The Adventures of Payne the Draik
The Quest for Fire
The day had started just as would any other. The blue
sky was filled with the warmth of a typical Brightvale sun and not a cloud blemished
its azure depths. And the air was as still as it could possibly be, seeing Payne
draw in a deep breath in absolute pleasure as he stepped out of his home.
Today Payne would be working on a newly planned
stained glass window, destined for the throne room in the castle itself and
petitioned by King Hagan the Wise himself in honour of his fiftieth year as
ruler of Brightvale. A wondrous task for the young Draik who hadn't long since
finished his apprenticeship, it would form the basis of his first proper assignment.
His employer had left him to run the glaziers on his own whilst he and his wife
took a much-needed vacation in Qasala - a place they had both been desperate
to visit but until recently the area had been deemed too unsafe for travelers.
And so Payne strolled towards the glaziers, already
planning the images King Hagan's anniversary window would contain.
The glazier shop was, as always, dark at this
early hour and yet even as Payne entered he knew something else was amiss. The
usual glow and heat that emanated from the immense kiln at the far end of the
workshop was missing and he swallowed heavily in fear as he drew close. Payne
reached out one shaking hand to touch the oven that melted the small pots of
coloured glass and he jerked back as if scalded. The kiln was icy cold... Brightvale
Glaziers' fire had been extinguished.
As Payne stepped back in anguished fear he knew
he had to find a replacement fire... but where? He knew of no other in Brightvale
itself or in neighbouring Meridell... and that meant he had to travel farther
than he'd ever traveled before...
* * *
Payne stopped for the fourth time that hour,
pausing to take a drink from the flask of water he carried. The closer he drew
to Maraqua the more muggy the air became as the moisture issuing from the undersea
world filled the air. Of course, he wasn't going to even try and seek fire in
that domain, as any flame would be immediately extinguished beneath the ocean's
surface, so the intrepid Draik headed for the next land.
That of the Faeries.
As he rode up to the cloudy land Payne recalled
all the tales he been told as a hatchling. Until now he always thought them
to be stories concocted to scare children and fools but as the dark cloud above
what he took to be Jhudora's palace filled the skies he knew in his heart they'd
been true. He kept well clear of the evil Faerie's home and instead headed for
the delicately hued lilac castle that stood high above the rest of the magnificent
He was granted an audience with the Faerie Queen
who listened to his tale of woe before finally speaking.
"Young brave and stalwart Draik. The Fire Faerie
will be able to help you."
"Wonderful!" exclaimed the Draik, his face falling
moments later when she spoke once more.
"But she has finished work for the day. I think
she said she was going to test out a new Cloud Racer and wouldn't be back until
nightfall. Can you wait that long?"
"Brightvale's kiln has to be relit this very
day," Payne said, a look of sheer desperation on his face.
"Then go to Mystery Island. They have fire and
if the Fire Faerie returns sooner than expected I will send her to find you."
Payne thanked the Faerie Queen and left, his
quest far from over and Mystery Island his next destination...
* * *
"Any other day and we would have been more than
happy to give you some fire," Island Mystic said, a sorrowful look on his strange
Kyrii face. "But Techo Mountain is closed today. Spring cleaning, you know.
Have you tried the Tombola?"
Payne nodded sorrowfully. "All I got there was
a keyring and a green visor," he replied, pulling both items out of his pockets
and showing them to the other Neopet. "No fire."
"I am sorry but let me read your fortune, young
Draik," he said in a totally mysterious manner. The Mystic leaned over his table
and threw some small bones down, his eyes scanning over them before speaking.
"Your journey is far from over. You must seek out the words of a King both ancient
and wise." The Mystic looked up and shrugged. "That's all I can tell you," he
added with a smile. "I hope it helps... but beware. The pirates are rife in
these waters. You would do well to avoid their island..."
* * *
His passage through the desert was tiring and
Payne was glad for the fact that Neopian days seemed to last so long. Already
it felt as if he'd been traveling for several hours and yet so little time had
passed. He knew it had something to do with the countless time zones that were
present in the land and it was only due to them that he could make this tremendous
journey and return back to Brightvale before nightfall.
