The Roomies Ruin: Part Four
Jesc woke up slowly. If it had been a few months earlier, she would have thrown her arms up, proclaimed “Good morning, world!” and jumped out of bed to begin her day fresh and awake.
But since she was now a statue, the air faerie contented herself with blinking her blue eyes a few times. She was still in Jim’s kitchen, the bright paint and clean countertops glinting under the recessed lighting. From the angle of the yellow sunlight pouring in through the windows, she estimated that it was a little past noon.
Sorry for falling asleep, she apologized sheepishly. Jesc knew that Jhudora often got bored when she drifted off, and she waited for the dark faerie’s sharp retort.
But it didn’t come.
Jhudora? Jesc called out silently, peering to her left where Jhudora had been stationed earlier, but the dark faerie wasn’t there. It was as if she had simply got up and left—which was impossible since she had been turned to stone too. It was then that Jesc’s eyes fell upon something: a single manila folder on top of the granite countertop. Jesc was one hundred percent sure it hadn’t been there before her nap; she had passed the time earlier in the day by counting the veins of silver in the exact same spot on the counter.
Jesc felt her heart flutter wildly in her stone chest, immediately sensing that something was wrong. Jhudora! she cried out with her mind, hoping that the dark faerie could hear her scream and would answer, but there was no response. Wherever Jhudora was, she was too far away to answer.
I need to go find her! Jesc thought, and she tried with all her might to move her feet, focusing on her brain’s connection with her legs, but it was no use. Her petrified flesh wouldn't budge. She couldn’t move.
Frustration bubbled up inside of her as the words of her Help Out Neopia teacher suddenly floated through her head, stray memories of the past that felt so close yet so far away. “No matter how helpless you may feel,” Miss Nell had said kindly to her class, passing out tea for everyone to sip on in the chilly classroom, “there’s always something you can do to help others.”
Jesc had lived by that mantra ever since she had first heard it at the Faerie Academy, but now Jhudora was missing—most likely kidnapped— and she could do absolutely nothing.
Stop it, Jesc, she suddenly scolded herself, realizing where her mindset was. When have you ever not tried? You and Jhudora are friends and she needs your help. So stop moping and get creative!
You’re right! Jesc decided, taking her own advice.
So she craned her brain for anything that her help her in a situation like this. She thought of all the spells she had learned at the Faerie Academy, but most of them required the use of a wand, which was a currently useless stone stick in her pocket. The only spells she could do without a wand were simple levitation acts—which usually required some sort of a hand gesture—and healing spells.
Jesc paused. A healing spell... That could work. Immediately, she closed her eyes, feeling the sluggish magic inside of her. While she had interned at Healing Springs, Marina had taught her a number of techniques that involved healing without a wand; that way she would be able to heal others even in the most desperate of situations. All she had to do was visualize what she wanted to heal and pour her magic into it.
So the air faerie focused on her wings. As stone, they were mere slivers of grey rock, nowhere near as beautiful as they used to be. But they’re normally thin and flexible, Jesc recalled, her eyes screwed shut. Sturdy too. They’re pale blue and light purple, like the sky in the early morning, and they’re strong enough to carry me across the skies. Along with her visualizations, she also recalled words of ancient healing magic she had studied in depth at school and with Marina, the runes and symbols that had littered the textbooks she had read. She thought the syllables as clearly as she could, gathering the magic that was still within her and channeling it towards her back.
Slowly she felt her back heat up, like someone was blowing warm air onto her wings. The warmth grew in intensity until it was a subtle burn, like she was on fire. With a last burst of magic, she felt her wings break free from their stone prison and flutter gently behind her, reassuring her that everything would be all right.
Jesc felt sweat bead on her brow—which was odd because she was fairly certain all of her pores had been turned to stone as well and couldn’t possibly be able to produce sweat. She made a mental note to read up on the biology behind petrified beings sometime in the future.
But that’s okay, Jesc thought, because I can move! And with that positive attitude, she beat her wings with all her might, raising herself a few inches off the floor. Her wings strained as they tried to hold up her stone body and she painfully propelled herself out of the kitchen and into the grand foyer.
However, before she could reach for the front door, it swung open, and a short yellow Aisha with round glasses stood before her looking baffled.
“Jesc?” Jim said, cleaning his glasses on his white button-down to make sure he wasn’t seeing things. “How did you get out here? And your wings...?”
I know, Jim, she said, and her thoughts were frantic now that she had someone to talk to. But you have to help! Jhudora is missing!
Jim’s jaw dropped. “Missing? How is that possible?”
I think someone came in here and took her. There’s a manila envelope on the counter that wasn’t there before. I think the intruder left it! But I couldn’t open it without hands. I was going to go out to find her before you walked in.
“Well, it’s a good thing I got here before you left. One second.” The yellow Aisha scurried off into his kitchen. A moment later, he had returned with the folder. His face was pale.
Do you know who did it? Jesc asked anxiously.
“Yes, I do,” Jim said holding up the folder. “This is from work, and there’s a note inside that says Liam was the one who delivered it. He’s one of my two interns.”
You have interns now? Jesc asked. She had helped out at the Neohome Planning Committee a few years ago as part of her faerie lending.
“Only two. Nicholas is a little odd—he has an obsession with the color purple for some odd reason. But Liam has always been very reliable. Excitable yes, but I don’t know why he’d take Jhudora, especially from my house.”
Well, we have to go find Jhudora, Jesc proclaimed, her wings fluttering furiously despite her exhaustion. Do you know where he lives?
