Insured?: Part Two
“The Shop Wizard?” Oscar questioned, “Do we absolutely have to?”
“Have you got any other suggestions?” Jones said dismissively, “My wings are getting far too old to be flying people around. I hear Imelda Briars got a lift with a Shenkuu ship, but there won’t be another along for weeks. This is our only choice.”
“What about the Ultra-Quick representative, Jack Storm?” Oscar asked.
“He’s a Shoyru,” Jones told him.
The two of them were making their way through Neopia Central towards the marketplace and the Shop Wizard’s tent. Oscar had been equipped with a crisp new tailored suit and a briefcase containing all the papers, rubber stamps and stationery he would need.
“But it’s the Shop Wizard,” Oscar complained. “He’s a loon.”
“Maybe no, maybe yes,” Jones replied, “but either way he’s your ticket to Faerieland.”
Oscar sighed. At least there wasn’t much chance of the Shop Wizard locking him in a dungeon or throwing blunt objects at him.
They reached the blue tent in the centre of the marketplace. Magical sparks flew off the tip of the tent, shaped like the Shop Wizard’s hat.
If they ever catch me living inside a giant hat, Oscar thought to himself, they can cart me off to the loony bin right there and then.
Jones opened up the curtain leading inside and pushed Oscar inside. As his eyes became accustomed to the gloom Oscar could make out the inside of the tent. The walls were lined with bookshelves, all the way to the tip. The shelves in turn were bursting with hefty volumes. A small window and the doorway provided the only light in the small tent. There was a bright flash in front of him, and suddenly a small JubJub wearing a wizard hat and a tiny robe appeared.
“Alakazam!!!” the JubJub shouted, “I am the shop wizard!!!”
Even though the Shop Wizard had said it rather than written it, Oscar knew there were three exclamation marks. As far as Oscar was concerned, anyone using three exclamation marks in conversation was clinically insane.
“Good day, your lordship...” Jones said humbly, “We have come about a teleportation to Faerieland. I believe you were contacted.”
“Yes, yes, yes, simply splendid!!!” the Shop Wizard said, positively dripping excitement.
“Any time you are ready...” Oscar mumbled.
“Would you like some tea before you go!?” the wizard asked.
Before he got a reply, he had taken off his magic hat. He held it in one hand while reaching into it with the other. Slowly he produced out of it a tea set for three complete with hot tea, a table, tablecloth, and three chairs, each with cushions. He placed the hat back on his head firmly.
“Do you know,” he said as he leapt up onto a chair, “that this entire set would cost you only in the region of five thousand Neopoints to buy from the market!? Why, there are twenty different sellers for the table alone!!! I can name them all if you like... let’s see, there’s...”
Oscar stopped him before he could rattle off the names.
“If it’s all the same to you, I’d rather just be teleported. I don’t want any tea,” he told the wizard.
“That’s simply astonishing!!!” he wizard said as he hopped off the chair. “Everyone says that!!!”
Somehow, Oscar wasn’t surprised.
“Now, let’s see, let’s see... teleportation... You know, I could tell you the names of everyone selling Main Codestones at this moment off the top of my head, but remembering spells always takes me a while!!!”
Oscar gulped; he hoped he’d have all his limbs when the wizard was done.
“Ah yes!!!” the wizard said excitedly. “I remember!!!”
“You should meet Jack and Imelda when you get there,” Jones informed Oscar, “After that, all of you can do whatever you want to get Fyora to sign.”
“Ready!?” the wizard asked.
“Off you go!!!” the Shop Wizard shouted.
The JubJub jumped up and down a few times, apparently casting the spell. Oscar felt his arms and legs tingle, and then suddenly the world blurred. It was as if the entire universe was being stirred with a teaspoon. Colours and shapes intermixed as they sped around him. The experience didn’t do wonders for Oscar’s stomach. As soon as it had started, it ended. The colours and shapes focused again, settling in different positions and hues. The Shop Wizard’s tent was gone, now Oscar was surrounded by Faerieland, the city in the sky. His stomach didn’t leave him a choice; he threw up over the edge of a cloud.
“That’s going to be messy if it hits someone...” Oscar said to himself as he got back up.
Then he realised there were two other people around. One was an electric Shoyru dressed in a leather jacket; the other was a pink Ixi who was looking sternly at Oscar.
