The Water Faerie Necklace: Part Five
Fyora was studying the piece of paper again. Julie was gazing at her necklace, too engrossed with it to wonder exactly what Fyora was doing.
“I know where you must go,” Fyora said after a while. “The next thing on the list in this poem is “a lighthearted joke“. There is only one place in Neopia where a lighthearted joke is worthwhile.”
Julie did not understand. “I have not been many places,” she admitted. “Only to my home in Neopia Central, Kreludor, Mystery Island, and here in Faerieland.”
Fyora nodded as if Julie had said something right. “It is in Meridell,” she said. “King Skarl’s castle in Meridell is your destination.”
Julie had to clue as to what Fyora was talking about. “Who is King Skarl?” she asked.
“He lives in a palace in Meridell,” Fyora replied. “Apparently, the burdens of being King got to him, so much, in fact, that he has been grumpy ever since I can remember. Only a good joke can cheer him up, and no one has gotten more than a chuckle out of him.”
Gulping, Julie said, “I have to make him laugh so I can get a stone to fall off? What if I do not know any jokes?”
“I’m sure you will think of something,” said Fyora. “Now, you must go to Meridell.”
“Aren’t you coming along with me?” Julie asked.
“No, child,” said Fyora. “I am sorry, but I must look after all of the faeries here. You understand, don’t you?”
Julie nodded, but she could not imagine going to Meridell without anybody by her side. She imagined herself lost, her first time in Meridell, trying to find the King Skarl. She imagined her joke not funny at all, and the King kicking her out of his palace forever.
“You will be well,” Fyora said. She spoke with such certainty that Julie did not even think there was a need to contradict her. Julie knew that nothing was going to go wrong. “Good luck on your quest!”
Meridell was beautiful. Green grass cascaded across the lawns. Everywhere Julie turned, there seemed to be something to do. She saw the Kiss the Mortog game and wanted to try her luck at finding a prince or princess inside an ugly frog. Illusen’s Glade was to her right. Julie had heard many things about Illusen; she heard that Illusen was probably the most beautiful Earth Faerie ever and was much nicer than her sister Jhudora. She had heard many tales about Illusen’s infamous quests and the rewards for fulfilling them.
Julie knew, however, that she was not at Meridell to kiss a Mortog or help Illusen. She had to find King Skarl.
“Excuse me,” Julie asked a blue Acara. “Where can I find King Skarl?”
The Acara laughed curtly and pointed to her left. Julie saw the most beautiful palace before her and felt stupid for not seeing it before. She stepped across the moat and found herself inside the palace.
A grumpy looking blue Skeith was sitting on a throne. Julie sighed and tried to remember a good joke that she knew. She thought of nothing. Without a joke in her head, she joined the line to see the King.
A desert Pteri was in front of her in the line. Julie could hear him mumbling various jokes to see which one was best.
Julie finally got the courage to speak to him. “Can I borrow one of your jokes?” she asked.
The Pteri wrinkled his brow. “Borrow?” he asked.
Julie nodded. “This is my first time here,” she replied, “and I don’t know if my jokes are good enough to impress the King.”
“Don’t worry,” the Pteri said. “I’m born and bred in Meridell and I know all about King Skarl. Apparently he likes jokes that aren’t funny because he thinks that you are being sarcastic. He thinks that nothing is funnier than sarcasm.”
“Really?” Julie asked.
“Yeah,” said the Pteri. “I know a guy who knows a guy who once made King Skarl laugh, but that was a long time ago. He was really sarcastic.”
They were both silent for a moment. “My name is Bryce, by the way,” the Pteri said.
Julie said her name and shook the Pteri’s hand.
“So, Julie,” Bryce said, “what brings you to Meridell?”
Julie did not feel comfortable at all with telling a complete stranger her story, so she told half of the truth. “I was sent on this quest. By Fyora. I need to travel to Meridell and make King Skarl laugh.”
Bryce whistled. “That’s a hard quest,” he said.
“I know,” said Julie, “but I win a big reward if I do it within an hour.” That was a complete lie. In fact, once she completed this quest to Meridell, she would be rewarded with yet another quest, and another, and another, until all of her power was gone. She sighed and fingered her necklace. She wondered if that was really what she wanted.
