Voice of the Neopian Pound Circulation: 127,331,912 Issue: 258 | 22nd day of Gathering, Y8
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How to Be a Fire Faerie: Part One

by purplefire_hawk


The whole thing started in one of those tacky, tourist-trap Mystery Island fairs - the ones where everyone dresses up and makes things and there are stalls with games on, and everyone has a brilliant time trying to knock off coconuts that are glued to sticks and throw balls in holes that are smaller than the balls, buying tiki tack from the stalls and going on tours and so on. It was a beautiful summer's day, sweltering hot; pets were dancing, owners were singing, happy children playing, petpets frolicking merrily in the grass, and I was slouching down a dirty, dusty track, feeling as grumpy as Jhudora on Illusen Day.

      I was dressed up as a red Skeith - huge fake fangs, stick-on spines, scales - the whole thing. It looked really weird - the enormous bulky suit on top of my skinny striped Kougra's body.

     Although, I reflected bitterly as I wandered down the bumpy track, I was only here because Dad had made me. I growled softly under my breath, glancing up at my father, an enormous red Kougra dressed, ridiculously, as Fyora. His purple skirt cut in at his bulging waistline, and his beefy legs were encased in lilac-striped over-the-knee socks. To top it all off, there was a purple crown, which used to have small fake diamonds, but half had fallen off and one was just hanging, half on and half off, like a five-year-old's wobbly tooth. The whole effect was absolutely, freakishly, ridiculous. I had never seen anything so stupid.

     It had been his idea to do this whole stupid fair thing. And of course, he had forced me to come along and join in the festivities. I growled bitterly, scratching at a passing ghostkerchief and making it squeal.

     All my family were red Kougras - I had been, until I'd found a striped paintbrush once when I'd been exploring the caves on the beach. It had been the most incredible thing - one minute I'd been flicking aside old rusting cans of Neocola and food wrappers, the next I was gawping in astonishment at the glittering paintbrush lying before me. My parents would never have let me go off the island to get painted, so I'd caught a lift with my friend Dyrna, a yellow Lutari. She had her own boat.

      It had been the best feeling of my life, being painted. I had gone into the Rainbow Pool a plain, boring, dull and common red Kougra, and emerged from the clear water a beautiful, exotic, blue, pink and purple striped one. Of course, I'd had to tell my family how I'd 'changed my stripes,' as the expression goes. They were so angry, you wouldn't believe. They forbid me to ever, ever go off the island again. Then they put bars on my bedroom window. I wasn't even allowed out of the Neohome. They just want me to make them drinks and stuff, I thought angrily. I'm practically their slave.

     Dad, the bossy, angry and stupid one with a two year old's sense of humour.

     Mother, the bossy, angry and stupid one who's obsessed with jewels.

     Aunt Marki, the bossy, angry and stupid one who doesn't know the meaning of "shut up, I'm doing my homework!"

     Grampa, the bossy, angry and... oh, never mind. I could go on, but it would take forever...

      I could have easily swapped my family for another one, right then and there.

     And then I saw the door.

     It was carved into the cliff face, a rocky stone arch, with a slab of old, dark and cracked wood stuck on rusting metal hinges. It looked hundreds of years old - but oddly enough, I didn't remember seeing it before...

     I glanced round. Nobody was watching. I was, by nature, very curious, inquisitive, and - this was the part that annoyed people most - very, very mischievous.

     I pulled off my ridiculous Skeith suit, and darted over to the door. I turned the rusty, large old handle... Yes! It was open! I pushed it, and with a loud creak it opened, to show a dark space, an emptiness, a complete absence of light. I looked back over my shoulder. Yep, coast still clear. I darted inside.

     At once, the darkness closed in around me. I felt squashed, hemmed in, I couldn't breathe - and then, without a sound, light burst from the darkness, beautiful, lilac-coloured light, filling up every corner of my eyes - I closed them, but still the light pushed through, filling my very bones. I felt as if I was being stretched, down a long tunnel - my limbs seemed to be getting longer, my head rounder - then there was a thump, a burst of white-hot pain, and I knew no more.


