Greenglade: Part Two
"You look confused," Jacky said, edging slightly closer to Lae, who backed away and almost bumped into Akorri. The further Laerya was from the faerie Xweetok, the happier she'd be.
"I, well..." Lae wondered how much she could tell Jacky. She knew it was unfair to be suspicious of the Xweetok; she had welcomed them to her home with open arms, but her kindness only unsettled Laerya. Figuring the longer her goal went unaddressed, the longer she'd stay talking to Jacky, she said reluctantly, "I heard that you teach pets how to use magic here."
Jacky beamed. "Yes, we do, but only if you possess some magical ability."
"I've been blessed by a light faerie," Lae said, remembering when she'd opened the bottle and let the captive yellow faerie free.
"That may not be enough," Jacky said. "Most of the people here are born with magical ability. That's why the pets here can do things like make ink come to life. I'm sure there isn't a faerie out there who can bless you with that ability."
"Oh." Laerya's ears drooped as she felt her heart plummet. She had been so intent on practicing and developing her magic, and now it looked like she wouldn't go beyond a few dim flecks of light sparking from her hands...
"No, don't think like that!" Jacky gasped, causing Laerya to jerk with surprise. Think like what? Did Jacky know what was going through her mind? "Of course we can teach you," the Xweetok went on. "I know someone who's more than willing to help."
Lae narrowed her pink eyes. "Who?" she asked, trying to empty her mind so Jacky could not access her thoughts.
"Alex," Jacky replied. "He's a master at light magic. He's really patient too, so he won't mind that you aren't far along with your ability or might never progress beyond what you can do now."
Lae wondered if she was supposed to be cheered by that remark. "Okay..." she said slowly. "When can I start?"
"Right now, if you like." Jacky turned away from Laerya, who was so surprised her heart seemed to leap out of her body. She could start learning magic right away? At this very moment, she would be getting closer to honing her skills...
"Alex!" Jacky called, her voice carrying over the din that the pets of Greenglade were creating. She turned back to Lae, satisfied.
A very gentle breeze ruffled Lae's hair, and she watched Jacky's luminous curls bounce as the wind carried them. A leaf, slightly orange to signal the beginning of autumn, fluttered by slowly.
Laerya frowned after a minute passed without anything happening. "Um... did he hear you?" she asked, trying to keep the contempt out of her voice.
"Oh yes, I expect he's just busy with something or other," Jacky replied with that kindly smile of hers. "Does Akorri want to learn magic too?"
Laerya had to elbow Akorri in the ribs to get him to respond. "Uh, um, no, I'm just, uh, keeping Laerya company," he stammered.
"He can usually speak better than that," Lae said, casting Akorri an annoyed glance. What on Neopia was up with that Xweetok? "I dunno what's wrong with him today."
Jacky kept her friendly smile. "Perhaps he's distracted by something?" she suggested.
Lae raised an eyebrow. "Yeah, I suppose he is. He keeps staring at something in front of me. I dunno what it is though."
As she watched, she saw Jacky divert her eyes to Akorri, who finally looked away from whatever he was staring at and coughed. "Hm. Oh, I can hear Alex," Jacky said, looking back at Lae again.
Laerya didn't believe her. She was a Cybunny, she had the keenest hearing, yet she couldn't pick up any noises that were out of the ordinary.
"Look above you." Jacky pointed up at the sky.
Lae did as Jacky instructed, her mouth falling open in shock. A pair of beautiful feathered wings beat above her as a Christmas Zafara flew and landed right next to Jacky, his tail swaying behind him like a flag. He wore a blue tunic, and as he looked at Lae, she felt great warmth emanating from his deep navy eyes.
"Welcome to Greenglade," the Zafara said, bowing elegantly to Lae and Akorri. "It's nice to meet you."
Lae's head gave a weird twitch – it was supposed to be a nod, but she was too awed to respond properly. Akorri waved feebly behind her.
"The Cybunny, Laerya, wants to learn how to control her light magic," Jacky explained to the Zafara. "Think you could help her out, Alex?"
Alex smiled at Lae – a smile more welcoming than Jacky's could ever be. It exuded warmth and genuine understanding. "Certainly. Shall we get started right away, Laerya?"
"You can call me Lae for short," the Cybunny responded automatically, having given that comment to many people in her life. "Y-yes, I'd like to start now. If that's okay with you, of course."
