A Reunion in Meridell
Jhudora hummed softly as she patched a hole in one of her dresses. It was a formless dress made of heather muslin. No matter how many times she asked for fine fabrics from the questers, she always defaulted to wearing clothes like the ones The Elder had made for her.
She didn’t mind her life of exile. Neopians feared her enough to not bother her for quests after the sun had set. That meant that in the dusk, she was able to tend to her chores with a tiny bit of sunlight filtering through her windows. Of course she could accomplish everything she set out to do with magic . . . but her chores made her feel complete.
Just as she held up the dress to inspect her work, the room was filled with a blinding lavender light, followed by a loud popping noise. In shock, Jhudora tumbled out of her chair.
Of course, Jhudora knew what was happening. She used the table to pull herself up and cleared her throat. She closed her eyes and tried to think of the reason that Fyora was standing in her dining room.
"Jhudora," Fyora whispered, "Is it safe here?"
Jhudora opened her eyes and glanced around. She shrugged. Of course she knew how to talk, but it always took her a few moments to figure out what voice she should use. She took a deep breath before responding in Dark Fae, "I don’t sense any Neopians, nor do I sense any faeries other than us."
Fyora blinked in confusion before covering her mouth with her hand. She was always shocked when Jhudora thought of something she had forgotten. She responded in Dark Fae, "I came here for an important reason."
Jhudora smiled softly and nodded. Dark Fae was so different from New Fae, it forced Fyora to contort her voice into something that was barely recognizable.
"Come over here and slip this on," Fyora held out a dress. Jhudora hesitantly made her way over to Fyora. She took the dress and pulled it over her head, being careful not to snag it on her wings. Fyora glanced at Jhudora and sighed. She pointed over at the table before whispering, "Please give me your pin cushion."
Jhudora began to turn towards her table before letting out a soft chuckle. She held out her hand. With a puff of green light, the pin cushion was in her hand. Fyora took one of the pins and began to pin the dress so that it would fit Jhudora better.
"I understand why I don’t use magic," Jhudora mused, "But why aren’t you using it?"
"Ah . . ." Fyora laughed softly, "I’m so scared that someone will realize that I’m here. Not using magic is one of the best ways to not get caught."
Jhudora nodded as Fyora pinned the dress. She looked down at the queen as she was quickly pinning the dress so that Jhudora could hem it later. She looked up at the ceiling and asked softly, "What is the dress for?"
Fyora froze as she realized that she hadn’t explained anything. She took a deep breath and stood. Jhudora turned her head towards Fyora. Jhudora bit her lip, afraid of what could have brought Fyora into her home. Of course, hundreds of years ago, Fyora would visit Jhudora regularly. However, as time marched on, her visits were relegated to extremely important matters.
"I have a proposal that I want to submit to the council," Fyora sighed, "But I can’t let anyone know I wrote it."
Jhudora looked back up at the ceiling and closed her eyes. She wasn’t sure if she was happy or sad. She really didn’t know if she felt treasured or used.
"Since The Elders have went on, the sentiment towards dark faeries has shifted," Fyora knelt and began pinning the dress again. "I hate you being alone . . . I want the council to approve a measure to renovate the old dark faerie settlement to be a neighborhood for dark faeries."
Jhudora opened her eyes as she processed what Fyora was saying. Fyora wanted to rebuild the village that her predecessor had destroyed. Jhudora’s eyes burned as she blinked back tears.
Of course she imagined the cottages around her being filled with other dark faeries. She imagined a roaring fire in the old fire pit. However, it became harder and harder as time marched on. She could have preserved the land just as easily as she ignored it, yet she had ignored it. The cottages where now nothing more than stones marking where there had once been a home.
"That’s not the only reason, is it?" Jhudora’s voice cracked as she stared at the ceiling.
Fyora closed her eyes. Part of her wanted to lose her temper. Part of her wanted to hug Jhudora and cry until she stopped feeling. She knew that when she stopped visiting Jhudora, she took away the one real friendship that the dark faerie had. But at the same time, she was the queen. She had never faced blatant insubordination since The Elders had left.
"Of course," Jhudora switched to New Fae, "I will do whatever you ask."
Fyora stood and snapped her fingers. The dress magically cinched itself to to Jhudora’s body.
Jhudora looked back at Fyora, expecting her face to be contorted into a menacing grimace. Instead, the queen was on the verge of tears.
"Just give me what you want me to say," Jhudora sighed. She was glad she had switched to New Fae. When she spoke the language, she was able to pretend she was someone else. She could put all of her feelings aside. She was no longer Jhudora, The Elder’s favorite. She was just Jhudora, the dark faerie who handed out quests.
Fyora whispered, still speaking in Dark Fae, "You can refuse, Jhudora."
