A Tale of Two Acaras: Part One
Deep in Faerieland, in the glittering streets of Faerie City, on a day in the Month of Swimming, a privileged Acara was born into a rich, old, powerful family. The handsome baby gripped an emerald four leaf clover that had been bestowed upon him by the neighboring light faeries. He grew up beside the Rainbow Fountain, where he was allowed to change his color as frequently as he pleased thanks to his royal connections. One day, he was a Faerie Acara with violet wings. The next day, he was as blue as the skies above. Five days ago, he was a Darigan Acara with menacing claws.
Passersby bid the lucky Acara good fortune—not that he needed it—and occasional gifts. Faerie bubbles were the commonest gifts, but the Acara didn’t mind. He had everything he could ever need in all of Faerieland, from the gourmet foods set upon his silverware to the endless toys in his gigantic bedroom. Everyone agreed he was indeed blessed by the faeries and royal line.
And thus, his name was Lucky.
- - -
On the outskirts of Faerieland lay Jhudora’s Bluff. The Dark Faerie was pondering to herself, peering into her magical crystal ball. As predicted, she was one of the few inhabitants who had not yet wished the lucky Acara a good tiding, but she did like to spy on him—as she spied on all creatures she despised. In the crystal glass, she saw Lucky beside the spot where the Hidden Tower was, chatting and laughing with Queen Fyora herself.
“I am sick of hearing about this Lucky all the time,” growled Jhudora jealously. “Lucky this, Lucky that. Good luck has never aided me! Besides, what is so great about a spoiled, privileged Acara?”
She watched the Acara and Fyora exchange a few more words. To her shock, Fyora extracted a Ghostkershield and handed it to the Acara. Dazed, Jhudora muttered a few special words over the crystal ball, and the volume increased so she could hear what was being said between the two.
“Thanks for the gift, but I have several at home already,” said Lucky politely.
“Would you like to pick out another item from my treasures in the Hidden Tower, then?” asked Queen Fyora with a kind smile.
“Oh boy! Would I! Do you have a Portable Kiln?”
“See for yourself, my dear Lucky!”
Then Fyora and the Acara disappeared from view as they vanished inside the Hidden Tower. Angrily, Jhudora threw her crystal ball across the bluff, where it shattered into a mess of purple and green glass. No matter; she could always replace it, as she replaced ten crystal balls per day on average.
“I can’t stand this!” the Dark Faerie roared to herself. “Think of the unfairness! No, think of the capabilities if I had that kind of luck! Access to the Hidden Tower! I could finally get myself a Kelpbeards Trident –and for free.” The Dark Faerie paced across the ground. She had to get that privileged Acara on her side. But how? Lucky would never side with a Dark Faerie, for no doubt he had been warned against them. After debating for a couple hours, Jhudora finally settled upon a plan. Cackling to herself, she flew off for Meridell, trailing a cloud of evil behind her.
- - -
Illusen the Earth Faerie had many friends, for she was a benevolent faerie. She rewarded Neopets for her quests generously, she left parcels on the doorsteps of farmers, and she cleaned up piles of dung during the night.
One particular Neopet was Illusen’s favorite friend. It was a poor Acara living in the distant Meridell Acres. He worked laboriously for a few measly neopoints every day, ate stale potatoes, and had very little luck. Indeed, his name was plain old Jo, a noun that lacked luster and brilliance. Still, Jo was an honorable Acara; Illusen kept him company on lonely days, telling him stories of faraway lands with happy endings. Jo loved the stories more than anything and always confided his secret wish: to see the glittering riches.
One night, the same night Jhudora left her bluff for this very spot, Illusen stay awoke in deep thought. She needed a way to reward the hardworking Jo for his diligence and misfortune. He deserved to see the beautiful riches of Brightvale, the glitters of Faerieland, the exotic spices of Shenkuu, and the lost treasures of Lost Desert as much as the next privileged Neopet!
“Illusen, we need to talk.”
The voice startled the Earth Faerie. She whirled around and found Jhudora standing beside the tree with her arms folded. Sighing, Illusen said, “Look, I only allow Questers to complete two quests per day just like you, so if this is about that...”
