An Interview With Jhudora
Jhudora slouched back in her chair, her eyes fixated firmly on the figure in front of her.
"So, who are you again?" she asked.
"My name is Sophie," was the response she received. "I'm a journalist for the Neopian Times." The girl shuffled awkwardly in her seat, evidently uneasy.
"Oh," Jhudora snorted, "those people." She took a sip of her tea, grimacing slightly. "You're lucky that I'm in a good mood today - otherwise you would be long gone."
Sophie let out a nervous laugh, her body inching back ever-so-slightly. "Uh," she said, trying to hide the quiver in her voice. "Ms. Jhudora -"
"Call me Jhudora," was the curt response.
"...Jhudora. I have some questions to ask regarding your quests."
"My quests?" Jhudora raised one eyebrow, her expression a mixture of amusement and exasperation. "Oh wow, how original. Like I haven't heard that before..."
Jhudora let out a loud sigh and signaled for Sophie to continue.
"Uh..." Sounding flustered, Sophie stared down at her notes, determined to avoid the menacing eyes of the figure in front of her. "Why... why do you all but force poor, unsuspecting neopets to go on quests for you, and then reward them with the cheapest of items?" She paused, realizing what she had just recited.
"I'm sorry," she choked, "I didn't write these questions, my boss did..."
"Have you ever heard of the saying 'don't shoot the messenger'?" Jhudora questioned, cooly.
Jhudora smiled coldly. "I like to shoot the messenger."
Leaning back in her chair, undeterred by the obvious discomfort of her companion, Jhudora idly asked, "So you want to know the details of my quests, do you?"
Sophie flushed. "Well, my boss -"
"Yes or no?"
Jhudora smirked. "Well," she said, "the reason why I send people on quests is simple really."
"Go on," Sophie urged, her pen posed over a sheet of paper, ready to jot down whatever she heard.
Jhudora's smirk grew. "Cheap labour."
There was an awkward pause.
"Well, go on, write it down," Jhudora urged. "My reputation as the incarnate of evil might be boosted further."
"Are you sure you want that down on paper?" Sophie inquired uncertainly.
"I'm a Dark Faerie, honey," Jhudora pointed out.
Sophie awkwardly scribbled down their previous conversation.
"You know," Jhudora mused, as Sophie continued her task, "I honestly don't know what the issue is - I mean, honestly, have you seen some of the quests that Taelia throws around? That is what I call pure evil - but then, she's the Snow Faerie, isn't she? Not a big bad Dark Faerie..."
"Uh..." Sophie let out an awkward cough and set her pen down. "I really don't know - I'm just hear because my boss sent me -"
"Why aren't you writing any of this down?!"
Sophie stared. "...I'm not too sure of what I should write."
"You're new to this, aren't you?" Jhudora asked, smirking slightly. Sophie awkwardly nodded her head in response.
"This is my first time off the desk," she admitted.
"Typical," Jhudora sighed. "Sending newbies after me..."
Sophie frowned slightly and glanced down at the paper in her hands, her eyes scanning over the next question.
"Mind if we continue?" she inquired.
Jhudora nodded. "Go ahead."
"Do you consider your quests to be fair?" Sophie readied her pen, preparing to note down any answer which was provided.
She blinked. "...Would you like to elaborate on that?"
"No." Jhudora took a sip of tea, waving her hand dismissively. "Next question."
"But uh -" Sophie stared at her, unsure of what to say. "- I mean, surely you must fashion them in a certain way -"
Jhudora let out a loud sigh. "When I hand out quests, people come to me," she said, slowly. "I tell them to do them. They do. I then give them cheap prizes that, by the way, hardly cost me anything seeing as I buy them in bulk and stack them up in my attic."
"To put it in simple terms, I exploit them." Jhudora smiled; Sophie continued to stare. "They buy me nice things and I give them candy that, by the way, is way past its use-by date."
