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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 18th day of Sleeping, Yr 22
The Neopian Times Week 144 > Short Stories > The Fortunes of Faeries

The Fortunes of Faeries

by kittykmae

Kintrith, a young Light Faerie, bit her lip. "Teacher Litil will be mad enough to clip our wings if she finds us here."

     "She'll get over it," Cyliss replied, shrugging. "Anyway, she never gets mad at you. The worst you'll have to do is kitchen duty for a couple of weeks."

     Kintrith readjusted her cloak to hide her face a little better. "I...I guess you're right."

     "I'm always right," the Dark Faerie grinned. "Hey, look, a fortune-teller!"

     "She's probably fake," Kintrith replied, glancing at the gaudy colors on her tent; the run-down game of Miniature Ultimate Bullseye and filthy hotdog stand on either side of it didn't exactly inspire confidence, either.

     "Of course she is, but it'll be fun. C'mon!" Cyliss dragged Kintrith over.

     The fortune-teller, a Starry Zafara wearing a turban, smiled distantly at them. "You will be first, Cyliss."

     Kintrith and Cyliss glanced at each other, Kintrith still skeptical and Cyliss half-convinced.

     "I wonder how she knew my name," Cyliss whispered.

     The fortune-teller smiled again. "Please, come inside."

     "Don't I need to pay you?" Cyliss asked, hanging back a bit.

     The fortune-teller studied Cyliss and Kintrith in turn, and then looked back at Cyliss. "No. Your futures are very important. I will not charge."

     Kintrith watched them enter the tent, eyes narrowed. She still suspected some kind of trick.

     A few minutes later, Cyliss emerged. "Your turn!"

     "What did she tell you?" Kintrith asked.

     "Things like my favorite teacher and all that at first." Cyliss grinned. "She was completely accurate on everything. She's pretty good. But then she went on to my future." Her grin faded. "It's...well, like I said earlier, she's definitely fake. But go on, I did it, now you have to do it."

     "All right." Kintrith shook her head. This was silly. She ducked through the entrance.

     The interior of the carnival fortune-teller's tent was dark and smoky; once her eyes adjusted (which took a frustratingly long amount of time), she could see a foggy crystal ball glowing a shade dimmer than her skin sitting on a circular table. The Zafara sat on one side of the table; Kintrith took the seat opposite.

     "Give me your palm."

     Kintrith complied, nervous in spite of herself. The Zafara started tracing the creases in her smooth skin, occasionally murmuring something. After a minute or so, she nodded and released Kintrith's hand.

     "Now put your hand on my crystal ball."

     She did. The fog in the ball started glowing much more brightly, until even her skin paled in comparison. The fortune-teller stared intently into the ball. Suddenly she sat back.

     "That's enough."

     Kintrith pulled away her hand.

     "You are more or less without fear; unlike Cyliss, you very rarely sneak out of the Faerie Academy, and you, like Cyliss, have never been in any true danger. You are convinced you are logical and as scientific and modern as any creature so tied to magic can be, but at heart you still believe in the things that cannot be explained in any way known to faerie, Neopet, or human. You are very intelligent in a book sort of way, but you are only average at practical magic." The fortune-teller recited those facts in a monotone; her voice changed now. "But you will someday be very great indeed--great and terrible...Neopia herself will someday shiver at the mention of your name...but Kintrith the Light Faerie has only a few more years to live. Be warned!"

     With that, the Zafara slumped back in her chair; Kintrith, startled, fell off her own. She stared at the limp, but deeply breathing, fortune-teller for a moment before scrambling out of the tent.

     "Kin?" Cyliss asked, startled.

     Kintrith shivered. "She said...never mind." She shook her head, trying to clear it. "She has to be fake." She had to be.

Two Years Later

Kintrith stared down at her notes. "Cy, come here."

     Cyliss bounded over, not noticing the tremor in Kintrith's voice. "Yep?"

     "Could you please go borrow Teacher Natane's magic-scale?"

     "You have one of your own, don't you?" It was two in the morning, according to Cyliss's watch. (Admittedly, the watch had been dropped almost fifty feet out of one of the Hidden Tower's windows last week, but Cyliss was mostly confident about her magical mending skills.)

     "I need to double-check something." Kintrith pointed at her scale; a lock of hair sat on one side, and a bit of Faerieland cloud (one of the most magical materials in Neopia) sat on the other. The hair's side was nearly touching the tabletop.

     "Wow." Cyliss stared at the scale. "Whose hair is that, Fyora's? I didn't think even she was that powerful."

     "She's not, and that isn't her hair." Kintrith shook her head. "You see why I want to double-check that."

     Cyliss nodded and ran off. A few minutes later, she returned with the scale. Kintrith carefully transferred the hair and the cloud to Teacher Natane's scale.

     The result was the same.

     "Tell me: whose hair IS that?"

