Happy Birthday, Jhudora!
Also by most_lizard
The air smelled different from the rest of Neopia. The stark white Lupe cocked his head to the side and breathed in. Like honey and something spicy. Pepper maybe? He wasn't sure. But he liked it.
The brown of Tyrannia rose above him like a sunrise, every inch gleaming with new and fascinating colours. His feet padded the ground as he ran creating little billows of dust behind him. His tongue hung out of his mouth as he panted, flecks of spit falling onto the thirsty dirt. Everything seemed new and confusing and he was not afraid.
The letter that he had found that morning was crumpled into a ball in his front pocket. The black text scrawled across the off white parchment had made him shudder earlier as his eyes read and his mind hurried to understand.
"Therac! Over here!" a slightly accented voice to his right stopped his train of thought as he hurriedly looked around. Then he waved.
"Gert, thank goodness!" Therac responded as he bounded over to his friend. They shook paws and Therac winced slightly. He always forgot how strong his friend was.
"So what brings you here?" Gert queried. "You said it was urgent?"
Therac examined his friend carefully. Gert's mighty Tyrannian Eyrie frame towered over Therac. They had known each other for many years, meeting for the first time on Terror Mountain when both of them had been wanderers. Over the years, Therac had continued exploring, a fire inside of him propelling him forward. Gert, on the other hand, had settled down in his native land of Tyrannia, finding more pleasure in guarding the people of Tyrannia from the giant beast who lurked in the dark cave to the east.
Therac paused. "This could be dangerous," he said softly. Gert guffawed.
"A little danger never hurt anyone!" he responded. "So what's going on that's got you so white in the face?"
Therac pulled out the letter and handed it over, watching the expression on Gert's face.
Gert's eyebrows went up as high as they could go as he scanned the writing.
"This... this is from Jhudora?" he whispered.
Therac nodded, the fear pronounced in his eyes.
A Faerie of great stature sits hunched over a wooden desk, pen laid to paper. Purple hair flows down her back as she scratches out her thoughts.
"Cakes are fine. No, trust me, cakes are fine. Especially when filled with dirt instead of chocolate. And given to Illusen. So yes. Cakes are just fine.
But I always get too many cakes. As soon as my birthday rolls around that's all it is. Cakes, cakes, cakes! I never get what I want. Never.
Every year my birthday comes around and people give me what they think I want. Purple hair dye, scepters. Neopians will also do quests for me, bringing me many useful items. But none of them think outside the box. None of them ask themselves what it is I would truly like. What is it, you ask?
I want to see Illusen confused and upset. She always keeps herself so properly maintained, her hair never tangled, her eyes never cast downward. Don't get me wrong; I don't want anyone to hurt her, per se. Just mess with her. Play a few pranks. Make her confused and then have her think it's me who did it. That's what I really want."
Jhudora pauses, her eyes gleaming. Then she continues.
"Which is why after years of disappointment I have taken matters into my own hands. Or rather I gave instruction to a Neopian by the name of Therac. He is a mighty Lupe, known far and wide for his bravery and cunning. If anyone were to succeed, it would be him. If he does not, however, the consequences will be dire."
Therac hung his head as Gert examined the letter.
"Therac this is quite an honour, regardless of what you have to do; a Faerie has asked you for a favour! When you complete it successfully you will be held in the highest of esteem!" Gert sounded excited.
"Don't you mean if I complete it?" Therac responded. "Look, I have no idea what to do! I don't want to hurt Illusen or even scare her, but I'm terrified of Jhudora!" He stopped, his voice quivering. "I just... don't know what to do," he whispered. "I'm really scared."
Gert nodded. "Well, look," he said, "I will help you come up with an idea if you would like. But I would also like some credit. It's not every day an opportunity like this comes along."
Therac brightened noticeably at his friend's words. Then he nodded. "Thank you," he gushed. "Thank you."
The days passed quickly. Therac had received the notice as the new year started, giving him a month to prepare. Therac and Gert made long lists of every possible angle they could approach. For the goal, they both agreed, was only to make Illusen sad enough to satisfy Jhudora. They did not want to anger or upset her beyond what was necessary.
"We have to use it!" Gert insisted one day, as the "X" covering February 4th on the calendar was only five days away. "We have no other options!"
Therac shuffled his feet. It felt so wrong to use Illusen's love of nature against her. "Let's say," he began tentatively, "that you're right. What would that look like?"
Gert scratched his chin. "Well," he said, his eyes staring into the distance, "we could break into Illusen's garden, pick her flowers and bring them to Jhudora!"
"I don't want to kill those flowers," Therac snapped. "Jhudora isn't worth that!"
"Well then," replied Gert in a huff. "Do you have any better ideas?"
Therac shook his head sadly.
Gert nodded. "Well then. It looks like that is our plan."
Therac gazed at his friend with a helpless expression on his face.
"Yes," he agreed quietly. "I guess it is."
Illusen could feel the weather start to change as Jhudora's birthday approached. Even in Meridell the dark clouds would roll past, thundering ominously, on their way to Jhudora's cloud. Jhudora could be so selfish.
