Leaves of Wisdom
Kacy trudged glumly out of Brightvale Castle. The brown Zafara thrust her hands deep into her pockets, idly fingering the random knickknacks she kept stored there, as she came to a conclusion. Brightvale Castle’s monarch was a stupid know-it-all.
“Bighead,” she muttered angrily. Whatever she said, whether it was complete nonsense or something of deep wisdom, Hagan would still claim that he already knew it all.
“I’m not dense, youngin’! I already knew that.” His uneducated sounding words echoed harshly in her ears, and they stung. Badly.
Kacy prided herself on her intelligence. She had read just about every text and scroll in all of Neopia, had been a straight A+ student in Neoschool, and fancied herself among the smartest neopians in either Meridell or Brightvale. She was head of a book guild, for crying out loud! Who was King Hagan to tell her that he already knew every scrap of information she spewed out? The very nerve of it all!
A sudden blazing anger flickered behind her eyes. He had no right to play the impostor. He did not... no, he could not know everything! Why, during his study hours he only read books about his kingdom. Over, and over, and over again. How dull was that? What new things could he learn from it? Yet he claimed that he knew it all. And that, Kacy thought, trembling with fury, is a lie.
She stomped down the lane, ignoring everyone in her path. She could only hear Hagan’s words echoing over and over again in her mind, as she imagined angry comebacks. She paid absolutely no attention to the crowds of late afternoon shoppers around her, very nearly trampling a young Lupe, and colliding with the Brightvale Armourer.
The Draik stumbled, spilling his priceless wares onto the streets. He jumped up from the ground, and snatched up an elegant jewelled robe, brushing off the dust and dirt. It didn’t come off, and so, eyes blazing, he rounded on Kacy. She had stopped momentarily, staring glassy eyed at the mess she had created, completely oblivious of everything.
“You bumbling Zafara! Look what you’ve done!” he screamed at her, small jets of flame escaping his nostrils. “Stupid, stupid, stupid creature! Just like the rest of your species. Downright careless and dim-witted!”
The insults knocked her out of her unconscious state. The Draik continued slighting her species, and something in Kacy stretched to the breaking point. She gave a terrible, shrill screech.
“Why, I oughta- ” There was a great swoosh noise, like wings flapping in the air, and a blur of glowing green and brown swooped in between them. A great calm enveloped the area, and there were several gasps and sighs. Kacy felt her anger dripping away like a faucet that drips water, and she shut her eyes tightly. A cool, soft hand pressed down lightly on her shoulder. It smelt of earth after a rain shower; refreshing and distinct.
“That will be enough, from both of you,” said a pleasant, serene voice. “Everyone may go on with their business. I will speak to the Zafara alone,” the voice paused, and Kacy felt a rush of magic pass by her. “There you are, armourer. Your wares are as right as rain. Kacy is very sorry, I’m sure. Have a pleasant afternoon.”
The young Zafara felt herself being guided away, down the streets of Brightvale. “It’s alright, Kacy. You can open your eyes.” There was a merry little laugh, as Kacy opened her eyes tentatively. As soon as she opened them she met a bright, mischievous green gaze that was both intense and mild. Long, auburn hair framed a sun kissed face, and a light sprinkle of freckles dotted her face. Kacy felt herself gasp.
“Il-Illusen?” she stuttered, not believing it. The faerie laughed another tinkling laugh, and smiled kindly.
“The one and only!” Kacy could only gape. She couldn’t believe it. She was speaking with Illusen. The very Illusen who fought against Darigan and gave quests to Neopians! Suddenly she was filled with a sudden fear and anxiety.
The faerie smiled understandingly, as though reading the young Zafara’s thoughts. “It’s okay, Kacy. I’m not going to berate you for an accident. Though,” she smiled that mischievous smile, “you could learn to pay attention to where you are going. That would be most wise.”
Kacy flushed, and looked down at her feet. Long grasses and wildflowers were everywhere, as though the earth had created its own garden. She hadn’t even realized that they had entered Illusen’s Glade! Illusen ushered her into her house, where she sat them down at a low table and poured some Skeem tea.
The house was simply, yet elegantly furnished. A single triangular stained glass window (from Brightvale, by the look of the craftsmanship) depicting acorns was the sole source of light. The table and chairs were made of willow wood, and paintings covered the walls. Kacy’s eyes lit up for a moment as she noticed a pile of unfamiliar books sitting in a corner. She accepted an ornate teacup from the faerie, and cleared her throat, ready to explain.
“Umm... well, you see, Illus- I mean, Lady Illusen,” said Kacy, taking a sip of her drink, “I was angry. And... and I...” Kacy bit her lip. How could she explain how she had felt?
