Young Jhudora and Queen Fyora: Part Eight
Jhudora quickly fell into a routine. She would wake up in her supply closet and make her way to the dining hall. She’d always get the same bowl of oats, so she snuck into the bathroom to transform the oats into whatever she wanted that day. After that, she’d make her way to her classes. She’d generally just sit in the back, studying whatever books or scrolls in Dark Fae Fyora could find for her. The only exception was math class. She quickly memorized the New Fae number system so that she could excel. A small part of her always felt smug when the earth faeries who called her stupid stumbled over basic problems.
Her weekdays were nothing but waking up, eating food, pretending to care in class, eating more food, pretending to care even less, and then back to her supply closet. Whenever she couldn’t handle the stress of being treated as if she were dirt, she would stand up in earth magic class and sass the Earth Elder. The next day, Fyora would storm into the Earth Magic class, thank the Earth Elder for notifying her and give a speech. The speech changed from incident to incident, but it was always focused on how important it was to keep dark faeries away from magic. Fyora would put her hand on the Earth Elder’s shoulder and practically coo, "You are doing such a good job keeping her from magic. You’re a hero."
Fyora would then angrily yell at Jhudora as Jhudora slowly trudged to the front of the room. On her face was a mixture of sadness and fear. However, it was just an expertly crafted emotional mask. On the inside, Jhudora was jumping for joy.
Then Jhudora would take a short nap on any soft surface she could find. After her nap, Fyora took her down to the dungeon below the castle where Fyora helped Jhudora practice her magic in a safe environment. After they were done practicing, Fyora would gently create bruises to make the other faeries think that Jhudora was truly being tortured. Jhudora pinched her arms and thought about sick bartamuses as she ran back to her supply closet, sobbing.
In Jhudora’s mind, it was the closest thing to a perfect life she could possibly have with the Dark Elder gone.
However, there was one small detail that threatened to derail the whole scheme. Illusen. Jhudora tried to imagine she didn’t see the skeptical glances from the earth faerie, but she knew Illusen was suspicious. Jhudora would make sure to flick her wrist so that her blazer’s sleeves sunk just enough to show off the bruises on her wrist whenever Illusen was around.
One day started off differently from the rest. It had been months since Jhudora had fallen into her routine, and no one had knocked on her supply closet door the entire time. Yet, someone was knocking on her door. She opened it and blinked as her eyes adjusted to the light. Jhudora gasped as soon as she realized who was standing before her. It was Illusen.
"Oh," Illusen reached out and placed her hand on Jhudora’s shoulder, "I’ve been worried about you."
Jhudora sidestepped Illusen and shut her door. She stared at Illusen, unsure of how to continue. If she blew up at Illusen, she’d risk getting angry and accidentally casting a spell. If she played along, Illusen might trick her and put Fyora in danger.
Illusen pulled her hand away and pouted, "You’ve been acting out so much lately." Illusen ran one hand through her hair and looked off towards the ceiling. Jhudora craned her head to try and see what Illusen was looking at. It appeared to be nothing. Jhudora considered telling Illusen that she was the one who was acting, but she bit her tongue.
"I’m sure you need a friend," Illusen glanced back at Jhudora, "I feel so sorry for how I treated you. I want to be your only friend in all of Faerieland."
Jhudora looked down at the floor. She played along with Illusen’s game and continued staring down at the floor for a minute before sheepishly looking up at Illusen.
"Oh, Dora!" Illusen threw her arms around Jhudora, hugging her. "Let’s stay friends forever!"
Jhudora sighed. She whispered, "Ok, Sen."
Illusen pulled away, a look of true disgust on her face. "Ew, why would you call me that?"
"Why would you call me Dora? If you call me a ‘pet name,’ I’ll call you a ‘pet name.’ Do you not like it?" Jhudora gasped, pulling her wrist to her forehead as if she were about to faint, "I just don’t want to upset you!"
Illusen stared at Jhudora with contempt. Jhudora held back her urge to point and laugh at Illusen. However, she simply bit her lip and asked softly, "Are you hungry?"
