Where there's a Weewoo, there's a way Circulation: 96,860,727 Issue: 187 | 22nd day of Eating, Y7
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Jhudora's Bottle


by ssjelitegirl

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The narrow streets of Sakhmet City were hot, dusty and crowded. The sun was shining brightly, there wasn't a single cloud in the sky and the inhabitants of the city took the chance to go out, chat with their friends and go to the marketplace. After all, whenever it rained in Lost Desert, the streets looked like deep rivers of mud and then it was impossible to get outside.

     However, there were many Neopets in the city who had to be on the streets, whether it was sunny or rainy. Shara, a young Desert Ixi was one of them. She had lived on those narrow streets for a long time now. Once she had had an owner who had abandoned her. Even though she was adopted pretty soon - after all, she was a painted pet - her new owner wasn't nice to her and so she ran away from home. Eventually she had become a thief in Sakhmet. She liked that life. She was free, didn't depend on anyone and since she was smart and quick enough, her stomach was usually full.

     That day she was lurking around on the marketplace, peering at the booths. Her eyes quickly picked out a fat old Tuskaninny behind a counter. The shopkeeper was almost asleep, trying hard to keep his eyes open. Shara slid closer, keeping an eye on the Tuskaninny and then glancing at the shiny red apples on the counter. One or two of those would really hit the spot...!

     And now the shopkeeper's eyes closed. Only for a second, on the next moment he was awake again. But he didn't notice that two apples were missing from the pile and he paid no attention to a young Ixi who now walked away calmly. She turned around the corner, reached a small empty alley, sat down and ate the apples. Then she went on the street again. People paid no attention to her but she paid attention to everything. She wasn't that hungry any more but two apples aren't much of a meal, so she kept her eyes open, just in case.

     "Hey, haven't seen you for a while. Back from a business trip?" she heard a Kau ask from a Ruki. Shara looked up quickly. Businessmen? There weren't many of those in Sakhmet, at least not honest ones. Black marketing was a lot more common and people who had to do with black market often had valuable items with them. The Ixi sneaked closer.

     "Yeah, I got lucky. Faerieland is a great place for doing business," the Ruki chortled, patting on his pocket. Shara noticed a small glass bottle in there. The pocket was big and loose, the Ruki was chatting with his friend and Shara was a very good pickpocket. A minute later the bottle had a new owner who was walking down the street, humming the latest hit of Moehawk.

     After a couple of blocks she turned to another alley and sat down to look at the bottle. It was rather small, filled with sparkly purple fume. Shara frowned and tried to figure out what to do with the bottle. The Ruki had talked about Faerieland, that made her careful. Messing around with something a faerie had made was usually a very bad idea. She noticed a tiny writing under the bottom of the bottle and read out loud:

     "If found, return to Jhudora the Dark Faerie, or else…" Her eyes narrowed as she stood up again.

     Shara, you little fool, what have you gotten yourself into? she thought, glancing at the bottle. If it really belonged to Jhudora then it had to be extremely valuable, but she couldn't imagine what to do with it. Selling would be a bad idea, nobody would believe that she had gotten this in an honest way with the writing on the bottom and then she'd end up behind the bars. She didn't know anyone in the black market either. If she gave the bottle away, someone might very well open it and then what…? Shara had heard many stories about Jhudora's great powers and nasty spells. She never did anything herself but she was very good at mean little tricks which made other people responsible. If she opened the bottle, the results would be blamed on her. If someone else opened the bottle… well, the results may be just as bad.

     There was only one reasonable thing to do. Shara hid the bottle under her robe and trotted down the street, swift like a fish in a small stream. There were many pets on the streets but she never ran into any of them. A fresh pie disappeared from a counter when she ran by; the shopkeeper didn't notice anything but Shara filled the empty spot in her stomach and grinned vaguely.

