The Avant-Garde Neohome
Aurencia was glowing. Not literally, but glowing with pride. She had just won first prize in the Neohome Spotlight. Everyone in Neopia Central had come out to see her beautiful abode. Wiltadendhrons stretched lazily all the way up the sides of her house, rooted in luscious beds of Pebeanjays. The Anubis fountain blurbled happily, as Buzzers drifted amongst the blooms. It was perfect.
“It’s perfect,” cried a reporter from the Neopian Times.“How did you ever come up with such an elegant, simple design?”
“Well... Uh...” Aurencia stammered. “It wasn’t really all THAT difficult, I guess...”
“And she’s so modest, to boot!” At this, the reporter produced a camera. “Would you mind if I took your picture for the front page of the Neopian Times?”
“Oh my! The front page? Really?”
“Of course! Now smile big and say ‘Drackonack!’”
The reporter pressed a button on his camera, and the flash fired, momentarily blinding Aurencia. She rubbed her eyes...
... And sat straight up in bed.
“Another one of those dreams,” sighed the Faerie Shoyru. “Maybe I really should enter the Neohome Spotlight after all. This is probably an omen of some sort.”
Aurencia stretched her arms, and hopped out of bed, landing on the wooden floor with a soft thump. After her favorite breakfast of Vegan Cheese, a Jam Pastry, and a glass of Orange Juice, she stepped outside into the warm sunlight. The Shoyru took a deep breath of clean, crisp air, and caught a whiff of the Breadmaster’s batch of Raspberry Scorchio Cookies, freshly pulled from the oven.
“Mmm, smells scrumptious!” Aurencia said. “But I have other things to do first.”
The Shoyru calmly strolled down the cobblestone pathway to the National Neopian. She pushed on the double glass doors, and the Skeith working behind the counter warmly welcomed her.
“Good morning, Ma’am,” he said with a slight bow. “How may I be of assistance?”
“I need to make a withdrawal of 10,000 Neopoints,” Aurencia replied.
The Skeith counted out the coins into a drawstring bag, and handed the bag to Aurencia. “May I ask what these are for?”
“I’m entering the Neohome Spotlight, and I need to spruce up my Neohome a bit.”
“Ah, in that case, I would recommend visiting Faerie City. They have the best furniture, and it’s relatively cheap, as well.”
“I’ll start there, then. Thank you very much.”
With that, the Shoyru walked outside, and with a few delicate flaps of her gossamer wings, began the flight up to Faerie City.
* * *
Aurencia landed in Faerie City a few hours later.
“Phew, I can’t seem to remember Faerie City being so high up! I’m bushed.”
The bushed Shoyru plunked herself down on a nearby bench as she scoped out the city, looking for the furniture and garden store.
“I’m pretty sure it looks like.... a house!” Aurencia said as she spotted her destination. Suddenly feeling rejuvenated, she excitedly ran into the store. Inside was a scene of mass chaos as Scorchios, Draiks, and other Shoyrus were shouting over one another as they tried to purchase their items. The sheer mayhem almost made Aurencia’s head spin.
The Shoyru tried to wait for an item of value to be stocked, as she had been told to do many times, but as soon as such an item was put up, it was snatched away by one of the faster shoppers. Disheartened, Aurencia left the store.
As she trod through the main square, trying to think of some other way to gather decorative items, she heard a raspy voice behind her.
“So, you want to win the Neohome Spotlight...”
Aurencia spun around, before her stood an almost faerie-like figure, clad in deep purple and green robes.
“Who are you, and how did you know that!?”
“My dear, it’s written all over your face.”
The strange woman snapped her fingers, and a small purple lily-like flower appeared in her hands with a puff of green and purple smoke.
“This is a flower that’s very difficult to obtain, as it only grows near Jhudora’s Lair.”
“But Jhudora’s lair isn’t difficult to get to...” Aurencia replied.
“Have you ever heard of Jhudora taking kindly to visitors?”
