Jenna looked longingly after a Faerie Acara as it went gliding
by. Her own lush blue fur, which she brushed carefully every morning, looked rather
dull compared to the painted pet's bright beautiful colors. It was the wings that
really made her heart leap however. Think of the tricks she'd be able to do with
Desperately, and for the third time that week,
Jenna turned to her grandmother with pleading eyes. But the stout red Xweetok
seemed to have already guessed what she was thinking, "If you're going to beg
for a paintbrush again, then save your breath, Jenna," she said in exasperation.
"Honestly, how many times do I have to tell you that we can't afford one?"
She began rummaging through faerie foods again,
in search for a treat for the party that night. Grandmother Rosy loved parties,
especially since she rarely had the chance to host one. Jenna kept at her plight
all the same. "But I already promised you that I would pay half of it," then
after a moment, "Or at least one fourth of it, please?"
Her grandmother looked down upon the small Xweetok
kindly, trying to keep her voice gentle and reassuring. "Unless some miracle
happened, dear, all our savings together couldn't buy what you want. I know
you really want to be painted, but it's not about to happen right now," and
with that, the subject was closed.
The two Xweetoks lived in a quaint apartment
near the edge of Faerieland. The only advantage of this to Jenna was that when
the festivity parades passed by it was always in view of her window. Other than
that, they were very far away from most of her friends and the smell was awful.
Old ladies lived in the rooms downstairs, and they always wore perfume that
resembled the odor of diaper wipes. They all loved Jenna, but that wasn't much
of an advantage. They were always asking to help her in everything she did,
and continually wanting to hear how her day was. "Fine," wasn't a satisfactory
answer for them. Every time she answered one of their questions, a new one would
pop up, often a quite silly one.
Her favorite thing to do was explore the wide
expanse of Faerieland, maybe get a chance to reach Fyora's Palace! But only
royal members and faeries could get in free. Jenna had once been inside the
courtyard, but that was only for the five minutes she'd been given to retrieve
her kite. Nonetheless it had been fascinating to get a closer look.
After helping her grandmother unload groceries,
and hurriedly dodging Mrs. Bucket and Mrs. Bender in the hallway, Jenna tramped
along the city square, still dreaming about the faerie paintbrush. She was just
thinking she would take a stroll to the Healing Springs, when a paw touched
Jumping a bit, she turned to see an old Aisha
cloaked in rags. Her limp gray hair fell all over her face, though glinting
red eyes could still be seen through it. She was by far the most hideous creature
that Jenna had ever met. Shuddering she took a step back, eyeing the stranger
The stranger however shook her head and held
out a paw imploringly, "Please little missy, I mean you no harm. It's just
I couldn't help but overhear your wish for a bit of painting back there."
Jenna's bright blue eyes widened in curiosity,
"You… you mean you know how I could get one?" she asked incredulously. Hope
soared through her, and she forgot her fear as she came eagerly closer to the
The stranger smiled slyly, showing yellow teeth.
"I need a bit of money to get me going," she stated.
Jenna hastily opened her bag and counted out
10 neopoints; it was all she had. "Here," she urged, pushing the money into
the Aisha's outstretched paw, "Now tell me how I can get it!"
The Aisha was counting the money, which she soon
put somewhere in her filthy cloak. Then she took Jenna's paw in hers, "I'll
show you," she whispered.
And with that they were off running down the
alley, keeping to the shadows with every step.
Jenna couldn't help but notice that her companion
was leading her farther and farther from the city, until the tiles beneath all
but disappeared and they were walking through dense dark cloud. "Almost there!"
panted the stranger.
Suddenly, Jenna realized she'd forgotten to ask
an important question, "What's your name?" she panted, as their pace slowed
to a stop.
"Just call me Sprite," the stranger answered,
and then she dashed off again, dragging Jenna through a long tunnel of swirling
Finally she halted under a shadow. Jenna looked
up to see a vaguely familiar fortress.
They had halted at the foot of Jhudora's Cloud.
Jenna shivered uncontrollably. Her grandmother
had warned her of this place, told all sorts of haunting stories about it. Jenna
didn't really believe those stories now, but Jhudora's Cloud still visited her
nightmares at night.