“Are you the Neopia Central representative?” the pink Ixi asked.
“Good, then we can get started,” she said in relief.
The electric Shoyru made a heroic pose.
“I,” he said importantly, “am Jack Storm.”
“And I am Imelda Briars,” the purple Ixi said. “Delighted I’m sure.”
She was wearing a fake smile, Oscar could tell. He doubted if she was delighted at all.
“Well, if that’s all of us,” Jack said, “we can begin!”
In a flash he was off, zooming over the cloudscape like a bullet.
“So long, losers!” he shouted in the distance.
Imelda scowled in his direction.
“We’ll see about that, you self confident lightning rod!” she screamed after him.
Without waiting to acknowledge Oscar further, she ran off towards the Faerie city on the horizon, leaving Oscar alone.
He stepped forward a few steps to test out the solidity of the clouds. They sagged slightly, but not a lot. It was like walking on marshmallows. He didn’t have anything to gain from standing around all day, so he hitched up his trousers and set off towards the shimmering city in the centre of the clouds.
The red Lutari walked through the royal gardens of the Fyora’s castle next to an Earth Faerie, admiring the plants.
“Amazing that you can cultivate such rare flowers here, Vyline,” he said as he walked. “How ever do you manage it on the clouds?”
“A lot of hard work goes into it, of course, Lord Northolt,” the Faerie replied, and then leaned in close to whisper, “and a touch of Earth Faerie magic.”
“Of course.” Lord Northolt chuckled. “But I should imagine the job of being Fyora’s head gardener brings its own unique challenges.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t say I’m all that good,” Vyline replied. “I just enjoy what I do.”
“As do I,” Northolt replied, smelling a Faerie Bean plant.
“Just what is it that you do, Lord Northolt?” Vyline asked.
“Oh, you know,” Northolt said vaguely. “What does any Lord do these days? Mostly I just sit down in Meridell advising the King.”
Vyline was suspicious. She had never heard of Northolt, and neither had any other faeries she had asked.
“Are you a keen horticulturalist?” she asked, forming a test in her mind.
“Somewhat; I do like to wander in the King’s gardens,” Northolt replied.
“What do you think of this Blazing Frooble Shrub, my lord?” she asked, gesturing to a small plant with a large pointed red flower.
“My lady, I think you are mistaken,” Northolt replied in an instant. “That is a Gnome Hat Plant. We passed the Blazing Frooble Shrub only a moment ago. I would say, though, that both seem to be in excellent condition.”
Vyline smiled politely.
“Of course, how forgetful of me,” she said as they kept on walking.
He knows his stuff all right, Vyline thought to herself, but that doesn’t prove he’s a Lord.
“So, do you tend to the gardens constantly?” Northolt asked.
“Every day, but only during the days,” Vyline conceded. “Even Faeries need time off.”
“Indeed you must.” Northolt laughed.
Perhaps he’s just a lesser known Lord, Vyline thought. Meridell does seem to have more Lords than citizens after all.
The pair rounded a corner and were presented with a statue in front of them.
“Ah, the Darkest Faerie herself,” Northolt said, beholding the vine covered statue of the evil faerie.
“Fyora had her placed here when she was encased in stone for the second time,” Vyline explained.
“Yes, I heard as much,” Northolt said.
Nothing further was uttered as they passed the statue, aside from Northolt remarking about the vivid colour of some yellow poppies. When they were almost out of sight of the statue, Northolt glanced back. It was only a brief look, but in it he took in the entire scene, and noted with particular care that the statue was not chained to the ground. There was the smallest glimmer of a smile on his face, before he regained complete control of his emotions.
“So,” Northolt said, “do you spend much time with the palace guards?”
Jack was soaring above the Faerie City; the castle was in plain sight, its countless turrets far overshadowing the rest of the city. Below him Imelda ran at full speed, determined to be the first to reach the palace.
“I’ll have her signature before nightfall!” Jack shouted down from the sky. “You might as well just go home now!”
He let out a pitying laugh, which was promptly followed by a dull thump as Jack collided with an apparently solid wall of air. The Shoyru slid down gently, landing in a crumpled heap on the palace steps. Imelda smugly stepped over him.
“Mind the Hidden Tower,” she said mockingly as she made her way to the palace.
To be continued...