Misjudged: Part One
Also by psychopsam
A cloaked faerie walked down the cobbled backstreets of Faerieland. It was the middle of the night, humid from the moist summer air. The moon shone brightly on the darkened street. It was empty, save for the figure that strode powerfully down the road. Taking a small breath, the faerie turned to face a worn door. The lights of the building she had turned towards were on, and she knew that it was safe to go inside. Glancing down at her right pocket, the faerie pushed the door open and rushed into the light.
She was a Dark Faerie, jet black hair falling down to her shoulders. Turning to see if anyone was waiting for her, she threw off her cloak.
“Ah, Antha, I was wondering when you would return.”
“Yeah, so was I,” the Dark Faerie called Antha replied, sitting down on a purple couch to the side of the room. Another Dark Faerie, a little older than Antha, walked in from an adjacent room, stretching her wings.
“Okay, sis, we know that you got back in one piece, but more importantly... did you get it?” The older-looking faerie eagerly leaned in towards her sister, a malicious glint in her eye.
“Oh, I got it,” replied Antha, fingering something in her pocket. “Don’t you worry. Wasn’t hard, either. That clodhopping oaf of a guard wouldn’t have noticed an intruder if one had fallen on top of him.”
“Excellent!” the old faerie shrieked, her gnarled hands rubbing together in glee. “Galem will be pleased.”
Antha snorted. “I should hope so, Elena. That stupid Grarrl has never given me the praise I deserve. Fifteen years of loyal service, and never so much as a word of thanks...”
Elena’s face fell, suddenly serious. Her lustrous eyes gleamed like orbs of wax in the dance of the roaring fire. “Don’t talk about the boss like that. He has ears in the very walls, you know that. Contacts all around the city, and beyond. Sometimes it seems like even the Spyders crawling around this place report back to him. He knows things, Antha, and if he ever found out a bad word about him had slipped from your foolish mouth, he’d have your guts for garters.”
Antha sighed, let her head fall back onto the back of the couch. “I know, it’s just that...”
“Look, don’t let that get you down. You did a good night’s work, right? Just focus on that, and don’t worry about your personal troubles. Galem values you very much, I am sure, he just has trouble showing it.” Elena smiled warmly, even for a Dark Faerie.
“I don’t know about that. Galem never has liked me. One day, when I’m powerful enough, I’m going to make sure that Grarrl—”
“Mommy! You’re home!”
Two heads turned to see a young Dark Faerie, crawling down the stairs. Her hair wasn’t as dark as her mother’s; instead it took on a purple hue. Her miniature wings flapped excitedly as she toddled over to greet her mother. “Jhudora, honey, now’s not a good time,” Antha explained.
“But Mommy! I haven’t seen you all day!” the young faerie whined, digging into her mother’s pocket and pulling out a gold amulet. “And you brought home such a pretty necklace! Can I wear it?”
Antha and Elena looked at each other. ‘Walls,’ the latter mouthed, and Antha nodded. “Honey, we’re going to play a game now. We’re going to be really quiet, and you’re going to go to bed.”
“But Mommy, I—”
“Jhudora.” Now Antha’s voice took on a darker tone. “Bed.” A bony finger pointed to the stairs, and, crestfallen, the young faerie followed directions. Blowing at a strand of hair, Jhudora crawled over to the staircase and started ascending. Antha and Elena exchanged another glance, and didn’t dare say anything more until Jhudora had walked across the upper floor and into her room.
“We should go to sleep too,” Elena decided, taking the pendant from her sister and putting it in a drawer with other valuables. “No doubt Galem will be here to gather the pendant tomorrow morning. We might as well get a good night’s sleep.”
The Dark Faerie began to turn away.
Elena hesitated, stopped. “Yes?”
“Elena, what if he does have ears in the walls?” Antha worriedly paced across the room, towards her elder sister. Leaning in and cupping her hand around Elena’s ear, she whispered, “He can never know I’ve adopted Jhudora off the streets. If he were ever to find out, he would make her part of the Thieves’ Guild. I would never wish such an unfortunate event on an innocent soul. What if he finds her?”
“Don’t worry about it,” Elena said, speaking at a normal volume. “We’ll make sure he doesn’t. Now, we’d best get some sleep. Galem hates it when we’re tired.”
Antha nodded slowly, a bittersweet smile on her face, and the two faeries went up to bed.
Ten Years Later
There was a Spyder weaving a web across two of the Dark Faerie’s thin fingers. It scuttled this way and that, busying itself with the construction of what it thought to be its new home. Eight frantic legs moved across a forest of hairs, making her chuckle and sending small shivers all down her body. The Spyder, confused by the sound of its host’s voice, stopped for a moment, right on the fingernail of her index finger. It probed for a moment with its two front limbs, trying to find the source of the danger; having found none, it continued with its work.
Jhudora watched the spyder patiently, following its bizarre pattern across her digits with eyes full of wonder. How could something so simple be so complicated, she wondered, how could a spyder, a creature vastly less intelligent than herself, create a thing of such beauty? It was one of those unsolved mysteries, the sort she pondered every single day in an attempt to wear away at all those lonely hours by herself.
