Fire and Gold: Part Four
At last, the trees of the Haunted Woods parted, and the
ocean spread out before them. Ahead of them, they could just barely see the glimmering
white shape that marked the cloud where Faerieland rested. Gerra flexed her wings,
glad to be out of the oppressive atmosphere of the forest. She was looking forward
to being in the clear sky again.
"We're in the home stretch," she announced.
"Better hang on tight, because I'm taking this as fast as I can!"
"The faster, the better!" Twee agreed. He wrapped
his tail tightly around Gerra's middle so he wouldn't fall off.
"All right, then! Here we go!"
Gerra crouched low on the ground, tensing all
her muscles, and then leaped high into the sky. Up and up she went, up past
the treetops, straight up into the clouds. Twee squealed with excitement, and
Gerra, cheered on by his enthusiasm, turned a few barrel-rolls and loop-the-loops
just for the fun of it. On Terror Mountain, she'd always had to fly low to avoid
the icy clouds, and now she was thrilled to be able to fly as high and fast
as she liked without having to worry about crashing into the side of a mountain.
Of course, once she was painted Snow, the skies of Terror Mountain would hold
no more fear for her. The thought of being able to fly like this in the home
she loved gave her extra speed. By the time she planted her paws on the springy
clouds of Faerieland, she was winded but happy.
"Whee!" said Twee as he slid off of her back.
"That was some ride! I wanna do it again!"
"On the way back," Gerra promised. "Right now,
we need to find the Fountain Faerie."
There were a number of other Neopets, mainly
the winged varieties, flitting around, and they were able to get directions
from a passing Faerie Xweetok. Gerra trotted along happily, enjoying the look
of the Faerie city and the feel of the clouds under her paws. It was almost
like walking on snow, but not as cold. At last, they came to the edge of the
Rainbow Fountain. As they approached, a lovely Faerie peeked out of the water
"Hello there," she said. "Let me guess: you
want to bathe in the fountain's magical waters?"
"We need to be changed to our right colors,"
"Uh, yeah," Twee said, suddenly looking shy.
"See, I kinda caused a little accident at the Rainbow Pool..."
"Oh, so you're the one!" said the Fountain
Faerie. "I've been hearing a lot about you. For the past few days, it's
been nothing but requests from people who got mixed up in that mess. I've been
doing all I can to straighten it out, but not everyone has the means to travel
to Faerieland, and it's been more work than I can handle."
"Oh," said Twee, looking downcast. The message
seemed obvious: if the Fountain Faerie didn't have the energy to help all the
people who had been painted wrongly by accident, she surely didn't have time
to help the person who caused all the trouble in the first place.
The Fountain Faerie turned to Gerra.
"You, however, are blameless," she said, "so
I will give you some of my magical water. Just take a dive in the fountain,
and you can be whatever you want. As for this one here..." She waved a hand
at Twee. "I'm afraid there's nothing I can do for him."
"Please," said Gerra. "Twee didn't mean to cause
all that trouble. He's not really a bad Meerca. He was just looking for
a way to stop the other pets from bullying him. He's my friend, and he doesn't
deserve to be stuck this way forever."
"Are you so sure that he deserves forgiveness?"
asked the Fountain Faerie.
"Yes. He saved me from the Snowager, and helped
me get Taelia's map back from a thief. And I like him," said Gerra stubbornly.
The Fountain Faerie flicked her tail thoughtfully,
sending ripples through the fountain.
"Your name is Twee?" she asked the Meerca. "Twee,
I'll make you a deal. There are still a lot of Neopians who are still the wrong
colors, thanks to you, and as I've said, some of them are having trouble getting
all the way from their homes to here. Thanks to the Wocky record-keeper, I have
a list of everyone who was in the mixup at the pool that day. What I want you
to do is this: I will give you enough bottles of magic water to change everyone
back to the colors they wanted to be. Here."
She flicked her tail again, and a sheet of paper
rose out of the pool. The writing on it shimmered like water. She gave the paper
to Twee, who scanned it quickly. His usually cheerful face fell as he saw how
long it was.
"This will take me forever," he complained.
"I'd have to cover the whole of Neopia to do all this!"
"Cheer up," said Gerra. "I'll help you."
Twee looked up, surprised. "You will? But you
want to go home to your family..."