     In about fifteen minutes she reached the suburbs of Sakhmet and slowed down. The streets weren't so crowded any more; they were narrower and dirty. These were the slums of Sakhmet. Unlike most inhabitants of the city, Shara wasn't afraid to go there. Those streets were her home.

     She turned around several corners and eventually reached a small yard that was surrounded by buildings. She opened a door and went to the basement of one of the buildings. The Ixi sniffed the air and nodded slightly.

     "Matt!" she called out loud. "Come on here, I need your help!"

     There was no answer but Shara could hear the sound of footsteps from the dark passages of the basement. A moment later a huge purple Eyrie appeared from the darkness. He wasn't exactly a friend of Shara's but he was sometimes quite helpful when he had nothing else to do. He knew well that it was necessary to stick together when living on the streets.

     "Oh, it's you." His gleaming eyes looked down at the little Ixi. "What gives?"

     "I need to get to Faerieland," Shara announced. "You're the only one who can help me with that."

     Matt glanced at her with surprise. "Faerieland? Now what are you up to? Planning to rob the Hidden Tower or something? Good luck with that, kid."

     Shara glared back at him. "Will you help me or not? It's my business what I'm planning to do there."

     The Eyrie yawned. "Yeah, why not. Just don't expect me to be your getaway vehicle, I really don't like dealing with those Faeries. Hop on." Shara got on Matt's back, the Eyrie trotted outside, spread out his wings and a moment later they were already high above Sakhmet.

     "Will it take long?" Shara yelled over the whizzing of the warm northern wind. Matt shook his head.

     "With this speed not more than half an hour. Just hold on, I have no interest in going down to search for you when you happen to fall down. I'm not exactly a master in swimming, y'know."

     Shara checked if the bottle was still there. It was. Then she looked down at the ocean. It was huge, blue and seemed so very mysterious. The Ixi felt a bit woozy and concentrated on Matt's purple neck fur. She tried to imagine sitting on one of Sakhmet's narrow alleys instead of flying high above the deep ocean. It wasn't easy though. Shara had always been one realistic little Ixi. It was a good thing when you had to live the life of a thief but a very bad thing when you had to imagine something. Even a Negg had better fantasy than Shara. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes tightly.

     Now all sorts of disturbing thoughts started rushing through her head. Jhudora was one of the most feared Faeries. True, many pets went to her every day to make quests for her but there were also many who didn't succeed and were punished… Shara tried not to think about it. She was one brave little Ixi and besides, it was clearly written on the bottle that it had to be taken back to the Faerie.

     "We're almost there," Matt remarked. Shara looked up to see a huge white cloud with several little towers on it. The cloud spread out above the ocean, glittering in the sun. Shara raised her head and looked around as the Eyrie slid closer to Faerieland.

     "Now where?" he asked, descending. Small towers turned out to be huge pretty buildings; many Faeries were flying around them. Shara could also see Neopets walking between the houses and towers. The place was so much different from her home, Sakhmet.

     "To Jhudora's Cloud," she replied. Matt gasped and stopped in the air.

     "You heard me," Shara tapped her hooves against Matt's purple fur, "move it, once you brought me this far."

     "Wouldn't you prefer the Hidden Tower instead?" Matt asked, turning to a single purple cloud in the outskirts of Faerie City.

     "Just wait here." Shara hopped down on the surface of the cloud and looked at Jhudora's purple castle. "Heh, this place must be half the size of the whole Sakhmet!"

     Matt seemed a bit nervous. "Do I have to?"

     "Don't be such a baby," Shara snapped, going to the door and knocking on it. She wasn't surprised when the door slid open by itself. The Ixi went in and looked around. She had expected to see a huge dark old-fashioned hallway with torches and armor - and that's exactly what she saw. There were many doors leading out from the hallway but only one of them was opened. The room behind it was filled with bright green light and as Shara went towards the door, she could clearly hear someone chanting. She made sure that the bottle was still there and then went to the door.

