Gallery of Imperfection
The door swung open silently at the young Blue Kacheek's hesitant push. Very cautiously she stepped inside, quickly followed by her best friend, Honour, a Disco Aisha. Their footsteps made no sound on the plush carpeting and the pair was almost too afraid to breath, fearing the noise would be too loud and disturb the heavy silence in the air. Alyiousa could not believe that she was finally here in the Hidden Tower, ready to make her purchase. For as long as she could remember she had wanted a Faerie Queen Doll of her very own and after much saving and hard work, she finally had the correct amount of Neopoints to achieve her goal.
The pair walked quietly through the many display cases, careful not to touch any of them, working their way towards the coveted Faerie Queen Doll. But it was impossible not to be excited by these items for sale and soon the girls were whispering to each other in awe.
"Oh my Sloth, look! It's the Sword of Skardsen!" Honour breathed, a Battledome pet in training she had long dreamed of owning such an exquisite weapon.
"It's beautiful!" Alyiousa's reply was not in answer to her friend. She was instead absorbed in looking at the Rainbow Swirly Thing, a mysterious necklace of ultimate beauty.
These comments came progressively louder until the friends were actually calling out to each other across the shop, their apprehension lost as they moved from one rare item to the other. It was Honour who came across the doll first.
"Hey, Aly!" she shouted to her friend, laughter tingeing her voice. "You sure you don't want this doll instead?"
Alyiousa made her way over to the Aisha and snorted derisively. "Why on earth would I want such a tattered toy?" she asked disdainfully, prodding the Reject Faerie Queen Doll with her paw. "I have no idea why Queen Fyora would sell such a thing in a place of such beauty."
Alyiousa was but a simple Blue Kacheek, but she dreamed of being so much more. While she was a kind Neopet at heart, sometimes her ambitions and posturing made her appear arrogant and snobbish. She wanted to be a Royal Kacheek, a Princess. Queen Fyora was her hero and she aspired to be as graceful and as elegant as the Faerie Queen herself one day. So she could not work out why such a regal Monarch would be selling torn and ruined merchandise.
"Imperfection can have its own beauty."
The two girls spun around as the voice spoke behind them. They did not hear her approach, but here was Queen Fyora in the flesh and who had apparently overheard all of their mocking of her doll! Alyiousa tried to stutter out an apology, but all that came out were unintelligible noises. She finally got to meet her hero and she had managed to insult her!
The Faerie Queen took pity on the two open mouthed Neopets and gently smiled to them as she waved her hand towards the back of the room.
"Follow me." Her voice was soft, but the order was clear and Honour and Alyiousa obediently followed where Fyora led. They passed more wondrous items but both were too nervous to give them the attention they deserved. They did not know where this was heading and they were unsure about what the Queen had in store for them. They walked in silence until they came upon a door in the wall which they did not even see until Fyora had passed through it.
Exchanging anxious glances, Honour and Alyiousa followed her through and gasped at what they saw.
It was a room very similar to the one they had just left, but instead of precious valuables, each display case held an item of broken junk! They passed broken Faerie Snowglobes, Ripped calendars and an Old Toothbrush, before Honour found the courage to voice both their thoughts.
"I'm sorry, Queen Fyora," she started haltingly, "but what is this place? Why all the junk?"
The Queen smiled at them knowingly, very few appreciated what was kept inside this room and their reactions were exactly what she expected.
"This is the Gallery of Imperfection," she explained. "Here every damaged, broken, ruined or otherwise imperfect item has a home."
"But why?" Alyiousa ventured. "I mean, it's broken; what's the point of keeping it?"
"Every one of these items tells a story," the Faerie Queen replied. "They are most certainly not junk. They are pieces of history; well loved and vital to our past."
Fyora noticed the confused look passed between the two friends and sighed softly. Ushering them over to a display case the Queen asked what they thought it was.
"It's a soggy book," Honour replied instantly, not really giving the Waterlogged Book a second glance.
"But what's in the book?" the Queen asked. The girls shrugged, not knowing and Fyora continued, "Maybe it's the solution to the puzzle that drove Eliv Thade insane. Maybe it's the Diary of Hannah as she battled through the Ice Caves. Maybe it's the master plan of Dr Sloth to take over the world." She smiled as comprehension started to dawn on the faces of her two new charges. "Or maybe it's just a soggy book."
