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The Queen's Gratitude


by black_skull725

--------

Queen Fyora breathed a sigh of relief as she sat down at her desk in her office. Finally, back in her chambers after a long day filled with meetings, she was free to handle the other work she had waiting for her. A stack of budget requests sat on her desk in a neat pile. Next to that pile was a weekly faerie quests report and an indicator of the strength of the wraith barrier. Queen Fyora often used that report to determine if there was a lack of balance in quests from faeries of various elements and whether she needed to tell her faeries to adjust to that.

     “Looks like the dark faeries are doing quite well this week. No further adjustments needed,” she muttered as she glanced at the report. As she picked up the first bit of parchment in the pile of budget requests, there was a knock at the door.

     “Come in,” Fyora said.

     “Fyora dear, you haven’t had dinner yet!” a voice exclaimed.

     The Battle Faerie appeared at the door, having traded her usual garb for a more casual green and fuchsia loungewear. Rather than carrying a sword and shield, she two places of a steaming Faerie Baked Potato with a side of Celestial Salad, one for Fyora and one for herself.

     “Oh. Umm… yes, go ahead and set that down off to the side, I’ll get to it eventually.”

     Aethia shifted Fyora’s pile of papers and set the plates directly in front of her.

     “You’re talking about dinner like it’s another task on your list again. Dr. Martritz said you need to work on separating your work from your life. How about we enjoy a meal together instead? It’ll be a good start.”

     Fyora sighed and rose from her seat.

     “I suppose you make a compelling argument. Might as well eat at the dining table.”

     The two faeries grabbed their plates and sat down at a round, pink dining table. Fyora took a spoon and scooped up some of the baked potato. She began shovelling down the baked potato as if she was in a hurry. Aethia shook her head at Fyora and grasped her hand to get her to stop.

     “Not so fast, my queen. I don’t want you to choke!”

     “Oh, no it’s not that I’m in a hurry. I uhh... I’m hungry. I haven’t really eaten all day,” Fyora replied with food still in her mouth.

     Aethia shook a little as she covered her mouth to stifle her laughter. “My queen, uh... well, it’s fortunate you’re not eating like this in public. Otherwise, you might be compared to the likes of King Skarl.”

     “King Skarl doesn’t eat that quickly, he just takes bigger bites,” Fyora retorted, playfully folding her arms and furrowing her eyebrows.

     “Uhh, anyways, how was your day?” Aethia asked.

     Fyora hesitated before speaking, staring at her plate.

     “Fyora?”

     “It-it was fine.”

     Aethia narrowed her eyes. “No, it wasn’t. It was not fine. What happened, if you don’t mind sharing?”

     “It’s nothing. It was a fine day.”

     Aethia took a bite out of her potato and slowly nodded.

     “It’s alright. You don’t have to tell me. But promise you will discuss it with someone who can help?”

     Queen Fyora put her head down on the table and began talking, mainly mumbling.

     “It could have gone better…”

     The Battle Faerie looked at Fyora seriously.

     “Go on…” she said.

     “There were pets impacted by Xandra’s deeds who showed up today. They expressed displeasure with how Faerieland had handled their case. They lost their home to falling debris from Faerieland.”

     “And what did you offer them?”

     “The standard offer from Faerieland: to rebuild their home on the outskirts and temporary accommodations while the home is under construction. And some restitution payments for all the trouble.”

     The Battle Faerie furrowed her brow in deep thought as she rested her chin in her left hand.

     “Ok, yes, I remember that being the offer. What was their expectation though?”

     Fyora frowned as she stared at her plate of food. She fidgeted with the clumps of potato that remained with her fork.

     “They want what I’ve always pushed for, the ability for them to choose where in Faerieland to live, whether it’s the highlands near the Poogle racetrack, the beachfront, or right in the middle of bustling Faerie City. But the faerie council has my hands tied there. Some demanded that I appease their concerns that some faeries don’t want new neighbours. Honestly, have they learned nothing from Xandra?!”

     Despite resting on a wall mount across the room, Fyora's staff began to glow and pulse with pink light, resonating with its owner's emotions. The staff discharged a bolt of pink magic which bounded across the room and began ricocheting off the walls of Fyora's office. Aethia raised her hand and caught the bolt, blocking it from hitting anything else.

