A Tale of Two Faeries: Part Three
Illusen walked over to Fin, and the smell of leaves, trees, and soil followed her, as it always did. She sat down on the crooked chair and placed the purple mug in front of Fin. The green one she held close to her chest and took a small sip out of. “So,” she said. “You wanted to hear the story.”
Fin sipped his tea. It made him feel relaxed and tired—but that feeling was a good feeling. He nodded sleepily.
“Well,” said Illusen. “Here goes...
“A very, very long time ago, so long ago I can hardly remember, Jhudora was actually my best friend, and along with Fyora, we were inseparable. At the time, Fyora wasn’t even queen yet, only heir to the throne. We all lived in a Faerieland, in the palace. It was a beautiful palace, too. Everything was earth shades, green and brown and tan colored. The queen at the time was an earth faerie, so she loved earth colors. Of course, the palace was remodeled when Fyora became queen. Every day we would go into the royal garden where they grew carrots, cabbage, potatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, melons, and other vegetables. We would pretend to be peasants stealing the queen’s own food. It was fun, but a little greedy of us. But we did it anyway.
“We were actually unlikely friends. Fyora was a tomboy, believe it or not. She hated anything pink or purple, which seems almost unimaginable now. Jhudora was incredibly girly, the opposite of how she is now. And I was the one stuck halfway in between. I was the one who balanced them out. I like to think I’m the only one of us who hasn’t changed, because I still am in between. Not really one or the other.”
Illusen paused and stared out the window into the foggy afternoon, her wide greens eyes sparkling with an emotion foreign to Fin. Was it sadness? Longing for something impossible to have? Maybe regret?
Illusen shook her head forcefully. “I’m sorry,” she apologized. “I was just... thinking. About... things that happened a very long time ago. But it isn’t healthy to hold onto the past. Anyway, where was I?”
“You were telling me about Fyora, Jhudora and yourself,” explained Fin patiently. “You said you weren’t girly or a tomboy. You were somewhere in the middle of both of them.”
“Yes,” replied Illusen, back to her normal self. “Anyway, the queen was getting old. Faeries don’t die, so when one gets to old they just leave their post, and go into a sort of retirement.”
“Wait,” interrupted Fin. “Why don’t faeries die? I don’t really understand it, so if you don’t mind explaining...”
“Faeries,” replied Illusen slowly, “are kind of like stars. Yes, we age, just extremely slowly. Well, not really that slow. Only Neopets age much, much faster. But anyway, as we get older, our energy dims, just as the light of a star eventually lessens with time. Finally, we begin to fade, like a star explodes. But just as a star’s stardust would still be floating in space, waiting to become a star again, our spirits remain, ever watching over our loved ones and their descendants. Get it?”
Fin nodded, even though the explanation had only made him more confused. “You can continue,” he said.
Illusen giggled. “You really don’t get it at all, do you?” Fin slowly nodded, his eyes starring blankly at his dirty toes sticking out of the hole in his shoe to hide his shameful face. He picked up his mug of tea to take a sip, but it was empty.
“It’s alright.” Fin felt the warmth of Illusen’s hand on his back through his grubby sack he passed as a shirt. “It took me an incredibly long time to understand, too. I get it now, but believe me; it took a good half century.” Illusen counted on her perfectly smooth fingers for a moment. “And I’m pretty positive that’s a little under a year in your years.”
“Wow,” said Fin thoughtfully as Illusen walked back over to her seat and gently slid the chair out from under the table and climbed into it. “So I’m not stupid after all.” Illusen laughed. “Right?” asked Fin hopefully.
Illusen stopped laughing with great effort. “Fin,” she said, “you are an awful lot of things. You are ignorant, stuttering, sometimes shy, sometimes definitely anything but shy, accident-prone, and silly. You have low expectations of yourself, no self-esteem, are incredibly annoying at times and did I mention you were accident-prone? You are all those things and then a whole lot more. However, you are not stupid.”
“Oh,” said a very stunned Fin to a very smiley Illusen. “Thanks. Thanks a lot.” Fin scrunched up his face. “Uh, that is, I think.”
