Illusen's Day Off
The shivering Blumaroo, adorned with the most-vibrant of shimmery armors in all of Faerieland, made way for the dark cloud that housed the one he was meant to play messenger to.
Soon, too soon for his own liking, the Blumaroo reached the purple monstrosity that bubbled with gases that glowed as dark as their mistress and as green as her noxious nectar. Hesitantly stepping onto the mass of darkness incarnate, he approached his final destination.
The Dark Faerie before him rose to her feet, spreading her wings wide to strike even more fear into the Blumaroo’s heart and soul. Her voice, powerful and poetically evil, spoke to him, commanding an answer. “Why have you come to me, Queen’s Knight?”
The words paralyzed the Faerie-City sentry in fear.
“Speak, now, or feel my wrath descend upon you!” Jhudora roared in anger.
The Blumaroo nodded, broken from his stupor, and began by unfurling the rolled parchment that he carried. In the bravest voice he could muster, he began reading it: “By order of the Mother of all Faeries, the Queen of all Quests, the Messenger of the Divine, the Ruler of--”
“Get on with it!” the Dark Faerie bellowed, throwing her arms into the air.
“Yes, yes,” the Blumaroo muttered and began again even more quickly now, “By order of Fyora, in punishment of thy many deeds dark and destructive, thou shalt be sentenced to a single day in the Glade of thy sister until night hath fallen.”
“What?” The scream, so loud and enraged, almost blew the Queen’s Knight out of his armor and off the cloud entirely. “What blasphemy!” Jhudora continued. “What insolence! You shall pay for this, you shall!” She raised her hand, a sickeningly-green light beginning to glow around her outstretched finger--
“Please,” the Blumaroo squealed, backing away, slipping upon the cloud and landing on his bottom with a thud, “please, spare me--I am but the messenger! This is by the order of the Queen of all Faeries--please, spare my skin--”
There was a great flash of green light, the thunder of plates of metal armor crashing into one another, and then a long, malevolent laugh. “I do believe,” Jhudora said as she sank back into her throne, “that your skin is now a bit green and warty, Queen’s Knight.”
Terrified, the Mortog began hopping away. After a moment, the faerie no longer saw him.
“For his own sake,” she said, “I hope he failed to make it far.” She laughed for her own wellbeing, but even that sinister deed could not keep her smile from turning into a furious frown. If it truly was by order of the Queen--and there was no denying that it had been--there would be no way, no way at all, that she would be able to get out of it.
* * *
Illusen stretched out her arms as she rose from her flower-bed, the linens woven of the finest petals in all of Meridell sliding off her with just a touch of idyllic valor. She sighed, smiling peacefully, as she savored the sunlight, painted green upon her flesh, that fell into her glade and caught in the air.
Today was a special day. It was her day.
She mumbled a few words of praise to herself for having made the past year one enjoyable and prosperous, and then she fluttered out of her bed and lifted a large mug of freshly-squeezed Braku berry juice. She savored it with a long, refreshing sigh.
Illusen spun around and fluttered closer to her Glade’s end. Though it was wonderful inside, she hoped to spend her day in the sunlight, sunbathing and resting.
Though her hopes of a peaceful day were soon crushed.
As she neared the Glade’s entrance, it became quite apparent that there would be no resting--or any sunbathing at all--for her today. Eager questers were gathered around before her for as far as her eyes could see. And that was far, for she was a Faerie after all.
But far worse than the hundreds surrounding her Glade, a single, shadowy menace was approaching from the southwest. Jhudora.
“What are you doing here?” Illusen screamed, racing out to greet her sister. “You better not think you’re going to ruin my day, Jhudora!”
Jhudora scowled. “Don’t flatter yourself, darlin’. I don’t want to be here.”
“Then why are you?” Illusen’s soft face was quickly turning Dorkleberry-red.
“Heh,” Jhudora hissed, pulling a rolled-up piece of parchment from behind her back and holding it out for Illusen to take, “by order of the Queen.”
The Earth Faerie snatched the parchment and quickly unfurled it--her eyes widened in bemused shock as she read the words. “No... this cannot be,” she muttered, reading the parchment for a second, and then for a third, time. “You... you are going to be running my glade for a day?”
Jhudora shrugged. “That is what the paper says, isn’t it, darlin’?”