Jhudora looked down at the floor before turned to Fyora and pulling her into an embrace. She stared at the wall as she tried to remember what she was supposed to do. Was she supposed to sing the Dark Hymn as Fyora had sang all those centuries ago? Was she supposed to quote a philosopher? As she weighed her options, Fyora hugged her back.
They stood in silence as they both tried to find the right words. Jhudora wanted to make Fyora happy, and having her dark sisters around would mean she could make friends. Fyora wanted to erase all of the years that Jhudora had been left to wither away in exile. Fyora pulled away from Jhudora and pulled a scroll out of her pocket.
"This is what I want you to read," Fyora sighed deeply, "But you don’t have to."
Jhudora took the scroll and unrolled it. She read over it and nodded. "I’ll try to read it word for word."
Fyora feigned a smile as she stared at Jhudora’s hair. It was tragic by Faerieland standards. Jhudora picked up the hint and sighed. She made her way to one of the bins she used for items that she swore she would use eventually. She pulled out a bottle of shampoo and glanced back at Fyora. Fyora nodded as Jhudora let out a deep sigh. Jhudora noticed that the queen’s face had changed. Her face hadn’t changed with age or wisdom. Her face had changed from the layers of rouge and foundation piled upon it. The eyeliner and eyeshadow transformed her into something that Jhudora couldn’t quite understand.
"I understand," Jhudora nodded in defeat, "I need to look like them." She pulled a mirror out of the bin and stared at her own reflection. She never wore makeup. She never wanted to. Her deep purple eyelashes framed her eyes well enough in her mind. She glanced down at her lips. They were fine, she assured herself. They were darker than her skin, which meant that they were at least defined.
"You look good in green," Fyora smiled softly as she gestured at Jhudora’s dress.
Jhudora looked down at the dress and gasped. It was beautiful, but she felt like it clashed with her very being. It was a deep, emerald green. She held up her arm to examine the sleeve. It was a full length bell sleeve that framed her hand perfectly. She took a deep breath and looked down at the bin.
Fyora smiled softly and held out her hands. In her hands, a small box appeared. "You’re very smart, Jhudora," Fyora whispered, "You’ll figure out how to apply it."
Jhudora nodded and took the box. With that, Fyora disappeared.
** ** **
Jhudora quickly glanced at a mirror as she waited to go onto the stage. She looked like a clown in her own mind. Her lips and eyeshadow were the same emerald green as her dress. She had tried her hardest to apply the makeup well, but she knew she had failed. Even if she had done her makeup well, the ribbon holding her hair into a bun was pulling at her hair. She felt as if her scalp was going to get ripped off of her head. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Her skin could barely breathe through the layers of foundation and rouge, but she told herself that she could get used to it.
Suddenly, she felt something touching her face. She let out a small squeak as she opened her eyes.
"I’m sorry," Fyora whispered as she rubbed away at Jhudora’s heavy handed rouge. "It’ll be ok."
Jhudora nodded as Fyora turned on her heel and made her way to the podium on the center of the stage.
Jhudora watched as Fyora smiled brightly. The crowd let out a collective gasp. Jhudora wasn’t sure if this was a normal occurrence, so she just pretended that it was.
"My fae sisters and my fae daughters, we have a proposition from one of our banished sisters," Fyora pulled her hand to her forehead in a show of disbelief, "We must show her kindness, however."
The room became deafeningly silent. Jhudora took that as her cue to step out onto the stage. She looked out at the crowd and froze.
This was the room where she had been banished from Faerieland. She wasn’t sure if her memories were incorrect or if there had been a few interior designers over the centuries making small changes. However, she could instantly see the hatred on every faerie’s face. That was one thing that hadn’t changed.
She made her way to the podium as Fyora quickly dashed to the wings to watch from backstage.
"Hello," Jhudora looked down at the podium. Fyora had left her a copy of the same script that she had given her before. Jhudora cleared her throat before continuing on, "Many years ago, water faeries were first allowed into Faerieland. Before that point, they could not survive here."
There were murmurs in the crowd as Jhudora continued, "It took years and an extreme level of sacrifice to create the rivers and streams that they need to survive here. However, allowing them in to Faerieland was one of the best decisions . . ." She paused as she looked down at the script. The script said "our council", as if Jhudora was part of it.
The crowd took that pause as an excuse to allow their murmurs to grow louder.
"One of the best decisions Faerieland has ever made," Jhudora recovered. She closed her eyes and continued, "Allowing water faeries to live in Faerieland brought many great benefits. Due to the healing springs being opened, Faerieland tourism is through the roof." She began to speed up as she realized that what she was saying would anger the crowd, "And I believe that dark faeries could do the same."
