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Storytelling Competition - (click for the map) | (printer friendly version)

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Week 906
You are on Week 907
Week 908

Every week we will be starting a new Story Telling competition - with great prizes! The current prize is 2000 NP, plus a rare item!!! This is how it works...

We start a story and you have to write the next few paragraphs. We will select the best submissions every day and put it on the site, and then you have to write the next one, all the way until the story finishes. Got it? Well, submit your paragraphs below!

Story Nine Hundred Seven Ends Friday, February 4

Jhudora scowled at the quivering Neopet in front of her. A portly, rather unappealing, blue Grarrl had handed her the item she requested, but then hadn't stepped back and bowed in deference. He seemed to realise he had done something wrong from her expression, but couldn't figure out what.

Honestly. She was sick of having to deal with these creatures day in, day out. She was a Faerie for goodness sake. She should be out casting powerful spells and generally making mischief. Fyora had doomed her to a life of servitude, making pitiful spells that did no more than add some spice to the Royal Kitchens.

Nor were these Neopets any good at fetching. More often than not, they failed before even level twenty five. Only very few made it all the way to the end, and she rewarded them fervently. This Grarrl was only on level eight and already he was wearing her patience thin.

"You're done," she snarled. "I'll see you tomorrow."

"Oh - thank you, Jhudora!" he whispered, then scurried away.

"On first name basis, are we?" she grumbled to herself, rolling her eyes. She moved the fetched item to the back room and by the time she came out there was another in his place.

This wasn't a Neopet though.

"Illusen?" Jhudora said in surprise. "What on Neopia are you doing here?"

Illusen was actually panting; she must have flown here as fast as possible. Her cheeks were flushed and she raked a hand through her long hair to free it from sticking to her forehead. "There's an emergency. We need you."

"An emergency?" Jhudora echoed. "What is it? What's happened?"

"It's Queen Fyora. She's disappeared..."

Author: dudeiloled
Date: Jan 24th
..."disappeared?" Jhudora questioned. It's as if when the word left her lips she inhaled it right back. An exhilarating chill shot through her, understanding what Fyora's disappearance could mean for her.

"Yes. She's... gone. Missing. It's as if she vanished!" Illusen murmured in disbelief.

Jhudora very calmly approached Illusen, placing her index finger under her chin, raising her head to lock eye contact. "Well then. I suppose you really will need my help. I am sure everything will be fine" Jhudora said softly, yet very insincerely.

With that, Jhudora spread her wings and hovered just off the dark and damp grass that surrounded her Bluff. "Well. We better not waste any time my sweet and naïve little Earthie." Jhudora vociferated.

Earthie was a derogatory name Jhudora has called Illusen for a number of years. It never seemed to bother Illusen as much as the intent was meant behind it.

Illusen flew with pace toward Faerie City with Jhudora closely behind with a glint of excitement in her eyes. What would this mean for Jhudora if Fyora was missing, or better yet - gone. Her imagine ran wild with scenarios, from turning any Neopian to stone that bothered her with meager requests, to claiming the crown of Faerieland. The potential was limitless.

As Illusen and Jhudora landed at the gates to the castle, nervous chatter filled the air with a number of Faerie's in great distress.

Marina, who had left her post at the Healing Springs was sitting by the fountain by the castle gates. Upon sighting Jhudora she pointed and screeched "YOU!!"...

Author: ryano_14
Date: Jan 25th
...Jhudora had not even landed on the ground before she let out an annoyed sigh. Every single Neopet and Faerie locked their gazes onto her and Illusen. Jhudora knew that all eyes and accusations would be on her the moment she left her bluff.

"Marina. I know what you are thinking. I am not behind Fyora's disappearance," she grumbled.

"Oh, trying to save face?" Marina hissed. For the faerie who ran the Healing Springs, Jhudora never thought she could have so much venom in her voice. "I know it was you! Baelia-"

"Marina, Marina, shouting will get us nowhere," Illusen said, as placid as can be. She stood in between Jhudora and the fountain where Marina sat. The earth faerie looked at the latter. "What makes you think it's Jhudora?"