Moving towards another case, the Queen again asked them what they thought the object was.
"A Battered Grundo Helmet?" Alyiousa offered hesitantly, unsure of herself now.
"Absolutely," Fyora confirmed. "A Battered Helmet worn by the bravest Grundo soldier who ever lived. He fought against Dr Sloth; he fought for his land, he fought for freedom and for peace."
The Queen paused before asking her next question. "Do you think it's still junk?"
Two heads shook together simultaneously. The Helmet of a War Hero was never junk and should rightfully be remembered and respected. Honour and Alyiousa were beginning to understand what the Queen meant. Just because something wasn't pristine, it did not mean it was worthless.
Fyora moved from item to item, explaining to the girls the story of each one. The Tatty Pencil that wrote the books of Grimoire; the Ragged Red Trousers worn by Professor Clodbottle when he discovered Habitariums; the Broken Ref Whistle which marked the most controversial Yooyuball match ever played. The two friends listened in awe to the stories and soon began pointing out items and asking what they were. Alyiousa pointed to one such display and Queen Fyora let out an unladylike snort as she saw what it was Alyiousa was referring to.
"I think this is probably one of my favourite items," she told them, laughing and crossing over to the Defaced Portrait of Illusen which hung above a Sloth Faerie Plushie. "This, my young friends, is the stuff of legends. This is a series of pranks gone wrong and the true cause of the feud between Illusen and Jhudora."
Honour and Alyiousa burst out laughing. How can such a fierce feud arise over such a petty prank?
"But I thought Jhudora produced some horrific form of Dark Magic that Illusen saw?" Honour asked in between her giggles. "Was it seriously just over this?"
"Oh yes," the Queen confirmed. "Nothing quite so dramatic happened, I can assure you."
"What about that, Queen Fyora?" Alyiousa pointed to the next display over. A Broken Heart Pendant lay sadly on the pedestal. "What story does that one have?"
The Faerie Queen stopped laughing instantly and crossed to the display in question. She gently picked up the necklace and traced a finger slowly down its cool edge. She regarded the pendant silently for a few seconds, seemingly unaware of her two guests, before she carefully laid it back down and turned to the young Kacheek.
"That is a very sad story," she told her quietly, offering no more information, instead moving to the centre of the room where an ornate pedestal displayed what was obviously the focal point of the collection.
"That's like the doll you have for sale!" Alyiousa exclaimed, wanting to remove the sad look from the Queen's face. "The Reject Faerie Queen Doll!"
Fyora picked up the ruined toy and shook her head, smiling again. "Oh no. This is no reject," she informed them. "This was a young Faerie's very best friend. This was once a Faerie Queen Doll, very much like the one you yourself came here to purchase," she told Alyiousa. "It was so very loved and it travelled everywhere with its Faerie owner. Together they snuck into the Snowager's lair; his blast caused this rip here on her sleeve." Fyora's finger traced over the exposed stuffing. "They braved the lost city of Geraptiku; one of the spears ripped her eye off." Again Fyora showed the damage to the two girls. "They were inseparable. It is because of her and her story that this gallery exists. To remind myself, and those who view it, that imperfection can be more beautiful and precious than anything else in the world. "
"But you did not come here for my stories!" Fyora told them, smiling and returning the battered doll to its rightful place. "Come, we shall go and get you your very own Faerie Queen Doll; may she be loved as this one!"
The three walked back out into the main shop of the Hidden Tower where Fyora packaged up the Doll and passed it over to the young Kacheek.
"I hope you have learned something today," the Queen told them both kindly and they responded in the affirmative that they had. "Then have a lovely rest of the day." The Faerie Queen bade them farewell and was about to turn her back when Alyiousa spoke up.
"Queen Fyora, if that doll was so loved, how come you have it? Why didn't the faerie keep it instead of throwing it away?"
Queen Fyora smiled as she ran her fingers down the side of the Blue Kacheek's upturned face.
"She never did throw it away," she told her gently. "She never will."