Caught in The Middle
L ooking up at Alvina, I smile as I hand over my latest find: a Bubbling Fungus. Alvina and I have worked together for years now. She knew me back in my poor days when I was nothing special; just a blue skeith with no neopoints to my name. Part of my financial success and climb up the social ladder is due to my dealings with Alvina. By completing quests for her daily, I was able to afford a wraith paint brush to make myself stand out like I always dreamed of, all the while creating a decent savings account at the National Neopian Bank. I am still far from my goal of becoming a millionaire, but I refuse to settle for being anything other than the best.
My mind is quickly brought back to the present as Alvina hands over my usual payment: 10,000np and a Eo Codestone. She speaks as I rush to put my payment in the small satchel I always carry while I work. “Guzalu, I believe that was the fastest quest you’ve ever completed for me,” she looks down at the watch on her wrist with a smile, “twenty-four minutes. This is why I always call you first when I need something quickly.”
“You know how much I value our business relationship, I don’t think I would be where I am today if it weren’t for your help throughout the years,” I tell her honestly.
She looks down at me thoughtfully before turning and going deeper into her lair. “Sorry if I don’t seem quite myself today,” she starts, a small smile forming on her face as she returns to her usually controlled self. “We’ve known each other for years now, and you know how much I dislike my sister. Well, I think she is up to her usual tricks, which I’m sure only means trouble for me. I may be a dark faerie, but I am nowhere near as evil as she.” She nods towards the door, her arm extending out towards it. “Thanks for your help today, make sure to return tomorrow for another quest.” Heading towards the door, I promised that I would be back tomorrow.
The next day, I took my usual path from my home in Neopian Central to the Haunted Woods to see Alvina. As I walked past the Deserted Fairgrounds, a ghost buzz approached me. “Are you one of those neopets who work for the faeries?” He asked, looking down at my satchel. I nodded, pulling it more tightly around my body in case he was looking for trouble. “I don’t want to steal your bag, I just wanted to let you know of the rumors going around. Word in the woods is that there is a faerie who is willing to pay 20,000 neopoints per quest, and she even gives you bonuses depending on how fast you can complete her quest!” He buzzed quietly in my ear as he told me this. He definitely caught my interest, that was significantly more than what Alvina was willing to pay me for my help. “What is her name? Where can I find her?” I ask, quickly changing my plans; I would complete a quest for this mystery faerie and then go see Alvina after. He pointed me in the right direction and let me know that her name was Alvara.
Minutes later, I was outside of a treehouse style home gazing at a regal looking faerie in a purple dress standing on the porch. Instantly, I found her intimidating and I took a deep breath before I approached. “Hi, my name is Guzalu.” I paused to try to calm my nerves before I continued, “I was told that you were looking for someone to complete quests for you.”
Alvara’s smile chilled me to the bones; there was something off in her smile that troubled him. Nodding, her slender arms folded across her chest. “Indeed, I am looking for some help gathering items for some projects I am working on. Do you think you are up the task?”
I nod, trying to appear braver than I feel. “What do you need me to get for you today?” I ask, reaching into my back pocket to grab a notepad and pen out.
“I need you to bring me a Dark Fire Potion,” She said with another bone chilling smile. I nodded, and scampered off to get the potion as quickly as I could.
Thirty minutes later, I returned to Alvara with the item she requested. I felt much more confident being in her presence now that I knew I could complete her tasks, but her smile was no less intimidating when she took the item from my hand. Turning her back to me, she disappeared into her home briefly. When she returned, a bag of neopoints was in her hand. “For your hard work and speedy return, you deserve 25,000 neopoints.” I take it from her outstretched hand, a huge grin on my face. “If you continue to perform like this, I will continue to pay you well. This is just the beginning, Guzalu. Come back tomorrow and I will have another quest for you.” I thanked her and headed down the path to Alvina’s house.
“How could he?” Alvina whispered from her hiding spot, her hands forming angry fists at her side. My favorite employee and someone I considered my friend was working for someone else? And my sister, of all the faeries? He will pay for this! I will make sure of that.
I turned to the sound of rustling in the bushes. My mouth falls open as Alvina emerges looking furious. Immediately, I shrink away from her glare.
“How dare you betray me?” She bellows, the fire in her eyes threatens to burn a hole through me. “And of all people, you work with my sister?” She questions, a thin hand pointing at Alvara. My eyes quickly dart from Alvina to Alvara. How could I have not seen the resemblance before? I never was the sharpest tool in the shed, but apparently I’m close to being the dullest.
While Alvina glares at me, Alvara just watches with that same sinister smile. Her smile proves that she enjoys her sister’s anger. “Oh dear sister, why don’t you relax? Guzalu just wanted to help the better sister. Is it my fault if you don’t treat your employees better?” She cooed, ignoring me entirely to antagonize her sister.
