Friendship Means Never Giving Up: Part Two
A million and one thoughts raced through Breeze's mind as he sat staring at the darkness in front of him. All of them questioning his sanity and why he was there right now. Maybe he took a wrong turn and wound up at the wrong castle. Maybe this was a bad idea and Allrianne was right. Maybe he should turn around and leave right now. There was something gut wrenchingly terrifying about the darkness. Breeze didn't sit frozen in front of the darkness because he wanted it. He sat frozen because his nerves were too shot to do so.
"Get up now, you're wasting my time sitting there like a useless lump."
Wait, how did the voice know that he was sitting down? Could it, whatever it was, penetrate through the darkness and see him?
"I said... Get. UP!"
The emerald mists swirled around Breeze and yanked him up from the ground. Before he could even react, it shoved him into the black tunnel.
"Now just wait a mo- My envelope!" During the tussle, Breeze's grip on his envelope slackened and the envelope flew free. It swirled in the wind and Breeze turned, desperately groping for it. Just as it slipped through his fingers, however, the mists caught the envelope. A sigh of relief flooded through the Faerie Xweetok. "Thank you, I was just about to- WHOA!"
And the mists were at it again. It gripped his tail tightly and dragged him through the blackness. Bumping and gliding through the air, Breeze realized that despite being thrashed about like a ragdoll, he felt absolutely no pain. It was as if the mists itself was cushioning him. So he twisted and turned before finally grabbing his envelope again. Right when the envelope was in his possession again, the mists made a sharp turn up and Breeze gasped in surprised.
Up and up and up the mists climbed. Round and round and round a tower it spiraled. For a moment, Breeze thought that he was going to be sick. As fast as the feeling came, however, it passed right when the mists dumped him unceremoniously onto a hard stone floor. Groaning, the Faerie Xweetok took up his tail and massaged it. It didn't hurt but it did ache a bit.
"Almost as bad as the time Allrianne and I were kidnapped by thieves in the Lost Desert..." grumbled Breeze.
"Oh, I am much worse than any common thief if you choose to cross me..."
That voice again.
Breeze looked up sharply and was stunned by what he saw. That beautiful silken voice belonged to none other than Jhudora herself. All his life, Breeze had heard rumors about Jhudora, from faeries to Neopets who chose to serve her quests. From those rumors, Breeze had always imagined Jhudora to have a screeching voice full of anger and venom - a voice that was maniacal and evil. This smooth silken voice, however, was much more disturbing than anything Breeze could ever imagine. This voice was the voice of power.
Jhudora sat on a stone stool in front of an oval mirror adorned by a bat-winged frame. In her hand was brush and she sat brushing her hair in front of the mirror. Not once did she look back at Breeze who still sat on her floor. Instead, she was humming and regarded him as if he wasn't there at all.
"Well, uhm, I'll be sure not to do that, Ms... Jhudora... ma'am..." For a moment, Breeze was tongue tied; exactly how would he address a Dark Faerie so evil she had her own spot in the Gallery of Evil?
"I'm sure you won't..." Finally setting her brush down, Jhudora finally turned. Bright amethyst eyes bored down onto Breeze and for a moment Breeze thought that she could see right into his soul. Jhudora then clasped her hands in front of her and her green painted lips curled into a smirk. "I see that one of Queen Fyora's own has betrayed her... how delightful..."
"I'm actually not-" started Breeze but Jhudora continued speaking before he could finish.
"A Faerie Neopet wanting to help a Dark Faerie that is known for ruin and corruption. Yes, this is quite delightful indeed..." As she spoke, the mists curled around the Dark Faerie's feet. They then rolled over to Breeze who immediately stood up and instinctively backed away. He looked up at Jhudora and saw that those eyes were still staring directly at him. "You seek a power... an ultimate power that only I can give you... is that correct?"
The mists flourished and swirled around Breeze. For a moment he felt an energy he had never felt before, raw power and a clarity of mind that he had always envied. Although his friends had always seen Breeze as brash and decisive, they never knew just how indecisive and nervous he truly could be. This energy, however, made him feel strong - as if he would never have to be scared again.
Jhudora chuckled and the mists fell away.
The room fell quiet and the Dark Faerie peered at Breeze. Her eyes obviously telling him that it was his turn now to make the next move.
Once the mists fell, Breeze felt himself trembling a bit. He trembled because a for a moment he had considered giving up his original plan and accepting Jhudora's offer. He inhaled deeply and swallowed hard. Then he looked up at the Dark Faerie, matching her gaze and tried to match her intensity.
