An Interview With Illusen
Sophie should have been excited. She was still fairly new at this whole reporting thing, and someone as inexperienced as her usually didn’t get such high profile cases. She’d already had a chance to interview Jhudora (although she was pretty sure that was because everyone else had been too terrified to do it), and now here she was, with Illusen the Earth Faerie herself.
This should have been great…and yet Sophie couldn’t help but feel that something was very wrong. For one thing, apparently the faerie had REQUESTED her, and Sophie, for the life of her, couldn’t figure out why. And ever since the faerie had greeted her at the doorway, Sophie had sensed something…off about her. Maybe she was just being silly — it’s not like she was a mind-reader or anything — but she couldn’t help feeling awkward and out of place.
Sophie shuffled in her seat uncomfortably, and took a sip from her cup of tea. She shouldn’t be feeling this uneasy; if she could survive an interview with Jhudora of all people, Illusen should be a piece of cake.
But Illusen kept watching her, and even though she seemed pleasant enough, Sophie could SWEAR there was something strange lurking in her gaze. Maybe she was just being paranoid, but…
Illusen coughed politely, and Sophie quickly glanced down at her notebook. Her boss had shoved it in her hands earlier this morning, telling her to follow the script. She could totally do that.
She glanced up again, and smiled. “I guess I’ll start by asking you why you wanted to organise this interview.”
“It seemed like a good idea.” Illusen smiled politely, and Sophie relaxed. She was getting worked up over nothing. This was Illusen, one of the GOOD faeries. She’d already seen the worst of the lot; she had nothing to fear from the faerie in front of her. “I haven’t done one of these before, and I thought it was about time.”
Sophie nodded. “Yes but…I have to ask — why did you ask for ME specifically?”
Illusen shrugged lightly. “I’ve read some of your pieces.”
“I’ve only written one piece,” Sophie argued. “That one on — ”
“Jhudora, yes.” Sophie could have sworn Illusen had sounded almost dangerous as she’d said it. However, when she glanced up, almost expecting Illusen to be replaced with Jhudora, the earth faerie sat calmly in her chair, poised and polite.
“Right,” Sophie said, and glanced down at the sheet of paper. “So — you’re a faerie who is revered for her kind ways, and yet you exploit poor, unsuspecting Neopians — ” She froze in horror, and almost dropped the piece of paper. Her head snapped up, her cheeks flaming.
“Oh my gosh, I am SO sorry!”
Illusen’s smile seemed almost frozen on her face. “No, that’s fine,” she assured her.
“I don’t write these questions!” Sophie said hurriedly. “I mean, I’d love to write my own, but I’m just a beginner, and my boss is CRAZY controlling, and — ”
“I get it.”
Sophie paused. She was sure she must be as red as a tomato right now. Avoiding Illusen’s eyes (and silently cursing her boss) she glanced down at the paper.
“Why do you give quests out?” she asked at last, when she had mentally crossed out any potentially dangerous questions.
Illusen shrugged. “I like the idea that I’m making young Neopians happy, and they like meeting and helping a faerie.”
“That’s great,” Sophie said. “And let’s just talk about your prizes. The…cream cookies. Very tasty.”
Illusen beamed. “I make them myself.”
There was a moment of silence, and Sophie inwardly cursed herself.
Illusen’s eyes narrowed. “Excuse me?”
Sophie swallowed. “Oh, I didn’t mean to sound rude! It’s just…we noticed that you can buy those cream puffs at the market place…they’re about 100 neopoints each.”
“I BAKE those cookies MYSELF!” Okay, now she definitely wasn’t imagining the dangerous note in Illusen’s voice.
“Uh, I’m sure you do,” she choked out. “But, anyway, moving on — um, why do you send people away if they visit Jhudora first? I asked Jhudora the same question, and she said — ”
“I know what Jhudora said!”
Illusen took a deep breath. Sophie stared.
“I just…don’t think I want MY quests associated with her. That’s all.”
“Yes, but you can be quite harsh — ” Sophie paused, and shook her head. No, she was definitely not continuing down this path. Her boss could yell at her later; she’d rather deal with him than an irate earth faerie.
“What do you mean?” Illusen’s eye’s narrowed.
Sophie shrugged awkwardly.
“I’m not harsh,” she grumbled. “I may send them away if they’ve visited Jhudora first, but it’s their own fault. My quests are amazing — I give them cream cookies, and cupcakes, and shampoo, and other lovely things! What does Jhudora give them? POISONOUS LOLLYPOPS THAT COST 20np! And they visit HER first?!”
It was only after Illusen had finished her tirade that Sophie realised she had dropped her paper and pen. Well, they could stay there for now; there was no way she was risking glancing away.
“And maybe I DO buy my cream cookies from the Neopian Market Place. But does that change the fact that they are filled with pure sugary goodness? Does it change how sweet, loving and considerate I am — everything that Jhudora ISN’T?!”
Sophie shook her head weakly.
“Um, can I quote you on that?” Sophie squeaked, and then wondered if she had a death wish.
“And you DARE visit Jhudora and ask HER for an interview before you speak to me?! You DARE?!”
Oh. Oh no, this was bad, this was very, VERY bad…
Sophie opened her mouth to say something along the lines of, “no, sorry, we got our schedules mixed up, you were DEFINITELY supposed to be first,” but all that came out was a terrified squeak.
Illusen leaned forward, her face a representation of everything terrifying in the world. “You will write that article,” she said, “and you will tell everyone about how sweet and lovely I am, and how I slave away in the kitchen each day to make those cream cookies! DO YOU UNDERSTAND?!”
“Ha! This is great!”
“GREAT?!” Sophie demanded, while the editor of the Neopian Times — Max — continued to crow in delight. “I thought she was going to turn me into a tree!”
Max waved his hand dismissively. “Yeah, but it would have been worth it in the end. Just LOOK at this material. I can see the headline now — EARTH faerie or DARK faerie? Illusen’s true nature revealed!”
“We can’t publish any of this!” Sophie cried, shaking her head vehemently. “She’s going to come after me!”
Max shrugged, unconcerned. “Eh, just stay away from Faerieland and Meridell for a while, and you should be fine, Sarah.”
Sophie’s jaw clenched. “Sophie.”
“Close enough.” Max turned to her, and pointed at the doorway. “Now — get to work! Wait, I know — “Illusen’s Illusion.” Oh YES, this is going to be FLYING off the racks!”
Sophie scowled and left the room. She seriously needed a new job. And maybe a new identity on top of that, because once this was published Illusen was going to be out for blood.
Those cream cookies were still pretty good though.