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A Water Faerieā€™s Tears: Part One


by yaya269101

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Long ago, in a far-off corner of the kingdom of Brightvale, there lived an old blue Bori woodcutter and his family. The woodcutter was very poor, and his house was a long way away from the dwellings of other Neopets, but he still lived a very happy life, for he had treasures in his house more valuable to him than anything else in Neopia: he had four daughters.

      The eldest daughter was a speckled Uni maiden called Mirae, who was a Brightvalean in the truest sense; she loved nothing more than books and learning. Unfortunately, though Mirae was very smart, she was not very wise. The Uni often gloated about her vast intellect, and was condescending towards those she found to be less intelligent than herself.

      The woodcutter's second oldest child was Jocelyn, an orange Ixi. She was quite courageous, and dreamed of being a knight of the realm. And though she didn't know it (for her family lived apart from other Neopets) Jocelyn had a stronger arm and greater skill with a blade than most young men of her age. What the Ixi lacked, though, was a knight's traditional valour. She thought only of the glory of knighthood, and had no interest in protecting those who could not protect themselves.

      Alexandra the pink Cybunny was the second-youngest sister. Alex was extraordinarily beautiful. She was as radiant as the most colourful sunset, and prettier than Neopia's most ornate flower. Unfortunately, the Cybunny was not nearly as lovely on the inside. She was vain and selfish, as beautiful Neopets often are. More often than not, Alex wished she had been born into a different, richer family, so that she could adorn herself with jewels and garments as pretty as she was.

      The youngest daughter was a small, plain brown Kyrii called Cassielle, who had only an average amount of brains, bravery, and beauty. Her older sisters considered her to be nothing more than an ordinary girl, with nothing exceptional to her name. But Cassielle did have something exceptional about her: she had a pure heart. The young Kyrii was kind, caring and gentle; she worked harder around the house than any of the other girls, but she never once complained. In more ways than one, Cassielle was the image of the girls' good-hearted mother, who had passed away shortly after the Kyrii's birth.

      Though he was aware that the majority of his children had less than perfect characters, the Bori woodcutter loved his daughters dearly. He didn't pick favourites, and he treated the girls with more kindness than any other father in the kingdom. The family lived simply, but well, dwelling in isolation in their little woodland house. They did honest work, and, for the most part, their lives were peaceful. But all of that was about to change.

      One day, when Cassielle, the youngest child, was 15 years old, the old woodcutter was struck with a most peculiar feeling while he was splitting logs in the small yard behind his house. It was a sort of profound weariness - a tiredness that seemed to penetrate his very bones and turn his muscles to lead. He motioned to his three youngest daughters, who were aiding his task by carrying the planks that he chopped over to the wood pile. When all three girls had come over, he told them:

      "That's enough for now, my dears. I am very weary all of a sudden, and I should like to have a rest."

      With that, the Bori lodged his axe in his chopping block, and made towards the cottage. Alex the Cybunny gave a happy cry and ran off, for she loathed chores with a passion and was glad to be done with this one. The other two (Jocelyn and Cassielle) exchanged worried glances, though. They were both thinking that it was quite unlike their father to leave a job half-completed. Concerned, the two sisters followed the woodcutter into their house.

      The old Bori was in his bed, already sleeping deeply. Though his breathing was a little shallow, there didn't seem to be anything wrong with him.

      "Well, he seems well enough," said Jocelyn dismissively, and the Ixi left her father's room to go practice her archery in the yard. Cassielle wasn't so sure, though, so she crossed the room to the woodcutter's bed to put her small hand to his forehead. It was burning up.

      Cassielle left her father's bedside in a panic and ran to find Mirae, her oldest sister. As usual, the speckled Uni was in the room she shared with Jocelyn, pouring over a book.

      "Mirae!" Cassielle cried breathlessly. "Do you know anything about medicine?"

      "I should hope so," her sister said irritably, closing the tome on her lap. She had just been getting to a good part. "I've only read about a dozen books on the subject... "

      "Then come and have a look at Father!" the Kyrii interrupted her. "I think he's very ill!"

      Mirae rolled her eyes, but got up and ran with her little sister to the old Bori's room. Sure enough, when the Uni put her hand to her father's brow, her expression turned grim.

      "You were right. He's got a terrible fever," she said to Cassielle. "Run and get the others, and then fetch something cold for Father's head. With luck, we four can deal with this on our own."

      The little Kyrii left at once, and returned with Alex and Jocelyn from the yard. The girls then set about making the old woodcutter comfortable - even the Cybunny, who avoided work of all kinds whenever she could. By evening, it seemed that all was well - the Bori had not yet woken up, but his fever had abated some and he was breathing normally. Relieved, the three oldest sisters went happily off to bed, certain that their father would be right as rain by morning. Cassielle decided to stay behind and sleep in the woodcutter's room for the night, though, just in case.

      When the girls rose the next day, their father was much, much worse.

      He slept still, but his snores were punctuated with an abrupt, hacking cough. His fever had returned with even more intensity, and strange orange splotches could be seen on his skin through his Bori fur.

      "This is bad," said Mirae. She and the other two older girls had been woken urgently by Cassielle, after the brown Kyrii had risen to find her father in this worsened state.

      "What could it be?" whispered Jocelyn to her older sister. In times of trouble, the younger girls tended to turn towards Mirae for guidance. The Uni was the eldest, after all, and, through her reading, she knew much about the world.

