The Princess of Flowers
PART FIVE: THE AIR FAERIE KINGDOM
"O h no! Now how will we reach the Air Faerie Kingdom?” gasped Mildred. Despite feeling upset, she couldn’t help but silently swoon over Zack.
“We can still visit the kingdom,” Rose insisted. She snarled at Zack. “As for you, your ill-mannered decision won’t interfere with our quest for long!” After yelling “Rose Rod”, Rose gripped her weapon of choice and pointed its end towards Zack.
Zack snickered. “Well, would you look at that?” He held up his cane and swung it at his opponent. Rose initially dodged the attack, but then decided to use her rod as a fencing device. The fencing duel went back and forth, both Zack and Rose dodging the others’ attacks while Mildred and Wesley watched from the sidelines. “Geez, you’re pretty good for a royal girl Kyrii!” Zack remarked.
Rose grunted. “You’re fencing technique is quite outdated,” she sneered. “And your clothes are hideous!”
“Well then, if that’s how you feel,” said Zack, “let me be the first to skedaddle outta here!” Pulling a smoke bomb from his jacket pocket, Zack threw it towards Rose.
Rose coughed as the released purple smoke swamped the clearing. By the time the smoke had finally disappeared, Zack had vanished. “What? Where did that crook run off to?” Rose poofed her rod away and looked around for the sneaky Zafara.
“I think he’s gone for good,” Wesley piped up. “And what an exit that was!” He turned to Mildred. “I thought it was a little devious for him to use the smoke bomb attack, but in the end, he was able to leave the clearing in a spectacular fashion!”
“He seems so charming,” Mildred sighed. “Though it’s a shame he broke the gilded stairs.”
“Are you two done swooning over that moron yet?” Rose scoffed, folding her arms. “Because, last time I checked, that idiot ruined our opportunity to enter the Air Faerie Kingdom!” I would also blame you two useless clods for not doing ANYTHING to stop him during our squabble, she added silently, scrunching her eyebrows.
“Oh, there’s another way we can get there,” Wesley insisted casually.
“There is?” Mildred gasped.
“And which way is that?” Rose pressed.
Wesley pointed his horn in the direction of where the gilded stairway once stood. “If you two can fly up from there, you’ll be able to reach the Air Faerie Kingdom in no time!” he explained. “It’s lots more fun to fly there, anyways. Climbing the stairs can be dangerous, especially if it was raining—”
“Do you honestly expect me to have the ability to fly up to an undetermined location in the sky?” Rose asked, baffled.
“Your Rose Rod can help us, right?” Mildred suggested.
“That’s not how it works,” Rose insisted.
“Don’t worry, I know exactly what to do,” Wesley insisted. The girls watched as Wesley approached a tree trunk and poked it three times with his horn.
Rose was speechless and Mildred’s eyes widened with surprise when a blue Uni descended from the sky, its expression very serene as it landed next to Wesley. “What’s up?” the Uni asked his companion.
Wesley gestured to the girls. “These two wish to visit the exclusive Air Faerie Kingdom,” he explained. “And since we’re the official stairway keepers, Gary, we must escort them so they can visit the fantastic Air Faerie City.”
“Ooh, and then we can take them to that scrumptious little pretzel cart!” Gary licked his lips. “Okay, I’m in!”
Mildred clapped. “Splendid!”
“You mean to tell me that you two will be escorting us to the Air Faerie Kingdom by…Uni-back?” Rose gasped to Wesley. She shuddered. Never in her life did she have to ride upon the back of an annoying stranger to be taken somewhere she needed to go!
“It’ll be so much fun,” Wesley insisted. “I’ll even show you all of my favourite clouds.”
“Or you can ride with me,” Gary offered.
Rose grumbled as she perched herself on Gary’s back. Mildred accompanied Wesley and squealed loudly as the two Unis descended into the sky. Both Unis were steady flyers, making certain to keep their passengers safe during their flight. Wesley happily pointed out all of his favourite clouds to Mildred, who, just as happily, would discuss the different shaped clouds they’d pass. Despite Gary’s attempts to strike up a conversation with her, Rose ignored him, deciding to spend the time looking at the blue and white scenery around her than have an idle chit-chat with somebody she didn’t really like. This flight better be a short one, she fumed, wishing dearly that no one would recognise her from the ground below. Then again, how many Neopians outside of Floritua would recognize her? Would they even care to crane their necks upwards to watch a quartet of strangers as they made their way to a top-secret kingdom of Air Faeries?
