The sun was just rising over Neopia Central when the Soup Faerie awoke. She lay in her bed at the back of the Soup Kitchen, staring up at the ceiling. She was dreading the day ahead of her. Why couldn't those damned neopets look after themselves for just one day?
Guilt made her get going and she scolded herself for thinking such cruel thoughts as she busied herself with the day's preparations. The truth was that she didn't mind helping the poor, sick and homeless. It was those rich, lazy snobs who visited her daily in order to get some free soup who put her in this mood. The faerie sighed.
She desperately wished she had a way to make them leave. She hated having to plaster a fake smile on her face every time she saw a painted pet bounce his or her way into line. The soup that those pets ate could have gone to someone who actually needed it.
A knock on her door startled her from her thoughts. The Soup Faerie paused, confused. Was it time to open already? Not wanting to keep the pets waiting any longer, she made her way to the door.
"Welcome," she said brightly to the line of starved and homeless pets. "Please, come in." She did not have to pretend right now. The rich pets would still be in their neohomes sleeping. These were the pets who truly needed her help.
Things ran smoothly until around noon, when a group of painted pets ambled their way toward the Soup Kitchen. The faerie scowled when she saw them, but instantly put on a bright smile as they got closer. It got worse as the day progressed. More and more rich pets and their owners came by, demanding a bowl of soup.
Rage whelmed up within the normally gentle faerie. Her smile became more and more strained. Suddenly, near end of the day, she found she couldn't take it any more.
"Out!" she cried, startling pets, both poor and rich. "Everyone out now!"
Pets scurried from the places around the Soup Kitchen. They scrambled fearfully outside where they paused to look back at the enraged faerie.
The Soup Faerie slammed the door behind them. But kicking them out didn't quench the fire that was burning inside of her. She let out of burst of magic which tipped the pot full of soup over. She knocked the jars of ingredients off of their shelves, where they shattered on the ground. Darkness fell inside the Soup Kitchen as the angered faerie knocked the candles which lit the hut over to be doused in the spilled soup.
Sobbing, the Soup Faerie slumped to the floor. She lay against the wall; head buried in her arms as tears of hate for the neopets poured down her face. She refused to let herself feel guilt. She had given her life to those pets and this was how they thanked her.
The Soup Faerie did not know how long she sat there and she didn't really care. She hated the pets for the way they treated her and she hated herself for the way she had acted.
She had cried herself sick and, after a little while, there were no tears left in her to cry. Suddenly, a voice spoke, making her gasp and raise her head.
"Soup Faerie, what has happened to you?" The voice was feminine. It was soft and kind. The faerie looked up to see a pair of lavender eyes looking down at her.
The speaker was another faerie. Her delicate wings where light pink and her lavender hair fell down to her waist. A small tiara rested on her head and in her hand she carried a staff. The Soup Faerie's gasp of surprise came out as a tiny squeak. She must be in huge trouble if the queen herself would come here.
To the faerie's surprise, Fyora's eyes were filled with concern. She kneeled down so she was eye level with the Soup Faerie and asked
"Are you alright?"
The Soup Faerie began to nod her head when she stopped. Tears burned her eyes. So much for being cried out, she thought.
"No," she sobbed, burying her face in her hands once again. "I can't do this anymore. I wanted to help the poor, the neopets who needed a place to go. Instead, I've become the person all the rich pets go to because they are either too lazy to shop for their own food or too stingy with their own money to buy food."
Fyora pulled to sobbing faerie to her feet and led her to the bed in the back of the hut. She forced the faerie to sit on it before sitting beside her. The queen put a hand under the Soup Faerie's chin to lift it up, but the faerie avoided meeting her eyes.
"Soup Faerie," began Fyora before pausing. "No, enough of that, Kayla, look at me."
The Soup Faerie was startled at hearing her real name. No one had called her that in years, not since she had first opened up the Soup Kitchen. Faeries had begun to call her by her title and the neopets actually thought that 'Soup Faerie' was her real name.
"What you did wasn't wrong." stated the lavender faerie sternly. "Stop beating yourself up for it. Many of those pets deserved what they got."