"I do. But I've always wanted to see the world
before I settle down on Terror Mountain for good. Besides, we're friends, right?"
"Right!" said Twee. He looked up at the Fountain
Faerie. "It's okay if Gerra helps me, right?"
The Fountain Faerie smiled. "I think I can allow
that, since it will help everyone faster. Just don't miss anyone, all right?"
"All right!" Twee and Gerra chorused.
The Fountain Faerie flicked her tail again,
and a box floated to the surface of the water. Gerra picked it up and found
that it was full of bottles of water. When she picked one of them up and held
it to the light, she could see that the water shimmered in every color of the
"One of those is yours," the Faerie said. "You
can use it now, if you want."
"No, I think I'll be a Fire Eyrie for a little
while longer," Gerra replied. She turned to her friend. "Ready, Twee?"
"Ready!" He grabbed the box and bounded onto
"All right! You wanted to fly again, so let's
Gerra flapped her wings, and the two off them
swooped off into the sky.
It took two weeks to deliver all the bottles.
During that time, Gerra and Twee crisscrossed all of Neopia, from Terror Mountain
to the Lost Desert, across the ocean to Mystery Island and Krawk Island, even
as far away as Altador. They saw Neopets that were every color of the rainbow
and a few more colors besides. They even met another Fire Eyrie living in the
jungles of Tyrannia, who allowed them to spend the night in his nest. By the
time they returned to Faerieland, Gerra's wings were about to fall off from
exhaustion, but they had managed to put every last pet right again... every
last one, that is, but Gerra herself. Her bottle was still tucked safely in
its box, awaiting the right moment. When she arrived back in Faerieland, she
lay down on the cool clouds next to the Rainbow Fountain to take a well-deserved
rest. Twee, energetic as always, bounced off of her back and over to the side
of the fountain.
"Well, we're back!" he called. "We delivered
all the water, just like you said!"
The Fountain Faerie paddled over to Twee to
look at the nearly empty box.
"So you did," she said. "Well, then, I will
keep my promise. You have my permission to bathe in the magical waters."
"D'you mind if I just take one of those little
bottles instead?" Twee asked. "I'd kinda like to wait until I get home before
"Oh really?" the Faerie asked. "And why is that?"
Twee leaned forward and whispered something
in her ear. The Faerie smiled.
"Very well," she said. "I understand. One moment."
She dove into the water, and reappeared holding
a bottle of magical water.
"Have a care you don't break it," she cautioned.
"I won't," Twee promised. "Don't worry - we've
been carrying these things around for days, remember?"
"Why don't you want to change now?" asked Gerra,
"I don't wanna spoil the effect," Twee explained.
"I wanna surprise some people when they see my new look."
"I see," said Gerra. She believed it. Twee seemed
like the sort who liked surprises. "I'm going to wait until I get home, too.
Being a Snow Eyrie is a little inconvenient where it's warm."
"Gotcha," said Twee. "So, will you carry me
back to the mainland?"
"Of course," Gerra replied. "It's the least
I can do."
"Farewell, then," said the Fountain Faerie.
With a wry smile, she added, "And don't steal any more Paint Brushes!"
She dove into the water and disappeared. Twee,
carefully holding his bottle, leaped onto his familiar place on Gerra's back,
and Gerra took off again. She didn't do anything flashy this time, partly because
she was so tired, and partly because she didn't want either of them to lose
their precious bottles of water. Even so, it wasn't long before they landed
on the shore again. Gerra knelt so Twee could dismount easily.
"So, I guess this is it, huh?" asked Twee.
"I'm on my way home now, if that's what you
mean," Gerra replied. "I guess that means goodbye."
"Yeah," said Twee uncomfortably. "Thanks for
everything, Gerra. I've never had a friend like you before."
"I'll miss you," Gerra replied. "Come visit
as often as you can, okay?"
Twee grinned. "You can count on it. Have a safe
trip home, Gerra. I'll see you really soon!"
"Goodbye, Twee. Take care!"
As hard as it was to say goodbye, Gerra turned
and flew away. She would miss her friend, but she missed her family, too. She
couldn't wait to tell her brother and sister and parents what she had accomplished.
Besides, she needed to give Taelia's map back.
When at last she found herself on the outskirts
of Happy Valley, Gerra landed on a tall rock and took a moment to collect herself.
