Of Spyders, Soup, and Silliness
Adelaide, known to most of Neopia as the Soup Faerie, stood in the kitchen of her cauldron-shaped house, stirring a large cauldron of soup. She still had some time before the next wave of pets showed up, so she was trying to perfect a new soup recipe. Just as she was adding the last ingredient she heard the front door open, the sounds of more than one pet running in, and the sound of the door slamming shut. She strode purposefully out into the other room and said, "I'm sorry, the soup isn't quite ready yet, but if--oh my!"
As she came into the front room of her house, which was the large dining room where she served soup to poor pets, she saw a green Eyrie and a blue Shoyru collapsed on her floor, panting heavily. Being a kind faerie, she ran over to the two exhausted pets and helped them to seats at one of the tables in the room, then ran back to the kitchen and returned with a pitcher of cold water and three glasses. She sat down at the table across from the two pets, poured water into the glasses, and handed two of the glasses to the exhausted pets. The Eyrie and the Shoyru thanked her, then gulped down the water. Adelaide refilled their glasses and they drank slower this time, though they still polished off the water in short order. She refilled their glasses again, then went back to the kitchen to refill the pitcher and check on her soup. When she returned to the table she saw the two pets seemed to have caught their breath.
Resuming her seat she said, "Just to assuage a poor faerie's curiosity, would you mind telling me why you burst into my house and collapsed on my floor?"
The Eyrie took another sip of water, then replied, "We're sorry for the interruption, Soup Faerie. I'm Elsin, and this is my younger brother, Shorin. As to why we're here, well, that's a long story."
Adelaide smiled and said, "It's okay--the soup I'm working on needs to simmer for half an hour, so I have time to listen to your story." She refilled their glasses, then took a sip from her own glass.
Elsin nodded and continued, "Well, it's like this. Mom has been trying all month to complete enough of Jhudora's quests to get that avatar, and yesterday was to have been quest number twenty, which would have gotten her the avatar. So she went up to Jhudora's Bluff and accepted the quest, and Jhudora asked for a really rare and expensive item. It took Mom quite a while to find the item, and she had to use almost all of our neopoints to buy it once she did find it. She took the item back to Jhudora, and after all that Jhudora failed her because she was ten seconds late. Just ten seconds too late, and she sends Mom back to the first quest.
"Anyway, Mom's pretty devastated, so Shorin and I came up with a way to get back at Jhudora. We used the last couple hundred neopoints we had to buy a Meerca Whoopee Cushion, then we took it to Jhudora's Bluff. We snuck in behind one of her questers, and while she was in another room getting the prize for the quester I snuck the whoopee cushion onto her throne."
At this point Elsin started giggling uncontrollably, so Shorin took over. "So Jhudora comes back, gives the prize to the quester, then sits down on her throne, right on top of the whoopee cushion."
Both pets were laughing at this point, and Adelaide almost smiled in spite of herself. She did not like cruel jokes like this, but she had to admit that the thought of Jhudora with her dignity in shreds was rather amusing. She had heard many stories like that of Elsin's mother, and always felt sorry for those Neopians, even though they should have known what they were risking when they accepted the quest. Adelaide was also good friends with Illusen, with whom she kept up a steady neomail correspondence, and she knew that Illusen would get a kick out of this story.
Elsin and Shorin were starting to calm down, so she asked, "Then what happened?"
Elsin took another sip of his water and said, "So Shorin and I are by this point rolling on the floor, laughing, and Jhudora pulls out her staff. We knew we were in big trouble then, so we ran out with Jhudora chasing after us and trying to zap us. As soon as we got outside we took off, flying with all our might for Meridell--we figured maybe Illusen would protect us from Jhudora's magic, since we'd just pranked her rival."
Shorin took up the tale. "When we were nearing Brightvale we noticed the wind was blowing against us. Then a really strong gust of wind blew us off course, and we found ourselves over Neopia Central. By then we were so exhausted we decided we had to land soon."
