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Week 384
You are on Week 385
Week 386

Every week we will be starting a new Story Telling competition - with great prizes! The current prize is 2000 NP, plus a rare item!!! This is how it works...

We start a story and you have to write the next few paragraphs. We will select the best submissions every day and put it on the site, and then you have to write the next one, all the way until the story finishes. Got it? Well, submit your paragraphs below!

Story Three Hundred Eighty Five Ends Friday, September 26

"Hey, Taira! Are you ready to go to the Faerie Festival?" Annad asked, poking her head into her friend's Neohome. Taira was nowhere to be seen, so the Bori went inside, closing the front door behind her, still calling for her friend.

"Taira! Where are you? We had plans! Hello?!" There was no answer. Annad wandered through the house until she came to the back door, which was slightly ajar. From the back garden, she could hear some faint clinking noises, like glasses tapping against each other. Slowly, the Bori crept to the door and peeked outside.

There, among the Starflowers and Purple Poppies, sat Taira, surrounded by a pile of empty glass bottles. The Eyrie was wearing a huge overcoat, which was several sizes too big for her, and she seemed to be trying to attach the bottles to the coat's lining.

"Taira! What are you doing?" Annad cried, stepping into the garden, her paws on her hips.

The Eyrie jumped as if startled and dropped one of the bottles, which shattered on the paving stones below. "Annad! I, um, wasn't expecting you so soon..."

"What are you doing with all those glass bottles?" Annad smirked. "Do you plan to give Balthazar some competition in the faerie-trapping trade?"

She'd been joking, but Taira blushed deeply and said, "Yes, actually. And what better place to start my business than at the Faerie Festival?"...

Author: Business is business
Date: Sep 22nd
Annad's amusement fell away, and she took a step back, aghast. "What? Taira, you can't!"

Taira jerked her chin up. "Why not?"

"It's--it's just wrong! They're living beings!"

"Don't give me that!" Taira clashed her beak. "You've bought bottled faeries before yourself, so you haven't got a leg to stand on!"

"But I let them go," Annad said. "I bought them to let them go!"

"So you could get their blessings," Taira said. "Right?"

"Well--" It had seemed so different when they were already in bottles, compared to the idea of trapping them when they were flitting free in all their bright colours.

"Have you let them all go?"

"Of course!" Or had she? Annad hesitated, seeming to recall a bottled faerie or two that might have been tucked away in dusty corners, or her Safety Deposit Box. "I--"

Taira pounced on the hint of guilt in her voice. "So you haven't got any room to criticise me."

Annad bit her lip. "Well, maybe I don't," she said, "but I still can't let you do it."

The Eyrie looked at her incredulously. "Just because you're having some irrational attack of conscience, you think you're so much better than me? You think you have the right to interfere?" Defiantly, she picked up another bottle and started hooking it into her coat.

"You're planning to interfere with somebody else!" Annad said, stepping forward. Of all the nerve! "Of course, I might not have to. You can't even get your bottles attached to your coat, and I'm pretty sure somebody would notice you're wandering around swamped in a coat that clinks like glass! Do you even know how to get a faerie into a bottle?"

"Of course I do," Taira said, tossing her head. As Annad got closer, Taira hopped lightly over her array of bottles, landing with her wings spread to block the Bori's approach.

Annad wasn't sure what happened after that. Still angry about having her concerns dismissed as an effort to control her friend, she snatched at the bottle Taira was holding. Taira jerked away. Annad's claws scraped the smooth curve of glass, scratching out a tiny shrill scream, and then there was a flash of darkness. Vertigo seized her; the bridge of her nose felt funny; and she fell over hard.

Annad rocked for a moment on her armour-plated back before managing to roll all the way over and get to her feet. Something was wrong. Her vision had gone... not quite blurry, as her own hands were quite clear, but everything beyond them was distorted into weird curved globs. The ground was hard and slippery, rounded, and her claws scrabbled on it with a faint shrieking noise that finally snapped her back to her senses and made sense of her predicament.

