Misjudged: Part Two
Also by psychopsam
“Bye, Mom. See you in a bit.” Jhudora rushed out the door, her purple hair flying behind her. Her wings started flapping, but the Dark Faerie didn’t feel like flying. No, she wanted to run, to sprint as fast as possible. After all, she had barely flown in her life at all, what with being stuck in her house for so long. She figured she would probably lose control anyway.
She turned off her own street and onto Earth Faerie Close. There were houses to her left, but to her right it was almost empty. In fact, there was nothing there except for one building, a store called Trinkets and Things.
Stopping for a bit and breathing hard, Jhudora strode up to the display window. There was a snowglobe in the middle of the display, of a Dark Faerie, much like herself. It had purple hair like her; the only obvious difference was a green streak running down one side of the faerie’s head. Not only that, but her fashion sense differed from that of Jhudora’s, as this particular faerie wore a purple robe with a green stripe down the middle, and green lipstick sparkled on her mouth.
Jhudora stared in awe at the snowglobe, and then took a wary glance at the price tag. “50,000 neopoints?” she asked aloud. “I don’t have even close to that, and I doubt Mother would lend me enough for such a trivial thing. Oh well. It’s so pretty.” And then Jhudora remembered Thyana, rushing away from the window and down Earth Faerie Close.
As she moved on, she took a look around her. Like most neighbourhoods in this section of Faerieland (the Dark Quarter, they called it, due to its large population of Dark Faeries), Earth Faerie Close was one long line of old, dilapidated houses, all leaning at unorthodox angles. They were grand, in their own way, but unsightly, like large toadstools sprouting from the ground. Every one of them was painted a deep, dark black, and most had some of the windows boarded up, like no-one was living there. Ever so often she could hear a shrill wooden shriek, as a weathervane swung stiffly around in the breeze.
Earth Faerie Close, she kept saying to herself in her head, lest she forget, Earth Faerie Close... But where was this place? Very few of the houses on this street had any numbers, or at least if they had, they were long gone. So she decided to stop someone and ask.
“’Scuse me, sir,” she shouted to a portly old Eyrie out with his Spardel for a walk.
He turned with a jolt, almost making his bowler hat fall off in the process. “Yes, young lady?” he snapped sourly, obviously taking not pleasure in being bothered during his stroll.
“Can you tell me where 99 Earth Faerie Close is?”
The stranger seemed to be having some trouble with his Spardel. The Petpet rather liked the look of Jhudora, and was pulling as hard as it possibly could at its leash, leaping and barking giddily. “Fifth...” he said, in between trying to tug the Spardel back to his side, “house... on the left.”
“Thank you, sir,” said Jhudora, and as she saw the Eyrie give her a frosty look, added. “Sorry for causing you so much trouble.” She gave the Spardel a friendly ruffle, which seemed to calm it down, and then she went on her way.
Counting carefully, Jhudora made her way down the street. Her heart sped up as she approached Thyana’s house. It was much like the one she used to live in before she had moved into her current one: almost unnoticeable if you weren’t paying much attention. As expected, the address of the house was worn and rubbed out, but the door seemed pretty new, she noticed, as she closed her hand into a fist and knocked.
The Dark Faerie waited patiently yet anxiously, almost worried. She was meeting her idol now, the very author that could connect to her in every way. She ran a nervous finger through her hair and fixedly gazed at the door. She could hear movement from inside, but it didn’t seem to be coming towards the front of the house.
Finally, the door swung open, revealing a distraught Dark Faerie. Like Antha’s, her hair was jet black, and her face was a pale blue. She was breathing hard, her eyes wide and bloodshot. “Who are you, and what do you want?” she spat out, and Jhudora took a step back, wondering how Thyana survived with such a strange roommate.
“I’m looking for Thyana Tyesse. Is she around?” Jhudora mumbled awkwardly, peering over the exasperated Dark Faerie’s shoulder to see if there was another faerie inside the house.
