An Unexpected Discovery
C elandra wakes to a new day, the sun filtering through the sheer curtains of her modest room, the Faerie Weewoos chirping a tune to welcome the morning. She stretches her arms, then gets up to refresh herself.
She walks down the hallway to the kitchen where she prepares Jasmine tea, Fyora’s favorite, and a light breakfast. She lays the meal out on a tray and brings it to Queen Fyora.
“Your breakfast is ready, Your Highness.”
“Ah,” Fyora says, setting down her quill, “thank you, Celandra. You may leave it on the table.”
“Yes, Your Highness.” She gently places the tray down on the grand oak table. “What are my duties for today?”
“I have some guests visiting tomorrow,” Fyora says. “The castle needs dusting and tidying up.”
“Certainly,” Celandra replies. She wipes her paws on her lilac apron and retreats from Fyora’s study. As she makes her way back to her own chambers, she can’t help but reflect on all the years she’s spent serving the Queen. After quitting an unfulfilling job inflating faerie bubbles, she had come across an unusual listing at the Faerieland Employment Agency. She still remembers the wording of the job description: “Discreet and resourceful home cleaning agent wanted. Previous experience not necessary.” That had been more than ten years ago, and time had only proven that Celandra was just as loyal and hardworking as she had promised she would be.
Shaking herself out of her reverie, Celandra returns to the task at hand. Walking over to the supply closet, she removes a feather duster from the shelf, leaving a flurry of violet feathers in her wake.
She makes her way up to the library at the top of the tower. The vast collection of books still amazes her every time she steps foot inside. She’s always loved reading, and the Queen is kind enough to let her read all the rare books in Neopia to her heart’s desire. Noticing a few books in disarray on one of the bookshelves, she starts to put them back in place when she notices something behind the bookshelf.
“What’s this?” She pushes the bookshelf to the side to get a closer look, revealing a small trapdoor. Always a curious one, she opens it and climbs through.
Celandra is greeted by a courtyard that looks like it hasn’t been maintained in years. Sighing at the fact that this is another addition to her workload, she returns to the supply closet to grab the proper tools to pull the weeds.
Now armed with a hand weeder and several plastic bags, Celandra carefully makes her way through the trapdoor once again and steps out into the abandoned courtyard. She surveys the space before her and steels herself for the daunting task that awaits her. The grass is so wildly overgrown that the tallest stalks reach up to her waist. Even in its disheveled state, Celandra can imagine that in its prime, this courtyard was beautiful. Elaborate stone statues of Neopia’s heroes line the perimeter of the space, and an ornate fountain, now covered in vines and filled with rubbish, sits among them.
She approaches a statue of Jeran, noting the masterful craftsmanship despite the now crumbling marble facade. Celandra is about to reach out to touch the statue’s surface when she loses her footing, yelping as she trips and rolls several feet away into a shaded area further away from the statues. Heart racing, she spends a few minutes sprawled out on the grass to catch her breath. It’s actually quite pleasant lying on the warm grass underneath the sun’s rays, but Celandra resists the temptation to shirk her duties and instead begins to sit upright. As she slowly stretches out her arms, she’s met with resistance from a smooth, glass-like surface. Strangely, there is no indication of such material anywhere near her—only grass and weeds.
“I must be imagining things,” Celandra whispers to herself. She reaches out again, tentatively this time.
Her jaw goes slack as she feels a round protrusion. There’s nothing there in front of her eyes but there’s an undeniable tangibility in her grasp. She gives the unseen doorknob a push and a pull, and when that doesn’t seem to do anything, a twist. That seems to do the trick when she’s finally able to pull it open. She pokes her head through slowly. At first it’s pitch black, but suddenly there’s a radiance that nearly blinds her. She squeezes her eyes shut, blinking a few times to let her eyes adjust. Once it starts to dim, she runs to the window to pull open the curtains. What lies before her is a sight to behold.
Row upon row of treasures fill the room, which from the inside, looks like a stone tower. Celandra hardly knows where to look first. On one table, a shimmering apple twirls in the air between two swords—one a small, compact dagger made entirely of ice and the other a flaming scimitar. Behind them, glowing potions in fluorescent colors flicker and bubble next to an assortment of magical paintbrushes. Perched neatly on shelves are thick, gilded tomes that gleam in the light. Dizzily, Celandra rubs her eyes and lets out a long breath she hadn’t realized she was holding.
