Before the Fall: An Air Faerie Story:Part Two
Dreams were worse than memories. Memories could be repressed, but dreams liked to take those haunting memories I ignored during the day and throw them in my face.
It was the first day of Advanced Weather Control. The buzzer rang loudly and Professor Avaray started with roll call.
"Here," the dark faerie in front of me tossed her long hair over her shoulder when she responded. I was more than curious. Why was a dark faerie in Advanced Weather Control? Air Magic was the magic most suited for controlling the weather. Light or Water magic were occasionally helpful for controlling elements like lightning and rain, which is why they were required for the weather control jobs.
Apparently Professor Avaray was also curious about this dark faerie, because she paused in the middle of her roll call.
"Why are you here, Jennumara?" she asked simply. A few other faeries snickered quietly.
"To learn Advanced Weather Control. This is the correct class, yes?" Her voice was so haughty I shrunk down a little in my seat. A lot of faeries had type-A personalities but this girl was something else.
"You are aware that weather control in general is best suited to air magic users, yes?" I could have sworn the Professor was imitating Jennumara's haughty speech. I felt a sudden surge of energy from the seat in front of me, and a raincloud swirled into existence over Professor Avaray's head, promptly drenching her.
"I'll take my chances." Jennumara chirped.
Sure, she got detention, but I was positive that this was the coolest faerie I'd ever met.
The next scene I remember was the first time we spoke. We'd been in class together for over a month, and one day she turned around and looked right at me. I felt my face flush and sank down lower in my seat, trying to avoid eye contact.
"Hey," Jennumara said, and her voice wasn't haughty like I usually heard it. It wasn't quite friendly, but I felt like it was as non-threatening as she could make it.
"Hi," I whispered, wide-eyed, now staring at her with what I'm sure were star-struck eyes.
"You're really quiet, you know? Sometimes I purposefully try to hit you with my hair just so you'll talk to me." I was shocked to find out her occasional ponytail flip to my face was not accidental. She started giggling at my surprised face.
"I'm Jen," she smiled. "I'm in my fourth year, and this was one of about ten classes I hadn't taken yet, so I just kinda went for it."
"What are you looking to do?" I asked quietly. I was impressed with myself for speaking, but less impressed when I realized I'd forgotten to introduce myself.
"I'm not sure yet." Jen played with a piece of hair that hadn't made it into the ponytail. "I'm good at most of the things I try, I'm just not sure there's anything interesting enough for me."
"What do you find interesting?" I asked before remembering my previous blunder. "Oh, and, uh, I'm Baelia."
"Baelia's a pretty name." she told me with a smirk. It was so uncharacteristically cheerful my jaw almost dropped.
"Thank you," I whispered, blushing again.
"As for your question, I want to do something… innovative. My best friend is," she paused and her face darkened. "Was Aethia, the Battle Faerie. She got too busy for me after she took up her title. I barely saw her my second year, and now she's busy doing all kinds of things."
I was intimidated by the betrayal on her face and stayed silent, unsure of what to say.
"Anyway, I'd like to do something different, something that will make history. I don't know what it is yet, but I'm hoping I'll find out soon."
"You're very good at your spellcasting and your magic theory. I'm sure you'll do something great."
I was roused from my dreaming by the sound of the apartment door slamming shut. I tried to get out of bed to warn my mom that I was back and we had company, but I forgot I couldn't fly, hissed at the pain of trying to move my wings, and tumbled onto the floor.
"Hello?" my mother called out. "Who's there?"
"It's me, Mom." I called as loudly as I could, trying to get my feet under me. I finally managed to stand. My mother was floating in the doorway, her eyes wide and a little teary. She flew forward and grabbed me in a hug, toppling me back onto the bed and undoing all my efforts to stand.
"My darling, where were you? No one could find you anywhere, I was so worried!"
"Sorry, Mom." I whispered, the ever-present tears streaming down my face. "I made a mistake and it caught up with me. It's gonna be okay now, though." I tried to hold back a sob. I felt my mom touch the remnant of my wings and recoil at the unnatural sensation. She flew back a little bit and stared at me, finally seeing my torn wings and grey complexion.
"What happened to you, Baelia?"
"It's a long story, Mom, but Tavi here saved me." The little red Kyrii had been quietly reading in the corner, trying to give me and my mother as much privacy as we could have in our tiny apartment. My mom turned and blinked a couple times, surprised to see a Neopet in our home.
"Thank you for rescuing my little girl."
"No problem, ma'am, I'm just happy I was able to help."
"Baelia, I made a good bit more off of my last job than I expected, would you like me to run down and get the three of us some pancakes?" The thought of my favorite food with the two people I trusted the most was irresistible.
"I'd be happy to go for you, ma'am, so you can catch up with your daughter," Tavi offered.
"Why thank you, dear, let me just get the Neopoints together." My mother rummaged around in her purse but Tavi had hopped to her feet and taken off as soon as she heard 'Why thank you.' My mom looked a little unhappy.
"It's okay, mom, it's not gonna put her in trouble with her owner or anything." She relaxed a little.
"So what happened, Baelia?"
"Well… Someone found out how to… how to steal a faerie's power. And she kidnapped me, stole mine, and left me locked up on Terror Mountain. Tavi happened along and managed to outsmart the magicked lock and rescue me. I don't know what would have happened to me if she wasn't there."
"You won't tell me who, huh?"
"She's from a good family. It wouldn't be appropriate for me to accuse her of something like that."
"What are you gonna do, Baelia? I don't know of a way for a faerie to regrow her wings."