She was inside the bottle.

"Taira!" she screamed. Her voice echoed around her until she hunched up and put her hands over her ears. "Let me out!"

There was a huge, muffled noise, and she fell over and slid this way and that as the ground -- the bottle -- lurched underneath her. She saw something like a huge eye, and then there was a deafening POP and Taira's voice was suddenly much clearer. "Annad? Annad! I didn't mean--"

Annad wasn't listening, particularly. She was trying and failing to climb up the curving side of the bottle...

Author: schefflera
Date: Sep 22nd
Taira bit her lip, watching her miniaturised friend struggle to get out. Of course, she should tip the bottle over and allow the Bori to slide out, but... if she did that, wouldn't Annad get all over her case about bottled faeries again? Annad would try to stop her. That would never do.

"I'm sorry," she murmured -- it was deafening to the tiny Bori's ears -- and there was a dull thud as she slid the cork back into the bottle neck.

Annad gasped in outrage, then winced as the cacophony of her echoes bounced around inside the bottle. "You can't do this!" she shouted in a small, pathetic voice. She beat her fists against the glass wall of her prison, hoping, trying, all in vain. Tears pricked at the edge of her eyes. She couldn't believe this. "Taira, I thought you were my friend!"

The Eyrie took in a shallow breath. She hadn't wanted it to be this way, but... but... but that was just how it had to be. There was no other way. Taira picked up the bottle containing her friend and slipped it into one of the large pockets of her over-sized coat. Annad's little protesting voice was instantly muffled and lost. Good. Now she could go about her business.

Inside the pocket, Annad felt like she was going to be sick. Every twitch, jolt, step, bump -- every movement Taira made felt magnified. The Bori smacked hard against the curved, slippery smooth surface of the bottle. It hurt almost as much as the fact that Taira hadn't let her out.

But maybe Taira was going to. Maybe the Eyrie was going to find someone who could get Annad out and restore her to her original size. Yes, maybe that was it. Maybe Taira was still her friend, still good after all. Maybe she'd learned her lesson, maybe... maybe...

Outside of the pocket, Taira strode purposefully down Faerieland's pink cloud paved streets. She turned, peeling away from the general crowd headed to the Faerie Festival. Yes, she would go there, but not now. Eventually. There was something else she had to do first. A hard little knot inside of her that needed to be untangled, a smouldering fuse that needed to be put out.

Taira turned, away from the Faerie Festival, away from the center of Faerie City, out onto the edges of Faerieland.

Annad felt a sharp jolt as the Eyrie stopped before the Healing Springs with revenge in her eyes...

Author: mithril_mithrandir
Date: Sep 23rd
The coat flapped in the light wind, and for one second, Annad could see everything before her.

Clouds. Light. Up ahead, a glorious, bubbling spring.

A fleeting hope that Taira was going to ask the Healing Faerie for help soared high in Annad's chest before crashing down again, leaving the Bori feeling even more ill.

Because why would the Eyrie confess to the Healing Faerie that she was becoming a faerie hunter? Once upon a time, Taira would have done anything to save her friend, including turning herself in. But now... Annad shivered, although the air inside the smooth planes of the vial was warm. Something inside Taira had changed -- some warm, friendly piece of her heart had turned as hard and icy as steel.

And then there was the look on Taira's face.

A memory was thrown into perfect clarity before Annad's eyes -- the time Taira's little brother, Kaize, had fallen ill with a bad case of Neoflu. And every day, Taira would come home, face filled with rage, her sneezing, miserable sibling in tow, ranting about how the Healing Faerie had only healed him a little, or placed a Poisonous Snowball in his paw... and Kaize only cried harder and harder as his condition continued to deteriorate...

A tear rolled down Annad's cheek, splashing against the bottle. It had been horrible.

