Jhudora's Big Bluff
"Why thank you, deary," Illusen said in a honeyed voice. "Why don't you go on home and I'll send you a positively wun-der-ful batch of cream cookies!"
The innocent baby neopet stared up at Illusen with big, watery-brown eyes. Slowly, the baby Kougra nodded. He left his purple negg at the earth faerie's feet and skipped out of the room.
"Bye-bye, honey-wunny!" Illusen called after the neopet.
When she was sure that everyone was gone, the faerie made an un-Illusen-like sneer. She ripped off the mask and shook her purple hair out of the wig. And there, standing right smack in the middle of Illusen's glade was Jhudora herself.
Jhudora frowned at the glade. It was awful. The kitchen in the tree house smelled like cookies, the bed was all pink and lacey, and even worse, she had to talk like a goody-goody, candy-eating, petpet-appreciating earth faerie.
What a tragedy! The most powerful Dark Faerie, reduced to impersonating her arch nemesis! The problem was that nobody did her quests anymore. Neopets these days were into assisting her pitiful sisters.
I wanna do TAELIA'S quests!
I wanna do LIGHT FAERIE quests!
I wanna do FIRE FAERIE quests!
And then there was the worst one:
I WANNA DO ILLUSEN'S QUEST MORE THAN ANYTHING!!
Where did she come in? What was wrong with her? Was it her slogan? "I offer magical artefacts of ultimate power! Become the next Xandra after two hundred easy quests!"
Nope. That wasn't it.
Maybe it was her clothes. But, after a make-over, forty hair dressers and spending more neopoints than she could count, business wasn't improving.
Jhudora was running out of money. She almost put her beloved wand in the trading post, but then she pictured Illusen's triumphant face and reconsidered.
So, scraping together her last 500 neopoints, Jhudora trudged to Neopia Central.
She struck a deal with the Uni shopkeeper: Jhudora wouldn't zap her, and the Uni would make a custom-designed Illusen costume, complete with a wig, mask, and a make-up kit. Uni's Clothing was closed all day.
After trying on the costume, Jhudora was extremely happy. It was perfect!!! Nobody would guess that SHE was impersonating Illusen! Suddenly inspired, Jhudora cackled her most evil laugh.
Jhudora snapped her fingers, and the Uni shopkeeper disappeared. That pesky pink princessy propaganda person! She would spend the night in Jhudora's dungeons! Again, Jhudora laughed.
Now that the shopkeeper was taken care of, Jhudora (dressed as Illusen) marched through Neopia Central, singing cute little songs and dancing around. Soon a crowd was following her, thanking "Illusen" for gifts of cream-cookies, asking if she would attend birthday parties, etc.
It made Jhudora sick.
Soon she bid fair well to her crowd of unsuspecting fans, and flew high up into the air, doing several loops just for the fun of it.
Next stop, Illusen's Glade.
To the real Illusen, it must have been quite a shock to see herself standing on her front door. And the real Illusen didn't have time to wonder at this strange occurrence.
Jhudora (still dressed as Illusen) kicked down the door and did the finger-snap spell. Illusen would have a little sleep-over with the Uni shopkeeper.
Seating herself on a cute little stool and posing gracefully, Jhudora passed for Illusen. It had been that way for three months now, and it never got old. The way the useless unsuspecting neopians had filed in, practically begging for Quests. . .
It was having a wonderful effect on her bank account. Jhudora was considering hiring more minions, maybe some Darigan Kougras or battle-scarred Grarrls.
"Umm, Madam Jhudora?" a rough voice called from outside the glade.
Jhudora snapped out of her reflection and hurriedly threw on the mask and wig.
"Neo!" she snapped. "You know not to call me that around here!"
A rather bored-looking blue Kougra padded leisurely into the glade.
"Forgive me, Madam, but a Xweetok is here, she says it's about a Quest." Neo yawned.
Jhudora had hired Neo way back in year 8. He was an okay minion. When he'd first come to her, he'd been painted Darigan. But when she'd needed his assistance in operation Illusen, Neo had allowed himself to be painted blue.
"Alrighty then," Jhudora hissed, "Let her in!"
Neo bowed, and then reappeared with a rather cute green Xweetok.
"Hi, Illusen!" the Xweetok said cheerfully, bouncing all over the glade.
"And you are?" Jhudora said in a sickly sweet voice.
Jhudora bit back the words to a withering spell.
Xzeeh was an annoying creature who led the I.L.L.U.S.E.N. club. Xzeeh had made up this annoying cheer that promoted all the things Jhudora hated most: Xzeeh, Illusen, and their stupid club. AND, to make things doubly worse, Xzeeh had won over the faerie queen who had changed the Faerieland National Anthem to Xzeeh's cheer.
" . . . Gimme a I, an' gimme two L's! Gimme a U and a big huge S-E-N! GOOOOO ILLUSEN!!!"
It gave Jhudora a headache.
Xzeeh started cheering the song over and over again, prancing around the glade like a sick Drackonack.
"Gimme a big huge--" Xzeeh sang, clearly waiting for Jhudora to join in.
"S-e-n!" Jhudora shouted, trying to twist her grimace into a smile.
"Ha ha. . . that was great, Xzeeh. . . what do you wan--"
Xzeeh launched into the second verse. Jhudora nearly screamed.
