Illusen's Day Off
If anyone happened to be standing on the side of the lane as the earth faerie skipped by, they might have mistaken her for Illusen herself. She had the same figure, the same flowing auburn hair and a similar twinkle in her eye.
In fact, a Moehog had glanced up from tilling his field to wave to her and wish her a Happy Illusen's Day.
Abigail didn't mind. She thought it was rather a compliment that she was often mistook for the faerie of the Glade and to the Glade she was heading.
When she approached Illusen's abode, she saw that the faerie's home was in utter disarray. She had knocked, but when no one answered, she'd let herself inside. What she saw, was a frazzled Illusen, wearing an apron and running hither and thither, with trays of cream cookies littered about.
"What are you doing, Illy?" Abigail asked, grabbing a nearby cookie and preparing to eat it.
Faster than wind, Illusen snatched the cookie from touching Abigail's expectant mouth. "What am I doing? What are you doing? These are for the guests! And I don't have time to chat, I need to make more cookies." Her eyes bulged a little as she wiped her forehead, planting a white streak of flour.
"Guests?" Abigail said, perking up. "Are you having a party?"
Illusen laughed, more of a scoff than a release of amusement. "I don't have time for parties. Do you know how many questers are coming today? I won't have enough cookies as it is."
Abigail sat herself on the small kitchen table and propped her foot up on a stool. "It's Illusen's Day, though. You can't just sit inside and make cookies all day."
"No choice," Illusen muttered, measuring out several cups of milk. "It seems like every 'pet in Neopia does a quest on March 17th for some reason."
"Why don't you take the day off. You know, have yourself a 'me' day," Abigail suggested.
"I can't just leave the Glade," Illusen snapped. "Who'll offer quests to everyone?"
Abigail shrugged. "I can. I know the drill. You need some relaxation." She stood and draped an arm around her counterpart's neck. "You should be celebrating your special day, off on the beaches of Mystery Island with a coconut in your hand, not slaving away for others."
She had been steering Illusen towards the door as she spoke, swiftly removing her apron and conveniently motioning towards the clear blue skies outside.
Illusen paused for a moment. "Are you... sure? I mean, this job can get a bit tricky sometimes."
Abigail waved a hand through the air. "No problem. Go on and do whatever it is you want to do and I'll take care of everything here."
Giving the messy kitchen one last glance, Illusen sighed. "Alright. Just remember, if someone finishes quest five, they get one of those little combs-"
"-and I've started giving away a signed copy of my novel at quest 11. I pre-signed a few already-"
"-and I should mention that-"
"Illy! I think I can handle it," Abigail said. "Just go already, and have a wonderful Illusen's Day!"
Illusen smiled hopefully. "I really appreciate it. I'm in major need of a manicure, and I could go to that little boutique that just opened up near the castle. Well, alright then. Bye Abigail!" she cried, flapping her wings. "I won't be too long."
"Take all the time you need!" Abigail shouted. She continued to wave until Illusen was a tiny speck on the horizon.
Clasping her hands in excitement, Abigail gave the home within the trees a loving glance. She had always dreamed of one day filling Illusen's shoes. Imagine sitting around everyday as hundreds of eager questers did all your bidding.
She flopped down on an oversized armchair, stretching her legs out over the ottoman. When she heard a knock at the door, she said, "Enter," like a queen permitting a lucky citizen to invade her domain.
A timid looking Draik peeked his bright orange head around the door. When he caught sight of the earth faerie staring at him, he grinned nervously and said without making eye contact, "May I have a quest, your Earthiness?"
"Of course. Please come in," Abigail said.
The Draik moved hesitantly into the room, eyeing the trays of cookies hopefully.
"Let's see," Abigail said, tapping her chin thoughtfully. "I could really use someone to pick up my dry cleaning."
"Y-your dry cleaning?" the Draik asked. "Are you sure you d-don't want a k-keyring or something. I could fetch one for you."
Abigail giggled gaudily. "What do I need a keyring for? Here," she said, thrusting a ticket into the Draik's hands. "It's Meridell Cleaners off of Willow Lane. Ask for Mr. Lumpkins."
"O-okay," he said nervously. "But-"
"Thanks!" Abigail shoved him out the door. "Whew! This job is a piece of cake."
Another knock sounded and a spotted Cybunny popped her head in. "I'm ready for my second quest, Illusen."
"Hmm?" Abigail said. "Oh right. Let me think. I am feeling hungry for a sweet. How about you get me an Ice Cream Machine Sundae?"
"Wait a second," the Cybunny said, her nose twitching. "That item is rarity 101."
The Cybunny gave her a blank stare. "I'm only on my second quest. You're supposed to ask me for something with a lower rarity."
Abigail thought for a few moments. She didn't know much about rarities, but recalled a conversation she'd overheard once at a local shop. Two pets had been grumbling about overzealous Kadoaties. "Well, then get me an Earl Grey Tea Ice Cream. If I recall, those are rarity 88."
"Those cost hundreds of thousands of neopoints!" the Cybunny said, her jaw dropping. "I'm trying to get a high score here."
Abigail shrugged. "Cheer up, have a cookie."
