The Cybunny and the Faerieland Library
Kataz smoothed her pleated skirt as she waited for the Library Faerie to finish posting the day's crossword. After Xandra's disastrous . . . departure . . . openings at the Faerieland Library were even more scarce. Kataz had been on a waiting list since before Faerieland fell. If she messed up this interview, Kataz doubted she'd have another chance to earn a spot working in the library or even the Faerieland bookshop.
Certain her skirt was perfectly smooth, Kataz moved on to stroking her ears and smoothing the fur on her paws. First one, then the other. Being a Cybunny, Kataz was more used to the cooler climes of Northern Neopia. Even her home on Bread Street in Neopia Central was sometimes uncomfortable. Faerieland settled much farther south when it fell, just a short walk from the Lost Dessert. Sitting in the Library Faerie's office, Kataz was beginning to feel uncomfortably warm.
The door to the faerie's office opened before Kataz needed to contemplate if a building designed to sit on clouds would have windows that could be opened. (It had seemed unlikely anyway.)
With a caring smile that soothed some of Kataz's nerves, the Library Faerie beckoned the Cybunny into her office.
From behind her desk the faerie looked at Kataz from over her glasses as she settled herself into a plush chair on the opposite side of the desk.
The Library Faerie flipped through Kataz's thick resume. "I see you're a regular visitor to the library and Faerieland's bookshop. You also have an impressive set of references from the Faerieland Employment Agency."
Kataz smiled nervously. "I love books. It's always been my dream to work in the Faerieland Library."
The faerie nodded again. "I have no doubt you have the technical background to work here. I worry, though, that you lack the practical experience our staff demands. You've probably guessed as much from Xandra's exploits, but Faerieland does not have what you would call a typical library."
Kataz blinked unsure if she was meant to agree or take the opportunity to denounce Xandra's villainous deeds. She nodded demurely hoping that would cover whatever reaction the Library Faerie hoped to see.
"If we were hiring solely on expertise, the job would be yours. As it stands, I'd like to propose a small test. To be sure you understand what working for the Faerieland Library will entail as much as to be sure you're up for it."
Kataz nodded, confident in her abilities. Nothing could be as strange as her last job hunting down rag dolls in Mystery Island. Even with Nayha's help it had taken hours to navigate the labyrinthine stalls of the island Trading Post.
With complete calm, Kataz replied, "A small test won't be a problem. Once it's over I'm sure you'll agree I'm the best candidate for this position."
Kataz's interview with the Library Faerie had been a scant three hours earlier. Her unfailing confidence that she could complete the Library Faerie's test was already beginning to feel like the height of folly--not to mention a little bit arrogant.
It had seemed simple enough when the Library Faerie explained what she had in mind. All Kataz had to do was collect an overdue book from Naia, the Fountain Faerie. Simple.
Upon arriving at the Rainbow Fountain, Kataz realized her mistake.
Naia smiled at the Cybunny beatifically. "Alas, my fountain is not working properly right now," she said as she waved a hand behind her to indicate the dry fountain.
"I'm actually not here about the fountain at all," Kataz said politely. "I'm here to collect an overdue library book. You checked a copy of the Faerie Colourpedia out of the Faerieland Library nearly four months ago. The Library Faerie sent me to collect it and return it on your behalf."
Naia pouted. "But it's so boring here without my fountain working. No one has completed one of my quests in ages. If you take my book I'll be dreadfully bored," she whined.
Kataz pursed her lips. She did not mention that things would be more entertaining if Naia would just hire someone to fix her fountain permanently. Nor did she mention that Matt would probably be more than happy to take a break from surfing Neopia's sewers to look at the fountain. Kataz had a feeling none of that was the actual problem. She suspected Naia wanted a challenge. She suspected she knew exactly what Naia wanted for the book.
Taking a deep breath, Kataz said, "What if I complete one of your quests? One quest item in exchange for your overdue book."
One of Naia's eyebrows quirked up. "Yes," she drawled. "I suppose that would be fair." In a more forceful voice she said, "Neopian, bring me Spring Time Female Krawk Dress and you shall have your book."
The Fountain Faerie then proceeded to ignore Kataz completely which the Cybunny took as her cue to leave.
Kataz knew from experience that Unis Clothing would likely be too crowded and busy to help her properly. Instead she decided to start at the Almost Abandoned Attic. Neovia was walking distance from Faerieland and while the attic's stock was erratic, it was also known as a shopping destination for anyone looking for obscure items at a dramatically lower price.
Kataz shuddered as she walked into the attic--the ghost Aisha who ran the attic always made her nervous.
Before she could properly introduce herself, the Aisha appeared "Oops," she said in her eerie voice. "We just ran out of items."
"That's okay," Kataz said immediately, "I just wanted to know if you think you'll be getting Spring Time Female Krawk Dress in stock anytime soon."
The ghost smiled. "Perhaps," she said cryptically.
"Is that a yes or a no?"
"It's a maybe. I do occasionally take special orders. But not for my health and certainly not for free."
Kataz pursed her lips. She could guess where this path lead. "What, exactly, do you want?"
