From Swamp to Sky: Part Two
The Caravan was leaving bright and early the next morning as if they were trying to race the sun. Irey yawned sleepily while the whinny-drawn carts lumbered down the uneven road. Irey was fascinated by the petpets; the only ones she had ever seen in the swamp were Sludgies and Slorgs, and neither was very friendly.
The going was slow, the trip uneventful, and Irey became stir crazy. She walked beside the wagons for a while, tried to pet the whinnies and got snapped with a whip for her efforts, took a nap in the back of a wagon for a while, and even scouted ahead once. When they finally arrived in Meridell, Irey thanked the lead wagon driver and ran off to find something to do.
The thing that caught her attention the most was Illusen's Glade. The tree top huts, the luck growth, dappled sunlight, happy petpets running and playing, the friendly inhabitants. It was a glorious place. Irey actually thought that staying here for a while wouldn't be so bad! Not to mention she needed to stock up on a couple provisions before going on her way.
”Welcome to my home! I've been living in Meridell for years now, it's so peaceful and serene (and I get to be as far away from those Dark Faeries as possible!) Anyway, I have a couple of jobs that you may be interested in. If you can fetch me some items from around Neopia, I can reward you with some cool things I have made over the years. How about we start off with a few easy errands, and go from there. I don't want to waste TOO much of your time but I really do have to get these items you know... Unfortunately, if you don't find my item within the time limit, then I'm going to put you right back on the easy quests! Interested??”
Irey was a little taken aback by the faerie's straightforwardness. "Oh well.. Sure, I'll do a quest." That was something to do, and it gave her the chance to explore. "What do you need?
”Basic Green Floor Tiles,” Illusen answered after a moment’s pause. ”You have 16 minutes and 39 seconds to get it for me.”
That wasn't long at all! Without a word, Irey turned and ran through the connected tree houses and to the lift that had brought her up to Illusen's home. Finding the floor tiles proved harder than she had expected and had to go back to the merchant’s wagon to find it. Apparently Meridell didn't carry floor tiles. Huffing, Irey ran back to Illusen's Glade to hand her the pack of floor tiles. What was she going to do with floor tiles here? The Krawk thought it better not to ask questions.
”Thank you! Here is your prize.” A couple cream cookies appeared on a table in front of Irey, who was still out of breath.
“Oh... No thank you... I have... a request..." Irey stood straight and took a couple deep breaths. "If you let me stay in your glade for a while, I'll do all the quests you want. It's beautiful here." Irey looked around dreamily.
”That sounds like a fair deal. My quests get harder every day. As long as you make it back by the designated time, you're free to stay,” Illusen decided.
“Fantastic! Do you have empty apartments nearby?”
“Since you'll be my right-hand quester while you're staying with us, you can stay in the tree house right next to mine.” The faerie motioned to a hut connected to hers by a thick bridge with sturdy ropes and a lovely red runner. “Just please don't fall out of the trees,” Illusen teased.
For the next few months, Irey was happy to live in the Glade and run any errand Illusen might think of for her. Each quest sent her further and further away to fetch more exotic items. Travel became difficult and she barely made it back before her time was up. Panting, Irey finished the last quest with 30 seconds to spare.
“I got... Your item..." the Krawkling panted at the faerie.
“Very impressive, young Krawk. It's very rare that someone completes all my quests with such aptitude and excitement.” Illusen handed Irey a little square badge about the size of her palm. “This is the avatar you get for finishing twenty of my quests. Now that your services are no longer required, I'll give you some time to pack and say your goodbyes.”
Irey wasn't exactly sad that she was being kicked out of the Glade; even though it was beautiful she didn't like staying in one place for too long. It was becoming too long. "Do you have any suggestions where else I may go? Recommendations? I wouldn't mind doing more quests.”
Illusen thought for a second. ”I may have an idea. In Faerieland, there's a dark faerie by the name of Jhudora who also does quests. If you don't have a problem with dark faeries, you could try her. I don't know if she'll let you live with her while you quest for her, though.”
“Faerieland?" Irey was intrigued. Jhudora sounded interesting as well. "How would I get to and from Faerieland? I can't exactly fly...”
“I know a faerie that may be able to help.” Illusen tapped her chin. ”One week, and I'll take you to Faerieland.”
“Alright!" Irey ran to her quarters to pack and make sure she had provisions.
At the end of the week Irey stood at Illusen's door at the crack of dawn bouncing on her toes. Faerieland was an adventurers dream to visit! The earth faerie finally emerged from her hut looking no different than any other day.
“Ready?” Irey nodded animatedly. ”Alright, let's go!” Illusen took the Krawk's hand and suddenly she was floating.
“Whoa!" Irey flailed to try and stay upright in the air.
“Quit squirming! I have you; you'll be fine.” The faerie smiled, fluttering beside her. They were already above the trees! Irey hadn't noticed they were moving yet.
Flying was the most exhilarating thing Irey had ever experienced. The ground so far away, the cool clouds on her face, playing with her shadow being cast on top of the clouds as they raced by. The sheer freedom of the sky in her face and nothing as far as the eye could see was a dream come true. This was what she had been searching for! Irey wanted to fly.
