This Glass Container: Part Two
The Money Tree was bustling with activity, as it always was. Only at this time in the morning, all of the bustle was outside the building housing all of the freebies – it wasn’t open yet, but, as there were only a couple of minutes left before opening, thousands of Neopets crowded behind the enormous double glass doors.
Jaede opened her eyes groggily. At first she couldn’t make out anything outside of the bottle, just random shapes and blobs of color, but soon she realized she was moving – or at least the bottle was moving. The disheveled Dark Faerie twisted her head around in an uncomfortable position to look at her wonderfully leathery, bat-like purple-and-black wings, which were still clipped together, and sighed at her lack of mobility.
“Awake, I see,” barked Balthazar in his deep, gravelly voice, with a hint of cruel amusement. “Welcome to the Money Tree.”
Jaede’s bottle was set down on a clean table of whitewashed wood, next to a dozen other bottled Faeries in assorted colors. Balthazar leaned down so that his eyes were level with Jaede’s. “Would you like to know why I brought you to the Money Tree, Dark One?”
Jaede crossed her arms over her chest, stuck her chin out and up, closed her eyes, and responded with “Humph.” I’m a haughty Dark Faerie far superior to you, so I don’t care why you do anything, her body language read clearly. Or at least she hoped it did.
“Well,” plowed on the Lupe despite Jaede’s apathy, “I reasoned that if I sold you and made a profit, you’d go about thinking you were worth something. And we wouldn’t want to inflate that overlarge ego of yours any more than it is already, would we?” Jaede made an indignant noise and brought her arms, hands balled into fists, down to her sides, glaring angrily at the bounty hunter.
“Plus,” added Balthazar as an afterthought as he walked away, “now you have a high chance of being nabbed by an unworthy – what are they called these days? – n00b. Someone who doesn’t have enough neopoints to buy a Faerie from the shops.”
As soon as Jaede was sure Balthazar could no longer see her, she sat down in her bottle and brought her knees to her chest in a familiar position – one that she took up whenever she felt terrified or hopeless, as long as nobody was looking. The thought of being taken – like an item – by anybody, for their own personal use, was revolting in itself. The thought of being taken by somebody lowly or unworthy was far, far worse. What was this Balthazar playing at?
Although she had to admit, being called egotistical was a plus. Just one of the many unpleasant qualities she needed to master as a Dark Faerie.
But compliments aside, her life couldn’t get much worse than it was at the moment. This was her life – this glass container – binding her to the ground, confining her in such a small space that she thought she might go completely crazy. This glass container was her life, until, of course, some unworthy Neopet freed her and forced her to grant a wish. Come to think of it, Jaede wasn’t even sure if she could grant a wish; she had very limited magical ability, for all her bragging, and certainly she had never tried to help somebody else with what little skill she did have.
Yes, her life couldn’t get much worse.
And now came the dreaded moment – the moment where the double doors were opened. The sound of thousands of greedy Neopets surging in was slightly muffled through the glass, but Jaede heard it all the same. She leaned back against a curved side of the glass, closed her eyes, and started to rub her temples, trying to block out the noise.
Her attempted siesta was cut short, however. Her bottle was greedily snatched up by someone, and she was bodily thrown into a section of glass. “Castilla, I don’t even know if this one’s alive, no wonder it was left for last. Bummer – just our luck, we get a dead Faerie...”
Through half-closed eyes (hey – if being dead was going to make Neopets overlook her, why not pretend?), Jaede scrutinized the pet who had spoken; the pet who was holding her. It seemed to be another Lupe, but from the out-of-proportion and ridiculously oversized facial features that most people found attractive, she guessed it was painted Baby. Its voice was high-pitched and whiny. Great.
The Baby Lupe pressed its filthy nose to the glass and poked it with a claw, much the same as Balthazar had done. “Hellooooooo...” it crooned, sounding bored and a bit annoyed. Jaede scowled at the noise, but managed to keep relatively still.
“Oh, give me that, Benji,” said an irritated female voice – Castilla apparently. Jaede couldn’t help it – the Lupe handed her bottle over so roughly that her eyes jerked open, and she thrust her arms out in front to her to prevent her face from being slammed into the glass. Her sign of life brought a gasp from the Baby Lupe – Benji.
No longer pretending to be dead, Jaede glared defiantly at the Pirate Poogle, Castilla, now eyeing her, as if daring the Neopet to go against the Faerie’s wishes and bring her home. Castilla obviously didn’t read Jaede’s body language correctly.
“Ooh, look here, Benji – she’s perfectly fine. Bessie’ll be SOOOO proud when we bring her back. We finally managed to snag a Faerie!”
