Faerie Lessons: Flight
Leviraa felt the weight of a hundred eyes on her as she took her first tentative step forwards. After three weeks living and training in Faerieland, her instructors had declared her ready for her first flight. On the cloud, the magic of thousands of faeries kept her aloft, but the instant she stepped over the edge it would just be Leviraa, her wings and the open air.
As she shuffled forward awkwardly, Leviraa was brutally aware of every one of her less than svelte 203 pounds. This was ridiculous. She was a Tonu, not a Pteri. She wasn't meant to the fly, the wings on her back destined to be no more than pretty ornaments. It only took one look at her to see that.
"I-I-I'm sorry. But... I can't," Leviraa stuttered out nervously, taking a few definitive steps back from the edge. It was a long way down and she doubted anyone would catch her if she fell. She was too heavy, she'd take any prospective saviors right down with her.
"Of course you can," a light faerie's gentle voice murmured, a cool hand touching her back, "You just flap and go. It's simple. Watch."
The faerie didn't hesitate before leaping over the edge, executing a series of elaborate loops and steep drops that had Leviraa's heart in her throat. Leviraa moved a solid three paces backwards away from the edge and two to the side. There were other faerie pets in line behind her, itching to try their new wings. Let one of them go next. Leviraa would just go back to her tower, to her spells and her books, the things that had brought her here.
"See?" the light faerie asked brightly, landing before her.
"Maybe tomorrow," Leviraa answered quickly, running off as fast as her stubby legs would take her. She didn't want to fall. She ignored the faeries in the stands, everyone who had turned up to see the newest group of students take their first flight. And they ignored her, their attention already on the next flyer.
Leviraa didn't go back to the school. To go there would mean facing her classmates and teachers and telling them that she'd failed, that she was too frightened to fly, that she didn't belong here, in this city in the clouds. Her friends from Tyrannia would have understood, but her friends in Faerieland? Every one of them was brilliant beyond measure, with courage to spare. Only the best of the best were chosen to be trained directly by the faeries. They'd just laugh at her.
Instead, she found her way to the bookshop. The library faerie spared her barely a glance. She was used to Leviraa's presence by now, knew she'd browse quietly and avoid causing any trouble.
Leviraa picked out a book of spells and found herself a seat by the window, watching faeries and neopets alike flit by. Everyone in Faerieland could fly, it seemed. Everyone but her. Before she'd left, Leviraa had been so excited to become Leviraa the faerie Tonu, apprentice sorceress, living on her own in Faerieland. She hadn't realized how hard it would be. Now, she missed being just Levi the red Tonu, the girl who'd spent her days in idle bliss, exploring volcanoes and gorging herself on omelet. Levi hadn't been a disappointment to anyone.
Leviraa flipped through the pages half-heartedly, eyes barely skimming the titles. Air spells. How ironic. She'd chosen a book of air spells. Leviraa didn't usually mind air spells, had always quite liked them as a matter of fact, but today each charm seemed a cruel mockery, when the sky was forever beyond her reach.
Unless... a small smile quirked across Leviraa's lips. Yes, that was it. She was going to fly. But she was going to fly her way. Faeries or no faeries.
By the time Leviraa had finished her preparations and made her way back to the training grounds, the sun was low in the sky and the line had dwindled to three neopets waiting patiently. A shoyru darted overhead, one of the more experienced flyers, little more than a blur. Leviraa had never met her, but she knew that she was one of the fastest neopets in Faerieland. An xweetok sat nearby taking notes, never glancing up at the acrobatics. Xandra, one of the most powerful young sorceresses. She'd refused the faeries' offer of wings, but still came to watch the others fly from time to time while waiting for her own considerably more advanced training sessions to begin.
The same light faerie was still overseeing the flying lesson. She smiled brightly at Leviraa as she walked in, "Decided to give it another try, have you? Very good. You can wait with the others, we should be able to squeeze you in."
Leviraa nodded, too nervous to speak. She'd expected to get used to faeries, after being surrounded by them for so long, but the more she learned, the more they intimidated her. Not only were they powerful beyond measure but they were also good and pure, through and through, not a drop of malice in any of them. It made it all the worse when she failed them.
