Greenglade: Part One
This is a sequel to my previous submission, Cloud Flute. It is recommended that you read that before reading this.
Sunlight shone warmly through the trees, its rays illuminating the rough, green shrubbery. The air was calm; not a single breeze blew, but the weather did not need it – the temperature was perfect.
Strolling through the forest, long ears perked, was a young purple Cybunny. Her long dark hair was tied up in a ponytail, a green backpack strapped over her shoulders. The backpack looked light, as if nothing was inside. Her bright blue clothing could catch eyes from miles away. The Cybunny walked leisurely, opening her mouth in a wide yawn.
A companion returned the yawn beside her. He was a red Xweetok – his height showed he was older than the Cybunny, but not by much. The hood that he usually wore over his head was down, so his scruffy red hair trailed behind him and past his shoulders. He wore purple gloves and brown clothes that looked thoroughly used, with rips at the sleeves.
Laerya and Akorri had been traveling together for several days now. Lae, the Cybunny, had recently started learning magic – she'd taken an interest in the element of light, but her ability was limited. The only thing she could do was conjure yellow light from her hands, and even then the glow was dim. Frustrated, she had asked her roommate and magic expert Fericeus the Xweetok for help, but he'd been too busy to educate her and instead directed her to a place called Greenglade.
That was where she and Akorri were going now. Apparently situated in the land between Brightvale and Faerieland, it was meant to be a village hidden by trees.
"I'd expected it to be easier to find," Lae said after enduring an hour of quiet mutterings of 'why am I here' and 'I'm so bored' from Akorri. Her patience with the red Xweetok was beginning to wear thin. "You can always go back to the Haunted Woods, you know."
Akorri glanced sheepishly at Lae, as if he thought she couldn't hear his hushed complaints. "No, it's okay. I said I'd stick by you."
Laerya tilted her head to the side, confused – again. Time and time again she'd told Akorri that he could leave, that she wouldn't resent him for his decision, but he always stayed rigidly beside her. She wondered why he wanted to accompany her in the first place.
Akorri seemed to catch Lae's puzzlement; a flicker of a smile passed his face as he spoke. "I wanna see Greenglade, that's all."
Laerya frowned, thoroughly unsatisfied with Akorri's comment. She knew there was more, something he wasn't saying. The unspoken explanation hung over her like a cloud – a soft cloud filled with sentimental thoughts that Akorri would never dare to speak aloud.
"Oh..." Lae caught on at last. She smiled and patted the Xweetok's shoulder. "So we are friends after all."
It was Akorri's turn to look confused. "What do you mean? Of course we're friends." He seemed offended, as if Lae had struck a nerve.
"It's just... you know... we got off to a rocky start and all." Laerya remembered, with the clouded fondness of nostalgia, how she and Akorri had fought and disagreed with each other once. These moments still cropped up, but they were tame and trivial, easily resolved disputes that ended with knowing smiles.
Akorri folded his arms – Lae noticed he often did this when he was annoyed. "That doesn't mean we aren't friends now."
"You try hard not to show it, it seems," Lae sighed, though she grinned inwardly when she caught the faint traces of red on Akorri's face.
"I dunno what you mean." The Xweetok turned his gaze away, obviously pretending to look for Greenglade.
"You can stop giving me the cold shoulder now that we're friends!" Laerya practically threw her hands up in the air in frustration. She liked Akorri, he was fun when he wanted to be, but he had this way of appearing detached from her, from everything, and it angered her. She wanted desperately for Akorri to show even an ounce of compassion, but for him it seemed that feelings were nonexistent.
"I don't give you the cold shoulder."
"You're giving it right now," Lae huffed, watching as a green leaf drifted slowly past her.
They did not speak again for a while; Akorri didn't even voice his complaints. Laerya was aware of the silence like a gaping hole in their friendship, something that needed to be resolved if they were ever to remain companions. Should Lae just accept that Akorri was emotionless and let the issue drop? She didn't want to; it felt like admitting defeat.
Beekadoodles trilled tunefully overhead; the flowers and leaves seemed to dance gracefully to the music, even with no breeze to support them. Laerya glanced up at the sky, wishing that she could cast such bright rays of light as the sun did.
Akorri eventually broke the silence. "I can see a building," he said, pointing to something in the distance.
