A Quest for Color
"A yellow Chia? How boring," Lena sighed, staring back at her reflection in the pool of water. It had rained again last night, leaving puddles of water all over the path to school. She wouldn't mind the rain normally, except this time it had made it impossible for her not to see her reflection, and that was something Lena hated.
Lena couldn't bear looking at herself. It reminded her that she was the only Chia in her whole school—possibly the whole world—who was a plain yellow. It was so boring! Yet as much as she begged, her parents refused to buy her a paint brush. Her other friends got them all the time and were constantly changing their colors, but never Lena. She was stuck.
It was all her parents' fault. They were far too old fashioned. Every time Lena brought the subject up, her father would look up from his newspaper and frown a little.
"I don't see what's wrong with being yellow," he'd say, looking over his reading glasses. "It's a good, strong color. Your mother and I have both been yellow our entire lives, and your grandparents before us. You should embrace your heritage, not try to get rid of it."
"Yes, Lena darling, listen to your father," her mother would chime in from the kitchen. "Besides, you look lovely just the way you are. There's no need to try to change that."
"You guys just don't understand!" Lena would reply, storming off to her room. "I'm the only Chia I know who has to deal with such a horrible, ugly color."
Her parents would just sigh, saying nothing.
"Ugh!" Lena said in frustration, stomping her rain boots in a puddle and making the image of her disappear. "I hate this so much! Why can't I be anything fun? At least Klu can't see me like this today."
Klu was Lena's best friend, and a Chia too. Normally they walked to school together, but today Lena was glad that Klu was home sick. Whenever she stood next to her, Lena felt so plain. Two years ago, for Klu's birthday, her parents had gotten her a royal paint brush, and she had gone from being plain like Lena to looking like a princess. Lena tried to be happy for her best friend, she really did, but sometimes the jealousy was hard to contain.
Especially on days like today.
Swallowing the hard lump in her throat, Lena continued stomping forward. She hoped she was stomping the ground hard. She hoped she was stomping hard enough for her parents to hear back at home and feel terrible. She hoped she was stomping hard enough for everything to just--
Lena stopped in surprise, and a little bit of fear, as a huge white cloud appeared before her, making a loud cracking noise.
"What's happening?" she cried out, clamping her paws over her ears in an attempt to drown out the awful sound.
"I'm what's happening," a terrible voice cackled in response, laughing evilly. Suddenly a faerie with long purple hair and fierce, dark eyes stood before Lena. It was impossible not to recognize her.
"J-J-Jhudora?" Lena stuttered with fear, her eyes huge. Everyone knew who Jhudora was. Her tales of trickery and deceit were spread far and wide through Neopia. Stories of the evil that she had been suspected of doing--though that had never been proven, she was far to smart for that—were in almost every book of children's tales. Lena had grown up hearing about the malicious Jhudora.
And now she was seeing the real thing for herself.
"Good, you know my name," Jhudora said smugly. "I guess I'm more famous than that Fiora thought. But never mind that. There's nothing I love more than a little bit of mischief and mayhem, and your little tantrum attracted me. I couldn't help but overheard what you wanted and I'm willing to help. Normally I don't do this, but right now I'm willing to let you go on a quest for me. It's a one time special offer."
Lena blushed and looked down as she heard Jhudora mention her tantrum. She guessed she'd been louder than she'd thought. But her ears picked up again when Jhudora started talking about the quest and she leaned forward with wide eyes.
"A quest?" she asked. "What do you mean?"
"Exactly what it sounds like," Jhudora smirked. "You bring me an item and in return I'll grant you a boon. I'll cast a little spell and make it so you can be any color you want. Just bring me, oh say... a red apple."
A red apple? Lena had one of those in her lunch bag! Without thinking twice, she pulled it out and placed it in Jhudora's outstretched hand. Could this really be true? Was she finally going to get to be another color?
Jhudora closed her fingers around the apple and tossed it in the air, catching it easily. "Thanks for your help," she said, grinning. "Now, I've got to run. You should start seeing the effects of your spell tomorrow morning. Just remember, I don't do refunds."
With those as her parting words, she disappeared. Lena stood there for a second, unsure of what to do, then gave a squeal of delight. "I can't believe I'm going to be a new color! I wonder what it's going to be! Maybe I'll get to be a golden Chia, or even chocolate! I might even be royal, like Klu! Ooh, she's going to be so jealous."
Clapping her hands together, Lena resumed walking to school. She had to go a little faster in order to make it on time because she'd stopped so long to talk to Jhudora, but Lena didn't mind. All through school and the rest of the day, Lena could barely speak, she was so excited. A few of her friends asked her if something was wrong, but Lena assured them that she was fine. They'd be able to see a very special surprise tomorrow, she promised.
The next morning, when Lena woke up, she didn't feel different. She vaguely remembered talking to Jhudora and wondered if it had all been a dream. The more she thought about it, the more it made sense. Of course she hadn't been actually granted a quest by one of the most elusive faeries in Neopia. Everyone knew that Jhudora didn't normally do that. Most people had to actively seek her out at Jhudora's Bluff to ever see her. Lena was still just an ugly, yellow Chia.