The woman continued, “But what’s special about this flower is that it grows rapidly as soon as it’s removed from this special pot, see?”
She plucked a leaf from the plant and set it in her palm. Aurencia watched in awe as the leaf began to sprout roots and grow slightly taller.
“That’s amazing!” Aurencia gasped.
“Indeed it is.”
“But why would you show it to me, anyway?”
“Because I want you to have it for your neohome.”
Aurencia’s jaw dropped. “You’re kidding!”
“I’m being very serious. Take it with you.” The woman pressed the flowerpot into Aurencia’s hands.
“Wow! I don’t know what to say, except thank you!”
The woman waved her hand, as if shooing away a fly. “Enjoy it, and good luck in your contest.”
Now grinning from ear to ear, Aurencia flapped her wings and hurriedly flew back to Neopia Central. The strange woman watched Aurencia leave, then cackled evilly.
“That fool will never win the Neohome Spotlight if she uses that flower. Hahahahaha!” The woman poofed away in a plume of purple smoke, back to her lair outside the city.
* * *
All the way home, Aurencia was planning the ideal spots to plant her new flower.
“I could put it next to the door, and on either side of the entrance, and...”
Aurencia hit the ground running into her garden, plucking off leaves of the plant like she had seen the strange woman doing. The Shoyru planted the leaves in the spots she had picked, and watched them grow right before her eyes.
“Wow! I bet I could make today’s contest judging if I hurry and register!”
Giddy with excitement, Aurencia flew off to register her home for the next contest, leaving her flowers to grow bigger and bigger.
What Aurencia didn’t know about her flowers was that they were Poisonous Jelly Lilies. While the Shoyru was entering the next spotlight, the plants reached maturity, and began to spew horrible-smelling poisonous jelly all over her beautiful house and garden.
Later, as Aurencia was running home for a bit of last-minute tidying up, she thought it would be fun to close her eyes, and see if her home matched the picture she had in mind. Aurencia eagerly closed her eyes and rounded the corner in front of her house. She imagined her yellow house wrapped around on all sides with her new flowers, as the Anubis Fountain she had bubbled away in the front yard.
The Shoyru opened her eyes, and was horrified to see Poisonous Jelly strewn all around her house and garden. Aurencia stood stock still, shocked that this would happen so quickly, wondering how this could have possibly occurred. Panicked, Aurencia looked up the street and was distraught to see the Neohome judges strolling down the street to look at her neohome. Feeling like the whole world was against her, Aurencia slumped down on the ground, hoping the judges wouldn’t ridicule her too terribly.
The judges walked up, looking at their clipboards. “Let’s see here... Miss Aurencia, this is your house, I presume?”
“Y... Yes, that’s me.” Aurencia sniffled.
The judges looked up from their boards, and Aurencia watched their eyes seem to grow three sizes larger. Aurencia braced herself for the deluge of insults from the judges.
“This... this is... This is the most daring and wonderful house I’ve ever seen!”
Aurencia’s eyes grew even larger than the judges’. “Wha... What did you say!?”
“You heard me. This is the most fantastic house I’ve ever seen! The way you took something as disgusting as Poisonous Jelly and made it a beautiful accent is truly inspiring!”
“You mean I actually have a chance to win the spotlight?” Aurencia felt the excitement welling up inside her again.
“Most certainly! In fact, we’re going to recommend this house personally for first place!” The other judges nodded vigorously.
“I can’t believe it! My dream... It might actually come true! I’m... I’m shaking all over with excitement!”
“Keep an eye on next week’s Neopian Times for the winner. I’m sure you won’t forget to do so,” said one of the judges with a wink.
Aurencia went inside her newly-jellied house, no longer caring about the horrid smell. To her, it was the sweet smell of success.
* * *
One week later, Aurencia walked out to check the Neopian Times. She looked at the headline on the front page.
“Avant-Garde Jelly Design Wins Neohome Spotlight”