“No, I don’t,” Jim said honestly. “There are records back at work, but I doubt he would have taken Jhudora back home with him. Jhudora is a pretty recognizable, even in statue form, and he’d most likely be swarmed by people. Not to mention he’s pretty young and still lives with his parents; I doubt they’d let him keep the statue in their house. If he wanted to get her off Mystery Island quickly, there’s only one place he’d go.”
Jesc stared at him nervously. Where’s that?
Jim gulped. “The Trading Post.”
* * *
If there was one place in all of Mystery Island that Jim couldn’t stand, it was the Trading Post. It was too cluttered for his taste, with people popping up every which way, shouting out their wares and haggling for the right price.
It also didn’t help that Scotchmel had decided to leave his palm tree nest and perch on his shoulder.
“Jesc,” he said with a wince as the white Weewoo hopped off his shoulder and onto his head, “you know I-I’ve never gotten over my little ph-phobia of w-weewoos.”
I’m so sorry, Jim, but he won’t perch on me anymore; I think I scare him as stone, Jesc said, sounding a bit sad as she trudged along. She was straining her wings to move her body inch by inch as she passed the stands and maneuvered her way through the throngs of Neopets.
“Whoa, awesome!” a young Kyrii exclaimed as they walked, jumping in front of their path with his eyes agleam. “A mechanical stone faerie! It’s like the real ones, but this one can move!” He turned to Jim, nearly shaking with excitement. “What’s the offer to beat?”
“S-Sorry, she’s not for sale,” he said; he had tried to sound stern, but the stutter ruined the effect. All he could think about were Scotchmel’s tiny feet clawing into his scalp...
You shouldn’t worry so much, Jim, Jesc said, her tone bright again; nothing could keep the faerie sad for long. It’s not healthy.
“You’re worried about Jhudora, though,” he pointed out, shuffling past a rather large Mynci while scanning the small booths set up everywhere with his spectacled eyes.
But that’s not real worry, Jesc explained. That’s care.
“Oh, Jesc, you’re too good, do you know that?” Jim said, but before she could protest, a small blue Lupe leaning next to a stall caught his eye. “Liam!” he called out.
The blue Lupe looked away from the wares he was considering and he grinned upon seeing Jim. “Hello!” he called as the yellow Aisha and stone faerie hurried up to him. “How are you doing, sir?”
“Liam, you were in my neohome today, correct?”
Liam looked at him blankly. “Yes. Why? Did you not get the packet of papers I left you? They were on the counter.”
He got them, Jesc explained quickly, but we want to know if you took Jhudora.
“Oh Fyora!” Liam explained, his eyes widening upon hearing Jesc’s voice reverberating through his skull and seeing her gauzy blue wings flutter in the breeze. “You can move? And you’re not dead?”
“Dead?” Jim asked, completely perplexed. “Liam, why would Jesc be dead?”
“Because of Jhudora!” he explained. When Jim and Jesc stared at him blankly, he hastened to explain. “When I walked into your neohome, Jhudora and this faerie were in the kitchen. Jhudora started yelling at me, but this one—” he pointed to Jesc “—wasn’t saying anything, and I thought Jhudora had done something to her. So I dragged Jhudora out of your house and took her here.” He gestured to the Trading Post, but his face reflected his own confusion. “I thought you would be relieved that I got rid of her. I couldn’t imagine what I’d do if I found out that dark faerie did something to you.”
“Liam,” Jim said, trying to remain calm despite his beating heart, “I actually know Jhudora.”
The Lupe’s eyes widened. He staggered backwards and nearly knocked over a sign that read “Bottled Red Sand – Only 100 NP!” “Jhudora? On a personal basis? You mean, she’s your friend?”
“Well, let’s not go with ‘friend,’” Jim said carefully, recalling the amount of fright he felt whenever she was around. “Let’s say ‘acquaintance.’”
“Oh Fyora, oh Fyora!” Liam gasped, completely mortified. His palms were sweating. “I didn’t mean to! I thought she was evil! Oh Fyora, I’m so sorry!” He suddenly froze in horror. “You’re... you’re not going to fire me, are you?” His eyes were as wide as saucers and began welling with tears.
Don’t worry, Liam, Jesc said kindly, wishing she could give him a hug. Jim wouldn’t do that. And it was an easy mistake to make; Jhudora doesn’t exactly have the best reputation. But we kind of need to get her back. Which lot is yours?
Jesc had expected Liam to look relieved; instead, his blue fur paled. “I don’t have a lot anymore,” he said, his voice small. “Someone bought her only fifteen minutes ago.” He dug in his pocket and withdrew a small bag of neopoints. “I was going to give you the money once I saw you back at work, sir. I swear I was!”
Jim took the small pouch and peered inside, seeing the sparkle of gold and the small tag that showed how much was in the bag. “Good gracious! 400,000 neopoints! Who knew Jhudora was worth so much?”
“I’m so sorry!” Liam said, looking completely mortified. “I’m so sorry!”
It’s okay, Jesc said, trying to remain optimistic. We just need to find who you sold her to and go from there. Did you catch his or her name? Or what they looked like?
“It was an impersonal bid,” Liam said miserably. “It was all through neomail—wait a minute!” His eyes lit up and he dug into his pocket frantically. “I still have all the neomails we exchanged when we were haggling prices. It won’t give us a name, but there should be a return address.”
“See Liam, everything will be fine,” Jim said consolingly as Scotchmel whistled a merry tune.
“Let’s see,” the Lupe said, scanning the envelope in his blue paw. “Here we are, the return address! 11511 Stem Street...” He trailed off slowly, looking troubled.
“What’s wrong?” Jim asked, looking at Liam confused. “We have an address. That’s good news, right?”
Not exactly, Jesc said, her voice sounding overwhelmingly worried. Stem Street is in Faerieland.
To be continued...