"What I've been trying to say is that I'm not here for one of your quests," said the Faerie Xweetok. He tilted his chin up a bit and tried to straighten his posture. "In fact, I'm here because I've been sent on a quest."
Jhudora quirked an eyebrow. Even the mists stirred as if confused.
"A quest sent by Illusen herself."
Jhudora's quirked eyebrow was immediately replaced by a dark scowl which then morphed into a sneer. The mists swirled, twisted and curled around Breeze before it snatched him up and dragged him toward Jhudora and her mirror. Breeze yelped in surprise. He barely had time to scream when all of a sudden he was frozen and upside down staring at Jhudora. He face were mere inches away from his own.
"Never speak of that foolish Earth Faerie in my domain..." Even with her sneer, Jhudora never lost her silken smooth voice.
Breeze chuckled nervously. "Well, I kind have to because, you know, she sent me and all that..."
What sounded like a growl emitted from Jhudora's throat as the mists carelessly tossed Breeze back to the ground away from Jhudora. The Dark Faerie then turned back to her mirror, picking up her brush again.
"Kindly leave or you will be made to leave," she said and the mists agreed. This time, they swirled around Breeze menacingly.
"Wait!" shouted Breeze as he stood up again. By the time he was through with this insane mission of his, the sooner he can leave - hopefully in one piece. "I mean it, I have a letter here from Illusen herself! Just at least, read it!"
There was a pause before Jhudora ran the brush through her hair. Slowly the mists loosed whatever grip it had on Breeze and curled around the envelope he was holding instead. Breeze released a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding. He watched as Jhudora placed her brush on her vanity and without looking back, took the envelope from the mists.
It was the moment of truth.
Breeze's heart thumped loudly in his chest as he watch the Dark Faerie inspect his handiwork. The reality was that the entire letter was a fraud. He had spent months observing Illusen in Meridell, learning what kind of envelopes she used, what parchment she preferred. He asked Vin, a loyal Ixi friend, who was a loyal Illusen quester, borrow some of Illusen's notes for Breeze to study her penmanship. Meanwhile, Breeze had asked his friend Kelsier, a Lupe, to do the same with Jhudora.
Breeze's plan was simple but elaborate at the same time.
During his research on how to reach out to Jhudora, Breeze found out that the Dark Faerie and Illusen used to be best friends. That is, until something created a rift between the two. A rift that had soon turned into a chasm that neither side was willing to bridge. That was the spark that inspired Breeze's plan. With Valentines day coming up, now was the perfect time for friends to try and make amends. After all, love is more powerful than hate and he was certain that if both faeries were given the chance they would be more than willing to put aside their differences.
So he crafted two letters: one for Jhudora and one for Illusen. He asked Allrianne to deliver his fake Jhudora letter to Illusen. Meanwhile, he was to deliver the fake Illusen letter to Jhudora.
Breeze watched Jhudora carefully. From his vantage point, all he could see was her reflection in the mirror but that was more than enough. The Dark Faerie was no longer sneering. Instead, she had a look of mistrust which manifested as a scowl on her face. After a long moment of silence, Jhudora finally spoke.
"So... dear Illusen wants to see me..."
"Yes... yes, she does..." said Breeze as he nodded, "On Valentines Day... to make amends... because you two are friends and-"
"Were friends," corrected Jhudora as she spun on her stool to look at Breeze. Her eyes no longer bored into him but they were certain mistrustful as she held the letter carelessly between two of her fingers. "Once upon... a long long time ago, Illusen and I were friends. But now we are not. And it is going to take more than some petty letter to make me ever want to see her..."
He had expected that answer. Breeze steeled himself as he inhaled deeply. "But, Ms. Jhudora, ma'am... Illusen was very sincere in her letter. Everything she wrote, she seemed very remorseful for what happened between you and her. All she wants is-"
Jhudora lifted a single finger and Breeze fell silent.
"You may address me as simply Jhudora," she said. It looked as if she was observing Breeze right now, watching for any small reactions from him. "And what happened between Illusen and I is no petty squabble. Our differences run deeper than-"
"But you two were friends once!" Breeze hadn't mean to interrupt but the words tumbled from his mouth before he could stop them. "And it doesn't matter how different you two are, once upon a time you two were friends! And true friends don't let anything get between them!"
Even when Jhudora scowled, Breeze didn't stop.
