The Best Faerie Ever
“M-miss Jhudora?” a small, timid-looking Cybunny called softly. “A-are y-you there?” The young Faerie Cybunny looked around the cramped, dark room with barely concealed fear. At the far end of the room, there was a large pot, its contents glowing an eerie green.
There came a low laugh out of nowhere. “You dare come back here, young Cybunny?” the Dark Faerie whispered, slowly emerging from the shadows. The little Cybunny squeaked in fear. “You are much braver – and more foolish – than I gave you credit for.”
The little Cybunny's paws tightened around the basket nervously. “I... I don't know what you're talking about,” she whispered.
Jhudora straightened up, her eyes flaring. “You went to Illusen, didn't you?” the Dark Faerie cooed dangerously. “To lovely, sweet, kind, pretty Illusen.”
The Cybunny shook her head frantically, retreating furiously.
“Don't lie to me, Alora,” the towering figure said softly. “I always know.”
She slashed the air with a pale hand, and there was a blinding flash of violet light. When the light faded, the Cybunny was nowhere to be seen. The basket sat on the floor, lying on its side. The jar of blood-red liquid had rolled halfway across the room.
Jhudora strode across the room and picked it up. The jar's contents shimmered dangerously. The Dark Faerie smiled, and strode across the room, tipping the contents into the pot. The liquid started to bubble instantly, grotesquely-shaped indigo bubbles emerging from the liquid, and then disappearing in an instant.
The empty jar fell to the floor with a resounding crash. “Clean it up,” Jhudora ordered a shivering Mutant Kacheek, which had been watching the entire dramatic scene from the corner with increasing horror. “And that, my naive apprentice,” the faerie said casually, “is how things are done around here.”
And with a flash, Jhudora was gone.
Leslie, the Mutant Kacheek, slowly got to her feet. She was still horrified at Jhudora's act of blatant cruelty. She thought back to how she had ended up here – as the dark faerie's apprentice.
She'd used to be a pretty, popular Christmas Kacheek. But one day, an unfortunate zap turned her into a monster. Horrified and repulsed, her owner had instantly Pounded her. Leslie had been roughly shoved into a cold, dank metal cage - “Your new home,” the Techo had hissed at her with a smirk, and slammed the door, leaving Leslie alone in the cage.
Filled with indignation of the unfair rejection, Leslie had finally found the courage to run away. The next time that horrible Techo had come to fling a bucket of water and a stale crust of bread, she bit him hard on the paw and ran off. She'd gone to Jhudora for help, and agreed to her proposal – the promise of revenge, for her permanent apprenticeship.
But now she'd seen the extent of Jhudora's cruelty, and she wasn't going to stay here for a minute longer. But the consequences she would suffer if Jhudora found out were unimaginable.
Leslie thought hard, absently sweeping up the shattered pieces. Before her owner had rejected her, she had been taught many abilities. One of them was 'Invisibility'. But Jhudora's powers far exceeded hers. She couldn't do this alone. She needed help.
Running through a mental list of powerful heroes and heroines, the answer finally came to her. It was so obvious, she couldn't believe she hadn't thought of it earlier.
Of course – what Neopian despised Jhudora more? What Neopian was kind enough to lend a helping hand to a hideous stranger?
Illusen. The answer was obvious. She would go to Illusen for help, and escape Jhudora's dark intentions. She shuddered with the thought of being caught, but she refused to think about the consequences. Instead she focused on making a plan.
Her plan for escape.
The next day, Leslie timidly went up to the Dark Faerie, who was bent over the pot as usual, muttering a string of words. She waited patiently for Jhudora to finish her spell.
Once Jhudora had stopped muttering, she stammered, “M-m-miss Jhudora?”
The faerie whipped around, clearly not pleased at being interrupted. “What is it you want, apprentice?”
“Y-you're out of Korbat Wings. I... I was wondering if I could go to the...”