The water faerie leaned closer to the pair, as far as she could without falling out of the fountain. Her gaze and her pointed finger never left Jhudora "Baelia saw her! The night Queen Fyora disappeared, Baelia saw you walking around the castle! She heard the queen scream, and that was the last anybody saw of her!"

Jhudora looked at Marina with disgust. While she had dreamed of something happening to Fyora for centuries now, she had nothing to do with her disappearance. As much as she loved mayhem, she would never take credit for something she didn't do.

Illusen and Jhudora looked at each other. The look Illusen gave Jhudora. Jhudora thought Illusen would turn on her, as she often would whenever something went wrong. Instead, Illusen seemed... confused. The look on her face said it all. Confusion, worry, fear. Jhudora was more surprised by Illusen's demeanor than Mariana's accusations.

"What are you talking about?" Jhudora boomed when she got her wits back. "I was nowhere near the castle. Everybody knows I rarely leave my bluff these days! I would still be there right now if Illusen didn't drag me out!"

"Whatever Baelia saw, it must have been some sort of disguise," Illusen added. "This is Faerieland, there is no shortage in charms and illusions and spells."

Marina's eyes narrowed. "There are plenty of protections throughout the entire castle. Typical illusions and charms are dispelled within the walls." Her sights landed on Illusen. "You should know that, Illusen."

The chatter around the fountain was turning from nervous to accusatory. Jhudora and Illusen looked towards each other, at the crowd, then back at each other.

They knew Marina was right; the castle had many charms to dispel any illusions with the attempts to beguile anyone inside. Whoever was behind this must have been powerful enough to bypass these effects.

Jhudora knew they could not convince Marina of this, let alone the other faeries and Neopets that were beginning to crowd around. Not now, at least. With a snap, Jhudora snapped and released a dark purple cloud along the fountain square. She grabbed onto Illusen and pulled her into the sky, flying away with her.

After being sure the two were safe, Jhudora landed in a park nearby the castle. She led Illusen into the trees and sat down on a branch. Illusen sat down next to her.

"I should have seen this coming. The moment anything goes wrong in Faerieland, all blame goes towards me," Jhudora spat. "Why did you even come to me for help, Illusen? Now you look suspicious as well."

The earth faerie sat straight up. "I know you have done horrible things. Some of those horrible things, you have done to me. However, I know you are innocent, Jhudora. I would not have come to you if I did not know that."

Jhudora was about to let out a snappy reply, but the words got caught in her throat when Illusen said that last sentence. She really did believe Jhudora was innocent. Jhudora had to turn away to keep Illusen from seeing her cheeks grow pink.

"So Baelia. She claims she saw me," she went on.

Illusen nodded. "That's what Marina said."

"She'd be in the castle, right?"

"Yes. She takes stock of the Hidden Tower. She's looking after it now, with Queen Fyora gone."

"We should talk to her."

"The castle is going to be heavily guarded. How do you plan to get us in?"

The dark faerie let out a soft chuckle. "That I don't know, Earthie..."

Author: chasing_stars44
Date: Jan 26th
...The two faeries waited in silence for a few minutes, unsure of what to do. Every time Jhudora thought she had a great idea, she quickly realized why it wouldn't work. No matter what she did, the castle guards wouldn't let her in. She was almost ready to resort to wearing some sort of silly disguise when Illusen finally spoke up.

"I think I have an idea, but I'm going to need you to bear with me on this," the Earth faerie said.

"I already don't like the sound of it," Jhudora scoffed.

"What I can do is drag you up to the castle and tell you that I'm bringing you in. I'm assuming the guards already know to look out for you, so if I say that I caught you, they'll let us in."

Jhudora crossed her arms and chewed on her lower lip. "And how do I know that you're not just going to toss me into a jail cell the second we're in the castle? What if this was all an elaborate ruse to lock me up?"

