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Atop the Grey Cloud: Part Two


by kemppotatoe

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Gwendolyn shook herself awake the next morning. It was still dark outside, but she knew sunrise was coming soon, and she needed to meet Ferinslé at the Healing Springs before she went.

     The young air faerie quickly grabbed her air faerie backpack, which consisted of 10,000 Neopoints, a few healing potions, Fyora's scroll to the Grey Faerie, a fuzzy pink blanket, a red tasseled cloak, some healing gauze pads, the books Simple Spells and Faerie Folk, a bag of Chokato Crisps for herself, and a small gift she wished to present to the Grey Faerie.

     After placing two Air Faerie Clips in her hair to keep it back, Gwendolyn ran down the dorm corridor, through the student library, into the palace lobby, and out into the morning.

     The storm hadn't really passed. It was very windy and it was slightly sprinkling, but Gwendolyn feared it would get worse. She wanted to get her cloak out of her backpack, but she was nearing tardiness, so she went on.

     Waiting at the Healing Springs was not only Ferinslé, but Queen Fyora and a small starry Pteri. Gwendolyn rushed upward to them and caught her breath.

     "Good morning," Ferinslé said, not smiling, "are you ready?"

     "Y-yes!" Gwendolyn panted, clutching a stitch in her side, "I'm r-ready."

     "Very good," Queen Fyora said, nodding with a smile, "very good, Gwendolyn. You do have my scroll, don't you?"

     "Yes, ma'am."

     "Good. May I introduce you to someone?" She gestured to the Pteri, who looked extremely disgruntled and rolled his eyes. "This is Rheyikan. I believe you may call him Rhey, though."

     Gwendolyn nodded but did not smile. Was this moping Pteri going to have to come with her?

     "Rhey, here," Ferinslé said, "is going to become your messenger Pteri. When you need us, send him to Faerieland."

      "He's very quick," Fyora said, patting him on the head, making him scowl even more, "and very gifted. He'll be able to find us."

      "Does he have to come with me?" Gwendolyn blurted out. She gasped as she realized what she said.

      Fyora and Ferinslé exchanged panicked looks. "Well, no, not really," Fyora said. "He'll be accompanying you to your first destination, which is Meridell. When you have reached there, he'll come back and tell us. Then you will continue alone, until you need him. Please let me see your necklace, Gwendolyn."

      Gwendolyn frowned. "My necklace?"

      "Yes," Ferinslé said, "hand it over to the queen."

      "What do you need it for?" Gwendolyn asked, passing it to Fyora.

      "I am going to enchant it. When you squeeze it, it will summon Rhey to you. All right? So don't go squeezing it for no reason."

      She touched her wand to it. The glass Pteri wing glowed gold for a moment, and then returned to its normal clarity.

      "Here, use it well," Fyora said, giving it back to her, "and good luck."

      "Gwendolyn," Ferinslé said, coming closer, "do not use your healing powers unless the Grey Faerie is hurt. Do not waste time healing anyone else. We need the Grey Faerie here as soon as possible, alright?"

      Gwendolyn nodded.

      "Good," Fyora said, "now off you go. And be safe, Gwendolyn, be safe. We have much trust in you."

      And for one of the first times ever, Gwendolyn clearly saw Ferinslé smile at her.

      "I will," she said, inspired by the smile.

           ***

      Fifteen minutes later, Gwendolyn was soaring above the ocean, Rhey closely behind her. She found him quite annoying, tagging along like that, but she didn't say anything. He, after all, was trying to help.

      But he truly didn't seem to want to. He continued to scowl and mutter rudely under his breath, but Gwendolyn pretended she didn't hear.

      It was nearing noon, now, and Gwendolyn's wings had grown steadily more tired through the trip. She spotted a small cloud, and plopped onto it.

      Rhey caught up and stared at her for a few minutes. Finally, he spoke.

      "What are you doing?"

      Gwendolyn glared at him. "Taking a rest," she responded.

      "We must keep going."

      "Don't tell me what to do."

      "We should get to Meridell soon if we don't stop."

      "Well, we're stopping, so deal with it."

      "I have orders to get you to Meridell."

      "What do you mean, 'get me to Meridell'? I can get there on my own fine, thanks. I don't need a stupid little Pteri to guide me."

      Rhey stared a her for a little while longer. Finally, when Gwendolyn could no longer take the stare, she stood up and stretched.

      "Ready to go," she said more to herself than to Rhey.

      They continued to fly, Gwendolyn in the lead. In an hour, Gwendolyn gracefully landed on the coast of Meridell. Rhey landed not so gracefully behind her.

      "Okay, you know what you're doing?" Rhey mumbled.

      "Yes," Gwendolyn said, annoyed. "I'm looking for the Grey Cloud. I believe I was the one informed of this mission, not you. Good day, Rheyikan."

      And with that, Gwendolyn stormed off through Meridell.

      ***

      "The Grey Cloud?"

      Gwendolyn nodded at the Kacheek farmer. "Yes, it's where the Grey Faerie lives."

      "Oh," he said, rubbing his chin, "no, I can't say I've seen it. Maybe someone else has, though. Maybe even the king."

      "Thank you," Gwendolyn said. She then decided that the farmer was right, and she should consult the king.

      "Halt!" the guard of the palace ordered. "State your name and business."

