Insured?: Part Four
John White the Faerie Kougra had, on the face of things, only existed in Neopia for ten minutes. Still, appearances are only skin deep, sometimes shallower than that. At his core, John White was far older, and far wiser. He knew the magic of appearances. He understood that Faerie magic altered the world, manipulating matter to do the caster’s will. He also understood that no matter how much you change the world, fundamentally, you change nothing.
Appearances cast their own spells, but not ones that could cause flash floods of Mortogs. Appearances cast spells that can’t be seen, spells that affect people’s minds rather than their bodies. John White considered appearances to be a much better form of magic.
For example: he had never been a guard in the Faerie Queen’s castle, but he wore the armour of one. That was enough for the Faeries, who treated the guards somewhat like furniture; aware of their existence in the same way they knew rooms contained windows or curtains.
The other guards too, could be fooled by appearances. When a Faerie at the castle’s reception yelled for guards, no one batted an eyelid when John White pointed a spear at the yellow Kacheek. It didn’t matter that none of the other guards had ever seen John White before. He was wearing the uniform of the guards. Who else but a guard would respond to the call “Guards!” wearing a guard uniform?
And just like that, John White was in, and getting in was half the battle.
The guards led Oscar outside by the points of their spears. Once the group was on the palace steps, they relaxed their weapons. A blue Draik stepped forward.
“Sorry about that,” he said. “The Receptionist Faerie gets a bit grouchy sometimes.”
“You’re not going to arrest me?” Oscar asked.
“No!” The Draik laughed. “If we went around arresting everyone she told us to, half of Faerieland would be in the cells!”
A green Pteri patted Oscar gently on the shoulder.
“So what are you here for?” she asked kindly.
“I was supposed to have an audience with the queen,” Oscar replied, “but it looks like it’s been cancelled.”
“Oh,” the Draik said glumly. “Sorry about that. Say, we’re about due a break, do you fancy a brew, kind of an apology like?”
Oscar had nothing better to do.
“Sure,” he replied. “Why not?”
Imelda paced backwards and forwards in the castle gardens. She couldn’t let Jack win; Fyora had to sign, but how? The queen would never see Imelda again.
Then she stopped, why would the queen have to see her?
After all, when the boss had bet Fyora would sign, all he really meant was a policy for the castle was taken out. Fyora didn’t need to sign for that; one of her clerks could do it. With a spring in her step, she ran off towards the reception, colliding with Vyline the Earth Faerie as she went. Both figures fell noisily to the floor, the Faerie hitting her head on a nearby pot, smashing it into pieces.
Jack soared through the Faerieland sky, selecting his target with care. Fyora would have a very special window; he thought it would look more regal than the others. Once he had chosen, he swooped down and landed elegantly on the balcony, before stepping through the curtains into the room. He had chosen correctly. Fyora was there on her throne.
“Who are you?” she demanded.
Jack struck an impressive pose.
“I am Jack Storm, from Ultra-Quick Insurance, Ltd,” he said proudly.
“Insurance?” Fyora questioned. “You are another insurance salesman?”
“Yes, my Queen, and if I could have a few moments of your time-” he began.
“Guards!” Fyora shouted.
Oscar had been taken to the guard house near the dungeons of the castle. There, the guards had brewed some tea, provided a mismatch of mugs from the four corners of Neopia, and an impressive biscuit tin. The guards listened as Oscar explained his story, and his reason for being in Faerieland.
“But enough about me,” he said eventually. “What about you?”
“Well, I am Captain Smith,” the blue Draik said. “Commander of the guard. This is my second in command, Lieutenant Jones.”
He indicated the green Pteri. Smith then went on to introduce the other members of the guard. There was Banks, a Scorchio with a nervous temperament, Bane, a Grarrl who could only be described as the muscle of the group, and a fire Faerie named Sandra.
“It is nice to see a Faerie as a member of the guard,” Oscar commented.
“It is?” the Faerie asked.
Smith leaned in closer to Oscar.
“Sandra had a bit of a fall when she was a kid,” he whispered. “She’s convinced that she’s a Faerie Kougra. We try telling her, but she doesn’t listen.”
