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Tainted Wings


by digital_microwave

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The vain yellow Acara admired her reflection in her cracked mirror. Her name was Lilia. Lilia loved the way her glossy fur stood out, her neat pink paws, and her long, beautiful horns. A ray of sunlight deflected off her shiny fur when a thought suddenly struck her. She would look better…if only she had a Faerie paint brush.

      She could just imagine it now. Prancing around the room, she pivoted expertly on her toes as she swished herself around. She was a gifted ballet dancer. If only her Faerie wings were here to complement her now. She longed for the day when she would get dainty pink and white wings, soaring through the air, free to fly anywhere she wanted…

      She came down back to reality with a bump. Her owner, Tilda wouldn't be able to afford one, she thought miserably as she stared at the broken, tattered window that was set on the cardboard wall in her little shack of a Neohome.

      The door suddenly creaked, and in stepped a girl of about twelve, her short figure almost bent with all the bags she was holding. Lilia rushed to help her owner and took hold of a bag, which smelled strongly of pizza and fajita chips.

      "Thanks, Lilia," Tilda mumbled, heaving more bags onto their rickety, dirty bamboo sofa. Lilia smiled. Maybe she would ask about the Faerie paint brush later.

      As the duo silently ate their lunch, Lilia glanced up at her owner and shook a little, nervous. "Tilda?"

      "Yes, Lilia? You have a question?"

      "I was wondering whether I could get painted with a Faerie paint brush." Lilia said, her lips trembling a little.

      Tilda almost choked on her chips. "If I know a paint brush, especially a Faerie one, it costs about 750,000 neopoints."

      "What?" Lilia's eyes bulged out.

      "Yes, and if you could help and save a little, you'll get it in about..." Tilda paused to do some mental calculations, "thirteen months."

      "Arrgh!" a frustrated Lilia screamed, running around in circles. Tilda sighed. She knew what Lilia was experiencing. It was something she yearned for, so badly that she was prepared to give up anything for it. Tilda let out another long sigh. It was no use trying to calm Lilia down. The berserk Neopet was practically screaming her head off.

      Tilda tried a bribe. "To make up for it, I'll take you to Faerieland tomorrow."

      The few simple words calmed Lilia down. "Alright," she answered, breathing heavily. If she couldn't get a Faerie paint brush, then she would go to the land of the faeries.

           ***

      "Fifteen neopoints, please," the bandana-clad Aisha at the Uni flight stop said, her mouth full of cake.

      Tilda thrust a small bag of neopoints in her direction, trying to avoid being sprayed with crumbs. She looked at Lilia. The eager young Acara was doing a small happy dance, watching two green Unis arriving.

      The Unis flew over clouds, tinged with pink and blue; over small streams and rivers, lines of blue completing the greenery below.

      Finally, they landed on a huge cloud. Lilia got down, and was greeted by a sight to behold. The fountains and springs complemented the pinkish, gigantic cloud. Faeries were everywhere, hustling and bustling, carrying out their daily activities. There was the large Wheel of Excitement in a corner, just tempting people to spin it.

      Faerie City was even more magnificent. Little, squat Faerie shops crowded the entire area; towers were seen everywhere. And in the midst of it all, seeming even more mysterious and grand was the Faerie Castle, where the wise Queen Fyora lived.

      Grabbing her owner by the hand, Lilia hurried off to the Wheel of Excitement. Tilda paid 150 neopoints to the light faerie and heaved the big wheel down. After waiting for a while, it landed on a red space-500 neopoints. Lilia screamed in delight and gratefully accepted the brown cloth bag. Yes-the day ahead was to be filled with activities, activities and activities.

      ***

      A tall, skinny dark faerie groused and griped in her hideout, which was concealed beneath an invisibility spell. She had just fired her oh-so-inept assistant, a roly-poly Bruce.

      "Humph! And to think that big galoot had thoughts of being my assistant! He already broke three potion bottles. Well, at least he didn't touch the acid," she murmured.

