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The Flavors of Humbleness


by sunny_funshine

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It all began at the end of a get-together of faeries in Fyora’s palace—all her cooking ingredients spent on making tea and appetizers for the guests—when Fyora’s stomach let out an unassuming rumble.

     There were only four others who heard: Jhuidah extended one of her arms in the distance to indicate a travel to Mystery Island where her Island Cooking Pot was, and Taelia held one of Fyora’s hands to take her to Terror Mountain while Illusen grabbed the other to take her to Meridell, where the food, among the other items they obtained from quests, was guarded.

     But Fyora didn’t even look at them. She was attracted to the fourth faerie, who was shoved to the back, for her bearing rather than her wearing—for the white purity of selflessness that radiated off of the otherwise ordinary pearl that was her face. She placed both hands over her heart and raised her eyebrows as if to ask Fyora, “Will you come with me?”

     And, releasing herself from Taelia and Illusen’s grasp with an almost lazy flick of the wrist, and striding past Jhuidah—all three of them staring open-mouthed at where Fyora was going, then whipping their heads back at each other to frantically communicate behind her back using just their eyes—Fyora smiled and said, “Why, of course, Soup Faerie.”

     ~

     As soon as they disappeared, Illusen, Taelia and Jhuidah, who had been telepathically communicating, nodded at each other as one might do after an agreement. “Get whatever you need,” Illusen reminded, “and we’ll meet in no later than two minutes.” Then they flew off, a glint of foreboding in their eyes.

     Meanwhile...

     “Do you have any preference on what you want?” Soup Faerie asked, after seating Fyora in the “living room” part of the Soup Kitchen which overlooked the entrance.

     “Ahh... Negg Soup would be fine.”

     Soup Faerie nodded.

     Behind her, the three faeries landed with a soft thump. As Soup Faerie turned in their direction to enter the kitchen behind her, Jhuidah gasped at a window in the kitchen that was between them, and then fell to the ground, pulling Illusen and Taelia down with her.

     Soup Faerie stared for a long moment out the window, her eyebrows furrowed together. The faeries kept still, hardly daring to breathe. Finally, blinking herself out of her reverie, Soup Faerie pulled out her cooking vessels just as, outside, Taelia, Jhuidah and Illusen withdrew their first weapons.

     “Illusen’s Potion,” Illusen whispered, holding out her hand. Taelia dropped into it a powdery something which, when sprinkled into the potion, made it fizz and smoke.

     “This’ll make the soup uncontrollably tickle everywhere in the mouth that it touches. Fyora will have to stop by at one of our places for a decent meal!” Taelia giggled, taking the potion and shaking it well. Then, as soon as Soup Faerie turned away from the window to fish around in her cabinets, she took a deep breath before extending her arm through the window and pouring the contents of the bottle on top of one of the Neggs.

     Before she could extract her hand, however, Soup Faerie turned back around!

     “You!” she said loudly.

     The very blood in Taelia’s body froze.

     “What are you doing here?”

     “I-I...” Taelia stuttered.

     “Silly me, I didn’t even know I still had you!” Soup Faerie said, still talking to the bottle in her hand. She had turned herself to get the light from the window to read the label on the bottle. Chuckling, she returned it to the cabinet, then continued looking around for an ingredient.

     Taelia sighed with immense relief, and then tried to snap out her arm.

     But it was stuck!

     “Taelia, what are you doing?” Jhuidah whispered.

     “It’s stuck!” Taelia whispered back.

     Jhuidah smacked her palm on her forehead and Illusen stared up at the sky and shook her head, before running to help Taelia get her arm out.

     “Ahh, there’s what I was looking for!” Soup Faerie put both hands on a very heavy-looking brown bag and pulled. The bag didn’t budge.

     “Pull!” Illusen was furiously whispering to Taelia

     “I’m trying!”

     “Pull—harder—”

     Meanwhile, inside the kitchen, Soup Faerie leaned back and pulled the heavy bag with all her strength—“UhhhhhHHH”—flying backwards towards the wall as the bag finally lifted from the cabinet.

     At the same time, Taelia’s arm popped out of the window and she, along with Jhuidah and Illusen, all fell onto their backs in the grass from the momentum of their pulling. But this sound was muffled by the sound of Soup Faerie hitting the wall.

     They scrambled up, knowing that they needed to be directly underneath the window in order to not be seen.

     “Let’s quickly get this over with,” said Illusen, who was now growing nervous. She picked up one of the two bags of crushed leaves that had fallen from Jhuidah’s hand when they had tried to rescue Taelia, carefully put her arm through the window, and quickly dumped the leaves into a pile of coriander to disguise their presence.

     She was about to pick up the other, but heard Soup Faerie’s approaching footsteps and desisted. “Oh well,” Illusen thought. “At least I got one in.”

     They heard her pick up the pot and carry it over to Fyora—“Here, Your Fyoraness. Enjoy.”

     The three faeries waited for the sounds of retching, but all that came was: “Mmm... delicious...”

     The three faeries looked at each other in utter confusion.

     Then, Jhuidah’s eyes fell on the remaining bag of leaves. “Illusen! You put in the wrong bag! Those leaves are the antidote to what Taelia put in! They need to be combined with these—” she shook the other bag in her hand “—to get their dangerous effect!”

     “Oh...” Illusen lowered her eyes, feeling foolish, especially about rolling her eyes and shaking her head at Taelia earlier, as though she was so much smarter. “I’m... sorry...”

     There was a long silence. The three faeries sat there, bereft of all pride, feeling as ordinary as a neopet, which has no magical powers. After all, their magical preparations at ruining Soup Faerie’s meal had only counteracted each other to leave the soup in the exact same state that it would have been had they not intervened at all!

     “Let’s—just—let’s go,” Jhuidah said finally.

     Illusen looked up. So did Taelia.

     All three of them raised their hands, then stopped, staring at each other. They all took a deep breath at the same time, and seemed to totter on the verge of speech—an apology, a word of comfort, anything—but then, knowing how little they deserved any form of reassurance or solace, simply flew away.

     ~

     “Would you like some more, Your Fyoraness?” Soup Faerie was asking.

     “No, thank you.” Fyora’s voice suddenly sounded less appreciative of the soup, as though there was something lacking.

     I only chose Soup Faerie to cook for me over the others because she was the only one who had no pride, and so her food would be the purest and therefore the tastiest, Fyora thought. But my magical power tells me that the others have changed too. So how can this soup alone now satisfy me?

     She clanged her spoon around the edges of the bowl to get the last dregs of the soup. Then, with Soup Faerie bowing her out of her humble Soup Kitchen, she flew off, her stomach still rumbling, to Mystery Island, Terror Mountain, and Meridell, for a meal.

     And thus did Soup Faerie, for the first time in all recorded Neopian history, transcend her simplicity without violating it in order to reveal the unfathomable power of its most vital component—humbleness.

The End

 
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