     Kintrith slowly turned to look at Cyliss, as if in a fog. "Do you have any idea what I've been working on in here?"

     "It's something for Teacher Litil, right? Some sort of hopelessly advanced magical theory that I'm never going to understand in three billion years?"

     "Yes." The ghost of a smile appeared on Kintrith's face. "There's an assignment due in a couple of weeks, and it involved designing a spell that uses a few of the concepts we've been working on. The object of the spell was up to the individual. Mine...well, it's kind of hard to explain exactly how it works unless you know both quantum physics and advanced magical theory. The practical effect is that you end up with hundreds of times your own magic at your disposal, and the spell last several times a faerie's life expectancy."

     "And you tested it on yourself?" Cyliss knew neither quantum physics nor advanced magical theory, but she certainly wasn't stupid.

     Kintrith nodded.

     "Well, I think you're getting a passing grade on that assignment," Cyliss commented, staring bemusedly at the scale.

     The Light Faerie shook her head miserably. "I can't turn this in!"

     "Why not?"

     "There's a law...." Kintrith looked down at her feet. "I wasn't doing anything illegal at first, just theory work. You can make up any spell you want as long as you don't use it. So I thought I'd work on a spell to increase magical strength, because nobody works on those spells and there's so much left to discover...I got caught up in my work, and I didn't think, and I tested it...I'll be banished from Faerieland forever if anyone finds out. Cy, promise me you'll never tell anyone!"

     Cyliss took a deep breath. Usually it was Kintrith making sure she stayed more or less within the bounds of the law, never the other way around. This was a serious offense; it was drilled into every faerie's head from her first day at the Academy that you never used spells that made you stronger. They had to get the magic somewhere; sometimes it was other faeries, and sometimes it was things like the Faerieland Cloud, but it always led to trouble. But what was she supposed to do, turn in her best friend?

     "I promise."

Two Years Later

Kintrith smiled, picking a vial of a thick, dark red liquid from a collection of bottles on her shelf. She uncorked the bottle carefully, being sure not to spill any...

     "Lady Kintrith, Fyora's forces are storming the castle!"

     Kintrith cursed as the bottle slipped through her fingers, shattering on the floor. She turned and glared at the Ixi standing in the doorway of her potion laboratory.

     "You bother me for this? This castle cannot be penetrated. They will dash themselves to death against my protections. Now leave!"

     The Ixi shrank away from her, but persisted. "Lady, they made it through the first layer of protection and are very nearly done with the second."

     Kintrith froze. "You are certain of this?"

     "Yes, Lady."

     Kintrith cursed again. With a flick of her hand, she levitated the Ixi up to her eye level. "You will go and tell that idiot Eyrie in charge of security that I need an Eyrie beak for one of my potions. If he doesn't get this under control by the time they reach the third layer of spells..."

     The Ixi gulped in spite of himself. "I'll tell him, Lady."

     Kintrith flicked her hand again, and the Ixi dropped to the ground. He scurried off. She stared at the liquid puddled on the floor and scowled. Two more minutes and she would have completed the potion. If she could only finish it, Fyora and all the other faeries in Neopia would be powerless against her. Her magic would be one hundred times again its current power--thousands of times what she had been born with. All she needed to add was one drop of that mixture she had been holding. Could she complete it now, before going to deal with Fyora? She wasn't sure. It would take at least fifteen minutes to make another vial of the blood-red mixture. Perhaps it would be better to go and help fight off the invaders with the power she had already, which was more than enough to beat Fyora. She turned towards the door. That was probably best.

     The ground started to tremble. She stared down at it. It felt strongly like magic. She ran towards the doorway of her laboratory; the hallways were too narrow to fly, and the most her wings could do was help to steady her. The ceilings started falling in; Kintrith dodged the bits of debris as well as she could. How had Fyora's army made it past her defenses?

     A faerie was in the corridor ahead. Only five faeries besides Kintrith lived in the castle, one of each element but her own, and this faerie was not one of them--although she did look strangely familiar. Kintrith ignored it and shot a tight beam of light rather like a laser at the unknown faerie.

     "Kintrith, stop! We've won! If you just come peacefully you might keep your wings--"

     "No! You haven't won!" Kintrith screamed, still shooting.

     "It's me, Cyliss!" the Dark Faerie pleaded. "Kintrith, please! I want to help you. If you stop shooting and come with me, I'll do everything I can to help convince Fyora you can be good again--please, Kintrith! Listen to me!"

     Kintrith slowed, and she glared at her old friend. "I don't want your help. You betrayed me, remember?"

     Cyliss was almost crying now. "I had to! You have to understand!"

     "I understand perfectly: you cared more about your own skin than you did your best friend. When Fyora started turning against me, you switched sides. You didn't think I could beat her."