Illusen reached out and placed a hand on the other faerie's shoulder, looking her dead in the eyes. Jhudora's heart skipped a beat. She couldn't remember the last time the two of them had any sort of real connection like this. It had always been jabs from afar or tormenting the other on their special day. This was something far more genuine, and it was beginning to really confuse Jhudora. "This would be a lot of work to go to just to put you away. I know you have no reason to trust me, but I'd appreciate it if you could put a small amount of faith in me. Even the tiniest bit will do."

Jhudora immediately shook Illusen's hand off her shoulder and let out a dramatic sigh. "Fine. Whatever. I'll trust you. Let's just get this over with." Although she still didn't truly trust Illusen, it was the genuine look in her eyes that had really swayed her over. Hopefully, she wouldn't come to regret this later.

The two faeries flew back to the castle, and with Illusen grabbing Jhudora by the arm tightly, they approached the guards.

"Halt! State your business!" A Buzz at the front commanded.

"Sir, I've caught Jhudora. Baelia has evidence to believe that she is the one responsible for Fyora's disappearance. I found her at her bluff and she's here to receive punishment for what she's done," Illusen replied. Jhudora was surprised at the authoritative tone that came from her. She had always thought the other faerie was far too soft.

The Buzz motioned for the guards to step aside, and they cleared a path for the two to enter. "Good work, Illusen. Faerieland thanks you."

Illusen continued to drag Jhudora in until the door was closed behind them, then let her go. "Alright, thanks for putting up with that. We should be good, but if anyone passes by, I'll grab you again. Now, we just have to get up to Baelia."

The two faeries quickly flew through the castle, making it to the top in quick time. When they were just at the door to Fyora's shop, Illusen looked to Jhudora. "Please, just try to stay calm while we talk to her, okay? It won't help your case if you blow up and accuse her of making things up."

Although Jhudora could feel her anger rise just at the thought of Baelia, she was willing to try and cool down. But if things went south, she was fully prepared to defend herself. "Are you gonna do all the talking? Or am I allowed to make a case?"

"I'll probably have to explain my side first, but you're more than welcome to offer any explanation you can," Illusen replied with a calm smile. Being given the chance to speak at all was far more than Jhudora expected. Who knew that any of the goody-two-shoes faeries had it in them to treat her humanely, even less so Illusen?

With that out of the way, Illusen reached out and knocked gently on the door. "Baelia? It's Illusen."

"Come in," the soft, meek voice of the grey faerie called out, and the two slowly opened the door...

Author: golden1188
Date: Jan 27th
As they entered, Baelia had her back turned to the tower door. She was crouched over a stack of Royal Paint Brushes, taking inventory on an old clipboard.

"Fifty-three, fifty-four, fifty-five," she mumbled to herself, scribbling away with her chewed-up pencil.

Jhudora impatiently cleared her throat, startling the grey faerie. Baelia gasped and her spine straightened out as stiff as a lamppost.

"Jh-, Jh-, Jhudora?" she asked, fear trickling out of her whimpering voice. The grey faerie still hadn't been able to muster the courage to turn around.

"In the flesh, you scaredy Cirrus," she mocked, crossing her talon-clad hands across her bony chest.

Illusen shot Jhudora an admonishing glance before interjecting. "Baelia, it's okay. We aren't here to cause any trouble. We're here to figure out what you saw the night Queen Fyora went missing. Can you tell us that?" Illusen asked with as honest and even a tone as was ever heard in all of Neopia.

The two faeries watched as Baelia's tense shoulders relaxed and she slowly turned around. Her eyes were still wide with trepidation, but she nodded her head.

"I'll tell you what I saw..." The grey faerie looked around as if to make sure no one was listening. "I was walking from the Hidden Tower to the front gates to leave for the night when I saw a tall, lanky faerie with dark colouration and long, flowing hair. I couldn't tell if she was blue or purple or green, but she was a dark faerie and she looked just like Jhudora. I swear!" Baelia was still frightened to be in the presence of the accused.

