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The Adventures of Payne the Draik


by goten__10

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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 buildings.

     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 drawn level.

     "You must fetch me information!" the tree boomed and Payne cowered in absolute terror.

     "W..w...what information?" he managed to finally ask.

     "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 Mountain...

     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."

     "Glubgar?"

     "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 urgency.

     "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 is wrong?"

     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.

     "WAIT UP!"

     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...

The End

 
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