Laerya snapped out of her daydreams of controlling the sun and looked to where Akorri was pointing. Sure enough, a white cottage peeked through the trees. Feeling excitement quickly bubbling up inside her, all qualms forgotten, she grabbed Akorri's hand and rushed ahead, running with speeds that no normal Cybunny should possess. She thought she heard Akorri yelp in surprise, but she didn't care – this was it, they were in Greenglade, she was going to learn real magic!
Laerya halted right beside the cottage, almost crashing into a tree as she did so. She let go of a disheveled Akorri and stared ahead – more cottages lined the area, all the same white colour. They were relatively small, but looked firm and well-used, with sturdy walls and big windows.
Groups of Neopets surrounded the cottages. As Laerya looked at each in turn, she saw some casting spells, while others watched and clapped appreciatively. She smiled, triumph and excitement filling her thoughts. So this was the magic village of Greenglade.
Despite her exhilaration, she walked cautiously, with an awed Akorri following her. As she passed, she saw one red Lenny drawing in the air with ink on his feathers – as he drew, the ink came to life, black shapes dancing across her vision as if they were real. Within moments the ink was gone and the Lenny smiled, pleased with his work.
"Did you see that?" Lae asked breathlessly. When Akorri didn't answer, she turned to look at him and saw him staring at some other display of magic: a green Eyrie raised and lowered his hands several times and each time he did, trees and other greenery grew from the earth, dissipating as the Eyrie clicked his fingers.
Lae could hardly believe what she was seeing. She'd seen displays of magic before – Fericeus was particularly handy with silver magic – but this was something else. To be able to make drawings come to life, to grow foliage from the ground in the blink of an eye, was something amazing to Lae.
Laerya tore her gaze away from a levitating gold Acara to see a faerie Xweetok staring curiously at her. Instead of green hair, this Xweetok's hair was pink and delicately curled; it was so shiny that it almost seemed to sparkle in the sunlight. Her kindly blue eyes passed over Lae and Akorri; Lae saw no judgment in them.
"Er... hi." She waved feebly at the Xweetok, wondering what she should do now. Fericeus hadn't advised her on what to do once she actually found Greenglade.
The Xweetok spoke again, her voice sophisticated and friendly. "I can tell you're not from around here."
"Really?" Laerya found she was feeling extremely embarrassed, though she didn't know why. Her face was burning.
"Yes. When someone stares in wonder at Pelky's flora-growing abilities, you can tell they don't live here." The Xweetok nodded fondly at the green Eyrie who had just made a bush appear out of thin air.
"Oh." Laerya scolded herself for feeling so bashful. She had no reason to feel this way, but a nagging thought voiced itself to her – she wasn't from around here, she was out of her depth, there was no way anyone here would teach her how to hone her magic.
"I'm Jacky," the Xweetok said, holding a delicate hand for Laerya and Akorri to shake.
"I'm Laerya, or Lae for short." The purple Cybunny nodded, finally feeling a little more comfortable now that introductions were underway. "And this is Akorri." She gestured to the red Xweetok behind her, who seemed to be captivated by something in front of her.
"It's nice of you to drop in," Jacky said. "Are you from Neopia Central?"
Laerya blinked. "How did you know?" she asked.
"You have that city vibe," Jacky explained, though her clarification only confused Lae.
"But I've been traveling all over Neopia," she said. "How can I have a city vibe?"
"I can sense it," Jacky said mysteriously. Looking past Lae at Akorri, she addressed him with a smile. "And where are you from?"
It seemed to take Akorri a moment for him to find his voice. "Uh... H-Haunted Woods," he replied quietly.
Jacky nodded in understanding. "You do have that look about you," she murmured.
Laerya found herself feeling slightly agitated. She felt as though Jacky knew her and everything about her from just one simple look – was she really giving off a 'city vibe'?
The faerie Xweetok looked back at Lae, her smile unwavering. Kind as she looked, Lae was unnerved by her. "As I said, it's nice of you to visit," she said. "We don't get many guests around here... I'm not sure why. At first I thought it was because Talion put up some kind of magical barrier, but I know that's not the case, so..." She trailed off, apparently lost in thought.
Laerya played with her hair, unsure of what to do now. She looked at Akorri, hoping an idea would spring to mind, but Akorri was just staring dumbly at something again.
A minute passed before Jacky spoke again. "Well, anyway, I hope you enjoy your stay here. There is a lot to see and do."
Laerya nodded again to show she was grateful for the comment, but her mind was wandering. What was she supposed to do now? Who would she talk to? Where would she stay?
Jacky regarded her with warmth, as if understanding her confusion. "Welcome to Greenglade."
To be continued...