Drenched in Grey
The day's light was fading. The day had rustled by on wings
of light and with eyes of pure sunshine. Now those wings had folded together and
those eyes had closed for night. But they might never open again.
The faerie had known this all along, had planned
for it the whole way. She had used up her whole life for this and now was determined
to see it through to the black and dire end.
She had spent her childhood happily, an enchanter
who had never known sadness. Then one day she had lost a friend and half of
her joy was gone.
Minya had a sister, Choor, whom she had lived
with until ten years of age. Their parents were an air faerie and a dark faerie.
This combination had made Minya and Choor love dusk and nighttime the most of
all. Ah, wasn't it peaceful, serene, quiet, that time after the bustle and stress
of day was over and before the people started the monotony of life again? And
didn't people have the best time of all at night? Anyone asleep at that time
would be dreaming, and anyone awake could have the chance to look at the stars
and the glowing moon. The best times of Minya's life had been spent gazing at
the moon and stars and dreaming. She had written and published many, many short
stories starting at the age of six, and many Neopians were now nocturnal, writing
casual poetry and gazing at the outlines of owl-infested trees. But that didn't
matter to Minya.
Minya and Choor had been sitting one night by
the northern shore of Krawk Island, and Choor had been pulled down by a girl
with long blond hair streaked with purple. She had wanted Choor. Choor had been
mad at Minya, and had consented to explore the underwater realm of Maraqua with
the mysterious girl.
Choor had never surfaced again.
Minya had wiped away all memories of Choor.
She had boarded up Choor's room and burned all of her pictures of Choor. She
had changed her name, even, to Baelia, meaning Nevermore.
Baelia had taken a vow that unless her sister
would come up and greet her again, just once, that she would draw the world
into Absolute Night. She would then be able to sleep forever, just as she was
sure her sister was.
Ten years she had used her powers, and the power
of others, to blacken the Sun, to keep the warmth but darken the light. Ten
years she had had to reconsider, but never did. Ten years had filled her with
malice, and then, when her madness overtook her, sadness. Ten years drained
her money, possessions, and home. She was never once struck from her goal.
She had covered Neopia's land and water with
a cloud of gray, and that cloud of grey she imbued with ever-darkening colors.
From buckets of blue to explosions of silver, to billowing brown. The Sun still
shone through, but soon it would not.
Ten years from the start of her project, Baelia's
cloud had all but blinded the Earth. She had kept a great amount, really, of
light, but without sufficient tones of brightness, the whole of Neopia had descended,
like a slow-falling waterfall, into a time of sadness. Even the cheeriest were
never happy for more than a day, and only once or twice that.
Baelia was never happy.
She had stopped working now. Nothing more could
be done, for better or for worse. Now, the sheet of grey was sufficient enough
to suck power from the fading personalities almost all Neopians. And Baelia
wasn't unaffected. Some days she woke up, sore from sleeping on rocks in a lawn
or on the cold plastic of a slide in a playground, and would do nothing but
mope. She couldn't help it. But, she noticed, this was happening more and more
with others. She wasn't happy; they had done nothing to her or her sister. She
was satisfied. Now, no one was immune to the despair that had clenched her in
a tight wrap since her sister had disappeared, leaving only ripples behind.
Poor people were turned out onto the streets as landlords worried about their
standing. Inns closed, whole neighbourhoods went for days without a celebration
or happy day. As children saddened, grades went down, teachers' salaries went
up, and grades went down some more. No one was happy; people complained, wept,
grouched, and generally became morose.
Then, something happened. There came rumours,
rumours of two girls plaguing the shore of Krawk Island, supposedly living halfway
between the Maraquan Ruins and Krawk Island in a dank cave, one with long, blond,
purple-streaked hair and the other with long, golden, purple-streaked hair.
But Baelia was too far gone to notice. She thought
of nothing but the image of her sister, and didn't think of the news or the
reports. She would settle for nothing less than her sister, in flesh and blood.
And so, she did not gather up the remnants of her power, did not use the store
of magic she kept to dissolve the cloud of sadness and put it into a jug of
concealment and quarantine of evil. The cloud over the once-blue Neopian sky
was growing, darkening, and fast.