The Aisha adjusted her collar. "It's incredibly dreary here, don't you think? I'm rather fond of neggs. Can't stand the taste, of course, but I think they're quite decorative, don't you?"
Kataz refrained, just barely, from rolling her eyes. "How many neggs for the dress?"
"Oh, let's make it a round dozen," the ghost said with a purse of her lips.
"Fine," she said through clenched teeth as she stomped out to procure passage to Terror Mountain.
As she wove through the Ice Caves on her way to the Neggery, Kataz reasoned she was lucky to have fur. At least she hadn't needed to stop for a coat. The Library Faerie's test was already taking much longer than she had expected.
Kataz was relieved to find Kari at her station upon arriving at the Neggery. "Hello," she said, "I'd like to buy a dozen neggs."
Kari pulled an oversized calculator from behind an oversized negg bush. "Egg-cellent," she said to herself as she began to punch in numbers.
"Decorative neggs," Kataz added belatedly.
Kari only nodded without looking up from her calculator. At length she turned back to the Cybunny and said, "That will be 200,342 neopoints."
"What?!" Kataz exploded. "That's absolutely ridiculous." She could have bought the Spring Time Female Krawk dress herself for that price.
Kari shrugged. "Supply and demand."
"Well, I demand a better price," Kataz said with furrowed eyebrows.
Kari crossed her arms. "I've been looking for a new petpet. Bring me a Noak and we can talk. Maybe."
Kataz smiled at the first bit of good luck she had had all day. "I don't suppose you'd have a spare bucket?" she asked.
Kataz had been fishing at Ye Olde Fishing Vortex in the Maraquan Ruins for years--even before her youngest sister Druyanava had been born. Nerc and Nayha enjoyed fishing as much as Kataz herself did. But Kataz was the one with a fishing skill well above 250 and a special knack for attracting Maraquan petpets.
With the proper bait, Maraquan petpets--especially ones as perpetually hungry as Noaks--were easy to catch. It was almost as easy as fishing in a barrel . . . instead of an underwater lake. Either way, Kataz had soon retrieved the request Noak who burbled happily as she dipped him into her borrowed bucket.
The Noak began turning tight circles inside the bucket as Kataz nodded to the regulars on her way out. She returned her fishing rod to the bait shop and made her way out of Maraqua.
Kataz's second trip to Terror Mountain was far less enjoyable thanks to her wet fur and clothes. Reasoning that she could soon Kataz hopped briskly back to the Neggery where she found a very bored Kari waiting for her return.
Kari yawned enormously. "I was just getting ready to close for my afternoon break," she said with a stretch.
Kataz set the bucket down on the desk in front of Kari, tired of small talk. "One Noak for one dozen decorative neggs."
Kari grinned. "He's so cute!" she squealed happily. With a clap of her hands she scooped up the Noak and placed him in a grander, large Negg-shaped tank. "Let me get you some powerful, magical neggs!"
"Decorative ones would be better," Kataz called after the Negg Faerie.
"Well, of course. All of my neggs are egg-cellent," Kari called from the cabinet she had crawled inside.
Kataz watched the Noak swim in his tank while she waited. The tank was decorated with miniature neggs that the Noak was systematically eating to sate its appetite. Kataz decided it wasn't worth mentioning to Kari.
The trek from Terror Mountain back to the Almost Abandoned Attic seemed to take forever. On the bright side, by the time she barged into the attic Kataz' fur and clothes were completely dry.
The ghost Aisha smiled as she directed Kataz to deposit the neggs at various points throughout the attic.
"My, my, my, these neggs certainly do liven up the place!" the ghost Aisha said with a laugh that came uncomfortably close to a cackle. Kataz was glad to collect her Spring Time Female Krawk Dress and leave.
"Greetings, Neopian!" Naia bellowed as Kataz returned.
Kataz held the dress up in front of her. "I have your Spring Time Female Krawk Dress," she said triumphantly.
"Thank you so much! You're so kind to me," Naia said as she took the dress and tossed it atop a pile behind her fountain. "You may come visit me at my Rainbow Fountain any time! I'll be happy to award you with a brand new colour!"
"Actually, I like being Christmas," the Cybunny said as she stroked her red and green mane. "But I believe you owe me an overdue library book."
The Fountain Faerie stared at Kataz blankly for an excruciating moment before she nodded. "Of course."
She turned to dig through her pile of expensive wearables, tossing them about as if they were cheap buyables. Kataz shook her head and reminded herself it was best not to chastise Naia--she was probably friends with Boochi and Kataz certainly did not want to be painted Baby.
Turning, Naia tossed the Faerie Colourpedia to Kataz. "Here you go. And it's only three months overdue. I'm getting better at this!" she said with a grin.
Kataz blinked, remembering that Naia was related to Marina from the Healing Springs.
"I thank you and I'm sure the Faerieland Library thanks you as well," Kataz said with a wave.
"Fishing is really just a matter of using the right bait," Kataz explained back at the library, "so from there it was easy to get a Noak for the neggs to trade for the dress to bring to Naia. And now I have your book," she said handing the book carefully to the Library Faerie.
The faerie smiled. "I think you're going to be an excellent fit here. Let's talk about when you can start."
Kataz beamed. She couldn't wait to tell her family about her new job.