And now Taira was going to get an equally horrible revenge.

"Stop!" she shrieked in her pitifully small voice as Taira reached inside her coat for another bottle, but the Eyrie never heard her. She didn't even make eye contact, keeping her face low. Wincing at the echoes, the Bori curled into a ball and heaved a huge sob as darkness shrouded her once more.

Taira stepped forward until she was under a metre away, keeping her coat closed and her face even. No need to arouse any suspicion in that awful faerie before it was too late.

"Hello, young Neopet," the Healing Faerie said in her deceitfully soft, kind voice, shifting upon the rock where she sat. "Do you need a healing?"

"Actually," the Eyrie said, smiling with cruel satisfaction as she lifted the bottle. It sparkled coldly in the light. "I require a rather different kind service from you. Remember me?"

The Healing Faerie had barely any time to drop her jaw in horror before the coldly laughing Taira lunged forward, trapping her in the vial...

The faerie cried out, her voice as pitifully tiny as her body. Taira smiled, feeling the vindictive satisfaction of revenge thrumming through her veins.

"You owed me that. Now be a good faerie and I won't store you away in my Safety Deposit Box for all eternity."

"What are you doing?"

Taira's head jerked up. A faerie Kougra was starting toward her, his eyes horrified and furious.

"Are you mad?" he continued. "Set her free or I'll call the Faerie Queen down here!"

And then Taira realised her mistake. Yes, she'd gotten her revenge, but she'd done so in broad daylight, in front of a very large crowd...

Author: dianacat777
Date: Sep 23rd
"Uh..." Taira had no idea what to say.

Around her, whispers gathered and rushed around her like a river. She felt eyes staring at her, watching her.

She began to tremble.

The faerie Kougra took another step toward her. "If you let her go now, you might get off lucky. But you need to set her free." His hand tentatively reached out...

"No!"

Taira smacked it away. The hitting sound seemed to echo through the air. Everything became silent. All eyes were definitely on her now. From deep inside her pocket, Annad wondered what was going on. Despite everything Taira had done, she wanted her friend to be safe. If not for what she was now, but for what she used to be.

Taira backed away. "I-I c-can't. S-she needs too... I promised..." Her voice broke. Taira broke down with it. She did the only thing she could think of. She ran.

"Hey!" The Kougra called after her. Or at least she thought it was the Kougra. She didn't have time to look back. Her fingers curled around the bottle with the terrified Healing Springs Faerie, securing it with an iron grip.

She ran. She wasn't that good at running, but with her large overcoat there was no way she could fly. She heard shouts behind her. Shouts that were getting louder, closer...

Taira knew she couldn't run much farther. The Eyrie closed her eyes. "I... I'm sorry, Kaize. I tried. But..."

And that's when she tripped.

Taira screamed and threw her hands out in front of her to shield herself from the fall. She hit the ground hard but was unharmed.

She didn't realise until too late that while trying to save herself, she had lost something important.

"No!" she cried as she reached out, attempting to grasp the bottle even though she knew there was no way she could possibly retrieve it in time.

The bottle shone cyan as the Healing Springs faerie disappeared over the edge of the cloud.

But that wasn't the only thing that fell.

Taira's eyes locked with Annad's miniature ones as the Bori's glass prison -- pulled by momentum -- fell with the Healing Faerie's, over the cloud and down toward the endless blue ocean...

Author: reveirie
Date: Sep 24th
Taira ripped off the overcoat and tossed it aside as she dived after the two glass bottles. She went as fast as she could, both wings pressed close to help speed her fall.

Was going after them a hopeless cause? Should she go back now? Taira banished those thoughts. If she could see where they fell into the ocean she could still retrieve them relatively quickly.

A wave of guilt swept over her for having left Annad in the bottle. If she hadn't, none of this would have happened. But... her plan had been perfect. It had seemed like nothing could go wrong. Yet she had missed important details. How could she have thought Annad wouldn't find out? Or realised that there would be witnesses?