"You can even go next," the faerie continued cheerily, "This lot have already had at least one go a piece, Mimi here's flown twice."
A small Poogle nodded with a happy grin, "Yep, I'm gonna be faster than even my dad. He's a Poogle racer, but he can't FLY."
Leviraa nodded again, silently inching her way forwards when the shoyru landed. She muttered the word over and over beneath her breath, the one she'd spent the entire afternoon practicing. I am air, I am air, I am light as the air. I will not fall.
"Volantus," she said again, putting a hint of power behind it, "Volantus, volantus, volantus." With each repetition she pushed more magic into it, until she felt her feet leave the ground. She repeated the word again and again, eyes firmly closed, not daring to look down, entire body still as stone. No, not stone, stone was heavy. Still as a feather. As still and light as a feather. She was as light as a feather, "Volantus, volantus, volantus."
Leviraa shot up in the air, pushing all her power into the spell. The higher she went, the colder it got and the harder breathing became, the more her focus slipped. Finally Leviraa had no choice but to stop chanting, barely managing to hold herself aloft. She took a deep breath, steadied herself, set the levitation charm firmly in place and cracked her eyes open, finally daring to sneak a glance down below, resisting the urge to shiver. Any movement might break the delicate magics holding her aloft.
By Fyora she was high! Faerieland was far below her, no bigger than a sandcastle besides the ocean, and the Haunted Woods peeked over the horizon. Even the faeries flew beneath her, barely visible specks against a broad expanse of blue and green. Leviraa was completely and utterly alone. She gaped.
"Did I... No, that's stupid. Of course I did. Who else could have done it, the pant devil?" Leviraa looked back up as she felt dizziness creeping up on her. She hadn't been expecting to get quite this high... She'd never learned how to get herself down... If she just waited... Would the spell wear off slowly, lower her gently to the ground? Or would she plummet like a rock the instant the last of her strength left her? "Now what, super genius?" Leviraa muttered to herself.
Gentle laughter, with a faint edge of eeriness, echoed in her head. Leviraa stiffened. "Hello? Hello?" she called out. "Is anyone out there? I don't know how to get down!" Maybe if she screamed loudly enough, they'd hear her all the way back in Faerieland and send someone up to rescue her. The laughter came again.
Leviraa asked again, more softly this time, "Hello? Hello? Please, whoever you are, help me. I'm all alone."
You don't belong here, young Neopet. It was a voice, with the same otherworldly undertone as the laughter.
"I know," Leviraa agreed, voice shaking only a little. The entire situation was so utterly bizarre that she almost forgot to be shy, "I need to go home, to Faerieland. My friends will be worried about me." Even if they would DEFINITELY laugh when they heard about this. "But I don't know what to do. I didn't learn the spell for landing. Do you know it, whoever you are? How did you find me anyway?" If Leviraa focused hard enough on the voice, she could pretend she wasn't dangling miles above Neopia.
My name is Mira and this is my home. I sensed your distress, little one. Protecting Neopets is my solemn duty. The voice's inflections were odd but Leviraa couldn't miss the gravity of the statement, A duty I have fulfilled for many a year. And so now I will help you. You will certainly die if you remain up here. I can break the spell that holds you aloft, but I know of no charm that will help you descend. Flight is in my nature, I have no need for such magics. Are you ready?
"So you can help me... but only if I fly, the normal way this time." Leviraa got the faint impressions of a smile in her mind.
Yes. I'll be watching, Neopian. Good luck.
A sound like thunder resounded in Leviraa's head and then she was falling through the sky. Frantically, she flapped her too small wings, feeling every motion push and strain at the joints. She couldn't do this, she'd been right, she was just too big!
"Volantus," she said again, just the once. Her magic had been drained all but dry, leaving her with barely a trickle. But it was enough. Her fall slowed. Her wings continued to beat, but this time, each flap sent her just the slightest bit higher. Leviraa was flying! She laughed, adjusting her angle with a more confident stroke of her wings. The movement was a bit awkward, sending her veering to her right, but she didn't fall. She could do this.
Thank you, Mira.
Fly strong, Leviraa of Tyrannia. And remember, there is always a middle road, for those who know how to find it.