Small balls of flames erupted in Alvina’s hand at Alvara’s suggestion. I throw my hands up quickly in surrender, “I never said that about you!” I hurry to correct her though she appears to be paying no attention to me. “I never even told Alvara that I work for you.” My words fall on deaf ears as Alvina glares at Alvara, barely managing to keep her anger at bay.
“You have always been jealous of me! You couldn’t stand the fact that I am a better faerie than you and that I have loyal followers!” she bellowed, the fire in her palm growing larger and stronger.
Alvara laughed shaking her head, “How very loyal they prove to be,” her hand motioned towards me. Alvina’s eyes remained glued to her sister and I looked around quickly. If I was going to get away, this was likely my chance. With the two sisters so focused on each other, I might be able to make a break for it.
Backing away slowly, I keep my eyes on the pair who continue to focus on each other. I made sure they weren’t looking in my direction and turned on my heel and ran, making my escape. I thought I would make it out alive until I heard the angry voice of Alvina behind me, “Come back!”
I knew that if I stopped now, there was a really good chance that the fireball that Alvina was holding earlier would find its way to zapping me. Maybe once she was calm, I could explain myself and make amends, but until then, I need to get home and away from her! I take off through the woods, dodging low hanging branches as I go. Behind me, I hear Alvina chasing after me and she sounds close. An evil cackle splits through the air. To my right, a small shrub catches fire as a fireball hits it. I risk turning around to look behind me and Alvina is only a few feet behind. My breathing is hard and my muscles are cramping but I refuse to stop. I make a mental note to spend more time running on my future quests.
Ducking down, I avoid a tree branch and barely manage to jump off the ground when a zap lands just behind my foot. What was that? An electric shot? I need to get out of here and fast!
“You betrayed me and you need to pay!” Alvina screeches, not stopping in her pursuit. I could see the forest breaking ahead of me, and my house was on the outskirts of the haunted woods. I was so close now, I could almost taste the freedom and safety. As I am just about to reach the opening, I hear an awful shout come from behind me followed by a zap of electricity hitting my leg.
I fly through the air briefly before flipping over and landing on my back. “OOFFF,” a moan of pain escapes my lips before I look up to find Alvina hovering over me. In her hand is her familiar fireball. “Tell me right now why I shouldn’t blast you!” She demands, raising her arm above her head.
“Wait, please wait!” I beg, my arms instinctively raising to cover my face. “It isn’t what it seems like, I promise. I had no clue that Alvara was your sister!” I hurry to try and explain myself. Alvina’s eye’s narrowed slightly, and the expression on her face shifted slightly but the anger was still etched in her features.
I decide to take a chance and just tell her the truth, maybe I can get her to understand. “Today while I was on my way to take your quest a buzz approached me and told me about a faerie willing to offer a large reward for completing one of her quests. I really didn’t ask any more questions,” I paused, looking up to try and read how my words were affecting her. Her facial expression gave nothing away. “Alvina, you know how I’ve always dreamed of becoming a millionaire. Can you really blame me for chasing my dreams? After all, isn’t that what you always tell me? You are always encouraging me to work hard for what I want and that is what I was doing! I had no clue that she was your sister or I swear I would have never gone! You know how much your friendship means to me.” I explained, shaking my head sadly. I felt bad for betraying her but it was something I truly didn’t intend to do. Reaching under me, I rubbed the back of my leg. The zap really hurt!
Alvina watched me as I rubbed my leg, her expression seeming to soften. “I didn’t mean to hurt you,” she said, shaking her head. “I just got so mad when I thought you were betraying me with my sister!”
Her hand went out to her side and in the blink of an eye a healing potion materialized. “Please take this, it will help with the pain I’ve caused you.” She told me, holding out the potion towards me as a form of peace offering. Hesitantly, I reached for it. As she watched me, I popped off the lid and tilted the potion up to my mouth. “Thank you,” I poured the vial into my mouth, shuddering at its rancid taste. Almost immediately, the pain subsided in my leg.
I stood slowly, easing my way gingerly onto my leg. Surprisingly all of the pain seemed to be gone. “I am truly sorry you thought I intentionally betrayed you, Alvina,” I told her sheepishly, holding my hand out towards her.
She took it, pulling me close. “What do you say you and I make a deal? Perhaps you and I can avoid any potential missteps in the future if you vow to work for me alone. My sister still needs to be taught a lesson and with you by my side I should have no problem obtaining all of the ingredients for my spells.” She paused, smiling down at me. “If you vow to work only for me and help me bring down Alvara, I will pay you 40,000nps for each quest you complete.” She pauses to let me take that in.
“Well, what do you say?” She asks.
“I will see you tomorrow,” I say with a nod, turning to head to my house for a good night sleep. Starting tomorrow, it seemed my job would be a little more complicated.