A fortnight before ten years of darkness had
passed, Baelia started having dreams. She tossed and turned, as if possessed,
plagued by visions of her sister, beseeching her to come and join her and her
friend. Baelia woke up every day not only feeling depressed, but disturbed.
For the first time, she started wondering. Would this affect her family? Had
it already? Her friends, how-
But this last thought was cut off. She had no
friends. She had not had any for ten years. And now this twenty-year-old faerie
realized that she was very lost and alone in the world.
Having no want, still, to stop the cloud of
misery from growing, she just wished desperately that her sister would rejoin
her again. Her sister, her only friend. And her dreams continued to haunt her.
A week passed, and then six days more. On the
morn of the last day, Baelia woke up with wet streaks, the streaks of tears,
running down her cheeks. And the tears came all day, triumphant and defeated
at the same time. She went down to the shore where she had seen her sister disappear,
gathered the jug of concealment to her- and waited.
She thought that she was waiting to fall asleep,
but it was proven not to be so.
When an hour had passed, she was facing not
a shore, but a bubbling, slopping mass of water whose movement seemed very foreboding,
due to the lack of any illumination. The almost-black water lapped faster and
faster against the shore- and now they stilled. Out of the water came a familiar
figure and one not-so-familiar. Her sister! And her sister had a tail. Over
ten years, her body had slimmed and her legs had disappeared, replaced by a
long scale-covered length with a divided end. Her sister, Choor, hugged and
greeted her, but then looked up at the sky.
"Sister! Do you know how this has happened?
It started, I think, around the same time Vherrya urged me to join her. We saw
how superficial this world really is, and were planning to change it- but not
Baelia was shocked. Her sister! How was her
sister, gone under the waves for ten years, resurfacing? It couldn't be! She
must be a ghost.
Baelia started crying again. She couldn't help
it. The whole world was dark, and now she was seeing a ghost of her sister.
But then she looked at her sister again, who gazed gently back.
"I will not blame you for doing this if you
did, sister. But can you take it back?"
Baelia took in the words but could not come
out with some of her own. They were stuck, but she cleared her throat and said
She lifted up the jug slowly. Choor looked at
it and asked, "Will you take it back?"
Baelia took no time to decide. Her sister was
back with her. She nodded, and started intoning the words. But again Choor interrupted
"Minya, I'm sorry for what happened ten years
ago. But I need to go under the water again. Will you join us? I will not stay
on land long."
Baelia nodded. She was Minya again to her sister.
And her sister was here with her. She started again…
"Niaga nethgil llahs yks eht!"
At first there was no response. Minya drew into
herself again, shivering with cold and fear. The stumps of her wings pressed
hard into her back, and she drew a great breath.
Then, she uncurled her head, her arms, her legs.
With amazing rapidity, the sky was clearing, as if after a bad thunderstorm.
From black-cat color to foggy grey to silver and finally to a piercing blue.
Minya and her sister and her friend shielded their eyes and gasped. It was wonderful!
Then, Minya turned to Choor and Vherrya. She
They walked, or slithered, past the pebbles
on the beach, past the shallow water, and finally to the depths of the ocean.
Minya was holding her breath. She knew that
somehow her sister had survived breathing underwater, but- how? Over time, of
course, she had adjusted to the underwater life- just look at that tail! But
how did she do it before?
She had just finished this thought when Vherrya
came over to her, and very quickly slipped a ring of seaweed around her head,
and said, glugging a little underwater, "Breathe."
Minya breathed in very slowly. She didn't choke.
She didn't panic. She could breathe!
It was a day or so later when they stopped swimming.
Vherrya stopped just inside a small cave. There, she pointed at a frozen statue
of a Dark Faerie, raging and pulling at chain.
"That, Minya, is my mother. She was frozen there,
ten years ago. She is also your mother. Choor and I had found her there. We
have no idea how, or why, she was frozen. Will you help us avenge her?"
Then Minya nodded.
Vherrya said, "You know, your mother's maiden
name was Drenched. So we decided to call ourselves that, too."