Where there's a Weewoo, there's a way Circulation: 106,486,787 Issue: 212 | 14th day of Collecting, Y7
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Shades of Grey: Part One


by cloudybliss

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The sun was hidden beneath a layer of thick clouds. Ignoring the slight chill to the air, the weather was decent. It had rained the night before, yet the sky showed no signs of unleashing the rain again. Telera pulled her cloak around her body tightly, shivering despite the temperate air. Her hair was scraggly, unkempt, and hung in strands around her face. Her face was pallid with a shadow of a bruise on her upper lip and smudge of dirt crusting her left cheek. Her cloak had so many holes in it that it provided only a little warmth, but Telera grasped it tightly for sentimental reasons, as it was her only remaining possession. Everything else that mattered to her had been stripped from her, and she knew what she missed the most: her wings. Once strong and flashy, her wings were reduced to mere feathers on that fateful night. Sunken into her head like marbles peering out from a skull, her eyes stared into space as she walked down the Neopian Boulevard. She wandered down the street, feeling invisible. Despite her tattered and slightly alarming appearance, no one gave her a second glance. She felt grateful for this; she was not in the mood to be gawked at like some freak.

      It was now half past four, but it felt much later to Telera. She felt as if that dreadful night had happened in another lifetime. When she awoke this morning, everything seemed normal for one fleeting second. In retrospect, everything seemed so normal upon waking that it was almost suspicious. Something about the morning felt artificial, like someone else's memory. Then it hit her. The memory of the night, when she lost her wings so long ago, began speeding through her head. The memory flew through her mind so fast that she was amazed that she could understand anything in the tangled rush of activity. It was only the fact that she had lived through it before that made her understand what she was experiencing, and the seemingly normal morning faded away. Her imagination had the wind knocked out of it, and reality sank in as her heart drooped in her chest. As usual, reality had come back her way like a boomerang, bringing her down when she felt as if she could go no lower.

      A chill played down Telera's spine as she gazed up at the cluster of lavender clouds high above the ground of Neopia: Faerieland. Her home, the home she'd never be able to return to. Faerieland, the city that stripped her of her wings, her desire, her will to live. Tears welled up in Telera's eyes; she focused intently on willing them not to spill. A lone tear broke through a small fissure in the barrier and leaked out. A glittering drop of water, a perfect symbol of the ineffable sadness she felt, shone on her cheek before dropping to the ground. She watched as the earth swallowed up her single tear: her only display of weakness. Many times she vowed it would be the last time she would let herself weep. She hated crying more than anything else in the world; it made her feel hopeless. But today was different. She had no hope or naive innocence that told her that life would be okay. Crying did not feel so forbidden anymore. After experiencing the tragedies that she had so long ago, it was a right she felt entitled to.

      She watched as she passed blissfully innocent pets, frolicking around without a care in the world. Her lifeless eyes followed them broodingly; she wanted nothing more than to seize the pets, to shake them hard and tell them off for being so happy. She wanted to scream, to tell them of the injustices of the world, to tell them her story. She wanted to watch their faces contort with grotesque fear as she recalled her story in vivid detail, marring their childish innocence. But it was not their fault that everything had gone so wrong, not at all. Even though Queen Fyora had taken the liberty to destroy her dignity, she still had integrity. She had far more integrity than they had, perched haughtily on their thrones, looking down on those who they deemed unworthy.

      Stopping next to the Rainbow Pool, she gazed at her reflection. She was not used to the lines of sadness plaguing her face. It was almost like she was staring at the reflection of a stranger. She looked and felt older than she had the day before, even though she knew only one day had passed. Had her lifetime flashed before her while she was moping around? Time played tricks with her head; she did not know how long she had slept. Was it possible that she had slept through an eternity? Or had today been one of those long, dragging days that seemed to never end? Questions raced through her head, causing her forehead to crease with wrinkles as she thought. Before that night, her face was a vision of beauty. Happiness would shine from every pore of her face. But now was different. And she knew who to thank for that. Her heart swelled with sadness as she stared at her visage and remembered how it got that way....

     ***

      It is a little-known fact that when a Faerie is born, their true personality is revealed in the element they represent. This could explain why Dark Faeries have received such a malevolent image. Dark Faeries are not in essence dark, but rather have the traits that enable one to be dark. For example, Dark Faeries are born with a certain inability to feel shame, ignoring reproaches and admonishments. Telera was born a Light Faerie: honest, pure, and willing to take the blame. Her sister, Tilaina, was a Dark Faerie. This didn't mean that the two sisters were sworn enemies. It was, in fact, the opposite. Telera and Tilaina were very close, yet even they held secrets from one another.

      It was nothing shocking that the Dark Faeries had been planning to revolt against Faerieland for ages. Telera did not approve of her sister's involvement in the planning, but she did not try to stop her either. She had no idea how deeply involved her sister was in this mess, however. If she had known the full story, she might have been more concerned. Remaining partially ignorant of her sister's plans, Telera attempted to cast her attention on other things, but it always fell back on Tilaina's secrecy. Faerieland had always had somewhat of a prejudice towards Dark Faeries. While it was undeniably true that some Dark Faeries were nasty, others, like Tilaina, were lovely. Tilaina was blunt and not afraid of speaking her mind, and Telera often worried that her outspoken opinions and tongue-lashings could get in her big trouble one day.

      Tilaina had been acting more subdued lately, and her lack of energy could be seen in the dark bags that hung beneath her lifeless eyes. She had been disappearing regularly for protracted lengths of time for quite a while, and she did not explain these absences to her sister. Tilaina's secrecy instilled worry in Telera, who was not easily ruffled. Pressing her after each disappearance, Tilaina grew increasingly irritated with Telera's prying. Some days, she would snap at even the simplest greeting. This was not like Tilaina, who was usually kind and sensitive. Sensing that she was fighting a losing battle, Telera stopped questioning her sister, but her nerves still had not settled. Tilaina looked worse than ever. This caused Telera's curiosity to increase, but she remembered Tilaina's snippy response the last time she tried to pry into her private business. She thought it would be better to keep her mouth shut.

      Tilaina ate her Enchanting Strawberry Cereal quietly, a slight frown tugging down the corners of her lips as she stared moodily into the bowl as if the cereal were trying to tell her something. Biting her lip and forgetting everything she had assessed mentally seconds before, Telera sat on the tattered sofa with her sister and glanced at her shyly.

      "Are you okay, sis?" she asked nervously, twirling a piece of uncombed hair on one finger. It was strange how uncomfortable she felt around her own sister lately. Startled, Tilaina jerked her head up, rather like she had just been awoken from a deep sleep. Milk splashed out of her bowl and onto her skirt, yet she did not seem to register that anything had fallen.

      "Oh," she said, after she had cast a wary glance around the living room and reaffirmed her surroundings. Without giving any explanation for her jumpy behavior, she stammered a reply. "Yes, I suppose I am. I haven't been getting much sleep, that's all." An unconvincing smile crossed her lips; it did not match her stormy eyes, still searching the room for something that Telera could not see. Telera put a reassuring hand on her sister's shoulder, her mind only on her sister's health.

      "Well, whatever it is, I'm always here if you want to talk. I'm not going to demand that you tell me what's wrong, but I'm sure I could help if you just told me."

      "Well..." Tilaina started, not knowing whether it was the right thing to do. An internal battle inside Tilaina's mind ensued; she opened and closed her mouth a few times, trying to decide how much Telera needed to know.

To be continued...

 
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