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Illusen's Quest


by rurirawr

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Illusen stared at the Dark Faerie's outstretched hand. Her mind was no longer thinking straight; she knew it was corrupted by evil thoughts, but still, she was very tempted by their proposition because it made sense. She’d known that there were many Neopians who talked behind her back, but she’d always try to ignore or forget any comments that had negative connotations… Or that was what she thought she’d been doing all along, but it didn’t seem to be the case if she could still remember so many of these incidents at this moment.

     Both the Gelert and Skeith offered their paws as well. “We’re here to help...” they chimed in unison. “This is the right thing to do... Redeem everything that’s rightfully yours...”

     The Earth Faerie nodded her head and inched slowly towards them. Their advice seemed to be what she needed. It couldn’t hurt to seek help from someone who knew so much about her struggles. However, just as she was about to stretch her arm out to accept their offer, the sound of a strangled scream broke her concentration. She looked down to see Timaris putting up a fight against the vines wrapped firmly around her, writhing this way and that.

     “You— can’t— do it!” The Moehog choked out with difficulty as she tried to loosen the hold the mutated plants had on her. “It’s not— who— you are!”

     Timaris’s words woke Illusen out of her reverie. The Moehog was right—it wasn’t who she was. How could she have allowed such cynical ideas to manifest and run rampant in her head? She’d be letting down so many other Neopians who had faith in her if she were to even remotely contemplate the notion of revenge and self-serving goals. Timaris, the Bori, Psellia and the other Faeries, the citizens of Meridell who welcomed her to their land with open arms, and all the other Neopians who hailed from all over the world who appreciated her. There was absolutely no way she could fail them.

     “Sorry. I’ll have to decline your offer,” Illusen said, firm on her decision. “There may be Neopians who don’t take a liking to what I choose to do, but there are even more out there who still believe in me. If I’m more capable of doing it than them, then I’ll have to shoulder all these responsibilities for their sake.” She paused and sighed. “I did prefer to live a life of solitude and peace at first, but I know I can’t just forgo the lives of those in need. That’s just not how I work. I’ll continue to do what I love to do and what I think will benefit society, regardless of what others will think of me. I’ll keep striving to be the best version of myself.” She finally lowered her arm, the necklace still in her grasp.

     "But is this your best self?" the Skeith enquired. "You are destined to be much greater!"

     "It's written in the stars!" the Dark Faerie added. "There's a reason it was you who found the necklace."

     And then it hit her.

     The necklace was no ordinary piece of jewellery. It was an amulet. A cursed one.

     "I see you're right," Illusen said. "There is a reason indeed, which is to make sure nobody ever falls for your brainwashing ever again!" She immediately hurled it onto the forest floor, sending the broken shards of amethyst flying everywhere when the pendant shattered upon impact. In that exact same moment, the stone statue crumbled into dust and the apparitions of the Three dissipated, their annoyed, furious and disappointed expressions the last thing she saw before the final wisps of their non-corporeal forms indicating that they ever existed faded into nothing. As she lowered herself to where Timaris was, she watched the vines around Timaris and the Bartamus snake back into the ground. The both of them had sustained many cuts and scrapes.

     The Moehog took out the first-aid kit and set to work on bandaging the Bartamus before attending to herself. She worked with deft hooves; it was evident from the way she cleaned and wrapped the wounds that she had a lot of experience with tending to the injured.

     “What happened to you?” Timaris asked once she was done with the dressing of her wounds. “You were talking to yourself a lot and seemed really disturbed.”

     “The amulet on that statue was cursed. It makes the possessor succumb to their deepest, darkest desires,” Illusen explained. Timaris waited for a longer story but Illusen just took the bunch of bananas out from her backpack, split one from its crown and fed it to the Petpet, who was thrilled to devour it and forgot about its hatred towards the Earth Faerie for a while.

     "And?” Timaris tried to press Illusen for more information as she tidied up, but the Earth Faerie remained silent. She sighed, then stuffed the kit back into her bag before fumbling for the magical mirror and pulling it out. “Let’s head back,” she said, handing the mirror over to Illusen and picking the Bartamus up into her arms.