“Speaking,” the Dark Faerie at the door said. Shaking her hair out, she added, “Who are you, and what do you want?”
Jhudora’s jaw dropped. She wasn’t expecting Thyana to be so rude to her guests, but, then again, she did look a little apprehensive about something. Maybe she didn’t want visitors. “Should I come back later? I’m Jhudora. My mother, Antha, says she knows you, and—“
“Jhudora? Oh, Jhudora!” Thyana seemed much friendlier now, and she outstretched her arms to the younger Dark Faerie’s shoulder. “My, the years have flown by, now haven’t they? Come in, come in, I’m sure we have much to talk about!”
Jhudora entered the house, stepping through the door into a hallway. It was badly lit, but she could just about make out the faint outlines of various objects strewn across the floor. Thyana didn’t seem to be a big fan of neatness.
“Come on,” said Thyana, beckoning with a bony hand. She extended a finger and pointed at a staircase. “This way.” Jhudora noticed it was made of some lustrous stone, which shone alluringly even in the pale half-light. Perhaps it was marble, but she couldn’t be sure.
As they ascended the steps, Thyana said, “I am sorry, sweetie. Some darned eccentric owned this house before I did. He built the kitchen upstairs and the lounge on the other side of the house. Can you believe that? We’re just going to have to have our tea standing up. I hope that’s not too inconvenient?”
“Yeah, it’s fine.” Jhudora felt like giving an ironic laugh, but just about managed to restrain herself. She was lucky to even get tea in the first place, most days. Sour cordial was pretty much the standard fare for her. Antha’s many ever-so-important guests, at least one of whom always seemed to be in the house, got all the best drinks.
“Come on then, kitchen’s just up here...”
As they came to the landing, the Dark Faerie took a look around. It was very similar to the hall save for the fact that it was substantially better lit. Here, there was a wide, triangular shaped window, which set above an odd wooden ledge full of various objects, none of which made much sense to Jhudora. They didn’t look pleasant, though: strange implements she didn’t dare to imagine the purpose of, and wasn’t going to touch in a hurry; disturbing things in glass cases, too upsetting to even mention; tiny, deformed things wallowing in filthy liquid tankards, which looked down at her with big staring eyes, pained expressions on their faces. They whispered, tiny mewling sounds. Some even seemed to form words.
Jhudora stomped away from the ledge, not wanting to look at those horrible things any longer. She went into the kitchen, where Thyana was holding two steaming mugs of tea in her gnarled hands.
“Something wrong?” she said, noticing Jhudora’s expression.
“No, it’s just...”
Thyana smiled, handed her the tea. “Ah, I understand,” she said. “Please, don’t be alarmed by some of the things you might see around here. It’s... my job. You could even say it’s my nature.”
Jhudora looked up in surprise, taking a step back. What, the nature of a Dark Faerie? she thought. Something’s wrong. That stuff was... evil. You can’t put that down to nature. It’s still a choice you make. Is it true that she’s a hypocrite? That she contradicts exactly what she writes?
“Dear, you look pale. At least, pale for a Dark Faerie.” Thyana cackled with delight, and Jhudora tried to smile with her, but she couldn’t. Something’s... wrong.
“I-I just have a question,” Jhudora managed to sputter. “You see, I found your first book, Misjudged, on my shelf, and I really enjoyed it. I was wondering... who inspired that character, the main one, in your story?”
There were a few seconds of silence, and then Thyana began to guffaw even harder than she had before. “Oh, Jhudie, dear, who inspired that character? It was you! You’re a smart girl, I thought you knew that already.”
“Me?” Jhudora demanded, shocked. Me? All the time I was admiring and relating to a character based off myself? I was connecting with myself all along. So maybe... maybe I am the only one. “But how did you know about me? My situation? I’ve never even met you before!”
“Yes, you have. Of course, I had to change my name after Fyora learned of my whereabouts, but you still know me. Did you ever wonder what happened to Auntie Elena?”