"Yeah, yeah. Go on," Jhudora pressed, circling her skeletal hand to prompt the grey faerie to continue.

"The dark faerie... She was... She was carrying..." Baelia gulped, seemingly unable to continue. Whatever she saw was painful to recall.

"What was she carrying, Baelia?" Illusen asked in a hushed tone, raising her brows in concern.

"She was carrying a bottle... With a faerie inside... The faerie was pink and lavender..." The grey faerie looked back and forth between Jhudora and Illusen.

"The only faerie that colour is..." Illusen trailed off in shock.

"Queen Fyora," Jhudora finished incredulously, raising her gaze to meet the earth faerie's…

Author: i_lovee_icecream
Date: Jan 28th
"Yes, it had to be Fyora." said Baelia meekly. She looked between Illusen and Jhudora nervously.

"Who could the dark faerie have been?" Illusen mused out loud, " I believe you, that it wasn't you, Jhudora. But it's going to be hard to prove it without knowing who the culprit really was."

"Baelia, can you tell us any more details about the dark faerie that you saw take Queen Fyora?" Illusen asked, turning towards her as she spoke.

"No, need for any of that." Jhudora exclaimed angrily." I have a pretty good hunch on who took Queen Fyora and laid the blame on me..."

Author: blondeadept89
Date: Jan 31st
..."Balthazar!" the dark faerie definitively barked as she raised her finger in the air.

"B-Balthazar!" Baelia's eyes went wide with fear. "B-but, he's n-not a... a dark faerie!"

"Of course he isn't," Jhudora replied, rolling her eyes. "He obviously played faerie dress up just to pin the whole affair on yours truly." She pointed her thumb at herself.

"It does make some sense," Illusen started. "I mean, who else is capable of putting a faerie inside a bottle?" She raised a finger to her green lips in contemplation and then stared right at her darker counterpart.

Jhudora raised her eyebrow. She might have found Illusen's pose almost charming if not for the fact it was Illusen.

"But... Bottling... Queen Fyora? Our Queen has more power than that... doesn't she...?" Baelia trailed.

"Who knows?" Illusen replied, her voice level. "Maybe Balthazar got some new magitech to drain her energy, first. Or maybe he did a sneak attack on her with some an anti-magic containment field." She shrugged.

The grey faerie shrugged too, but she wasn't sure why; Baelia realized she was clearly out of her element on magical topics, given she had no wings herself.

"Balthazar should be just outside Meridell," Illusen conjectured, "taunting Samrin at Extreme Herder. I know Meridell better than any other faerie, so I should certainly go." She turned to Jhudora and smiled sweetly. "I know you're innocent, I will prove this."

Baelia, likewise, faced the dark faerie -- though she averted gazing straight at Jhudora. "What would B-Balthazar have against you, J-J-Jhudora, a-anyway?" she stuttered, taking a step back from the faeries.

Jhudora narrowed her gaze. "I'm not sure... but I want to go and find out." She balled her hand into a fist. "I will go and find out!"

The grey faerie frowned. "Nuh-uh. You're... J-J-J... you, you know, and... I'm not sure if Faerielanders can... trust you... with this..."

Jhudora scowled.

Illusen wrapped her arm around Jhudora's shoulders and grinned at the dark faerie, who thinly smiled in response. "Baelia, it will be fine. I won't be able to take on Balthazar by myself. And Jhudora is one of the most powerful -- and, deep down, GOOD -- faeries that I know. I wouldn't want anyone else by my side to rescue the Faerie Queen."

Jhudora swallowed. There was something about the words that tugged at her.

Illusen noted that Baelia still seemed skeptical. "Don't worry, Bae. I'll make sure she behaves." The earth faerie squeezed Jhudora's arm. It wasn't tight and dominant like earlier with the guard; rather, it was gentle and reassuring...

Jhudora calmed. "I'll... be good. I promise," she said, meek as the grey faerie opposite her.

"We will save Fyora." Illusen nodded at the grey faerie, who saluted back. "Now," the earth faerie finished, turning to Jhudora, "let's go get our Queen!"

