And They All Lived Happily Ever After!
"I started writing it. I just don't know how to end it," the jelly Poogle whined, rolling a pencil across the table.
"Just add in a '-and they all lived happily ever after' and finish it. You're so close to getting a story published in the Neopian Times, Gartshy." From across the table, a green Kacheek snatched the rolling pencil, and waved it around in the air for emphasis.
"I know, Eve, but it just seems like I'd be selling my characters short to do that. I'm thinking of starting a new story where instead of the evil wizard, there's a-"
"Just finish your original story." Eve knew she wasn't fully appreciating her friend's creative abilities. That's how things usually went, though. Gartshy was the creative artist who dreamed up fantastical stories about far away lands, and Eve was the best friend, the roommate who worked down the street at the Faerie Foods store to make sure they didn't starve when Gartshy had writer's block. "We've eaten nothing but omelette for the last month. Remember the last time one of your stories got published, and we got to go on that shopping spree?"
Gartshy nodded. She had heard Eve, but didn't respond, instead lazily gazing out the window. Outside, the cobblestone path and quaint buildings of Faerie City looked like something out of a fairy tale. Come to think of it, a fairy tale could be fun to write.
"I changed my mind. My main character isn't going to be a peasant farmer after all. She's going to be a princess."
Eve chuckled. If only it were that easy to go from rags to riches. "Well don't I wish I could be a character in one of your stories."
Gartshy smiled, but neither of the friends realized that Eve's joking wish was heard. Outside, a dark faerie had been walking by. This, however, was no ordinary dark faerie. This was a dark faerie having a bad day. She had tried to send three neopets on quests, but all three had refused the quests. Then she had tripped over a rock. So she was having a pretty rotten day. But when the sound of Eve saying what sounded like a wish carried out the window, the faerie grinned, clasping her hands and beginning to cast a spell.
"Be careful what you wish for."
Meanwhile, inside, Eve had checked the time and was getting ready for work. Gartshy had moved from rolling her pencil across the table to making a mug of hot chocolate. There was no chocolate, so she sat holding a steaming mug of hot water. Gartshy didn't mind too much. Being made out of jelly, anything she ate tasted sweet anyways.
"Hey, Eve, it looks like there's a faerie casting spells in front of our house." Indeed, the disgruntled dark faerie was now wildly flailing her arms while yelling something from the path in front of the house.
Eve finished tying on a pink apron with "FAERIE FOODS" stamped in big gold letters across the front. Eve didn't care mush for her uniform, but it could be worse, she supposed. "Is it an earth faerie? Because the last time an earth faerie cast a spell on our house, wildflowers grew everywhere for a week. And I don't want to repeat that." It had been nice at first seeing flowers sprouting out of the lawn and cracks in the street, but when flowers started sprouting in the sinks and couch, it was a different story.
"No, it's a dark faerie, and she looks mad."
"Oh. Well, don't make her any more mad. Can you finish your story before I get back this evening?"
"I'll try. See you when you get back." Gartshy sighed.
"Okay, bye," Eve said, opening the front door and stepping out. Instead of stepping onto the creaky wooden step in front of the door, she began to fall. As if to deliberately make the falling worse, everything began to spin. Eve wasn't exactly sure where she was falling, but all around her words of different colors seemed to spin by. A shrieking laughter surrounded Eve. Then, suddenly, the falling stopped. Everything was quiet.
Eve was lying in her bed. No... not her bed. This bed was much softer, and was covered by a pale pink canopy. Eve sat up and pushed the canopy aside, revealing a small pastel colored room full of perfume bottles and dresses. Eve climbed out of bed to look around when the door swung open.
"Princess! Something terrible has happened!" A plump faerie Bruce rushed into the room. She looked visibly concerned.
"Oh, I'm not the-you must be thinking of-am I the princess?" Eve turned to an ornate mirror leaning against a wall and looked at herself. She was wearing a heavily embellished pale blue dress, and a tiara. Maybe she was the princess. Better act the part for now.
"You are aware the royal ball is tonight?" the Bruce asked, sniffing back tears.
"Um... yes. Absolutely. Wouldn't miss it for the world," Eve bluffed.
"And you're going to wear your gemstone necklace?" the Bruce whimpered.
"Well... of course I am!" Eve responded. Seemed like the right answer, right? Wrong. The Bruce started crying.
"The necklace has been stolen!"
"Oh, that's unfortunate. Can't I wear a different necklace?"
Gartshy put down her pencil. Including Eve as the main character in her story had been a great idea. But Eve wasn't being a very good princess. When Gartshy had started writing the princess story, she'd had a more snobby princess in mind.
Actually, what if the story wasn't about a princess. Instead, maybe something... action filled...
Eve had blinked, and now everything was pitch black. Well, not entirely pitch black, since her eyes were now adjusting, but still pretty dark. It was nighttime, there was a moon in the sky, but it was hard to see stars since fog swirled around her.
