Of Mops and Magic Dust
To the Authorities Which It May Concern,
I am writing on the behalf of that which I consider a misrepresentation of my culture. In most part, the elimination of certain aspects of it from any media, literature, or other forms of public appearance. This...
Shae frowned and chewed on the end of her pen thoughtfully. This was beginning to sound a little too formal for her tastes. She wanted to be heard, not yawned over. This... what? Obliteration? No, too dramatic. Ignorance, too condescending...
“Aaah! Where are words when I need them?!” She smacked her knee in frustration and glowered at the letter on the table as if it had caused her sudden lack of vocabulary. The paper simply lay there unremorsefully, and Shae sighed, putting her pen down as a clock on the mantle began beeping. She rolled her eyes and gave the desk one last scathing look before pushing her chair back to turn off the clock. Time to get ready for work.
Fifteen minutes later, she stood in front of her mirror to give a last glance at her attire before leaving. Absently, she straightened the worn maroon tank top before jamming one hand into the pocket of her baggy grey cargos which covered a pair of beat up sneakers. The other hand brushed a stray wisp of amber hair back behind her ear, then reached over to a peg on the wall for the last part of the ensemble; a tan fedora. Shae mused to herself as she gave a grudging smile to the reflection. At least she could express what she wore. The smile disappeared with a sigh, however, as she gave a halfhearted glance over her shoulder at the set of wings glimmering slightly at the light coming through the window. Time to come back to reality, she chided herself, and to go to work. With one last forlorn look at the letter still lying on the desk she turned and opened the door to greet the morning air. Just another day for Shae, janitor faerie.
The spotlessly clean streets and fresh coat of dusty pink paint may have impressed other onlookers in Faerie City, but were otherwise wasted on Shae, mostly due to the fact that she knew the people who cleaned them. Her friend Bren had the job of cleaning the Hidden Tower, always an irony. In moments of frustration she had the tendency of yelling at no one in particular, “It’s hidden! If nobody can see the outside, why does it need to be clean?”
A brief walk from her home brought Shae to her destination: Faerie Academy, the school for up and coming faeries of Neopia. Just in time to mop the floors, Shae thought, rolling her eyes at the prospect. And to think I graduated salutatorian.
“Shae!” Shae turned to greet the figure floating out the front door towards her.
“Morning, Radia.” Shae smiled at the Light faerie as she approached. “Something I can do?”
“I should hope so.” The young professor looked remorseful. “One of my students overloaded the fuses in my classroom again, would you mind looking into it?”
Radia smiled gratefully and swept off to move her class to another room while Shae took a quick stop at the supply room for some tools. A couple of mend potions along with some powders, not to mention pliers. Within a few minutes she had the lights up and running, and with no time to spare, as the Flame 104 classroom had been set ablaze again. You’d think they’d learn to fireproof the place, Shae thought as she poured potion over the remainder of the scorch marks and watched them disappear. No sooner had she finished then a voice sounded from the door.
“Shae, would you mind...”
And so the day went, drying floods from the would-be water faeries, putting back together the library after an out of control wind spell, and cleaning up the mud tracked in from the earth field trip. Clean, polish, tidy scrub, fix. Sometimes I feel like I’ve been hit with an invisible paint brush, Shae thought as she watched a pair of Faerie Acaras float past the window, admiring the architecture Shae had just polished.
“How do you think they keep it so clean in Faerie City?”
“Well, they’re faeries, so I guess they just use magic like with everything else!” The two floated around the corner and Shae suppressed a sigh before shuffling back inside. It was almost time for her lunch break, anyways. As she rounded the corner she collided painfully with Gaia, the Earth professor.
“Oh, Shae!” Gaia said rather breathlessly as she got back up to her feet. “I’m glad I found you. One of the students let loose something in the basement, and I have a class to teach, so if you wouldn’t mind...” She trailed off hopefully.
Shae shrugged helplessly and nodded.
“All right, I’ll see what I can do.”