The dark and earth faeries left Baelia's room.

Jhudora frowned. Illusen had handled herself and pleaded Jhudora's case quite well in there. And... Earthie even seemed to have a solid plan. Maybe Illusen was actually... useful? This roused Jhudora's interest, but also made her feel... vaguely uncertain about the dark faerie's own role in all this.

This was why she lived alone on her Bluff. There, she had her job to do, and she didn't have to try to understand these faeries and their motivations.

"Come, 'Darkie'," Illusen commanded softly whilst wearing a saccharine smile. "Follow me to Meridell and my Glade, we can plan our course of action from there..."

Author: rielcz
Date: Feb 1st
The last time Jhudora was at Illusen's Glade, she was propping up a dummy cutout of Illusen to troll her followers. Jhudora almost laughed out loud at the memory until it conflicted with the recent kindness Illusen demonstrated during this ordeal.

The dawning light shining through the morning fog made the glade appear like a familiar mirror. Illusen's home softly sprawling over the hill looked liminal, as if the answers to Fyora's whereabouts and Balthazar's culpability resided there. For Jhudora's first time, it almost felt...

"...welcoming." The word left Jhudora's mouth unintentionally. Illusen heard and smiled, but Jhudora coughed to cover up her subconscious stream of thoughts. She backtracked, "Er-- you're welcome. You're welcome that I'm here to help."

As the two faeries approached the front door, Illusen planned aloud, "I say we rest up inside before searching Meridell. Once the sun is up, we can start by going around Samrin's pastures to ask if he's seen Bal--"

The sound of breaking glass interrupted the suspect's name. Jhudora raised her hand ready to cast at whoever-- whatever-- was there, but nothing appeared.

"Where did that come from?" Jhudora tensely muttered.

"It sounded like from the back. Follow me around the veranda."

As they circled Illusen's home prepared to fight, they were surprised to see each window intact. As Illusen surveyed the walls, Jhudora leaned on the veranda's railing and realized, "It wasn't the windows. Look!" She pointed to the clearing below, where the remains of broken bottles lay.

Jhudora fluttered down and held up a piece. The small shard seemed unusually and immensely heavy. "This isn't regular glass. Balthazar must have gotten his hands onto some new material. It makes more sense now how he contained Fyora."

Illusen inspected the glass over Jhudora's shoulder and commented, "I still wonder how he managed to appear like a..."

Another breaking of glass interrupted the two. This time, they immediately located its origin. Just beyond the treeline, a silhouette shaped somewhere between a Lupe and a faerie glared on. "...a Dark Faerie," Illusen finished. The figure began to flee.

"He was going to ambush us. Let's go." Jhudora grabbed Illusen's hand as they took flight in pursuit...

Author: miraday
Date: Feb 2nd
“Ambush US?” Illusen shouted after the dark faerie, audibly confused. “What do you mean? How would he know that you’re with me? Who would guess such a thing? You said it yourself— you never leave your bluff!”

Jhudora almost froze. It was a good question.

“…No, you’re right. He must have been after you.”

“Why go after me if you’re the one he has this quarrel with?!”

“Maybe it has little to do with me,” Jhudora guessed. She searched her surroundings, as it seemed she had already lost sight of the kidnapper. She just barely spotted his large shadow skulking past a line of trees. “Maybe he simply chose an easy target.”

“Target?”

“Someone who wouldn’t be believed! Everyone knows Fyora despises me. She always has. You saw the way the others assumed.”

“…Is that what you think? You think Queen Fyora hates you?” Illusen had stopped moving. Jhudora, frustrated, tugged on her arm. They were going to lose Balthazar at this rate. He seemed impossibly fast, a mere speck in the distance.

“What are you on about?!” She groaned. “Oh, curse it all— he’s escaped. Are you happy now?!”

“No one told you, did they? Or maybe you ignored the letters. You always seem to do that with mine, so I wouldn’t be surprised.”

