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Out From Under the Shadow

by ee365


When Illusen was just three or four, her mother always used to say to her, "Remember, every faerie is a sister to every other faerie, Illusen my angel. Remember this if you are ever mad at another and look for a peaceful solution." These words stuck in Illusen's brain many years after that, and she regarded it as the best advice she'd ever had.

     Illusen and her mother lived happily together in a small Neohome outside of Faerie City. Illusen's mother was a kind and beautiful earth faerie, and she loved Illusen dearly. Illusen's mother always had time for her, no matter what, and she praised Illusen often as she grew up to become a kind and gentle earth faerie just like her mother.

     Things went happily this way for several years. However, when Illusen was six, her aunt died. Illusen's mother agreed to take her orphaned cousin, a light faerie, to live with them. And that was when things changed.

     Up until that day, Illusen had thought of her life as a bright light, filled with happiness and peace. Now, a shadow hung over the young earth faerie. It plagued her every day, and it often made her sad or angry. That shadow's name was Miana.

     For as Illusen and Miana were growing up together, they both began to grow in power as well. They learned to cast spells and fight evil and do all the other things that faeries do. Illusen's mother guided them both through the learning of these things, and gave them tips and advice whenever she could. Both young faeries struggled to do their best.

     But however hard she tried, Illusen could never be as good as Miana. Though her spells worked, Miana's always worked just a small bit better. Though Illusen mastered the techniques of battling evil, Miana mastered them just a small bit quicker, and she was just a small bit more graceful with a sword than Illusen.

     Gradually, these "small bits" of betterness began to grow larger, until Miana outshone Illusen in what seemed to the earth faerie every single way. But what really frustrated Illusen was that Miana didn't seem to even have to struggle to be better. She just was.

     And eventually, adults started noticing. Miana got praise for a well-completed spell, but Illusen normally got just a nod. After a time even her mother seemed to be giving all her wonderful, gentle praise to Miana.

     This was the worst part for Illusen. All through her young life, Illusen had loved receiving praise from her mother more than anything in the world. It made her feel that she had truly been successful when her mother said, "Good job, Illusen. You really are improving," or something like that.

     But now, it seemed to Illusen, she didn't exist to her mother anymore. Miana was like a bright and shining star in everyone's eyes, a star that cast a shadow over Illusen, hiding her from the other faeries' view. Now even her mother could not see through the shadow, and it consumed Illusen completely.

     It cut her to the quick to hear her mother say, "Wow, Miana, this is the best you've done yet!" or "Oh, Miana, how lovely!" Those words belonged to Illusen, not her cousin. It's not fair, Illusen thought to herself several times a day. She's my mother, I deserve her praise too.

     Soon it became basically unbearable to live in the same house as Miana. It also came to pass that Illusen didn't even feel like striving to do her best anymore, because it would never be good enough. Miana would always, no matter how hard Illusen tried, be better.

     Today was a very special day for the young faeries, now 13. Their skills and talents would be presented to much higher-up faeries, such as the uber-faeries. Rumors had it that Fyora herself would even be there. Of course, Miana had been chosen to display her skills, while Illusen had not. She was fuming. Performing in front of Fyora had always been her dream, since the day she'd first learned the Faerie Queen's name.

     Illusen watched from the back of the crowd of young faeries as Miana showed off her skills. Even Fyora herself was smiling! Illusen wanted to cry, but didn't. That would be so embarrassing. Right now, the shadow that had been over Illusen's life was thicker than it had ever been before. This felt worse than hearing her mother praise Miana.

     As Miana ended her performance, Illusen could bear it no longer. As she turned away from the other young faeries, she whispered, It's not fair.

     To her great surprise, a voice answered her, "What's not fair, Illusen my child?" The earth faerie gasped. She had never heard a voice so full of wisdom, understanding, and kindness, except for maybe her mother's. Looking up, she saw Fyora kneeling down in front of her, a concerned look on her face.

     Illusen was lost for words. "Your……..your Majesty," she stammered. "I…….I……"

     "No need to explain, Illusen," Fyora replied, "Something is concerning you. Do you wish to speak about it?"

     Suddenly the pain she had felt since the day Miana entered her house spilled out her mouth and eyes. She cried, strangely without feeling embarrassed, and she told Fyora everything. She told the Queen of Miana, how she was always better than her at everything, of her mother's praise to her cousin, and of the shadow that had been covering her life.

     "Dear Illusen, I see that this troubles you greatly, and I can help you," Fyora said gently, handing the earth faerie a handkerchief. "Though it may seem as though Miana is better at you, and you wish dearly to be better than her, and to get revenge for all this pain she has put on you.."

     Illusen gasped. "But………how…….did you know……can you read minds?"

     Fyora smiled. "I am the Faerie Queen, my dear. I have my ways. But remember your mother's earliest advice that she always used to tell you when you were three or four. Remember, every faerie is a sister to every other faerie. Remember this if you are ever mad at another, and look for a peaceful solution. So, regardless of how she hurts you, Miana is still your sister, if not by blood, by spirit. Can you think of no solution?"

     Illusen was about to tell Fyora that she had no idea when she suddenly realized she did. "Uh….I could leave Faerieland? Live and work somewhere else for a while where I wouldn't be worried about Miana?"

     Fyora smiled again, with a smile so much like Illusen's mother's that fresh tears formed on the young faerie's face. "Yes," the Queen said gently, "Several faeries have done this in the past. Jhuidah, Taelia, and many others. You can do the same, Illusen my child."

     Illusen found a smile underneath her tears, "Thank you, Your Majesty."

     The next morning, Illusen stopped for only a moment at the doorway of the Neohome she'd always known. "Goodbye, Mother," she whispered into the night. She walked until she reached the edge of the Faerieland cloud and looked down. Down at Neopia, with its startling blues and greens and browns and whites, at the many lands down there. Somewhere down there, she knew, was a place where she could work to do good away from Miana and her betterness. Somewhere where she could just be Illusen……….out from under the shadow.

The End

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