A Tale of Two Faeries: Part Two
Fin walked slowly down the worn and dusty country road leading to Illusen’s forest and, most importantly, Illusen herself. Fin knew this path to a degree; he had been to Illusen’s before. To put it mildly, after an unfortunate accident involving an innocent looking health drink that was really a morphing potion and a misplaced paintbrush, Illusen was no longer in a helpful mood, and Fin wasn’t exactly feeling like himself. After that, Fin didn’t really expect Illusen to be too welcoming towards him. Secretly, he didn’t blame her.
Lost in his thoughts (which didn’t happen too much), Fin didn’t realize he had arrived at the glade. It’s pretty hard to miss, mainly because it’s the point where breathtakingly dazzling beams of light start escaping to the ground past the trees and light up the sparkling, crystalline pool and the cozy hut where Illusen lived. He also didn’t notice a towering, stunningly radiant and incredibly beautiful certain earth faerie until he had the misfortune to run straight into her.
Fin backed up quickly. He looked up at Illusen, who was brushing her braided hair back behind her ear and was wearing the expression of a person who was utterly and thoroughly confused. “Sorry, Your Majesty!” squeaked Fin. “I mean, erm, um, sorry, your Illusen-ness, your Supreme Illusen-ship, ma’am. Uh, sorry.”
Illusen wrinkled her brow and surveyed Fin, as if trying to remember where she’d last seen him. Fin secretly prayed her memory failed her. “How do I know you?” asked Illusen slowly and clearly, pronouncing every word with the greatest care. Then, in a slightly more annoyed tone, she added. “And how in Fyora’s name did you manage not to notice me?”
“I don’t know,” said Fin bashfully. “You might, erm, have met me, I might have, uh, done a quest, er, something.” He chose not to answer the last bit of the question.
“I remember you!” said Illusen cheerfully. “You got me that Welsh Usuki... no, that wasn’t you...” All of a sudden, Illusen looked as if a storm cloud had passed over her face. A really, really unpleasant looking storm cloud. “I know you!” Illusen said angrily. “You’re that annoying little mongrel who drank my morphing potion and used my paintbrush! I still can’t believe you thought it was a health drink! And then you tripped on my paintbrush and wasted it! Do you know how much that cost me? That was worth more than you!”
“Sorry, Illusen,” said Fin quietly, astounding himself by not adding a “ma’am” or “Your Majesty”. “I’ll pay you back... someday. But now I need your help, please, if you’d be willing to give it. I’m in trouble, and since you’re so kind, gentle, beautiful, and giving, I thought you might be willing to help me.”
“Wow,” said Illusen in disbelief. “That was kind, thoughtful, apologetic, and I must say, you were absolutely right about me. What happened to you?”
“Erm,” said Fin, back to himself. “I don’t know, but thank you. I think.”
Illusen folded her arms. “All right, what do you want?” Illusen waved her finger and a clock appeared in midair. She nodded, and it disappeared. “Make it quick, I have someone due back from a quest in three minutes and eleven seconds. Make that ten seconds. Nine. Eight. Seven. Six. Five. Four. Three. Two. One. Three minutes left!” Illusen announced to herself.
“Well,” said Fin, amazed that Illusen was agreeing to help him. He drew the letter out from a pocket. “I need to read this. But I can’t read. It’s important that I read it right away.”
“So,” said Illusen. “You want me to read this letter to you.”
“No, sir!” said Fin quickly. “I mean, no, ma’am! I mean—no, Illusen.”
Illusen scowled at Fin, and for a moment she bore a striking resemblance to her dear sister, Jhudora. But it vanished quickly, in less than an instant Illusen wore the same soft, slightly confused, and nurturing expression that caused so many Neopians to trust her with their deepest secrets. “Well, then... what would you like me to do, honey?” Illusen said softly and sweetly. Fin smiled, and he was vaguely aware that he was starting to feel woozy.
“Could you teach me how to read?” Fin blurted out quickly, and then looked down at his feet in embarrassment.
Illusen cocked her head slightly to the side. “Well, why can’t I just read the letter for you?” she asked.