That did, admittedly, get Jhudora curious, as determined as she was to pursue the miserable bounty hunter who would dare frame her.

“What letters? I don’t open mail from your lot. Why would I read yet another lecture?”

“I’m not talking about lectures— I’m talking about an invitation! The Queen has been trying to speak with you for, well… for months now, I assume!”

“What? Why exactly would she want an audience with ME? And what’s stopping her from stopping by on her own? It’s not as if I could harm her.”

“Because she doesn’t hate you! She never has!” Illusen sighed and sat down in the grass without warning. Jhudora remained standing. She wasn’t about to let her guard down that easily. “…Faerieland isn’t the same as it was once. Even you must know. Things haven't been hard on the Queen, and she’s been trying to repair the bond between faeries and Neopians ever since. Even if Faerieland itself is rebuilt, you know that trust is not so easily fixed. What Xandra did was awful, but her anger wasn’t entirely misplaced, was it?”

“No, no… I thought she had an awfully good point. The bunch of you are awfully self-obsessed! It’s why I stay on my bluff.”

“Fyora is convinced that the magic barrier is weakening and that it’s not just because of that, or even because of her.” Illusen wouldn’t name that particularly awful faerie, Jhudora knew. “The faeries— what good are we if we can’t trust one another? If there are Neopians who despise us?”

“…You’re suggesting that Queen Fyora was planning on, what, playing nice? Inviting me over for a cup of tea? Were we all going to hold hands and sing a song together? Why do YOU know so much about all of this, anyway?”

“She knew she would have to talk to me about it eventually.” Illusen frowned. “…She knows we were friends once. It’s not exactly a well-kept secret. And I think you’re lonelier than you want anybody to think—“

“What would you know?! You all despise me! You always have!”

“Th-That’s not—“

“And just because I happen to look like the Sleeper? Just about every faerie I’ve ever met has been afraid of me, somehow. I didn’t have to do a thing! Why play nice when it won’t change anything?”

“But you WERE nice! Why would I have befriended someone cruel?” Illusen gave Jhudora a pleading look. With a resigned groan, the dark faerie took a seat near her, and she took a deep breath or two in an effort to calm down. She had not realized she’d gotten herself so worked up. She refused to look the earth faerie in the eye, though. “…I never did think it was fair to judge someone without getting to know them. And you were kind back then. But then I caught you planning to hurt the others, some of my own friends, and… You’d changed. I don’t know when you got so angry.”

“…My patience had run thin. That’s all.” Jhudora’s breath came to her in painful shudders and she stared at the grass. “I ran out of goodness. ….Why couldn’t you just leave me alone? It’s easier that way.”

Illusen laid a gentle hand on top of hers. She didn’t squeeze it, though, because she wasn’t about to push her luck. Jhudora was rarely this well-behaved.

“Queen Fyora talked to me about all of this, and… she was right. I don’t like being angry any more than you do, I’m sure. She wanted us to change things. I’m sure she would even have talked to Balthazar eventually— he hates Faeries, but it’s not like he does so for no reason.”

It took Jhudora a moment to process what Illusen had said. And as soon as it registered, she couldn’t think about anything else. She turned to look at Illusen.

“…Do you think Queen Fyora would have invited Balthazar in?”

Illusen blinked, eyes wide.

“You don’t think… do you?”

“If I’m right, I have an idea of where we might find them both…”

How will this story end?

Author: valethra
Date: Feb 3rd
...Jhudora grabbed Illusen by the hand. Illusen noted how determined her darker counterpart was, and Illusen squeezed Jhudora's palm in affirmation -- if she was going to push her luck, the time was now.

Together, they flew up into the skies above Meridell, passing over Brightvale, and finally reaching the outskirts of the crater wherein the once-proud floating kingdom of Faerieland now rested.

"There," Jhudora said, pointing to some familiar wrangled trees.

"Your Bluff," Illusen replied, her voice soft and level, as though she knew all along they would eventually come here.

The two landed, and Jhudora rushed inside her home.

A disfigured Lupe turned and scowled at them.

