The Neoteric Quest Part One

Dedicated to Kat Fiorenza

Chapter One

She was six feet tall and born with bright orange hair that lasted into adulthood. Throughout the course of her life she had gained a tremendous amount of weight, due to emotional trauma in which she suppressed her rage by eating. Elyse had tried everything to succeed in life, but was always forced back to square one; her dysfunctional family. Of course, if she ever complained about it, she knew no one would listen. Who doesn’t have a dysfunctional family today? The fact that she was in her mid-twenties did nothing to help matters. She was on her own, like she had been since the day she turned eight, but it was no use reminiscing on that memory. She winced.

Picking up a tabloid, she was reminded every day of how she did not fit into society’s stereotypical image of beautiful. Elyse never knew why she would subject herself to such self-flagellation but she did it nevertheless. Perhaps it was because she never got over her mother’s words or the fact that no one in her family thought she was capable of anything? So why should she even try? Flipping through the pages of the tabloid, she looked at the women in skimpy outfits who had nice bodies and she ached to have a body like that. Then she proceeded to check out the men who looked good, and she knew she would never be with anyone who looked like them. She knew it was all photo-shopped but it didn’t stop her from hating her rolls of fat, her excess weight, and she put the tabloid down and picked up a chocolate bar. At least, with this candy she would have some sort of mental relief, if only temporary.

After paying the sales clerk for the chocolate, she walked a mile to her favorite lake. Oh, she had excess weight but it never stopped her from taking long walks. Sitting down on a bench, she peeled open her chocolate bar and broke off a square, popping it into her mouth. Slowly she sucked on the piece of the bar, savoring the chocolate and making it last a long time as she looked at the water.

Water was always calming to her. She could get lost in the lines of the water and forget her life for a while. Elyse popped another piece of chocolate into her mouth and looked up. It had to be a mirage. In front of her was what looked like a city on the water. It was enormous and beautiful. Mythical in its proportions which made absolutely no sense to her since this was a small lake. Disbelief clouded over her face and she blinked a few times, hoping to wake up. After understanding that she was awake and this was no dream, she looked around to see if anyone else was seeing what she saw. There was no one.

Extremely tempted to flee, Elyse had a quick thought. Even if she did go on an adventure in this city how bad could it be? Would anyone miss her if she disappeared? Would she miss them? Did it really matter? Thinking about the past games she played and movies she watched, Elyse realized she probably wasn’t exactly in the best shape to go on any adventures. Nevertheless, she persisted, gulped, and walked into the city repeating a mantra in her head.

‘Please don’t die yet. Please don’t die yet.’

Once inside the city, she looked back and discovered her beloved lake disappeared. There was no choice but to move forward. Hoping this was one of the better decisions in her life, she looked around, impressed by what she was seeing. Many people were dressed in fancy cloaks, some running food stalls, others walking to whatever errands they had. It reminded Elyse of a cleaner and more glamorous version of a modern-day Renaissance Faire with obvious differences.

‘Maybe this is where I belong? No, that’s an immature thought.’

She kept walking and no one judged her weight here. No one even gave a quick glance and looked away. Elyse was an outcast in jeans and a t-shirt but no one commented on her clothing either. It was obvious she was an outsider but no one seemed to notice or care.

Keeping her steady pace, she came up to a fountain. It had a stone unicorn head that was pouring water out of its mouth into the stone basin below. Realizing she still had her chocolate bar in her hand, she put it to the side, cupped her hands together and put it under the unicorn spigot. When her hands were filled with water she drank it and splashed her face. Revitalized instantly, Elyse wanted to run around the whole city but forced herself not to do so. Thinking about it, she realized she made a rookie mistake, drinking the water in a city she did not know. The damage was already done however, and she had to live with it.

“Excuse me?” she asked one of the locals. “Where are we?”

The local answered her but she couldn’t understand his language. After asking a few other locals and having no luck, she wanted to cry. All this time and she still only knew one language.

“Does anyone here speak English?” she cried, searching for someone, anyone that could help her.