"Tavi might have found some answers in that book," I explained, pointing to The Strengths of Faerie Magic. "We'll have to ask when she gets back. Otherwise, she said the best option to pursue would probably be petitioning Fyora."
"That's a good plan, and a good friend." My mother smiled at me. "Whatever happens, I love you, honey. I'll go set the table."
Tavi returned shortly with a whopping five servings of Fluffy Faerie Pancakes. She insisted on two each for me and my mother, saying she was certain I needed the energy and that my mother had been working too long on too little sustenance. We both enjoyed the meal, even more so because it didn't mean less money for food later. My mom talked about her most recent job and Tavi told stories about mountain climbing. I listened and laughed and felt more hopeful than I had in weeks, but somehow something felt off. I didn't feel happy like I thought I should. I didn't feel bad, but the sensation of joy that I felt when spending an evening with friends was gone, replaced by a nagging emptiness. Tavi must have noticed my odd mood and thought I wanted to focus on getting my power back.
"There wasn't anything related to you in The Strengths of Faerie Magic as far as I could see, Baelia," Tavi explained. "I think we should see the Queen about what we can do next."
I had never gone closer to the castle's gates than the food shop. I was nervous, to say the least, but I tried to be brave.
"Sure. Should we try today, or wait for tomorrow?"
"The line will be long no matter when you go," my mother advised. "May as well go today."
Tavi and I both plodded along the wet pathway until we reached the cloudslide that let up to the well-known areas of Faerieland. The slide was only really meant for packages, since faeries were the only ones who went down to the underclouds, and they could just glide down through any of the several holes on the outskirts of Faerie City. It was hard to climb up, especially since I wasn't completely used to walking yet. When we finally managed to claw our way out of the underclouds, it was getting dark quickly.
"Let's hurry, Baelia." I couldn't help but flinch at the sound of my name. I wondered if I'd ever be able to speak it again. When I tried, no sound came out, and my tongue felt heavy and dry when it tried to form the letters. Was it magic, or just the trauma of it all? Was I so scared I couldn't even say my own name anymore?
We ran along the pathway to the castle, but as we neared the food shop I felt my heart sink. There was a long, long line of faeries, and Fyora stopped taking requests at sundown.
"It doesn't look like we'll get in tonight, huh?" Tavi muttered. She looked around, spotted something, and took off running.
"Tavi?" I shouted after her, concerned.
"Don't move!" she shouted back, disappearing into a store. She appeared a few minutes later lugging along a big faerie wing shaped rug and a pillow.
"What's that for?" I asked, completely confused.
"It's for me to sleep in. I have a sleeping back in my pack that you can sleep in," she explained, taking off said pack. She pulled out a small sleeping bag. She was a tall Kyrii, and I was a short faerie, so the size looked close enough to work.
"Are you sure? I can sleep on the rug. Or we could just go back to my house, it's not like waiting overnight will really get us to see Fyora that much sooner—"
"Baelia. I'm sure people from all around Neopia get up early to come here and see the Faerie Queen. We should camp out to make sure she sees you as soon as possible."
"But, won't your owner be getting worried—"
"BAELIA!" she shouted. She was loud enough that the faeries next to us gave us weird looks. I cringed and hung my head. She set up the sleeping bag, then laid down the rug, pulled the loose end over herself, propped the pillow under her head, and acted asleep. I couldn't tell if she was actually asleep, only that she didn't talk to me or turn. I gave in and got into Tavi's sleeping bag. I felt exhausted. My feet hurt from the walk, unused to carrying my whole body. I fell asleep quickly, and returned to my miserable dreams.
"So I'm finally going to get to see your house?" Jennumara asked me, grabbing my hands. She was smirking, the only way she knew how to smile.
"Yeah," I said quietly. We were working on a partner project, data analysis and a model of the average weather in one Neopian land. Jennumara and I were doing Terror Mountain. We'd had our first meeting at the café near the Academy, and were going to my house to work on the model.
"We're gonna do such a great job on this project. I'm glad you're my partner, Baelia! It's been nice actually having a friend again." She smirked at me again and we glided down the pathway to the cloud hole I used to get to and from school. I slipped down through the hole and was already gliding across the pathway when I realized Jennumara wasn't behind me anymore.
"Baelia?" she asked. She wasn't smirking anymore. She looked almost angry, but mostly surprised.
"What's wrong, Jen?" I asked, flitting back over to the bottom of the hole. I knew some faeries were scared of the Underclouds the first time they went down, but I'd never thought that Jen would be scared of it. Or of anything, honestly.
"What's wrong?" she asked, the anger starting to show more on her face. "What's wrong is you just went down into the rubbish heap of Faerieland. What are you doing down there? If it's a shortcut to your place, I don't think it's worth it, Baelia."
I was shocked. I'd heard less-than-tasteful comments about the Underclouds before, but never something to this extent. It wasn't a great place, but it was my home.
"It's not a shortcut, Jen, it's the only way to my home." I told her in what was probably the most assertive voice I'd ever used.
"Why would your family build their house in a place that's only accessible through—" Jen's face got red, she was so angry. "Are you... low-caste?"
"Yeah," I said, my face also red, but mostly from embarrassment.
"Why didn't you tell me?" she yelled.
"I didn't know it mattered so much?" I muttered. No one had ever said anything like that to me before. I'd occasionally gotten some looks from the most high-caste faeries that I'd seen at school, but it was more disinterested than the way Jen was acting. She was furious.
"I'm not going into the Trashclouds, Baelia!" Jen yelled. "I'm from a good family. I'm related to Jhudora. I can't believe I was almost friends with someone like you!" She whipped around and darted away, leaving me to walk home feeling dirty and empty.
To be continued…