Only for Jhudora
Also by precious_katuch14
Anyone who might chance to look at Faerieland from the ground, where it hovered thousands of feet above the face of Neopia, would get but a slight view of the majesty of the faeries' domain. Strong gusts of cool wind blew the wispy white clouds around the land in circles, partly concealing the kingdom of pink clouds in the sky. The climate around the clouds was prone to storms, the like of which might very well make those staring up from below shudder, and think that being safe and warm was worth the limited view.
But neither wind, rain, snow nor hail could keep the purple Shoyru called Elisha from completing one of Jhudora's quests.
She blazed past Faerie City, beating her wings as furiously as she could and battling the turbulent breeze as it threatened to push her out of her path. But Elisha didn't bother stopping or slowing down -- she persisted determinedly, zeroing in on Jhudora's Cloud, that purple patch of cloud that looked like a little island that drifted away from Faerieland.
Elisha deeply admired Jhudora, and was lured not by the powerful items that the dark faerie would bestow upon those successful in her endeavors, but by the hope of pleasing Jhudora and earning her favor. Elisha was already on her third quest, and often wished that she could do more than just one quest a day.
At last, the purple cloud-island loomed before her, and the Shoyru felt a rush of excitement and accomplishment that often came with completing a quest from her role model. In fact, Jhudora was the reason why Elisha pleaded with her owner to paint her purple.
Feeling her paws tremble with anticipation as she began to alight on Jhudora's territory, the amethyst-colored Shoyru took a deep breath and landed as neatly as she could without upsetting a single bit of cloud.
"Back again, I see."
If Jhudora's voice had been made of colors, Elisha could have heard both the deep melody of purple and the subtle poison of green resonating within it. The mixture of calm and power in the Faerie's words made her shiver with apprehension and excitement both. Oh, what she would give to have such a voice! Or to possess such grace, such confidence, such command of presence.
Turning toward the direction of the sound, the purple Shoyru beheld Jhudora as she approached. The purple clouds on which she trod swirled around her feet like mist, and her violet locks fell about her shoulders, streaked with lines of emerald venom. "Yes, M-mistress," replied Elisha in a voice that shook with terror and with awe.
Jhudora parted her purple lips, fixing the Shoyru with a gaze of such unflinching power that it could only be called strength. "Fetch me a Night Stone," she requested softly.
Instantly, as if her legs acted of their own will, Elisha dropped into a bow. "Yes, Mistress." Her voice was less shaky now; determined not to look a fool in front of Jhudora, she collected herself and turned, walking as confidently as she could muster, to the foot of the cloud. As she took off into the air, the Shoyru glanced over her shoulder to see the silhouette of the faerie watching her leave, stark against the bright Faerieland sky. Her hand was lifted – could it be in a farewell wave?
The Night Stone would be difficult to get, surely, but she could not let Jhudora down -- not if she ever wanted to be even half as great.
Elisha decided to search first in the quester's most predictable destination - that is, if their masters or mistresses allowed them to go to it. She flipped over as she was a considerable distance away from Jhudora's Cloud, diving for Neopia Central and aiming hopefully for the Marketplace, or more precisely, the Shop Wizard's domain.
She grunted as it felt like several bursts of wind met her at once in mid-dive, as though they didn't want Elisha around their territory. She desperately tried not to think of how much time she was wasting trying to get through the swirling breeze.
Winds can't stop me! the purple Shoyru thought furiously. I have to finish what I've started! I can't let Jhudora down!
Beating her wings even more, Elisha pulled out of her dip and zipped a few flaps west, searching for an opening where the winds weren't as strong. It took a while, and the Shoyru nearly panicked as the thought of time passed her mind again, but she found it, past a few clumps of stray cloud.
Her heart soaring at her discovery, she folded her wings back and dived again, this time barely meeting anything that threatened to shove her the opposite way.
Landing neatly, Elisha strode toward where the Jubjub in the pointed Wizard's hat could be found. She frowned; it seemed a lot of people were in the Central area today. She "excused" her way through the congestion of people, navigating carefully to the pointed blue tent where the Shop Wizard lived.
Her heart sank as it came into view. The crowd of people was forming a line -- all leading to the Shop Wizard's tent! She could be here for hours, she realized. The line's end wasn't even visible from where she stood, as it twisted around the various shops of the marketplace like some giant coiled Hissi.