She parted her fingers slightly, and the web snapped into thousands of separate tiny pieces.
...Yet so terribly fragile.
Suddenly a voice called up the stairs. “Jhudora, your lunch is ready! I asked the cook for some of that soup you like, and he said he had a little left from last week, so he heated it up for you. Might be a bit off, though, so don’t be surprised if there’s a slightly strange taste to it. Beggars can’t be choosers, though, hm?”
The Dark Faerie heard heavy feet pounding up the staircase, and saw that familiar white cap begin to emerge over the banisters.
“Thanks Myla,” Jhudora said, watching the kind air faerie enter the room. “I’ll be downstairs in a few minutes; I just want to read a few pages of this book I’m reading.” She watched as the servant walked over and began making her bed, taking extra care to arrange her stuffed animals just the way she liked them.
“You’ve been reading an awful lot lately, Jhudora,” the faerie noted, plopping the final stuffed animal down in its rightful place. “Don’t you think you should take a break every once in a while? You’re going to hurt your eyes.”
“Don’t worry, Myla. I took a break for about half an hour before. I can take care of myself.” The teenage faerie rose from her chair, quickly locating a huge book on the bookshelf titled Misjudged. “Besides, I can really connect to this character.”
“Oh? What’s the book about?” Myla asked, taking a wet towel and wiping it over the surface of Jhudora’s desk.
“It’s about a misjudged Dark Faerie,” explained Jhudora. “You know how we’re all supposed to be evil? Well, she’s not. But her mom is. Famously so.” Jhudora looked down at the carpet, which still needed cleaning. Though she didn’t know the exact profession of her mother, she had no doubt that it was illegal. Everything was always so shifty, so secret; if she so much as innocently asked where she was going, her mother always refused to answer, on the insistence that she ‘wouldn’t understand’. Her mouth twisted into a frown as she ran a finger through her hair. “First book in a series, apparently, and I’m almost done. It’s about surviving school, and how everyone except for the Dark Faeries treat her like she’s evil, and they adore her, but she doesn’t like it that way. So she sets out to show the world she’s a good person, but the Dark Faeries around her try to frame her when a bad thing is done at the school.”
“Ah, interesting,” Myla said, actually curious. “So this character is like you because she is misjudged, thanks to her element. Interesting. Jhudora. You’re a very good girl. I know that. I wish you wouldn’t have to relate to this character.” The air faerie daintily threw the towel into the garbage and ruffled Jhudora’s hair. “I wish everyone would see you the way I see you, especially your mother.”
Jhudora sighed, nodding. She flipped the book open to the beginning of the final chapter, looking at the servant. “I know. I do too.”
Myla placed her hands on her hips. “Anyway,” she said. “You’ve got a big day ahead of yourself, young lady. Lots of things to do, lots of new places to be...”
Jhudora did not smile. “New places to be? Myla, I haven’t been out of this horrible old place since I was six years old. Mother thinks the rest of the world holds a conspiracy against me, remember? Nowhere I’m going to go today will be exactly new.”
“Figure of speech, dear,” Myla sighed. “You mustn’t take it literally.”
“Now, I expect you to be down by two, okay? You’re wanted by old Mr. Tooks, and it would be terribly rude to keep him waiting.”
Myla began to move off, but stopped in mid-stride. “Oh, and Jhudora,” she added. “Please try to have fun. For me?”
Jhudora nodded. She tried with all her heart to make that gesture mean something, but she could not. She still felt a terrible, lingering sadness in her breast. How was it possible to have fun when you had a life like hers? She was locked away in this horrible house all day, needlessly isolated from the rest of the wide world. How she longed to break away...
When she was sure Myla was gone, the Dark Faerie took her book from where it rested on her old brown desk. She closed it over, and stared long and hard at the bold gold lettering on the front cover, drinking in its warm golden sheen with her eyes. She could see the title, printed in huge bold lettering, deeply etched into the soft brown leather, and the name of the author, placed just below it and set in far smaller writing: Thyana Tyesse.
Who was this Thyana, Jhudora wondered? Her prose was so beautiful, so elegant, yet she had neither seen nor heard of her before she had started reading her books. It puzzled her that she had gone unknown for such a long time.
And those books had struck a profound connection with her... it was amazing how spookily like her own life the story was. It was almost as if... Thyana was speaking to her, personally. She so desperately longed to meet her.
And then a thought struck her.
Mr. Tooks, the Kacheek whom she was due to meet, was the librarian of the house. She could ask him about Thyana! He had an extensive knowledge of all things literary. So extensive, it fact, it was almost miraculous. Surely, he would know.
Perhaps the last chapter could wait till later, she thought. Hastily, she began to shove her unwilling feet into her shoes. Maybe I can find her, this Thyana. She obviously understands what I’m going through, since she’s writing about it. I can talk to her. Finally, someone who understands that I’m not as bad as everyone makes me out to be!
Downstairs, Mr. Tooks was tasting the soup that the chef had laid out. His face puckered a little, and the cloud Kacheek pointed out, “This soup tastes a bit funny.”