She still had the bottle of fountain water, now tied safely to a string around
her neck. Now she pulled it free and pulled the cork. She had seen the magic
worked many times by now, and knew what to do: douse herself with the water
and think very hard of what sort of look she was going for, and the magic would
do the rest. Now it was her turn. Cold as it was, she closed her eyes and upended
the bottle over her head.
For a moment, she felt colder than she'd ever
felt in her life. Then the feeling gradually eased, until she felt quite comfortable
in the frigid air. She shook herself and opened her eyes. Her paws, she saw,
were now snow white. She laughed happily and leapt into a snowbank, which no
longer felt freezing, but only wonderfully cool and soft. She frolicked happily,
reveling in her new form. She paused a moment to take in the snow-capped mountains,
the crisp air, the happy cries of young Neopets sledding on the slopes. She
was happy to be home. This was where she belonged. Energy restored, she bounded
up the path to Terror Mountain, eager to see her family again.
She reached the front door of her house and
burst inside, shouting, "Mama, Papa, Terr, Sherra, I'm home!"
Everyone came rushing out to see her.
"Gerra!" her mother exclaimed, pulling her into
a hug. "Oh, I'm so glad you're all right!"
"We were worried about you! Where have you been?"
her father asked.
"We thought you got eaten by the Snowager,"
"I almost was," said Gerra. "But it's okay!
I had a friend to help me." She told everyone about her many adventures, from
dodging the Snowager to meeting Faeries to exploring the globe with a box of
magical water. Her family hung on her every word.
"So you see," she finished proudly, smiling
at her mother, "I really am old enough to go out into the world!"
"So you are," her mother agreed, "but we're
all very glad to have you home again."
"I'm glad to be home, too," she said. "I've
seen the whole of Neopia, but there's nowhere in the world I love as much as
Terror Mountain. Though..."
"Though what?" asked Sherra.
"Well, I am kind of going to miss Twee," she
finished. "He was a lot of fun. I wonder if I'll ever see him again..."
It was a snowy day, the third one there had
been that week, and Gerra was busy helping her sister build an igloo. It was
coming along nicely - before long, they'd be ready to crawl inside it, so they
could hide from Terr's never-ending volleys of snowballs. Just because Gerra
could stand the cold now, that didn't mean she liked being pelted with snowballs
at unexpected moments.
"We ought to put a flag on top," said Sherra.
"We can use one of your old scarves for the flag."
"Okay," said Gerra. "You go get that; I'll look
around and see if I can find a stick or something to use for the flagpole."
Suiting action to words, she began poking around
in search of a stick or a fallen tree branch that would suit the purpose. As
she was prowling around among a cluster of boulders, something leaped out of
the snow and tackled her.
"Oomph!" she exclaimed.
"Gotcha!" said a triumphant voice. "You thought
you could get away from me, didn't you? Ha, you'll never give me the slip!"
Gerra blinked. Her attacker, if he could be
called that, was a red, white, and green Meerca in a jaunty cap.
"Twee?" she asked. "Is that you?"
"You get a gold star!" said Twee. "Sheesh, it
took me forever to track you down, d'you know that? It's not so easy getting
around when you haven't got wings."
"I'm so happy to see you!" said Gerra, hugging
her friend. "So you're a Christmas Meerca now? But I thought you wanted to be
Halloween, or Tyrannian or something."
Twee looked a bit sheepish. "I did too, for
a while," he admitted. "But I thought a lot about what Taelia said, and I realized,
I don't really want to be big and tough and ugly like those goons in the Haunted
Woods. I just want someone to like me, and you like me, so I figured the best
thing I could do was go where you are. So I decided I'll be a Christmas Meerca
from now on, so I can hang out with you!"
Gerra laughed. "That's wonderful, Twee! I know
you're going to like it here. Come on, I'll introduce you to my family! You
can help Sherra and me build the igloo, and have snowball fights with my brother,
and we'll go sledding, and visit the ice cream stand, and..."
Twee laughed. "All that in one day?"
"Yes," said Gerra firmly.
"Well, I guess you've gotta keep moving to stay
warm around here," said Twee. "It sounds like more fun than the Haunted Woods,
anyway! Okay, let's get on with the snowball fights and ice cream and things!"
"Right this way," said Gerra, and the two friends
scampered off into the snow.