At last, Wesley and Gary descended upon a big, puffy white cloud that bobbed up and down in front of them. They landed on the gigantic cloud and trotted happily towards a pair of tall, blue gates after Rose and Mildred leapt off their backs. “That’s the main entryway to the kingdom,” Gary explained.
“My, what exquisite gates they are,” Mildred breathed. The gates were tall and made of an aqua-blue crystal that shimmered in the sunlight. Mildred stepped forward and touched the smooth, blue crystal. “Ooh, it’s so cool!”
“I’ve seen much lovelier gates in books," Rose sniffed.
Gary stepped forward, and as he did, the gates magically swung open. He turned to Rose and Mildred. “Alrighty, now you two can officially enter the Air Faerie Kingdom!” he declared.
“Thank you, kind Uni,” said Mildred, curtsying.
Gary bowed, and then Wesley did as well. Rose, however, just made her way through the crystal gates. “Come on, Mildred,” she called over her shoulder.
“Have a good time!” Wesley called as he and Gary flew away.
“And don’t forget to get your pretzels!” added Gary.
Thank the stars those two uncivilized ninnies won’t be following us inside, thought Rose. She and Mildred made their way down a street paved of glittering white crystal and looked around their surroundings. Mildred kept “oohing” and “ahhing” at the blue crystal trees and bushes they’d pass. Rose remained focused on the path ahead, which was now leading them to a bustling city that was not surprisingly—made up of streets, sidewalks and tall, pointed buildings all made of the same blue crystal as the gates were. “They must not have had suitable building materials,” Rose remarked to Mildred.
“I think all the crystal buildings are lovely,” breathed Mildred. “Simply stunning.”
Several Air Faeries bustled past them, either hovering above or scurrying on the ground. One Faerie, with a blonde pixie cut, stopped and stared at Rose. “May I…uh, help you?” she asked, her face expressing both surprise and uncertainty.
“Yes, we need to speak with your Queen immediately,” Rose said firmly. “It’s an international emergency.”
“Oh my,” gasped the Air Faerie.
Mildred curtseyed. “How do you do? My name is Mildred.” She gestured to Rose. “My friend and I are from the kingdom of Floritua.”
“Floritua?” the Air Faerie said thoughtfully. “Hmm, I’ve never head of such a place.” She smiled. “My name is Bre.”
“Oh, your name is ever-so-lovely!” Mildred gushed. “In fact, I once knew this Kacheek that had this Snowbunny–”
“Must we keep idling?” Rose interrupted. “We need to speak to your Queen, posthaste.”
Bre nodded. “Of course. Let me escort you to her palace.” She led the girls down the street, explaining they were in the Air Faerie City and that they were very lucky to have befriended Gary and Wesley. “They are such kind Unis, aren’t they?”
“I’ve met better,” insisted Rose.
“What’s it like living in a secluded kingdom of Air Faeries, Bre?” asked Mildred. “Do you commute regularly with Faerieland?”
Bre shook her head. “I spend a majority of my time here,” she explained, “though I have visited Faerieland shortly after the whole Xandra-crashing-it fiasco. I actually had a very lovely time touring Faerie City.” She sighed, her shoulders sagging. “It’s a shame our kingdom has to remain hidden. I think it would be so exciting if other Neopians could explore the Air Faerie Kingdom and learn about the history of Air Faeries, explore our crystal forest and shop at our boutiques. They’d love it here, I’m sure.”
The boutiques here aren’t that fashionable, Rose thought, passing by a shop. The pale-blue dress displayed in the window, to her, had a tacky lace collar and sleeves that were too long.
“It would also be nice to have our kingdom listed in an official Neopian map for once,” Bre continued. She stopped and turned, asking Rose, “Wait, how were you two able to gain access here? And how could you have possibly been able to track down Wesley’s location?”
“I found a book in my father’s study that spoke of your kingdom,” Rose explained.
“It was a wonderful study,” Mildred sighed.
“I love visiting our library,” said Bre, “though the book supply there is thinning.”
“’Don’t care,” insisted Rose. “Now if you’re done babbling about such a useless topic, how about we–”
"Hey there, ladies.” A suave shadow Zafara jumped off a nearby building and landed in front of Bre. He brushed his hair back as he strode towards the girls. “Long time no see, old foe,” he remarked to Rose.
“My, he’s such a charming Zafara!” Bre breathed.
“And he’s still so handsome!” Mildred sighed.
Zack gave them a wink, and then turned to Rose. “So, shall we continue from before?” he asked, twirling his cane. “Or would you like to just surrender your rod-thingy and continue to live your life peacefully?”
Rose poofed up the Rose Rod and pointed it towards Zack. “Just try and stop me.”
To be continued…