Jaede connected painfully with a side of her chamber as Benji pulled the bottle roughly back. “You mean I snagged a Faerie, Castilla. I picked her up, remember.” As Jaede rubbed her shoulder, where yet another magnificent bruise would undoubtedly form, she saw the Lupe called Benji wrinkle his diminutive snout in disgust. “Ew, it’s a Dark Faerie. Theodin says they’re not very nice.”
“Of course we’re not nice, you pea-brained half-wit crybaby,” said Jaede irritably. The two Neopets did not seem to hear.
“C’mon, Benji, let’s bring her back to Bessie,” said Castilla decisively.
And so Jaede left the whitewashed table, no longer filled with Faeries, carried in such a way that she was juggled rather violently from side to side. Between collisions, she saw very little – everything was a flurry of motion around her, as Neopets brought gifts and took them away in equal measures. She was only able to recognize when they left the building because of the sudden change in coloring – green suddenly surrounded her. To her dismay, Benji apparently liked skipping, and did so as soon as they were out in the open air. Honestly – did he not realize how hard glass was?
Relief washed through her when he finally ceased movement. “Mommy,” she heard him say breathlessly, “Look what I got at the Money Tree!” Jaede received what she hoped was her final bruise as the Baby Lupe thrust his arm out to present “Bessie” or “Mommy” with her bottle.
“Don’t shake her so,” said a kind female voice. Jaede had mixed feelings about this statement – on the one hand, it might mean the end of her being jostled around so much, but she wasn’t really liking the kindness bit.
A new face surveyed the battered Faerie through the glass walls of her container. Jaede was really starting to hate being so small – everyone else looked big and intimidating.
Jaede didn’t like what she saw, especially because there was a high possibility this girl would want to keep her. A plain face with wildly bushy, shoulder-length brown hair, dull brown eyes, freckles, and a woven brown headband topping the mess on top of her head – no, this was not remotely close to Jaede’s standards. And to top it all off, this girl – Bessie – appeared to be positively nice. That would simply not do.
“Sorry it’s a Dark Faerie,” squeaked Benji the Lupe in that annoyingly piercing voice of his.
“Oh, it’s alright,” said Bessie dismissively, not breaking eye contact. Jaede was starting to feel a bit disconcerted – Dark Faeries didn’t instill fear into this human? And why was she staring so?
“Come on, let’s go now, guys,” said the girl nonchalantly. She took Jaede’s bottle carefully from the paws of her careless Baby Lupe, and the four of them – Bessie, Benji, Castilla, and Jaede (not that she had much choice) – set off towards “home.”
Not for the first time, Jaede thought to herself bitterly that she would give up her place in the Coven just to get out of this glass container, which was her prison. And then she thought of the Coven itself – where was Claudessia? Maude? ...Valeria...
They just haven’t found me yet, thought Jaede resolutely, although her confidence that they would come at all was waning.
“Who gets to open it, Mommy?” The incredibly whiny Lupe’s voice cut through Jaede’s daydream. She had been pretending one of the Coven’s plots to overthrow Fyora had worked, and she, Jaede the Malevolent, was supreme ruler of Faerieland – and all of Neopia, as well. It was a much nicer setting than the glass container she was still trapped inside.
Apparently, that wasn’t going to be true for much longer.
“Now, now, Benji, I believe we all agreed Priscilla would get to do that. She is our little ‘Jade Princess’ Battledomer, isn’t she?”
“Mom...” said a bored female voice reproachfully. Castilla the Poogle shifted aside to allow a Royal Girl Mynci to come into Jaede’s sightline. Priscilla.
“Well, come on then, open it already,” said an equally bored male voice. Jaede’s gaze flickered to a badly upholstered chair in the background, where a Plushie Draik sat poring over a thick book.
The Mynci walked over to the table where Jaede’s bottle sat, with the air of a completely haughty diva who thought she was better than everyone else. Jaede knew that was how Priscilla thought of herself from her own experience – although she expected Priscilla felt superior when it came to beauty, not malevolence. The Dark Faerie snorted derisively and crossed her arms. This was definitely not the sort of pet she wanted to grant an ability to; not that there was any pet, really, that she would want to give anything to.
But at least the Mynci would free her from the confines of this confounded glass container, which was definitely a plus.
Priscilla picked the bottle up, and Jaede held her breath in anticipation.
“Bes-sie!” whined Benji. Jaede’s face contorted into a scowl. Why, if her hands were free (and she was actually competent in the field of Dark Faerie magic)...
“Bessie, why should we open it? That Faerie looks mean.”
