Where there's a Weewoo, there's a way Circulation: 197,854,999 Issue: 1009 | 31st day of Hunting, Y26
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The Statue


by cyanlaststar888

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Queenly duties take Fyora across Faerieland every day from morning until night. Physically, being made of pure magic, she can’t feel tired. Mentally, though, she is exhausted. Rebuilding the city, holding back the wraiths, bestowing quests upon Neopets, all while managing the rarities within the Hidden Tower, takes its toll. This day begins in the garden, where she is meeting Brynn for a status report on security threats to the kingdom.

     When Fyora arrives to the courtyard, pages are already setting up a table, filling it with paper and quills and tea. The Queen takes a moment to enjoy the gardens, smelling the jewel blossoms and snap Draiks. Farther away along the grounds, she hears the songflowers singing. Without even realising it, Fyora begins to wander down the cobblestone path through the expansive grounds. She passes the elaborate fountain, then the greenhouse, then the hedge maze. When she was younger, when Faerieland was still in the clouds, she would walk to the edge of the gardens and stare out at the vast expanse of Neopia below. Now, all she can see is the sheer face of the crater surrounding the garden on all sides.

     And the statue, of course. The one of the angry-looking Xweetox, poised mid-run, arms outstretched.

     The one Fyora tries to avoid every day.

     “Your majesty!” She hears a page call. “Captain Brynn has arrived!”

     She hurries away without another glance at the statue.

     ****

     Rarely did the Royal Court of the Faeries visit Brightvale. The kingdom had its own ruler, after all, and the streets were more crowded than the Guard would have liked. Despite these facts, Fyora knew she had to keep tabs on every one of Neopia’s lands.

     Secretly, Brightvale was one of her favourites. The historic cobblestone streets, filled with merchants selling scrolls and potions and stained glass and a million other goods, felt so alive. Everyone here seemed to be on a quest for knowledge, eager to share their learnings with the world.

      After a day in the castle mediating the endless bickering between King Hagan and King Skarl, Fyora needed a break. Disguised as an Earth Faerie, she wandered past the castle and towards a flea market. There were the usual stalls of merchants, all hawking their wares. A stall of handmade glass jewellery fashioned by an elderly Ogrin caught her eye in particular. But no one else in the marketplace paid any attention to the vendors. Instead, a crowd of people gathered in the centre of the square.

     Fyora slipped into the crowd. Since she towered over the gathered Neopets, she could easily see what everyone was looking at. In the center of the circle were two young Neopets, a speckled Xweetox and a red Zafara. While the Zafara played the harp, the Xweetox careened around the circle, gesturing wildly with her arms. Every gesture caused a new delight to spring from the child’s hands: a plume of fire, a spray of snow, a miniature thunderstorm. The Xweetox danced and danced until, finally, she came to a full stop right in the centre of the circle.

     With one last swing of her arms, the child summoned a massive rainbow, accompanied by a swell of music. The crowd burst into applause and the two children took their bows.

     A tingling feeling ran through the Faerie’s body: she recognised powerful magic when she was in its presence. Weather spells were notoriously difficult to master, and this girl seemed to have perfected them. If this was some kind of trick, Fyora couldn’t recognise it.

     As the crowd dispersed, they tossed Neopoints on the ground. While the Zafara rushed to pick up the coins, Fyora walked up to the Xweetox.

     The Faerie Queen crouched down to speak to the child face-to-face. “Hello, young one. Your performance was wonderful. Where did you learn how to do all that, if I may ask?”

     “In the library.” The Xweetox’s voice was soft and shy.

     “What other spells do you know?” Fyora asked.

     At this, the girl brightened. “Loads! I can make potions, revive plants, heal a few illnesses, and lots of others.”

     “But who teaches you this magic?” The Queen pressed.

     The child looked confused. “No one. Like I said, I read all about the spells on scrolls at the library. Then I try them out myself.”

     Even with scrolls, mastering the kind of magic that the Xweetox spoke about took years of tireless effort. And that was with the expert teachers at Faerieland Academy! Somehow, though, this young girl had managed it all on her own.

     This, Fyora recognised, was an opportunity. The girl had far too much potential to waste her power on party tricks and street performances.

     “What’s your name, young one?” The Faerie Queen took a gentler tone.

     The Xweetox smiled. “I’m Xandra.”

     ***

     With every year that passes, Fyora feels her magic growing stronger. Still, her power is nowhere near what it was before Faerieland fell. It takes all of her energy, it seems, to keep the wraiths at bay. More than ever before, she relies on quests to fuel her magic.

     Each day, she searches a new land for worthy Neopians who can find her the items she needs for her spells. Today, she chooses Altador. After all, it is a weapon that she seeks, and Altador has some of the finest in Neopia. And she could use a warm ocean breeze beside her.

     The Faerie Queen perches on the steps of a temple just outside the city proper and waits. Before long, a young Techo passes by. He is walking down the dirt road next to the temple, headed towards the walls of the city. In his hands, he carries a pile of scrolls.