“Oh,” Oscar replied, quite speechless.
Oscar noted that there was one more member of the guard who did not get introduced, an actual Faerie Kougra who was lurking behind Captain Smith. Oscar was about to ask his name when a Faerie burst through the door.
“Quick, someone has assaulted Vyline in the gardens, and another person has broken into the throne room!” the Faerie yelled.
Captain Smith was up like a shot.
“Right,” he said, “Sandra, you’re with Jones and Banks in the gardens, Bane you come with me and...”
Smith paused as he looked at the Faerie Kougra, unable to place his name.
“White, sir, from the Hidden Tower unit,” the Kougra replied in a flash.
“Right,” Smith continued, “Bane, White and I will go to the queen. Get about it!”
The guards rushed off to their duties. Smith came back a moment later.
“Let yourself out when you go, Oscar,” he said, before running off again.
Oscar had nowhere else to go, so after cleaning up the mugs, he wandered back up to the gardens to see the attacker being apprehended. To his surprise he saw that it was Imelda.
“Listen, I just ran into her!” she protested as the guards took her arms. “It was an accident!”
“We’ll just see about that when she regains consciousness,” Sandra muttered as she tended to the fallen Vyline.
Across the courtyard, Oscar couldn’t help but notice the Faerie Kougra lurking in the shadows.
“Oscar!” Imelda yelled as she caught sight of the Kacheek. “Tell them it wasn’t me!”
“You know this woman?” Lieutenant Jones asked.
“She’s one of my competitors,” he told the Pteri.
The guard’s hold on Imelda relaxed slightly.
“Then I suppose you might be telling the truth,” she considered, “but we’d best take you down to reception to get all this sorted out. Oscar, can you help Sandra with Vyline?”
Oscar nodded and rushed forward, snagging his briefcase on a nearby rake. The briefcase ripped open, and all manner of official documents spilled out.
“Oh dear,” he said, then glanced at the struggling Sandra. “I’ll get them later, come on.”
He put one of the Earth Faerie’s arms over his shoulder and Sandra did the same. Together, they carried the Faerie after the others.
Once he was sure they were gone, John White emerged from the shadows and took his place in front of the Darkest Faerie’s statue. It was to be the crime of the century. He fished out an Air Faerie Token, and hung it around the statue’s neck.
Bane and Captain Smith burst through the large purple double doors of Fyora’s throne room in an overly dramatic style.
“Ah, Captain Smith,” Fyora said with relief, “I need this man removed.”
“Are you unharmed, your majesty?” Smith asked, advancing on the electric Shoyru standing in the open window.
“My temper has taken quite a battering,” Fyora said, massaging her forehead. “Nothing more.”
The shadow of Bane the Grarrl eclipsed Jack Storm.
“Now wait just a minute-” the salesman attempted to beg.
Bane was not the type to wait a minute, or a second for that matter. He picked the struggling Shoyru up in one massive hand and put him over his shoulder.
“What do you want us to do with him, your majesty?” Smith asked.
Fyora considered this.
“We can’t throw him in the dungeons,” she said eventually. “If we did, we’d have to listen to him. Just throw him out of the castle. Oh, and see to it that the castle windows are closed so he can’t fly back in.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Smith said, saluting.
He closed the large double doors behind himself and Bane. The Queen was left alone with her aides. After only a moment, she got up from the throne and walked purposefully over to the window. She swung it shut with a loud bang.
“Clear my appointments for the rest of the day,” she told her aides. “I can feel a headache coming on.”
The sun was setting in Faerieland, giving the gardens an orange hue. John White stood in front of the Darkest Faerie’s statue, putting the finishing touches to his work. Air Faerie Erasers were stuffed everywhere they could go, a few Bottled Air Faeries were placed at the statue's foot, and she now had three Air Faerie Tokens hung around her neck. The statue seemed to be on the verge of floating away like a balloon.
From under his armour, John White took a morphing potion, identical to the one he had used before. It would be the final one he would use on this job. It was time to make his getaway. It was time for the masks to fall to the floor. It was time to show his true face, the face of victory.
To be continued...