      "I think," Mirae murmured tentatively, "that Father may have caught the Meridellian Plague."

      All of the colour drained from the Ixi's face. Alex's pretty eyes widened in shock, and Cassielle gasped.

      "A plague?" the youngest sister squeaked. "Father has a plague?!"

      Mirae nodded gravely. "I've read about this," the Uni said. "This sickness has been ravaging the neighbouring kingdom for almost a decade. But I didn't know that it had spread into Brightvale already."

      "But how do we cure him?" Cassielle demanded. The young Kyrii was panicking. She loved her father dearly, and she was finding his terrible illness very hard to bear.

      Mirae's shoulders slumped. "So far, all the Meridellian Plague has for a cure is a legend." The Uni ignored her sisters' muffled cries. She continued dejectedly: "There is a story about how to cure the plague. They say that deep in Brightvale Woods - that's these woods, actually - there lives a powerful Water Faerie. They say that this Faerie has a healing magic so strong that her very tears can cure any illness. She's supposed to live in a cavern full of water, hidden somewhere in the forest. The whole thing is probably just a tale, though."

      At her sister's words, Cassielle hung her head. She had lost all hope of saving her father. The Kyrii fought back the tears that were welling up in her eyes.

      "It's not just a tale."

      Cassielle snapped her head back up. Mirae and Jocelyn were staring at Alex, too; the Cybunny was very pale, but she spoke with conviction.

      "This cavern, I've seen it. All filled up with water and with blue balls of light floating around. I found it while I was out looking for wildflowers, weeks ago. It..." she blushed prettily "...I thought it was a dream."

      Cassielle's heart was beating very fast. "Where is it?" she croaked.

      Alex's blush deepened. "You know the stream that I... like to look at myself in? You just follow it. It's not even an hour's walk."

      Presently, Mirae stood up. "Well, then I won't be gone very long," she said curtly.

      Cassielle leapt to her feet as well. "Oh, Mirae!" she cried. "Are you going to go and find the Faerie? Will Father be saved?"

      Jocelyn and Alex went to stand on either side of the Kyrii, but they didn't look nearly as happy as their younger sister with Mirae's decision.

      "Why do you get to go and be the hero, Mirae?" asked Jocelyn scathingly. "I can run faster than you; it would be quicker for me to go and find the cavern!"

      The Uni faced her siblings defiantly. "I'm the eldest," she said. "It's my responsibility. Besides, there's another part to the story, that I forgot to mention. Supposedly, the Water Faerie will only give her tears to someone who is worthy. And, since I am of such great intellect, I would consider myself to be worthy of this honour."

      Alex and Jocelyn glared at their sister's smug face, but neither of them said anything, for they knew that arguing would just take up time that the old woodcutter didn't have. Cassielle, meanwhile, ignored the contempt in Mirae's expression, and looked up at her admiringly. Hope surged in the Kyrii's heart. Soon her father would be well again!

      Ten minutes later, the Uni was hurrying along the stream that Alex had described. The forest air was crisp and fresh, but Mirae had no time to stop and appreciate it; she was too busy scanning her surroundings for signs of the Water Faerie's cavern. Eventually, she spied a low ridge of rock up ahead of her. Sure enough, there was a dark wound in the rock face, like some beast's gaping maw. As she neared the cavern, Mirae's speed slackened, so that by the time she stepped through the mouth of the cave and into the blackness, she was barely shuffling along.

      The cavern was just like Alex had said. Mirae had not even taken two steps before water pooled around her hooves. As her eyes adjusted to the dimness in the cave, the Uni was able to make out a plethora of eerie glowing balls that gave out very faint azure light. The cavern seemed to be empty, so Mirae took a few more steps forward.

      Suddenly, a voice cried out from the back of the cavern: "Who goes there?"

      It was a voice like none she had ever heard. It put her in mind of the sound the rain made as it fell onto the roof of the woodcutter's house.

      "I am Mirae," the Uni answered. "My father is sick with the Meridellian Plague, and I come seeking the magical healing tears of the Water Faerie to cure him with!"

      For a moment, there was silence. Then the disembodied voice came again.

      "What makes you worthy of receiving the tears of the Water Faerie?"

      At this, Mirae cried out: "I am the most intelligent maiden in all of Brightvale! Surely I, of all Neopets, am worthy of the healing tears!"

      "The most intelligent maiden in the kingdom?" the voice took on an interested tone. "Well then! Answer me this, O intelligent one..."

      The Uni's heart jumped into her throat. She was sure that she would be tested with a most challenging puzzle.

      "A red Grarrl farmer has eight Snorkles. He also has twelve bags of grain," the voice continued. "Each Snorkle should eat one quarter of a bag of grain a day to feel full. The farmer must eat three eighths of a bag of grain a day in order to feel comfortably full. Also, if he wishes, the farmer may eat a Snorkle a day. The farmer cannot harvest more grain for eight days. What should he do?"

      Mirae's face lit up. "It's easy," she said eagerly. "All the farmer has to do is eat one Snorkle a day. Then he'll have more than enough grain to last him until the next harvest."

      The woodcutter's eldest daughter expected the answering voice to sound pleased, but instead, it was dripping with contempt and disgust.

      "You are not worthy of my tears, and never will be. Leave this place!"

      The Uni was horrified. "But I answered the question correctly!"

      "LEAVE!"

To be continued...

 
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