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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 18th day of Gathering, Yr 23
The Neopian Times Week 109 > Short Stories > Grey Despair, Golden Hope: An Encounter With the Grey Faerie

Grey Despair, Golden Hope: An Encounter With the Grey Faerie

by ridergirl333

Desolation hung in the air like a miserable, sodden blanket, smothering the joy out of all it came into contact with. The steel-colored clouds overhead loomed there, bringing no rain, as if their only purpose was to drive courage away from the stout hearts that entered. Even the trees, which I normally thought of as beautiful, seemed forlorn and anguished. Thunder rolled in the distance, but again, no healing rain came.

      Onward I walked through that forest of sorrow, listening to the ever-present silence banging against my ears. No birds chirped, no squirrels chattered, only the haunting sound of the wind brushing through the leaves of the trees. The entire forest seemed to whisper its tale of woe, begging for me to stop and listen. But to listen to them was to freeze on the cold, lonely mountainside. I had to get home.

      My name is Tessalea Bordorian the red Lupess, but everyone calls me Tessa. My family has lived on this mountain, known as Bordor Mount, for countless generations. Some even say that we got our name from the mountain. That, or the mountain got its name from us. As a pup, I'd often ponder this question on those long, lonely hikes to Terror Mountain to buy food. In fact, I was walking to Terror Mountain and thinking now. But now, I was thinking about something different. What made my beautiful homeland change? What had transformed a once verdant forest into this bleak wasteland?

      I guess the changes had started happening about a decade ago, when I was five. I went outside to play in the snow one day and saw a small bush in my backyard, wilting, grey and almost dead. My father blamed it on sickness, but in my young, innocent mind I knew better. No sickness could make a plant so… sad. And I felt its sorrow through my paws and through my heart. When I touched the plant, the full force of its anguish hit me like a stone snowball to the chest. The feeling was despair so potent; it was like a solid thing thrashing around inside of me. I heard its moans of grief, but how could a plant feel grief? Evidently, this feeling was coming from somewhere… and someone else.

      Absorbed in my memories, I almost didn't hear the weeping. But subtle as a breeze, it wound its way through the trees until it reached my ears. I had never heard weeping like this before. And if this sound could have a color, it would be grey. Grey like the clouds. Grey like the bush. Grey like despair.

      Almost subconsciously, I followed the noise, using the powers of stealth and silent cunning that had aided my forest-mountain ancestors before me. Obviously, whatever was crying wouldn't want someone brazenly walking up to them and asking what was wrong, so I decided to creep like Selket and spring like a Kougra.

      Onward through the forests I tracked the sound until I reached a small clearing. A stony mound rose before me, bathed in the silvery light of the nearly full moon. Thousands of stars glittered in the midnight sky. And beneath the stars lay a small figure, barefoot and clad only in a ragged grey dress, shivering and weeping on the rock. She tossed and turned restlessly, all chance of sleep beyond the grasp of her fragile fingers. Ragged tresses shone silver in the moonlight. Her frame was small and thin, as if spun of glass. She certainly wasn't beautiful, like Illusen or Fyora. But she wasn't altogether ugly either. More important then her appearance was her obvious need of help. And so help her I did.

      She seemed so cold, only wearing that thin dress. So I strode over and lay next to her, giving her the warmth of my thick fur coat. "My name is Tessalea Bordorian, of the Bordorian Mountain pack. Who might you be?"

      The woman wiped tears from her granite-colored eyes. "Lupess, I don't even know who I am anymore."

      I paused, unsure of how to react to such a statement. After all, everyone knows who they are, right? "Well, let's start at the beginning. What's your name?"

      The woman sniffed, and said, "Treali. Treali of the Everforest Earth Circle."

      I paused, unsure of what to say. "Isn't that… a Faerie clan?"

      Silently, she nodded.

      "But… you'd have to be a Faerie And Faeries have wings. You don't have wings, so wouldn't that make you human?"

      A fresh tear came to her eye, glittering in the starlight. "I might as well be human, for all the good I am. No beauty, no talent, and not enough magic to make a match light. For the longest time, I've been nothing but a Dark Faerie's toy, until I was rescued by a mountain-climber Poogle. Freed from the Dark Faerie's prison. I couldn't even save him… when he was caught." With this, a fresh wave of tears came, and I felt that crashing, thudding feeling pain of hopelessness again. Not unlike the one I felt when I touched the bush so long ago. "Back up and explain it from the beginning," I said gently.

      And so she did. "It was the eve of my sixteenth birthday, my traditional Faerie coming-of-age. My mother and I were running around trying to get all of my party plans organized. My mother, she's the Sapling Keeper in Everforest. She cares for the saplings, breathing her life and her magic into them to make them tall, healthy and beautiful trees, able to withstand fire licking at their bark and burdens of ice on their branches. She made them able to withstand disease. In fact, these trees could survive anything. Or so she thought.