Then she went to the bathroom to brush her teeth.
"Ahhh!" Lena screamed, looking in the mirror. "I can't believe it! It worked!" Lena was now an island Chia. Her skin was tan and she had little white marks dotted cutely around her eyes. The color had even come with its own matching outfit. She was overjoyed.
"I have to call Klu right now!" Lena decided. "Wait, no! I have to go to school. I have to show everyone! I can't wait!" She quickly finished getting ready and grabbed her backpack. Without stopping to talk to her parents, she ran downstairs and out the door, eager to get to school as quickly as she could. Lena thought her mother might have caught a glimpse of her as she left, but she didn't say anything, so Lena ignored her and kept going.
All at school that day, everyone fawned over Lena.
"Congratulations on getting such an amazing color," Klu gushed at lunch. "It's beautiful! But I thought your parents wouldn't buy you a paint brush. How did you ever get one?"
"Well, can you keep a secret?" Lena asked. All the girls at her lunch table leaned in.
"Of course," they promised breathlessly.
"I didn't get this from a paint brush. Yesterday, when I was walking to school, a faerie approached me and offered me a quest. Of course I accepted, and she cast a spell to make me this color in return! It's too bad you were home sick yesterday, Klu, or you might have gotten one too."
"Oh no, I would never want to be anything but a royal Chia," Klu said, shaking her head. "I've found the one color that suits me perfectly. But I'm so glad you got your wish! Which faerie was it that gave you the quest?"
Lena was thrown back by Klu's answer. How could she be happy with her color? Didn't she want to change it, to try something new? She'd been Royal for almost two years now! Then she shrugged. Who knew what was going on in Klu's mind?
"It was just... a faerie. I don't want to give her away," Lena answered vaguely. She was afraid of what her friends might say if they found out she'd done a quest for Jhudora.
"Well I'm glad you're happy, anyway," Klu said, patting Lena on the shoulder. "I know you've wanted this for a while now."
"Thanks," Lena replied. And she really was happy.
All the way up until the next morning.
"What?" Lena exclaimed in surprise as she stared at herself over the mirror. She'd gone to bed as an island Chia last night and now... now she was a rainbow Chia. Slowly, Lena put a paw to her face and inspected it. It wasn't a bad look. Being rainbow was even more glamorous than being an island Chia. This had to have been a part of Jhudora's spell. Was she going to get to be a new color every day? Lena was even more overjoyed than yesterday! All of her friends would be so jealous. She couldn't wait to go to school and show them!
All that week, everything went perfectly. Lena got to be a robot Chia, a glowing Chia, a fire Chia, and even a starry Chia. It was like all her dreams were coming true. Klu and her classmates complimented her on her change every day, and if her parents noticed anything, they didn't say. They just stared at each new color, then were careful to avoid speaking about it. Maybe they had finally decided to let her do her own thing, without holding her back with their old fashioned ideals. Or maybe they just didn't notice.
Either way, Lena didn't care. She was too happy with her change.
But then, on week two, things started to go downhill. Maybe Lena had started getting tired of waking up and realizing that she was a totally new color every day or maybe some of the glamour of being these new, exciting, strange colors had started to wear off, but Lena found herself starting to get sick of Jhudora's spell. She began groaning as she looked in the mirror every morning. The worst were days when she got colors she absolutely hated.
On Tuesday, Lena woke up as an asparagus Chia. Blegh. Lena absolutely hated asparagus. It was her least favorite vegetable in the whole world! Every meal that day was a nightmare, as everything she put in her mouth tasted like asparagus. Even the air smelled asparagusy!
But that wasn't as bad as the next day, when Lena was a snot Chia. She got all of her clothes slimy, and she smelled terrible! None of her friends would sit with her at lunch that day except for Klu. By the end, all Lena wanted to do was beg her parents for a nice, simple paintbrush to change her to a different color. She wouldn't even have minded if it were something plain like green or blue! But Lena couldn't bear the idea of admitting to her parents that she hated being all these new colors, and besides, the effects of the paintbrush just would have been wasted by the next day. So she kept her mouth shut, determined to keep it in.
But by Friday, Lena was near tears. She woke up as a custard Chia and was soon shedding big globs of custard everywhere! Klu was allergic to custard, so she couldn't walk to school with Lena and Lena had to go alone. Class was even worse. The teacher had to ask Lena to leave the room three times because she kept making a mess of the classroom. Finally, she dismissed Lena an hour early and told her she could come back to school when she was making less of a mess.
As Lena was walking home, she finally couldn't take it anymore, and dissolved into tears.
"I-I-I hate this," she sobbed, sitting on the ground and placing her head in her paws. Changing colors every day was the worst thing ever. It wasn't glamorous anymore, and now it was getting in the way of her friends and school. Lena just wanted to be a normal Chia again! But Jhudora's words echoed through her head. I don't do refunds. There was no way Jhudora would take her spell back, and Lena wished more than anything that she hadn't been foolish enough to accept Jhudora's quest in the first place. She should have known they would bring nothing but bad magic!
But now there was nothing Lena could do but sit on the sidewalk, sobbing noisily now. Deep inside she knew this was all her fault. If only she hadn't been so vain wanted to change colors so badly, then she wouldn't be stuck in this situation.