Faerieland was more than she could have imagined. The paved streets, the tall buildings, the colors, the clouds. It was even more beautiful than the Glade!
“Wow...” Irey breathed when they finally touched down on the cobblestone streets.
“Quickly,” Illusen said musically and was walking briskly enough that Irey had to trot to catch up.
“Where are we going?" Irey asked curiously.
“To see Fyora.”
Irey stumbled. “The Faerie Queen?!”
“The one and only.” Illusen laughed.
“What for?" the Krawkling dared to ask.
“To see what we can do about your transportation issues.”
The Famous Earth Faerie only smiled.
“Fyora!” Illusen greeted the queen.
“Illusen, my daughter, so nice to see you!” Fyora stood from her vanity and hugged the other faerie. ”How have you been? And who have you brought to see me? She must be something if you brought her yourself and to me directly.”
“This, Mother, is my good friend Irey. She has completed all my quests and refused all the rewards. All she asked in return was lodging. She has been incredibly helpful, but her services are no longer required,” she finished. Irey blushed and produced the avatar Illusen had given her.
“I see. And why have you brought her to me?”
“She wants to do more quests, for the adventure, not the items, and is having a mild transportation issue. I was going to bring her to Jhudora for more questing.”
Fyora stared at Irey, making her uncomfortable and shift her feet, and crossed her arms in thought. “Take her to the Fountain and be her transport for this last quest. Once she chooses her wings, bring her back here to me,” the queen decided at last.
“As you wish, Mother.” Illusen hugged Fyora again and the two of them departed.
“The Fountain? As in the Fountain Faerie who will paint you any color you wish after doing one quest for her?" Irey asked, exasperated.
Illusen smiled. “Of course, dear, what other fountain do you know of?” She found the young Krawk's enthusiasm amusing. “You must do this quest on your own, though, I can only help you by getting you to and from Faerieland. Other than that, you're on your own.”
“Of course!" Irey grinned, almost skipping behind the Earth Faerie. Her stomach was doing summersaults.
“Sorry, the fountain isn't working right now! Unfortunately it seems that too many Neopets have bathed in these magical waters and have used up all the fountain's magical power. Oh well :( Maybe if you come back at another time you will be slightly more lucky!” the water faerie said mechanically. It sounded as if she used that line a million times a day and was quite tired of repeating it.
“Oh, cut it out. Fyora wants you to send this little Krawk on a quest.” Illusen stepped to the side to reveal a suddenly nervous Irey.
“And why would the Queen request such a thing?” the Fountain Faerie asked suspiciously.
“As a special reward for certain deeds,” the Earth Faerie replied vaguely.
“Fine, be vague about it,” she said dismissively. ”Come closer, child. I have a special task for you. Do you remember, about three months ago, the promise you made?”
“Promise? To whom?" Irey frowned, confused.
The Fountain Faerie sighed. “Once you fulfill this promise, you will have access to my fountain, but not before then. I want you to get this letter signed by the first person to whom this promise was made. It doesn't state anything specific, so reading it won't refresh your memory. People are waiting on you, Irey, and I don't believe they are enjoying the wait. Now be off with you. I have matters to attend to.” The faerie shoed Irey away and disappeared into the fountain somewhere.
“What promise did I make? To whom?” Irey asked the air, her face twisted in confusion.
“I told you, I can't help you, only transport you. You're going to have to remember on your own.” Illusen took Irey's hand and they were off flying back to Meridell.
Irey wandered around Meridell for a while, watching the Turdles race. She 'picked her own' and was aggravated when she got a bunch of dung and half eaten berries. The Turmaculus stubbornly remained asleep, mortogs blew up on her, and she almost won something at round table poker.
Nothing was helping her remember what promise she made to whom those few months ago! Sitting at Merifoods with a bowl of gruel and soft white cheese she watched the petpets from Ye Old Petpets frolicking in the pen. She wished she had a petpet to keep her company. Even if they didn't talk back, it was still someone to talk to. Maybe just a look.
Picking up the rest of her soft white cheese, Irey walked over to the Ye Old Petpets pen and watched them from a closer distance. A couple of them wandered over to say hello, sniffed at her cheese, and left again. One creature stayed and wanted a piece of the cheese. Irey was happy to give it up to the little creature, who resembled a small, fuzzy Draik of a sort. She assumed he was a baby, by his round features, tiny wings, and stubby horns.
“I like you.” The Krawk smiled and patted the gallion's head.
The petpet jumped and hissed at her as if startled by the contact.
“Oh, sorry, you're not a cuddly one, are you?”
The gallion made some soft, guttural noises that were actually quite cute.
“Is that so?” She laughed back as if the petpet was talking to her. “Would you like to come adventuring with me? I could use a small companion."
The gallion looked at her and sniffed.
“More cheese?” She handed another piece of cheese over to the petpet and he happily ate it. “Well, how about it? Would you like to come to Faerieland with me?”
The petpet just looked at her out of the corner of his eye until he finished the piece of cheese.
“Alright then. I'll go find out how much you cost.”
To be continued...