A Favor for Baelia
Ever since Tavi had helped her escape from Jennumara's magical cage, the Grey Faerie, Baelia, had gone to Faerie City to live under the protection of Queen Fyora. Only in close proximity to the Queen and so many other Faeries did Baelia feel even a modicum of safety. For without her wings, she had no magic of her own, and without magic she was practically helpless against being captured once again.
Baelia was so grateful for Queen Fyora's protection that she threw herself into the work of rebuilding and restoring Faerieland. Although she had no magic of her own, she still had two strong hands and a boundless determination not to be seen as useless. She wasn't afraid to get her hands dirty and so she performed all sorts of non-magical tasks. At first, the other inhabitants of Faerie City weren't quite sure what to do with her. She was a Faerie, and so many thought she would balk at tasks often thought to be deemed "below" that of the other Faeries. And yet, she had no magic so she could not be asked to help with any tasks that required magic of any kind. Finally one day, when Baelia was morosely wandering up and down the aisles at the Faerieland Bookshop, the shopkeeper there took pity on her and asked if she'd like to help sort some of the books in the backroom. Baelia was so surprised and pleased that she burst into tears and it was some moments before she could compose herself enough to express her acquiescence and thanks.
Soon after, Baelia became good friends with the shopkeeper, who turned out to be the Library Faerie. While Tavi was roaming the land far and wide asking all he came across for clues as to how to get a new name for oneself, Baelia felt she wasn't doing anything for her own cause. When she confided her self-doubt to her new friend, the Library Faerie immediately offered to help her search the Faerieland library and archives. Baelia spent many hours with the Library Faerie poring through books and scrolls trying to discover a way to restore her magic. And her kind mentor also began to put in a good word for her with others in the city that could use a willing pair of hands for non-magical tasks. Soon, Baelia's days were full, and she began to feel that she was really a part of the community.
Baelia's work soon came to the attention of Queen Fyora, and the Queen very much approved of the young Faerie's industriousness and willing attitude. One day the Queen asked Baelia if she could have a private word. The younger Faerie felt nervous at being singled out, but she knew she had nothing to fear from the benevolent ruler. When she arrived at the Castle, she was shown into a small private chamber where Queen Fyora was quietly preparing a pot of tea. As she entered, the Queen looked up and gestured for her to sit in the opposite chair. The two Faeries sipped their tea and nibbled at biscuits making small talk until the Queen quietly put down her cup and looked Baelia in the eye. Queen Fyora told Baelia that she was pleased with how the young Faerie had made her own place in the city, and she'd heard only good things. Then she asked gently if Baelia would be willing to do a special favor for her.
Baelia sat up straight in her chair. The Queen was asking a favor of her! She immediately accepted, even before finding out what the favor would entail. Queen Fyora smiled softly at the younger Faerie's eagerness. After a detailed explanation and a short discussion where Baelia asked only a few questions for clarification, the pact was set and the Queen sent Baelia on her way. The Grey Faerie practically skipped out of the castle in her happiness at her newly appointed task. She had even been authorized to set quests for other Neopians to help her obtain anything she might need! The wind fluttered through her broken wings and she almost felt as if she could fly.
Winter was in full swing and Artie was starting to feel festive. His artistic temperament had been yammering at him for a few weeks now that it was high time for a change in style. He had put it off for so long that the urge had gone beyond just cozy scarves and fuzzy hats. Something had to be done. Gathering together his brothers, Pacuga and Hachi, the three 'pets made their way to the Rainbow Pool in the center of Neopia Central. Artie declared that today was going to be the glorious day of Winter Snow. He showed them what he had in his pack: a brand new Snow Paint Brush. It was a lovely soft white, with a festive red ribbon running along the handle. Hachi thought it looked quite beautiful and Pac was excited to see how Artie would look with carrot-y orange claws. They definitely wouldn't look as gorgeous as his own candy-corn-striped claws, but the orange would be a step in the right direction anyway.
When they got to the Rainbow Pool, there were only a few other 'pets in line in front of them, which they took as good fortune. They would probably have time to nip into a few shops for some treats before heading home for lunch. Before long, the three brothers found themselves at the edge of the pool. The rainbow that emerged from the pool seemed to pull out all the colors swirling in the water from the previous painting. Soon the water was clear and clean and it was Artie's turn. He solemnly pulled his paint brush out and dipped it hesitantly into the water. Immediately the water started to fizz and cloud where the paint brush was submerged. His eyes lit up and a grin spread across his face. On his left, Pac leaned closer to the water to get a better view of the bubbles dancing across the surface. Hachi had launched himself into the air with his powerful wings to get a better view from above.