"But some of them didn't. I probably chased them away forever. Are you going to arrest me?" Fyora stared at her in shock.
"Am I going to do what?" gasped the queen. "Kayla, didn't you hear me? What you did wasn't wrong!"
"Then why are you here?" demanded the Soup Faerie. Fyora sighed.
"For a couple of reasons," she said quietly. "One, to make sure you were okay and two, so I could apologize." Now it was the Soup Faerie's turn to stare in shock.
"For what?" The queen looked away.
"For all of this." she said. "I assigned this job to you and left you to it. I let myself get caught up in things and never bothered to see how you were doing. I had no idea that the neopians were abusing your services until today. It was irresponsible of me."
"But you're the queen," said the Soup Faerie simply. "You can't always spare your time for people like me." Fyora raised one graceful eyebrow at her.
"Then who should I spare my time on?" she asked.
"Well…um," The Soup Faerie stopped at Fyora's smile.
"Never mind," said the queen. "I'm glad you're okay but please don't scare me like that again. The Council and I almost suffered from heart attacks when a neopet ran in screaming that the Soup Faerie had been bewitched by an evil villain and was destroying the Soup Kitchen." The Soup Faerie gasped in alarm.
"Did he really say that?"
"One of them did."
"There was more than one?" Fyora nodded.
"The Council Room was full of worried neopets." she smiled. "And each one had a different story to tell. I left the Council there to sort everything out while I came to see for myself what really happened."
"I'm sorry," whispered the faerie, shamefaced.
"Don't be." Fyora got up from where she was seated and looked around the destroyed kitchen. "It gave me a chance to get away from that cursed paper work." She paused, as if thinking. "And it's nice not to have to listen to Prilla and Mithana bicker with each other over every little thing."
The Soup Faerie winced. If there was one thing every faerie knew about the High Faerie Council it was that the dark faerie and light faerie council member, who were also known as the Uber Dark and Light faeries, lived only to annoy each other. Many of their arguments had not been kept as private affairs.
"Now," said Fyora. "Let's get this placed cleaned up." The Soup Faerie was about to protest. Who had ever heard of the Queen of Faeries cleaning a kitchen? The queen had other ideas however.
With a wave of her staff, lavender magic filled the hut. Broken jars became whole and their original contents separated themselves from the mess and returned to their containers. Bowls and silverware were mended, cleaned and restored to their proper shelves. The cauldron which the Soup Faerie used to cook her soup righted itself and its spilled contents disappeared. Light filled the kitchen as the knocked over candles flew back to their holders and were lighted. The Soup Faerie stared in shock. Fyora gave a satisfied smile.
"I guess I had better make some more soup," said the Soup Faerie thoughtfully.
"Don't bother tonight," said the queen as she turned to face her. "The pets won't be back until the morning."
"Did I really scare them that much?" Fyora laughed.
"Of course not!" she cried. "I sent them away."
"What!" The Soup Faerie was shocked. "Why?"
"Well, mostly because I made an announcement stating any neopet with more than 2,000 neopoints was no longer aloud to have free soup." An annoyed look crossed the queen's face. "Some people didn't take it very well."
"You told them they couldn't have anymore soup?" demanded the Soup Faerie. "I though my job was to give them food." Fyora put her hand on the faerie's shoulder. Her eyes were serious.
"I assigned you to this job in hopes that the poor neopians, those with nothing else, would have a place to go. I never thought the neopets would abuse that privilege. The pets who truly need your help can still come and get food for free, but those who have gained enough money to fend for themselves must pay for soup here as they would in any other shop."
The Soup Faerie was still uncertain. She felt that this was all her fault. Fyora sensed her discomfort and smiled.
"You always were kinder and your heart more caring than the rest of us. Just don't let your kindness become your weakness because people will use it against you. Now get some rest. I'm sure some hungry neopians will be at your door before the sun is up tomorrow." Fyora turned to leave.
"Your Majesty." Fyora paused. "Thank you." The queen smiled.
"No," she said, her lavender eyes shining. "Thank you."