The Cursed Mirror: Part One
“Tessa, I’m really not comfortable with you doing this! Are you sure that you’re going to be safe? Faerie City is a day’s walk from here! Are you sure you want to do this?” An older Kougra said as she followed behind her daughter.
“Mom, I’m going to be fine. Why wouldn’t I want to do this? The Faerie Employment Agency only offers jobs like this a few times a year! I mean, it’s only going to be one night! Just a small interview. Oh, and before you ask, I have all my stuff, including Twist. Isn't that right, buddy?” the young Faerie Kougra said with a quick smile. A small Candychan popped out from her backpack. He flapped his wings with glee then dove back into the bundle of clothes, zipping up the bag behind him.
Her mother chuckled nervously. “Alright, honey, just be careful. We may live in Faerieland, but that doesn’t mean criminals don’t live here, too.”
Tessa approached the door, waving to her mother. “Okay, Mom. You too! Bye!” she said, shutting the door behind her.
Tessa pranced down the steps of her home onto the main road. She considered flying to Faerie City, but decided it would be faster to walk there, and enjoying the scenery of the bustling Faerieland wouldn’t hurt either.
As she made it closer to the shopping district, more bazaars showed up, dressed up in purple and pink attire. The shop owners offered all kinds of things such as jewelry, clothing, handbags, food, books, furniture, pictures, and pottery. They had fancy names and all types of nifty quotes to attract customers, but it was early in the morning and most people ignored the needy shop owners to get on with their day. One shop caught her attention, though, named ‘Bruce’s Bakery’. Rather than being a tent like the others, this shop was more like a small building, having tiled floors below neat tables and chairs.
“Hmm. I’m pretty sure all the food Mom packed is disgusting, am I right, Twist?” Tessa asked Twist while stopped dead in the middle of the road, staring at the white tiled building. Twist jumped out of the bag nodding with a look of disgust, then smiled, pointing at the Bakery with joy.
“Alright, then we’ll go! Thanks goodness I brought a few extra Neopoints for a situation like this,” Tessa chirped as she walked over to the building. Opening the door, she immediately felt a cool breeze rush over her. As Tessa was walking up to the counter, a woman approached with the nametag ‘Flip’. She was a green Draik wearing a white, square shaped hat and an apron holding her nametag like the rest of the workers.
“How can I help you, ma’am?” Flip remarked with a smile.
Tessa approached the counter. “Hi, I was wondering what you’d recommend I buy? I’m looking for some bread for me and my buddy here,” she questioned, pointing at Twist who was now resting his head on her shoulder.
Flip laughed, pointing at the Candychan followed by a deep sigh. “Well, we have numerous selections, but I think you should try my personal favorite, the ‘Double Twisted Faerie Cloud Loaf’. This ones got a purple and pink cream filling in the best bread around glazed with vanilla cream frosting and topped with rainbow sprinkles! It’s going to cost you six hundred neopoints a loaf, though. So what’ll it be?” she asked, anticipating an answer with excitement.
After thinking for a moment, Tessa confronted Twist to see if they should buy it, and after another minute, she responded. “We’ll have the Double Twisted- uh, your personal favorite,” Tessa said, laughing at her mistake. “Oh, and two loaves please!” she finished up, throwing a bag of twelve hundred neopoints on the counter.
“Comin’ right up!” Flip said with a brief smile, calling over another co worker to help her with making the bread. “So, did you hear about what happened in the square?” Flip asked, as if she was expecting Tessa to know something about the event.
“What are you talking about? I only came here from my home just a half an hour ago. I plan on reaching the Faerie Employment Agency sometime today, but I haven’t gone through the City Square,” answered Tessa, who was oblivious to the seemingly large happening.
Flip twisted the bread slightly on either side, poking holes in each one for the filling “Really? It’s big news up there. I hear that one of Fyora’s advisors was lying motionless in the Center Fountain. Apparently, he wasn’t conscious! Eyes wide open and cold as ever! Thank the queen he lived!”
“I can't believe I didn‘t hear about it! Maybe I should check it out once I get there,” Tessa pondered, watching Flip and her assistant continue to make the loaves.
Once they were done, Flip handed Tessa the loaves and they both thanked each other before departing. Tessa gave Twist a piece and grinned. He put it in his mouth, then proceeded to flap his wings in joy. Right before Tessa was about to head for the door, she turned back around.
“Hey, where did you get the name Flip anyway?” Tessa asked. She was soon to realize that Flip was gone from the counter and nowhere in sight. “Humph. How odd,” she said, walking out of the Bakery.
After walking down the shopping district for a few hours eating her loaf which she admitted was the best she’d ever eaten, she finally made it to the City Square. It was the most crowded and hectic place in Faerieland and probably all of Neopia. Swarms of neopets filled the square every minute, soon to find themselves fighting to get onto the right path to their destination.