The Mystic's words came back to him and Payne
thought hard. 'Seek out a king both ancient and wise' and yet all had heard
of the new rulers of Sakhmet. Hardly ancient although it wasn't his place to
doubt their wisdom.
Any further thought was lost for the moment when
a huge swarm of bugs flew in from the east and Payne ducked low, throwing himself
down onto the sand and covering his head with his arms. He stayed there for
some time until the threat had gone and only then did he rise, albeit very warily.
This was a strange land indeed and that thought increased tenfold when he saw
the enormous statue of a lion-type creature in the distance. At its side stood
a tall pinnacle and memories of his school days flooded back.
A king ancient and wise.
It could only be King Coltzan.
With a renewed energy the young Draik ran to
the shrine, standing before it and drawing in a deep breath.
"Oh wise and wondrous King Coltzan... Where can
I find fire in the Lost Desert?"
Payne waited... and waited.
"King Coltzan... I seek fire."
"Return again tomorrow," a voice boomed and a
two dubloon coin dropped down to land at his feet. Payne scooped it up and pushed
it into his pocket, frustrated beyond belief at the response. He had no need
of dubloons. He needed fire... but perhaps he would be able to use the coin
to purchase fire further along his journey? That thought saw him skip away and
make for the next domain...
* * *
"Ok, this isn't fun anymore," the weary Draik
murmured to himself. He'd entered into the Haunted Woods a good hour ago and
he had to admit he felt extremely nervous. He'd just passed by a tree with what
looked to be a brain for leaves and its baleful red eyes had opened as he'd
"You must fetch me information!" the tree boomed
and Payne cowered in absolute terror.
"W..w...what information?" he managed to finally
"Barry Nimmo died a long time ago, and I need
to know where... and when."
"Why do you need to know that?"
"Just... GO!" the tree boomed and Payne ran as
fast as he could, taking himself deeper into the gloomy woods. He ran so fast
he barely saw Eliv Thade's castle, not stopping until he reached a Fairground.
The Fairground was just as scary as the woods
and Payne strode as quickly as his little Draik legs would allow, passing all
the way through and out the far side. If fire was in this land it could stay
there as there was no way Payne intended to stop long enough to ask...
* * *
Payne paused briefly on his way up to the snowy
wastes of Terror Mountain - in Neopia Central itself where he dropped by their
main food store. He chomped on his Juppie Cheese Wedge before taking a slurp
from his Carton of Orange Juice, carefully disposing of the wrappers in a waste
bin on the outskirts of town. The last thing he wanted was to be arrested for
littering as time was fast running out. He had to find fire... and soon! Night
would arrive before long and if the kiln wasn't relit by then he knew he'd never
be able to make King Hagan the Wise his fiftieth anniversary window... and his
employer would never trust him again.
* * *
Happy Valley. A place of fun and laughter...
at least it was, for all but Payne the Draik glazier. He somehow knew he wouldn't
find what he was seeking in such a cold world as this but as he wandered between
the houses and igloos he started to think ahead. He had to find fire but he
was fast running out of places to look.
Payne glanced at the shop he was just passing,
noting that the place was boarded up and that a large sign had been left in
the main window. "Closed until December 1st". That was a little strange but
as he looked up at the name of the shop it became clearer. After all, Advent
only happened one month in the year and for the remaining eleven the shop had
absolutely no purpose.
He moved on and into the Ice Caverns themselves,
trembling when he heard an echoing roar issue from one of the dark openings.
He'd heard tales of the great icy beast that lived in these parts and only a
foolish Neopet would venture into the Snowager's lair. But as for fire? No,
there was nothing here and he made his way all the way up to the top of Terror
Snow was gently falling and Payne blinked flakes
out of his large eyes, shivering as he did so and wishing he'd thought to buy
himself a scarf from the clothing shop back in Neopia Central, but it was too
late to concern himself with that now. He scanned his surroundings and approached
the nearest igloo, ducking inside and flapping his wings in an attempt to warm
up a little.