Taira saw the sun reflect off of one of the bottles and angled toward it. If she could just reach out far enough...

She missed.

The bottle plunged into the ocean and Taira soon followed suit. The impact brought purple spots into the Eyrie's vision, but she could still see her target. She reached out and grabbed it. She surfaced as quickly as possible and immediately pulled the cork out without thinking.

The Healing Faerie rose out of the bottle as Taira realised she had released the wrong creature...

Author: the_evilest_1
Date: Sep 24th
The Healing Faerie did not look happy.

"Wait!" Taira cried as the faerie made a quick gesture with her hands, but to no avail -- the seawater rose up, forming a bubble around the Eyrie before freezing into an impenetrable sphere of ice.

"NO! My friend is still out there! I have to help her!" Taira screamed at the top of her lungs as she pounded on the translucent walls of her prison. But the Healing Faerie either couldn't hear, didn't believe her, or just didn't care, for the ice remained perfectly solid.

"Nonononono... I have to get out of here and find Annad..."

Taira wished with all her heart that she had never started this foolish scheme of revenge. But then her brother's fever-flushed face flashed in her mind, and his weak, sickly voice replayed in her head: "M-maybe tomorrow? Maybe she'll make me better tomorrow..."

Too many days had passed until that "tomorrow" came. Taira's cause was surely just -- the timing had just been off.

And now the Healing Faerie had done her yet another wrong. She had doomed Annad, dear gentle Annad, to be lost at sea.

Panicked desperation gave way to a cool, hard determination.

"I'll melt my way out," Taira muttered to herself. "I'll find Annad, and then I'll recapture that blasted faerie!"

***

Annad screamed the entire way down.

The Bori was not afraid of heights. If she had been, she would not have chosen to live in Faerieland.

But she was deathly afraid of water, and now she was about to encounter a great deal of it.

The ocean loomed closer... closer... closer...

Annad closed her eyes right before the impact rattled the bottle.

When she opened them once more, she shuddered.

The bottle bobbed on the surface of a seemingly endless plane of water.

She saw Taira plunge into the water a short distance away, then surface with a bottle clutched in her paw.

She also saw the Healing Faerie, newly emerged from the bottle, imprison the Eyrie in a sphere of frozen water.

Annad really couldn't blame the faerie, but now who would be able to save her?

How long would she be left floating adrift before someone found her? Hours? Days?

The Bori shuddered once more before curling up into a ball.

However, only minutes passed before she felt someone taking hold of her bottle.

Annad looked up to see the face of a water faerie. For a fleeting moment, the Bori thought that the Healing Faerie had discovered her. But this faerie's face was hardened and cruel, while the Healing Faerie's face was gentle and kind.

The faerie who held the bottle was one of the Drenched...

Author: cookybananas324
Date: Sep 25th
"Oh, I'm doomed," thought Annad, as two other evil faces appeared to stare at her through the glass. The first of the Drenched turned to explain something to the others, and together they grinned, their eyes glinting, their fishtails curving, their hair coiling in the dimness.

Annad shut her eyes, expecting to be taken out of the bottle at any moment. She could almost feel their grasp already, the merciless clenching of those icy cold hands around her miniature body.

But it didn't come. Instead, the bottle started to move, and Annad opened her eyes to find herself being borne through the water. The fishtails dipped and flicked, the water parted, and everywhere there was darkness and dizziness.

Where were these corrupt water faeries taking her? What were they going to do to her? The Bori could only slump against the glass in desperation. Oh, if only Taira hadn't started this nonsense in the first place. She and Taira were supposed to be enjoying themselves in the Faerie Festival fair right now, watching sparkly magic shows, eating Faerieland goodies...

Wait. Faerie Festival. Weren't the Drenched considered faeries too, even if they were corrupt? Would they do something different on this special day?

Maybe there was hope after all.

