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Managing a Move to Meridell


by dennykins

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The cool breeze stirred Illusen’s auburn hair, as she gazed out across the expanse of fields and forest before her. Illusen was waiting.

     The last few days had been a whirlwind of activity. Ever since Fyora, Queen of all faeries, had decreed this year’s annual Faerie Festival would be held in Meridell instead of the usual Faerieland, Illusen had been busily getting the kingdom ready for the big event. While nobody had ever explicitly allocated this task to her, all the other faeries knew she lived in Meridell, and failure to prepare adequately would reflect poorly on her.

     This struck her as particularly unfair. While she would never utter a bad word about Fyora aloud, Illusen might have liked a little more forewarning before this last-minute change of venue was announced. If the festival failed due to a decision of Fyora’s making, surely it was she who should bear the blame?

     In any case, Illusen was pleased with what she’d been able to achieve in the few days since she had known about the change. Meridell was certainly not a kingdom famed for its tidiness and cleaning it up had been no easy feat. She had started with the castle, dusting up cobwebs and scaring away Spyders. She then visited the team at Cheeseroller Hill, and ensured they were well-stocked with only the finest cheeses (there would be no Mutated or Brain Cheese used during the week of the festival, thank you very much). Lastly, she cleared away any leaves from the ground in her glade, though this location was already quite tidy, as it was her home after all.

     Managing the giant, frequently sleeping Turmaculus remained an unhappy footnote on her to-do list. This slumberous beast had an unwelcome habit of choosing particularly inconvenient times to awaken, wander aimlessly, and feast on whatever happened to be nearest to him at the time. His favourite food was petpets, but he wasn’t fussy. Over the past few nights, Illusen had recurring nightmares of the great Turmaculus clomping through the Faerie Festival Hub, letting out his signature low roar and munching on everything as he went. Yesterday, she had visited the oversized Turmac with the intention of giving him a stern talking to about being on his best behaviour during the festival. Rather annoyingly, Turmy had refused to wake, so she couldn’t be sure that her warnings had registered.

     “Please,” she whispered to herself, “Please stay sleeping over this next week, that’s all I ask.”

     She was stirred from her thoughts by the sound of wings on the air. The Faeries had arrived.

     --------------

     “Excellent, excellent, thank you, Illusen, everything seems to be in order,” Fyora said, as she and the other faeries inspected the proposed site of the Faerie Festival Hub.

     “Thank you, Queen Fyora, it was nothing. Well, actually, in future I would really appreciate it if you could give me a little mor-”

     “Wow, I love how tidy the ground is, no leaves at all!” Fyora interrupted, seemingly oblivious that Illusen had spoken at all. “Well, everyone, gather around!” she called out to all the various faeries milling about. They began to form a tight circle around Fyora and Illusen.

     “Welcome to the site of this year’s Faerie Festival, in Meridell of all places! I know it might seem like a boring patch of dirt and grass right now, but I believe that if we all pitch in, we can get this site ready in no time! Thanks go to Illu-” she stopped mid-sentence and started sniffing the air, an expression of disgust crossing her face.

     At first, Illusen was too busy processing the fact that Fyora had just brazenly insulted her home to notice this change. However, after all the other faeries started sniffing the air too, it became impossible to miss. When she smelled it herself, her stomach instantly dropped with a realisation.

     The Rubbish Dump at Meri Acres Farm. In all her cleaning of Meridell, she had totally forgotten about the farm. How could she have been so daft?

     --------------

     Illusen flew as fast as her wings could carry her, directly to Meri Acres Farm. Positioned on the far outskirts of the kingdom, most people forgot the farm existed. Or at least they did until the wind changed, bringing with it the pong of the largest Rubbish Dump in Neopia.

     When Illusen arrived at the dump, she quickly located Charlie, the blue Kacheek who managed the site.

     “Hello, yes, excuse me,” she began, while holding her nose. “We have a problem. I need the smell to stop, at least for the coming week. I can’t have it interrupting the festival.”

     “Alright,” Charlie said, while throwing another bucket of slops onto the pile of rubbish, “Fair enough. I’ll just wave my magic wand and make the stench go away.”

     “Oh, sarcasm, I see, thanks for nothing,” Illusen responded.