"Grandmother told me not to visit this place,"
she hinted as she started to back away.
Sprite tugged on her, however. "Your grandmother
doesn't know Jhudora like I do," she countered. "Now come along, she'll get
you what you want. That is," and she gave a sly smile yet again, "she will once
you've done something for her in return."
Jenna still hesitated, but a wonderful picture
of her as a Faerie Xweetok pushed itself into her mind, and she was encouraged.
Nothing was going to stop her dream now, not when she was this close.
"That's it, dearie," her escort breathed softly
as the two walked up the steps.
* * * *
BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!
The door knocker echoed its loud knocks all throughout
the cloud. At first nothing happened, then the doors burst inward, shooting
out a spurt of dark purple smoke in the process. Jenna was forced into a fit
of coughing, but Sprite simply walked through as if it were mist.
After a minute of passing corridors they reached
a richly ornamented door, which seemed to lead into a greater chamber. Here
Sprite paused as if to think, then she put a finger to her lips and whispered,
"Wait here, little one, and stay quiet. I'll be back." Then she opened the door
with a creak and slipped inside, closing it firmly behind her.
For some reason Jenna felt that she very much
wanted to know what Sprite was up to, yet the thought of following her sent
a shiver up her spine. Instead she obediently stood just outside the door, waiting.
Suddenly a glint caught her eye and distracted,
she glanced around. There it was, an open door at the end of the hall. Something
was shining through it.
Still knowing of her orders, Jenna let her curiosity
get the better of her. Creeping silently down the hall, she stopped just in
front of the small opening and peaked in.
It was a wondrous sight that met her eyes.
Pile upon pile of trinkets littered the floor
of an enormous chamber. Each thing, whether goblet or necklace, or amulet or
platter or anything metal, had a single black jewel somewhere encrusted upon
it. But the thing that really stood out, was the staff leaning against the wall.
It had an orb placed at its tip, which was full of dark purple smoke.
"Jhudora's hoard," Jenna breathed, quite dumbstruck.
Everything that Jhudora had been collecting was being stashed right here. Even
her staff was among it all.
Carefully, after glancing around to make sure
Sprite wasn't back, Jenna knelt and picked up a goblet to keep. Somehow she
felt that Queen Fyora would be interested in this.
Then she heard an ominous sound; footsteps.
So hurriedly that she nearly stumbled, Jenna
thrust the goblet into her bag and shut the door to the chamber. Then she ran
down the hall to the huge double doors she'd recently left. That was a mistake.
She was three feet away from the doors when,
just like the front gates, they burst open in a cloud of purple smoke. Sent
back by the force, Jenna looked up just in time to see a shadow slowly stride
through the doorway. It wasn't Sprite.
Jhudora's cruel laughter froze Jenna on the spot.
Then the dark faerie's face appeared through the purple haze, "Well, well,"
she chuckled, "You're just in time. I need assistance at once! Come with me,"
then she turned back for her chamber.
Jenna scrambled up shaking. But frightened of
what Jhudora might do if she weren't obeyed, she scrambled in just as the doors
banged shut behind her. She was careful to keep the goblet safely out of sight.
The first thing Jenna saw as she entered was
Sprite, sitting luxuriously on some cushions in a corner. Jhudora shot her a
glare before resting upon her dark throne to face Jenna.
"Now I am quite sure I know why you're here,"
she started. "I'm feeling generous today since you did after all come here under
Sprite's advice. So what is your request, little one?"
Jhudora is a bit nicer than I thought,
Jenna considered. But the memory of the hoard haunted her thoughts, and she
decided not to dig into it. Trembling slightly, she told Jhudora why she had
come. "I've always dreamed of becoming faerie," she expressed, "and I feel that
you're the only one who can help."
In truth, Jenna didn't believe this. But flattery
was always the key with Jhudora.
Jhudora, for her part smiled slightly. "Really,"
she pondered. "That is quite a dream. I believe we can work something out, darling."
"Really!?" Jenna asked excitedly.
"Indeed," Jhudora reassured with a sly smile,
not unlike Sprite's. "But first you will have to do a quick errand for me. Don't
be frightened, it's not hard."