*****

Taira flailed against the ice. Something flailed back.

Surprised, she stopped raging and peered through the ice. It appeared to be a fishtail. Had the Healing Faerie returned to let her out? Well, good, because she had had enough of punishment. It was the faerie's turn to be punished, that was for sure.

The something came again, slapping against the ice, and suddenly a powerful surge of magic came through, a force that threw Taira back... against water. She was free! Coughing and choking in surprise, flapping her damp wings in exhilaration, she rose above the water, free!

Or not quite. The magical force rose with her, and prevented her from going back up to Faerieland. She looked down in frustration, and saw a bottle, shimmering in the sun.

"Annad!" cried the Eyrie, reaching to take the bottle. "I thought I'd lost you!"

But she couldn't touch the bottle. She shifted her gaze to the hand holding the bottle, to the owner of the hand... and nearly fell back into the ocean. The Drenched. So many had fallen to the dark wrath of the Drenched! She had thought they were legend, she had thought they weren't real, but now she was looking right at these faces of evil.

One of the Drenched spoke.

"Take us to the Faerie Festival," she hissed. "We will not be left out. Smuggle us in this bottle with your friend, and when we get in, we will free her for you."

"And as if that offer is not enough," added another in a soft snicker, "we will help you get your revenge. Ally with us, young Eyrie, for we are power."

"No," whimpered Annad within the bottle, but Taira's eyes flashed, and her beak opened to form a "yes"...

Author: yoyote
Date: Sep 25th
Two of the Drenched snickered. "Very good," the one in front sneered. Taira threw a sad glance at Annad as she sat, fuming half-heartedly inside the clear bottle.

A member of the Drenched caught her gazing sadly at Annad and smiled. Taira caught her smile and growled. I know they're supposed to wish bad things on others, but this... she thought angrily.

"Now get us inside that bottle!" one of the Drenched shrieked, her voice high and shrill, piercing Taira's ears.

Taira complied, uncorking the bottle. In moments, the Drenched had been sucked into the glass container, their tiny hands and faces pressed against its side.

***

Annad shuddered as the Drenched came into the bottle, making it cramped.

"Move over, hag!" one ordered menacingly.

"No, you move over, you washed-up faerie!" another retorted angrily.

Will this never end? Annad thought as the three started to bicker and complain, their high, piercing voices hurting her ears.

Suddenly the jostling and movement stopped as Taira pulled the bottle out of the bag.

They were at the Faerie Festival...

Author: newmoon653
Date: Sep 26th
...but Taira didn't pull the cork, not yet.

Annad's knife-edge of alarm dulled, and she slumped down into despairing annoyance at the shrilling of the Drenched. She had forgotten to be afraid of what they might do at this point, at least to her personally; she didn't want them to get whatever revenge they were planning, but more immediately, she keenly and desperately wanted them to shut up.

*****

Taira stalked through the Faerie Festival, hardly seeing the bright colours or tasting the flavours carried on the air. There had to be a good place to let the Drenched out, preferably somewhere she could get Annad away from them safely. If she could find the Healing Springs Faerie again, if she even stopped by the festival, that would be best. The Drenched probably didn't like her much -- contrary to popular belief outside Faerieland, the bitterest rivalries were usually among the same magical type. On the other hand, she'd have to be fast, or she'd be recognised. Even now she was expecting at any moment to be...

...caught! A long-fingered hand closed on the base of her wing, and the fingernails that pricked into her back were like talons. The other hand came around to lie against the side of her face, turning her head toward its owner.

The poison-green haze of nails protruding in front of her eye, too close to focus on, gave away the identity of the faerie who'd caught her even before Taira, feeling sick to her stomach, looked up.

And up.

At Jhudora.

"What an interesting bottle you have there," the dark faerie purred. "And what an interesting face. I seem to recall a disturbance at my next-cloud neighbor's residence earlier today...." She trailed off invitingly.