What if there weren't even any Night Stones left? What if she stood all day in line, only to come up empty-handed? She couldn't let that happen, she told herself with a surge of determination. Although she hadn't completed very many quests, she wasn't about to fail now.
I will just have to go to the Night Stone's source, she told herself. Now, what do I know about them? They were stones of darkest midnight black, said to contain a drop of evil itself.
Elisha smiled grimly. She knew a place of evil, all right.
* * *
Even in the middle of the day, the Haunted Woods was almost always shrouded in a veil of seemingly eternal darkness - probably because of the thick canopy of trees blocking much of the sun. But despite the creepy aura that seemed to emanate from everything in it, the place wasn't all that evil. In fact, taken into perspective, the Haunted Woods was a nice tourist destination for the eccentric.
Still, there were parts of this strange forest that could pass for evil, and Elisha was looking for probably the worst of them all.
The purple Shoyru knew that time was ticking, and she wasn't about to let something as foolish as fright deter her. However, she couldn't help but feel a little fear stirring inside her as she flew past everything the twisted trees and gloomy darkness that marked the very heart of the Haunted Woods.
Elisha could hardly believe she was actually in a hurry... to visit perhaps one of the most treacherous villains in all of Neopia's history, one whom other villains actually looked up to.
Both to her delight and dismay, the journey was a short one.
The tall, jagged peaks of the tower jutted up before her in spikes that seemed to clutch the sky with talons. Green mist swirled from its depths, billowing out into the surrounding air. Elisha stared uneasily, hardly believing that she would actually travel within such a place.
And yet, she told herself as she approached step by hesitant step, Edna and her idol Jhudora were not wholly different. Both were feared by many, both known for their renowned magical powers. Both even supported questers to find items for their potions.
The thought gave some strength to her limbs as she began up the winding flight of steps toward the top of Edna's tower. Skittering sounds of fleeing insects echoed up the stony path, and from somewhere above she thought she heard a scream. My mission, she told herself to calm the squeamishness of her belly. That's all I need concentrate on. Nothing else is important.
Finally, huffing in breaths, she reached the top. My mission. Mustering up her courage, Elisha threw open the door--
--and staggered back at what she saw.
Edna, gagged and tied to a chair, glanced at her with wide eyes. Above her crouched the most hideous monster that the Shoyru had ever seen -- his mouth was a foam of eager slobber, his eyes two points of glistening malevolence. Huge muscles bunched upon his legs as he stepped toward her, crouching down to spring.
A Werelupe, she recognized somewhere amid the frantic blur of horror that was her mind. There was no time to run. Growling, the creature hurled itself toward her face.
The Shoyru felt her wings lift her to the left, and she moved so fast that she crashed against one of the stone walls of the tower. Dazed, but not too hurt, Elisha staggered back to her feet and faced the Werelupe. He growled, a long, low sound that made Elisha shudder so much that she had to hold on to the wall to keep her balance.
But as he stood there before her, advancing with loud steps punctuated by claws scraping the floor, the purple Shoyru could see something suspended in a crude length of string around his neck.
A Night Stone, gleaming with a strange, dark light like a third eye on the Werelupe's chest.
Elisha didn't know how much time she had left - if she still had any. But she had to try - at least Jhudora wouldn't punish her for giving up.
The next blow came much faster, and the Werelupe's claws only scrabbled the top of the Shoyru's head as she dived, scooting between his legs and coming to a stop beside the chair where Edna had been tied up. Somehow, Elisha had the feeling that if she got the Night Stone, the Werelupe would calm down.
Either that, or he would get even angrier after she took his precious trinket.
But she was prepared to risk it, as the Werelupe towered over her again.
As he stood, the Night Stone swung back and forth like a pendulum on its cord about his neck. She stared at it, distracted, before remembering herself. The Werelupe used her pause well; growling, he rushed forward, prepared to strike her with a massive claw-spiked paw, but Elisha ducked just in time. Was this how he'd managed to overcome Edna? She must not make the same mistake.
Whirling around the Werelupe, Elisha darted inside the room, away from the doorway. If she ran down the tower, and out into the woods, he would merely chase her down until she tired, for he certainly had the greater endurance. As long as they were in here, she had a chance.