The City Square was the heart of Faerieland, a mile long and wide square dividing Faerieland up into four areas with each one having it‘s own pathway. These pathways were placed at each of the cardinal directions on the square. The West Pathway, the pathway that Tessa was exiting, was one half of the shopping district. The East Pathway was the other half, continuing the shopping district on into housing. The South Pathway led into housing and to attractions such as the Healing Springs and the Wheel of Excitement. The North Pathway, the one Tessa needed to get to, went into Faerie City and was guarded by a large iron gate. In the center, of course, was the Center Fountain.
The fountain was made back when Faerieland was merely a few rackety homes and a small, wooden castle. Its simple but large, standing twice as tall as most neopets. It had a stone cut scene on the top pool which depicted a small, faceless figure looking into a hand mirror which it held along with a taller woman who was looking into the sky. The woman had a look of success on her face, while the faceless figure looked as if it was trying to flee. They both had one arm up in the air, as if they were trying to grasp an unseen object. On the underside of the pool, it read ‘IN MEMORY OF THOSE WHO WERE LOST.’
After admiring the fountain for a moment, Tessa started to search for any signs of the advisor. Flying up above the crowd, she could see no one lying in the water.
Tessa sighed. “Well, nothing here. Let’s make our way up to the City Entrance. I saw it when I was looking at the fountain. It should be to our left. Oh, and make sure you stay in my backpack. The last thing I need right now is to lose you here!” Tessa insisted upon Twist, who sighed with shame and dove into the backpack.
After having to constantly take directions from the shop owners on the edges of the square despite the entrance being so close, she finally made it. The gate was large and iron, standing taller than nearly all of the shops. It was watched by two guards, one of which came up to her holding out his hand.
“Are you here to enter the city, ma’am? If so, I’m going to need some proof of passage, please,” the large Gelert questioned in a surprisingly polite tone.
Tessa smiled and nodded, reaching into her backpack. “Hey, Twist, can you find that letter the Employment Agency sent me?” she asked. This was followed by her backpack rustling and moving for a few moments, and a little white and red striped hand popping out with a piece of parchment in its hand to the guard's surprise. “Here you go!” she exclaimed, taking the piece of paper from the hand as it disappeared back into the bag and handing it over to the guard. He looked over it for a moment, then returned it to Tessa.
“Very well. Go right on in,” he bellowed, signaling the other guard to open the gate. As Tessa walked in, she was amazed.
The gate and wall parallel to it had blocked out all off the city except for the towering castle above it, but inside she could see what the rest of Faerieland had been missing out on. The shops in the city were well over four times as big as the ones in the district, and were made of stunning purple bricks with bright pink roof shingles. Little neopets ran around poking into homes while other older neopets came out hauling blue and pink stoves from Faerie Furniture. Some kids were up in a tower shooting Faerie Bubbles while a group of Fire Faeries whizzed by, trying not to get hit by the gamers, while others were playing at Faerie Petpets, wanting to take all of them home. It all seemed so wonderful and perfect. It looked like what the real Faerieland should of looked like, including the neopets themselves, with wings on there backs and smiles on there faces. The children running through the pockets of clouds, playing hide and seek. It was a brand new, positive and enlightening atmosphere, having Tessa wishing she could stay here forever.
While Tessa went into the numerous shops, inviting Twist out to enjoy the scene, she asked around as to where the Faerie Employment Agency might be located. To her dismay, the Faerie Bookshop owner informed her that it was located on the other side of the city.
“Seriously?” Tessa moaned. “I didn’t know it was going to be THAT far away.”
“Well, yes, I’m afraid. In fact, it’s one of the last shops, standing right at the gates of the castle. Would you be interested in buying any books to make the time go by? Flight of the Battle Faerie always keeps me entertained,” the bookshop owner informed Tessa while adjusting her glasses.
“Well, I guess a book wouldn’t hurt. How much is it? Oh, and could you tell me what time it is?”
The faerie pulled out a large, green book with pink glittery wings on the spine, while trying to find a clock on one of the walls. “Well, the book's going to be 2200 neopoints. As for the time, I’m going to guess it’s around five o’ clock,” she said, putting the book on the counter with a weak smile.
“Five o’ clock? I have to be at the agency by eight, so we have plenty of time to spare! Here’s your neopoints!” she said, plopping a large bag of the golden coins on the counter. “What’s this book about anyway?” Tessa asked, trying to fit the winged book in her backpack. Twist moved himself to left of the crowded bag to make room, somewhat enjoying being tucked in with plenty of items to play with.
The faerie smiled while putting the neopoints under the counter. “Well, the Battle Faerie had many interesting adventures to share, so she decided to put them in this book. Not only are they exiting and adventurous, but some of the ways she tends to solve her problems seem to attract readers, too.”
Finally pushing the book far enough into the bag, Tessa zipped it up and put it onto her back. “That seems interesting. I’ll have to read some of it once I get to my room at the Employment Agency. Thanks!”
“May I ask what you’re going to the Agency for? Most who go there are very dedicated, hard working, Neopians and don’t go gallivanting along the city admiring shops and asking for directions,” the Bookshop Owner commented, oblivious of her boldness.
