There are ants in my Lucky Green Boots Circulation: 137,350,242 Issue: 277 | 2nd day of Awakening, Y9
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Good Queen Iffizzstari


by kikiscamps_mom

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Back in the days when Neopia was young, the Buzz weren’t the Buzz we know today. Shining carapace armor covered their bodies, yes---but their faces were skin as soft as thistledown, with a mouth and nose like yours or mine.

     Their youthful queen, Iffizzstari, ruled their nation with a gentleness seldom seen, and all Buzz loved her greatly. Though their lands and peoples were small, the Buzz prospered with well-tended crops and fair trading. The golden honeyed days slid by in one long blur of peace, and all Buzz knew that it was the just and kindly rule of Iffizzstari which made the joy in their lives possible.

     From her hidden cave, the Darkest Faerie looked upon the world with her scrying crystal... and when the Buzz caught her eye, she studied them with both avarice and disgust. These... creatures... are much too bright and happy, she thought. They need... instruction, and she smiled evilly.

     On Midsummer’s Night, the young queen stood upon her highest tower, watching the stars blossom in the balmy sapphire sky. Below her people reveled with bonfires and feasting; above all was quiet and peaceful.

     Then a chill breeze trickled over the queen, and she shivered. As she turned to descend the stairs, a bolt of black lightning struck within the room... and as her vision cleared, Iffizzstari saw a beautiful faerie standing before her. “I have seen your greatness,” the faerie said in a honeyed hiss, “and I have also seen the tiny land which you rule: a land far too small for one such as yourself, Your Majesty. I would offer to you greatness and glory never before seen in Neopia, and riches beyond your wildest dreams.” The wicked creature smiled in beguilement, and made her voice its sweetest. “All you need to do is take me as your Chief Advisor, and all of this can be yours.”

     Iffizzstari consulted the wisdom within her heart, learned from many years of studying history, and also from observing people’s interactions. She already knew that the offer must contain a hidden poison---for the Queen knew covetousness when she saw it---but in those young days of the world, few had yet encountered the Darkest Faerie, and there were no cautions written about her. “And what would be the kind of advice you would give to me, as my Advisor?” Iffizzstari sparred, trying to divine this creature’s full intent.

     “Oh... all sorts of things,” the faerie replied gaily. “The lands around yours contain much wealth, and many peoples who could be your humble servants. They are constantly squabbling with one another over petty issues, and surely don’t deserve the gold and gems they have!” Her voice took on a sly tone. “And I’m sure their bickering and battles makes your heart sore, you the Queen of a peaceful, ordered nation---wouldn’t you like to extend that order to your neighbors? Don’t you owe it to their peoples? Isn’t it your duty to do so?”

     Iffizzstari felt the enchantment in the creature’s voice, tempting her to see the twisted logic as right and good. With an effort, she shook off the power, and faced the faerie with as much composure as she could gather. Her only fear, which she tried not to show, was what this creature might do to her people if rejected... but she knew accepting the offer would be even worse for the Buzz she loved. “You offer order and riches... but within the velvet glove of your words, I see the iron hand of war, violence, and death. I would never take one such as you as an Advisor! Get you gone, foul faerie, back to whence you came!”

     The Darkest Faerie drew back and stood in silent stillness. After a moment, her eyes gleamed red from within her hood. “So be it,” she hissed, and anger contorted her features to ugliness. “However... I will leave you with a gift: a little reminder of the price for speaking so boldly to your betters.” Her nimble hands traced swift patterns in the air, which swirled with a nauseating yellowy green fire. “Fiat!” she cried, and the energies darted to the young queen, enveloping her head---and Iffizzstari screamed, falling to the floor. “Fool!” the faerie hissed, “Enjoy the gift and the pain it brings! Let us see you ‘govern’ your people when you cannot speak!” and she vanished within a crackling dark split of the air.

     The queen’s maids ran into the chamber, rushing to her side and lifting her from the flagstones. “Your Majesty, are you all right?” they exclaimed... and then gasped in horror as Iffizzstari raised her lovely face and looked at them with sad eyes. A cruel muzzle enveloped the queen’s soft features: a bond with no fasteners, and made of some unknown bluish metal. Wicked spikes adorned it, prodding the queen’s skin in places, almost to the breaking point. “Who has done this?” they sobbed, hugging their young ruler... but Iffizzstari couldn’t answer. The queen’s tears mingled with that of her handmaidens, and as the word spread, the entire nation fell into mourning.

     But for all her gentleness, Iffizzstari held stern resolve within her. As the days passed, she found that she could make a buzzing sound through the muzzle, and could sip liquid food via a straw placed through one of its air holes. Artisans from all over the kingdom tried to break the muzzle, to no avail---and at last Iffizzstari ordered them to stop.