     “Listen, Illusen, I don’t mean to be rude, but if I had a way of stopping the smell do you think that I would just willingly continue to work surrounded by this awful odour? Of course I wouldn’t. What good did you think coming down here would do? I can’t relocate the rubbish, I can’t stop the dump from smelling, and I can’t stop the wind from blowing in your direction, so unless you know anyone who can…”

     But Illusen had already turned and flown away, because she did know someone.

     --------------

     When Illusen arrived back at the festival site, she was immediately cornered by Fyora.

     “Illusen, I appreciate that for you this kind of smell might be normal, but for the rest of us faeries, we really cannot abide by it. I’m sorry to say it, but you simply must get this under control, otherwise we will have to have the festival elsewhere,” she said.

     “Of course, Fyora, I am trying to fix it, so if you would please just let me through,” Illusen responded, biting her tongue as she quickly lost patience with her queen.

     Illusen moved rapidly through the crowd of faeries, who, to their credit, had made excellent progress setting up little stalls and hanging bunting for the festival. Despite each faerie only having one arm to work with (as the other was busy blocking their nose), the festival looked almost ready to open. She spotted who she was seeking.

     “Casandia!” she called out, as she beckoned the Air Faerie over to her.

     Casandia moved smoothly towards her.

     “Darling!” she said, her teeth gleaming so brightly they almost blinded Illusen, her hair as smooth and shiny as silk.

     Illusen now understood what she had been doing with all those grooming items she kept requesting from Neopians.

     “I need your help, and the help of the other Air Faeries. You can control the wind, right? We need the wind to blow in the other direction, towards Meri Acres Farm, for the week of the festival. Can you do it?” Illusen pleaded desperately.

     “Hmmm… we can do it, but we won’t do it, my dear. I’m so sorry, but the Faerie Festival is our time to relax and enjoy ourselves. We might be able to help today, but we certainly aren’t going to be stressing ourselves over the course of the entire week! One thousand apologies!” Casandia replied, in a tone of voice that, it must be noted, didn’t sound like it contained even one apology, let alone a thousand.

     Illusen’s frustration was palpable as she turned away from Casandia. It was hopeless. She didn’t care if the festival was held elsewhere, but she couldn’t stand the idea of having failed.

     Just then, from not far beyond the canopy of her glade, a low roar sounded out across the kingdom. The great Turmaculus was awake.

     This sound would normally have filled Illusen with dread, but not today, and not just because she was already at her maximum dread level. Illusen had an idea. Why hadn’t she thought of it sooner?

     --------------

     Turmaculus lumbered along, eating marrow after marrow, following the trail set out for him by Illusen moments earlier.

     “A little further, just a bit further,” Illusen quietly willed, as Turmy drew closer and closer to the target.

     Illusen held her breath, partly from suspense, partly from the smell, as the great Turmaculus spotted what lay ahead. He couldn’t believe his eyes. With a snort of delight, the beast began to run at a steady pace towards the giant Mortog in front of him, oblivious that it was, in fact, a sculpture of a Mortog, which had been constructed over the last few minutes from the contents of the Rubbish Dump.

     Illusen, together with Charlie (who was never one to pass up an opportunity to reduce his workload), had used soggy old boxes, Zeenana peels, and lots of piles of dung to create the surprisingly realistic representation of one of Turmy’s favourite snacks. Nearly all the dump’s materials had gone into making the sculpture, and Illusen had just enough time after finishing it to quickly lay out a trail of delicious vegetables to lead Turmaculus right to it.

     When the excited Turmy reached the faux Mortog, he devoured it whole. He didn’t even seem to notice that it wasn’t an actual Mortog. He gobbled it up happily before slowly leaving in the direction from which he had arrived.

     --------------

     Elated, Illusen returned to the festival. The smell had already departed, blown away by the breeze following the devouring of its source.

     “I always knew you could do it, Illusen! You just needed the proper motivation. I like to think the pep talk I gave you really helped,” Fyora said, when she saw her.

     Not even Fyora taking credit for everything (as usual) could dampen Illusen’s mood, so she just smiled and flew about, looking at the festival, which was now completely ready to go. She sat back, relaxed, and began to doze off after a hard day’s work. Nothing could spoil this day now.

     Just as her eyes closed, a sudden thought roused her again: “Hold on a minute. Which way did Turmy go after he finished at the rubbish dump?”

     A low roar erupted from the other side of the trees.

     “Illusen!” cried Fyora.

     She sighed.

     The End.

 
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