The paint brush was getting smaller as the parts that touched the water slowly dissolved. Soon, Artie had to abandon even the handle, and simply threw it into the center of the pool. The water had become an opaque, milky pale blue color. In the center of the pool where Artie had tossed the handle, a thread of bright red floated at the surface. With an excited gleam in his eye, Artie shouted, "It's time!"
Baelia had found a place among the Faeries. Even without magic, she worked hard and was able to accomplish a great deal in the service of Faerieland. With her appointment by Queen Fyora to start giving quests, the citizens of Neopia soon came to accept her fully and affectionately. Although she could not offer magical rewards herself for completed quests, the other Faeries came to her aid and would volunteer their services on her behalf. This generosity greatly moved Baelia, for she was not at all sure she would have been able to pull off the authority needed to set Neopets upon quests if she did not have something of value to offer as a reward. On their part, the other Faeries admired Baelia for her sincerity and kindness toward all with whom she interacted, and they were more than happy to be able to do something to at least partially lift the cloud that always seemed to hang over her head.
One day, an Earth Faerie that Baelia had worked with before approached the Grey Faerie with a request. She had an idea she wanted to try out, but there were many components to her idea and she simply could not collect them all on her own. Would Baelia mind asking a few Neopets to seek out and bring the items to her in exchange for perhaps a magical increase in agility or strength for those who completed the quests? Baelia was pleased to have been asked for the favor and happy to comply. She was given a list of the items needed, and as she scanned the list she thought everything should go off without a hitch. With confidence, she told the Earth Faerie that the items should all be ready in a few hours. The Earth Faerie thanked Baelia and then flew off to make sure everything in her workshop would be prepared, promising to return in the afternoon to pick up the items.
Baelia thought quickly about who she should approach for the Earth Faerie's quests. It would probably be quickest to pop around to Neopia Central where she was sure many Neopets would be out and about.
Meanwhile, the Earth Faerie flew swiftly to a special meeting she had scheduled with Naia over at the Rainbow Fountain.
At Artie's declaration, Hachi alit upon the edge of the Rainbow Pool. Pacuga looked over at his brother in anticipation. Artie caught a movement in his peripheral vision and turned his head to see the Grey Faerie walking slowly down the path toward the Rainbow Pool.
"Look! Who's that?" Artie swung around and pointed toward the Faerie.
Hachi craned his head to the right, and Pacuga leaned precariously over the water, balancing on the stone edge of the pool to see around his brothers. There was a kerfluffle as Artie turned back around to face his brother Pac, and then suddenly Pacuga was sprawled out in the middle of the Rainbow Pool, clouds of milky blue water swirling madly around him. His eyes widened in shock and a little bit of fear as fluffy whiteness crept slowly but determinedly up his body. He didn't feel anything other than the wetness of water, but even where his fur was dry, the whiteness marched onward and upward until even the tips of his ears were snowy white. What had happened? Pac lifted first one paw, then another. His beautiful candy corn claws were gone. The soft fluff of cream that had been his tail was now a bright green leaf. Without quite meaning to, Pacuga burst into tears. Hachi stared in amazement and confusion. Artie was doing a very poor job of holding in his laughter.
Baelia had seen the three 'pets at the Rainbow Pool and decided she would set the last quest item to one of them.
A Snow Bori was sitting in the middle of the Rainbow Pool bawling his eyes out. A Rainbow Bori was leaning on the side of the pool laughing so hard that tears were leaking from his eyes as well. Baelia looked at each of them in bewilderment, and decided that it would be safer perhaps to approach the Eyrie that was looking on at the scene. At least he seemed calm.
"Excuse me, dear Eyrie."
Hachi tore his eyes from his brothers and looked toward the voice. When his eyes fell on Baelia he almost fell into the Rainbow Pool himself. Blinking rapidly and gingerly stepping down to the grass and solid ground, he tilted his head slightly and regarded Baelia once more.
"Please, could you bring a Puppyblew to Faerie City for me?"
Recalling himself, Hachi sketched a slight bow and said that he would be happy to do the favor for Baelia, just as soon as he escorted his brothers home. With a small smile Baelia thanked him and started to make her way back up the path from whence she had come. All her quests now given out, it was time to return to Faerieland.
Back at the Faerie City Quest Centre, Baelia and the Earth Faerie sat together as one by one the items that had been requested were brought in. As each 'pet presented his or her quest item, Baelia would thank them warmly and explain that the item had been requested by the Earth Faerie beside her, and that this Earth Faerie was also offering a small magical reward in return for the completed quest.
For some reason the Earth Faerie seemed slightly ill-at-ease. She kept fidgeting and scanning the room with all the 'pets waiting to present their quest items. Baelia tried to reassure her that all the requested items would be accounted for, and the Earth Faerie nodded quietly. But still she seemed to be searching and waiting impatiently for something.