     “Oops,” Fyora’s expression changed to one of concern. “I’m sorry.”

     Aethia vigorously shook her head. “Nonsense, you have a right to be upset at those faeries. But what did you tell our visitors?”

     Fyora buried her hands in her face. “I told them we couldn’t offer any better and apologised. They stormed out afterwards. I just absolutely hated myself for it. I swear, this road we’re going down will produce another Xandra...”

     Aethia rushed over to Fyora and pulled her into a tight embrace. “There there, it’s not your fault.”

     "I could be just like some of those kings; their words are absolute. It would end much of this bickering...”

     Aethia held Fyora's face in her hands and wiped a tear from her cheek.

     “No, that’s not who you are. You said you wanted all Faerielanders to have a seat at the table, because you care about all of them,” Aethia said sternly.

     “Look where a council got King Altador! His own councilmember betrayed him, and his kingdom became a mess in the end!” Fyora continued, seemingly ignoring Aethia.

     “Fyora, again, stop that! These are the ideas of Terask and the Darkest Faerie!”

     Fyora sighed. “No, no, you’re absolutely right. I just need to convince the council, or at least try one more time.”

     “Yes, and please, if you have those thoughts, please talk to someone about them. You’re not in this alone.”

     Fyora didn’t say anything in response. She ran her fork across her plate, gathering all the remaining clumps of potato. She scooped them up to clean off the remainder of her plate. Aethia waited in silence as Fyora finished her meal. She tensed up, unsure how Fyora would react. After what felt like an eternity, the Faerie Queen finally broke her silence.

     “I have an appointment with Dr. Martritz tomorrow, perhaps I’ll speak to her.”

     “Fyora, you’re doing the thinking out-loud thing again, heh. But yes, I agree, that’s a good idea.”

     The Faerie Queen then attempted to retreat to her office, but Aethia flew in front of her, blocking her.

     “Did we not just talk about taking a break?”

     Just then, a Gelert poked her head out of the door.

     “Hello, Fyora. I thought you were done so I started cleaning your office,” she said.

     “Hi Celandra!” Aethia said, giving the Gelert a thumbs up.

     “I suppose my work can wait until tomorrow morning,” Fyora replied.

     Fyora yawned before she could cover it up with her hand.

     “Perhaps you ought to get some sleep too,” Aethia suggested.

     ---

     "Today was the worst!” shouted a Speckled Xweetok as she slammed the door behind her. “I’m not going back to that academy! I’m not!”

     Fyora floated behind her until the Xweetok shut the door to her room.

     “Xandra? What happened? Please tell me!” the faerie queen called after her.

     There was no answer. She called again. Radio silence.

     “I’m coming in,” Fyora warned.

     She snapped her fingers and disappeared, reappearing inside Xandra’s room.

     “Ugh what do you want?” the Xweetok snapped. She sat on her bed and gave Fyora a sharp glare.

     “Please, tell me what happened.”

     Xandra buried her face in her paws.

     “They treated me as if I was some pet. Picked me up, and tossed me around. Nobody came to my aid! NOBODY!”

     Fyora rushed over and sat down next to Xandra. She attempted to wrap her arms around her, but Xandra recoiled.

     “Stop! Not you too!”

     “I’m sorry, I’m not trying to treat you like a pet, I promise. I just want to give you a hug. Are you ok with that?” Fyora asked.

     Xandra looked at Fyora and then wept bitterly. She reached her paws over and Fyora gently pulled her into a tight embrace.

     “I’m sorry that you suffered at the hands of those faeries. Would you like me to go talk to the administration there?”

     Xandra pulled back suddenly and shook her head.

     “No!”

     Fyora sat there in confusion.

     “But why?”

     Xandra pushed Fyora away slightly and sat upright again.

     “They’ll only bully me more. ‘Oh look, it’s the queen’s pet!’”

     “Is that what they are calling you now?”

     “The Queen’s Pet? Yeah.”

     Fyora’s face drooped in sadness.

     “Perhaps I’m at fault for this then,” she muttered.

     “What was that?” Xandra asked.

     “No, nothing, I just… perhaps it’s best that you don’t attend the academy for a while then. You seek knowledge in advanced magic, right? That is my area of expertise. Perhaps you can be one of my pupils instead.

