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
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
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
"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
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
"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."