A Difference of Opinion
"Many years ago, Faerieland was in the clouds, high above Neopia. It was a city up in the clouds, kept aloft by the air faeries. Then one day it fell."
An indignant Christmas Lutari quickly interjected, "I know, I know! It wasn't that long ago, I remember it."
"Well, I don't remember it," grumbled a green Draik. Vivian, like most Draiks, was very young though usually it wasn't much of an issue.
"I had quite forgotten, Kirk." Their storyteller, a rather placid Faerie Pteri named Cecelia replied evenly. "You weren't a Lutari then, were you?"
Kirk rolled his eyes. He hadn't quite fit in before he'd become a somewhat exotic Lutari, a form he loved. Still, that didn't mean he hadn't been around almost as long as Cecelia herself. He supposed it was partly his fault for asking her to give him bedtime stories with Vivian but she was a rather good storyteller. Besides, Vivian didn't like to be reminded that everyone was older than him.
"Right, well it was an exciting time for us Neopets; Faerieland was always a distant spot, high in the sky. Now it's down on the ground, open to all." Cecelia continued.
"We have wings," Vivian pointed out, critical. "I've flown through the clouds plenty of times."
"It was really high," Kirk supplied, unbothered by his own lack of wings. "Most winged pets could manage the journey, but it was a difficult one - whereas faeries found it simple."
Cecelia nodded. "It fell, and now we Neopets can be a part of Faerieland too. More than that, we helped save the faeries from their own ruin."
"And from Xandra," A gruff voice spoke up from the doorway.
"Will!" Cecelia stood up and quickly began trying to move the furniture for the last member of their family.
"It's dangerous to be talking about the faeries like that," he said, brushing the Pteri off as he settled into a chair.
"Dangerous?" Vivian repeated, sceptically.
"You're a Xandra sympathiser, aren't you?" Will said, ignoring the young Draik.
Cecelia looked away. "I was just telling them about what happened – it's important."
Will sighed. Cecelia had been there to witness the destruction of Faerieland, it was true. But it had been from a distance, as she was not the sort to get involved in that sort of trouble. She was something of an intellectual, and greatly enjoyed debating many aspects of Neopian society.
Will, on the other hand, had been in the thick of the action, fending off the wraiths that had thrived with the faerie's protection gone. He loved the generosity of the faeries who would always bestow blessings on those who helped them. The healing springs faerie especially had always been there for him, keeping him healthy as he worked to grow stronger. He knew she had been hurt by the loss of her original home in the clouds.
"It was a difficult time for everyone. Many Neopians who had relied on faeries in their everyday lives were left impoverished, to say nothing of the wraiths," Will said.
"And we're stronger for it, now."
"Wait- you're not a fan of faeries?" Vivian asked Cecelia in disbelief. "But you're a faerie Pteri yourself!"
"Faerie magic does appear rather beautiful, does it not?" Cecelia asked in reply.
"What of it?" Kirk asked, frowning. He wasn't sure what to think of faeries. They were clearly very powerful beings and yet they kept to themselves, save for a few individuals. Also, while there were nice faeries, some of them were rather mischievous or even outright cruel on the wrong days.
"That's all it is, an appearance, it's superficial. They look nice, but they're not perfect at all. They can't look down on us from the clouds anymore," Cecelia explained. "Vivian, Faerieland fell because of the overconfidence and apathy of the faeries. It is an important story because we cannot forget that faeries are flawed."
Vivian stared at the her in surprise, not having realised that she felt that way. He supposed he sort of agreed with her, everyone had flaws. The way she said it though, he was sensing outright contempt under her careful words. She truly didn't care for faeries at all.
He glanced over at Will, who looked rather tired. More tired than he did when coming back from the Battledome. This was not a new conversation. When had his room become so tense?
"Well, thanks for the story Cecelia! But it's late, I should get to sleep. Right Kirk?"
"So, you support Xandra?" Kirk asked, apparently taking leave of his senses.
"Hmm, her actions were a little extreme…" Cecelia hedged, not explicitly denying it. "But, we should discuss this another time, yes?" Will's disapproving stare practically forced her to make a quick exit.
It was a few days later when the whole family was together again, this time out in one of the parks in Brightvale. It was only April but it was never too early to practice Yooyuball, right? Though Cecelia usually avoided strenuous activity, she always made an exception for Yooyuball. Kirk was a huge fan of the Brightvale team, despite their frequent losses. Will was an excellent player. Vivian dreamed of playing Yooyuball professionally one day.
