From "Cloud" to "Bluff": A Year and a Half Later
As we all know, it's been a year and a half since the shocking and Neopia-shattering events of what we have all come to know as the "Faeries' Ruin". Though the tragedy seemed to really disrupt the functions that the faeries performed in Neopia (being turned to stone, then having your home dropped 10,000 feet down next to Haunted Woods will do that to you...), but they managed to band together and rebuild their home! Now, more than a year later, many of us are wondering how are winged friends are doing. This is where I come in! I, your audacious and ever-dapper reporter, will go out into the field to track down those magical (and sometimes mysterious) faeries and ask the hard questions about how they're adjusting to their newly grounded lifestyle. First up on our list of interesting interviews is a slightly intimidating character, the faerie least likely to help with the recovery, our very own Jhudora the dark faerie!
I walk up the steep cliff face on the edge of the Faerieland crater, following the narrow path to Jhudora's Bluff. I'm wondering how I know when I'm there when everything gets dim and quiet. A bartamus swoops by, nearly knocking me over. I look up to see the dark castle looming up right in front of me and I know that I'm here. I walk right up to the huge oak door and knock delicately on the dark wood, barely making a sound.
Tentatively I lift my fist and rap the door a bit more bravely, still not quite making the loud noise that would carry throughout the castle and make myself known. Yet, despite my rather wimpy knock, I got an immediate response, and the air is suddenly filled with the sounds of snarls and sharp claws digging into the door. Just as quickly as the snarling had started, it stopped, and the huge doors creak open to reveal a dark entry room. I step inside and a hundred torches flicker to life, filling the stony room with light emanating from the startlingly green flames.
I turn my head to see Jhudora herself standing there in front of me (and rather intimidatingly so), holding casually onto a pair of heavy iron chains which held back two rather vicious-looking gruslens (who had yet to stop snarling at me). I stood rather wide-eyedly in front of her, my usual pluckiness gone as I try very hard not to wet my pants.
"Um... M-m-miss Jhudora, I'm here for the interview... I sent you a neomail..." I stutter out. It was true, I had sent her a neomail, and had even gotten a reply. It had dissolved into purple goo before I could get around to reading it, but I had just taken that as a good sign (since it hadn't exploded or done anything worse). Before I could get any sort of response, she turns around and began walking quickly away, beckoning to me over her shoulder.
"As I'm sure you can imagine, I'm quite a busy faerie, what with all these questers and whatnot that I have to deal with, and I don't have too much time for this article, but I'm always glad to answer a few questions and spread a little knowledge, anything to keep that blasted Illusen off of the front page," she says, her enormous wings flapping unhappily at the mere mention of her leaf-winged nemesis. "So, ask away, but please try not to take too long, I only have time because the next quester is still lost somewhere on the bluff." She taps a crystal ball knowingly before a quick bartamus whisks it out of her hand and out of sight into the darkness.
"Ahem," I begin, still rather nervous, "Miss Jhudora, my first question would have to be-" I am cut off by another pair of growls from the gruslen duo stalking along by her feet. "Um... my first question would have to be what on Neopia are those things?"
"These little kitties are my cute little bodyguards, aren't you? Aren't you?" I am surprised to see her break down to baby-voice and nuzzling, but it reassured me to see that they weren't as scary as I had thought, even purring at her loving touch. "Their names are Daisy and Sarah, and they're quite friendly. They're my pet gruslens, and I've had them since they were teeny little kittens." I smile to myself and bend down to pet one of these "little kitties", only to get my hand snapped at and nearly shriek in surprise. I quickly write down her response, take a small step farther away, and continue my interview with the dark faerie (who walked quite quickly when in a hurry).
"Well, then... Next I'd like to ask something that I think that a lot of us out there have wondered. Clearly, you're a very busy faerie, but why bother? Why go to such lengths to deal with questers, get these items, and then have to give out all these rewards to people all day long? Wouldn't it be easier to just give the whole thing up?" At this, she pauses for a half second and laughs, then continues to hurry along, directing various bartami to different tasks as she goes.