      "They came by the dozens. Plum-colored monsters, hissing like snakes and spitting acid green poison. Wherever a droplet of their venom hit a tree, it drilled through the bark and ate at the heartwood. That night, I could feel the tree's anguish. My clan is bound to the trees by the Ancient Enchantments. When they suffer, we suffer. When they rejoice, we rejoice. I felt their pain now. And whenever I screamed, the creatures laughed. They swarmed through my village and sent faeries scattering. Whenever they could, they took prisoners. Grabbing helpless faeries by the wings and then…" Her voice faltered for a moment and I had to wait a minute as she dried her tears. "They tore their wings clean off! A Faerie's wings, the source of all her magic, beauty, everything that makes a Faerie a Faerie! My friends, neighbors, relatives, all changed before my very eyes. Their color drained, leaving their faces ashen and their knees wobbled so they couldn't stand. They were too weak to stand. Their eyes lost the starry brightness that dwells in the eyes of all faeries, even the ones of darkness. They weren't faeries anymore. And yet… they weren't human either. They were something below humans, something below even the lowliest Slorg. They became Sra Dessro, The Hopeless. Horror filled my eyes as I watched my childhood companions fall victim to this senseless destruction. It was more than just destruction of wings. It was destruction of stars. Those stars in their eyes…

      "Terrified, I fled. Running graceful like a deer through these glades I knew so well. But the purple monsters were on my trail, never more than a few steps behind me. One of them reached out and grabbed me by the wing." Almost instinctively, Treali's hand rubbed her back and fingered a hole in her dress where her wings used to be. "My little sister Leala heard my screams… came running to help…" An eruption of sobs told me what happened next. "They got her," I whispered.

      "Yes," wailed Treali, wiping her tears. The landscape around us grew bleaker, darker, as if sharing in her pain. "Now she is Sra Dessro also. Anyway, the monsters it turned out, were faeries in disguise. Yet… there was no starlight in their eyes. I felt the presence of a curse upon them, but being cursed myself, I could do nothing to help. They carried me through the evening skies and into a cave near the top of this mountain. I can still feel the bitter cold of the cave air surrounding me, the winds rattling at the bars of my steel cage. Those shadowy, cursed dark faeries and their mistress Grindomara, sister of Jennumara taunting me by night. The tormenting rays of the sun, only yards away form my cage enticing me by day. They were so warm… so close… yet I could feel nothing but coldness. Nothing but darkness. Nothing but despair. I couldn't even dream at night, because in my cursed form, my eyes would not close. Forever they remained open, reflected in the bars of my cage, dark and starless.

      "Then a young mountain climber came. A Poogle. His name was Chris Peak. He and his friend Tavi were on a mission to save the grey faeries. Not an easy task. According to Chris, Tavi estimated that there were about a hundred and twenty on this mountain alone."

      I whistled softly. "That's a lot of faeries. Must take a lot of magic to hide them all."

Treali nodded, shifting her weight so she'd lean against my shoulder. It was as if she were bracing herself to tell the most painful part of her story. "It does. Anyway, He guessed my lock's name, which of course, was the same as my name. Treali, meaning 'Daughter of the Trees.' Ironic, since this lock seemed not to care for trees in the least. The cage swung open, and for the first time in what seemed like ages, I was free. Ecstatic, I let out a whoop of joy. That, I suppose, is what alerted the dark faeries.

      "They came… they came by the hundreds. Far more than the number that attacked my village. All to hunt down a single Poogle. 'Run away from here, Tree-Daughter!' The Poogle called before he was taken away. 'Run away and never return! Find new wings… and a new name! New stars to shine in your eyes!' The rest of his words were lost as the monsters…"

      So much pain this Faerie had endured! Gently, I rubbed her back in comfort. "There, there. It's all right. We'll bring your wings back."

      "But we can't bring Chris back," Treali wailed. "He was so brave. Risking everything to help me. And I destroyed him. It was my fault… I'm… I'm not worthy of new wings."

      Comforting people isn't one of my big strengths, but I did my best. "Sure you are." I said softly, resting my paw on her shoulder. "Because you weren't the one who destroyed Chris. Those monster-faeries were. They're the ones who don't deserve wings."

      "You see things so simply," sobbed Treali. "It's not as easy as that. There's something larger at work here. Those dark faeries… oh Tessalea it was horrible being Sra Dessro but it bust be even worse being a monster. I want to know what curse they were under. Why they had to obey Grindomara's every whim. Tessalea, please don't let me become one of them!"

      "I won't," I whispered into the Faerie's ear. "I promise."

      For a while, no one spoke. We just gazed upward at the starry sky, reflecting on Treali's tale. Finally, the former earth Faerie broke the silence. "See that constellation over by the moon? That's what my people call Kira. The first Faerie Queen, the first tamer of magic. When I was little, my mother would tell me legends about the just and brave Queen Kira and the gift of elemental magic that she gave to every Faerie The gift I lost."

      "You must really miss your mom," I said softly, eyes fixed upon the constellation. It was vaguely shaped like a woman, but with huge butterfly wings. She was soaring through the skies, reminding the world of the legacy of faeries. Her eye was a star so bright; it rivaled the moon in its brilliance.

      "More than you'd ever know," Treali whispered, her words so soft they were almost carried away by a vagrant breeze. "I hope she's alright."

      A faint glimmer caught my eye. A shooting star. I pointed it out to Treali. "Make a wish."

      "I wish I might find my family safe. I wish I might reclaim my wings. And I wish I might find out who I really am. For I can no longer be Treali of the Everforest Earth Circle. I need a new name." She paused, gazing at the star. "Perhaps I shall get my wishes someday. After all, anything is possible."

      With that, we curled up and drifted into an uneasy sleep. For me, sleep was ridden with nightmares of vicious monsters under mind-control spells and faeries torn from their wings, lost and nameless.

      Unfortunately, that dream was all too real.

The End

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