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Atop the Grey Cloud: Part One


by kemppotatoe

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The wind gusted through the clouds. With every breath of wind, the huge cloud of Faerieland floated gently north. The numerous clouds above the main cloud all shifted slightly with it, as if attached.

     A young air faerie stood shivering atop the highest cloud. Her silky blond hair streamed behind her. Her pale face was drawn in a frown of worry.

     Her eyes scanned the many floating clouds below her, as she stood on the tip of her own. Nobody was out; gales usually meant that everyone in Faerieland was piled in their basement. But not her. She was here on request.

     "Gwendolyn…" said a misty voice behind her.

     Gwendolyn turned around sharply, and at once her hair streamed past her head and into her face.

     "Gwendolyn…" the mysterious being repeated. It could have been even more dramatic as she said it, but with a name like Gwendolyn, you can't be too dramatic.

     "Y-yes?" Gwendolyn practically shouted over the noise of the wind.

     The mysterious being took off her cloak, and it turned out to be a tall important-looking light faerie. Her eyes rested on Gwendolyn for a moment. She did not smile.

     "Ferinslé?" Gwendolyn gasped. She knew this faerie. It was her mentor.

     Gwendolyn was training to become a healing faerie, and Ferinslé taught her. She, after all, was Ferinslé's apprentice.

     "Gwendolyn, this is important," Ferinslé said harshly. She seemed to barely be whispering, yet the words came out clear and loud. Gwendolyn looked below her at the shifting clouds.

     "The storm is getting bad-" she began.

     "Don't interrupt me," Ferinslé said, "how many times have I taught you?" Gwendolyn nodded. "But you are right. The storm is getting bad, so I will make this quick."

     Gwendolyn, expecting to hear some sort of speech, started to move slightly closer to Ferinslé.

     "Gwendolyn, I am here on Queen Fyora's orders. This is a task. A task in which is for you optional, yet I wish for you to take it."

     Gwendolyn stared at her wide-eyed. "A- a task. Like a quest, you mean?"

     "This task," Ferinslé went on, as if Gwendolyn hadn't spoken, "is not a childish quest to retrieve a worthless item for strength. Oh no, no, no. This is a quest… a quest to relieve Faerieland from its troubles and to save all faeries."

     Just then, a clap of thunder sounded overhead, and small rain droplets came slowly falling down. Gwendolyn attempted to brush the hair out of her eyes, but it came streaming back again. Then, an absolutely HUGE gust of wind blew Gwendolyn off her feet. A scream issued from her mouth as she toppled off the cloud, her hands groping on the edge of it.

     "Use your wings, you clumsy girl, your wings! That's what they're here for!" Ferinslé shouted.

     Gwendolyn flapped her wings furiously and managed to climb back onto the cloud, now shaking with fear, guilt, and cold. Ferinslé looked as though a slight breeze had swept past her, not a ferocious gale that could knock any young and inexperienced faerie over.

     "Back to what I was saying…"

     Gwendolyn attempted to say yes, but only a small squeak came out.

     "There is a certain faerie, my apprentice, who no longer resides in the clouds of Faerieland. This is the faerie we need. She has power not even Jhudora can penetrate."

     "And who is this faerie?" Gwendolyn called. Her hands and body were positively numb with cold now. She shivered as a raindrop hit her face.

     "This faerie," Ferinslé responded, "is not one you could call… popular. She is positively pessimistic and cynical. Yet, she holds the power."

     "You don't mean-"

     "Yes, my apprentice. The Grey Faerie holds the power to save Faerieland from its trouble."

     Gwendolyn gulped. A large raindrop hit her squarely on the nose, and she grimaced. But then, she noticed something about that raindrop.

     "It's rainbow!" she said, fascinated. "This is a rainbow raindrop!"

     Ferinslé looked up. "Of course," she said, "'when trust is placed upon a being, great and profound, rainbow raindrops fall upon the cloud.'"

     "Was that a quote?" Gwendolyn asked, interested.

     Ferinslé, however, did not answer. She went back to talking about the quest. "Gwendolyn, this is very, very serious. Queen Fyora places trust on you, and so do I. We both, especially I, expect that if you do accept this task, that you will do well. You will make us proud."

     Gwendolyn was about to nod and say she'd accept it, when another raindrop fell into her open mouth. She sputtered and spit it out. But then she wished she hadn't, for it had tasted good.

     "Wow!" she yelled. "These raindrops are… sweet and sugary!"

     Ferinslé grew angry. "I expect that if you are commenting on sweet raindrops perhaps you do not wish to take the quest. Maybe we should give to someone a little more interested?"

     "No! No, I'll do it! I'd like to!"