"Actually, I believe that you've answered your own question. Being so busy, I really don't have much time to get all these items myself, so it becomes much easier for me to simply have others do it for me." She shrugs. "As for what I need the items themselves for... well, that's for me to know, now isn't it? And the items that I give out? Mere tokens of my gratitude. I'm busy, after all, not mannerless."
I feel as though there is more to it than all of that, but I am still a bit nervous, not sure whether I should prod further or move on. Finally, I decide to keep going with my line of questioning and ask her, "Are you sure that there's nothing more to it? No other reason for the quests?"
She pauses before turning around and looking and me rather cautiously. Finally she opens her mouth to speak. "Well, the other reason for the quests would be the... merchandise!" I am very surprised, and I suppose that it shows on my face because she continues. "Oh, come on! Surely you've noticed it all! I merely offer a few quests, get my name out there for everyone to see, and then BAM! Jhudora-this, Jhudora-that! I'm everywhere! Seriously, Neopia may be terrified of me... and they should be... but they love me! After all, I have five kinds of petit fours alone named after me!"
Apparently she is done explaining that point because she turns around again and continues to hurry on, leading me up more than one stone staircase. I can tell that she is beginning to get tired of my constant questioning by the irritated fluttering of her rather intimidating wings, and decide to hurry my interview along. "Well, I just have one last question," I state, hoping to soothe her a bit with the knowledge that I am nearly done, "Has it been difficult making the change from a cloud to a... umm... bluff?"
"No, not really, I have to admit that I quite like the change, I'm really not a big fan of pink, so to be surrounded by fluffy pink clouds all the time was actually sort of a nightmare. Honestly, I'm much happier here, and I wish that I had thought to move from that dingy raincloud to this comfortable tree ages ago. Suits my style better anyway." She stretches and yawns a bit, coming dangerously close to letting Sarah and Daisy free (which I doubt would end very well for me). "After all, it's not as though I had to do very much to help with the reconstruction. Some would say that I was lazy, but I would say that I was... Saving my energy for more worthwhile causes. Such as myself! Anyway, as I was saying, old Faerieland was far overrated, and this new crater seems more and more like home with each passing day. It's actually hard to imagine having to trade this comfy tree for that dingy storm cloud, especially when it's so much easier for me to walk Daisy and Sarah!" She bends down to nuzzle them again.
Surprised by her amazingly green thumb, I can't help but blurt out, "Wow! This whole thing is balanced on a tree? I guess you and Illusen really are pretty alike after all!" I immediately know that I have made a big mistake, and decide that the interview is as complete as it would ever be (getting turned into a mortog definitely wouldn't help me write an article after all!). I try to excuse myself, but Jhudora stops me; it seems that she has one last thing for me to add to my interview...
"You know, the thing that I miss most about my old cloud is being able to threaten to push anyone bothersome right off. Being so close to the ground nowadays really lessens the potency of that threat. Though, I think that I just thought of a great new way to exercise Daisy and Sarah!" She drops the gruslens' chains and begins to walk away, reapplying her venomously green lipstick as she did. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I really have to touch up my makeup just a bit before that quester manages to find his way out of those brambles, so just see yourself out! So glad that you could come, ta-ta!"
The last "ta-ta" is lost on me as I sprint out of the castle, running as far away from that bluff as I could before ever looking back. When I am sure that I am far enough away I glance back at the bluff, interested to see that it really is a tree just like she had said. "Huh, I guess she and Illusen do have something in common after all," I say to myself, turning to go write up my article. Just as I take my next step to go, eager to send everything in to those white weewoos, I slip and fall flat on my face. Though I make it back fine, your intrepid reporter still wonders whether that final slip was the work of clumsiness or of a vengeful (but well-adjusted and oddly cheerful) Jhudora.
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