...Serri and Fay exchanged glances and left their work, racing to the Soup Faerie's aid. "Miss Soup Faerie!" they cried, peering in and coughing with the thick pink smoke that filled the office.
The Soup Faerie was sitting on the ground, her bandana askew and her wing bent. "Are you all right?" the Lutari asked.
The faerie slowly nodded. "Mmm... I'm all right." She waved a hand away. "It's just a little spell that went awry, I'll be fine. Go finish the soup. Neopets need you."
Serri's tail switched as she reached for the faerie to help her up.
"Serri, please," the Soup Faerie moaned, struggling to stand with her help. "Thank you."
"Come on," the Usul said, tugging at Serri's paw. "Let's quickly slice up the Neggs, add in the seasoning, and heat everything. You may be helping her, but you also have to respect her."
Serri bit her lip and the Soup Faerie nudged her. "Go on. I'll be okay."
The two Neopets scampered to finish the soup as the entrance bell of the Soup Kitchen tinkled several times.
Leaning back against the wall, the Soup Faerie sighed. "It's only a matter of time before they find out I won’t be refilling the soup pot anytime soon..."
"And you simmer the Neggs, putting in the slices very gently, like so." Fay's paw masterfully scraped the knife across the cutting board, sliding the Neggs into the pot with a satisfactory series of plops.
"I see," Serri said, stirring the harmony of spices and Neggs. "That isn't too difficult after all!" she cried gleefully, sliding in more Neggs in a rudimentary imitation of Fay's cooking.
"Come and get it!" Fay cried to the poor Neopets who entered, serving them with a ladle.
"Fank you, Miss!" a young Kacheek chirruped, his cheeks bulging with Neggs. He thrust his arms around Serri and then Fay. "Can I help with the soup next time?"
Serri and Fay exchanged glances again. "I think we'd have to ask the Soup Faerie about that. Go check on her." Fay gave the Lutari a gentle shove.
Without complaint, Serri ran to the faerie's office, as her worries regarding the faerie had been on her mind for a long time.
"Ms. Soup Faerie?" she asked timidly and pushed the door open a crack.
"You really did it, didn't you?" The faerie beamed at her and embraced the Lutari. "I'm so proud of you!"
Despite the warmth in Serri's chest, she had to persist with her question. "Are you okay? A small Kacheek wants to help make the soup next time."
"Never better!" The faerie's smile flickered slightly, although her wings were healthy and her bandana and hair were in their proper places. "Listen... the magic that refreshes the soup pot... it's gone. I can't make it by myself anymore." She put her hands on Serri's furry shoulders. "You and whoever is willing to help can make the soup whenever you like. I just had to sit out to let you handle it on your own, and you did it beautifully!"
"But... you're magic! Are you sick? Will it come back?" Serri hovered over the faerie nervously.
The Soup Faerie smiled sadly. "Don't worry about that now. It will return if and when it decides to. For now, let's continue to feed those who are hungry. I will come with you."
Serri nodded and happily strode out of the door, feeling like the luckiest Lutari alive.
The Soup Faerie lingered in her office for a moment, cupping one hand over the other. A smile crept across her face as small pink sparks emanated from her hand.
So long as Neopets helped other Neopets, no one would have to know.