“Yeah. It’s about a week old,” Jhudora stated, walking into the kitchen. There was a smile on her face, a true one this time, and her eyes were alight with vigor. She sat down at the table across from Mr. Tooks, subconsciously taking a sip of her own soup and smiling, recognizing its rich taste, though it was slightly sour.
“Jhudora!” he said in a friendly tone. “How have things been today? I heard from Myra that books have been keeping you busy. Maybe you’ll start using the library soon.” The Kacheek laughed heartily, reaching down to take another spoonful of soup, only to remember that it hadn’t pleased his taste buds before.
“Maybe,” the Dark Faerie said, trying to hide her excitement. She was lucky that the book she was currently reading was left on her desk without an explanation. Normally she wouldn’t have started reading it, but there was something about it, a freshness, that made her look at the first few pages. “I hope that the sequels to the book I’m reading are in the library. Speaking of which, do you know of an author named Thyana Tyesse?”
Mr. Tooks looked up, as if searching through the reaches of his memories. He murmured something to himself, and then looked up at Jhudora. “No, I do not recall ever having read or obtained something by this Thyana Tyesse. Is she a new author?”
“I don’t know,” the Dark Faerie said, shrugging. “Oh well. I’ll have to find her sequels elsewhere.”
“Is she a faerie?” Mr. Tooks pressed on, apparently wanting to know more about the unknown author. “Because if there’s anyone to consult about half-unknown faerie authors, it’s your mother. There’s a reason that you have such a big library; your mother used to love to read, back in her spare time.”
Jhudora lost track of the conversation for a second. Used to love to read, she thought, back in her spare time. She doesn’t have spare time anymore.
There was a sudden sound from nearby. Someone had just come through the door.
“Everyone, I’m home!” a slightly extravagant voice called from the front of the house. Myra rushed to the front door, enthusiastically greeting whoever was there. “Jhudie, honey! I’m free to spend time with you for a couple of hours!”
Jhudora smiled. It was her mother. Even though it was she who had ingrained the stereotype of evil Dark Faeries into her mind, her daughter cherished any time spent with her, as this didn’t happen often. It had always been like that, since she was a little kid. “Mom!” the Dark Faerie said, reaching out to hug the Dark Faerie.
“Oh, Jhudora. How are things these days?” her mother asked.
”Good, Mom, things are... good. Lunch was a bit off, though.”
“Yes, well, you know times are hard. It’s not pleasant, but we need to tighten our belts. What else did you do while I was away?”
Jhudora knew this was a barefaced lie, but said nothing of the matter.
“Actually,” she replied. “Mr. Tooks and I were just talking, and I have a question to ask: do you know anything about an author named Thyana Tyesse?” Jhudora put her hands in her lap, eagerly awaiting the answer.
“Yes...” Antha said suspiciously. “Why would you want to know?”
“Well, there was this book, Mom. I found it on my bookshelf about a week ago, and the curious thing is that I’d never seen it there before; it was like it just appeared. But it’s amazing, it’s so beautiful... and I feel this profound connection with it, something I’ve never experienced with any other book I’ve ever read. I’d really like to meet her, Mom, I have so many questions to ask.”
Antha shot her a warning glance. “Now, Jhudora pretty, don’t go getting that idea into your head. Thyana is very old and doesn’t take kindly to visitors calling around.” She leaned in closer, and whispered, “In fact, she’s a little senile.”
“You know her personally?” exclaimed Jhudora, totally disregarding her mother’s words of warning.
“Then I shall go and see her! Please, Mom, if you know, tell me where she lives. This means so much to me...”
“I have plenty of experience with old Faeries, Mom. I spend every Wednesday with granny Vera, don’t I?”
Antha just sighed. “Jhudie, it’s... complicated. And besides, you know I don’t like you going outside. You never know what kind of danger lies out there for a girl your age...”
“Mom,” stated Jhudora, her face looking like it had been etched from stone. “I’m not a little girl any more... I’m a young woman now. It’s time you accepted that.”
Antha stared long and hard into the deep pits that were Jhudora’s eyes, searching for some small hint of that little child she used to know, so long ago. The one who came to her every morning to wake her up with a hug and a fresh collection of daisies for her flower vase; the one she used to know and love, and who loved her back.
She was long gone, replaced by someone she barely knew anymore; her own mother was just a stranger in her eyes... how could such a terrible thing have happened? Jhudora’s life had flashed through her fingertips, far too quick for her to catch. She just wanted her love, that was no crime, was it?
But for some strange reason, she still felt guilty...
It was time to face the music.
“Fine, Jhudie, fine. You can go. But I’m warning you, this is not a good idea.” Antha’s face fell, but she knew that Jhudora would have to know sooner or later.
“Oh, thank you!” the Dark Faerie gasped, leaping into her mother’s arms. “Where does she live?”
“99 Earth Faerie Close,” her mother said with a sigh, struggling to keep a tear from her eye. Don’t blame yourself, she thought. She was always going to have to find out sooner or later...
To be continued...