Illusen snapped out of it and went back to her saccharine act, "Oh yes! I am hungry! You must be hungry too!" Illusen grabbed Jhudora’s wrist, digging her fingers into the healing bruises. Jhudora let out a surprised yelp and jerked her arm away.
"Oh no!" Illusen gasped, her hand quickly covering her mouth, "Your wrist is bruised!"
Jhudora rubbed her wrist and began walking to the dining hall.
"Jhudora!" Illusen called out as she followed her, "I’m sorry I hurt your wrist!"
Jhudora paused. She turned towards the earth faerie and plastered the fakest grin imaginable on her face. "Oh, Illusen. Friends make mistakes. I understand."
Illusen smirked. Jhudora wanted to scream at her that she was bad at acting. Jhudora followed her routine of going through the food line with Illusen buzzing behind her. Illusen began to prattle on about things that Jhudora just tuned out. She snapped out of her daze when Illusen shouted out "No!"
"No, no, no!"
Jhudora looked down at her empty tray. At this point, there was usually plain oatmeal on it. Illusen began to chastise the faerie behind the counter. "Give my friend pancakes!"
Jhudora glanced back at Illusen. She gave a grateful smile, but she would have preferred eggs and bacon. The worker plopped a plate of pancakes onto Jhudora’s tray. Once Illusen had her tray of pancakes also, she nudged Jhudora towards an empty table. Jhudora sat down and sighed. She knew that if it were real and not an act, a popular girl inviting an unpopular girl to sit in the dining hall for the first time would be groundbreaking. However, even if it had been real, Jhudora preferred the quietness of the bathroom.
Illusen produced two forks. She smiled softly, "It’s so silly. They give you oatmeal and you never grab a spoon! Your nails must be fabulous from all of those oat baths!"
Jhudora blushed. She just realized that she almost always turned her breakfast into foods she could easily eat with her hands. She never found out where the spoons were because she just didn’t need one. She laughed nervously and fanned her fingers out over the table. Illusen gasped loudly. "Fabulous!"
Jhudora took one of the forks and began to poke at the pancakes. They were in the shape of faerie wings and covered in butter and syrup. She cut a piece off and slowly ate it. She stared at Illusen as she slowly chewed it. Jhudora realized that Illusen was under the impression that she was living off of plain oats. She realized that she needed to act as if it was the best bite of food she had ever had, which was difficult when she regularly ate the same food as Fyora during her ‘punishments.’ She sat down her fork as she swallowed the bite. She pulled her wrist to her forehead again and stammered, "Illu- Ill- Illusen . . . These pancakes are the best thing I have ever tasted!"
Illusen smiled brightly, giggling slightly. Jhudora felt as if she could read her mind in that moment. She imagined Illusen was thinking that Jhudora was uncultured swine for enjoying low quality food for students so much. They were mass produced pancakes made for children. They were serviceable at best - even compared to dark faerie food.
Jhudora stared at the pancakes and waited for Illusen to start eating. As soon as Illusen began to daintily cut her pancakes into small pieces, Jhudora began to hack away at hers. She watched Illusen carefully, making sure to match her pace exactly. As soon as Illusen finished chewing, Jhudora took another bite. She did everything she could to discourage conversation until they were finished eating.
Once Illusen had eaten her last bite, she sighed. "Oh, Jhudora, I don’t want to go to class today! I want to spend time with you!"
"Oh," Jhudora gasped, "But won’t the Earth Elder be angry?!" Jhudora pulled her wrist to her forehead again and leaned back in her seat, "I would never want to be the reason the Earth Elder is mad at you!"
"Oh, everyone needs a sick day sometimes," Illusen laughed, "Besides, I’m so smart it wouldn’t make any difference! I’ll catch up as if I was never missing."
Jhudora held back a snort. Illusen would have had the worst marks possible in math if she wasn’t the Earth Elder’s pet. Jhudora stood and sighed, "Illusen, what shall we do on our day off together?"
Illusen hummed as she glanced around the dining hall. She gasped and pointed her index finger towards the sky, "There are caves in Faerieland! We should explore them!"
