Isolde and the Faerie Statue:Part Seven
Isolde, when she’d recovered from the first onset of paralysis, thought that it would be a good idea to keep a journal of these dreams. The purpose was twofold: first, to log them and archive them for posterity; second, while the dreams were still ongoing, she wanted to check back for common themes or points of interest. Although her mother and father believed that the dreams were the beginning of some sort of prophecy, she’d always been dubious of prognostication; that being said, the Shadow Aisha knew that these dreams were part of a larger trend and it was important to document them for clues that could help her overcome her torments. And that she needed to expose her pain and make it visible to herself in order to get over it. She knew that memories were often unreliable, of course, but that the feelings and the emotional states surrounding those memories were not. And, once this was finally over and she was okay, it would be nice to look back on. And, of course, she did get over it. How else would she have this story? But here, it might be better to let Isolde tell this part of her tale.
It happened again, but this time it was different. My sword was at my hip. I woke up in the same forest that I’d come to know from my dreams—the same pale blue trees without leaves, the same purple sky swelling with stars. It was warm again, but not because of fire, at least not immediately. The grass was the same lush green as before, and Faerie City was still far off to the north. There was something different, though—there was a path made of golden bricks that led all the way into the city. I walked along it for what felt like forever.
When I finally got to the city, at first, it was exactly the same as I’d remembered it, except that no one was there. I walked along Faerie Lane, the city’s main street, and saw the Faerie Foods store, the place where Dad and I got the Space Faerie Mushroom we used to make our favourite mushroom soup for Mom when she’d gotten sick with a bad case of Kikoughela three years ago. Then, around Fire Faerie Crescent, I saw the Wheel of Excitement where the Lava Ghoul burnt me for the first time. And along Water Faerie Way, I walked into the Faerieland Employment Agency where I got my first job delivering three copies of Attack on Kreludor to a grumpy old Gelert teacher. It was strange seeing these places without seeing the Light Faerie who runs the wheel, for instance, or the Earth Faerie who works at the Faerie Foods shop. No one there, no food, no items, nothing to be done. Just like a house doesn’t necessarily look like a home sometimes, these buildings and places weren’t really stores with no wares and no one there: if anything, they were just buildings, empty places with nothing but chic furniture and unused ovens and unfiled paperwork. Everything voided of life.
But as I entered and left the buildings, things started to get weird. Everything began to look a little more decrepit, a little bit more broken. The Wheel of Excitement lost its little purple edge with its faerie wings, then the wheel itself grew cracks, starting from the centre and spreading outward. The buildings began to crumble; every time I entered a new place, hoping to find someone there, the city fell further and further into ruin. Eventually, I stopped trying.
The first noise I heard in all of this, though, was a huge boom. The roof of the Faerie Weaponry shop gave way, I was nearby, and I felt the ground rumble as it fell. Black smoke covered the entire building. Then you could see the fire, which spread faster than I could have imagined. Before a minute had passed, the entire city was covered in flames. Then I heard the voice, which was unintelligible again. I didn’t know if it was someone laughing, screaming, crying, singing, or a mix of both. But I felt sure—I knew—that whoever was making these noises was behind all of this.
A column of fire appeared in front of me. The voice became louder, almost unbearably loud. A figure emerged from the top of the flame. And I thought that this must be the Dark Faerie that everyone’s been telling me about! The fire dispersed to reveal her. She was tall, her dress was fraying and dark purple, and her wings were obviously wounded but beat strongly as she descended. The gloves on her hands were burning. She faced me, smiled, and laughed, which hurt my ears. I could feel my heart race faster than a Poogle in Faerieland. But I drew my sword and approached her.
“Wait!” she screamed, or maybe whispered, since the voice wasn’t loud anymore. She smiled, laughed again, then began to sob. “Wait, wait, wait! I just wanted to talk to you. Can we talk? Please?”
I was prepared for a lot of things. I was prepared to black out again. I was prepared for a duel, a fight, a confrontation of some kind. I was prepared for a villain, like ones in the prophecies and tales that you read about as a kid, and some great battle where I would be the hero meant to win peace here. I was prepared for this faerie to be a marauder, a villain, a ransacker of beautiful lands. What I was not prepared for was to see this Dark Faerie, who looked wilted and exhausted, pleading with me to talk with her.