Illusen nodded, still dazed by the sudden arrival of her sister, and the even more surprising reasoning as to why she had arrived in the first place. She hesitated. It would be wonderful to get away for the day. Yet this was Jhudora she was talking about leaving in charge. But it was sanctioned by the Queen, so it had to be alright, didn’t it?
“Well?” Jhudora droned.
Illusen inhaled heavily. “Alright, Jhudora, but if anything, anything is out of place or missing when I get back...”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” her sister said, “so be it, Illusen. Just go already.”
Hefting a large sigh, Illusen nodded, took one last glance at her Glade, and then flew away.
* * *
Jhudora immediately got to work. She took charge at the top of the Glade and cupped her hands around her mouth. She shouted, “Everyone form a line, or I ain’t gonna send any of you on a quest, y’hear me?!”
Apparently, they had, for in the next moment the masses had aligned themselves in the most perfect line that Jhudora had ever seen. If only her own questers--which never quite seemed to be this many in number no matter how many Poisonous Lollipops she handed out to them--acted so easily upon her command. She’d already be in power then.
But, alas, these questers were Illusen’s. They were all “good” people. Psh.
Then again, if they had acted so humbly upon her simplest command, the day would be easy, even if wasted slaving for the goody-two-shoes of an Earth Faerie she had as sister.
Shrugging her shoulders, not wanting to do a thing more but knowing that if she did not, Fyora would have her head, so to speak (or so, at least, she thought), the Dark Faerie instantly got to work, jumping up to the front of the line and motioning for the first quester to step forwards.
Heeding her signal, an elderly Moehog approached her. “May I have some of Illusen’s Cream Cookies for my grandchildren, Miss Faerie?” he asked kindly, even if lethargically, as he teetered upon the cane he leaned against.
Jhudora smiled at the man, glanced around to see that no cookies were in sight, and then said, “How about a lollipop instead?”
The Moehog hesitated, then at last he said, “No, thank you, Miss Faerie; I want my grandchildren to live to see tomorrow.”
* * *
Illusen dove back beneath the waters, her cheeks puffed out and full of air. The underwater gardens just off the cost of Mystery Island were beautiful, and no matter how many times she dove back under to see them, she continued to marvel at their glory.
Immediately after leaving her Glade, she had approached the Faerie Queen. With a smile and a gleam in her eyes, Fyora had answered her worries by saying, “Trust me, Illusen; have some faith that Jhudora will do your Glade no harm.”
Then, with a wink and a wave of her hand, she had sent Illusen off to enjoy her day.
Since then, she had marveled at the megalithic Shrine in the Lost Desert, though not for long as the arid heat had soon begun causing her wings to wither, and the ancient rock spires of Tyrannia. After that, she had spent a few moments in the Ice Caves--and only a few moments for, after all, they were freezing! Then, at last, she had come to Mystery Island, danced the “limbo” (an exotic “dance” native to the Island) with the Tombola Man, a wise, old Kyrii, and a Kougra incapable of speaking out of meter, taken a ride in a glass-bottomed boat, and gone for a swim.
Yet, for all the fun she was having, she still couldn’t keep from thinking a stray thought or two as to how well Jhudora was fairing back at the Glade...
* * *
Cries suddenly filled the air--Jhudora spun around to face them, a scream meeting her glare as she did so.
“What have you done with Illusen?” a green Ixi shouted, her baby pup in her arms, hooves and tail waving with its wailing.
Jhudora’s face tightened. “I happen to be taking her place for the day,” she said through gritted teeth.
“Well,” the Ixi hissed, “would you stop being so purple for just a moment? You’re startling my poor Eebab!”
Jhudora’s eyes widened. “IF YOU EVER WISH TO--” She shut her mouth after a moment when even her own yells were drowned out by the baby Eebab’s shrieking. The Ixi, turning her nose upwards and turning tail to the Faerie, walked away with no further comments.
“Hey, Jhudora!” The Faerie spun around to face the next couple of questers only to be greeted by a handful of half-eaten berries, bits of barbed wire, and a pile of dung. She raised her fist, summoning a cloud of ill-green light--and a Pusberry hit her square in the face and she screamed in horrific rage.
The next quester to have met with success left with a pair of matching Mortogs in his arms.