Illusen sighed and bent down in her garden. Her tulips were just starting to come up, peeking their little red heads up out of the earth. Her daffodils were standing in all their glory already, yellow petals dancing in the wind. Looking at the beauty scattered around her, Illusen felt calm. Digging her delicate hands into the earth, she pulled out a weed that threatened to strangle her plants.
"This is what Jhudora is," she thought, tugging at another weed. "She's a weed. A malicious Faerie who enjoys strangling others." The weed came out quickly as Illusen pulled with all her strength. "Thank goodness her birthday is only once a year." Illusen picked up a canteen of water and sprayed water droplets on her flowers. She felt her heart slow down as she took calming breathes.
"Well," she said out loud to her flowers. "At least it's almost over."
Over five days many things were decided. They would go under cover of darkness to Illusen's Glade. They would pick a bouquet of flowers which they would send to Jhudora with a note saying that they were out of Illusen's garden. They knew that Jhudora understood the importance of Illusen's flowers to Illusen. They hoped that the bouquet would be enough.
Therac had packed a bag for the trip. He was sure that they wouldn't need much, but it was better to be safe. He brought a pair of hedge clippers for cutting the flowers. As heavy as they were, he knew that the blade would be sharp and strong enough to get the job done. He brought water and snacks for the journey over to Meridell. He brought a map in case they got lost. He packed all this stuff carefully in his brown bag and slung it over his shoulder. Taking one last look around him, he went outside to join Gert. He crossed his fingers that he would be back.
"Don't be nervous," Gert said reassuringly. "At least it's almost over."
Illusen sat in her garden as darkness began to fall. She knew she should go inside, but inside seemed so cold and foreboding compared to her lovely flowers. Dutifully she watered them and kneaded at their dirt. She plucked the thorns from the roses so that they wouldn't hurt anyone and put fresh dirt around her tulips so they wouldn't wither.
Then it was dark. Looking up, she saw the smatterings of stars in the sky, each one more beautiful than the last. She smiled, then jumped! That was a footstep and it was coming from the north side of her garden! She picked up her small shovel.
It wasn't just one neopet, she realized as she cocked her head to one side to hear better. It sounded like two! Two neopets moving through the darkness towards her garden. She scooped up a stick from the ground and tossed it into the spot where they would emerge.
"Ow!" a husky voice shouted. "Did you do that?"
"No!" another responded. "It came from the garden."
She heard them cautiously step forward into her precious garden. "Oh," said the Eyrie. "I'm so sorry, Illusen! We didn't mean to disturb you."
Illusen marched over to the Lupe and the Eyrie, disdain shining from her eyes. "Well, you did, regardless of your intention. Now what are you doing in my garden in the middle of the night!"
She saw them look at each other in fear. Then the Lupe nodded to the Eyrie and stepped forward.
"I think..." he began. "I think we need your help."
Jhudora woke up to dark clouds circling around her home. She smiled, it looked like her birthday. She walked down the stairs to have something to eat before the fun began. Sitting on the dining room table was a vase of pink and yellow flowers. Jhudora spat in disgust. "WHY ARE THESE HERE," she shrieked. One of her servants, a red Meerca, dashed out to see what the problem was.
"Oh," he whimpered. "I-I-I thought you would like them..."
"YOU THOUGHT I WOULD LIKE THEM?!?"
"Oh," he tried again. "If you would just read the card..."
Jhudora spat again as she pulled the card from the side of the vase. As she read she felt a smile creep across her lips.
Here is your present. These are Illusen's most prized flowers. As you have probably guessed she is devastated. Feel free to see her any time today to see! Though it would not be right for me to receive all the credit. I had a great amount of help from my Tyrannian friend Gert.
All the best on your special day!
Jhudora felt laughter bubbling in her chest. How perfect! She now owned a vase of Illusen's precious flowers.
Snapping her fingers, she shrieked, "Servant! Have these flowers dried out. I want to keep them for all eternity."
Trembling the servant gathered up the vase and scurried out of the room.
Smirking, Jhudora ran her hand through her long purple hair, her red eyes gleaming.
"Best. Birthday. Ever," she stated, imagining Illusen crying. "Finally I have the present I've always wanted."
Therac and Gert sat in the Food Shop waiting for their Hamburgers.
"Here's to success," Gert said.
"Here's to you," Therac replied. "I couldn't have pulled this off without you."
Gert nodded. "Here's to us and the continuance of our long and successful lives!"
Therac laughed. "Here, here."
Illusen sat in her garden, looking at the stems of some of her flowers. It had been painfully hard to part with them, but so worth it. All she had to do was pretend to be upset for the day so that Jhudora would believe the story.
Oh, but little did she know that the joke was on her. Illusen smiled as she thought about the trick she had played. The flowers would give Jhudora a rash on her hands that was itchy, dry and common! Jhudora would never know how she got it, especially since the rash wouldn't appear for twenty four hours after Jhudora had touched the flowers.
Illusen smiled. "Happy Birthday, Jhudora!" she thought. "Here's to many more!"