Balthazar. Magically dressed as Jhudora. Holding Fyora, trapped in a bottle.

"YOU!" Jhudora shrieked, pointing a finger toward the Lupe-Faerie creature. "In my home -- planting the evidence to frame me!?"

Balthazar howled and threw himself at the dark faerie. Jhudora cackled menacingly as she launched a purple-green energy beam at him, and he was thrown backward. But then he rushed up to her again and chewed off a big piece of her robes. "Ack!" Jhudora shouted. "You're ruining my trendy emo fashion!"

Illusen just watched the two, dumbfounded, as the battle continued. The two seemed almost equally matched, and Illusen could tell, looking into Jhudora's almost pleading eyes, that the dark faerie was confused that Balthazar was able to put up this much of a fight. But Illusen knew why. "Balthazar must have successfully siphoned some of Queen Fyora's magic!" she shouted to her former friend, as though providing an explanation would make the whole situation better.

But of course, it wouldn't. Balthazar was winning, that much was now clear. The earth faerie wanted desperately to help, but all of Jhudora's most powerful items could only be commanded by creatures of evil.

...Then again, Jhudora could successfully wield them.

The earth faerie leapt up and grabbed a Wand of the Dark Faerie from Jhudora's vanity. Jhudora was fighting with one such legendary weapon, but maybe if Illusen could figure out how to use it as well, the fight would turn in the faeries' direction. She pointed the purple wand at Balthazar.

"You'll... never... be able to command that, Earthie," Jhudora stated between blows. "You're too... much... of a goodie goodie!"

"So are you!" Illusen responded, gritting her teeth. "Why can't you see that!?" She mustered her long-repressed anger at her former friend, let it course through her... And the weapon illuminated. "Why has it always been ME to tell you that you are good, that you mattered, that you are special, and you just kept pushing me away! You weren't always like this!" She shrieked as her emotions came unbottled. "WE weren't ALWAYS like this!"

At that point, a strong beam of magic shot out from the wand and hit Balthazar with the strength of a natural twenty. The Lupe howled and reeled backward. Jhudora, relieved, refocused her weapon as well. In short order, Balthazar was defeated, passed out on the ground, his faerie persona evaporated. The bottle containing Fyora rolled onto the cold earth, and Jhudora was quick to retrieve it.

Illusen panted, breathing heavily, and slumped down in front of the vanity. It was not evil that allowed her to command the weapon. But anger. Sadness. Disappointment. Defeatedness. Bitterness.

Emotions that can drive someone to do vile, evil things.

"I didn't want to hurt you and your friends," Jhudora muttered, her voice weak.

Illusen merely panted in response.

"You... Earthie, you were the only faerie to show me kindness, you know."

"I know."

"After my sister, who had been hailed as a saviour a short time earlier, just had to go and betray Altad--"

"I know."

Jhudora swallowed. "The teasing and isolation from the other faeries just... made me lash out. Being compared to the Darkest Faerie enough times, I BECAME her. I became angry... You know?"

Illusen sighed deeply. "I know." She paused; the air was heavy. "I'm sorry, too."

Jhudora raised an eyebrow. "For what?"

"For not doing more to defend you when my friends came by and accused you of being in cahoots with the Sleeper. For ultimately choosing them over you. I became scared of you and what you became, but I've since realized it was just because you felt alone." The earth faerie was on the verge of tears. But instead, she just gave her companion a wry smile. "Maybe you were even jealous that I was hanging out with the other girls."

A silence.

"I forgive you." Jhudora came up beside Illusen, and the faeries hugged tightly. "Can you forgive me?"

"Yes." Illusen's eyes lit up. "I do. Jhudora, you are not evil."

Jhudora paused, and then grunted in response. She had been "evil" for centuries... hadn't she been? Just like her sister. But... maybe it was time to stop letting her past define her. Letting the Sleeper define her. Letting these meddling faeries define her. It was time she carve her own path. "I will atone for my mistakes," the dark faerie said with newfound determination as she held up the trapped Fyora. "I will free her."