“Because it’s from Jhudora.” Fin looked up to see Illusen’s reaction at the mention of her rival’s name, and her face had hardened. “And it might have something, erm, secret, uh, in it.”
Illusen’s eyes bulged for a moment, and Fin took a tentative step back. But Illusen just laughed bitterly. “Oh, you mean that secret,” she said shrilly. Looking at Fin’s bewildered face, she added. “Yes, I know the better side of Jhudora, too. Tell me, how’d you find out?”
Fin almost laughed remembering. “Well,” he said, giggling. “Angie, her Angelpuss, you know, squeaked.” Illusen gave a knowing nod. “She was under the chair, the giant one that Jhudora sits on, and she squeaked really loudly. Jhudora wasn’t really all that happy I found out. She actually threatened to hurt me, but I knew she wouldn’t. I mean, what person that keeps an Angelpuss would hurt a Neopet like that?”
“Yes,” said Illusen wistfully. “She’s not really all that dark, is she?”
All of a sudden, a question popped into Fin’s mind (which didn’t happen too often). Fin swallowed nervously. He looked up at Illusen and asked quietly, “Well then, why do you hate her?”
“Pardon?” said Illusen loudly, as if she didn’t want to hear the question Fin was asking.
“Why do you hate her?” Fin said, louder and bolder. “Her as in Jhudora. I mean, when you know that she’s really not so bad, why do you hate her? I actually think she’s nice, well, kind of, sort of, a little... not really. But she’s not horrible!”
Illusen sighed slowly. There was a short silence, and Illusen finally said slowly, “Would you like some tea?”
“Excuse me?” asked a bewildered Fin. “Did you ask if I wanted tea?”
“Yes,” said Illusen calmly. “Come inside.” She gestured at her cozy wooden hut. “I’ll make you some tea. This story is a nice one, and I want to do it some more good. Everything sounds better over some tea. And besides, this might take a while.”
“Y-you want to me to come into your hut? I mean, sorry, your house? I mean, me, the accident prone kid who used your morphing potion and paintbrush! You want to make me tea!” exclaimed Fin.
“Yes,” Illusen said softly, her voice like the whispering of the wind on a cold morning’s day. But then her voice regained some of its sharpness, and she continued in a less vague tone. “Do you want to hear the story of why I hate Jhudora or what? It’s a long story, and I want to get inside. I’m starting to get cold and the trees are blocking all the light.” Fin looked up, and he could almost swear he saw Illusen twirl her finger before the trees branches jerked slightly and stopped the already little amount of light that was seeping through.
“Um, okay,” said Fin. “Your Illusen-ness. I mean, Illusen, ma’am. I mean, why do you have so many mood swings?” Fin’s hand leapt to cover his big mouth. Why in Neopia had he said that?
“Just get in,” Illusen growled. Fin ran over to the house, tripping now and then. He walked up the two small steps and opened the door, closing it quickly behind him. Illusen yanked it open as she walked in after him. “Thanks for locking me out,” she snarled at Fin.
Fin looked around at Illusen’s house. It was bigger from the inside than one would suppose from the outside. The door led into a large, roomy kitchen with cabinets lining the walls and a large table in the middle with two chairs. There was another door to the left. Fin peaked in it. It led to a library full of books and just past that was Illusen’s bedroom. Fin slowly sat down on one of the wooden chairs. It wobbled on its uneven legs.
Illusen got up and walked over to a small fireplace with a large pot over it. “What would you like?” she asked as she put her brown hair up in a quick ponytail. “Tea? Lemonade? Limeade? Orange juice? Anything at all?”
Fin grinned. “Just tea would be fine, thank you,” he said as he stared at Illusen, trying to figure her out. Faeries were so unpredictable... it was so hard to tell what they were thinking. At any given moment when it seemed they were you’re friend, they could be secretly plotting against. But, in a strange way, Fin didn’t mind.
Fin heard a kind of musical buzzing noise. He looked over at Illusen, who was hunched over the pot stirring it with a wooden ladle and humming to herself. It was a fairly pleasant tune, and Fin felt himself almost swaying to the music.
Illusen came and sat down next to Fin with a two large ceramic mugs in her hand. “So,” she said as she placed a mug in front of him. “About that story.”
To be continued...