An orange Bori was called to visit King Skarl. After only a few seconds, he left the throne room with a scowl on his face. Julie guessed that the King did not laugh at the Bori’s joke.
“I’m next,” said Bryce. “Wish me luck.” As he walked away, Julie could hear him recite his joke over and over again. Even though Julie liked Bryce and his laid-back attitude, she hoped with all of her heart that he would not be able to make the King laugh. She wanted to fulfill her quest, and if Bryce got in the way by making the King laugh first, then she would not know what to do.
Bryce stayed inside the King’s throne room for a while, and Julie started to get very nervous. She toyed with her necklace again and hoped for the second stone to fall off. She looked up again and daydreamed, wondering exactly what power the necklace held.
“I was not able to make him laugh.” Bryce’s words interrupted Julie from her daydream. “Its your turn now.”
“I’m sorry,” Julie said.
“Don’t worry about it,” said Bryce. “I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been to see King Skarl. It’s the most exciting thing to do around here in Meridell. He probably knows my face now.”
Impatient Pets grumbled about how slowly the line was moving. Julie stepped into the throne room to face King Skarl. She could hear Bryce call, “Tell me how it went afterwards!”
He was an ugly Skeith all right, showered in jewels and sitting on a golden throne. His face was twisted into a permanent frown.
“Tell me a joke,” he demanded.
Julie could not think of anything funny. She remembered that Bryce had said that the King liked sarcasm, so she tried to be sarcastic.
“Oh yeah, I’ll tell you the greatest joke on the planet,” Julie said. “And on Kreludor, too.” She wanted to slap her forehead; she was not sarcastic! She was not even funny! She looked over to examine the King’s face, and his twisted frown had not moved.
She decided to just wing it and tell the first joke that came to her mind. She knew that sarcasm was not working for her.
“Uh, what is a Techo’s favorite type of music?” she stammered. “Techno!”
The King did not laugh, he did not even chuckle. Julie did not expect him to, but it was still disappointing to see his reaction to her joke.
“That joke was not funny,” King Skarl said. “Send in the next Neopet!”
“No, wait!” Julie said quickly. “Give me one more chance!”
“No!” King Skarl’s voice thundered against the hollow walls of the throne room. The voice was so strong, the Julie was afraid its force would knock her down.
Reluctantly, Julie left.
Bryce was standing just outside the throne room. “Were you successful?” he asked as soon as he saw Julie exit.
Julie shook her head glumly. “I guess I knew that I wasn’t going to make him laugh,” she said. “My joke wasn’t funny at all.”
She expected Bryce to ask her what the joke was, but he never did. “How many times are you allowed to see King Skarl? Maybe you can come back tomorrow.”
“It’s no use,” said Julie. “I know I’m not funny.” She paused. “I wish I knew what other Pets said to make King Skarl laugh. Then I could just repeat the joke to him.”
“I don’t think that will work,” Bryce said. He changed the subject. “That’s a really pretty necklace you have there,” he said. “Where did you get it?”
By force of habit, Julie reached up to her collarbone and played with the blue stones. “I got it at the Tiki Tack shop,” she replied.
Bryce examined the necklace closer. “Why has one of the stones fallen off?”
Julie did not have an explanation. She suddenly found herself telling her entire story, a story she could not even tell to her family, to Bryce, a Pet she just met only a few minutes before. When her story was finished, she found Bryce wide-eyed with his mouth open slightly.
“So the only thing you have to guide you is this scroll that is a bit vague on instructions?” Bryce asked.
“And why exactly do you want the necklace taken off? It can give you absolute power!”
She could not meet Bryce’s eye. “I don’t know,” Julie said. There was another pause. “I guess I just got lost in the Tombola man’s eyes,” she said. “His beautiful eyes just begged me to wear the necklace, and I cannot deceive him now!”
Bryce laughed, and Julie joined him, immediately sorry about making fun of the Tombola man, but relieved that she could finally tell a joke.
The laughter stopped due to a flashing coming from Julie’s necklace. She looked down and saw one of the blue stones, the one to the left of the clasp, was gone.
To be continued...