"Come on, don't get left behind." A masked figure appeared out of the fog. From the figure's outline, Eve could tell it was an Aisha, but that was about it.
"Yeah, if you want to run with the Aisha thieves, you've got to get with it." Another masked Aisha stepped out of the fog. Eve realized she was on the roof of a building.
"I'm not even an Aisha. I'm a Kacheek."
"We made an exception for you, since you're the most talented thief on this side of Terror Mountain." The Aishas nodded. Eve recognized that she was now wearing a mask and all black clothing, just like the Aishas.
"Oh... well... are we sure this is a good idea?"
"Yes. You planned it yourself. After all, the Queen Fyora Diamond Necklace is being kept in there. To steal it would be the biggest jewel heist Neopia has ever seen!"
"Oh, well, okay. Let's go then." One of the other thieves lifted a vent cover off of the roof, and the three climbed into it. With the skill of the master thief Eve didn't know she was, she crawled through a vent to arrive in a large room. The room was dark, but several smaller emergency lights were on. The whole place had a solitary, silent feeling that seemed incredibly uninviting. Eve wished she could turn a light on, but that would probably make her a bad thief.
In the center of the room, a pedestal stood with a glass case on it. In the case, a diamond necklace with a slight violet hue was draped over a small pillow. Eve didn't have a doubt in her mind that she was looking at the Queen Fyora Diamond Necklace. She was within walking distance of her goal. This seemed too... easy. If this were taking place in one of Gartshy's stories, for instance, there would be some sort of trap, like laser trip wires. Come to think of it, Eve decided, better check for laser trip wires. She found a pouch on her black utility belt with dust-like powder in it. Hoping for the best, she threw the powder in front of her, in the direction of the pedestal. Sure enough, a latticework of red laser lines appeared.
Switching back to her new master thief mindset, Eve wove through the lasers, arriving at the pedestal. She carefully lifted the glass case off, and reached for the pillow. Expecting to pick up something substantial, she was surprised when her paw swept right through the necklace. An alarm began to sound in the distance. A large metal cage rose from the floor around her. The necklace must have been a hologram with a sensor, a clever trap she had fallen right into. Now, she supposed, there was nothing to do but wait for the law to catch up to her.
Gartshy had written herself into a corner. It was the worst when that happened. Oh well. She'd just start over with something else. She looked at the clock. Eve would get back soon and it would really be best to have a story actually finished by then.
Eve was still in a cage. But this cage was different. It wasn't dark, quite the opposite, harsh fluorescent lights were everywhere. Also she was surrounded by other cages full of crying pets. She sat leaning against the metal barred wall. A blue Grarrl in the adjacent cage nudged her.
"Pssst, want to help me break out of here?" The Grarrl was grinning, unlike the sobbing pets everywhere.
"Am I here because of the jewel heist?" Eve asked.
"Jewel heist?" Wailed a pitiful looking Chia from the same cage as the Grarrl, "This is the pound!"
"But is a jewel heist where you got your collar from? Because if it is, that's kinda cool." The Grarrl said.
"Can you jog my memory about this?" Eve asked.
"Well when you got dropped off here, you were wearing a collar. It looked pretty fancy. But the pound workers took it from you. Those meanies." The Chia said relatively calmly, then went back to whimpering.
Eve thought for a minute. In the first place she had dropped into, a necklace had been stolen. Then in the second situation, the thieves were trying to take a necklace. Now, her collar, which sounded suspiciously like a necklace, was gone? There was a common theme. Eve didn't know what was going on, but she knew she needed that necklace.
"Yes, that collar is, uh, a gift from my closest friend. I desperately need it back. I'll help you break out of here if you'll help me get it back."
"Deal." The Grarrl nodded.
Eve looked around her cage for a way out. There was a latch on the door, but it was unclear how it worked. So Eve decided to just try kicking it. There were about a hundred cages in this room alone, how sturdily made could they possibly be?
As it turns out, pretty sturdy. Eve's paw hurt from where she had slammed it into a metal bar, but the latch had been shaken open. She quickly exited her cage and began trying to jimmy the lock on the Grarrl's cage. Her master thief lock picking skills had clearly not carried over, but she was able to open the cage door after some work.
"Okay, let's go."
Eve and the Grarrl, and the whimpering Chia, who had tagged along, ran down the hallway. Running is, as it turns out, the fastest way to get recognized as an escapee. An angry Lupe began to chase the trio, who zig-zagged though the room full of cages.
"Where would they keep my collar?" Eve asked, panting to keep up with the Grarrl.
"In the office, probably. It's over that way." The Grarrl gestured towards a large metal door. Eve ran towards it, with the Lupe guard chasing her closely behind, and found that it was unlocked. Eve ran inside, then slammed shut and locked the door behind her. She heard a skittering of nails on a metal floor, then a thud as the guard slid into the closed door. The handle rattled, but the door didn't open. Eve figured she had bought herself some time and turned to look for the collar.
Gartshy looked at her writing. She liked it, but writing about the pound was so frequently used. Another idea struck her.