     After brushing the dirt from her gown, Fyora teleports herself in front of the Techo, appearing in a cloud of lavender smoke. “Bring me an Amber Sword and you will be rewarded.”

     For a few moments, the Techo stares at her in stunned silence. Then, he takes off at a sprint towards the city.

     As he fades into the distance, Fyora takes a look around. Fields of olives and grapes seem to roll on forever. Up on a hill, she spots a shady tree and flies over to it. There are a million different things she could be doing while the Techo carries out her quest. But so rarely does she get the chance to just…be.

     It’s an almost comical sight: the Queen of the Faeries, dressed in the finest of gowns, sitting herself down in the Altadorian dirt. But Fyora doesn’t care for appearances as much as people seem to think she does.

     She leans back against the tree, takes a deep breath, and dreams.

     ***

     Every year on exam day, anxiety practically buzzed through the air of the Faerie Academy. Half of it was for the test itself, and the other half was the general nerves that all Faeries feel in the presence of their Queen. Fyora glided through the sunny halls of the school and towards the Headmistress’s chamber, a hush falling over every group of students she passed. Already, the line to the door stretched halfway around the school. Yes, it was tedious to test every student one by one, but there was no other way to truly assess each Faerie’s ability.

     When she finally reached the front of the line, she wasn’t surprised to find a speckled Xweetox holding a large stack of books and pushing her glasses up on her face. Fyora gave Xandra a nod before turning to address the student body.

     “Good morning, students, and welcome to your first-year exam. The Headmistress and I need a moment to confer before the exams begin.” Hearing the murmurs of fear throughout the hallway, she continued. “Fear not. If you’ve been paying attention in your lessons and practising your spells, then the exam should be a breeze.”

     Inside the chamber, at her desk, sat the Headmistress of the Faerie Academy, known to most as the Library Faerie. As soon as Fyora walked through the door, the Headmistress shot out of her seat and quickly shoved the crossword she was writing inside a drawer.

     “Good morning, Your Majesty,” The Headmistress said, dragging a large box of papers from beneath her desk. “These are the students’ files. Each notes their areas of strengths and weaknesses, according to their instructors. We can use them to design each student’s assessment.

     Fyora nodded before pulling out a chair and sitting down. “A wise strategy as always, Headmistress. Let’s bring the first student in.

     With a motion of her staff, Fyora opened the heavy chamber door, then shut it as soon as Xandra shuffled in. The Xweetox placed her books carefully down on the floor and folded her hands.

     “Hello, Queen Fyora. Headmistress,” She stuttered.

     “Good morning, dear,” Fyora greeted, glancing over Xandra’s file. As she expected, there was nearly a full page of listed strengths and only one weakness.

     The Headmistress looked up from the girl’s file. “Hello, Xandra. For your exam, we would like you to perform the Shade spell.”

     At the mention of the spell, the Xweetox’s eyes lit up. Immediately, Fyora could tell that the Shade spell was not an unwelcome test. Knowing Xandra, the girl had probably spent all night in the library mastering it.

     Xandra took a deep breath before motioning with her arms and chanting the magic words. As she did so, she seemed to melt into the shadows of the room. By the end of the spell, Xandra was only visible as a quick flash of motion in the corner of Fyora’s eyes.

     Fyora turned to the Headmistress and nodded. Both of their eyes beamed with pride.

     “That’s enough, now. Undo the spell,” The Headmistress ordered.

     It took a few moments, but Xandra managed to make herself reappear in the centre of the room where she’d been standing. Still avoiding eye contact, she toyed with the sleeves of her dress.

     Fyora couldn’t hide her smile. “Well, Headmistress, I think I’d call that full marks, wouldn’t you?”

     “Certainly,” The Library Faerie confirmed. “Xandra, we will see you next term to continue your studies.”

     The Xweetox let out a cheer before composing herself. “Thank you, thank you so much! I can’t wait!”

     “It is an honour well deserved,” Fyora chuckled, delighted by the girl’s joy. “Now, I’m sorry to cut short your celebration, but could you head out and send the next student in? We have quite a few exams to adjudicate.”

     Xandra nodded and picked up her books. Just before she reached the door, she stopped short and turned back to Fyora.

     “I mean it. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to study here. The other Faeries tell me that Neopets don’t deserve to be here, that we’re lesser beings than you all. Thank you for giving me the chance to prove them wrong.”

     Before Fyora could respond, the Xweetox scurried on her way.

     ***

     The sun is low in the sky when the young Techo huffs back up the hill, sword in hand.

     He bows as he presents it to the Faerie Queen. “An Amber Sword, your majesty, as you requested.”

     “Thank you, young sir. For your effort, I grant you strength, endurance, and wisdom.” She motions with her staff and a pink light envelops the boy.

     He can’t hold back his grin when it’s done. Fyora can practically see the daydreams of Battledome victories playing through his mind.

     As she turns to transport herself back to her castle, he speaks up. “Wait! Queen Fyora! I may never have this opportunity again, so can I ask you a question?”

     She pauses for a moment before deciding to humour his request.