“What?” Jhudora snapped. “Speak up, apprentice. I have no patience for stammerings.”
Leslie felt a fresh wave of determination. “I was wondering if I could go to the Marketplace tomorrrow.”
Jhudora laughed. “Trust you? To go alone? Why should I?”
Desperation overcame her. “I... I...” she struggled to think of a lie.
“You what?” Jhudora snapped irritably.
“I miss Ellie,” Leslie whispered, indicating her sister, a Faerie Xweetok. “I wanted to see her. One last time.”
Leslie thought she saw a flash of pity in the Dark Faerie's eyes, but it disappeared in an instant. “Very well,” Jhudora gave permission. “You may go. But you know the consequences if you go to her.”
She said the 'her' with hatred, and Leslie didn't need to ask to know who she was. “Thank you, Miss Jhudora,” she murmured, and rushed away, filled with triumph.
Leslie clutched her coin purse tightly. She looked back, making sure that Jhudora was not looking at her. She wasn't. Immediately, Leslie started to run. She ran and ran, not looking back.
Soon, she came to a shop she knew well. A battered sign over the stall read 'Uni Travel – Fast and Efficient for Minimum Costs.' It was tucked away in a corner of Faerieland.
“I need to go to Meridell, please. Immediately.” The Halloween Uni in charge didn't hesitate. “Arabella – Meridell's waiting!” It held out a hoof, and Leslie passed a few coins over, before walking over to Arabella, a Pirate Uni who had six gold hoops in her ear. Without a word, the Uni took off into the sky.
Eventually, she landed, conveniently right in front of Illusen's Glade. Leslie held out a gold hoop as thanks. Still silent, the Uni took the hoop in her mouth and galloped off.
Leslie took a deep breath and knocked on the door, heart pounding with excitement and fear.
“Miss Illusen!” she called. No reply. “Miss Illusen!”
“Hello,” a voice came from behind her. “Can I help you?”
Leslie spun around. Standing before her was Illusen, in her trademark green dress and wide smile. “I – I...” Leslie took a deep breath. “I need your help.”
Two minutes later, they were both sitting at Illusen's wooden table, which was decorated with flowers of various types. After Leslie had told the faerie her story, Illusen stayed silent, thinking hard.
“Your situation is... unique,” she said finally, “but I think I can help you. Come on.”
Illusen led the Kacheek up a flight of stairs to what appeared to be a storeroom. Illusen flicked on the light switch and Leslie gasped.
There were paint brushes everywhere. The walls were absolutely covered with shelves, which in turn were littered with an assortment of different paint brushes. She'd never seen so many paint brushes in her life.
Illusen smiled at Leslie's expression. “This is my little secret,” she explained. “There are many generous Neopians who five me paint brushes in return for my good deeds. My plan is to get you painted a different colour, so that Jhudora will never recognise you. Then you'll be free.” She smiled. “Now, pick a paint brush, quickly.”
Leslie wandered around the room as in a trance, still stunned by the incredible amount of paint brushes Illusen had. But she just couldn't decide.
Illusen picked up a wooden brush, decorated with twigs and leaves. “This is a recent addition to my collection,” she explained. “It's a Woodland paint brush, and my favourite of the lot. I imagine you'd look beautiful painted Woodland.”
Leslie agreed instantly. Illusen smiled and transported the pair to the Rainbow Pool. Before she knew it, Leslie was a beautiful shade of Woodland.
“Now you're free to go,” laughed Illusen. “Jhudora will never recognise you in this form.”
Leslie wavered, unsure of whether to tell Illusen her idea. “Could you... d'you think... I could stay as your apprentice?” she stammered.
Illusen thought for a second before agreeing. “All right, sure! And you look the part, too,” she added with a giggle. Leslie laughed, feeling the happiest she'd felt in years.
“Thank you, Illusen, for everything,” she cried, hugging the faerie. “You're the best faerie ever.”