Getting nowhere fast, she made her way back to the unicorn fountain and sat beside it. What use was being in a new place if she didn’t know where she was or even speak the language? So much for having a fresh start. Sighing, she knew she had to figure out her next plan of action but what? What could she have done? Bringing her knees up and placing her head on them, she also wrapped her arms around herself and tried not to cry.

“Excuse me?” said a feminine voice and Elyse picked her head up.

“Who’s there?”

“I’m in front of you.”

Elyse looked in front of her to see a fairy. One so small you can put her in between the length of your forefinger and thumb but a fairy nonetheless. She blinked again in disbelief.

“This can’t be real,” she said to the fairy. “I’m hallucinating, aren’t I?”

“Oh no, I assure you, I’m quite real. My name is Titania, and you are Elyse.”

“Titania? An anime character? Now I know I’m dreaming.”

“I’m offended. I’m not named from an anime character but after the fairy queen herself! I am her daughter you know.”

“You’ve been reading too much Shakespeare.”

“You’re impossible. Anyway, I was sent to guide you to the queen. She has been wanting to meet you for a long time.”

“Alright, I’ll pretend to believe you and play along though I might be walking into a trap. Take me to her then.”

The fairy pouted at Elyse and then led the way. Sometimes Elyse had to jog to keep up. Thankfully, the fairy was understanding and if necessary let Elyse catch her breath if needed. After what felt like a few hours, they came up to a castle with unicorn ornaments around it. Elyse was shocked.

“Why are fairies in a castle?”

“Did you expect there were only the nature fairies?”

“You got a point.”

Walking into the castle, Elyse’s breath caught. It was magnificent to her. How could this be? Following Titania up the balustrade, she couldn’t understand why fairies needed a space this big, if Titania’s size was anything to go by.

Walking into a room, there was a throne and a fairy with royal regalia on sitting in it. He was a handsome man, clean shaven, blue eyes, light brown hair, and not physically fit but attractive nevertheless. Confusion shot through Elyse.

“I thought you said queen?” she asked Titania.

“You dummy. Titania is fairy queen. This is Prince Alvar, my son.”

“Whoa. You didn’t bring me to marry your son or something have you?”

“Oh dear. Human myths are so out of whack. It poisons you readers who don’t know the truth. You don’t have to marry him unless you two want to do so in the future.”

Elyse breathed a sigh of relief. Still, what was she doing here? This was not making any sense.

Prince Alvar got up and walked towards Elyse. He smiled at her, a genuine warm smile and Elyse blushed.

“My mother wants us to work together on a quest,” he explained.

“Umm, not really sure how much help I can be, but okay.”

“We have been cursed by an ancient wizard and only a human can help us.”

“You chose me? Quite an odd choice.”

“You are smarter than you realize,” Alvar said and placed a hand on the side of Elyse’s face.

Elyse wanted to back away. Her instincts were telling her to run, but she couldn’t. Something stirred in her from his touch and she wasn’t sure what.

“What do you need?”

“There is an ancient book to the north of here. If you can bring it back to us, we can use it to lift our curse. Only human hands can touch it. Will you help us?”

“What’s the curse? This city is beautiful and your people are friendly. I don’t get it.”

“We no longer speak the same languages. They speak a dead language no longer known. My mother is trapped in a pint size body and my strength is sapping every day. We need you.”

“Um, I’m fat if you haven’t noticed.”

“So, what? This journey will help with that.”

“What’s in it for me?”

“We will help you have a new life, where you will be respected, admired, encouraged, and loved by all.”

“Done deal.”

Elyse figured she had just done something stupid but what was the alternative? Going back to a life where she was despised or saving fairies? Heck, with a choice like that it was easy to see which one was more attractive.

Titania had shown Elyse some garments she could wear. Elyse, now dressed in breeches, and a jerkin, along with rawhide leather boots, felt like she should carry a sword, though she didn’t know how to use one.

“Take this with you and good luck.”

“Thanks, I think,” Elyse said and picked up what looked like a pocket watch.

“Don’t open it,” Titania warned and Elyse stopped fingering it. “When it is time to use it, you will know.”

“That’s vague but I guess I’ll get started on this quest now.”

 

(To Be Continued Next Week)

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