“Well, I’ll have you know,” Tessa said, lifting her chin with pride, “that I applied for a staff position, and got in for an interview. If I pass and get a job, there’s a possibility I could become permanent staff at the Agency, so don’t go questioning me!”
The Bookshop Owner looked at her, confused, then shrugged and turned back to her bookshelf. “Well, thanks for your time. Come back and tell me if you liked that book or not!”
Tessa nodded and headed for the door, planning on what to do for the next two and a half hours. She figured that visiting most of the shops would be reasonable, then headed to the agency around seven thirty would work out fun. Exited, she ran out the door and into the sunlight.
For the following hours, Tessa ended up visited almost every store in Faerieland. First, she went to the Faerie Furniture she had seen earlier and gasped upon entering. The different colors, shapes and designs astounded her. She saw ovens made of water, a desk with wings inspired by Fyora, and even a bright yellow toilet that resembled a Light Faerie! She wished her mother could be there to see it.
Next she went to Faerie Foods. The first thing to catch her eye was how much food had wings! Apples, Asparagus, Artichokes, Hot Dogs, and Beetroots! It all sounded so good, but she knew nothing in there could compare to the Loaf she had bought at Bruce’s Bakery, which she still had in her backpack, if Twist hadn’t eaten it all.
Finally she stopped at Faerieland Petpets, where she let Twist out to play with the other flying creatures that roamed the playpen. They seemed to get along well and Tessa figured he’d made some new friends. Eventually, to their dismay, Twist had to leave, but she reassured him that if she got a job here they could come visit every day.
By now it was rearing up on seven thirty and Tessa headed for the Agency. It was near dusk as light began to fade and Faerieland cooled down. As time passed, fewer and fewer people showed up in the streets while shops began to close down. By time Tessa had the Agency in her sight at a mere seven fifty five, the streets were vacant and dark with the only light coming from a window on the first floor of Tessa’s destination. Picking up speed, she began to run toward it in fear that she might not make it in time. As she made it to the entrance of the Employment Agency right in front of the towering walls surrounding the castle, she heard a crash.
Startled, Tessa ran around a corner to a street parallel to the city wall, and was paralyzed in fear by what she saw. In the distance, the silhouettes of a neopet holding a hand mirror while trying to get another neopet, apparently a Cybunny, to look into it with no success. After a continuous scuffle, the larger neopet holding the hand mirror forced it upon the Cybunny’s face. This is when a loud, thunder crack emitted from the mirror as it flashed and the designs on the mirror casing had a turquoise blue glow. During the flash, Tessa tried to get a look at the mirror, but instead got blinded for most of the occurrence. Once she regained her sight, the neopet holding the mirror was walking toward her, while the Cybunny lay motionless upon the ground. Tessa stumbled to run back to the Agency, but felt constantly in fear. Once in front of her, the mirror holder was about to point the hand mirror at her as she shielded her eyes, but shopkeepers and home owners had been awakened from the noise, and began to emerge from their homes to see what was going on. Before anyone could see what happened or who the attacker was, the mysterious person had fled. Tessa uncovered her eyes, still shaking from fright. Some of the confused residents came over to her and asked her what happened.
“That woman! Over there!” she yelled, pushing everyone out of the way to the Cybunny. Frightened, she shook the woman to see if she would awaken. The Cybunny moaned with confusion. Getting a better look at her, Tessa saw that the woman was now tired and worn, with her eye sockets sunken into her head. Her wings were now drooped with weakness and her bright pink fur was dull and empty. Another interesting feature that Tessa noticed was that the eyes of the Cybunny were wide open, like she was surprised.
All the residents started to whisper to each other, wondering if Tessa was the cause of the Cybunny’s current state. Scared, she pushed herself through large crowds surrounding her and the Cybunny to the Agency, which was just about to close up. Bursting through the door, breathing heavily from running, she came up to the front desk with the look of despair on her face.
The Faerie Lenny running the front desk, who was just about to leave, stared at her in confusion. “Ma’am, how can I help you? We’re closed, I’m afraid. Are you okay? Calm down!”
“Um, Hi I’m... Tessa Blackwood,” she stammered, trying to keep up with all the thoughts rushing through her mind. “I’m here for an interview that I have tomorrow. Could you, um, check me in please? It’ll only take a minute!” she pleaded.
The Lenny sighed with a small shrug and sat back down, looking through filed papers. “Oh, Tessa Blackwood, you said? Yes, you were scheduled to arrive today. Just take this room key and head up to the third floor. We have guest rooms on the end of the hall. Take any one you’d like,” the Lenny said, handing Tessa the key. “Your interview is at two o’ clock tomorrow. Don’t be late this time.”
Tessa ran up the two flights of stairs as fast as she could allow herself all the way to the end of the hall, where she picked the first room she could find. Throwing her things on the bed and seating herself at a writing desk, she buried her head in her arms crying uncontrollably, full of sadness and fear.
To be continued...