A Light Faerie's Quest: Part Two
… Flora gazed into the shimmering basin in Queen Fyora's throne room, her eyes wide with shock. Inside the magical liquid, she saw the shape of a huge figure skulking about. But who, or what, was it?
Queen Fyora sighed. "You see it too then? I thought as much." She withdrew her hand from the basin, wiped it calmly on a cloth and turned away, walking back to her throne. Flora followed along behind her, listening intently.
"A long time ago, the royals of Faerieland made a pact with a creature that most know nothing about. It used to roam freely through the clouds but it frightened the younger Faeries, so we all agreed that we would grant it a special place in the Underclouds. The creature only wanted to be alone, so it agreed to our terms. The only proviso was that it must never cross into our lands again, unless it became necessary to do so." The Queen took a breath, and looked intently at Flora. "It appears that time is now. It's stirring."
The little Faerie tore her eyes away from the basin, and looked up at Fyora. "Why are you showing me this?"
The Queen smiled at her gently. "Flora, the whole city speaks of your kindness. We need someone who can communicate with the creature, who can figure out what it wants, and keep Faerieland safe. That person, it appears, is you." She reached into the pocket of her gown, pulling out a small potion bottle which she handed to Flora.
"Inside this bottle is the same magic that is contained in this basin. All you have to do is peer inside, and you will be guided along the way. You will be able to see the creature, but you will also be able to contact me." Fyora patted Flora on the shoulder, and nodded to a nearby guard. "My guard will show you the way to the Underclouds. Good luck!"
With that, Flora found herself being gently escorted towards the door. "But, what am I supposed to do when I get there? Is it dangerous? What about my sisters?" She worriedly turned back to face the Queen, but she had vanished.
They walked through the castle, heading deeper and deeper inside its walls. It was just as grand, though less lavishly decorated the further they roamed. Flora stayed close to her guard, who spoke no words but strode confidently forwards. He gestured her towards an old concrete staircase, and they followed it down into what appeared to be a basement of sorts. Here, they stopped.
The little Light Faerie looked around, blinking quickly to adjust her eyes to the dimly lit room. To her left, she saw furniture stacked haphazardly up against the wall, with sheets thrown roughly over them. To her right, were dozens of heavy trunks, locked with rusty old padlocks. Directly in front of her was an old wooden trapdoor, sealed shut and covered with dust. The guard pulled a large key from his pocket, unlocked the door, muttered a few words under his breath, and shuffled back towards the wall.
Nothing happened for a while. Then all of a sudden, the trapdoor shimmered, as though coming undone from a magic spell. It hummed for a few seconds, shook gently, and then fell silent. The guard nodded at Flora, and left the room without a word.
Flora wasn't quite sure what to do next. All of this had happened so fast, and it was certainly not what she had expected when she was getting ready with her family earlier in the day. It was certainly unlike any other birthday she had ever had! She looked down at her fancy gown; surely this wasn't the most appropriate attire to explore in? Just as she wondered about this, the room began to shimmer.
Flora looked down, and saw that her formal outfit had been transformed into a comfortable pair of trousers and a button up shirt. A small backpack appeared at her feet, filled with water bottles, a rope, and other practical goods to keep her going. Queen Fyora's voice echoed through the room. "It's time, Flora. Use the trapdoor. We're counting on you." With that, the glow disappeared, and the room became dim once again.
The Faerie picked up the backpack and hoisted it over her shoulder. She took a deep breath, ventured towards the trapdoor, and pulled it open.
She poked her head through, and gasped. Why, it was a secret entrance to the Underclouds! Flora wondered how many people knew that its entrance lay deep within Queen Fyora's Castle. She stooped her head, and began walking down the stairs.
As she descended deeper and deeper into the Underclouds, Flora took in her surroundings. The area around her was completely empty, aside from the clouds themselves and a few old, seemingly abandoned buildings. All was quiet. The little Faerie relaxed, and began to make her way along the fluffy path before her.
Step after step, she ventured further ahead, but there was little to do but walk. Flora peeked into several of the abandoned buildings, but there was nothing out of the ordinary to be seen. It was turning out to be quite an uneventful adventure! As she walked, she thought about what her sisters might be doing now. Would they be preparing a birthday cake for her, or hastily wrapping a last minute present? She wondered how long she would be exploring for, and whether the Queen would keep them advised of her progress through the Underclouds.
She decided to test out Queen Fyora's magical vial and see if she could get some guidance to help her on her quest.
The potion bottle was dark, but as she peered into the murky liquid, it began to form an image. She couldn't see the Queen, but she could make out a familiar shape appearing in the vial.
"Why, that's me!" Flora said aloud, her voice hushed in wonder.
As she continued to stare into the magical liquid, she saw another shape forming - only this time, it was forming behind her own image. The little Faerie froze as she realised what she was seeing. Looking up from the potion vial, she slowly turned her head and looked over her shoulder. Something moved! She spun around for a closer look, and was shocked to see what appeared.
It was the creature, and it was even larger than she had envisioned. It towered over the abandoned buildings nearby, and it had sinister expression on its face. As she stared at it in awe, it began to speed up and was headed right for her!
Flora began to run as fast as her legs would carry her, throwing fleeting looks behind her to keep an eye on the creature. She couldn't see it now, but she knew that it was there, ever present and following her echoing footsteps through the Underclouds. She glimpsed a building coming up, and she headed straight for it. She threw open the door and ran inside, shutting it behind her and gasping for breath.
A barrage of people jumped out from within the room, wearing party hats and fancy gowns. Flora gasped in surprise, looking around from face to face. There were her sisters, Flizia and Firye, her friends and neighbours from around town, her escorts from the castle, and right in the center of the group stood Queen Fyora herself!
Flizia and Firye ran forwards and gave Flora a hug. "Happy birthday, Flora! You made it! We're so happy to see you!" They grabbed a drink from a nearby table and put it into their sister's hand.
"But, but, the creature!" Flora exclaimed, throwing open the door and looking wildly around outside. As soon as she said its name, the giant creature peeked out from behind a cloud and appeared to grin in her direction.
Queen Fyora walked over to its side and gave the creature a pat. "Flora, I'd like you to officially meet the Guardian of the Underclouds. The Devilpuss is no enemy of Faerieland; he keeps watch down below and ensures that we are safe. I'm sorry to have strung you along on this pretend adventure quest, but your sisters worked so hard to surprise you. I couldn't let them down!"
Flora shook her head, smiled and nodded at the Devilpuss. The creature nodded back, and then vanished back into the Underclouds.
"Now, let's get you back into your party dress!" The Faerie Queen waved her hand, and with a shimmer, Flora's exploring clothes transformed magically back into her gown from earlier that evening.
The little Faerie laughed, clapped her hands and relaxed. It was time to enjoy this surprise party! She spent the next few hours shimmying and shaking, eating and drinking, and sharing stories of her adventures, and Flora couldn't remember the last time she had been this happy.
She had dreamed of an adventure, and my goodness, she had been granted one!