Elsin continued, "We decided to come to your place, a) because you're a faerie, and we thought you might be able to protect us, and b) because we're really hungry and we spent the last of our neopoints on that whoopee cushion."
"Well," said Adelaide, "the alarm didn't go off when you two came in, so you can have some soup when it's finished." At their puzzled expressions she explained, "There's an alarm spell on the front door that goes off whenever someone enters who has more than 3000 neopoints--that's how I make sure only those who really need it get my soup.
"I'm not sure I can protect you from Jhudora's wrath, though. My magic is fairly limited; I know some of the basic spells all faeries learn, and I have power over all forms of soup, but that's about it. However, I can magically transport you to Illusen's glade, if you want."
Shorin looked at her in astonishment. "You can do that? Really?"
Adelaide nodded and replied, "Of course! Every faerie knows how to cast transportation spells."
Elsin said, "All right, we'll accept your offer of transportation, after we get some soup. And speaking of soup, what were you saying about 'power over all forms of soup'?"
"It's rather a long story," Adelaide said evasively, "and I need to go check on my soup. Excuse me." She got up and went back to the kitchen.
As Adelaide walked back into the kitchen she noticed an odd glow coming from the cauldron holding the soup. Peering into the cauldron, she saw the soup was now colored with swirls of dark purple and lime green.
"Jhudora!" she muttered darkly.
She rolled up the sleeves of her shirt, and was just about to start casting a spell on the soup when a bright green flash emanated from the cauldron. As it died down, Adelaide saw, to her horror, a large number of small black furry critters with many long legs and red eyes come crawling out of the cauldron. Paralyzed with fear, it was a long moment before she finally put a name to the multitude of creatures emerging from her cauldron and invading the kitchen.
* * * * * *
Elsin and Shorin had been sitting at the table, talking amongst themselves and waiting for the Soup Faerie to return. They saw a bright green flash coming from the kitchen, and they immediately got up to investigate. When they poked their heads into the kitchen, they saw the Soup Faerie standing, trembling, and watching the horde of Spyders that were pouring out of the large cauldron in the center of the room. She screamed, and the two pets looked at each other, nodded, and bravely entered the kitchen. They each grabbed one of the faerie's arms and started to pull her out of the room, away from the ever-increasing swarm of Spyders. This seemed to break Adelaide's paralysis, and she turned and ran out of the cottage, pulling the two pets behind her.
When they were all safely out of the cottage, Adelaide closed the door and locked it with a key she took from her pocket. She then narrowed her eyes, held her hands out in front of her, and started muttering under her breath while moving her hands in intricate patterns. A silvery glow formed around the Soup Faerie's cottage, then seemed to melt into the walls and roof. Adelaide finished the spell, then turned to Elsin and Shorin and said in a quivering voice, "I'm going to send you to Illusen's glade now--tell her what happened, and tell her about Jhudora and the whoopee cushion. I'm going to go find someone who can get rid of these Spyders for me; hopefully that spell will keep them from running amuck through Neopia Central."
Elsin and Shorin merely nodded. They had both been around long enough to know not to argue with someone with that half-panicked, half-insane look in their eyes. They were both a little worried about the safety of a transportation spell cast by a faerie who looked like she was about to have a nervous breakdown, but they wisely decided to just go along with the Soup Faerie's plan.
Adelaide once more narrowed her eyes, then began chanting while making complicated passes in the air with her hands. A silver glowing mist enveloped the two pets, and as the chanting ceased they felt a bizarre and dizzying sense of movement. When the mist cleared they saw that they were now in a large clearing, surrounded by large leafy trees of all kinds.
"Ooh, I feel really dizzy," Shorin mumbled.
A musical voice inquired, "Are you two here for quests?"
They turned and saw Illusen, the famous earth faerie, walking towards them.