“Oh, Benji, must we get into this now?” replied Bessie, exasperated. “Every Faerie deserves a chance. We should free her from this bottle now that we’ve got her, and anyways, she might grant Priscilla an ability she doesn’t have yet.”
Jaede was rather close to starting on a long rant about how she didn’t have a choice – she had to grant Priscilla an ability – and she really was mean, and evil, and spiteful, and malicious... But she bit her tongue with the realization that an outburst of that nature might keep her locked in the glass bottle forever. And she wouldn’t want that.
“Well, if you’re done...” Priscilla stuck her tongue out at her brother, a very undignified gesture for one dressed so elegantly, and, without further ado, popped out the stopper to Jaede’s bottle.
The next few events happened in quick succession; Jaede cried out “FREEDOM!” and threw her hands into the air, an unearthly purple glow surrounded the bottle, making Priscilla back away with a gasp, and Jaede was sucked forcibly out of the small hole where the stopper had been. She was swathed in purple smoke as she returned to her regular size – twice the height of these pathetic Neopets, and probably taller than their owner, “Bessie,” too.
As the smoke cleared, Jaede cried out in a dramatic voice, “I am Jaede the Malevolent! Bringer of darkness and Dark Magic!” Here’s where my “showy, useless” magic comes in handy, thought Jaede with a smirk, as she made fake green balls of flame appear in her clenched fists. It was certainly intimidating, she noted, watching fear spread across all four Neopets’ faces. To her dismay, the girl Bessie seemed as calm and nice as ever. Why, she didn’t even look uncomfortable.
Jaede bared her pointed white teeth and let out a feral snarl. “Who dares to unleash my wrath?”
It was the girl who answered. “Well, the Royal Mynci who opened your bottle is Priscilla” – Priscilla risked a peek over the top of an armchair, behind which she had been hiding, at the sound of her name – “who would be very grateful if you granted her an ability. And I’m just a tad bit confused at the way you phrased that question; didn’t you want to be freed? And why would you unleash your wrath on us, the people who freed you?”
Jaede was completely taken aback. “I – well – um...” She coughed nervously.
“Anyways!” she bellowed after a moment’s pause, trying to make her voice sound dramatic and evil once more, “If it were up to me, I would give you nothing – NOTHING! – but great despair, darkness, and doom for all of eternity!” All of the lights in the room went out at once, and greenish lightning flashed near the ceiling. Benji gave out a petrified yelp and bounded on all fours to the armchair Priscilla hid behind so he could hide with her.
“As it is...” sneered Jaede. She sighed exasperatedly. “Well, I’m forced to grant you an ability. So hurry it up, I don’t have all day. I need to get back to my Coven in Faerieland. I have much more important things to do than grant abilities to unworthy specimens.”
Priscilla gulped audibly and walked slowly towards Jaede. The Mynci kept looking back at Bessie, apparently for guidance or support, for Bessie nodded encouragingly each time. When she had finally walked to the point as close to Jaede as she dared, she gulped again, and asked tentatively, “Um... Jaede the Malevolent, do I get to choose which ability I get?”
“NO!” cried Jaede irritably. “It’s my magic granting YOU an ability, so I get to chose. Erm, which ones are there to choose from again?”
The Plushie Draik giggled once, then fell silent at the sight of Jaede’s glare.
“Oh, well...” Priscilla obviously expected Jaede to know offhand all of the abilities she could give. Jaede rolled her eyes – didn’t these Neopets realize she hadn’t planned to be captured? “Hmm... well, there’s Night Vision, and then Nighttime... but I think I need Temporal Leak now, I have the others.”
Jaede thought for a moment. She could probably do Night Vision, and perhaps Nighttime if she had more information on what it was actually supposed to do... No, better make it Night Vision, then. Temporal Leak sounded terribly advanced.
“I am only willing to grant you Night Vision, because I don’t want to waste any of my vast reserve of magical ability on Neopets such as you. Of course, I could do far more powerful and advanced magic, but I don’t feel like it.”
“But – what?” spluttered Priscilla. “But I already have that one!” she moaned.
“I don’t care,” responded Jaede huffily, crossing her arms. “I’ll give it to another pet then.”
Finally, the girl seemed a bit distressed. “Um, excuse me, Miss Jaede the Malevolent, are you sure you can’t–”
“No,” spat Jaede. “Night Vision or nothing. Take it or leave it.”
Bessie sighed. “Oh, well. Who doesn’t have Night Vision yet, then?”
“I do!” piped up Benji. “I mean – I don’t! Pick me, Mommy, pick me!”
Jaede groaned. She had to grant him...
To be continued...