But Jenna's happiness was slowly ebbing, "I…I
don't have any money," she replied quietly with her head down. "I had to pay
Sprite all I had so that she would lead me here."
Jhudora's reaction to this wasn't good for Sprite.
Instantly she stood up and turning to the Aisha pointed a long cruel finger
at Jenna while she spat, "Get up and empty your pockets for my guest, now!"
She continued to glare at Sprite as the Aisha
sulkily got up and took out a soiled bag which she threw in Jenna's direction.
Despite her effort to catch it, Jenna let the bag spill out at her feet. Over
two thousand neopoints skidded across the floor in all directions.
"Some beggar you are, Sprite," Jhudora remarked
sarcastically as Jenna began to clean up the mess.
Once Jenna had the load in her paws, Jhudora
set down again and began talking once more, "Now that you have the money, you
can make a trip to a battle shop and get me this amulet."
She lifted her hands and performed a motion which
set off a cloud of smoke. It swirled into a circle, showing a wavering image
of an amulet with a jet black stone in its middle.
"The Amulet of Darkness," Jenna replied, recognizing
the battle item at once. It was very popular at Aethia's Battle Magic.
"Correct," Jhudora commented, and the image vanished,
"Get this item for me, and I will grant you your wish," she promised, eyes flashing.
Jenna began to back away, feeling that she'd
better start searching now. She was at the doors and exiting, when Sprite had
her last word, "Better hurry!" she cried harshly, "Jhudora's not one to be patient!"
* * * *
It didn't take Jenna long before she reached
the city center, where she stopped to rest. Aethia's shop was near the north
border, upon a cloud behind the palace. Hoping she had enough money, Jenna headed
for it and was there in ten minutes.
Aethia was a kind faerie who took the trouble
to get to know her customers. She was sorting the sword rack when Jenna came
in, "Hello Jen," she greeted her. "You here to buy or sell?"
Jenna's father had made plenty of battle weapons
before he died. Although he was long gone, Aethia always asked about selling
just in case. Jenna smiled at her friend and put the money bag on the table.
"I'm here to buy," she answered. "I'm on a quest!"
"For who?" Aethia asked, almost suspiciously.
Of course, it's never good to tell about doing
a quest for Jhudora, so Jenna shrugged the question off. "I need the Amulet
of Darkness, for a friend," she explained.
Still giving her friend a strange look, Aethia
went back and soon retrieved the amulet, "2500 neopoints," she stated, "It's
usually a lot more expensive but for you I'll make it cheap."
Jenna hesitated a moment, not sure that she wanted
to go through with it. Was Jhudora's word really worth this? And what about
Suddenly, Jenna felt that she had to go and see
Fyora then and there. That hoard she'd seen shouldn't be considered a second
matter. She was about to tell Aethia that she'd changed her mind, when a horribly
familiar voice slurred, "Something else you plan getting, dearie?"
It was Sprite popping her head in the doorway,
looking menacing even through her yellow smile. Aethia took one look at her
and turned away with a frown. Jenna meanwhile grew pale, and answered meekly,
"Then come on; she is waiting," the Aisha hissed
Without looking at her faerie friend, Jenna emptied
the bag's contents on the store counter and took the amulet, "Keep the change,"
she muttered as she left with Sprite.
Sprite seemed to be very eager to reach Jhudora's
on the way back. "Come on," she urged Jenna, reaching for her arm. But Jenna
hung back, now quite certain that she didn't want to go on with this. Her faerie
dream seemed long gone now, almost childish. She began to back away from Sprite.
"I'm keeping it," she decided, "Jhudora will just have to ask someone else."
Sprite stopped dead where she was, halfway down
the alleyway. She stared at Jenna with utmost fury, then tried to force a smile
on her hideous face, "I know you're frightened but Jhudora will reward you,"
she coaxed. "Remember your dream?"
"I remember it," Jenna agreed. "It's not worth
going to a dark faerie for!" A surge of defiance began flowing through
her, "I can't believe I went with you in the first place!" she shouted, clenching
the amulet more tightly in her fist. "I'll never go back!"