     "Very well," she snapped, "very well. The Grey Faerie resides on the Grey Cloud, but it has drifted alone across Neopia. Where? We do not know."

     "How could it drift away? All the other little clouds above Faerieland move with it,"

     "The Grey Cloud, I expect, has powers of its own, considering the powerful faerie who enchanted it. Now, back to what I was saying?"

     Gwendolyn nodded quickly.

     "Yes, well. It is your job to find the Grey Cloud. Once you have, persuade the Grey Faerie to come with you. This, I must warn you, will take patience and perseverance. When you have gotten her convinced, come straight back to Faerieland, and we'll explain everything to her here-"

     "But, what am I to tell her to convince her to come with me?"

     Ferinslé looked angry about being interrupted, but she went on. "You do not have to tell her anything except to come with you. Queen Fyora has written her own note to her," she pulled out a sealed scroll, "that I daresay should, er, eventually cause her to come to Faerieland."

     Gwendolyn nodded and stood still. This seemed a big moment for her, being trusted by the queen. But being trusted by Ferinslé made her very happy also, for she never thought her teacher had liked her much. The first day in the castle's clinic, all Ferinslé had asked her to do was carry some healing vials into the other room. Gwendolyn tripped and broke every vial. Since then, Ferinslé had never quite gotten over the clumsy, interrupting faerie that had been sent to her.

     "I understand my mission," Gwendolyn said proudly, "and I will do my best." As she said this, her hands clasped around her necklace, a silver chain ending in a small glass Pteri wing. This necklace, which she had found on the main cloud when she was very little, was her motivation in everything she did.

     "Good," Ferinslé said, failing to smile, "then you will go to your room tonight and pack. You leave tomorrow morning right after sunrise."

     "Please, what should I pack?"

     "Only things you find… necessary. I suggest snacks and Neopoints, of course, a few potions wouldn't hurt, and maybe a book."

     Gwendolyn nodded and looked back down at the main cloud below. She sighed as another gust hit her. It was now raining much harder, and the small cloud they stood on had turned rainbow.

     "You can do it, my apprentice, Gwendolyn… I have much faith in you…"

           ***

     Gwendolyn reached the palace near midnight. She was thoroughly shaken from all she had heard that night, but she was pleased that the ruler of Faerieland had placed so much responsibility on her.

     Her silky hair was now drenched and slightly rainbow. Her blue flowing dress seemed permanently windswept and felt as if it could never be properly dry again.

     Gwendolyn lived in the palace, in the dorm wing where many other young trainee faeries lived and learned. They were taught things such as business, politics, astronomy, predicting, and much more, but Gwendolyn was the only faerie in the healing department.

     She walked absentmindedly down the dorm wing hallway, and accidentally ran into another young faerie.

     "Sorry," she muttered, not even looking at the faerie. But the faerie saw her.

     'You're Gwendolyn, right?" she asked.

     Gwendolyn look up. It was an earth faerie. "Yes," she replied, "who are you?"

     "Trevelle," she said, "I'm learning to foretell the future. I'd like to be able to someday, you know, like save Faerieland from evil because of my abilities. That'd be cool, wouldn't it?"

     Gwendolyn smiled falsely. "Oh yes."

     "But, it's not like we'd really ever get the chance," Trevelle went on, "to save people and all. I mean, we're just children, right? Who trusts trainee faeries?"

     Gwendolyn pondered Trevelle's words on her way to her room. Why had they picked her, a clumsy healing apprentice, over many fully trained and experienced faeries? It seemed rash to put such an innocent child in danger… yet Gwendolyn knew there just had to be a reason for her being chosen.

     She entered her room, which was relatively large for a one-person dorm and consisted of a Covered Isca-Themed Bed. She plopped clumsily into her Fyora Print Bean Bag Chair and stared blankly out the window, which was Soup Faerie Stained Glass, so she couldn't really see anything. But she could hear the rain. It was heavy and pounding, which was unusual to hear in the dorms because they were on the ground floor.

     She looked around her room, eyeing each object and deciding what to pack.

     She saw the Shimmery Notebook and Air Faerie Pen and Eraser on her desk. She saw the Tooth Faerie Poster stating, 'Brush Up!' She saw her Lavender Faerie Rug, her Harris Lamp, her wall-hung Shell Mirror, her Jewelry Box which held all her faerie hair clips, her Snow Bruce Music Box, and her unfinished Jellybean Baguette laying on her desk.

     How she wanted to pack everything. She just wanted to get a really huge bag and haul it off with her to find the Grey Cloud. She didn't want to leave anything behind.

     But she knew she must. She knew to save Faerieland (from whatever problem it was facing), she must pack lightly, find the Grey Faerie, and bring her here.

     And with that thought in mind, Gwendolyn started to pack.

To be continued...

 
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