      Latifa scratched her chin in thought. She needed a Neopet, a small innocent one that she could mould into what she wanted. The dark faerie closed her eyes, activating her mind-reading power.

      After a while, a twisted, evil grin began to stretch across her face. "Yes, that yellow Acara."

      ***

      Lilia was admiring the cute little Faerie petpets. She adored the Alkenore, although she knew that Tilda wouldn't be able to buy it for her. Speaking of Tilda, she was chatting the day away with the kindly Faerie shopkeeper.

      In her hideout, Latifa cast a spell. It was to transform her appearance. After all, which little Neopet would trust an evil-looking faerie clothed in purple?

      The purple bursts of magic twisted and turned like vines around Latifa, the sickly-sweet smell choking her. She knew she only had to put up with it for a little while, and then it was alright.

      An Earth Faerie admired herself in the mirror. She was perfect. Chestnut brown hair, green dress and all. Latifa snatched a potion off her shelf. It was time to play with the Acara.

      ***

      "Hello there, little girl," Latifa cooed, as she appeared beside the Neopet. She made sure she wasn't seen, and that was taken care of, because a spell had made the human and faerie shopkeeper fall into deep slumber.

      "Hello, I'm Lilia," the Acara answered.

      "Now, I have been noticing you for a while, and I think you're very sweet. So, you deserve this," Latifa spoke gently, holding out a potion.

      Lilia observed the sparkling red and silver liquid bubbling inside the bottle. Latifa had whipped it up herself. Actually it was just a coloured, bubbling mass, but as soon as the foolish Neopet drank it, it would activate a spell that would make her grow the long-desired wings. But she would have to pay a terrible price: enslavement.

      Lilia did what Latifa wanted. She uncorked the bottle carefully, letting the silver smoke play across her face. Something wasn't quite right. Something in the smoke made her stop in her tracks. But Lilia craved for those wings more than anything in the world, so she gulped it down.

      It was horrible, like drinking fire. Lilia bore with it as long as she could, because the pain was spreading to her arms, her body…she couldn't withstand the burning sensation any longer, and sank down onto the floor.

      And on her back, wing roots began to grow. And grow they did, morphing from wing buds into shimmering pink wings with hues of white, faerie wings, within seconds.

          The earth faerie transformed, showing her true self. "Perfect," she giggled.

      ***

      "Oomph!" Lilia groaned as she rubbed her head. She hoped what had happened just now wasn't real. But it was. She saw something glinting behind her-a set of faerie wings. She gasped, and fondled them lovingly. At last, her very own wings.

      She spied Tilda, asleep at the counter. "Uh-oh," she breathed. What would Tilda say? Lilia folded her wings down, pressing them against her thick fur. They were perfectly hidden.

      She gave Tilda a gentle nudge. "Tilda? Can we go back now?"

      "So soon?" Tilda said groggily, rubbing her eyes. Actually, she was rather pleased at the thought of going home. The day had worn her out. "Okay," she answered.

      Lilia heaved a sigh. She would have to explain sooner or later.

      ***

      "Come here, young one…come here," Latifa beckoned, her voice growing softer and more dangerous by the second. She weaved long bits of purple magic around her translucent orb, which showed her clearly that Lilia was sound asleep. Latifa knew the Acara would come here any second.

      Sure enough, the magic got into Lilia's head, hypnotizing her on the spot. You must remember that the mind and body are most vulnerable while asleep. Lilia heard the voice in her head. It was so mesmerizing, so enchanting. She obediently got up, and opened her eyes. But no, her eyes were so big you could have seen the whites, with absolutely no emotion, no feeling in them.

      She undid her window latch, and flew off into the night sky on her new wings, with no control at all over herself. She only could do and see what the voice told her.

          "Ah, there you are," Latifa grinned, stirring away at a vile concoction. "Now, I am missing a few major ingredients. Please get them for me. They are a fire potion, a chip of wood off the wheel of mediocrity, a hair from Queen Fyora and a drop of water from the Rainbow Pool. Go!" the faerie instructed as she pointed a bony finger at Lilia.