"I don't know what happened between the two of you but Illusen is sincere in wanting to make amends. Read the letter, it says so right in the letter! In the letter itself, it says 'I'm sorry for what I've done and for never reaching out to you after all these years. I wish I could take back all the lost time but I can't. Instead, I can offer you something else: a rekindling of our friendship on a day that celebrates it, Valentines Day.' It says so right there in the letter."
The castle stood still. Jhudora glared at Breeze before she looked down at the letter in her hand. For a moment, Breeze thought he saw the Dark Faerie's face soften and her eyes were no longer hard. There was something in them something...
Jhudora chuckled. It was a soft but dangerous chuckle. Slowly it built itself up into a laugh, a powerful maniacal laugh. Soon Jhudora turned to look at Breeze and at once the Faerie Xweetok knew what fear meant. She then uttered a single word:
How did she know?
He barely had time to react when the emerald mists surrounded him again. This time, he was quicker and Breeze ducked to the side, landing hard on the stone floor. He turned back to look at Jhudora and saw unrelenting hate in her eyes. Pure. Unrelenting. Hate. And all of it was directed at him.
Her voice rose to a screeching shout as Jhudora waved her arm with a flourish. The mists snatched at Breeze again, gripping him hard and threw him against the wall. Stone met flesh and bone and Breeze cried out as he crumpled to the floor. He looked up at Jhudora and cried out in a desperate plea.
"I'm sorry! I was just-"
"Sorry? Sorry?!" Jhudora laughed as the mists pinned Breeze to the floor - threatening to suffocate him. "You think that you could come in here and taunt me and hurt me and think that a mere 'sorry' will get me to forgive you?!"
As if to emphasize her point, the mists tightened and threw Breeze against the opposite wall again. Breeze bit back his yelp this time. There was something in Jhudora's words. Something that sounded... wrong? He didn't have time to think when the mists snatched him up again.
"I will never forgive that Earth Faerie! She doesn't deserve my forgiveness! Whatever friendship we had it was gone the moment she left me! She hurt me and I will never forgive her for it!"
Hurt. Jhudora was hurt.
That's when it all snapped together but before Breeze could make any sense of it he was whiplashed by the mists. The sudden movement knocked the wind out of him as he felt the mists dragging him at fullspeed through blackness. He couldn't breathe. Couldn't moved. Too stunned to even think.
Within moments there was a light at the end of the darkness and Breeze was thrown at full force out into it. He fell to the ground hard. Bruised and battered, Breeze got up just in time to see the mists trailing back into the blackness and the stone door pulling close. The Faerie Xweetok immediately stood up, cringing horribly at his bruised body's condition. Still, he ran towards the door and pounded on it.
"I'm sorry, Jhudora! I was only trying to help!" he shouted, but his apology only fell on the deaf ears of the empty courtyard. He continued pounding on the door. "Jhudora! I know that you can hear me! I know that you're going to ignore me but try and listen anyways!"
Panting, Breeze slumped to the ground, his forehead resting on the stone.
"You two were friends... I know the stories, Jhudora. Once upon a time you and Illusen were friends - good friends, best friends. Every faerie and Neopet knew you two as inseparable, almost as if you were sisters. If anyone hurt you, Illusen would fight. If they hurt Illusen, you would hurt them. Together you helped Neopets throughout all of Neopia - from the furthest reach of Terror Mountain to the depths of Moltara - you two traveled to help.
I also know that you were very, very, happy - you and Illusen.
Then, one day something happened. I don't know what and no one knows what. One day you two are sisters and the next day you hate each other. Well, now I know that she did something to hurt you. It was because of her you were exiled here, wasn't it? Exiled and branded evil by the faeries and Neopets you once helped... so now... now you're angry... angry and hurt... and I'm so sorry I made that hurt return but... I know that Illusen is hurting to even if that letter was a lie...
I have a friend who does quests for her. She tells me that at times she sees Illusen sitting at her desk with a piece of parchment. She has a quill out as if she's about to write something but decides against it. Whenever asked, Illusen never answers but there is always a sad look in her eyes. I think she's sad because of what happened, Jhudora. She's just... too scared to try and make amends...
Please, Jhudora, I know you're hurt but... you're just going to hurt more if you lock yourself away like this... Friends don't let things like this stop them from being friends. And... it's always the friend that hurt the other that is the most scared to make amends. So, please, do this for yourself and for that friendship you once had..."
There was nothing but silence.
To be continued...