The sun rose slowly as night cast aside her starry blanket to welcome a new day. The soft, golden rays caressed the sleeping faces of the faeries, gently awakening them from their peaceful slumber and urging them from their beds. There were no complaints for the beginning of each new day was like a celebration to the faeries - a new opportunity to help their beloved friends. The silence of the night was soon replaced with light conversation interwoven with clear, melodious laughter as they set about their morning tasks. There was a general happiness among all.
Except for Jhudora.
On her bluff on the outskirts of Faerieland, Jhudora had been trying to sleep when the sun crept through her window. She didn’t see it as a tender reminder of day, but as an intruder that interrupted her dreams and assaulted her with unwanted light. She tried to wrap up deeper in her blankets, but the hot hands of the sun pulled and tugged at her until she knew there was no chance of falling back asleep. With a raspy sigh, she threw back the covers and got out of bed, silently cursing the sun for its too early wake-up call.
Her first act was always the same: examine her appearance in the mirror. She was not a morning faerie, so it was never a good sight that awaited her and usually led to a bit of a sour mood all day. Today was no exception. Her long hair was tangled, her locks twisted and standing out like tree roots or angry cobralls. Her deep purple eyes reflected drowsiness and annoyance, and there was the faintest impression of tired shadows. She frowned as she ran a well-manicured hand through her hair in a vain attempt to fix her disheveled appearance. Yawning, she decided she would take the time to comb her hair properly after a quick bite of breakfast and headed toward the kitchen. Along the way, however, her eyes fell upon the calendar, and she stopped in her tracks as if she had been frozen.
Today’s date had been crossed out in crimson ink that stood out like fresh blood, but she knew what lay behind those markings. It was that accursed day again - Valentine’s Day. Of all the holidays, of all the days, this one was the most foul. Today pets and faeries alike would be handing out nauseating cards, fattening candy, and cheap gifts in the name of friendship and caring. Streets would be bathed in decorations of pink - that horribly, washed out color that she thought of being just too wimpy to be called red. The worst part was that everyone treated this like it was a real holiday when it was well known it was just a way for shopkeepers to make a quick neopoint by convincing the weak-minded that if they didn’t buy this junk, they didn’t care enough about friends and family. Everything about this day annoyed and sickened her.
The thing she dreaded the most, however, was that Queen Fyora always had a Valentine’s picnic in the garden behind her castle. All the faeries were expected to attend, and there would plenty of card/candy/gift passing to go around. Jhudora would go, but would take no part in the festivities other than eating the free sugar-laden goodies that would be offered. If she had her way, she would have skipped the disgusting picnic altogether, but then Queen Fyora would want to know the reason. The dark faerie grumbled to herself as she slapped the calendar with an open hand. If only the sun had not awoken her, then she could have really overslept and had an honest, albeit weak, reason to miss the supposed festivities.
Her appetite gone, Jhudora decided to forgo breakfast in favor of getting started on her hair. Grabbing a brush, she ruthlessly ran the bristles through the tangles and snarls, wincing as she pulled. While it hurt, it helped to focus all of her frustration into her hair. All of her aggravation concerning this pseudo holiday were concentrated into the act of brushing so that in the end she was both less upset, and her hair had been fought into silky submission. Sighing, she studied her reflection once more and found it acceptable. She would make it through this day. At least it only came once a year.
A soft, barely audible knock, sounded upon her door, and Jhudora frowned. Even the bravest pets seeking quests from her knew it was foolish to come before noon. “Who dares to disturb Jhudora?” she roared, inwardly smiling at the thought of a tiny, cowering pet as she threw the door open, but found there was no one there. She stood in the doorframe for suddenly minutes looking carefully all around, thinking that perhaps whoever had knocked had gotten scared and was hiding. However, there were no signs of anyone or anything. “Pranking a dark faerie is not a wise thing,” she announced loudly, but no one responded. Annoyed once more, she closed her door.
Only as she stepped inside did she notice the pink envelope lying innocently on the floor. She was certain that it hadn’t been there before, so she assumed that whoever had knocked had slipped it beneath the door before disappearing. The sight of that single envelope with a heart-shaped seal angered Jhudora, but it also surprised her. This thing as none other than a Mysterious Valentines Card, a coveted and sought after item on this the fakest of all holidays. These cards were sent secretly and anonymously between pets and faeries, and were supposed to be one way they showed they cared. This was the first time Jhudora had ever gotten a card.
Delicately, she bent down and retrieved the card from the cold floor. The envelope was soft and thin between her fingers, and it gave off a slight floral scent. No name had been written on the outside cover of the envelope, as was tradition, so she had no idea who would have sent this to her. Perhaps it had even been a mistake. For a few minutes, she toyed with the seal.
“This is ridiculous!” she finally spat and left the envelope unopened. Hurrying across the room, she came to stand before her fireplace where a magical fire burned with peculiar green flames. “No one would send me a card. It must have been a mistake - or a trick.” Suddenly her eyes opened wide. “That’s what it is. It’s a trick. I bet that fool Illusen sent it to me! When I go to the picnic, she and her little Earth Faerie cronies were probably be giggling and she’ll ask me if I got a card. That’s all it is, but I won’t let them trick me that easily.” With a flick of the wrist, she started to throw the envelope into the fire but paused at the last second and continued to stare at the envelope.
“It’s not real,” she said aloud, as if trying to convince herself. “If it’s not Illusen, then it’s probably one of those foolish pets who think I’m just misunderstood, and that I’d be nicer if I had a friend. Ha! They are the ones who misunderstand! I don’t need anyone else, and I don’t need this card!” Again she made a motion to toss the envelope into the eager flames, but something she didn’t quite understand made her pause once again.
The envelope looked so harmless in the flickering firelight, and the curiosity grew within her. Despite everything, she really was curious who would send her a card after all these years. With a quick glance around to ensure no one was watching, Jhudora opened the envelope and pulled out the card before she could change her mind. The card itself was simple, and the same that everyone else received. It was the writing inside that was different.
There was no signature on the inside, and she didn’t recognize the curved handwriting. Only a single sentence had been written in black ink, and she read over it several times.
“Remember, you are never without a friend.”
“This was a waste of my time,” Jhudora declared and started, for a third time, to toss the card to flames. It was no surprise, even to herself, she still felt reluctant to do so and instead laid the card on a nearby table. There it sat as she continued to get ready for Fyora’s picnic.
When she left some time later, she tried not to think of the card, but the phrase was now engraved within her mind, “Remember, you are never without a friend.” Each time those words came back to her, the faintest trace of a smile would touch her lips.
Just as the card sender had intended.