     “I-I th-that would b-be an honour, Fyora,” Xandra stammered.

     “I suppose our lessons begin tomorrow then. “For now, here,” Fyora said. She handed Xandra a pink, Fyora print handkerchief.

     Xandra grasped it and wiped her face, loudly blowing her nose as well.

     “Keep it. I have plenty of them.”

     ---

     Fyora sat up on her bed and breathed heavily, fighting back tears.

     “Xandra…” she whispered to herself. “Oh Xandra… I should have…”

     She sighed and shook her head. “No, I can’t change anything about the past. I must press forward,” she said to herself.

     "Hey, Fyora. Is everything alright?" It was Celandra's voice.

     "Yeah, you were talking to yourself a lot." Aethia was there too.

     “It’s the same dream,” Fyora replied.

     “Xandra again?” Aethia asked.

     “Yeah, but I can’t change the past.”

     The two of them still stared at Fyora, looking deeply concerned.

     “I’ll talk to Dr. Martritz about it,” Fyora continued, hoping that Aethia would look less concerned. Fortunately, it did seem to work partially.

     “Mmmmkay. I sure hope she can find a way to help you get over these dreams. It’s not good for your sleeping habits.”

     Fyora buried her face in her hands and quietly wept. “I know, I know. I just want one night without them!”

     Celandra and Aethia rushed over to Fyora’s side and took turns hugging Fyora. “It’s ok, Fyora. It’s ok, we know this is a difficult time for you. There, there.” Aethia said, patting the Faerie Queen on her back.

     “Would this help?” Celandra asked. She handed Fyora a Faerie Poogle plushie.

     “Ummm... perhaps...” Fyora said, still sniffling a bit but able to reach out and grab the plushie.

     “I think we should let her sleep now,” Aethia suggested. “Fyora, will you be, ok?”

     “Yes, I believe so.” She curled up with the plushie under the comforters and before Celandra and Aethia could leave, the Faerie Queen was already fast asleep again.

     —

     Queen Fyora arose the next morning and stared at her busy calendar on the wall. It glowed with magic and highlighted her schedule for the day.

     “Morning: Council Status Report; Appointment with Dr. Martritz; Afternoon: Audience with Battledomers; Night: Work on Budget” she muttered to herself as she read the schedule.

     “Good morning, Aethia, Celandra!” she said as she wandered into the kitchen. The two of them turned around.

     “Morning, Fyora. Here, have some breakfast!” Aethia suggested.

     After a quick breakfast of Faerie Crepes and a Faerie Fried Egg, Fyora made her way to the council meeting room. Celandra and Aethia went off to their duties for the day: castle cleaning and running the Weapon Shop in Faerieland among other things.

     The council meeting room featured a long pink marble table. The walls were lined with small Faerieland shields. The chairs covered with soft seat cushions, and name tags at every spot. Fyora hovered over to the head of the table and took a seat. A few minutes passed and she stood up as councilmembers filed into the room… a fire faerie named Funah, Jhudora the dark faerie, an earth faerie named Ingrid, a light faerie named Alyssa, Naia the fountain faerie representing water faeries, and an air faerie named Florence.

     Following the faeries, the Neopet members of the council also filed in. A faerie usul named Laura, a Striped Zafara named Terry, and a Shadow Ixi named Yuna.

     The council once again brought up the resettlement of the Neopets displaced by the fall of Faerieland and complained about the slow progress of Faerieland's repairs. It seemed that no matter what answers Fyora provided, there was somebody who criticised her position.

     “We have our own rebuilding to do, how can we be expected to also build additional housing for them?” Ingrid asked.

     “I do want them to be resettled here, but we have to take care of ourselves first,” Funah also said.

     On the other side, there were also some concerns.

     “I think the timeline to resettle is too slow, we should bring them in as soon as possible,” Terry said.

     “The faeries need to develop housing much faster. How is it that you faeries can just snap your fingers and have a building appear, but somehow you can’t conjure up enough housing quickly?” Yuna asked.

     The constant bickering sent Queen Fyora’s mind into a frenzy. After two hours of no progress in the talks, Fyora adjourned the meeting abruptly and left the room looking exasperated.

     “How about we meet again tomorrow for further discussion?” Ingrid suggested to Fyora on the way out.