"Er, not exactly," Elsin said. Then he and Shorin told her what had happened.
* * * * * *
After Adelaide sent the two pets to Illusen, she took a deep breathe to steady herself, then cast the spell that would transport her to Fyora's palace. She had decided to got to the Faerie Queen about the Spyder problem, partly because if Jhudora was the one who had sent the Spyders, then it was a case of a faerie interfering with another faerie's job, and thus Fyora needed to know about it, and partly because she hoped that the Faerie Queen would have a wide enough range of contacts that she could find someone who was not deathly afraid of Spyders. Her last coherent thought, as she finished casting the spell, was a lament that she would never get to try that soup she had been working on all day.
* * * * * *
Adelaide's mind slowly cleared from the panic, and she saw an open potion bottle full of a pale bluish-purple liquid being held in front of her face.
"Here, drink this," a kind voice said.
Adelaide slowly lifted her hands, took the bottle, and swiftly chugged the contents. She felt a wave of soothing tranquility flow through her mind, washing away the remnants of her panic about the Spyders. As her mind cleared so did her vision, and she was able to take in her surroundings. She was wrapped in blankets and reclining on a blue couch in a room decorated in shades of blue and turquoise. On the other side of a dark blue coffee table was a smaller sofa, currently occupied by the Faerie Queen. A water faerie holding a formidable-looking book was hovering next to Adelaide's sofa, and Aethia, the Battle Faerie, was standing by Fyora's seat.
"What was that?" Adelaide asked, grimacing at the awful taste the potion had left in her mouth.
"A calming potion," replied the water faerie, in her kind voice. "Here, try this," she continued, handing Adelaide a long light blue straw-like object.
"A Water Faerie Straw?" Adelaide asked, perplexed.
The water faerie nodded. "It's practically pure sugar, which is what your body needs to help fight the shock, and it'll help get the taste of the calming potion out of your mouth."
Adelaide would willingly do anything to get rid of the taste of that potion, so she tore open the Water Faerie Straw and poured the sugary contents into her mouth. It did indeed get rid of the potion's aftertaste, and was also oddly refreshing.
"So what happened?" Adelaide asked.
Fyora replied, "According to my guards, you appeared in front of the gates to my castle, raving about Spyders, and when one of the guards opened the door to go for reinforcements you ran inside and ended up charging into the council chamber, where you fainted. We brought you here, and Neiria has been doing what she could to revive you."
"Ah," Adelaide said.
"Are you feeling up to telling us what happened?" Fyora asked, concern showing in her amethyst eyes.
"I think so," Adelaide said. Fyora looked inquiringly at Neiria, who said, "I'm staying--if she relapses, you'll want me here." Fyora nodded, and Neiria sat down next to Fyora.
"Whenever you're ready, dear," Fyora said, turning back to Adelaide.
Adelaide told them about the soup she had been making, and how Elsin and Shorin had burst into her cottage. She repeated the pets' story about their prank and how they ended up at her house, and she described how the Spyders had started coming out of her cauldron of soup.
"...And you know how terrified I am of Spyders, Fyora! I just stood there, screaming, until those two pets started trying to pull me out of the room. I turned and ran, pulling them along with me, until we got out of the house. I locked the door, then cast a variation of the spell I use to seal my jars of spices; I think it will keep the Spyders from being able to get out, but I'm not entirely sure."
Aethia grimaced. "A bunch of Spyders running uncontrolled through Neopia Central would be a major headache."
"We'll check on that later," Fyora said reassuringly. "What happened next?"
"I sent Elsin and Shorin to Illusen's glade using the standard transportation spell, then used the same spell to transport myself here. After that, it's pretty much a blur," Adelaide finished.
Fyora sat and thought for a moment, then said, "I'll find someone to take care of the Spyders. For right now, Adelaide, I'd like you to stay here, or rather, in one of the guest rooms here in the palace." She looked at Neiria, who said, "I'll take care of her, Fyora." The water faerie got up, then helped Adelaide to her feet and escorted her out of the room.
