First there was brave Garon the Lupe. Next there was Quaglor the Intrepid. Fyora had some fine heroes doing great deeds for her, but Valton was convinced that he was to be the best. The portraits hanging on the walls seemed to beam encouragingly at him as he climbed the long, winding stairs of the Hidden Tower. Garon's had been the first, while Quaglor had claimed a space somewhere toward the middle. All of Fyora's heroes looked brave and dashing, all qualities that Valton was sure he possessed. He was certain that his portrait would soon be decorating Fyora's tower.
When he had reached the summit, he saw the queen of faeries in all her glory. Standing by a window, running fingers distractedly through her pink hair and haloed by the sunlight, she was the very image of beauty. Valton couldn't bring himself to disturb her, so he waited by the door, kneeling in awe.
Time passed slowly as he knelt, watching the Faerie Queen's back. Time held no meaning to Valton, not when he was to be helping the Faerie queen, but his knees were telling him he had best get up before they would no longer do his bidding. As his lower half became numb, Valton began thinking perhaps it wouldn't be so terrible to attract her attention. After all, she wouldn't wish to see any of her subjects in pain. He cleared his throat, then said, quite diffidently, "My lady?"
"Oh, a customer!" Fyora whirled about. "I am sorry for not hearing you enter, young Kyrii. Have you been waiting long?"
"No," Valton lied, attempting to shift his weight. He could no longer feel the lower half of his body. That could prove worrisome.
"Please rise," Fyora said. "You needn't kneel. Not when you're the customer."
"On the contrary, my lady," Valton said. "You are the queen of all Neopia and must be given proper homage."
"It's nice you feel that way, but it truly isn't necessary. Please, rise."
Valton took a deep breath and pressed on his right thigh with his paws. After what seemed an agonizingly long time, his left knee began to lift off the floor. He was almost upright when a cramp besieged his legs and he stumbled forwards, crashing to the floor.
Fyora swooped over to him and gently helped him to his feet. "Are you hurt?" she asked, looking him over for any signs of scratches.
"No, no, my lady," Valton grimaced, trying to steady his wobbly legs. Usually his body obeyed him, but to fail him at this crucial moment, in front of the queen no less, well, it was humiliating. "I apologize for disturbing your reverie."
"Nonsense." Fyora shook her head and graced Valton with a smile that made her even more lovely. Valton swore he would brave the fearsome Snowager for another one of those smiles. "I am happy when my subjects come visiting. Now," she moved towards the items carefully displayed on the table in the middle of the room, "which item would you like?"
"On the contrary, my lady, I should be asking you!"
"I have come to serve you, my lady!" Valton sketched a sweeping bow, trying to make it as dignified as possible with his quaking legs. "I have come to fetch you anything you desire!"
"That is sweet of you, but I don't think I need anything."
"Nothing?" Valton's face fell. Surely his clumsiness hadn't lowered her esteem of him. "Nothing at all?"
"Well," Fyora said thoughtfully, "there is something."
Valton sighed dreamily as he remembered Fyora's radiant face as she gave him her request. It hadn't required as much travel as Garon or Quaglor had to go through, but in the end, was proving just as dangerous and as tiresome. He looked at his wristwatch. Only one more minute. He rose from his sitting place, stretched as best he could amongst the horde around him, and watched Hubert's Hot Dog counter closely. He had been sitting here for nearly a week and the Mynci still hadn't made what he had come for. But patience was the virtue of all heroes; he would wait until the end of time.
"Here ya go!" Hubert opened the curtains to his counter and the hundreds of Neopians waiting to restock their stores descended upon it with gusto. Valton expertly elbowed his way to the counter, peering at the merchandise. Jacket potatoes and hot dogs of all kinds lined the counter, but none of it was what he was looking for. Dodging grappling hands and wayward fists, Valton was about to depart when he saw it. There, at the end of the counter, basking in the light of a hot lamp, was what he had come for, the very thing that Fyora needed.
The glorious cheddar fries!
