Of Grey and Soulmates
Faeries are born with their soulmate’s first words to them written on their skin.
Soulmates do not necessarily mean romantic partners, as many Neopian might envision, but rather, for the Faeries, soulmates are their other half, someone who could make a significant impact in their lives. Soulmates are the one other being who could accept you for who you are— all the good and bad— even if the whole world doesn’t.
Take Illusen and Jhudora for example: their hatred for each other is well known, and they throw as many insults as curses at each other on a daily basis. But deep down, the both of them know each other better than any others, know each other’s most inner thoughts; each other’s darkest secrets.
However, this story is not about them, not at all— it is about a young Light Faerie by the name of Baelia.
Baelia is a spark of life, a Light encompassing everything bright and happy under the sun. She is a Faerie with glittering wings and lively cheer, a Faerie that spreads happiness upon the things she touches.
She is young and vibrant, with a heart too big and pure for her small, petite body. She spends her time wandering through Neopia, exploring the lands and blessing Neopians whenever she comes across them.
Bealia trusts, explicitly and wholly, because she is Light, and she knows nothing of the darkness lurking in Neopia.
Maybe that is the reason for her downfall.
It is such a pity that something this beautiful is being broken, and made into a tragedy.
In the all-too-tiny cage, Baelia weeps until she has no more tears, until the spark in her eyes fades away, replaced with ugly red swollen eye-bags after days upon days of paranoiac insomnia. The last of her magic wilts away, and with that, her hair pales from such a brilliant shade of golden to a dull grey. With no more magical element to call her own, her body undergoes changes, and a pair of antennae sprouting from the top of her head.
Those antennae are stark reminders to her, the mistakes that she has made— of trusting too much, of believing the honey-ladles lies of a Dark Faerie— and now, she is paying the hefty price of it.
She has lost all her powers, lost all her beauty, and above all, lost all hope.
Her tears dry up by the end of the first week.
It almost feels like a miracle and half when the Kyrii saves her from the torture. The magical lock threatens them both with the promise that its creator— its lady of shadow would find her again, but Tavi is bold of heart and Baelia is too tired to care, so the both of them pointedly ignore the sputtering lock.
“Is it alright?” the Kyrii inquired gently, as they descend the mountain slowly. “You’ll be powerless without your wings.”
Baelie could feel the feathery remains of her wings fluttering in the slight breeze, and her thoughts are heavy. “No,” she decides at last, and her voice is firm despite it being weak. “I’ll have to keep my name. I can’t get a new one.”
“Why?” Tavi asks, her head tilting to one side in curiosity. “I mean, it’s understandable it you don’t want to tell—”
But Baelia is already sliding her collar down, baring the top of her back. Right in between the broken remains of her wings and down her spine, is Baelia huh, what a beautiful name in elegant cursive.
Tavi gasps, paws coming up to her mouth and Baelia readjusts her gown, the words disappearing.
“Your soulmate,” Tavi breathes.
Baelia nods quietly. Jennumara’s taunts has become especially harsh when she was not careful enough, but she has clung to it like a lifeline.
Those words are her only anchor to the world.
Baelia is not the first Grey Faerie, but she is the first to bear that name, the shame and stigma that associate with it. Baelia the Grey Faerie, they call her, some with pity and some mockingly. Queen Fyora tries her best to help, and Baelia is forever grateful, so she tried too, making friends with Faeries of each elements.
Although, there is one particular element that she avoids.
Queen Fyora is sympathetic, but she could only shake her head. “Avoiding the problem is not going to make it disappear, Baelia,” she says. “This fear is what breeds prejudice— give the Dark Faeries some chances.”
And so, the Queen brings her to the Crafting Faerie, an atypical Dark to make her feel more at ease. Yet all Baelia could see is the hazy memories that continues to haunt her, but she persists, if it means that she could lighten the ever-growing burden on her Queen even by just a bit.
“There’s someone I’d like to introduce to you,” Delina says one day when she has finish crafting the final piece for a Neopian quester. Baelia is on her daily visit to the Dark and she is seated on the other side of the room. All the windows and doors of the room are wide open.