Illusen smiled.

Jhudora tried to unhex the bottle... but it wouldn't budge. All of a sudden, she was uncertain of her abilities. If she wasn't evil... What was she? If her magic wasn't evil... what was it? She just couldn't focus. Who was she, anyway--?

At that moment, Illusen came up to Jhudora and gently brushed the dark faerie's cheek. The action was kind and affirming, and hearkened back to long ago, when the two faeries called themselves friends. "You'll find yourself. You'll find your way back to who you are."

That was the focus Jhudora needed. How times have changed, she thought; and then she smiled. And then she laughed. And then, summoning her powerful dark (but not evil) energy, the bottle shattered.

Once the clouds dissipated, a tall pink figure stood in the room.

***

Fyora tapped her champagne glass with her fork. "Quiet, quiet," she commanded as she stood to start her speech; the bustling noises of all the faeries gathered in the Hidden Tower Ballroom came to a stillness. "As many of you know, I was recently captured by none other than Balthazar. I will say that the rumours are true -- I did in fact go and meet with the bounty hunter. I know he is a Neopet angry with us faeries, like Xandra -- and perhaps he has had good reason to be, for we faeries oftentimes forget that Neopets should be respected, and not just used to courier the items our whims decide we need."

Someone in the crowd coughed, breaking the atmosphere of tense self-reflection.

"I hoped Balthazar and I could come to an agreement, and we may yet still. Nevertheless, dear sisters," Queen Fyora continued as she gestured toward the guests of honour seated beside her, "we owe indelible gratitude to Jhudora and Illusen for freeing me. Their courage in the face of danger, ambition in the face of opposition, and commitment despite everything against them, is the reason that I am standing here before you. Please join me in giving them a round of well-deserved applause." Fyora started to clap.

And the other faeries joined her.

Jhudora blushed. This was the first time in centuries she felt... accepted. Like she belonged. For once, they weren't attacking her, or comparing her to the Darkest Faerie. She felt... happy. Happy? Yes. Happy. She smiled. And waved to the crowd. She was her own person. Free to choose her own destiny.

And her destiny was here. Now.

The applause too-soon ceased, and the bustling atmosphere of the dinner party resumed. But Jhudora was riding high in her own world. One free of her Bluff, of the loneliness therein. She didn't even note Fyora leaving the table, nor that Illusen followed the Faerie Queen.

"That was a brave thing you did for your friend," Fyora said to Illusen, her voice hardly above a whisper. "I trusted Jhudora, but she can be... unstable at times."

"Could be unstable," Illusen corrected. "After the whole ordeal, I think she'll be better now. Different. I think our plan to reel her back in succeeded."

The two exchanged smiles.

Of course it was Fyora's magic that made Balthazar appear like Jhudora, that allowed him to bypass the castle anti-illusion spells -- just so that Jhudora would become wrapped up in all this... And be led, with gentle prompts by Illusen, back to her. It was an idea that Illusen had, once Fyora's plans to meet with Balthazar became known by the Queen's inner circle.

"And the bottle worked well," Illusen continued.

"It did. If the strong anti-magic containment glass could even hold me... I think it will do just fine to hold the Darkest Faerie." That would save the weakening magic barrier. Hopefully.

The earth faerie frowned. "Balthazar is safe, right?" she inquired.

"Yes," Fyora replied. "For now. Balthazar did go somewhat mad with the power I granted him in exchange for his part in testing the glass bottle. So, we will have to keep our eyes on him."

Illusen nodded slowly. "I suppose we should probably get back to the party, soon."

"Yes." Fyora smiled. "Let's.

The two returned to their seats at the table. Jhudora grinned at them, and then leaned over and hugged Illusen. "Good to have you back, Earthie." There was no bitterness in the moniker.

"It's good to have you back too." Illusen smiled sweetly at Jhudora. "Friend."

The dark faerie beamed. This was the best Jhudora Day in centuries.

THE END

Author: rielcz
Date: Feb 4th



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