”I’m telling you, it’s true! She’s up to something evil. Super evil!” Madner shoved the latest issue of The Neopian Times under Verasyn’s nose. The slightly acrid aroma of freshly printed newspaper accosted Verasyn’s sensitive nose as the article was rudely shoved in his face. He huffed in agitation and grabbed the article to read it himself. He figured it was the standard fear-mongering most news articles seemed to spew.
Beware the Bluff!
Some Neopets have reported that, in the dark of night, Jhudora has been spotted on her bluff chanting and dropping items into a cauldron of bubbling green liquid. No Neopet, however, has ever dared ask her about it, and most likely, none ever will. Neopets who ask too many questions about Jhudora tend to... disappear.
Verasyn gave up reading. The article was all hearsay without a single fact to be shown. He shook his head and handed the paper back to Madner, “I think you and the newspaper are both crazy. Just drop it. She leaves us alone, we should leave her alone.”
“What?! But what if she’s planning world domination? Or to give everyone in Neopia Floppy Tongue! Did you even read the article I showed you?!”
“So what if she is? It hasn’t happened yet. And from the sounds of that article, no one has even asked her!”
“Ha! No one needs to ask her to know how evil she is. Haven’t you ever read her collectible card?! She’s manipulative, foul-tempered, demanding, destructive and uncontrollable! There’s a reason no one wants to talk to her! Her evil eye is legendary!” Madner finished with a slight shower of spittle. Midway through his rant, he had started pacing. His tail was a constant blur of twitching agitation.
Verasyn sighed to himself as he gave his friend’s wild tail an apprehensive glance. It was never a good thing to have Madner this worked up; he was well known to act first and think later. “I’m sure it’s true she’s the most evil faerie ever…” Verasyn started to placate his friend.
“I’ll do it. I’ll ask her and then you’ll see!” With a determined gleam in his eye, Madner grabbed his coat and headed out the door. Verasyn sat there in stunned silence.
Madner trotted down the path on his way to Faerieland. Everything was so lush and green. It sure was a pretty area! The pools of glistening cerulean water were calling to him; begging him for a quick swim. But he resisted, he refused to be tempted! He was on his way to see Jhudora at her bluff and he was going to get the truth! He was going to be a hero and tell all of Neopia the truth- Jhudora was evil! Really, really evil!
Madner passed by the Wheel of Excitement and paused momentarily to watch. A purple elephante was waiting for it to come to a stop. Madner clapped politely as it stopped on 2,500np and the elephante cheered in excitement. With a nod to himself, Madner continued on. Surely the good fortune would be passed to him. It was a lovely day, after all.
He rounded the bend around the shining Healing Springs and started the climb to the top of Jhudora’s Bluff. The air seemed to grow heavy and thick with humidity. A green pallor clung to the trees. A noisome odor tickled the back of Madner’s nose, seeming to grow stronger with every step closer. Madner looked back. He could see the Healing Springs at the bottom of the hill. If he listened intently, he could still make out the babbling of the springs as it worked its magic. It sparkled in the distance. For a brief moment, Madner considered turning back and giving up this foolhardy adventure. No! He couldn’t give up. He squelched his feeling of anxious trepidation and continued on. One step. Two steps. He could do this! With a renewed sense of purpose, he marched onward!
“Welcome to my home. Help me find a couple of things that I am looking for and I will reward you most handsomely. I’ll start you off with a couple of easy quests, and after that they will become harder, and your rewards will be greater… How about it? Do we have a deal?” Jhudora finished with a cackle as she slowly stirred her cauldron. A dense green mist was oozing over the sides and spiraling down and across the ground. It swayed like tentacles as it slowly dispersed.
Madner took a step back and lifted his foot away from one of the misty tendrils seconds before it would have wrapped around his ankle.. Was he sure about this? She was a dark faerie after all. “Alright, I accept. What item do you need?”
“Perfect,” Jhudora checked a list briefly, “Bring me Fluff Be Gone! Where is my Fluff Be Gone?! You have 16 minutes and 40 seconds left. Hurry up, you incompetent fool!“ Jhudora cackled with glee and turned her back to Madner. She picked up an old boot and tossed it into her cauldron. Madner’s stomach churned as the cauldron burped out a noxious green cloud. He’d do the quest, and then maybe she’d answer a quest or two for him. With a final glance back, he took off for the Shop Wiz. He’d have to hurry to make it back in time.
Sixteen minutes really wasn’t a long time. Madner panted as he finished racing up the bluff. He’d be back with less than a minute to spare on his quest. He panted as Jhudora came into sight, “I… have it!....”