Jhudora furrowed her brow. She weighed her options. She could call Illusen out then and there. It would cause a scene, and Jhudora wanted to keep attention off of herself. She could follow Illusen and walk into a trap. Falling into a trap wasn’t exactly ideal, but it was possibly better than causing a scene. As she began to wrack her brain for a better option, Illusen grabbed her wrist and lifted off of the ground. She quickly began flying as quickly as she could while dragging Jhudora along.
"How are you so strong?!" Jhudora screamed out as the dining hall silently stared in awe. Once they were outside of the dining hall, Jhudora began to flap her wings so that it stopped feeling like Illusen was about to rip her arm out of the socket. As soon as they were off school grounds, Illusen abruptly touched down on the ground, still holding Jhudora’s wrist. As Jhudora attempted to stop, she accidentally pulled Illusen tumbling to the ground with her.
Jhudora slowly sat up and whispered, "That was an accident. Dark faeries aren’t agile when it comes to flying."
Illusen hopped up from the ground and shrugged. She held out her hand to help the dark faerie stand. Jhudora took it and smiled softly.
As soon as Jhudora was standing, Illusen began to walk in the opposite direction from The Academy. She sighed and glanced back at Jhudora, who was walking a few steps behind Illusen. The earth faerie sighed and began a monologue, "Jhudora, it’s tough being so close to the Elder."
Jhudora sighed. She made sure Illusen wasn’t looking when she rolled her eyes.
"It’s hard to make friends, and it’s hard to be a friend," Illusen glanced back to make sure Jhudora could see her pout, "I guess you never really learn social skills when your entire existence revolves around being trained by the Elder."
Jhudora held back a groan. She had grown up being groomed by the Dark Elder to fill her shoes one day. It never affected how well she got along with other dark faeries. Jhudora knew that either the Earth Elder was a complete psychopath, or Illusen was simply making things up to seem apologetic. But then again, Jhudora mused, it could simply be both things simultaneously.
"I hurt you because the Earth Elder told me to," Illusen paused and stared down at the ground, "I was mean to Fyora because the Elder told me to hate anyone who wore purple."
Jhudora stopped and stared at the back of Illusen’s head. Illusen turned towards Jhudora and frowned, "I wasn’t myself. I was an extension of her."
Jhudora looked up at the sky to avoid making eye contact. "Are you not acting? Are you really just this bad at being around people?"
Illusen scrunched up her nose as she glared at Jhudora. She turned on her heel and began to march away. Jhudora shrugged as she began to follow Illusen again.
"Does that bother you?" Jhudora called out, "Being told you’re not perfect?"
Illusen stopped again to take a deep breath. She turned towards Jhudora, her emerald eyes smoldering. Jhudora continued walking on.
Illusen roughly grabbed Jhudora’s wrist and dug her nails into the flesh. Jhudora let out a pained gasp as the bruises were once again disturbed.
"Let’s go explore the caves," Illusen hissed at Jhudora, "Friend."
Jhudora bit her tongue as Illusen began to lead her to the mouth of a cave. The earth faerie dragged Jhudora in and kept dragging until there was no more light from outside. Jhudora’s eyes quickly adjusted. She rolled her eyes, sure Illusen couldn’t see.
"Jhudora," Illusen hissed as she held out one hand. From her hand, a sprout began to grow. Within moments, the sprout began to glow so that Illusen could see Jhudora. "You’re lying. The queen is lying."
Jhudora sighed and rolled her eyes, even though she knew Illusen could see. "The Earth Elder didn’t believe I was being punished enough?"
"No," Illusen stomped her foot against the clay floor of the cave, "I didn’t believe it!"
"So, does the Earth Elder know you’re here?" Jhudora crossed her arms over her chest, "Or are you going rogue?"
"I’m doing this because I don’t trust you!" Illusen yelled out, her voice echoing through the caverns. Her eyes began to glow as vines slowly fell from the ceiling. Jhudora let out a confused gasp as they wrapped themselves around her arms and wings, limiting her movement. Vines on the floor slowly wrapped around her ankles to keep her from running.