Mika glanced up when he heard someone step inside
the house he shared with his best friend, Carassa. The Chia smiled at his visitor,
rubbing his hands together slightly at the prospect of a customer. "Welcome,
young Draik!" he greeted. "What can I sell you? Books? Potions? Weapons? Or
a petpet? You look like the kind of Draik who needs a petpet..."
"Fire. I need fire," Payne replied in hope.
"Fire?" Mika shook his head. "Carassa!" he shouted
into the back room. "Do we have any fire for sale?"
A muffled voice shouted back. "No. But we have
some nice morphing potions. Would that be of any use?"
Mika turned back to Payne. "We have no fire but
we have some nice morphing potions," he reported, as if Payne hadn't heard the
other Chia's words. "Any use?"
The Draik sadly shook his head.. "I only need
some fire... That's all," he said, tears threatening to fall down his blue cheeks.
Mika looked full of pity for the sad creature
and he reached out to pat Payne's arm. "Maybe try down in Tyrannia?" he offered.
"Call by Glubgar's place. If he's in, he can help you, I'm sure."
"A Scorchio. Last I heard he lives in a place
called Volcano Run. He's sure to have fire. If not in the volcano, then Scorchios
are known to breathe flames."
"Thank you!" enthused the Draik and with a lighter
heart he skidded all the way back down the mountain and onto the stony plains
just outside Tyrannia...
* * *
The warmth of the jungle was most welcome after
the iciness of Terror Mountain and Payne's heart also warmed, knowing he was
close to home once more. Close for sure, but still without fire. He almost ran
to Glubgar's place, tapping gently on the door and waiting to be called inside.
He tapped again - this time with a little more
"Hello? Glubgar?" Payne eased open the door and
immediately saw the pitiful sight of the poor Scorchio, wrapped up and in bed,
sniffling and with eyes that watered constantly.
"You poor thing!" he exclaimed. "What on earth
Glubgar croaked slightly. "Bad cold," he managed
to utter. "You need me for something?"
Payne explained and the Scorchio shook his head.
"I can't help you. This cold extinguished my flames and the Volcano Run is under
new management until I'm better. The place has been locked up and I don't have
a key. I'm..." He broke off and sneezed about five times, coughing immediately
afterwards before finally able to finish. "... sorry."
This couldn't be happening! Surely somewhere
in all of Neopia there was fire? But if so then Payne had been unable to find
it and he began his final journey... Back to Brightvale...
* * *
Fuhnah the Fire Faerie screeched her Cloud Racer
to an untidy and noisy halt. Her brand new Cloud Racer, no less. It'd taken
her almost a year of hard saving to gather together enough pocket money to buy
the Racer and she was rightly proud of it. A wonderfully bright red colour and
with flames painted down each of its sides - more than enough to attract the
attention of the other racers and while they were gazing in awe at her machine
Fuhnah intended to storm ahead and win any race she entered. And she intended
to start those races this very afternoon.
That was the plan... but she hadn't accounted
for the intervention of one young Draik who went by the name of Payne.
"Hey Fuhnah! The boss is looking for you!" called
out Psellia the Air Faerie, her Harris clutched, as always, in her arms.
"Whatever it is, I didn't do it!" Fuhnah called
back in a completely defensive manner but the chances were that the Queen had
found out about the little prank she'd played on Jhudora but the Dark Faeries
was in serious need of lightening up and surely the bad-tempered faerie hadn't
complained to the Queen... had she? After all, the paint would soon wash out
of her hair and the streaks of orange went well with the purple and green. Or
at least, she thought so.
The problem was, Fire Faeries had something of
a reputation for being mischievous and Fuhnah had to admit she was never happier
than when playing a trick on some unsuspecting Neopet.
"Don't ask me!" Fuhnah heard Psellia shout back.
"I'm just the messenger! She wants to see you... like now!"