Hachi hurried across the chamber toward where he saw the Grey Faerie sitting. He knew he had taken longer than expected to complete her quest, but poor Pacuga was still inconsolable and he hated to leave his brother until Pac was at least a bit calmer. The poor thing had finally fallen into an exhausted sleep, allowing Hachi to sneak away and find the required Puppyblew petpet.
As he approached Baelia, he noticed an Earth Faerie sitting right beside her. The Earth Faerie's eyes were shining, and she was beckoning to another Faerie on the other side of the room.
Hachi cleared his throat. The little Puppyblew sat loyally between his forelegs.
"Ah. Thank you for bringing me the Puppyblew," said Baelia quietly. She gestured vaguely at the Earth Faerie beside her. "The little Petpet was requested by this Earth Faerie beside me. She has offered a magical reward for those who complete the quests I set for them on her behalf."
Hachi transferred his gaze to the Earth Faerie and was slightly surprised to see that the Faerie she had been trying to call over earlier was none other than Naia, the Fountain Faerie. The two Faeries now faced Baelia together and the Earth Faerie made small curtsy.
"Baelia, for your unfailing eagerness to help others and your tireless work to restore Faerieland, we wanted to give you the gift of companionship, love, and loyalty. Puppyblews are the epitome of devotion and friendliness. If you're willing to accept this Petpet as your own, we're sure that the two of you will get on splendidly."
The Grey Faerie's eyes were shining with tears, but they weren't tears of sadness this time. The Puppyblew, sensing that something important was taking place, lept into Baelia's lap and looked up into her face. Baelia gazed down at the tiny pup and laughed softly. She stroked his head gently and thanked the Earth Faerie from the bottom of her heart.
Then Naia stepped forward and addressed Hachi. "On behalf of all the Faeries who were part of this surprise gift for Baelia, we wanted to give a very special reward to the Neopet who completed this quest. Therefore, I have volunteered my particular skills for this quest. You may visit me at the Rainbow Fountain any time and I will reward you with a brand new colour for either you or one of your family members."
Thinking of the prank he suspected Artie had played on the heartbroken Pacuga, Hachi was only too happy to accept Naia's offer.
--- Epilogue ---
Hachi and Pacuga approached the Rainbow Fountain where Naia sat on the edge of the water. Behind her, sparkling multi-coloured water fell in sheets, catching the sunlight. Pac was very shy about meeting the famous Fountain Faerie, but Hachi urged him on gently. They came to a stop in front of the faerie and shuffled their feet awkwardly, not knowing what to say. Naia smiled down kindly at the two 'pets, then she turned to Hachi.
"Thank you for your service in our surprise for Baelia."
Hachi looked up quickly, slightly surprised that she had remembered him particularly. After all, didn't the Faeries set hundreds, if not thousands, of quests per day, and then grant hundreds of rewards to hundreds of different pets? But he smiled up at her and explained quickly that he wanted to redeem his reward to have a dip in the Rainbow Fountain for his brother Pacuga. He elbowed the young Bori gently.
Pac looked up at the Fountain Faerie and tried on a shaky smile, which made Naia chuckle. Her quiet laugh echoed softly, bouncing off the waterfalls and filling the air with a shimmery happiness. The feeling seemed to float around the two 'pets in a comforting embrace. Pacuga's smile strengthened and grew. And he quickly told Naia that he wanted so much to be Chocolate-coloured again.
Naia nodded once and waved her arms over the pool of water where she sat. With her graceful tail, she swirled the water once, twice, three times. The water spun violently and the two Neopets took a tentative step backward, but as it stilled they could see that it had turned a rich chocolate-y brown. The foam and froth churned up by the waterfalls looked as soft and fluffy and whipped cream. When Pac noticed the tiny pieces of candy corn floating here and there on the surface of the water he rushed to the water's edge in excitement. He looked up at Naia with pleading eyes and she gave a slight nod and swept her hand towards the pool invitingly.
Without a second thought Pacuga splashed into the middle of the pool and dipped his head into the shallow waters, letting the magic soak into every bit of him. Turning over to float on his back, he closed his eyes and swished his tail. He was incredibly happy to be back to normal again.
Naia let the little Bori take his time in the pool. When he was ready, Pacuga practically skipped back to the edge of the pool where his brother was still waiting. Hachi bent down and nibbled playfully at one of Pac's new candy-corn claws, causing the Bori to giggle in delight. Suddenly, without warning, Artie darted out from behind a bush and tackled Pacuga. Without admiiting anything, he hugged Pac tightly and planted an affecionate kiss on top of Pacuga's chocolatey head.
"You look really good now," Artie whispered to his brother.
Pacuga brought his arms up around Artie and hugged his brother tight.