The crowd broke out into angry shouts. Jhudora opened her eyes and stared at the back wall. She just stood still, waiting for the angry shouts to subside. Eventually, they did.
"There is already land for them to use," Jhudora closed her eyes again, "No land will be taken from any other faeries."
The crowd fell silent. Suddenly, a young air faerie stood. Jhudora opened her eyes and looked at the air faerie. She was begging in her mind, ‘please be on my side!’
The air faerie took a deep breath before screaming, "She broke my arm!"
Jhudora staggered back as she stared at the faerie. She was instantly taken back to her ill-fated flying lesson at the academy. By complete accident, she had broken that faerie’s arm. Though she knew better, she shouted out, "It got better!"
The crowd began to scream. Fyora rushed out, roughly shoving Jhudora out of her way so that she could calm the crowd.
Jhudora took a deep breath and walked off of the stage into the backstage area. She pushed her way through to the exit, roughly ripping the ribbon holding her hair up into a bun out. She stayed silent as her eyes began to glow green.
Jhudora turned on her heel to find the source of the voice. Her eyes stopped glowing as soon as she saw the earth faerie before her.
She stared in silence as she tried to place the faerie.
"It’s me," the faerie giggled, "You don’t recognize your best friend?"
Jhudora took a deep breath as she closed her eyes. Illusen. On one of the worst days of her life, Illusen showed up.
"Jhudora," Illusen whimpered, "They were so mean to you!"
The dark faerie took another deep breath. On one hand, faeries could change. They could become better! On the other hand, it was Illusen. If it weren’t for Illusen’s actions, Jhudora may have spent the rest of her life hiding in a supply closet in the Faerie Academy.
Jhudora opened one eye to make sure Illusen was still there.
Illusen cleared her throat and asked softly, "Are they always this mean to you?"
Jhudora opened both of her eyes as they began to glow green, "What do you think?"
"Woah, woah," Illusen held up both of her hands, "It’s not like that. I’m here because I think . . . I think that in a different world, we would be friends."
Jhudora’s eyes stopped glowing. She stared at Illusen in shock. She had no idea what the earth faerie meant.
"I meant," Illusen sighed. She stared down at the floor. Jhudora was slightly in shock that Illusen was showing the appropriate emotion. Maybe she had to be genuine, Jhudora mused. Maybe she really means it . . . How could someone who wasn’t feeling true emotions act as convincingly as Illusen was?
"You . . ." Jhudora paused as she tried to remember the "official" story. Illusen did nothing wrong, Jhudora did something evil, and they were both put in time out. She couldn’t ask Illusen if she regretted what she did without contradicting that and possibly getting Fyora in trouble.
"I regret it," Illusen whispered, "I regret making you angry enough to do what you did."
Jhudora’s eyes widened as Illusen continued, "When all of the other faeries were mean to you, I could have stepped in. I should have done more to be a good faerie. I really thought we could be friends."
"Oh," Jhudora looked up at the ceiling. She could feel her eyes watering up. She knew she couldn’t cry while wearing all of that makeup.
"I thought," Illusen put her hand on Jhudora’s shoulder. Jhudora flinched slightly as Illusen continued, "That maybe, just maybe, we could start over."
Jhudora bowed her head. She slowly nodded as Illusen pulled her into an embrace. They stood in silence until Jhudora whispered, "Alright."
Illusen pulled away from Jhudora and smiled brightly. "I know you’re not really welcome here . . . so let’s go to my home!"
Jhudora smiled softly and nodded. "Let’s go."
Jhudora stood still as she waited for Illusen to teleport them. When Illusen turned towards the exit, Jhudora cleared her throat. "Illusen . . . Why aren’t we teleporting?"
Illusen turned towards Jhudora, her brow furrowed. "Teleporting? I don’t know anyone who can teleport. I thought it was a myth in storybooks."
Jhudora bit her lip. If Illusen was genuine, she had just made a big mistake. She knew Illusen was prideful . . . casually bringing up something that Illusen couldn’t do would just hurt the earth faerie.
"Oh!" Jhudora let out a single fake laugh, "You’re so strong and powerful, I thought you could!"
"No," Illusen rolled her eyes, "I don’t think anyone can do it,"
Jhudora let out on more forced laugh. Fyora and Jhudora both used teleportation whenever they didn’t want to get caught traveling. The only reason she didn’t offer to teleport them herself was the fact that she had no idea where they were going.
"Don’t worry, I arranged a flight," Illusen shrugged, "We’ll get there pretty quickly."
Jhudora nodded slowly. A flight? Why would a faerie arrange to be flown somewhere?
Illusen took Jhudora’s hand and began to lead her outside of the palace. She began to pick up her pace as she realized how many disapproving glances she was getting from every faerie who saw them.
To be continued…