He scrambled over the customers in front of him, ignoring the glares and rude words shot his way. He was on a quest for Fyora! He would not be denied! He smacked away a few hands bent on depriving him of his quest, snatched up the last batch of cheddar fries, and held them up triumphantly. He had done it! He had gotten the cheddar fries for Fyora!
They were masterpieces of craftsmanship; each fry glistened as it nestled with its brothers in the gooey yellow cheddar embracing it. Rainbows reflected in small pools of oil, emphasizing that this, truly, was was a delicacy that required only a hero such as Valton to retrieve it.
"You gonna get that or what?"
Valton blinked out of his reverie and looked down at a petulant baby Bruce that glared at him. "Oh, yes. My pardon." He quickly headed over to the counter, where the worthy shopkeeper Hubert waited.
The Mynci smiled at him. "Finally got what you came for, eh?"
"Oh yes, Master Hubert!" Valton laid the glorious cheddar fries delicately down on the counter. "My queen shall be most pleased!"
"Well, at 845 neopoints, that's the best set o' fries one could ever hope for."
Valton blinked. "I'm sorry?"
"845 neopoints, son." The Mynci held out his paw.
Valton's jaw dropped with despair. He hadn't actually brought any neopoints with him. The line behind him started to grumble.
"I do not suppose you could put this on my tab, master Hubert?" Valton grinned his most ingratiating smile.
"I run a business, not a charity shop." Hubert took the cheddar fries from the counter in front of him. "Unless you've got 845 neopoints, I'm afraid you can't have them."
Valton watched in agony as the glorious cheddar fries were placed back upon the counter, only to be snatched up by the baby Bruce, who blew him a raspberry. All that waiting, all that fighting, had come to naught. He had failed Fyora. He was not fit to be a hero.
He headed dejectedly out the door to declare his failure to Fyora when he heard the shopkeeper call to him. "Yes, Master Hubert?" he turned around.
"Look, kid, I know how long you waited for those. I can't give 'em to you for free, but if you help me out, I'll make you an extra special batch, free of charge. What do you say?"
Light broke through the gray clouds that had descended upon Valton. He could complete his quest after all! "Yes, oh, yes, Master Hubert!" He pumped the Mynci's arm up and down until Hubert was actually shaking.
"Okay, kid, okay! Easy!" Hubert extracted his paw. "Stay here."
Valton waited excitedly for instructions. What would Master Hubert have him do? Help him fry the fries in the deep fryer to scintillating perfection? Load the jacket potatoes with exotic nourishing goodies? Place delectable hot dogs of all colors into buns? The possibilities were sending thrills of excitement down his spine.
After a few moments, Hubert reappeared, some clothing in hand. "Here ya go, kid." He handed Valton what appeared to be a hot dog suit. "Hand out some fliers in front of the store."
"Oh, you have them!" Fyora clapped her hands delightedly as Valton handed over the glorious cheddar fries. "But why are you dressed as a hot dog?"
"I wished to give them to you straight away!" Valton answered, surreptitiously reaching behind him to tug on the zipper once more. It did not budge. He was going to have to go to a professional. The stares that he had received from curious Neopians as he made his way back to Faerieland had all been worth it as he watched Fyora take a large gooey bite out of her cheddar fries and smile warmly.
"You've done well, young Kyrii," she declared. "These are still piping hot!"
Valton beamed. "Then, I have been your hero?"
"Yes. I've been craving these all month!"
Valton whooped and danced with joy. He had done it! His name would finally be placed among Garon and Quaglor's in the Hidden Tower.
"Now, we just need a picture."
Valton froze. "A picture, milady?"
"Oh yes. I have pictures of all my heroes. Didn't you see them as you climbed the stairs?"
Valton gulped. "Now?"
Fyora smiled. "Now."
There, on the walls of the stairs of the Hidden Tower, hang the portraits of Fyora's greatest heroes; brave Garon with the dark caves behind him, triumphant Quaglor with jewels in his hands, and many others, all pictured in their deeds of glory. The latest is a portrait of a young, blue Kyrii, blushing a deep red, dressed in a hot dog suit, holding greasy cheddar fries.