     "How did she get here?!"

     "I don't know, I've checked all the main entrances..."

     "There isn't another secret way in, your majesty?"

     "Not that I know of, no."

     I heard the voices as if they were speaking at me whilst I was underwater. Fuzzy and blurred. They were both female voices, one sounding annoyed, one puzzled. I was lying on something soft. My head was still throbbing, and my entire body felt very strange, sort of different, stretched, maybe, and there were some things sticking into my back. Maybe I'd forgotten to take off my Skeith spines.

     With an enormous effort, I opened my eyes.

     "She's waking up!" said one voice. Two faces swam into view. They looked human, but one had greeny brown hair and bright green eyes, and the other lilac hair and purple eyes. She was wearing a crown, and both had large wings sprouting from their backs.

     "Faeries!" I yelped, sitting up and stumbling backwards. I saw the one with the crown and registered her appearance for the first time. "Fyora!" I yelped, trying to curtsy sitting down - an event people would probably have paid good Neopoints to see, and which still makes me blush to think of it. My paws felt weird, but I couldn't look away from the two faeries.

     Fyora smiled. "Why so shocked to see your own kind?" she asked kindly, smiling puzzledly at my look of confusion and apprehension.

     "What?" I babbled, trying with all my brainpower to comprehend what she had just said. It didn't work. "My own - my own -"

     I looked down - and froze. Where was my fur? My tail? My claws?

     Instead of a furry chest, I saw one with no fur, but smooth pink skin, wearing a reddish-orange sleeveless top. Instead of short, chunky, striped legs, I saw long, thin ones, in orange trousers. I lifted my paws up to my face - but they weren't paws. They were thinner, with four fingers and a thumb, no claws, and also furless. My back paws were long and thin, with five toes and no claws. I ran a hand over my head and was glad to feel soft fur - but this fur was so long it reached past my shoulders. I pulled a strand towards me. Instead of being purple or blue, it was as red as it had been before I had painted it. I ran my tongue round my mouth. My fangs had gone, to be replaced by flat, square-shaped teeth. And sprouting out of my shoulders was a pair of orangey-brown flame-shaped wings, softly fluttering in an unseen breeze.

     I screamed. I screamed and screamed and screamed. Maybe if I screamed enough, this whole thing would go away. I was a Kougra! A striped Kougra who lived on Mystery Island! Not a - a - not - not this! This was all some weird dream - a fair attraction, maybe - this could not be happening! The earth faerie was staring at me as if I was completely mad - looking back after the whole incident, I probably looked like I was.

     "What's wrong with her!?" yelled the earth faerie, backing off slightly.

     Fyora bent down and touched me gently on the forehead. Her hand glowed lilac, cool and refreshing and peaceful, and I stopped yelling. "What is your name?" she asked quietly.

     "S... Simma Starclaw..." I stuttered.

     "Starclaw?" wondered the earth faerie. "That's a weird name for a faerie."

     "I'm not a faerie!" I yelled at her, my temper rising up at once at this mad, mad person who thought I was actually a faerie, and not just dreaming. "I'm a Kougra, a Kougra, and this is a dream! Just a very weird dream! I want to wake up!" Any minute, I thought desperately, my alarm will go off and there'll be Dad saying, "Wake up and make me breakfast."

     "Rysta, just be quiet for a minute please," said Fyora quietly. Then she said to me, very slowly and carefully, not raising her voice above the tiniest fraction. "We are sitting here in a room in the Hidden Tower in Faerieland. I am Fyora, Faerie Queen. That is Rysta Vineleaf, earth faerie. And you..." She paused and gave me a long, hard stare with lilac-coloured eyes. Fyora's eyes, I have since found out, can be either totally unnerving, or friendly and cheerful, or soothing, or really just plain scary, depending on her - and your - mood.

     And then she said the words that changed my life forever.

     "You are Simma Starclaw, Fire Faerie."

To be continued...

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