     Oh yes, by that time she could speak, our inventive and clever young queen. Once she found that she could make a sound through her entrapment, Iffizzstari experimented with different lengths and pitches of buzzing. Over time, she and her staff invented a language from the sounds, writing out meanings for each tone... and before long, the entire nation had learned it. By the time a year had passed, the queen was carrying on her business as usual... but the one thing she never told anyone was just how much the muzzle chafed and hurt. She saw the pain in the eyes of her people, every time they looked upon her burden... and she refused to add to that by admitting her own physical pain.

     As time passed, the story of what had happened to Iffizzstari spread far and wide... and one day, it came to the ears of Queen Fyora. “How dreadful!” she gasped... and her face firmed with resolve. “Such a good ruler, and good person, should not have to bear something so hideous. We will do something about that,” and she retired to her magical archives, searching for an answer to the evil spell.

     And so it was that on Midsummer’s Night, two years after the curse was placed, Iffizzstari had another visitor: Queen Fyora and her Court of Light. They found the young ruler within the main hall, finishing the last of her duties before the feasting. As the soft glow dissipated and the faeries were revealed in all their beauty, the entire court gasped in awe.

     Fyora smiled kindly and approached the young queen. “I heard of your plight, and have spent many long days researching its cure. The only one I could find is a bit of a problem for me... but you should not let that concern you.”

     “A problem? What problem?” Iffizzstari buzzed, and her translators conveyed the message.

     “Well...” Fyora paused. “The only way to lift the curse is if I take it upon myself. Perhaps in time my own mages may find a way to remove it from me. In the meantime, you’ve borne it long enough... and I can manage.”

     “NO!” Iffizzstari buzzed loudly, waving her hands frantically. “I cannot let you do that!” As her translators relayed her words, Iffizzstari thought furiously, and then she continued: “It would be enough, Great Queen, if you could simply alter the muzzle so that it causes me no pain. I have not told anyone before now---but the muzzle chafes and pricks with my every movement.”

     The Faerie Queen drew back in thought, and consulted quietly with her mages; then she turned back to Iffizzstari. “This much I can do: altering the curse is much simpler than removing it. However... as in all magic, there will be a price.”

     Iffizzstari tensed, as memories of her last encounter with magical prices ghosted up from her mind’s recesses. Fyora smiled sadly, and placed a comforting hand on the young queen’s shoulder. “I can not help it that magic works this way; it is in the nature of things. You may find the price too high: that decision is up to you.” She sighed and continued, “I can change the muzzle... but in doing so, it will become a part of you, and will alter your appearance permanently. You will be able to open your mouth, speak and eat normally... and you will no longer feel pain... but there is no denying that you will lose your beauty forever.”

     Giving a chuckling buzz, Iffizzstari replied, “My true beauty has always come from within; I care not what I look like on the outside, so long as I may find relief from the pain, and live my life normally.”

     Fyora bowed her head, saying, “As you wish, Good Queen Iffizzstari,” and raised her scepter.

     “Wait!” cried the Chief Advisor, and Fyora lowered her arms. “We would be an ill people indeed to let our Queen bear this burden alone, and to enjoy something she cannot have. Great Fyora, a boon we would ask, for all our peoples: extend your magic across the realm, so that all Buzz may appear as our Queen does.”

     “No!” Iffizzstari buzzed, but her Advisor remained adamant... and after a moment, every Buzz in the room, courtly and commoner and servant alike, stepped forward to stand behind the Chief Advisor.

     “Is this what you truly wish?” Fyora asked, surveying their unity.

     “It is,” they all replied with one voice.

     “Very well then,” she said, and raised her scepter once again. Lavender light misted forth from its glowing orb, covering first Iffizzstari, and then the Buzz in the room... then it flowed softly from the windows to drift throughout the kingdom.

     When the mist faded, Fyora and her court were gone. All eyes were on Iffizzstari as she approached a mirror, and the hush in the room was profound. She raised her head and looked upon her reflection: where the cruel muzzle had been, a shining blue carapace now covered her tender skin. Experimentally she opened her mouth and stretched her jaws, then turned to her people with a wide smile of relief. “Oh, this feels good!” she exclaimed, and the entire court burst into laughter, cheering, and joyous tears.

     As the people took turns before the mirror to view their new appearance, Iffizzstari’s chief handmaiden approached her. “Your Majesty... I don’t know why Queen Fyora was so concerned---I think you look beautiful!

     Iffizzstari smiled, and hugged her maid. “Yes, my dear---I think we all do.”

     And thus it was that the Buzz took on the appearance they still bear today. Though they can speak the common language of Neopia, every Buzz still learns Iffizzstari’s buzzing tongue from their cradle, in honor of the good queen... and on every Midsummer’s Night, every Buzz in Neopia looks up to the constellation named after their beloved queen from long ago, and remembers her courage.

The End

 
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