      Lilia flew out to Neopia Central, where stealthily she broke into a shop. She came out minutes later with a fire potion, which she tucked into a cloth bag. She broke off a small piece of wood from the wheel, which wasn't easy. She did the Queen Fyora job quickly, flying away at the last moment when the Queen jumped, cursing. She put the drop of water into a small vessel, and then brought them all back to Latifa.

      A few strands of shaggy purple hair fell over Latifa's face. She brushed them back quickly, looking at the sedentary Acara. "Very good job, Lilia. You can go back now." The Acara flew back home. It was eerie, the way she looked, like a little servant robot.

      ***

      The next day, rays of warm sunshine woke Lilia up. She yawned and stretched, feeling rather stiff and cramped, which obviously resulted from the events of the night before. Lilia felt strange. She remembered flying, but for what reason and for who, she didn't know. She felt lethargic, and smoothed out her bedraggled fur.

      Her day went on in an untidy fashion. Even Tilda could not quite place her finger on the situation. She saw how tired her Neopet looked, the sagging eyes, the sluggish movements, the rumpled fur. Usually she was full of zest, excitement and hyperactivity. It was like she had been away at night. Little did the unsuspecting owner know that she had hit the nail on the head.

      Lilia gradually transformed from hyper Neopet to tired Neopet. Latifa was keeping her nose to the grindstone, asking her to fetch more and more items with each passing day. Tilda was worried sick, and she became a skeleton of her former self.

          The only one who got benefits out of this affair was, needless to say, Latifa. She made deadly concoctions and cast evil spells everyday, getting ready to overthrow Queen Fyora.

      And Lilia? Well, one day she sat in front of her mirror, brushing out her fur. She was horrified at the sight she saw. This creature in the mirror didn't look like her at all! Where was the glossy fur, the bright twinkling eyes, the polished horns? Lilia carefully thought this over. She then realized that this had all started from the day she got those wings. Who had given it to her? Ah, it was an earth faerie. But what earth faerie would poison her life like this? Lilia decided to pretend to sleep tonight. She might be able to find out the culprit.

      Lilia lay in bed, her eyes closed but her mind alert. She would have to be hit by some sort of force by now. And then she heard it. A voice as soft as the whisper of the trees, seeming to beckon her to go someplace. Almost naturally, she began to fly, her wings propelling her forward. She was shocked because she found out that she had no control over her wings.

      Lilia was sent to Latifa's hideout. The dark faerie sensed that something was wrong, but she didn't know what. Lilia just stood there, listening to the faerie say out a list of items.

      What? So, she was merely a servant, sent to fetch items? Well, no more!

      She spoke out. "You witch, you! You made me lose all pleasures of my life! I don't want those wings anymore! They're tainted! Tainted, I tell you! Don't wear that expression on your face! Take them back!"

      Latifa just gaped. She didn't know how, but this smart cookie of an Acara found out about her plan. "Fine," she hissed dangerously, "you want me to take them back, and I'll take them back!" She sent a blast of purple and black magic towards Lilia's back, hitting her wings.

      This was even worse than drinking that evil potion. Lilia felt her wings being ripped off, and unbearable pain was unleashed upon her. She had never felt so much pain before, it was like a white-hot knife, searing down her back. She screamed, and flopped onto the floor, writhing. Her body seemed to twist painfully, adding to the vile treatment. Amidst Latifa's evil chuckles, the blue mists swirling about, and the pungent smell of various potions, Lilia felt she was falling, falling into an abyss.

      ***

      Latifa cursed, stomping about. Humph, and it was going so well too. She had mind-wiped the Acara and sent her home. Time to look for a new assistant, gullible and vulnerable enough. Latifa turned to arrange the items on her shelves, and hung on a wall, was the pair of tainted wings, now turned to dark, black stone.

The End

 
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