"Whatever," grumbled Fuhnah beneath her breath
but she knew better than to ignore a command from the Faerie Queen herself and
so she headed for the palace, already coming up with a million excuses as to
how Jhudora's hair had suddenly turned orange...
* * *
Fifteen minutes later Fuhnah was heading back
to her Cloud Racer. Far from being on the receiving end of yet another lecture
the Fire Faerie had been handed a task - namely to fly to Brightvale with a
fire flask and help a Draik who had come by for assistance earlier. The Queen
had taken pity on the poor creature and now it seemed Fuhnah had a mission to
see though. And she intended to make a good job of it. That way *if* Jhudora
whined to the Queen Fuhnah stood a better chance of escaping trouble. After
all, the Queen would be pleased with her if she was successful... Right?
"Right," she stated in determination and she
set out to find this Draik called Payne...
* * *
With wings slumped low, Payne made his way back
to his home land. He'd failed in his quest and King Hagan the Wise would be
angry when he found out that the stained glass window he'd commissioned wasn't
going to be made... But not as angry as would be his employer when he returned
from Qasala with his wife. He'd placed all his trust in Payne and while the
loss of the kiln's fire hadn't been his fault he still had been responsible.
He knew that and it filled his small heart with even more misery.
He trudged through Meri Acres and tiptoed past
the sleeping Turmaculus - that said he was always sleeping - and on through
Meridell, each step taking him closer to the inevitable and that meant Payne
having to accept the kiln would remain cold.
A small Mortog blew him a kiss as he left Meridell
and wandered into Brightvale itself. Payne barely saw the small river beneath
the wooden bridge as he crossed it, his thoughts completely focused on the kiln
and his own utter failure.
Payne stopped outside the Scrollery and he looked
upwards slightly to see what looked to be a vivid red Cloud Racer zoom down
towards him. He threw himself flat on the ground, his hands covering his head
and he was sure the exhaust of the Racer ruffled his wings, so close did it
pass him by.
The Racer settled down onto the ground, flattening
some of the shrubs outside the book store, much to the annoyance of the bespectacled
Ixi who was working inside.
"Are you Payne?" the Faerie asked and the startled
Draik nodded. "Excellent!" Fuhnah exclaimed. "In that case..." She turned back
to rummage inside her Racer. "Where did I put it?" Her voice was muffled as
her head was deep inside the vehicle and all Payne could see were the very tips
of her wings and her tiny feet. "I know I had it when... AHA! There it is!"
She emerged once more, a small flask in her hand.
"The Faerie Queen sends you this with her warmest
wishes... no pun intended," the mischievous Faerie said with a wink. "But I
need the bottle back so hustle along and do whatever it is you have to do. I
want to get back before night time." She looked at Payne and tilted her head
slightly to one side. "Have you ever considered dyeing your ears orange? I happen
to have a lovely shade right here in my Racer!"
"No. NO!" he yelped as she drew out a tub of
paint but Payne was far too overcome but his luck to say much more.
Fuhnah flapped her hands at him to hurry him
along and Payne almost ran back to the glaziers, careful as he was not to drop
the precious flask. He eased open the kiln's door and emptied the fire inside
and the rich amber warmth filled the room almost at once.
"Thank you!" he finally managed to say. "And
please, thank the Faerie Queen. Tell her that as soon as I have made King Hagan
the Wise his fiftieth anniversary window I would be most happy to make her one
also. A gift to thank her for her benevolence."
"And what about me? I mean, I brought you the
flask. Don't I get a window?"
Payne laughed and nodded. "Of course!" Right
now he'd make the entire population of Neopia a stained glass window, so relieved
was he to have the flames back inside the kiln.
Fuhnah smiled happily and within seconds she'd
gone, leaving nothing other than twin scorch marks over the book store's flowers
and a grateful Draik behind her. For a day that had started out so badly Payne
hadn't expected it to end this way... Plus he'd seem so much of Neopia... Enough
to make him want to explore it further. But that's an entirely different story.
For now he had a certain window to make...