     "Hello?" she called, knocking on the floor as the door was already opened. A second later she hopped back. Someone's tall, slim figure had appeared on the doorway. She had long flowing hair, a purple dress and her wide wings covered most of the light that was coming from the room.

     "Would you look at that, a little Ixi," she said with a grin. "Come on in." She turned around and went to the room. Shara followed her, peering around. A huge cauldron was standing in the middle of the room, ancient tomes were everywhere on the floor and there was a throne in the other end of the room. A couple of tomes were lying on it too though, so Shara guessed that Jhudora preferred to work instead of looking impressive on the throne.

     "So, are you here to take my quest?" Jhudora asked. "I'm a busy faerie, I have many potions and mixtures to make and I need many ingredients for those. If you succeed, you will be rewarded. However, if you fail…" She didn't finish the sentence; she knew that Shara got her point.

     "Actually I'm not here to take your quest," Shara said with a grin. Jhudora raised her brows.

     "You're not? In that case get out of my sight. This here isn't a zoo where anyone can come to see me."

     Shara didn't mind her, she had heard a lot during her short life. "Get out of my sight" was probably the most common thing she had heard in Sakhmet. The next common thing was, of course, "get back here".

     "I think this here is yours," she said, taking the bottle out. Jhudora, who had turned back to her cauldron, looked over her shoulder. Her eyes widened and she leaped to Shara, grabbing the bottle.

     "My bottle! You found it! I was already afraid that it was gone for good!" she exclaimed. Suddenly she glared at the Ixi. "Where did you get it? Tell me!"

     "I stole it," Shara replied calmly. "A Ruki had it in his pocket and it looked valuable enough, so I took it. However, when I saw that it was yours, I decided to take it back."

     "You're one smart Ixi," Jhudora cackled, observing the bottle. "A Ruki, you say? Describe him, will you?" After hearing the description, she nodded and her eyes gleamed with fury.

     "That insolent, ungrateful little fool," she snarled. "I gave him a Bartamus for his quest, they're very rare and valuable little critters, my personal favorites… but he had to take my precious bottle too while I wasn't looking! I will not tolerate this, that's one thing for sure."

     "Glad I could help. I'll get going now," Shara said, turning around. Jhudora put the bottle away.

     "Once you're there, see if you can find a black jar with bright green spots on it. It should be somewhere under that table… yeah, that's the one." She took the jar Shara gave her and grinned widely.

     "What is it?" the Ixi asked. She, unlike most Neopians, wasn't afraid of the Dark Faerie. Shara was too careless for that. She didn't care if Jhudora would get upset because of her questioning or not. Besides, the Faerie didn't seem to mind the question.

     "Mortog Elixir, one of my latest inventions," she said. "You can imagine what it does. Hold on, I think I have something for you here." She took something from a shelf and gave it to Shara. I was a small red apple with sparkles floating around it.

     "That bottle was very valuable and not many Neopets would've brought it back," she said. "Have this apple."

     Shara looked at the apple. "The Everlasting Apple?" she asked. "But I thought these were from the Hidden Tower!"

     Jhudora nodded. "They are. This one's a little present from Queen Fyora after I helped her out with a potion. I don't need it anyway and you will probably find it useful. Run along now, little thief. I have revenge to plot." She poured some of the thick liquid from the spotted jar into a small cauldron and Shara left the room.

     Matt was still outside, even though he seemed nervous and stamped around in front of the castle, peering at the front door. When Shara came out, he hopped closer and stared at the Ixi.

     "You didn't steal anything, did you?" he demanded. Shara laughed and shook her head.

     "You know, she's actually very nice," she said as they flew back towards Sakhmet.

     Matt glanced at the Everlasting Apple and thought of all those days Shara had spent on practicing her apple stealing skills. Now she never had to steal food again.

     "I wonder why she did that?" he said. "That bottle had to be very powerful. What could've been in there?"

     Shara shrugged. "We'll never know."

The End

 
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