Stand behind yer sheriff Circulation: 197,091,448 Issue: 962 | 17th day of Relaxing, Y24
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An Hour With The Library Faerie


by tabascosoup

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She's always standing at the desk. Her hair's always in her face, but you can tell by her great big purple wings who she is. She's holding her pen up to her ear, the same way you'd hold a shell to hear the sea roaring. The wings of the pen brush her cheek so gently, like a feather grazing your skin.

     She's holding it as if she's hoping that maybe it'll give her the answers she's looking for. But the way the wings flutter aimlessly and the way she's holding the pen suggest she's not getting any sort of answer she's looking for.

     She looks up to see you standing in front of the desk. She smiles. The Library Faerie's smile is something that you can't quite forget, like the first time you see the looming spires of Faerie City for the first time and realize how tall everything can be in Neopia. After all, most of your time was spent aimlessly wandering around Neopia Central with a bag of Neopoints too small to even think about haggling, gazing at the Book Shop enviously as other Neopets flood in with their friends, getting the latest book that you knew you couldn't quite afford and with not even a soul you could call your friend.

     And then there was what you looked like when you darkened the windows of the store, close enough to see your reflection. Usually, it's gasps. Sometimes it was screams. One time, you saw a Grarrl faint when you were waiting in line for a new Usuki that you saved up for a month for.

     When you stop by Faerieland, you see some Faeries flinch at the sight of you or quickly hurry away. It's been about a month since you were zapped, a normal blue Kau becoming this bizarre mutant horror in mere seconds. Your horns shot up and out, extra eyes sprouted from your snout, and you had tentacles where your mouth was. And as scary as it sounds, there were benefits. Usually, others tend to clear out of shops once they get a look at you.

     But that was before. The Library Faerie is looking at you, waiting for you to speak. She's tapping her pen against the smooth surface of the desk, patiently waiting like she always does.

     "Can I help you?" she says, her voice soft and almost whisper-like. The shelves upon shelves of books seem to hush out the hustle and bustle of Faerieland, the music in the streets and the chatter of faeries waiting for questers to return seem almost like a memory in these towering stacks.

     You nod and gently put your books on the desk. She holds one up in the light, the one with the brick red cover and the image of Queen Fyora on the front. "Great choice, she's always been so inspirational even as a princess..." she murmurs, putting it down and grabbing another book from the pile. She goes through all the books, one by one and mumbles her thoughts as she tallies up how much you owe her.

     You hear a loud pop and your vision is clouded with green smoke. She sets down the books and gets up from her seat. "Please don't read the books in the store in the future, I'll need you to pay for that." The reader, a red Kougra with giant spectacles who must have come in sometime before you, covers their face with their paws. And then they started bawling.

     "I-I-I didn't know! I've never gotten a book before...." he splutters, falling to the floor in sorrow.

     The library faerie clicks her tongue and floats over to the Kougra. "Hey, it's okay! No need to worry, it happens all the time, it's a spell no faerie can counter but it's part of life here." She flicks her wrist in the air and the pen shoots towards her like a missile and lands in her hand. It's a wonderful trick. She produces a piece of paper from her pocket and quickly scribbles something you can't quite make out.

     "Tell you what, I'll cover the cost of this book. I've written down the info to the Library of Faerieland, there are hundreds of thousands of books for you to explore at no real cost. Learning new things takes courage, and even though it didn't quite go as you hoped you are now all the wiser." She pats the Kougra on the head gently, and the Kougra gives a tearful smile.

     The Kougra heads out, leaving you and her alone in the store.

     "Does this happen a lot?" you ask, as she floats gently back to her post at the counter. She stretches and yawns and settles back down at her seat.

     "Not very often, but the poor thing was scared out their wits. Knowledge isn't something to be feared, it's to be celebrated. Now, let me figure out what you owe me." She pulls out an abacus and glances at the relatively small stack of books, moving the little wooden beads side to side.

     "Your total is about... 2,555 Neopoints. Anything else you were looking for?" she smiles, settling down the abacus on the desk and folding her hands. "Would you want to haggle or would you prefer the base price." You check around the room, making sure you're not holding up the line. If you were not to count the winged books hovering through the air and bumping into each other lazily like clouds on a summer's day, you were alone with her.

     You put the bag of Neopoints onto the counter and she counts them quietly. "Ah, it's a bit over 2,555. It's 3,000. Are you sure? You can always go a bit lower if you want, I don't mind." She's genuine, her purple eyes magnifying deep confusion.

     You nod, and she quietly puts the coins in the till. You hear the clatter of gold into the rough wooden box, a sound like the roar of the healing springs on the outskirts of Faerie City.

     "I appreciate it, thank you." She's smiling a genuine smile.

     "No problem." And saying it aloud takes you aback. Her face stays the same, as you realized this was the first time you've spoken to anyone since the zap. All four of your eyes begin to water.

     "Are you alright?" she asks, coming out from behind the counter and kneeling down to your level. She's holding a box of tissues... or at least trying to. Like everything here in Faerieland, it has bright pink wings that refuse to stay still.

     "Yes, I'm fine. You're the first person I've ever talked to since I transformed. And I am thankful it was you." You pull out a tissue and dab your eyes gently.

     "That's a long time to be quiet, my friend. You're always welcome to stop by and talk with me, I'm always here to listen." And you smile. It's kind of hard to nowadays, but here you are.

     "Would you want to help me finish this crossword? I've been racking my brain for the answer but sometimes it's a bit hard. Even a library faerie can get stumped by something like this."

     "Yes please!" She pulls up a chair next to hers on the counter and you clamber up. It's an old wooden one, more meant for helping one get up to those hard-to-reach shelves based on the groove.

     The plain piece of paper is the only thing that you can discern on the counter beside the stacks of receipts, book orders, and flyers for quests. "Don't mind the mess," she says, and the papers float up into the air. The flyers dance their way to a bulletin board by the front door, tacking themselves up to the wall. The receipts zip into a little shoebox by the till, and the book orders disappear into the deep dark space of the backroom.

     "Much better. Let me set a timer... and here we go!" The minutes whiz by as she reads out clue after clue, turning to look at you for the answer. You ponder it, tapping your hoof on the table. And then it comes to you, and she vigorously scribbles it down on the paper. And just like that, each and every bubble and line was filled with answers.

     "Let me check...It's perfect! And under 5 minutes too! You have a real knack for these!" She hands a small bag of Neopoints.

     "What's this?" you ask, holding it gently.

     "A prize. And a thank you for solving this puzzle. It really means a lot, you've done an amazing job."

     And for once, you smile too. You become a regular at the store, solving the puzzles, offering book recommendations. It was the hour that made you feel something you hadn't felt in a while. Joy.

 
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