At the door Adelaide turned back and said to Fyora, "Could you also get someone to make sure the enchantments on my soup pot didn't get messed up? It's a special one Jhuidah made for me."
Fyora smiled reassuringly and said, "I'll take care of it, dear. Go get some rest."
"Thank you, Fyora," Adelaide said, then walked out the door.
"The scrying bowl is in the bottom left cupboard," Neiria said over her shoulder as she followed Adelaide out, closing the door behind her.
Fyora stood up and strode over to the cupboards lining the far wall. She bent down and started rummaging through the one Neiria had mentioned. Pulling out a large circular bowl made of thick dark blue glass, she carried it over to the sink and filled it with water, then carefully carried it back and set it down on the coffee table. She resumed her seat on the sofa, and motioned for Aethia to take a seat on the couch opposite hers.
"You're going to scry out Adelaide's house, right?" Aethia said as she sat down.
Fyora nodded. "If the Spyders have indeed escaped from her spell, I'll have to send you down there to help drive them off."
Fyora waved her hand over the scrying bowl, and a pink mist formed in the water as she muttered the spell. The mist cleared, and the two faeries gazed into the bowl, which now showed Adelaide's house at the entrance to the Marketplace. They saw no sign of escaped Spyders, nor any panicking neopets running around and screaming. Fyora continued to look in on different portions of Neopia Central, and to her relief there was absolutely no sign of rampaging Spyders anywhere in the area. She waved her hand over the bowl once again, and the image dissolved into the clear water that filled the bowl.
"No Spyders," Aethia said, "so what now?"
"Now I contact Illusen, and ask her to deal with the Spyders; if Jhudora is the one behind this, Illusen will know, and I have yet to find a petpet, however creepy, that Illusen doesn't like. After that, I need to contact Jhuidah and ask her to take a look at Adelaide's soup pot, and make sure the enchantments are still intact," Fyora replied.
Aethia got up and said, "I'll leave you to it, then." With a formal salute she left the room.
Fyora turned back to the bowl, and muttered the spell that would let her use it to contact Illusen. After a few moments the famous earth faerie's face appeared in the bowl.
"Does this by any chance have anything to do with the Eyrie and Shoyru that appeared in my glade earlier today?" Illusen asked.
Fyora smiled and replied, "Yes, it does." She summarized what Adelaide had told her, then added, "Do you think you could go over to Neopia Central and clear the Spyders out of Adelaide's house? I know you hate leaving your glade, but you have the best chance of figuring out if Jhudora was the one who sent the Spyders."
Illusen grimaced and said, "This does sound like the sort of thing my dratted sister would do. Yes, I'll go take care of the Spyder problem."
"Thank you, Illusen," Fyora said. "I'm going to try to convince Jhuidah to go over there as well, to make sure this Spyder infestation spell didn't mess up the enchantments on Adelaide's cooking pot, so don't be surprised if you see her there."
Illusen nodded, then a look of concern spread across her face as she asked, "Fyora, how's Adelaide?"
Fyora smiled reassuringly and replied, "She'll be fine, Illusen, don't worry. She's currently in one of the guest rooms here, and Neiria, the powerful water faerie healer on my council, is watching over her."
Illusen sighed with relief. "Thank you, Fyora."
"Just go take care of that Spyder problem for me, all right?" Fyora said, smiling.
Illusen nodded, and the image dissolved. Fyora cast the spell again, to contact Jhuidah, the faerie from Mystery Island known for her magical cooking pot...
* * * * * *
Illusen looked up as Jhuidah appeared in a puff of pinky-red smoke in the small garden behind the Soup Kitchen, a large black cauldron in her hands.
"Long time no see," Illusen said by way of greeting, then turned back to the runes she was drawing in the ground with her staff.
"Same here," Jhuidah replied. "Have you gotten rid of the Spyders yet?"