"What is your plan?!" Jhudora shouted back, "Squeeze me with plants until I tell you that I’m actually an evil faerie?"
"No!" Illusen screamed, her face red, "I want you to prove it!"
Jhudora simply stared at Illusen in confusion.
"Every magic has a signature," Illusen growled, "If you inflict a wound upon me using magic, then it can be proven to be dark magic. If it is proven to be dark magic, I have proven you to be evil. And then, you will go away forever."
Jhudora laughed softly. "Why do you think I’d use magic on you? What makes you think I can even use magic?"
"I follow you every morning," Illusen hissed. Though her voice was almost a whisper, the echoes amplified it. With every echo, shocks of ice traveled down Jhudora’s spine. "Every morning, you go into the bathroom. There’s a green flash, and you come out of the bathroom with anything but the smell of oats on your breath."
Jhudora froze as Illusen continued, "And every day you come back from your ‘punishments,’ you smell like perfume. You smell like affluence and happiness, not torture."
Jhudora began to shake slightly as Illusen stepped closer to her. Illusen hissed, "The Earth Elder thinks she truly is a hero for keeping you away from magic. But I know that the Queen is doing something to help you. I have a theory that the Queen is teaching you magic. You think I’m an oblivious idiot, but I can smell the magic on you."
"Fyora . . .?" Jhudora’s voice came out as an unsure croak.
"Dethroned," Illusen cackled, "If I had my way, anyone who associates with dark faeries would be ejected from Faerieland. And the Elders would do it if I could just get you to hurt me with magic."
"I won’t!" Jhudora screamed, tears streaming down her face, "I will never betray Fyora!"
"Dolly?" Illusen smirked, "You’d never betray your dolly?"
Jhudora shifted her arms just enough to hug the bag slung over her shoulder close to her. If Illusen got her hands on the spells in her bag, it would seal both her and Fyora’s fate.
"Maybe that’s what I need to do," Illusen sneered, "Hurt dolly."
Jhudora stepped back and closed her eyes. She extended her wings to her full wingspan to break the bonds of the vines around her arms. She shifted her weight so that her bag was against her back. She took a deep breath and pressed her body against the wall so that Illusen couldn’t reach her bag.
"You’re making it harder," Illusen smirked, "But I’ll win."
There was silence in the cave as Illusen stared into Jhudora’s eyes. In that moment, Illusen’s sprout ceased to glow.
As Illusen groaned, Jhudora made her break. She knew what had happened. Young faeries always had issues controlling the intensity of their spells. They would tire themselves out magically without realizing it. Illusen wouldn’t be able to cast another spell for at least a few more minutes. That would give Jhudora at least enough time to consider her options. She ran further into the cave. She couldn’t ask for help. She considered teleporting out of the cave, but she didn’t know where to teleport to that would be safe. She didn’t even know if Illusen could follow her with a spell of her own. Her heart felt like a drum beating against her ribs and her blood was filled with ice. She continued to run until she was at a dead end.
"Jhudora!" Illusen laughed, "I’ll find you!"
Jhudora took a deep breath and pressed her back against the stone wall of the cave. She closed her eyes and imagined what the Dark Elder would do. She instantly knew what the Elder would do. She would calmly go to the authorities and turn herself in, as every action she made was positioned to make dark faeries look compliant in the eyes of the other faeries. Jhudora’s purple face began to darken. If the Elder had fought, then Jhudora wouldn’t be in this cave. If the Elder had shown the faeries in Faerieland why they were to be feared, Jhudora would still be in her cottage. She extended her arms as her eyes began to glow.
"Jhudora!" Illusen laughed, slowly walking towards her, "I see you."
If the Elder had fought, then the other faeries wouldn’t have walked over her. If the Elder had fought, the other faeries would treat Jhudora with respect. Or at least with fear.
As Illusen drew closer, Jhudora let out a bloodcurdling scream.
In that moment, that chamber of the cave was engulfed by a massive green fireball.
To be continued…