     “Forgive me if this is insolent, Your Majesty, but…” He pauses to formulate his thoughts. “Are you unable to get these items yourself? Or are you just too busy?”

     A common query. One that many Neopians have asked her over the years.

     She graces him with a magnanimous smile. “The magic that sustains our world does not come from the Faeries alone. It comes from the relationship between Faeries and Neopets. These quests are an opportunity to strengthen that relationship, and, in so doing, make both of us stronger.”

     “That makes a whole lot of sense to me. Why didn’t I know that before?” The Techo scratches his head.

     “We Faeries have not always adequately explained the source of our power or our role in Neopia.” Fyora’s eyes darken. “Misunderstanding has hurt both Faeries and Neopets deeply in the past.”

     ***

     In truth, Fyora hadn’t even suspected that anything was wrong when it all came to pass. She was so busy with preparations for the Festival that she barely registered Xandra’s presence at all. Besides, the girl seemed happy to be Faerieland’s chief librarian. Fyora had tea with her each week and the pair would spend hours discussing history, magic, and what books and artefacts should be added to the collection.

     Xandra cast the spell in the clearing, just before the festival was set to begin. She learned well, Fyora remembered thinking. Being outdoors in the elements makes magic more powerful. The girl was too smart to waste time on a dramatic speech. Besides, anyone who’d spoken to Xandra in the past year knew about her growing resentment of the status quo.

     No one thought she’d go this far to change it, though.

     Half of her body was stone before Fyora even registered which spell Xandra had used. As the spell worked its way up from her toes to her head, the Faerie Queen watched as her subjects, her beloved friends, were frozen in their places.

     When she was completely transformed, she had a view of them all. All the Faeries who may never fly again. All the wraiths are released from Xandra’s disruption of the magical order. Every moment of Faerieland’s catastrophic crash. All of it, Fyora had to watch, but could do nothing to stop. A fitting punishment, thought the Faerie Queen, for her own lack of leadership.

     Somehow, the time as a statue felt like an eternity and like nothing at all. Her awareness ebbed and flowed like a tide. Bits and pieces of conversations were all that she could register, and she wasn’t sure which images were real and which were dreams. Mostly, she felt the sensation of weakness and cold.

     Soon enough, the Ixi thief broke the spell and Fyora’s real body was restored once more. A team of Neopia’s finest heroes surrounded her, accompanied by a young Kougra guard who was sobbing over a statue.

     Much of Fyora’s power was gone, but the sight of Brynn’s despair at losing her companion fired something up inside of her. Mustering up whatever magic she had left, she brought Hanso back to life. As the pair reunited, Fyora hid how taxing the spell had been. She forced her face into a placid smile as she named Brynn the new captain of her guard and invented a new profession for Hanso.

     Neither of them noticed her faltering as they celebrated their victory. But King Jazan of Qasala seemed to. The Kyrii sidled up next to her, allowing her to discreetly lean on him to stay upright.

     “Thank you,” Fyora whispered.

     “It is nothing, your majesty,” Jazan answered. “I know what it is to be cursed. It took a long while before I felt like myself again, and that was only because I had Nabile to rely on. I hope you have friends you can trust.”

     She looked towards the newly petrified Xandra and wondered who could betray her next.

     ***

     As night falls over Neopia, Fyora returns to the gardens. This time, she carries a basket in her arms. It holds a blanket and a few sweet, freshly picked Faerie apples. She takes her time walking to Xandra’s statue, enjoying the warm air and the flowers that blossom only in the dark.

     When she reaches her destination, she drapes the blanket over the statue’s shoulders. “I don’t know how much of this you can hear or feel, but I wanted to try anyway.”

     Fyora looks the statue in the face. Up close, she can see in detail how Xandra’s face is stuck and twisted in rage. It makes her wince.

     “I came here to apologise,” Fyora confesses. “I’m sorry I dismissed your concerns. I’m sorry I didn’t explain the source of Faerie magic well enough to you. I’m sorry that I didn’t stand up for you when the other students told you that you didn’t belong.”

     “But what you did was evil, and you need to be contained. You betrayed not only me, but all of Neopia,” she continues.

     Taking a step back, Fyora takes an apple from her basket and starts to eat. “At the same time, you weren’t all wrong. For too long, the divide between Neopets and Faeries was far too great. I’ve made some changes. All of Faerieland has. The dozen new Neopet students at Faerieland Academy could tell you that much.”

     She remembers the first day of this year’s term, how excited the crop of Neopets had been to get the chance to learn, and how they all supported each other every day. “It must have been so hard for you to do it alone. I didn’t recognise that before, either.”

     “I have hope for you yet, Xandra,” Fyora says as she reaches a hand to the statue's shoulder. “I have hope that one day, you can be restored and rehabilitated. That I can show you around the new additions to the library and we can talk like we used to. Until that day comes, I’ll visit you here and keep you company.”

     Fyora stays in the garden for an hour or so before returning to her castle. Tomorrow, she thinks, she’ll bring some tea.

     The End.

 
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