"Jhudora stinks! Jhudora's an I-D-I-O-T!!!!! Xzeeh is S-M-A-R-T!!!! Weeeeeeeeeeee HEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
"Heh heh. Now really, Xzeeh, I've got a headache, could you please--"
"I-L-L-U-S-E-N!!! GO GO GO!!! Jhudora's got S-N-E-E-Z-L-E-S!!!!!!"
"That doesn't even rhyme! Xzeeh, get out--"
"I ROCK, JHUDORA STINKS! ILLUSEN ROCKS, JHUDORA--"
"GET OUT OF HERE!!!!!"
Jhudora ripped off her mask and wig. Xzeeh stopped in her tracks. She took one look at Jhudora, and ran yelping out of the glade, past Neo, through Meridell, into Neopia Central, and straight to the Defenders of Neopia.
All of this Jhudora observed from her crystal ball. She saw Judge Hog frown, and waited for him to send Xzeeh packing. But no. . . that stupid superhero! He was calling the rest of the defenders!!
Jhudora had seen enough. She hastily threw on her wig and mask, baked a fresh batch of cream cookies, and tried to look sweet and adorable. Xzeeh couldn't prove anything yet.
Judge Hog came zooming in, followed by a flock of Defenders and curious spectators. He landed in the glade, passed Neo (who smiled innocently), and flew strait into the tree house.
"JHUDORA!!!!" he bellowed, flexing his stupid muscles in a pompous manner, "I AM THE MIGHTY JUDGE HOG!!! SURRENDER NOW, OR RISK BANISHMENT!!!!"
Inwardly, Jhudora groaned, Outwardly, she tried her best to act mildly surprised.
"Judge-y Wudge-y, I don't know. . ."
"You threw Illusen in your dungeon! You vile--"
"Oh, bitsy-witsy Judge-y Wudge-y, I'M Illusen!!"
"NO, YOU'Re NOT!"
"NO, AND I CAN PROVE IT TOO!"
And from behind Judge Hog the real Illusen emerged, looking very, very upset.
It was no longer worth it. At least for a while she would have to pretend to be as upset as her sister.
"It's banishment for you, Jhudora!" Illusen yelled, her red hair sticking up after three months of no brushing.
Jhudora winced. Banishment was the worst possible punishment imaginable. It had been the Darkest Faerie's temporary bane, and if it could hold the Betrayer for a thousand years, it could hold Jhudora for eternity. I mean, who could escape after being turned to stone?
"You haven't got me yet!" Jhudora thundered. She clapped her hands, and Neo flipped the light switch.
There was a momentary struggle, in which both Jhudora and Illusen wisely refrained from using magic. Judge Hog accidentally punched Xzeeh (who had tagged along), and Neo got overwhelmed by an army of Defenders.
Illusen made a lucky guess and tackled Jhudora. Jhudora screamed her Illusen scream, a grand idea popping into her head.
King Altador (who was waiting to see somebody besides himself get turned to stone) finally found the light switch. He flipped it, and everyone beheld Jhudora (still dressed as Illusen) smack on the ground. Illusen was sitting on her, heavy as a boulder.
"Get this Dark Faerie off of me!" Jhudora wailed.
Immediately, Illusen jumped off of Jhudora, who continued to spew accusations.
"I'm Illusen, not her! She's jealous of my Quest-Giving-Awesomeness!!!"
"She's not me! I'm ME!!!"
"Don't listen to her, she's just a big, loathsome--"
"--That's Jhudora! I'm too wonderful to say such an awful word!"
"I would never say that I was wonderful, Jhudora! I'm not wonderful, I'm PERFECT!!"
The two faeries launched themselves at each other, Illusen battering Jhudora, Jhudora pulling Illusen's matted red hair.
"STOP!" It was Queen Fyora! Jhudora realized, with a sinking feeling in her stomach, that she had better get out of there fast.
She appeared on her throne, wearing the now torn Illusen costume. She snapped her fingers and it disappeared. In its place were her usual purple robes and neon-green dress. Her fortressy-thing had changed, though. Her bodyguards were all painted Darigan, and she had twice the amount of servants scurrying around. Jhudora snapped her fingers again and Neo appeared at her side.
A servant handed Neo a Darigan paintbrush, and her minion raced to the Rainbow Pool. Nobody would ever find the BLUE Kougra who'd assisted that vile villainess.
Soon, Illusen broke down the doors to her throne room. That simple-minded Earth Faerie was livid. The Darigan guards exchanged surprised glances.
Illusen was joined by hundreds of defenders, Judge Hog, and (Jhudora's stomach clenched) Queen Fyora herself.
"Jhudora, what's the meaning--"
The Dark Faerie smiled slyly, realizing she still had the upper hand.
"I've been brooding in my fortress all day," she said, slow and cool. "You have no proof of me doing anything."
Fyora raised an eyebrow. She had to hand it to Jhudora. She was as cunning as they came. She patted poor Illusen on the shoulder and flew back to the Hidden Tower.
Over the next few days Neopets started begging her for Quests, impressed with her abilities. To Jhudora it didn't matter if they came or not. She had enough cash to last a lifetime, and Illusen's face had been priceless!