A Tale of Two Faeries: Part One
This series is the sequel to my short story, The Real Me.
Fin scratched his chin as he gazed at the small, spidery handwriting. He had never been a great reader; too many missed days of Neoschool to help out at the farm proved that impossible. Anyway, he had always considered reading a skill not worth knowing. After all, reading won’t help you herd Babaa or keep away the Crokabek from terrorizing the garden. In Fin’s mind, reading was a skill for stuck-up, rich Neopians, not for farmers like himself. Well, there he was, wrong again. Like always.
The other day Fin had been helping a customer who wanted to play Pick Your Own. She was a rather (okay, a lot) pretty pink Aisha and Fin had been feeling a little woozy. “So,” he had said. “You want to play?”
“Uh, yeah,” said the Aisha nervously. “Um, what’s the price again?”
Fin shook his head to clear it and leaned up against the side of his stand and pointed to a large sign nailed to the top that clearly read “Pick Your Own” and underneath in smaller letters, the word “400 NP a game” were visible.
“Oh.” The Aisha fished in her pocket before pulling out some small silver coins. She reached out and handed them to Fin, who counted them and shoved them in his pocket. “Where are the baskets?”
“They’re right on the left,” replied Fin. The Aisha bent down to pick one up. Fin was vaguely aware of a Draik standing beside the Aisha. He was looking rather annoyed. Fin wondered if he had been standing there for a long time. “Er, can I help you?” he asked nervously.
The Draik cleared his throat. He was wearing some kind of purple armor and held a parchment, which he held up and stated, quite seriously: “Queen Fyora, Lady of the Western Skies, has ordered me, a Royal Messenger to Her Noble Self, on behalf of the Terrible and Most Evil Jhudora, Neopia’s Most Feared Faerie, to deliver a message to Fin, a common green Lupe who currently resides in Meri Acre Farms and is the owner of Pick Your Own.” At this point, the now breathless Draik glanced up at him with a look of utmost disgust on his face and said, “Would that be you? You are Fin, the owner of Pick Your Own?”
“Aye,” Fin grunted back at him. “That would be me.” The Aisha looked on the verge of leaving, and Fin was slightly annoyed. Jhudora had a little of an infamous reputation. Business was starting to get rarer and rarer now that the wearable Dung sensation had gone down and the Second Hand Shoppe was started.
“You are, to say, a green Lupe?” asked the Draik with a quizzical smirk on his face. Fin looked down at his yellow fur and Gelert body. Unfortunately, it definitely didn’t belong to a Green Lupe.
“Last time I, er, saw Jhudora, I was a green Lupe,” said Fin blandly. “Recently I had a bit of trouble with a morphing potion and a paintbrush, so now I’m a yellow Gelert. Jhudora doesn’t know that yet. It was actually a funny story, if you want to hear about it....” The Draik frowned. Fin guessed he didn’t want to hear about it.
“Oh,” said the Draik distastefully. He obviously considered anyone living on a farm not worth knowing, much less talking to. “Well, here’s your letter, anyway.” He handed Fin a purple envelope with a green wax seal. The smallest piece of purple parchment was sticking out the side. “Enjoy.”
Fin looked quizzically at the scroll. He scratched his chin and looked up at the Draik. “Um, well...” said Fin shyly. “I, uh, can’t...”
“Oh,” muttered the Draik flatly. “You can’t read. Joy.”
“And how is this a good thing?” barked Fin at the bored Draik.
“I was being sarcastic.” The Draik smirked. “The letter came with special orders for me not to open it under any circumstances. You were the only one allowed to see it. So, unfortunately you’re going to have to learn to read. Jhudora won’t be pleased if you don’t even see her letter.”
Fin cringed. This wasn’t looking too good for him. “Please!” he begged. “Could you help me learn how to read?”