     "No, it wasn't like that! You were hurting people, Kintrith. I had to help them stop you! Your power had gone to your head--"

     "I don't want your help!" Kintrith raised her hands, aiming them carefully at her old friend--

Several Months Later

The Grey Faerie opened her eyes.

     "She's awake!" the girl sitting by her bed called. Another person--a faerie of some sort--hurried over.

     "Good." The faerie studied the Grey Faerie. "Tanie, go get me a bowl of soup."

     The girl nodded and hurried off.

     "A Neopet and her human brought you in," said the unknown faerie. "This is the soup kitchen in Neopia Central, by the way. You were on the verge of fading away entirely."

     The Grey Faerie shook her head sadly. "I want to fade."

     "If so, there's nothing I can do to help you," the Soup Faerie said. (The Grey Faerie vaguely remembered the name; the Soup Faerie was mentioned a few times in the histories.) "I can force you to eat so long as you stay here, but I can't keep you here if you want to leave."

     "Then I want to leave," the Grey Faerie said, struggling to sit up. She had been fed while she slept, because she had been too weak to move the last time she was awake.

     "You can be helped, you know. There are ways to claim a new name and find new wings. None of them are easy, but others have succeeded."

     The Grey Faerie shook her head. "Fyora would never let me."

     The Soup Faerie's expression changed to a mixture of pity and revulsion. "This is a punishment? What is your name?"

     "I was Kintrith the Light Faerie, once." The Grey Faerie slumped back onto the pillow.

     The Soup Faerie bit her lip. "You tried to take over Faerieland."

     "Yes."

     "And you used a spell that drained magic from the magic available to the other faeries...and you--" The Soup Faerie stopped, seeing the Grey Faerie's face.

     The Grey Faerie, now silently sobbing, nodded.

     "But your power corrupted you," the Soup Faerie pointed out. (Kintrith's whole sordid story was well known to most of Neopia.) "Now that you're separated from it, you're coming back. You must be if you can show remorse for your former actions."

     "But I was too weak to even realize what was happening! Whether or not my power played a part, I did it all. It was me!"

     "You can still change. You can still do good things--you can't make up for the things you did, but you can start to redeem yourself."

     The Grey Faerie shook her head again, her tears subsiding. "I'm only a Grey Faerie now. I can't do anything."

     "You've lost your magic and your wings. That's all. Humans get by without them." The Soup Faerie shrugged. "Choose another name--not to bring your wings back, but to start over. Buy new clothes. Set up a shop. Build a Neohome. Donate to the Money Tree when you have something to spare."

     She dried her face on the shoulder of her filthy dress. "I will. I'll try."

     The Soup Faerie smiled slightly. "You can stay here as long as you need to, you know."

     "I know."

     The Soup Faerie stood up. "I have my soup to tend to. Tanie should be back any minute with yours." She started to walk off to the main kitchen area.

     "Thank you," the Grey Faerie said.

      The Soup Faerie just nodded.

Several Months Later

Artemis bit her lip and knocked on the door of the rather lavish home. Technically she wasn't supposed to come anywhere near here, but no one bothered to question a human wandering through Faerieland; she was probably on her way to Jhudora's cloud or the Wheel of Excitement or maybe the Hidden Tower. She might even have a Neohome in the area, although her simple clothing didn't make it seem likely.

     "Yes?" A Dark Faerie with a long, puckered scar across her face answered the door.

     Artemis stared down at her feet. "I wanted to apologize."

     "For what?" The faerie studied her. "I don't recognize you."

     "I was there when you got that scar."

     "Oh." The Dark Faerie nodded slowly. "You were on Kintrith's side?" Artemis didn't speak. The faerie took her silence as a yes. "We scarred a lot of your people, too. Most of them were only confused. Kintrith was a very persuasive speaker when she wanted to be. We did what we had to, and you did what you thought you had to."

     "What about Kintrith? Wasn't she evil?"

     The faerie shook her head. "I don't think so, not completely. She wasn't the only one at fault; there were other people who thought they might be able to profit if they could get her to attack Faerieland, and some of them nudged her along. And her power was just too much for her." The faerie sighed. "I knew her very well once. She wasn't evil then. I don't think she ever became completely evil."

     Artemis shook her head slightly. "Maybe so."

"I wish there had been a way to fix her without dooming her to be a Grey Faerie. She's probably faded by now; most Grey Faeries do." The Dark Faerie shook her head as if to clear it. "But there was nothing else we could do. At least she isn't hurting anyone else now."

     "Thank you, Cyliss," Artemis said, turning away.

     The Dark Faerie, Cyliss, suddenly touched her shoulder. "Wait...are you...?"

     Artemis shook her head. "No. I'm not. Kintrith is gone."

     Cyliss slowly nodded. "Yes. You're right."

     Artemis smiled a bit and turned away. Kintrith was gone, but Artemis had a lot of work to do.

The End

Author's Note: Thank you, Tdyans, for looking this over :)

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