Gaia gave a quick nod and rushed off, leaving Shae to make her way through a sea of students changing classes to the basement stairs. On a quick insight, she grabbed her tool belt on the way. Best to be prepared for whatever prank came her way.
Shae opened the door to the basement stairs cautiously, feeling for the light switch as she tried to peer into the darkness. At the triumph of finding it she flipped them on, only to hear a click and see the same blackness. “Just my luck,” Shae muttered to herself as she pulled a bottle from her belt and shook it. The bottle lit up immediately with a purple glow. Half an hour before it runs out, plenty of time. Why do basements always have to be so dank and creepy? And indeed, though the purple potion gave off some light, the rest of the stairs wound down into a very ominous darkness. “No big deal.” Shae heard herself say before taking a deep breath and beginning her descent. Whatever “Something” was down there, she could handle it. Shae’s feet reached the bottom step, and one hand went up instinctively to straighten her hat as she looked up. Then she froze.
“RAWR! ME HUNGRY!” That was definitely not your average vermin. Shae barely had time to take in the claws, wings and teeth before leaping into the air to hover a little ways up the stairs. The creature swiped at her, eyes glowing with a rage, but it did not advance. Puzzled, Shae kept her distance, but dropped back down to ground level. It was only after a moment’s thought that realization hit.
“You’re too big to fit on the stairs, aren’t you? Then, how in the world did anyone get you down here... and aren’t you supposed to be in that tomb in Geraptiku?”
“RAWR! ME HUNGRY!”
Shae raised an eyebrow, and then backed off a few more steps. This was obviously a job for somebody with a little more experience in the field. She had just begun to turn around when a sound reached her ears, one very different from the snarling and grumbling of the monster. Hoping against hope she was wrong, Shae lifted her potion higher to get a better view of the room. Sitting huddled up in the far corner was a little grey ball of fur and hooves, whimpering as the beast tried vainly to get to it. The fallen ceiling beams around the Ixi had created a sort of cage, serving to keep the beast out, but not for long, Shae could see. Already they began to crack and splinter as the Ixi whimpered louder. This couldn’t wait for somebody else.
Without thinking, Shae ran back down the steps. “Hey, Bird Brain!” When the creature turned around, she threw her light potion in its face. The bottle shattered, sending droplets of purple glow in its eyes and all over its face. The monster reared back, howling. Great, now what? Shae thought as she rummaged through her tool belt. Cleaning potions, soap, oh! Perfect! With a grin, Shae pulled a second bottle out and cast it on the floor at the monster’s feet. The concrete burst into a pool of slippery soapsuds. The beast roared in frustration as Shae flew across the room to where the Ixi sat imprisoned by the fallen beams. “Hold on, I have just the thing!” Without waiting for a response, Shae murmured a quick incantation and the beams flew off, returning to their proper places in the ceiling. I knew that spell would come in handy for something besides cleaning up the library! “Now let’s get out of here!”
Together the two made a mad dash towards the exit. Just as they began to near the stairs, however, the creature swung back in front of them, face glowing in purple rage as it blocked their path. Hastily, they both backed up, Shae digging frantically in her belt for something, anything to use, when she felt a tug and looked down to find the Ixi holding one end of the cord sticking out of her belt in its hooves. “I have an idea! Can you distract it?” Shae’s fingers closed around her last bottle of drying solution.
“I can manage!” With that, Shae launched the bottle directly into the creature’s gaping mouth, where it burst into a magical vacuum, sucking out all of the moisture within a five- foot radius. The creature choked and gagged, now having to deal with a throat like parchment. The Ixi threw the other end of the cord to Shae, and the two rushed at the creature, cord taunt between them. It caught the creature at its ankles, sending the already stumbling beast to the ground with a crash, giving Shae and the Ixi time to gain the stairs. Halfway up, Shae paused to give a backward glance at the beast struggling back into an upright position and smiled. “I guess that you can never underestimate the power of cleaning supplies.” With that she completed her ascent and opened the door, squinting at the brightly lit hallway before promptly sliding down the wall into a sitting position to catch her breath.