“Ha! Give it to me.” Jhudora snatched the container and studied it. Rotating it in her hands. “Yes, yes, this will work perfectly, I think. Here, you have completed my quest, so congratulations. Take this and get out. Come back tomorrow and I may have another quest for you,” Jhudora tossed a small object over her shoulder as she stalked back to her cauldron and dropped in the container of Fluff Be Gone. Madner hesitantly picked up the object thrown at him. It was a lollipop. The wrapper was twisted and half the writing was smudged. “Pinus Lollop”. With a shrug, he placed the lolly in his pocket and turned to leave. Maybe he could ask his questions tomorrow. Maybe Jhudora wasn’t quite as scary as others said she was. He needed to get home. Verasyn wasn’t going to believe his story!---
A few yards down the bluff, Madner was startled to hear the dark faerie start to shriek. However, it was cut off with a bone-rattling boom and Madner was thrown to the ground. He stayed still, dazed, and a horrible ringing in his ears. He twitched his tail. He raised an arm. Nothing seemed broken, so with caution, he stood up. Jhudora was picking herself up from where she was thrown.
“What?! I thought I told you to leave! Get out of here!” Jhudora shook her fist at Madner, “Leave! Now!” She was just livid. Her cauldron had exploded! Again! And some silly neopet was just standing around, watching her! It was embarrassing! “ Go on! Get! Before I turn you into a mortog and make you leave with this wretched cauldron on your head!”
Madner wasn’t stupid. He turned tail and stumbled his way down the path, only pausing to pick up the lolly that must have fallen out of his pocket. He quickly reached the bottom of the path and continued on his way to the Healing Springs. He was still a bit dazed from the explosion, so maybe he should stop in for a quick dip. Somehow, he didn’t think he’d be getting his answers any time soon. From what he had seen, she didn’t seem focused on taking over the world. But what was she doing with that cauldron?
Lost in his thoughts, Madner unwrapped the lolly and stuck it in his mouth. Oh, yuck! Madner quickly spit out the offensive lollypop, but by then it was too late. His tongue rapidly started to swell. He couldn’t breathe! His world started to grow dim as his tongue flopped out of his mouth. Madner had passed out. A passing light faerie noticed Madner’s distress and raced over to help him to the Healing Springs. With a sigh she cleaned up the offensive lollypop. When would Jhudora learn that her infamous poisonous lollypops were NOT a treat?!
With a startled snort, Verasyn woke with a jerk. He looked around bleary eyed as the previous day came back to him. He must have fallen asleep in the chair while waiting for Madner to return from Faerieland. Dread settled into his belly. Madner never returned. He knew Madner’s obsession with Jhudora and her evil ways wasn’t good, and now something horrible must have happened.
Now it was up to Verasyn to save the day and his best friend. Instead of rushing off all helter-skelter, he was going to be smart about his investigation and possible rescue attempt. His first stop was the library.
“Excuse me!” Verasyn snapped his fingers under the Library Faerie’s nose. He’d been attempting to gain her attention for the better part of fifteen minutes, however she’d been too engrossed in her crossword puzzle to even notice. She had even tuned-out the silly little bell that was on the counter.
“Oh, my, yes! I’m so sorry. These puzzles are very addictive! How many I help you?”
“I’m looking for faerie history, please. Predominantly history on Jhudora.”
The Library Faerie visibly paled, “We don’t have much on her… but what we do have is back along that wall.” She pointed off to the left.
“Thank you,” Verasyn nodded his thanks and turned to find the correct section.
“Hey! Before you go! 10 down. Draik egg with an eyepatch… any help?”
Verasyn rolled his eyes and kept walking. It would have been quicker to just have looked on his own instead of trying to obtain help navigating the cramped little library. He reached the end of the current aisle and turned left, sighing in relief when the ‘Faerie History’ sign came into view.
Jhudora and the Evil Eyes… that didn’t sound promising. Who wanted to enter a staring match with a book? Jhudora’s Book of Recipes… why did everything require a dash of poison? And… an old boot? What kind of recipes were these? Fantastic Jhudora Stories. Verasyn perked up a little. That sounded promising. Most evil... Infamous for poisonous lollypops.... Toxic green mist... Known to eat errant neopets for breakfast. Maybe not so promising after all.
Verasyn sighed and rubbed his forehead. This trip wasn’t going as he had originally hoped. As he reshelved the books, a smaller book with a dusty cover fell off the shelf. Jhudora’s Secret. Maybe this was the answer. Oh, but it needed a key. Verasyn paused briefly and looked back towards the Library Faerie. With a slight shake of his head, he thought better of it and reshelved that book, too. He wasn’t going to waste more time trying to gain the faerie’s attention just for a key that probably didn’t even exist! There was only one thing left to do. It was his turn to adventure to Faerieland and visit Jhudora’s Bluff.
Verasyn passed through the archway and entered Faerieland. It would have been a spectacular sight, all green and glittering as sunlight bounced off all the water pools, if he wasn’t so worried about Madner. He walked past the Rainbow Fountain, rivulets of red, green, blue, and gold running past him as the magical water trickled merrily along. He stopped for a moment to admire the entrance to Faerie City and considered slipping in to take that personality test he had been putting off for weeks, but he shook the thought away and marched toward the bluff.