“Who?” She asks softly.
“Oh, she’ll be coming soon.”
There is a chime, the bell signalling that someone has entered the crafting store. There is the sound of footsteps, and before long, a Faerie pokes her head through the door.
“You’re right on time, Shade,” Delina chirps, mischievous smile upon her lips as she ushers the other in. “Baelia, Shade. Shade, Baelia. That’s the Faerie I’ve been telling you about.”
For a moment, Baelia mistakens the last line to be directed at her, but the other Faerie claps her hands together and exclaims an enthusiastic, “finally!”
And the Faerie turns to her and says—
“Baelia huh, what a beautiful name.”
Baelia’s eyes widened even as she freezes, and before she can stop herself, she blurts out, “but you’re Dark!” Realising what she has said, she covered her mouth with her hands but it is already too late to chase her words back.
Said Dark Faerie looks surprised, but then she grins, unfaltered by Baelia’s outburst. “That I am,” she agrees, not a hint of her attitude souring. She pulls up the left sleeve of her shirt, revealing the words but you’re Dark! in big loopy letter.
Those words alone are confirmations enough.
Delina beams at them both like she has just done a great job. “I shall get going now,” she piped an excuse and dives out of the window, leaving the two soulmates in the room.
There is a moment of silence as Baelia is at a loss of what to say, and the other Faerie— Shade, Delina has introduced— looks expectantly at her.
“Erm,” Baelia stuttered out intelligently, “I’m Baelia.”
“I’m Shade,” her soulmate smiles warmly. “Nice to meet you!”
As far as first impression goes, that is pretty normal.
Shade is the most unusual yet the most typical Dark Faerie around.
She is playful, bordering on harmless mischievous in the daytime, with a carefree laugh and mirthful twinkle in her eyes. Even so, Shade never pushes, each time carefully coaxing Baelia out of her shell and encouraging her with unconcealed warmth.
She brings Baelia to see the Maraquan Sea, brings her to sneak an omelette from the Tyrannian Pleateau, brings her to play games in the Roo Island, and Baelia could almost forget how she has lost her wings and the phantom pain that aches every now and then.
But when the night comes, and Shade can blend into the shadows, Baelia is once again reminded that Shade is still a Dark Faerie in the end.
“I’m Dark, not evil,” Shade huffs good-naturedly, “we have duties as Dark Faeries too. We exist, because Neopians need us. Neopia needs us.”
Baelia does not understand. Being a former Light, an element of the polar opposite, she has no inkling of an idea what the job of Dark Faeries is. So she walks (walks, and not flies, a privilege ripped away from her and an inconvenience she’ll have to get used to very quickly) to the castle of Queen Fyora to ask.
The Queen’s expression turns just a tad sad, and at that moment, she looks twice as tired and old, even though as Queen, Fyora is granted eternal youth.
“Dark Faeries play an important role, just like all the other elements,” Fyora explains patiently. “They does all the… unsavory tasks that other elements couldn’t. They are the only element that would not let their emotions hinder them from making the right choice.”
“Because, who else knows of sacrifices and the dark more than them? Who else have the capability to do what is right, even if it gets a little ugly in the process? They are born and made of darkness, but just like any other element, they are all our sisters and treasured family.”
“A single Faerie’s action does not justify the entire crowd, my dear Baelia.” Queen Fyora smiles, serene and regal at the same time.
And Baelia nods, determined, because she knows she is stronger than the past that is behind her, and Shade is her lovable soulmate who shoulders the responsibilities of a Dark Faerie even though Neopians whisper things about the Darks.
If a Faerie of an element could accept her as she is: a pathetic Grey who has lost all her powers, Baelia doesn’t see why she couldn’t accept a Dark Faerie as a soulmate.
Baelia is the name of a former Light, and her soulmate, Shade, is a Dark Faerie. This is wrongwrongwrong in so many layers, but somehow— somehow— they can (will) make it work.