     “Fine, fine, I’ll see you all tomorrow,” Fyora waved impatiently. Frustrated, exhausted, and discouraged, the queen speed-walked down the hallway back to her chambers and slammed the door behind her. She sat down at her desk and put her head down. Tears began to flow as she wept silently.

     “Oh, what’s the use?” she said to herself. “Nothing has gone right after Faerieland fell.”

     She raised her head and glanced out the window. From her office, she could see much of Faerie City… a broken and shattered city, trying to rebuild and restore itself to its former glory. What had gone wrong? What had she done to deserve this? Perhaps she just didn’t love Xandra enough. Or maybe she failed to understand Xandra’s feelings. Her mind constantly spun thoughts about her regrets with Xandra, weaving a web that ensnared her in negative emotions.

     Soon a knock occurred at the door, interrupting Queen Fyora’s train of thought.

     “Queen Fyora, it’s me, Dr. Martritz. Is it a good time to talk right now?”

     Fyora arose and opened the door.

     “Yes, doctor. Come right in,” she said.

     A Striped Kyrii walked into the room with a notebook. She sat down in a chair across from Fyora’s desk. Fyora returned to her seat as well.

     “How was your week, Your Majesty?” Dr. Martritz asked.

     Fyora put her head into her hands for a minute before she finally spoke.

     “Well, it could have gone better,” she replied.

     “Hmm… do you feel comfortable to elaborate?”

     “Uhhh ok. Well, my council meetings weren’t particularly positive. It’s mostly just criticisms from everyone. And they have tied my hands on helping other folks who were displaced by Faerieland’s fall… so those folks aren’t happy with me either. It just feels like I can’t do anything right lately, and it’s honestly exhausting.”

     “I see. How about anything positive this week we could write down?”

     Fyora sat and thought for a while.

     “Ummm… well, I guess Aethia made me breakfast this morning. And umm… I suppose Celandra brought me a plushie to comfort me when I was having a bad dream.”

     Dr. Martritz nodded. “That’s good, let’s focus on those. How do these positive things make you feel?”

     “Well, I guess not everything went wrong this week.”

     “That’s a good start. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in all the bad things during the week. It’s important to think about the good too. Perhaps it would be a good idea to work on writing the positive things down, so you don’t forget them, like a Gratitude Journal?”

     “Hmm, that sounds like a good idea, but you know, I’m always so busy so I will forget to write things down.”

     The Kyrii pulled out a notebook and looked at the notes from their last session.

     “I have this note written here about your work-life balance. How’s that going lately?”

     “Um, well, I suppose it could be better.”

     “What do you mean by that?”

     “I frequently take work with me back home, and the other day, Aethia had to get me to stop.”

     “Ah, well I’m glad Aethia is helping you with that. Just remember that you need to care for yourself too, even if you have an important job to do. And definitely take a break to journal the positive things happening.”

     Fyora nodded. “I will try my best here.”

     The Kyrii smiled, “Very good. Is there anything else you’d like to talk to me about?”

     Fyora rested her head on her hand and paused for a moment.

     “Yes. I do. The dreams are back. About Xandra.”

     Dr. Martritz looked at Fyora seriously.

     “How long has this been occurring?”

     “About a month ago.”

     “That’s not ideal. But remember, we can’t change the past now, can we?”

     “Well, I guess even the most powerful magic can’t do that.”

     “But letting go is a process. I’m sure it’s even harder for you given your closer relationship in the past. However, I take it you’ve tried to institute reforms based on Xandra’s grievances, right? It may be helpful to write those improvements down. In that sense, you’ll prove to yourself that you’re making the best of the situation.”

     Fyora’s eyes rolled slightly with scepticism. However, she nodded slowly. “I will at least give this an attempt I suppose...”

     Dr. Martritz could sense the frustration. “Please just give it a try. If it does not work, let me know, and I’ll work with you to figure out other strategies.”

     Fyora nodded. She then glanced up at a clock on the wall which was Dr. Martritz’s cue that time was up.

     “I’m assuming you’ve got things to do now so I’ll get out of your way. Do not hesitate to send me a Neomail if you have questions or concerns.”

     Quietly as she had come, the Split Kyrii slipped out of the castle through a back door and disappeared.

To be continued…

 
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