“Who are you?” I asked.
“My name is Gisele,” she said. “I’m a Dark Faerie from Old Faerieland.” She extended a gloved hand.
Why did I trust her? I’m not sure. But I gave her my paw and she shook it. Her glove had been singed from the fire and was still warm to the touch. I still felt hesitant, so I asked her, “Why are you here? What do you want?”
She sighed. “Well, yeah, I suppose you would want to know that. You see, I’m not actually sure. This is not my home, of course; my home was in Old Faerieland, back when the land was in the clouds, and now—thanks to Xandra—it’s been destroyed. And I do have a new home, but it’s not really the same. And the whole ordeal with the old city being ruined… you know, it’s not easy on me. I replay those memories over and over and over again, and it really wears on me. So, every once in a while, when no one’s looking and after I’ve finished my duties in Faerieland, I just go off and disappear for a while.”
“So, this isn’t some kind of prophecy?”
For the first time, Gisele laughed. “No, goodness, no. It’s just me being sad.”
So the prophecy books were wrong. “So, what does the statue have to do with everything?”
She looked remorseful. “Oh, you know about that, don’t you? You see, every once in a while, I leave a statue somewhere. It’s always in a remote place, always very far off from where most Neopians live, so no one will find it. It’s Dark Faerie magic; the statue is the manifestation of all of my negative emotions. And, for a while, I can just fly freely and not have to worry about any of my feelings.” Her expression dampened even more. “But you always have to come back to it. It’s a part of you. And I find myself removing the statue and dragging myself back to Faerieland, even though it’s no longer home to me.”
“That must be hard, right?” I said. Something about her story touched me. “I mean, I can’t imagine what you’re going through, but I know what it’s like to not feel like you have a home. My parents own a huge plushie company that travels all over the world. We’ve been to Kreludor, Terror Mountain, Faerieland, Krawk Island, Mystery Island, Tyrannia, Kreludor again, Maraqua… but no place feels like home to me, at least not for long. Kreludor was the first place where I felt like I had roots, and now I’m here. In Neopia Central. I’m always moving to a new place. It’s not easy.”
“Right? And the other faeries there—they’re fine with just pretending nothing ever happened, that everything is normal. But it isn’t, at least not to me. No one seems to recognize that I lost something. Sure, it was just a small home with two rooms, a couple belongings not worth much, and couple of toys for visitors, but it was mine. And it can’t be replaced.”
“I can imagine. I’m sure it must be hard, and I get the feeling that no one understands what you lost when you lose your home… but yes, the statues. We should talk about those. Do you get the Neopian Times in Faerieland?”
“We do, but not many faeries read it… most of them are too concerned with getting Neopets to fulfill quests for them or tending to some need or other of Fyora’s. Why?”
“Have you read it recently? There was an article about the statues—your statues—and how they were linked to Neopets having terrible nightmares and the petrifications in Neopia Central.”
“Oh, no, really? More Neopets have been petrified? And are having nightmares?”
“Yes. I’m one of the ones that’s been having nightmares. They all have the fire, the destruction, and you in them. What’s the deal with this?”
Gisele faltered a little. “Well, sometimes when I’m feeling particularly bad, the statues release negative energy. The area of effect is small, but it does happen. The nightmares are just me replaying these events over and over again in my head, and unfortunately others experience these nightmares too when the statues are around. And when those feelings are particularly intense, sometimes the energy is strong enough to petrify Neopets. When I’m aware of it, I do leave, but sometimes it can take me a while. I’m really sorry. I’ll find somewhere else to go.”
I told her, “Well, that’s kind of the problem, right? It seems like you’re always going somewhere else. But someone’s always going to get hurt or petrified if you go somewhere else, you know that, right? You need to go back to Faerieland.”
She began to cry. “But I don’t want to! I’m afraid of going back.”
“I know it’s scary. But you have to. You have to be strong. I’m sure if you talk to Fyora, she’ll arrange something for you and she’ll find a beautiful place for you. Sure, it won’t be like Old Faerieland, but everything gets easier in time. And I’m sure it’ll still be beautiful. And you’ll be happier again, in time. It does take time, though. But you will be happier.”
She choked back a few sobs. “Okay, I’ll try. And thank you. Hopefully the nightmares will stop. Thank you.”
We bade each other adieu and I woke up.