The Draik looked at his wrist on which a large clock was placed. The Draik’s face scrunched up in agony as he tried to figure out the time. Finally, he looked up. “Nope,” said the Draik with a twinge of regret in his voice. “I have to be back in Faerieland in less than two hours. Queen Fyora, Lady of the Western Skies, wants me to deliver a message to Psellia, the Dreamer, all the way in Altador for her. Something about a giant storm blowing into Faerieland she wants her to stop. Besides, it takes two hours to get there, and Queen Fyora, Lady of the Western Skies, doesn’t like it when I’m late.”
“You mean Fyora has temper tantrums?” asked Fin eagerly, momentarily forgetting his situation.
“Er, more of a hissy fit,” explained the Draik. He leaned in close to Fin. “Besides, I can’t read, either,” he whispered. As Fin stared at him, astonished, the Draik took flight. Soon he was only a dot on the late afternoon horizon. “A lot of help you were!” Fin shouted after him.
Fin sighed and leaned his head against the wooden pole that supported the side of his stand. “What will I do?” he moaned. “I just wanted a little peace in life, a little quiet. Why did Jhudora have to send me a letter? Didn’t she realize I’m a useless reader?”
The Aisha stepped forward. Fin hadn’t known she was still there. “If you want,” she said. “I’ve heard lots of rumors that most faeries around these parts can read pretty well. Maybe one of them will teach you to read.”
“But Faeries don’t really show themselves to Neopets,” explained Fin. “Unless they want a quest, that is, and that doesn’t happen a lot of times daily. And I have to get this read fast. Besides, I’m a little short on Neopoints right now and quests are usually expensive.”
“Oh,” said the Aisha. She plopped her elbow down on the stand and sat down on the ground. “Well, I don’t see too much hope for you. Does anyone living in Meri Acre Farms know how to read?”
“Are you kidding me?” exclaimed Fin harshly. He stood up, and the Aisha looked hurt. “Sorry,” he sighed as he sat back down. “I know you’re only trying to help, but no Neopet in all of Meridell can read, with the exception of the King’s scribes.”
“But what about Brightvale?” suggested the Aisha. “People there are very smart, I think. I come from Terror Mountain, so I wouldn’t know, but I’ve heard good things about it.”
“Brightvale's too far to walk,” explained Fin. “I don’t suppose you can read, can you?”
“Actually, I can,” said the Aisha. “But I’m going back to Terror Mountain tonight, and the next vacation here I have planned is a year from now.”
“Oh,” said Fin glumly. “I guess I just won’t be able to read it, then. That’s okay, I guess.”
“Well,” said the Aisha as she stood up and brushed herself off. “If you see a faerie, ask her, okay? Maybe you will see one!”
“Maybe,” said Fin, feeling no better. “Do you still want to play?” The Aisha nodded. “Well, you can go anywhere in the farm you want. I’ll tell you when your times up. You might even find some Dung!”
The Aisha cringed. “It’s really okay,” she whispered, disgusted.
“It’s wearable,” added Fin, but the Aisha looked the opposite of interested. “Oh well,” he said. “You can go now.” The Aisha raced into the farm.
So now Fin was stuck trying to read this letter from Jhudora. Why, he wondered, would Jhudora ever want to write him a letter? Last time he met her, he had accidentally seen her Angelpuss, Angie, and learned Jhudora wasn’t nearly as dark as she pretended to be. He had almost gotten killed for it, too. Because of that, he had moved back to Meri Acre Farms and started Pick Your Own, just so he could stay away from Jhudora. Or at least he thought he did. It was over twenty years ago, and Fin, being not especially bright, didn’t have the best memory.
“Augh!” exclaimed Fin, looking up from the letter for the first time in an hour. “I’ll never be able to read this! If I look at it long enough to make out some words, I’ll die of starvation. If I don’t read it and don’t do whatever in the Haunted Woods Jhudora wants me to do, she’ll kill me! Either way it doesn’t work! I need help!”
So Fin took the Aisha’s advice. Unfortunately for him, he only knew of one Faerie in Meridell who could read: Illusen the earth faerie. And they hadn’t exactly been on great terms last time they had happened to see each other.
To be continued...