Edna made wordless noises at her from behind her gag, bobbing her head frantically. Elisha blinked at her for half a heartbeat, confused, before she realized what the witch was trying to point to. The cauldron! It stood in the center of the room, bubbling noisily.
Behind her, she could hear the Werelupe approaching. He must only be a few strides away, prepared to pounce. Her blood thundered in her ears louder even than his attacking growl, but she heard it all the same. Whipping about toward the direction of the noise behind her, Elisha scooped up a great pawful of the cauldron's contents, splattering him square in the eyes.
He stopped coming forward, distracted by the burning. Breathless, Elisha dipped a nearby bucket into the potion and ran forward. "Thanks," she said briefly, snapping the cord around his neck with one firm tug. With the other hand, she upended the bucket onto his head.
Stripped of the source of his power and deluged in a magical potion, the Werelupe screeched and howled in agony, dropping onto his knees before Elisha, who just stood speechless, watching the Werelupe glow faintly with a strange, shimmering golden light before it flashed once, piercing her sight, and leaving an ordinary Halloween Lupe sprawled on the tower floor.
She clutched the Night Stone nervously as his bemused eyes darted around the tower, at the cauldron, and at Edna. He swooped down on her and began untying the witch.
"You don't know how grateful I am," said the Lupe, his voice a little hoarse from screaming. "Edna told me not to wear the Night Stone for too long, as it could have some really bad side effects, but I didn't listen. I came up here to ask for help, but before I knew it..."
"Complete Werelupe transformation," said the green Zafara, rubbing her arms and standing up. "When I saw him, I started hurrying to create the antidote, but it was too late." She scowled at the Lupe, who was starting to look a little sheepish. "Honestly, Adram, you should have known better."
Elisha nodded as she digested their story before finally finding her voice. "So... I'm on a quest from Jhudora, and I need a Night Stone. How much are you willing to take for it?"
Adram grinned. "Take it. I'm just too glad to be rid of that thing."
"Well, if you had been more careful, none of this would've happened in the first place," Edna reminded him crossly.
"Sorry." He pushed the Night Stone towards Elisha. "I'm Adram, by the way."
"I'm Elisha... and I'm sorry, but I haven't got much time! I have to get this to Jhudora right away!" The Shoyru remembered her idol instantly, how she would let the dark faerie down if she didn't make it. "Thank you so much, both of you! I promise to come around again soon when I'm not on a quest!"
As Elisha nodded to him, about to leave, she noticed that one of Adram's eyes was purple, the other green. Strange.
The flight back to Jhudora's cloud, however, was a pleasant one. Elisha's heart was light with thoughts of success, and even the evil weight of the Night Stone did little to dampen her spirits. As the clouds whirled by in wet patches, the Shoyru almost thought to sing. But I don't want Jhudora to think me a fool.
She neared the cloud of her destination, a rippling of purple mist. Landing lightly, Elisha saw her idol emerge from its billows, fixing her with a cool and even gaze. "Do you have my Night Stone?" Jhudora inquired, with her voice of silken venom.
Eagerly, Elisha held it up. "I do, Mistress," she replied, too excited to be nervous. "I've found it."
Jhudora strode to her, and reached out her hand. As Elisha willingly gave it to her, her proximity to her idol allowed for a close view of Jhudora's dress. Surprised, the Shoyru noticed a few patches of dark brown fur upon it -- like the color of Adram's coat.
Slowly, Elisha's gaze wandered back to Jhudora's eyes. "Thank you," replied Jhudora, and Elisha's heart rose to see a shade of admiration in her eyes. "I see, Elisha, that you are a fearless quester indeed."
Elisha's resulting grin was joy itself – somehow Jhudora recognized how difficult her task had been. Whatever challenge had been set before her, she had passed it wonderfully. And now, to top it all off, Jhudora knew her name!
"This is for you." Her idol held out a bottle of green potion -- noxious nectar. Elisha's paws trembled with excitement as she accepted it, bowing with as much calmness as she could muster. Clutching the prize closely, she took off into the air toward home, her head spinning with lightness and triumph. And this is only the beginning. Countless quests waited ahead.