. Something pink…”