"Stupid girl!" Sprite screamed, red with rage,
"Think of your foolishness! You could have had your dream! And I'm not going
to lose mine over a fool like you!"
She lunged toward the Xweetok, but Jenna was
too quick. Dodging by a hair she leaped past Sprite and darted down the alleyway
towards the market square. Sprite wasn't far behind. Jenna could hear her crashing
through shops as she herself nimbly wove through them. Frantically she slid
through two Nimmos carrying fruit crates. Well she did--but her bag didn't!
There was a ripping sound as the bag slipped
free of her grasp and all her things fell out.
As well did the goblet.
Time seemed to slow as Sprite came into view
and she stared at Jenna sprawled on the ground, with the black-jeweled goblet
spinning at her feet. The Aisha stood dumbstruck for a moment, then a look of
unmistakable hate contorted her face.
"You, you…YOU WRETCHED LITTLE THIEF!!!" she screeched.
Jenna could only cringe in terror, as the Aisha's
claws shot out. They grabbed hold of the Jenna's wrist and twisted hard, pulling
the Xweetok out of the market as well. Sprite leaned down to pick up the dropped
goblet, hissing in Jenna's ear as she did so, "I'll drag you back to the fortress
if I have to, and then Jhudora can deal with you as she pleases there!"
Jenna blinked back tears of pain, as the wonderful
faerie sky began to swim in and out of focus. Would she ever see it again?
A zooming shape flashed past Jenna's vision,
and then Sprite's grasp was gone. Sprawled on her back moaning a few blocks
away from the market, Jenna opened her eyes just in time to see her old friend
Aethia send Sprite skidding across the cloud into a building wall with a crash.
"Aethia," Jenna breathed, relaxing despite the
pain. Her wrist felt as though it were on fire. The battle faerie came running
toward her, and was soon kneeling by her side.
"Are you okay," she asked anxiously.
"Well, except for my wrist I think I'm fine,"
Jenna reassured faintly. Then she remembered the goblet, "Where's that goblet?
Do you see it?"
"Here it is," Aethia said, picking it up as she
spoke. "Where did you get it?"
Sighing with relief, Jenna sat up and took it.
"I need to see the faerie queen," she explained hurriedly. "It's about Jhudora,
I found out something about her."
Aethia helped her up and then conjured a stretcher
out of thin air and placed the unconscious Sprite upon it, "I believe Fyora
would like to see this treacherous creature as well," she remarked darkly.
Jenna gave her a curious look, "How did you
know when to come to my rescue?" she asked wonderingly.
"Just a hunch," Aethia replied as the two walked
along, "I felt uneasy about you in the shop and wasn't reassured when that Aisha
showed up. So I followed you two just to make sure. Rather good thing I did,
Jenna agreed with a nod. She felt much better
at the thought of seeing Fyora about all she'd been through. She also felt a
bit ashamed though, about having been so stupid in trusting Sprite in the first
Suddenly Jenna stopped and looked at the amulet
clutched in her uninjured wrist. Fyora wouldn't need two examples of what she'd
"Would you excuse me for a moment?" she asked
Aethia, "I know it's worth something, but I feel we're better off without this
And to Aethia's mild amusement, Jenna walked
to the nearby border of Faerie Land and flung the amulet with her all might
into the air where it plummeted, forever falling, off the edge of the cloud.
* * * *
Jenna's plan, however, didn't go as nicely as
the faeries would've liked. Jhudora had somehow gotten word that her hoard had
been discovered. So when several faerie patrols arrived to investigate, they
found the chamber quite devoid of trinkets.
Jenna was rewarded all the same for her bravery
and daring. Her delight was beyond comprehension when Fyora kindly presented
her with a faerie paint brush! She had learned her lesson of course, which her
grandmother constantly reminded her of. ("And to think I thought you knew about
talking to strangers!")
Sprite was tried and punished for her treachery
by banishment to the Meridell dungeons below. Jenna could never have been gladder
to hear of this, though she knew Sprite would haunt her dreams for some time.
The apartment residents were all eager to hear
of Jenna's adventure, and though Jenna had the task of telling her tale over
and over again, perhaps getting wilder each time, she couldn't help but enjoy