Eve almost cried out in frustration when she saw she was somewhere else again.
"Where's the necklace?" she yelled at the pet nearest to her, which happened to be an Ixi in a full set of armor.
"That's a funny thing to call the medallion, but it's been taken by the invaders. You need to lead the defense!" At the Ixi's word, several other pets in armor showed up. Eve realized she was also wearing a full set of armor, but hers was significantly shinier. She must be in charge. Great.
"Okay, men, gather 'round."
The hodgepodge group of sword and shield wielding neopets clustered together. They seemed to be in what was once a marrow field, or maybe a field of berry bushes, but any vines or plants had been long since been trampled into the dusty dirt, so it was hard to tell. Huts in the distance had roofs made of straw, if there were roofs at all.
"This is the land we love, right?" Eve yelled in what she hoped was an encouraging voice, and not a question.
"Right!" someone yelled.
"And we need our medallion!"
"Right!" someone else cheered.
"So let's go win this battle, bring peace back to our land, and find the medallion to get me back home!" Eve yelled, not catching herself in time to avoid saying the last part. Nobody seemed to notice.
"What's the plan?" someone asked.
"Let's... just..." Darn. Eve wished she had thought this through. "Let's just go ahead, and we'll have the element of surprise!"
"Hoorah!" someone shouted.
"Onward!" yelled Eve as the group began to run after her in what she hoped dearly was the correct direction.
"Huh. I shouldn't include too much violence in my story. That's no good way to get into the Neopian Times. Maybe I should just write about something else."
The clock on the wall chimed, announcing that it was 5:00. Eve might be working late, but she'd still be back soon. Gartshy really didn't want to disappoint her friend. Imagine how it would look if Eve got back, exhausted from restocking shelves all day, and all Gartshy had done was start a bunch of different stories and not finish them.
"I'll finish this one," she decided resolutely.
"We've captured the faerie, but she isn't talking to us," an official looking Techo wearing a mask and cape confided to Eve.
"Pardon?" Eve looked around. She had no trouble picking out where she was this time. 'Defenders of Neopia' banners were plastered up on pretty much every wall in the lobby.
"The faerie who's been trapping pets in stories all day today! It's practically a crime spree." The Techo picked up a folder labeled 'Evidence' from a table and took a stack of pictures from it. Eve was shocked to recognize among the pictures the faerie Bruce she had met during her stint as a princess, and the Chia and blue Grarrl from the pound, and even the Ixi she felt like she had just been heading into battle with not ten minutes ago.
"We think there's some sort of link between all the stories. Something that the faerie can tie the magic to."
"I think I'm in a story right now," Eve mumbled.
"Don't be silly! You're the best investigator Defenders of Neopia has ever worked with. Now go talk to that faerie and figure out the link!"
Eve found herself shuffled into a tiny room with a table, a two chairs, and a door that got slammed shut behind her. One of the chairs was already occupied by a dark faerie, so Eve took the other.
"You were casting a spell in my front yard this morning," Eve accused, taking off a pair of glasses she didn't realize she had been wearing and placing them on the table. She was now dressed in business attire, complete with a blouse, skirt, and scarf.
"I was. I was in a pretty bad mood, but watching you get tossed from story to story all day is really cheering me up." The faerie smiled wickedly.
"I know now that all I have to do to leave the story is find the magic link," Eve said, as confidently as she could.
"Oh yeah, what is it?" the faerie taunted.
"The necklace. I've been looking for a necklace in some shape or form in every single story I've been in today. This is just another story, so this is no different."
"Well, good luck finding one now," the faerie said. Eve disappointedly noticed the faerie was not wearing a necklace. That would have been too easy to find, she supposed. She looked around the room. Except for her and the faerie, there was no one in the room. The necklace could be hidden somewhere in the Defenders of Neopia building, but that wouldn't make sense. No, given the storyline, the necklace had to be here, in this room. Either the faerie had to have it, which she didn't, or...
"I have it! Scarves are just fabric necklaces anyway." Eve unwrapped her scarf from her neck and in one swift motion ripped it in half. For a second nothing happened and she was afraid the faerie would laugh at her for being wrong. Then everything began to spin again. Instead of feeling like she was falling, like last time, Eve felt like she was being thrown up in the air, once again surrounded by colorful writing. Knowing what to expect this time, the experience was much more pleasant.
But not so pleasant that Eve wasn't happier when it ended. With a 'plunk', she landed back on her wooden doorstep, wearing the same pink apron she had been that morning. It was early evening now, and Eve figured it would take some explaining to her boss at work why she had never shown up in the morning, but at least she was home safe. She swung open the front door.
"Hey Gartshy, I'm back! The craziest thing happened to me today, you'd never believe it!"
Gartshy was still at the table. Papers with giant 'X's through them littered the floor. She looked happy, though.
"Hang on, Eve, I'm almost done, this is the last line of my story." With a flourish, Gartshy wrote:
And they all lived happily ever after!