Jhudora gasped. Everything was coming too fast, like quick jabs to the stomach. She ran a hand through her hair, contemplating what to say next. “So... all this time that you were gone... you were actually right here, with us? Why are you in hiding? I don’t get it.”
“I knew it! I knew she would be too protective!” Elena shook her head. “She hasn’t told you yet, has she? Well, ever since you were little, we’ve been involved in the Thieves’ Guild. There was a big heist, one night, in the national Neopian. Your mother and I took it on all by ourselves, refusing backup, believing we could pull it off. We were younger then... and arrogant.
“It went well for a time; we got as far as the vault, but as I was trying to pick the lock, I made a terrible mistake... my frustration got the better of me, and I cried out. A guard came soon after. Antha got away, being in a better state than I was, but I was caught, and brought to court.
“I spent three years in jail, then. Three years of horror, with nothing but the stink of my own decay to keep me company. I was driven half-mad wondering if any of the nightmare I was living could be real. I was close to breaking point... but then, one day, your mother came and rescued me. I’ve lived here ever since; too dangerous to be seen in public, you understand. And to pass the time, I write.”
Seeing the look on Jhudora’s face, she added, ”I’m sorry, dear. We would have told you sooner—well, at least, I would have told you sooner...”
Jhudora’s eyes clogged with tears. All those years of deceit and lies. Had her mother no heart? Could she not have shown just a little love to her daughter? A lot of things were clear now, but she still had one more question to ask, “Why did you write... about me?”
Elena sighed, a withered look on her face. She really was old, poor Elena, older than Jhudora cared to imagine. Her wrinkled face recounted the story of her life, and it was nothing but endless unfaltering frowns. She was one who knew the true meaning of pain. And here she was, sorrow etched onto her face all over again. The expression fit her like a mask. “Jhudora,” she began. “Antha loves you very much; she just has difficulty expressing it. I never like the idea, from day one, but when she came to me with that look on her face—“
“It’s all right,” Jhudora said, forcing tears back. Her mind was whirling with unspoken rage at what her mother had done. How could she think that it was really right to speak to her own daughter through the pages of a book? Was it too hard just to tell her that she loved her, straight to her face, to hold her in her arms and tell her that everything would be alright, that it was fine to be different, and not to listen to whatever anyone else told her? She had a heart of stone, just like all the other Dark Faeries, just like her. The stereotype was correct, she realised. All she wanted was a little love, but it was in a Dark Faerie’s nature to be cruel. They weren’t capable. “I understand.”
All at once, the younger faerie’s face fell, and then she croaked, “So I am the only one.”
“What’s that, honey?” Elena asked, but Jhudora started towards the front hall.
“It’s nothing. I’m glad I came by. I’ll see you soon, Th—Aunt Elena.”
Jhudora opened the front door, stepping out into the fresh air. She waved goodbye to her aunt and then set out down the road, intent on getting home as quick as possible. Millions of thoughts ran through her head, but one stood out to her, repeating itself constantly. I’m the only one.
Looking up, the Dark Faerie saw the Eyrie and his Spardel approaching once again. “Well, at least they like me. One of them, anyway...” she muttered to herself. But when she leaned down to pet the Spardel, it briskly trotted away, avoiding her hand. As they went their separate ways, she muttered, “Or not.”
No one respects me. No one likes me. That’s all because I’m a Dark Faerie! You know, why should I be a nice faerie if all people see in me is evil? Why shouldn’t I just conform? It would make everyone’s lives easier. Maybe they might regret misjudging me, she thought to herself angrily. Her face was getting redder as she came upon the store from before, Trinkets and Things.
The snowglobe was there again; the Dark Faerie with green streaks running down its hair and dress. “50,000 neopoints,” she whispered in awe. “I could never have that.”
She began to walk away, but then she stopped. Correction, she thought to herself. I could never pay for it.
She turned back to the store window, taking another long look inside, and, making sure the streets were empty, she walked inside.