“No it isn’t,” cackled Jhudora. “I’m here to negotiate a deal. A very, very dark deal.”
“I won’t have anything to do with Darkness,” Illusen replied flatly.
“Listen first, my Earth Faerie! Surely in poor old Meridell there is a misfortunate Neopet you care for?” said Jhudora. She was in fact completely guessing on the spot, but it seemed to hit the target, for Illusen’s eyes grew wide.
“How did you know about—about Jo?” Illusen stammered in astonishment.
Jo, is it? Jhudora thought to herself. “Well, I want to treat Jo to a day in Faerieland,” she told Illusen. “Just for one day and night. I want to give this Jo the royal treatment, faerie dust and all, with my magic abilities. Think about it. This Jo will get everything she—”
“—he,” corrected Illusen.
“—he’s ever wanted,” finished Jhudora. “Come on, just say yes! Twenty-four hours. No more. I give him a royal feast, take him to see life beyond the peasant farm he no doubt works at, he becomes happy, he returns a happier little boy.”
Illusen was suspicious, as she should be. “Why are you offering this?” she asked. “What’s in it for you?”
Jhudora cackled. “Why, Illusen, I have changed. I no longer demand things in return. I want to give kindness like the weaklings—I mean, I want to give kindness like the good faeries do.”
Illusen did not buy this for one second. However, the prospect of finally having her friend Jo the poor Acara live the rich life—if only for one day—was too good an offer to refuse. She decided Jhudora probably wanted to do this only in order to impress Queen Fyora or someone affluent. Deciding it possibly could not hurt, Illusen reluctantly agreed.
“Okay, and you promise you will take good care of Jo?” asked Illusen warily. “He won’t return a mutant Kau or anything?”
“No, no,” said Jhudora breezily. “I shall treat Jo like a loving plushie.”
“You treat your plushies badly, but I shall ignore that last statement. I suppose I ought to get Jo right now.”
A few minutes later, Illusen reappeared with a plain yellow Acara in ragged, tattered clothes. He sleepily mumbled hi to Jhudora and fell asleep on the grass.
“An Acara—perfect!” cackled Jhudora to herself.
Illusen nudged Jo awake. Jhudora glimpsed at his frail body—he could definitely use some nourishment and good clothes.
“Jo, you are going on a journey, okay?” whispered Illusen. “Remember those stories I told you about a land with glittering riches? Well, this Dark Faerie is going to take you there. Be good.”
“Okay,” mumbled the half-asleep Acara.
“Twenty-four hours and counting, Jhudora!” warned Illusen.
“Let’s go already!” cackled Jhudora. This is going easier than planned, she thought. With a flourish, she and Jo flew off into the dark night.
- - -
Back at Faerieland, the entire place was deep in peaceful slumber. Not Jhudora. She snuck Jo the Acara into her bluff and hurried to set her plan in action.
“Wand of Jhudora, heed me loyal! Turn this Acara into Royal!” she recited. The wand glowed an eerie green, and a brilliant flash lit up the bluff.
The Acara’s tattered clothes were gone. In its place were shiny silk and fur that befitted the kind Royal Neopets wore. His fur was a peaceful hue of blue. On glance, nobody could tell the Acara had been a peasant Meridell dweller a mere few moments ago.
“Perfectly done,” muttered Jhudora. “You shall be Lucky’s clone from now on. To think I didn’t even waste an Acara morphing potion on you! You are indeed lucky, my peasant! Now, all I need is the real Lucky out of the way. Then I shall gain unlimited privileges in Faerie City! And all of Faerieland!”
One may ask why Jhudora did not simply just morph a random passerby into the Lucky clone. Why go through the hassle with Illusen, her known sworn enemy? Perhaps it was the fulfillment that she would use one of Illusen’s Neopet friends for evil intentions. Perhaps a missing Neopet in Faerieland was too dangerous a risk, what with all the magic enchantments in place. Perhaps Jhudora needed a false witness or voucher. Whatever the reason, Jhudora was one step closer to carrying out her master plan.
To be continued...