     Illusen took the mirror from the Moehog, placed a hand on her shoulder and muttered “Jhudora’s Bluff”. Their world turned black for a second and before they knew it, they were standing in front of Jhudora’s residence.

      As the both of them stepped foot into the castle, the Earth Faerie couldn't help but wonder if Jhudora knew what was waiting for them in the woods. Obviously, she couldn't have, but then why would she go out of her way to get her involved? She could've easily sent some of her questers instead.

      They found Jhudora sitting in the same spot as she was last seen, smiling menacingly as she watched the duo approach her with the Bartamus. The Bori was still in the cage, albeit in the main hall now and guarded by Psellia instead.

      Upon seeing its owner, the Bartamus hopped out of Timaris's arms and happily floated towards Jhudora. The Dark Faerie's expressions, however, turned cruel.

      "What, you expect me to pet you? Not only did you fail your task, you managed to get captured by those pathetic villains and made me ask for her help! Now get out of my sight before I decide on what punishment to give you!"

      Illusen watched the Bartamus hurry away without a sound, not wanting to make its master angrier than she already was. "You know it wasn't his fault he got captured!" she exclaimed.

      "It's a he?" Jhudora raised a brow, then shrugged. "Doesn't matter, it's back and now I don't have to waste my time any more with your little puppet here." She snapped her fingers and the cage around the Bori disappeared.

      The little girl scurried over to Illusen and gleefully hugged her legs. "Thanks a lot, Ms Illusen! I– I—"

      "It's okay, you're safe now." Illusen said soothingly, gently brushing the Bori's hair.

      "If you don't mind," Jhudora interrupted, "can you please take your family reunion out of my place? It's ruining my mood."

      Timaris placed a hoof on Illusen's shoulder. "Let's go," she said, indicating the exit with a tilt of her head. "Our work's done here."

     “You go and take her with you,” Illusen answered, passing the Bori’s hand to Timaris. “I’ll join you in a minute. I need to clear something up with her.”

     "What, you expect me to give you a lollipop too?" the Dark Faerie asked in a bored tone as Timaris took the Bori with her. Psellia followed suit.

      "I expect an explanation!" Illusen said once it was just her and Jhudora alone. "Why did you send the Bartamus to Shadowglen Woods?"

     "I—" Jhudora hesitated for a moment, clearly not expecting the question. "I don't owe you anything! What I do is none of your concern."

     "You made it my concern when you asked for my help!" Illusen answered angrily. "What did you want with that amulet? You sure weren't going to join hands with the Three, were you?"

     "Oh please!" Jhudora whistled. "As if I'd allow someone to be above me. No, I wanted to destroy the amulet!"

      "So that's why you sent me and not anyone else!" Illusen gasped. "You knew what was there in Shadowglen Woods, didn't you? You sent me because you knew anyone else would've failed in that quest, fallen victim to their own temptations and as a consequence, would've ended up making them stronger. You sent me to prevent another General Kass incident from happening, didn't you?"

      To her surprise though, Jhudora just laughed. "You think I care about your pathetic issues? That's so naive, or should I say, entitled of you to think anything involving you or your worthless home is important to me." When she finally stopped laughing, she gave Illusen her best, meanest smirk. "You want the truth? I sent the Bartamus to destroy the statue because I don't like competition! But of course, the Petpet failed, so I sent you because it was the best outcome for me. You succeeded, I got what I initially wanted. Had you failed, I'd no longer have to see your useless face again. Win-win! Now, get lost!"

     "Yeah, right!" Illusen said in a mocking tone as she turned back and started to walk out. "Next time you have to do something, please get up from your chair and do it on your own."

      Jhudora probably shot some curses her way, but Illusen didn't wait to listen to what the Dark Faerie had to say. As the group took to the air with the sunrise behind them, Illusen carrying Timaris and Psellia with the Bori, all the Earth Faerie could think was that she'd finally be able to rest peacefully. It had been a really long night.

      After thanking her allies and reuniting the Bori with her friends, making sure to reward her quester with the staff as was promised, she finally turned to go to bed. However, soon as she lied down and closed her eyes, she heard a voice calling her name from outside: a young Mynci in Brightvalean clothes.

      "Um, Ms Illusen... Can I have a quest?"

     The End.

 
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