      "Uh," Gwendolyn said, frowning. "I'm an apprentice faerie healer, my name's Gwendolyn, and I'm here on Queen Fyora's orders."

      The guard narrowed his eyes. "May I see the proof that Fyora sent you?"

      Gwendolyn felt a surge of anger. How dare he call her just Fyora? It was always Queen Fyora, even if you were on speaking terms with her.

      "The proof?" Gwendolyn asked. Her mind raced. It landed on the scroll in her backpack. But that was for the Grey Faerie, and she was sure if she gave it to the guard he would confiscate it.

      "No proof?" The guard leered, "Then no admission!"

      Gwendolyn bit her lip. "Please, I must speak with the king! Really, it's- it's quite important, see Faerieland-"

      "Nobody cares about Faerieland's state here!" the guard barked, causing Gwendolyn to jump with surprise. "This is Meridell, if you haven't noticed! Now, off with ye, peasant!"

      Gwendolyn glared at him and turned on her heel. When she was a ways away, she turned around and yelled angrily, "I am not a peasant!" at the top of her voice.

      The young air faerie gloomily sat down on a rock. She sighed. If she hadn't been so mad, she would have appreciated the beauty of Meridell. But she couldn't. She was on a mission and it was important.

      "Heehee!"

      Gwendolyn sat up from her dream-like pose and stiffened. She had heard very clearly someone giggle.

      "Heehee!"

      The bushes ruffled. Gwendolyn stood up quickly. A second later she had been knocked off her feet. Something orange had rolled right into her.

      "Heehee! Oh, sorry!"

      She looked up and saw a little orange Ixi looking right into her face.

      "'Ello!" he said, happily, "What's your name?"

      "Uh, Gwendolyn," she said, standing up and brushing herself off.

      "Well, 'ello there, Gwendle… Gwenlo… Gwendeelyne… Gwa…Gwa…" He smiled sheepishly. "Uh, well, then, can I call you Gwennie?"

      Gwendolyn rolled her eyes. The prospect of being called Gwennie was not very reassuring. "Whatever," she mumbled.

      "Gwennie! Gwennie!" he called playfully. "Gwennie the faerie! Heehee! My name's Louie by the way." He puffed his chest up importantly. "Louis Edwardio Philip Bean! Haha! That's my name, alright!"

      Gwendolyn sighed. "Okay, uh, Louie! I'm on my way, better be going."

      "Oooh! Where you headed to?"

      "I need to speak with the king."

      "Really?"

      "Yes."

      "Then-then you must be really important to talk to the king!" Louie said, wide-eyed.

      "Mm-hm," Gwendolyn muttered vaguely.

      "What kind of faerie are you?" Louie asked interestedly.

      "Air faerie."

      "No, I mean what do you do?"

      "I'm a healing faerie."

      Louie's eyes shone with excitement. "Really?" he said, "That's great, 'cause I'm in need of a healer! See, I was just innocently rolling around in that grove over there, and well… I guess I got in the way of a rather large Thornberry."

      He held up his hoof, which had a large thorn sticking out of it. As much as Gwendolyn thought Louie was annoying, she couldn't let him alone like this.

      "Sit down," she said, rummaging through her bag, "let me see, here…"

      After Gwendolyn pulled the thorn out, she placed a few dabs of Healing Potion III on the wound and covered it with a few healing gauze pads.

      Louie looked at his bandaged hoof and smiled. "Much better, thanks a bunch."

      Gwendolyn smiled sheepishly. "I could have done it much quicker with a spell, but I'm just learning how to magically heal…"

      "Well," Louie said, grinning widely, "if there's anything I can do for you, anytime at all…"

      Gwendolyn gasped, excitedly. "Yes! There is something! Louie, can you help me see the king? I really, really need to speak with him, but the guard won't let me in…"

      Louie frowned for a moment. "Yes, yes there is a way. I think so, anyway. My cousin got in this way to steal some food. His family's really poor. My family, on the other hand, has plenty of bread and stew everyday! My father's a fisher and my mother's a petpet saleswoman, so we always have plenty-"

      "How do I get in?" Gwendolyn interrupted.

      "Oh, yes, right. Ah… well, my cousin crept in through the second window from the right. That was some guest bedroom and nobody was there, so he was able to sneakily make it to the king's chamber."

      "Is the window open, you think?"

      "Probably, they like to let in fresh air."

      "Good! Thanks, Louie!" Gwendolyn ran towards the castle.

      "Your very welcome, Gwennie! Thanks for healing my foot!" Louie called after her.

      Gwendolyn snuck behind a large bush. She did not want the rude guard to see her anywhere near the castle. Grabbing a stone, she thrust it into the moat that surrounded the castle. The guard jumped and went to examine what had happened.

      Gwendolyn seized her chance and sprinted around to the other side of the castle. She edged against the wall, just in case someone in a room above stuck their head out the window.

      She spotted the second window on the right, and sure enough, it was open. Gwendolyn placed her hands on the window ledge and hoisted herself up. She fell clumsily through the window and landed in a heap on the floor.

      But as she stood up and brushed herself off, Gwendolyn realized that she was not the only person in the room.

To be continued...

 
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» Atop the Grey Cloud: Part One
» Atop the Grey Cloud



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