The earth faerie shoved a cookie into the neopet's mouth and elbowed her out the door, which she barely had time to close before it opened again. A frazzled cloud Ixi came bursting into Illusen's kitchen, his hair standing at odd angles and his breathing ragged.
"I did it!" he panted. "I got your Mega Lemon Blitz Smoothie. I had to sell my stamp album and went bankrupt in the stock market, but I actually did it! And with 30 seconds to spare."
"What a great job!" Abigail said, clapping her hands together. "I was feeling parched."
She snatched the smoothie from his hands. The Ixi cleared his throat.
"Oh right," the faerie said. "Here's your prize." She handed him a cream cookie. "Have a wonderful day!"
The Ixi looked at the cookie as if he'd never seen one before. "No... no, no, no. This is quest 50." When Abigail said nothing, he continued, "I get Illusens Staff once I complete level 50. That's the way it works. I need that staff!"
Not wanting the Ixi to have any doubts about her, she laughed loudly. "Of course you do. I was joking, obviously." She looked around wildly until she saw a pile of sticks in the corner. "Is this what you wanted? Here you go then."
The Ixi cradled the stick lovingly, and bowed to her before heading off, no doubt, to the Battledome.
Abigail leaned back in the armchair, folding her arms behind her head and feeling quite confident about herself.
However, two hours and seventy quests later, Abigail was not feeling so certain. She'd run out of cookies, she couldn't remember half the things she asked for, and had even sunk to suggesting some 'pets visit Jhudora instead.
"Are you kidding?" one Grarrl asked. "No, I need to do a quest from you today."
Before Abigail could respond, the Draik from earlier returned with her dry cleaning. He was carrying so many garments, his face was completely hidden behind a tower of plastic.
"Here you go," he said angrily, throwing them on the table, several of them falling to the floor. "You forgot to mention you had your entire wardrobe there. It cost me 45,000 NP to pick it all up!"
Abigail sighed. "What quest are you on again?"
"You don't remember?" the Draik asked.
The Grarrl piped in. "What about me?"
"Right," Abigail said, scanned around fervently. She spotted a shelf full of glass bottles filled with a golden liquid. "Here you go."
She thrust one into each of their hands.
The Grarrl and Draik exchanged glances. "This is a honey potion," the Draik said.
"Well, I'm sure it tastes wonderful," Abigail offered.
The two neopets turned and practically ran from the house. Abigail seemed to have found a solution to her problems. By giving out the bottles of Honey Potion, the amount of griping drastically reduced and most neopets returned to bestowing her with compliments.
The only exception was the Cybunny and Ixi who both stomped into Illusen's home, looking pretty upset.
The Cybunny spoke first. "It's not fair," she wailed. "I can't afford a Earl Grey Tea Ice Cream. It was only my second quest." She burst into tears.
On the other hand, the Ixi had several bruises forming and a tuft of hair missing from the left side of his forehead. "You gave me a broken staff! I tried to battle the Space Faerie with a stick!"
They started to advance upon Abigail who backed away in a panic.
"Wait, stop," she said. "I'm sorry... I didn't mean... I'm not even Illusen-"
"What's going on?"
Abigail whipped around to face the Queen of the Glade herself. Her complexion was glowing and she looked renewed in a way. Her cheeks were flushed, but that could have been from discovering the mayhem happening at her home. Abigail hovered to hide behind Illusen, eyeing the two neopets warily.
"What are you doing here?" Abigail asked. "I'm so glad you're back!"
"Well," Illusen said, "I was just doing a bit of shopping in Neopia when I started overhearing that the Glade had gone to the puppyblews and that I must have a few marbles loose. I decided to check to see how things were going."
"Illusen!" the Ixi interrupted. "You- I mean she gave me a staff with no magic." He held up the stick and waved it around for emphasis.
"Of course," Illusen muttered. "My mistake. I forgot to tell you about blessing the staff," she added over her shoulder. Picking up the branch from the Ixi's hands, she gave it a wave, said a few words, and handing it back to him. "Now you have Illusens staff."
Shooting Abigail a nasty look, he left. The Cybunny spoke up.
"May I have a proper request for quest 2 please."
"Certainly," Illusen said with a warm smile. "How about a Red Korbat Keyring. Can you find me one of those in twelve minutes?"
The Cybunny smiled and nodded, gave Abigail a squinty look and also left.
Illusen rounded upon Abigail, but before she could yell a single syllable, Abigail held up her hands. "I know, I know. I messed up," she said. "I'm sorry. I guess not everyone can do the job you do and it was a mistake to tell you to take the day off."
Illusen's face softened. "No, you were right. I definitely needed some 'me' time. So thanks."
Abigail smiled smugly. "See, I told yo-"
"Don't push it," Illusen snapped. "Now if you'll excuse me, I see I need to get back to baking cookies and there's a rather long line outside." Illusen shuffled contently back into her apron and began moving around mechanically in the kitchen.
Abigail left and breathed in the fresh air. She would always look up to Illusen for she was beautiful and smart and kind. Though, she thought she might stick to stalking around the Glade from time to time instead of actually trying to fill Illusen's shoes. The earth faerie turned when she heard Illusen's voice from the balcony.
"ABIGAAAIL!! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH ALL MY HONEY POTIONS?!"
Giggling, and with more haste, Abigail skipped back down the lane.