* * *
Illusen sipped slowly from her Mega Rasmelon Smoothie, silky strips of kelp covering her eyes as the sun beat down upon her. Who knew there was a spa hidden on the shores of Mystery Island? But, oh, it did not matter... she was having a wonderful time.
“Time for your massage,” a woman’s voice said.
Illusen pouted. “Is it time already?”
“Ah, yes, it is,” the kind voice replied, “you have been bathing in the sun for well over an hour already.”
“I see... but I would so much rather sunbathe longer...” Illusen sighed, but lifted the kelp from her eyes anyway and fluttered onto a nearby bamboo table.
“Why don’t you get yourself comfortable,” the voice said, revealed to be that of the Island Cybunny who ran the spa, “and I’ll send in your masseuse in just a minute?”
Hardly more than two minutes and thirteen seconds later, a buff, Island Lupe entered and announced his arrival, “I am Pierre, and I shall give you the time of your life, Illusen.” His soft, luscious words flowed over the Faerie and she melted before him.
His strong, smooth paws were rubbing the soreness from her shoulders but a moment later and she was dreaming in mere seconds.
* * *
“Give me a pin.”
“Yeah, a pin.”
Jhudora narrowed her eyes at the oddly-shaped Neopet. “You want a pin?”
“Yeah, a pin, that’s what I said.”
The quester furrowed his brow and began protesting. “I will not leave without my Illusen pin--”
And another Mortog left the Glade in a huff.
* * *
Illusen yawned. “Oh, Pierre, that was... amazing!” She blinked her eyes, feeling fully rejuvenated from the massage.
The Island Lupe bowed to her, winking once, then stood up and backed away slowly from the bamboo table. As he left, he said in his exotic accent, “I hope to one day serve you again, my Illusen.” Then, he was gone.
Illusen took a deep breathe, fully wakening from her dreamy state of mind, and sat up straighter. The sun was setting into the distance and the ocean was drenched with a cascade of marvelous colors.
“Alas,” she whispered, “I must be returning home now.”
After conjuring a delicious batch of her famous Cream Cookies to give to Pierre and the spa’s staff, she waved one last goodbye to Mystery Island and began flying back towards Meridell.
When she arrived, it appeared as if Mortogs waiting to be kissed had gotten loose and had all decided to seek out her Glade for rescue. Or, perhaps, after a flash of green light filled the air and a Dark Faerie’s cackle followed, it was all Jhudora’s doing.
“Thank goodness!” the Dark Faerie screamed as she ran to her sister. “Save me, Illusen, save me--you’ve got to save me!”
“Whatever is the matter?” Illusen said, still wide-eyed at Jhudora’s fragile state of being.
“They’re after me, all of them!”
Illusen looked around, but saw no one chasing anyone. “Who?” she inquired.
“The Mortogs!” Jhudora wailed, cowering behind her sister. “The Mortogs are all after me!”
Illusen nodded. “Yes, it does appear that they are.” She turned to face the Dark Faerie, a smile on her face. “Why don’t you go home and rest?”
“Oh, Illusen,” Jhudora exclaimed, leeching onto the Earth Faerie and giving her a gracious hug, “thank you so much for letting me leave!” Then, as if in the blink of an eye, the Faerie was flying back to Faerieland and out of sight into the darkening sky.
Once inside, Illusen caught sight of a small, white Weewoo sitting upon her flower-bed with a scroll in its beak. After retrieving the small parchment, the small bird jumped upon its wings and it, too, flew off into the sunset.
The Earth Faerie unrolled the letter.
My dear Illusen,
I hope that it was not much trouble having Jhudora watch over your Glade for the day. It was about time that she learned the consequences of rampantly using her Dark Magic, and I knew a day in your shoes, so to speak, would be just the lesson she needed. Perhaps now I won’t have to worry so much about rescuing my Knights-turned-Mortogs from her clutches anymore.
I hope you have had a wonderful day, my daughter.
P.S. If there happens to be any questers left in Meridell, I’ve included the antidote’s recipe on the back of this letter.
Illusen shook her head, folding the parchment neatly and setting it aside. “Tomorrow,” she sighed, crawling back underneath her silken, flower-petal sheets. “I’ll make the antidote tomorrow...”