"That's fine with me, Lae. Let's go." The Christmas Zafara turned away, giving Laerya a chance to admire the magnificent pair of wings at his back. She followed him slowly as he walked, pulling Akorri along by the hand.
They walked past several groups of spell-casters and other displays of remarkable magic. It seemed that Alex was looking for a quiet spot, one where they wouldn't be disturbed. As they passed the magicians at work, Lae managed to catch glimpses of silver magic flitting in the air – she thought idly of Fericeus, wondering what the white Xweetok was up to. He probably had his nose in a book, studying the many secrets of Neopia...
"Oh, hello, Jinny." Alex's voice snapped Lae out of her thoughts. She peered past Alex to see a small white Kyrii sitting on a large rock, her purple clothing slightly ripped. Long grey hair covered the side of her face, so she stared up at Alex through one cautious brown eye.
"Hello, Alex," she replied, her voice quiet. She immediately gave a start when she saw Lae and Akorri – she seemed to draw herself in to appear even smaller than she already was.
"Jinny, I hope you don't mind if we use this area for some training?" Alex's gentle request made the Kyrii nod quickly and slide off the rock.
"Hello," Lae said, feeling it would be polite to introduce herself. "I'm Laerya, Lae for short, and this guy's Akorri." She waved at Jinny with one hand and pointed at Akorri with the other.
"Nice to meet you," Akorri said, apparently having regained coherent speech. "Jinny, is it?"
Jinny nodded, her ear twitching excessively as she looked at Akorri. She did not speak.
"Uh..." Akorri obviously wanted to fill the silence that he'd created in addressing Jinny. Lae smiled at his discomfort. "What's your favorite colour?" he asked.
Lae giggled at his attempt to start a conversation, covering her mouth with her hand.
"Um... red," Jinny replied with her quiet, subdued tone. After a moment's silence, she jumped, as if she just remembered something. "Oh, uh, what's yours?" She didn't sound as curious as she looked.
"Purple," Akorri replied, holding out a gloved hand. "See? That's why my gloves are purple."
Jinny seemed unsure of what to do with the hand extended towards her. Lae thought she could see an internal battle in her eye and realized what it was that Jinny was having trouble with – should she shake the hand or should she let it stay there? Was she meant to shake it?
Eventually Jinny shook the hand, though her attempt was feeble. Lae remembered when she and Akorri had exchanged their first awkward handshake and smiled.
"Are we ready to start, Lae?" Alex asked.
"I won't keep you," Jinny said hurriedly, withdrawing her hand and scurrying off towards one of the cottages.
Lae watched her go, amused. It was good of Akorri to try and make conversation with her – Lae could tell the Kyrii didn't talk much, but knew there was so much she wanted to say. Lae had met a couple of Neopets like that before.
"You'll have to excuse Jinny, she doesn't really like people taking an interest in her," Alex said to Akorri, smiling almost apologetically.
"I only said hi," Akorri replied with a shrug.
"She gets a lot of attention," Alex said, putting a finger to his chin in thought.
"Why is that?" Akorri asked.
Lae thought his comment seemed a little harsh. Yes, there was nothing exceptional about the Kyrii, but he didn't need to voice his query quite the way he did.
"Jinny can control three elements of magic," Alex explained. "Something like that isn't very common for us Greenglade folk."
"So she's unusual, then?" said Akorri.
"Not only that, she's also powerful. Her three elements are flight, darkness and light."
"Flight?" Laerya cut in, glancing at Akorri to see his mouth open, ready to speak. The Xweetok closed it, looking annoyed. "But she doesn't have wings."
"Or maybe she does, and she hid them well, like she did her face," Akorri muttered.
"No, she doesn't have wings," Alex said, and stretched out his own wings as if to emphasize his point. Laerya stared at them again while the Christmas Zafara spoke. "But she can conjure them with magic, and she can give others wings to fly, too."
"That's pretty neat, actually." Akorri's red eyes widened, as if he was imagining himself flying with a pair of wings.
"Because she can do this, the other people of Greenglade are looking to learn from her, thinking that maybe she can teach them how to hone more than one element." Alex sighed, folding his wings. "But the problem is that she's too timid to teach. Just being in the company of several Greengladers puts her on edge. Even our one-to-one teaching sessions are tense."
Laerya wanted to sympathise, but found she could not. If you have the power and might be able to teach it to others, shouldn't you at least try? she thought, frowning slightly. Keeping it to yourself is just selfish.
"Enough about this," Alex said, waving his hand to dismiss the subject. "Shall we start training?"
To be continued...