"Was it interesting?" Taira said. Then she gulped as Jhudora's grip on her face tightened, and the sharp nails curved toward her eye. She couldn't seem to shut it; her gaze remained fixed on Jhudora's face, and she began to feel dizzy and rather ill.

"Most," Jhudora said. The faerie's other hand released the Eyrie's wing, reached down and wrapped around the bottle, tugged slightly, and Taira felt it slip from her grasp as if there were no strength in her hands at all.

Jhudora let go of her face then and stepped back slightly, glancing down at the bottle. Taira's energy came back then, and with it rage; she lunged forward, but Jhudora put up a hand. Taira's chest slammed into it, and she fell to the cloud-soft ground, trying to suck in an effective breath.

"Don't cross me," Jhudora said quietly. "At the Faerie Festival, I am not permitted to 'cause trouble' -- but I am authorised by Queen Fyora herself to do as I please to anyone who disrupts the festivities. And I am not as forgiving as the lady of the Healing Springs. Do you understand me?"

Taira swallowed hard and nodded. Jhudora reached down and lifted her without apparent effort to her feet. "Now, why don't I buy you some Beany Burpers, and you can tell me what exactly you thought you were doing with that coat full of bottles?" She raised the bottle with the Drenched and Annad in it and arched an eyebrow. "And how this happened? I do so love a good story."

Taira did not trust this new turn of events at all, but she didn't feel she had a lot of choice. She couldn't open the bottle without letting the Drenched out, and she couldn't defeat Jhudora if she couldn't get her into the bottle. Walking with Jhudora did have the benefit that nobody else wanted to look too hard at her. On the other hand, it also meant nobody was likely to look too hard at what Jhudora did....

Once she started talking, however, the whole story spilled out. Her brother's misery, her resentment of the Healing Springs Faerie's caprice, her scheme and how it went wrong, the blackmail of the Drenched.

Jhudora was a surprisingly good listener. She didn't sneer at all. At the end of the tale, she said mildly, "You do realise the Healing Springs magic is random by its nature. You certainly had some bad luck, but why didn't you buy some Neoflu Jelly Pills?"

"We couldn't afford them!"

"But you could afford a bunch of enchanted bottles? And a fun trip to the festival?"

Taira flushed angrily. "She's supposed to help Neopets! She's supposed to heal the sick!"

"And she does. Frequently. For free. I'd say you get what you pay for, except that with her, you usually get more than that -- even if it's not exactly what you wanted. She's certainly more generous than I've ever been inclined to be." Jhudora turned to Taira and tilted her head up to face her. "So listen to this, and listen well." Her voice dropped to a whisper. "I can restore Annad, if I choose. I can even give you the Jelly Pills for Kaize's Neoflu. But if I do, I will expect something in return."

"W-what?" Taira's voice was nearly inaudible.

"One service. Which I will not specify until I want it."

Taira recoiled. "How stupid do you think I am?"

Jhudora shrugged. "Well, you've given me a fair amount of information to go on. So you refuse?"

"Of course I--" Taira bit her tongue just in time. "Don't. But can I have some time to think about it?"

"Oh, certainly." Jhudora turned away.

"Hey!" Taira cried. "Give me my bottle back!"

Jhudora turned back and smiled. "Did I say I would do that? And are you sure you want to make a fuss... here... with everyone watching?"

Taira gulped. "I--I'll do what you want." This was getting worse and worse. She'd wanted to get her revenge on one faerie and start a business, but now she was in service first to the Drenched and now to Jhudora. But she couldn't just let Jhudora walk off with her friend!

"Oh, excellent." The dark faerie popped the cork.

Taira yelped, "Wait!" but it was too late. The Drenched swarmed out gleefully, flopping onto the ground with their fishy tails and stretching.