"Is something wrong, dear?" A kindly voice suddenly asked, interrupting Lena as she cried.
"It's n-n-nothing," Lena forced out, not looking up. She didn't want this person to see what a mess she was.
"It doesn't look like nothing," the mysterious voice pressed. "Let me see if I can help. Tell me about it."
Lena gave in. Maybe this person would be able to comfort her, even if there was nothing she could possibly do to help.
"It all began when I accepted a quest from Jhudora," Lena explained tearfully, looking up through her paws. She could just see the form of a tall woman through the mess of custard in her eyes. She slowly explained everything, then finished with, "and now I wake up every day a new color. It's terrible! At first I thought this would be my dream come true, but now it's barely more than a curse."
"That's terrible," the woman said, putting a soft hand on Lena's shoulder. "But I do believe I can help."
"You can?" Lena asked in disbelief. The woman couldn't be serious, could she? No one but a faerie would be able to help her cancel out Jhudora's magic, and no faerie would ever take pity on Lena. Not when all of this foolishness was her own fault.
But as Lena slowly lifter he head out of her paws and took a good look at the woman, she noticed things she hadn't before. This lady didn't look like a Neopet at all. In fact, the more Lena focused, the more she began to realize that this was no ordinary woman. She radiated an aura of magic. And even more confusingly, did she have... a tail?
"I see you've noticed what I really am," the woman said, smiling as Lena began to gape. "I'm Naia, the fountain faerie. It's my goal to always try to help Neopians be the colors that they dream, and now that I've heard your terrible plight, I want to help you. For starters, I can get rid of your terrible curse. Tonight, I'll immediately go to speak with Fiora. Jhudora isn't supposed to be putting any curses on innocent Neopians, even if she does disguise them as gifts. Your changes should end tonight."
"Oh my gosh, thank you!" Lena exclaimed, jumping up to hug Naia. She couldn't believe her ears as she squeezed the faerie tightly. "Thank you so much!"
"Ah, but that's not all I can do. You haven't even heard the best part," Naia continued, winking at Lena as she hugged her back. "I normally don't do this, but for a sad Neopian like yourself, I'll make an exception. You can come bathe in the waters of my Rainbow Fountain. It will change you to any color you choose, and you can finally settle on something you like. You won't be able to change your mind after, though, so think carefully and make sure you know what you want."
Lena couldn't believe her ears. Any color she'd like? How was she ever going to choose!
But to her surprise, as she began to think about it, she realized her decision was already made. She only needed to ponder for a moment before smiling and declaring, "I think I know what I want."
"Perfect," Naia responded happily, clapping her hands together. "Then let's go at once!" She muttered something under her breath and then suddenly she and Lena were both standing in front of a beautiful pool of water. It swirled with the light of a thousand different rainbows, and Lena gasped in amazement as she took it in.
"Are you ready, my dear?" Naia asked, waving towards the pool, and Lena nodded firmly.
"I would like to be yellow," she declared.
"Really?" Naia asked in surprise. "This is your chance to become your dream color. Most Neopians choose to become something rare, like jelly or chocolate. You could even be a pea! Are you sure you wish to be yellow?"
"I'm sure," Lena said firmly.
"Okay then," Naia said. "It's your decision and I won't try to sway you." Slowly, she got a faraway look in her eyes and dipped her arms into the pool, lifting up a small hand full of of water.
"Yellow!" she exclaimed, before dropping the water over Lena.
The water streamed down Lena's body, creating splashes of yellow wherever it touched. Magically, those yellow patches spread, until there was no sign of any custard anywhere.
Lena was a Yellow Chia again.
"Thank you so much," Lena gushed gratefully as Naia waved her hands and brought them back to the street they had started on.
"It was no problem," Naia said, winking one last time before disappearing. Lena gathered up her books and began to head home again. She felt so much lighter now. It was like a great burden—the burden of colors--had been lifted from her shoulders and she was finally free. Lena began whistle long a cheerful tune.
"Hey Lena!" Klu called out. Lena turned around and was surprised to see her best friend waving and running towards her. She stopped whistling and waved back. School must have just let out.
"You're you again!" Klu exclaimed.
"I am," Lena agreed, letting Klu fall into stride besides her.
"I always thought this color suited you," Klu admitted. "It looks much prettier than those fancy colors. I'm glad you decided to change back. What happened anyway?"
"Oh, nothing," Lena answered, giving a small smile. "I just... realized some things. But I'm glad to be a Yellow Chia again too. I think I finally understand what my parents were talking about. About it being a strong color. I do know one thing for sure. And that's that I'm never changing my color again! No matter how tempted I get."
Klu nodded sagely. "I completely understand. I would hate being something other than royal—it's part of who I am. It's part of what defines me as me. Imagine being something else, like baby."
Both girls shuddered. "It would be terribly to be a baby Chia again," Lena agreed and the two of them began walking home again. She was content as a yellow Chia. She was especially glad that she has never been forced to endure being baby. She guesses some things life just spared you from.
Behind them, a baby Bruce held a ray gun and laughed.