“Continuing,” announced Illusen. “So, the queen was getting older and older. Fyora sensed that soon the queen would retire and she, in turn, would take her position. Well, this got Fyora... a little teensy weensy bit worried, to put it mildly. Okay, she kind of freaked out. She went a little crazy, if you get my meaning. She said that she didn’t want to be queen and that she wasn’t proper enough to be queen and so on. So she begged Jhudora to give her lessons in ‘being girly’, as she called it. Jhudora obliged.
“It turns out the queen lasted for...” Illusen paused once again and turned to her fingers. “Sorry,” she explained. “I’m horrible at transferring faerie years in Neopet years.” She was silent for another moment. “Aha!” she said. “The queen waited another three and a half or so years to retire. Well, give or take some. But Fyora had three and a half years, again, more or less, of ‘girly lessons’. They turned her into the person she is today—very pink and purple and fuzzy-like, that is. Well, it had the opposite effect on Jhudora. She got completely sick of girly things and turned into a complete and total tomboy.”
“Oh,” said Fin. “And, uh, how is this bad?”
“Let me finish!” snapped Illusen. “Is that to much to ask?”
Fin shook his head rapidly. “N-no, ma’am,” he stuttered. “N-not at a-all, ma’am.”
Illusen smiled sweetly. “Why thank you,” she announced to a bewildered Fin, her voice like sugar on a grey morning. “May I continue?” Fin nodded hurriedly. “Thank you.
“So Fyora became queen of Faerieland. She completely renovated the palace, turned it very pink-ish and purple-ish and fuzzier than it had been before. Like her. But anyway, she had to appoint an advisor. Everyone thought Jhudora was the obvious choice at the time, her being such close friends with Fyora. But instead Fyora chose me.” Illusen stopped suddenly. “But—I refused,” she said, more to herself than anyone else. “I thought Fyora had... abandoned her true self. And... I felt more at home here instead of at the palace. Fyora was mad. She had to appoint someone else. Everyone knew it was going to be Jhudora this time. But instead it was her nanny who she had known even longer than me.
“Jhudora became furious. She entered the palace without permission and demanded an audience with Fyora. She told her that all she had ever wanted was to be advisor to the queen and to have a little bit of power in Neopia. She said that Fyora had denied her that. She also said... horrible things about me and how I was stupid for turning down the spot. Then Jhudora left and fled to her cloud.”
Fin bit his lip. “That’s too bad,” he muttered.
Illusen didn’t seem to hear him. “Jhudora became fascinated with dark magic,” she continued, oblivious to all but herself. “She vowed revenge on me and Fyora. I saw her as what she was... a power hungry control freak who just takes advantage of people.” Illusen looked up at Fin, her green eyes almost pleading with him. “Right?” she whispered. “Aren’t I right?”
“Yes,” whispered Fin. He looked at Illusen until his soft brown eyes were level with her dazzling green ones. “But times have changed. Jhudora has had a lot of time to think about her mistakes. More time than I would know. Maybe, just maybe, she’s changed too. Maybe she feels sorry about what she said. We’ve all said things we don’t mean, haven’t we?”
Illusen nodded slowly, digesting the information. She opened her lime colored mouth to speak. “But why hasn’t she apologized?” Illusen asked. “If you think she’s really as sorry as you say, why hasn’t she apologized?” Illusen’s face hardened. “Answer me that!”
“Jhudora...” Fin struggled for the right words. “...is very proud. It would be hard for her to apologize even if she wasn’t proud, because you hate her so much. But proud people find it hard to apologize. And Jhudora is a very, very proud person.”
“So you’re saying maybe she sorry deep down inside?” asked Illusen, her tone getting gradually softer and less challenging. “Maybe she feels bad about the things she said?” Fin nodded. Illusen bit her lip in thought. Fin held his breath. “Maybe,” continued Illusen, her smile broadening. “Maybe you're right.” Fin grinned.
“So how about that letter?”
To be continued...