Jhudora shook her head at them. "You're under the same restrictions I am," she said. "Don't start any trouble. Other than that, you could have just sent Neomail and gotten a flight up." She made a shooing motion, then glanced up and gave them a not-very-nice smile, meeting each of their eyes in turn. "Just so you know, Fyora's more creative than you think."

She turned her attention back to the bottle and popped the cork. The neck of it sucked at her hand, drinking in pale pinkish-purple fumes, and then she threw it down hard at the ground. It smashed.

Annad popped back to full size, panting and wobbly. "Taira," she cried, "I can't believe you -- did you really promise --"

"Yes, she really promised," Jhudora said with a lazy smile. "And I'm going to hold her to it."

"I'm holding you to your side of the bargain too," Taira said, trying to brave it out. "What about my Neoflu Jelly Pills?"

Jhudora raised her eyebrows. "What about them?"

"You said you'd give them to me."

"Did I?"

"The favour was only in exchange for both! You had to make them both better!"

"So I will." Jhudora turned away. "After you fulfill your part of the bargain."

"Then tell me what you want me to do!"

"But I don't want you to do it yet."

"Jhudora," Annad blurted, "would you give her the cure now and let her off in exchange for me promising to do you two favours?"

"Annad, you c--" Taira hesitated and fell silent, not quite looking at the Bori.

Annad, feeling rather queasy herself, didn't look at Taira either. The Eyrie wasn't really going to stop her or protest. Annad wasn't looking forward to this, but Taira had made the promise in order to rescue her -- partly -- and Annad wanted Kaize healed too.

"Done," Jhudora said coolly. She threw the desired item into Taira's hands and folded her arms. "Now go away, Eyrie."

Taira shot one last agonised look at Annad and fled.

The Bori looked up at Jhudora, stomach churning. "Should I go too? Or am I supposed to wait around until you decide what to do with me?"

"That was very generous of you, Annad," the faerie murmured. "Walk with me."

"Is that one of the favours?" Annad said nervously.

The faerie laughed. "No. But you could consider it advice."

Annad hesitated, then followed her back toward the lone dark cloud.

Jhudora seemed to be fading slightly, which was unnerving. "You do realise, she'll be allowed to go home, but she's going to have to answer for the assault she committed after that. You're actually a much better bargain." She looked down. "Are you afraid of me?"

"Yes."

"Are you afraid of what I'll ask of you?"

"I'm afraid you'll tell me to commit treason against Queen Fyora, or worse yet, hurt some other poor Neopet. Um, or faerie. Or... or other creature."

"And yet you agreed to serve me?"

Annad slumped. "I didn't know what else to do."

"Mm. It was a generous thought." Jhudora, looking very lavender by this point, stopped and knocked on her own door.

While Annad was still puzzling over this, the door was opened from inside... by Jhudora. She looked up quickly to see the Faerie Queen standing beside her.

"You can come out now," Fyora said. "I'm done for the moment. Keep an eye out for the Drenched, will you?"

"What are those cold fish even doing here?" Jhudora stepped out without giving the gawping Bori a second glance. "What I hear is that I should be watching out for is bottles." Behind the door, something clinked.

"Oh, don't worry," Fyora said. "I think you should give me that coat you picked up, though. With all the corks in."

"What coat?"

"Jhudora."

With a sigh, the real Jhudora reached behind her door and handed over Taira's coat, still full of bottles. Fyora checked it carefully and then waved her onward.

At last, she turned back to the Bori. "Still worried?"

The gaze she met now was warm and uplifting, not sickening, even though Annad realised she was looking at the same faerie. "Only a little, ma'am," she said. "I didn't know you could look like other faeries." She swallowed. "What will happen to Taira? And Kaize?"

Fyora gazed out across the clouds of Faerieland. "Kaize will be fine. Taira, well... she didn't actually end up doing much harm. I can only hope she'll learn her lesson."

"Not to be vengeful?"

Fyora surprised her by laughing. "Or at least to employ a little common sense."

The End

Author: schefflera
Date: Sep 26th



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