Into the Glade- an Interview with Illusen
I’ve always prided myself, as a journalist, on my ability to maintain my composure in the face of incredible stories. I was cool, calm and collected when the floor of the Icy Caves split open, revealing a whole new world. While everyone sought the truth of what happened to The Cyodrake’s Gaze, I observed and reported with objectivity. Sitting in a luxurious patch of clover in Illusen’s Glade though, I can feel my palms sweating with the nerves; I hope she doesn’t want to shake hands, because I’d hate for my idol’s first impression of me to be one of disgust. When Illusen enters my field of vision, gliding towards me with utter elegance and grace, I feel my throat choke up. Move tongue, I demand of myself. Don’t blow this! I manage to set my face to a smile in the nick of time and break the ice as she joins me in the clover.
“It’s lovely to meet you, Illusen. Thank you so much for making the time to speak with me. I’m Vulxe, from The Neopian Times, and a huge fan of yours,” I start.
She blushes slightly at the compliment, but is nothing but gracious. She offers me from a plate of her special Illusen Cream Cookies as she replies.
“Not at all. I’m always happy to make time for a bit of positive PR, especially come this time of year. The month of Running is always my busiest time for visitors.”
March 17th is the annual celebration for all things Illusen, of course.
“Let’s talk about that. A month ago we had Jhudora’s day. I know things between the two of you have always been a little tense. How do you feel about Jhudora Day? Do you think it is something we should be celebrating?”
Illusen smiles gently at what I’m sure is one of the questions she fields the most frequently. She smooths out her chartreuse skirt with well-manicured hands.
“You’re right- the history between Jhudora and myself has been quite rocky. I don’t harbor her any ill-will though. We all make mistakes-“
“Even you?” I cannot help but interject. Her laugh is tinkling, like the light sound of bells.
“Yes, sometimes even me. I don’t claim to be infallible. Jhudora has just taken a different road in life to me. If having a dedication day helps her realised that people care, perhaps she’ll make some better choices in the future. I don’t see it is as harmful to the community at all, so have no problem with Jhudora Day.”
I’d always figured that Illusen would be lovely in person, but her sweetness and compassion for others, even those who’d wronged her in the past, was genuinely moving. It didn’t seem like an act at all. There’s a saying to never meet your idols, as you’ll only be let down, so it felt really gratifying that mine turned out to be what I’d hoped for.
“I think that’s a really refreshing perspective, thank you for sharing it. Moving on though, I’ve been wondering something for quite a while,” I lead.
“Oh? And what may that be?” Her eyes sparkle with amusement and curiosity.
“After quest number 35 you only ask your helpers for rarity 99 items. Why is it that you have such a need for Neopia’s rarest objects?”
“That’s an interesting question, actually. If you really want the honest truth, I recycle them. Because they are so rare, it can be difficult for shopkeepers to get a hold of new stock. I have a deal with some of the different stores across Neopia- they supply me with the reward prizes I give out to my questers, and I provide them with whatever rare items I can get my hands onto. Faerie Foods provides Leaf Tacos, the Gardening Shop provides my signature Illusens Orb Plants, and so on. It’s a reciprocal relationship that ensures the economy continues working smoothly.”
Going into the interview, I hadn’t been sure what to expect of that question. I had spent many an hour puzzling over it myself, and wondering whether or not I’d even get a straight answer. It felt like the Holy Grail of journalism to find it out, and now that her words resonated in my ears I realised that it had been the only logical possibility all along. I’d always scoffed at the conspiracies of her alleged secret warehouses filled to the brim with rarities anyway.
“So none of the conspiracies hold water?”
“I think my life would be a lot more interesting if it were true! Have you heard the one about me burning all the items? That’s my favourite. Can you imagine? Me, piling up millions of np of goods, dousing them and setting them ablaze? Dancing around the conflagration cackling? That sounds like heaps of fun, but I could never do that! I’d feel terrible at the world losing its treasures like that!” Her freckled nose crinkles a little as she giggles at the notion. It’s utterly adorable.
“Yes, I have seen that one floating around the neoboards.” I smile at her reassuringly, “I’d never given it much credence. You’re an Earth faerie, after all, not a Fire Faerie.” By this time, I can see some antsy questers waiting for Illusen’s attention queuing around the Glade. I don’t want to hold her up much longer. “Before we wrap up, I’d like to do some quick-fire questions. Just answer the first thing that comes to mind, ok?”
“Favourite ice cream flavour?”
“Mint Chocolate Chip.”
“Describe yourself in one word?”
“Spring, of course.”
“Dry Flower Décor”
“Favourite Pizza topping?”
“I have a secret preference for Jellybean.”
“I’m a big Yes Boy Ice-Cream fan.”
“Any last words for the Neopian Times readers at home?”
“Please stop by and visit me any time. I love having guests!”
“Thanks again for speaking with me this morning, Illusen. It was an honour.”
“Open this when you get home, to remember our time together by. I hope to see you again one day soon, Vulxe.”
With that, I know I have to leave her. It was brief, but very gratifying to have done. She hands me a wrapped box as a parting gift. I make my way back through to the Meridell Castle, then home to Neopia Central, the box in my lap. Just as instructed, I wait until I’m home before satisfying my curiosity. Inside were some packets of flower seeds and a note written in a dainty cursive. ‘From little seeds sprout beautiful dreams – Illusen xxx.’