“T-thanks.” Shae opened her eyes to find the Grey Ixi sitting against the wall across from her, staring up with its big pink eyes. Shae managed a casual smile.
“No problem; I was due for a little excitement.” She straightened her hat absently. “So, what’s your name?”
“Miser.” Shae barely contained a smile. Fitting name.
“Well, hey, Miser, I’m Shae. What brings you to the fine halls of Faerie Academy?” Shae lifted one hand in a sweeping gesture, and then let it fall limply back to her side. Miser sniffed and rubbed his nose with his hoof.
“I got lost from my owner near the castle, and I went to look for her. A faerie with purple hair and wings said that she had come in here...” Miser trailed off, looking helpless.
“That would explain things.” No doubt one of the dark students thought it would be a great prank to lock up a pet in a room with that... thing. Shae pushed herself to her feet. “We should probably go find your owner then, right?” Miser stood and nodded, though he still looked a little teary-eyed. “Right. Well, the bell to change class will ring in about ten minutes, so why don’t we go tell the principal about the little problem in the basement and ask her about your owner? Aura usually has lots of information about there kind of things.” With that, she set off down the hall, Miser in tow.
“What’s a faerie academy?” Shae looked down curiously at the question.
“It’s a school to teach faeries about their element and train them for their jobs later on. Uhh... how old are you, Miser?”
“Three days.” So that’s why he got so lost. Go figure. “Are you a teacher?”
Shae flushed a little in spite of herself, but shrugged it off. “No, I’m a janitor.”
“Wow.” Miser’s eyes widened in surprise. “I didn’t know faeries had janitors.”
“Most people don’t,” Shae agreed bitterly, half to herself. Most people don’t even know I exist.
“Well...” Miser spoke up suddenly. “I think that janitor faeries are the best kind!” He smiled, a strange look for a grey Ixi. This caught Shae completely off guard, and she was struck speechless. Luckily, they had reached the door to the Principle’s office, so Shae turned quickly to open it to save face. No sooner had she turned the handle then-
“MISER!” A disheveled-looking young woman rushed over and encased the Ixi in an extremely tight hug before releasing him and examining his face for any injuries. “Are you okay, are-you-hurt-oh-I’m-so-sorry-sweetie, I-forgot-you-didn’t-know-about-the-hidden-tower!”
“It’s okay, Mom, really!”
This went on for several minutes. During this, Shae walked over to Aura’s desk, where the principal sat watching, amused at the transaction. At Shae’s approach, Aura looked up and smiled. “She came in five minutes ago wanting to know where her Ixi had gone. I take it that one of the dark faeries has gotten in to trouble again?”
“Yes, and you may want to send someone down to the basement to take care of the Geraptiku beast down there.”
“Geraptiku?” Aura raised her eyebrows. “My, they have gotten creative.” At this point in time, however, they were interrupted by Miser’s owner half-hugging-half-collapsing on Shae.
“Oh, thank you for finding him; they can be such a handful...”
“Uh... no problem.” Shae extracted herself from the tangle and nodded. “Anything I can do to help.” Miser tugged on his owner’s sleeve.
“Where’s everyone else, Mom?”
“Oh, I left them in the library; we have to go get them!” She seized Shae’s hand again. “I can’t thank you enough, come on, Miser!” Miser waved a hoof in farewell and followed his mom out. Shae turned back to Aura.
“I think I’ll go on my lunch break now.”
* * *
Shae got home that evening tired, but strangely satisfied. She really couldn’t lay her finger on it, but something felt different. As she hung up her hat, her eyes fell on a piece of paper on her desk. “To the Authorities Which It May Concern...”
Shae picked up the letter and stared at it, then smiled, a different voice in her head. “I think that janitor faeries are the best kind!” As an afterthought, she crumpled the paper into a ball and threw it in the garbage. She had gotten all the recognition she needed for today.