Illusen shook her head. "I'm still working on it--that's what these runes are for." Jhuidah studied the runes that encircled the base of the house as Illusen continued, "They're part of a spell that will send the Spyders back to Jhudora's house, though I'm adding a time delay so that they won't appear there until the middle of the night, though they'll be gone from inside here by the end of the spell."
"Nice. So it was Jhudora's doing, then?"
"Yep. I've had more than enough dealings with her to be able to detect even the faintest trace of her magic, and this house reeks of her dark magic."
Jhuidah was faintly surprised at the animosity in Illusen's voice as she spoke of Jhudora. She wondered, as had the rest of Neopia for many years now, what it was the infamous dark faerie had done to Illusen to make the normally gentle earth faerie so bitter. Wisely, she refrained from asking about it, saying instead, "Wait--Jhudora's a dark faerie. Doesn't she like Spyders?"
Illusen smirked. "Oddly enough, no, or at least, not in very large numbers in her bedroom in the middle of the night. She keeps a few in her dungeons for 'atmosphere', but they are most certainly not her favorite type of petpet."
"How many Spyders are in there?" Jhuidah asked nervously.
"At least enough to cover every flat surface," Illusen replied. Jhuidah hastily flew over to the high stone wall behind the garden and perched on top of it, casting a look of fear mingled with disgust at the Spyder-filled house. Illusen turned to her and said, "You don't like them either?"
"No," she replied, "which is rather odd, considering I live in the middle of a jungle crawling with all sorts of weird critters."
Jhuidah watched from the top of the wall as Illusen completed the complicated circle of runes. Finally the earth faerie stood up, then raised her staff and began chanting. The runes began to glow a bright leafy green, and as Illusen continued chanting the runes glowed brighter and brighter. With a shout, Illusen plunged the end of her staff into the ground, and a green flash of light and power momentarily blinded the faerie seated atop the wall. When Jhuidah's vision cleared she saw that the circle of runes was gone, and Illusen was about to open the back door of the Soup Faerie's home. Jhuidah fluttered down and followed Illusen inside.
The back door led into the storage room, which was full of crates and shelves containing the soup ingredients. The two faeries made sure there weren't any Spyders in this room, then headed into the kitchen. They saw the enchanted cooking pot sitting in the middle of the room, a foul stench emanating from its interior. Peering inside, they saw the cauldron was half-full of purple sludge with toxic lime green swirls.
"See? Definitely Jhudora's doing," Illusen said.
Jhuidah nodded, wrinkling her nose, and said, "You know, I've seen quite a few odd cooking experiments, both failed and successful, but this is weird even for me."
"I'm going to go through the rest of the house, and make sure I got all the Spyders," Illusen said.
"Do you need this pot as proof that Jhudora did it?" Jhuidah asked.
Illusen sighed. "Yeah, I should probably take it to Fyora before I head back home."
"Okay, I'll leave it hear for you," Jhuidah said, moving the contaminated pot over to the corner of the room.
Illusen nodded, then went to check the rest of the house for Spyders, while Jhuidah set the cauldron she had brought with her in the center of the kitchen. Her task accomplished, Jhuidah gathered a cloud of pinky-red mist about herself, then spoke the words of the transportation spell and transported herself back to her island home.
After searching through the house and not finding any Spyders, Illusen returned to the kitchen. She grabbed hold of the ruined cooking pot with one hand, and with the other gestured and spoke the words that would transport her to the Faerie Queen's palace.
* * * * * *
Late that night, the peaceful air of Faerieland was rent by the loud scream of an enraged dark faerie, followed by a bright blast of lime green magic from one of the towers of the castle on the bluff. Had anyone been close enough to said tower's window, they would have heard the dark faerie growl, "I'll get you for this, Illusen!"
In her treetop home in Meridell, a certain earth faerie laughed at the scene in her scrying bowl.