The sky darkened as the sun slipped behind a cloud. A pungent, green haze filled the area and all the sounds of nature stopped. Even the brooks seemed to stop babbling. Before Verasyn knew what was happening, Jhudora had stormed down the bluff and passed him with a brusk, “Out of my way!” Shocked, Verasyn simply stood there, staring at Jhudora’s retreating figure. Thankfully, the green fumes seemed to hug closely to Jhudora and then fade quickly once she’d passed. Making a quick decision, Verasyn started following her footsteps at a secure distance. Hopefully he could observe her for some real answers and then find Madner.
Jhudora rushed through Faerieland, completely oblivious to the fact that she was now being followed. Verasyn stealthily followed a good distance behind; he didn’t want to be caught by the malevolent faerie. Plus, the distance kept her noxious green cloud at bay. Verasyn continued to follow as Jhudora entered Mystery Island.
This was quite unusual, Verasyn was certain. Jhudora wasn’t known to ever have business on Mystery Island. Could she really be up to something nefarious like Madner had suspected?
Verasyn silently followed Jhudora over the sandy island. Birds calling overhead and the crashing waves could be heard anywhere one went on the island. He dashed from palm tree to palm tree, secretly enjoying the salty, ocean air as he stalked along. Mystery Island seemed more magical than mysterious. They passed the Tiki Tack and Verasyn slyly ducked behind Rorru’s hut as Jhudora entered the Underwater Chef’s kitchen. Thankfully, he was able to hear everything in the open aired kitchen.
“Ah, Jhudora! Back again? Well don’t just stand there… make yourself useful! Do you want to help me or not? Though, to be honestl, I wish you’d just give up! I’m tired of cleaning up my kitchen after you destroy it every day.”
“Hush, you silly flotsam, before I help Mumbo Pango and throw you into the cooking pot myself!”
The underwater chef sighed. His kitchen was never going to be normal ever again, “As you wish. Pureed aubergines with lime wraps. I need the ingredients as soon as possible.”
Jhudora cackled. One by one, she tossed the items into the chef’s waiting pot. Gummy fish, ketchup ice cream, a dash of poison, and an old boot for an added kick! She smirked to herself, certain that this was it. The pot gurgled and belched as it started spewing out a foul green cloud. With a bang, the pot exploded, rocking the kitchen counters and knocking the Underwater Chef to the floor.
“What, again?! Get out! Get out! Get out, you silly faerie! When will you finally learn?!” The chef jumped up and started swinging his wooden spoon towards Jhudora in his anger. His kitchen was once again ruined, and he would be late feeding Mumbo Pango his next meal. Jhudora fled. Verasyn followed Jhudora back across the island and to the harbour.
“Ungrateful! Unimaginative! Thankless FISH!” Jhudora mumbled to herself as she made her way off the boat and towards the Haunted Woods. She sighed as she walked along the gloomy path, completely unaware that Verasyn was still following her. The trees eyed her warily, but they were used to Jhudora’s abhorrent aura and lethal evil glare. To be honest, she fit in quite well with the surroundings. Even if she was a faerie. She made her way through the gates of the Haunted Woods, past the Esophagor and through the Game Graveyard. With a happy little sigh (or as happy as possible, for her, anyway) she knocked on Edna’s door.
Verasyn hurried to follow, flinging off the last of the remaining mud from where he had slipped near the Esophagor. Madner owed him big time for this… maybe he’d hint about one of those fancy bath gel gift baskets once he solved this mystery. Verasyn crept up to the door and crouched down next to an old broom. Thankfully the old Witch’s Tower was so old, it was covered in shadows and had multiple cobweb-filled nooks in which to hide. He settled quietly, he could faintly make out voices through the door.
“-still adding poison? That doesn’t make a tasty dish, at all. All that adds is poison, and poison is not a spice!” Edna clanked together some cups as she brewed tea for Jhudora and herself, “It took me years to learn how to fly… and I promise, no matter how many more years it takes, I will eventually teach you how to cook!”
“It always seems to make sense in the moment! And this last time, I even added a medicinal cure to the recipe. I was sure I was going to end up with something delicious.”
“Come along. Today I was going to spell up some Bubbling Egg of Chia Shrinking. It’s not nearly as tasty as my Meerca pie… but we don’t get too many meercas wandering alone in the Woods anymore,” Edna cackled, “Be a dear, Plushie Broccoli and Dried Gruel Capsules, please. Hurry up. It will lose its potency in an hour and twenty minutes!”
“ Oh, Edna, that smells…..”
“Like Techo’s armpit and toe lint? Yes, yes, but try it!”
From outside the door, Verasyn was assaulted with a foul stench and what sounded like wet eyeballs being plopped into jelly. Maybe it was time for him to retreat. He gagged as the sound of slurping and happy hums filtered through the old wooden door as the two friends ate. It was definitely time for him to leave.
Verasyn carefully left the Haunted Woods and made his way back to Faerieland. He had solved the mystery and now it was time to find his friend. If Jhudora was ‘accidentally’ poisoning everyone with her attempts at cooking, perhaps Madner was at the Healing Springs. He briefly thought about submitting the truth, the real truth, to the Neopian Times. He shook his head. He knew Madner would have enough trouble believing him when he told him that Jhudora wasn’t evil, she was just always hungry because she was a really bad cook.