A twinkle out of the corner of her eyes catches her attention. It seems to be some sort of wand encased in a glass display, and as she walks toward it for closer inspection, it bursts into a shower of light, illuminating the room with a golden brilliance just like it had when she first opened the door. She shields her eyes with her arm until the intensity of the light dwindles. Just below the case is a gold plaque engraved with the words, Rod of Supernova.
Through the gossiping of merchants passing through the city, she’s heard about the Rod of Supernova, a weapon so powerful it would make those unfortunate enough to cross its path beg for mercy, but never had Celandra expected to see it in the flesh.
Slightly terrified and unsure of what to do, Celandra takes one last glance at her surroundings before quickly exiting the room. She runs back to her room, softly closing the door behind her. It’s already past noon, and Fyora enjoys her naps around this time. She sits down at the edge of her bed, a string of thoughts moving rapidly in her head. Was she supposed to witness what she had seen? It must have been invisible for a reason.
She gasps. Could the Queen be smuggling artifacts? No. There’s no way. Fyora is the most honorable in all of Faerieland. She reprimands herself for even daring to think such thoughts. She twists the hem of her dress, contemplating whether to confront the Queen for clarification.
Celandra lets out a long breath and wipes away the beads of sweat accumulating on her forehead. Glancing at the grandfather clock, she realizes with a sudden start that she’s been cleaning for the past three hours. In an attempt to distract herself from her dilemma, she’s dusted the furniture, polished silverware, and folded the laundry in record time. But now the castle is spotless and she has no other excuses. Squaring her shoulders, Celandra begins to ascend the stairs leading up to Fyora’s quarters.
Standing before the door, she tries to rehearse what she’ll say to Fyora, but finds that her mind is a complete blank. She decides that in the moment, her brain and tongue will work together to spit out something, no matter how incomprehensible the result may be. Celandra pats down the wrinkles on her dress, taking in a deep breath. She raises her fist to the door and knocks a few times.
“You may come in,” Fyora says.
Celandra opens the door slowly, revealing Fyora’s room. The room is surprisingly simple in its decor and furnishings. Rugs in lavender, pink, and periwinkle hues cover the floor’s large, salmon-colored tiles while portraits of the various faeries adorn the cream colored walls. Soft afternoon light filters in from a large window. Fyora looks up from her desk, where she appears to be writing in a thick notebook. Setting down the quill in her hand, she motions to Celandra to take a seat.
“What seems to be the matter, Celandra?” Fyora asks.
Celandra hesitates before rapidly blurting out, “I was tidying up the library when I found a secret trapdoor behind one of the bookshelves and that led to a courtyard which was infested with weeds, so I was pulling them out when I unwittingly discovered an invisible door—”
“Celandra,” Fyora interrupts, “calm down, my dear.” She smiles. “It seems like you’ve discovered the Hidden Tower.”
“The Hidden Tower?” asks Celandra, eyes wide and questioning.
Fyora nods. “Yes,” she says, closing her notebook. “It’s something I have been working on for a while. What you saw in there—it was the culmination of centuries of travel and negotiation.” She stands up and walks over to the window, looking out at the busy city. The sun is about to set, painting the background of Faerieland a magnificent pink and purple. “As you may have noticed, Faerieland is in dire need of maintenance and renovation, and the Hidden Tower has great potential to provide those funds.”
Celandra sits quietly for a few moments, digesting this new information. “The items must be very important.”
“Indeed. They are artifacts that cannot be found anywhere else.”
“Will the Hidden Tower be open to the public?” Celandra asks.
“Yes, in a way,” Fyora says. “Since some of the weapons yield great power beyond imagination, it would be calamitous should they fall into the wrong hands.” She turns away from the window and looks solemnly at Celandra. “It’s very much the reason why I made it hidden yet accessible; only those who are deemed worthy can enter.”
Celandra nods, head still spinning from everything she’s just learned. A thought suddenly occurs to her. “Is...is there a reason I was able to go inside, then?” she asks timidly.
Fyora smiles gently. “Celandra. You are my most trusted confidant. You have proved during your time here that you are intelligent, hardworking, and loyal. There is no reason the door would not have opened for you.”
Before Celandra has time to respond, Fyora is already speaking again.
“In fact, my dear, I have a proposal to make.” The Queen makes her way back to the desk to face Celandra directly. “I would like to see you manage the Hidden Tower. Of course, I know you already have plenty on your plate, so I will understand if you don’t want to take on an additional task, but I would be delighted if you would consider it.”
A million questions pop into her head, but Celandra already knows her answer. Looking up at Fyora, she grins brightly. “It would be a huge honor, Your Highness.”