Until then, their discussion over faeries had dismissed, though Cecelia had garnered a few odd glances from her younger siblings. As it happened, while they were playing Yooyuball, an air faerie flew overhead. They all stopped briefly to watch her graceful flying. Air faeries were truly incredible fliers. Nothing should have come of this small event, but to their surprise, the air faerie spotted them and flew down.
"Hello there. Would you lend me a hand? Or a brush in this case? I need a Peophin Mane Brush. If you help me, I'll reward you for it," she said, smiling at them and their fake ball. (They couldn't quite afford a real Yooyu.)
Will looked a little disinterested. "I suppose you're going to bless up with speed, aren't you?" He asked, though not unkindly.
Will had been frequently visiting Faerieland for quests all week, so this was not a very special event for him. Speed had never been something he cared much about. Vivian perked up, going faster would be perfect for his future career.
The faerie looked a little taken aback. "Yes, I can make you faster. That is a fair reward, no?"
"Why do you need a Peophin mane brush? You're not a Peophin," Cecelia spoke up.
The faerie only grinned. "Oh anyone can groom themselves with it, it's just called that to attract the choosy Peophin market. Peophins take their grooming really seriously, you know?"
"And you have the power to make us all faster, but you'll only use it if we do something for you?" Cecelia questioned, unimpressed.
If they expected the faerie to be offended, they were to be disappointed. In fact, she started giggling. "Hmm, you know, I never thought of that. Blessing everyone I meet. It'd be mad!"
"Not sensible though, I don't have that sort of power, you know? I might mess up and make someone lighter than air or something. Besides, I'm your elder, probably, it's my duty to instill in you a good work ethic by rewarding your work. Or something? "The air faerie continued, the picture of unbothered. "They cover that stuff at the faerie academy.
Cecelia looked about to say something else, so Vivian quickly cut in. "Hey, miss faerie? What happens if a faerie drinks a morphing potion?" He asked (something that had secretly been bothering him).
"They shrink, usually. Eventually our magic kicks in and we grow back though," she replied with disinterest. "So, uh, do you have a Peophin mane brush or what?"
"You need it." Cecelia accused. "You're having a dire emergency for a hairbrush."
The faerie completely ignored her tone and all of its implications. "So, what do you say?"
"We can find you a brush," Will replied.
"You faeries are all the same. Vain, superficial beings who think they're so generous when really they do nothing!" Cecelia snapped, getting worked up at how little anyone was reacting.
"That's us," the faerie replied easily, leaning back in a reclining position whilst floating in mid-air. "We care more about our looks than the fate of Neopia. We're callous, cold, whatever adjective you like."
"And they rig the faerie caves. It's diabolical," Kirk added dryly.
"And they overcharge on those stupid grimoires," Will supplied.
"Oh, and they've forbidden the shop wizard from helping us on their quests! Why is that by the way?" Vivian added.
"No idea," the faerie said with a shrug. She was by now smirking at Cecelia. "We're terrible aren't we? We make our crossword too hard."
"You're monsters! You make your faerie cakes so light they float away," Kirk suggested.
"You only let us take three jobs a day at the employment office." Will added.
"The fountain faerie won't let me use her rainbow fountain!" Vivian moaned.
Cecelia was looking horrified. Her family was mocking her in the most ludicrous fashion, completely dismissing her entirely legitimate complaints. The airhead air faerie hadn't taken her seriously for so much as a second. Why was she so completely unconcerned? And why were they taking the faerie's side?
"The faerie in charge of the wheel of excitement is so obnoxious, like she'll congratulate us for getting less than 500!" Kirk was saying.
"Cecelia?" She turned, to see Will standing quietly next to her.
"We don't care if you don't like faeries. But you're not going to change our minds either."
She sighed, and quietly pulled out a hairbrush from her bag. "There's no point to being angry at her, is there?" She handed the item to him.
"Once, the soup faerie gave me invisible soup! It tasted of nothing," Vivian chattered.
He stopped talking as Will delivered the Peophin mane brush to the air faerie.
She accepted it with surprise. "Woah, you guys are quick, aren't you? Well now you'll be even faster!"
She spread out her arms and they all started glowing briefly. "Usually I only bless one pet, but then again, why don't I just bless all of you? Who cares about rules, right? Have a fun game, you guys!"
The air faerie gave one final wave before speeding away through the air. They watched her go.
Soon enough, they continued their game of Yooyuball, enjoying their newfound speed. Cecelia couldn't help but feel glad to have been included in the blessing despite her obvious disapproval of faeries. Maybe all them weren't quite so bad as she thought. She couldn't like them, she thought, but she couldn't begrudge her family's approval of them either.