When she received no response, she smirked. "Evil, right?"
"Well..." Sophie let out an awkward cough. "I guess that answers my next question..."
"And what was that?"
"...Why do you choose those particular items as prizes..."
Sophie stared down at her paper for a moment, her eyes scanning over the next question. After a brief moment of hesitation she asked, "Why won't you send people on quests if they've already been to Illusen?"
Jhudora snorted. "Please - I may love cheap labour, but I'm not THAT desperate."
"But what's the big issue?" Sophie pressed.
"The 'big issue' -" Jhudora practically spat out the words " - is that they've already been to Illusen!"
"Did you not hear me?!" Sophie flinched away as Jhudora's voice rose in pitch. "Illusen! I mean, honestly, have you seen her quests?! They're atrocious - almost as bad as that Snow Faerie's! The majority of her prizes are worthless!"
"Well, her cream cookies are pretty tasty..." Sophie paused immediately after she had made her little interjection, wondering if she had a death wish.
"...You've been on one of Illusen's quests?"
Yup. Death wish.
"Well, uh -" Sophie stuttered, paling dramatically.
"You've been on one of ILLUSEN'S quests?!"
Letting out a terrified squeak, Sophie leapt up from her seat, hurriedly inching towards the door.
"You know what," she stuttered, "I think that's it for the interview -"
"HOW DARE YOU VISIT ILLUSEN AND NOT ME!"
"So you have the interview?" Sitting behind his desk, the editor of the Neopian Times glanced at the figure in front of him, anticipation shining in his eyes.
"Yes." It took all the willpower Sophie possessed to refrain from simply hurling the thing at her boss's face. She set it down on the table, her jaw clenched tightly.
"Huh..." The editor's eyes breezed over it, a thoughtful look on his face. After a brief moment he spoke again.
"You know, Stacey -"
He blinked. "What?"
"My name," Sophie said, slowly, "it's Sophie, sir, not Stacey."
"Huh." He blinked again. "That's lovely, dear. However - you didn't get all the questions down."
"No," Sophie responded, forcing herself to diminish any venom in her voice. "Jhudora - wasn't in the best of moods."
The editor snorted. "Of course not," he responded, amused. "She's a Dark Faerie, love -"
"Exactly," Sophie said. "Which is why I left before I, you know, disappeared off the face of this planet."
"Ha!" The editor let out a short, barking laugh. "And that, my dear, is exactly why I chose you for this story!"
"Er..." Sophie stared at him, wondering exactly what she was being congratulated for. "Thank you...?"
"You're witty." Smiling, the editor leaned back in his seat. "Confident, quirky, responsible -"
"Thank you," she repeated.
" - However, you're not very likable, so -"
"I'm sorry!" Sophie gaped at him. "I'm not very WHAT?!"
"Oh, don't look at me like that! You're making me feel like I kicked a baby Lupe!" Pouting, the editor leaned back in his seat. "I'm just referring to the fact that a Dark Faerie threw you out of her home -"
"She's a Dark Faerie!"
"...Look, don't take it to heart." The editor reached out to pat Sophie's shoulder and then, seeing her murderous expression, pulled away, clearly hoping to preserve all his limbs. "I'll put you in the 'maybe' pile."
Sophie took a deep breath. "The maybe pile...?"
"Oh yeah." The editor leaned back in his seat. "I have to decide exactly what stories I'm planning on putting in this issue!"
There was a moment of dead silence.
"...You're on the list!"
"...At the bottom yes, but still on the list - and - er - would you like some candy?" Awkwardly, he held out a plate of butterscotches, avoiding Sophie's eyes.
"...I have to go now." Pulling herself out of her chair, Sophie headed to the door, her jaw clenched tightly.
"Don't forget to buy next week's paper!" the editor called after her. "After all, every dime counts, and you know, money is - hey! Stacy, don't slam the door like that!"
"It's Sophie," Sophie ground out as she stormed away.