Illusen knelt down to be on eye level with Kacy. She gazed at Kacy with that intense gaze, as though she could read the very emotions of her soul.
“You were caught up in your anger and was focusing on it so much that you weren’t paying attention. I understand perfectly,” Illusen filled in. “Just, why were you so upset?”
She’s amazing! thought Kacy. And this is good tea! I never knew that Skeem Tea was so yummy. A ghost of a smile lit her lips, as she met Illusen’s gaze steadily, and explained her feelings of frustration with King Hagan’s “wisdom”.
“So, you see,” Kacy finished, “I was just so wound up with the injustice of it that I got really caught up in it all.”
Illusen smiled sympathetically. “Well, I think I see where you’re coming from,” she said slowly. “Your pride was so built up that, and I mean no offence by this, but, your opinion of your intelligence was perhaps a little skewed.” Kacy opened her mouth to argue, but Illusen held up a gloved hand. “Let me explain,” she said. “You are a very intelligent Zafara, I’m sure. And so you assumed that that meant that you were very wise, as well.”
“Well, don’t wisdom and intelligence always go hand in hand?” Kacy interrupted.
Illusen shrugged. “Sometimes, but not as often as you would think.” She took a sip of tea, and sat back. She had a thoughtful look on her face for a moment. “You see,” she continued, “People generally affiliate wisdom with intelligence. But, usually wisdom comes with age.” Kacy gave a soft Oh, before Illusen continued. “In your case, you thought of it stereotypically. You thought that you were so wise, when you were simply very bright. And so, when you got to the castle and Hagan told you that he already knew what you said, your ego was injured. Then, when you left, you were livid. A green snake of jealousy wrapped itself around you, and you began to criticize and question Hagan’s knowledge.” Illusen paused. “Are you getting this so far?”
Kacy nodded. “I think so. You’re saying that I thought I was wise when I was only smart, and I was egotistic, and so when Hagan told me that he already knew what I was saying, I got angry. And then I began questioning his knowledge and calling him stupid and an impostor.”
Illusen smiled, looking impressed. “You are a very smart Zafara, though,” she commented.
Illusen thought she was smart! Her compliment made Kacy glow with pride. But, it was a different kind of pride. It just made her feel happy, rather than big and important.
“So, as I was saying, your emotions got the better of you. You went down the streets, apathetic to everything. And then you very nearly got into a fight with my dear friend the armourer.” A small smile lit up her features.
“So, umm... what now?” Kacy fidgeted. Illusen reached across the table and grasped her paw.
“Now, Kacy, you enjoy your tea. Skeem tea really is a delicacy. And, I’m just going to run upstairs and grab something. Just a little parting gift for our lovely afternoon.” She rose gracefully, and flew silently to the upper floor of her home. Kacy finished her tea as quickly as she could.
Illusen returned soon, bearing a sheaf of what appeared to be leaves. She passed them to Kacy.
“I know how much you love reading and knowledge,” she said. The sparkle in her eye was ever more pronounced than usual. “And because of our little chat, I decided that ‘why shouldn’t a bit of knowledge and wisdom be passed on?’ So, Kacy, I’m giving you my latest book!” Kacy held the sheaf of leaves, which was sown together by a length of hemp. Gold ink decorated the cover, spelling out the words Leaves of Wisdom in spindly calligraphy.
“It’s beautiful,” whispered Kacy. Illusen opened her mouth to reply, when there was a sharp knock at the door.
“That’ll be a quester,” she said. Kacy, taking this as her cue to leave, nodded silently.
“Thank you, Illusen,” she said softly. Illusen nodded as she answered the door.
Three Weeks Later
Kacy walked up the steps to Brightvale. She had not visited the castle to test her wits in a while. Trembling, she entered the great hall, and went on to the throne room.
The walls were decorated with an ornate green and gold pattern. A long violet and gold-trim carpet led up to a dais, which was where the Throne was. King Hagan, looking illustrious and kingly, sat majestically in all his kingly splendour.
“Your name?” he asked. A note of boredom entered his voice.
Kacy curtsied. “Scholar Kacy Quicklight, milord.”
He stirred. The name was no doubt familiar. Sure enough he responded. “Ah, yes. Scholar Kacy. I see you have returned. You are persistent.” Kacy bowed her head. “Well, please share with me your wisdom.”
“Milord, let me tell you that it is no wisdom of my own. But, rather, a wise friend once told me that jealousy is equivalent to the intelligence of a brown Zafara.” Hagan chuckled, believing her to be done, but Kacy continued, “But, wisdom is that which comes to those who have lived out their lives fully.”
Hagan froze. And, then a grin broke out on his face.
“Very well said, Scholar Kacy! Very well said!”