It was sunset over Neopia City, two hundred years before
the Reign of Fyora, but Eleus Batrin III didn't notice it. More important matters
preoccupied the ancient Kyrii's mind. Matters, precisely, involving a certain
five youngsters who had run away from the City just a month before.
The Batrin clan had been the history-keepers
of Neopia City for ages. It was tradition that the first son of the clan should
be named Eleus and would inherit the time-honored position. This particular
Eleus had been Keeper for over forty years now, and now spent most of his time
telling tales to the young ones about his adventures as a youth all over southern
and western Neopia.
Now, the stories had cost him dearly. Five youngsters,
a red Lupe, a yellow Chia, a blue Blumaroo, a green Nimmo, and a rainbow Usul,
had been particularly fond of the stories of the Techo Mountains in the west.
When he no longer had any stories to tell them, the close-knit group ran away
Oh, how Eleus wished they would return safely.
But he knew they would not. There was something in store for them, whether great
or terrible, that would not allow them to return to the safety of Neopia City…
Kanich hated guard duty.
So, he knew that the warren of caves they'd been
wandering through for the past week or so were riddled with monsters. Pulors
had sworn to seeing what looked like a young dragon, and Kanich himself had
once seen what appeared to be a sentient chunk of granite.
So, he knew that guard duty was necessary. But
it didn't mean that he enjoyed it. He'd thought adventuring in the Techo Mountains
would be fun, and it was, but not as much as he'd thought. They never had enough
food, it was freezing in the caves at night, his feet were wet more often than
The red Lupe resisted the urge to howl forlornly.
His friends would get extremely angry at him if he did so.
He and his traveling companions had been best
friends since childhood. They were very different but got along great with each
other. The only other male, Pulors the blue Blumaroo, was as different from
Kanich as Neopoints were from sludge. Pulors was soft-spoken, loved to read,
and preferred cold temperatures. Kanich was hot-tempered, loved to frolic in
the sun, and enjoyed physical activities.
The girls were pretty unique too. Teris the yellow
Chia had a sunny disposition and loved cooking, K'chel the green Nimmo had a
strong connection with nature, and the group's leader, Ajora the rainbow Usul,
was clever with a formidable temper (when roused, which was rare).
The five of them had spent most of their childhood
listening to Eleus and his stories of the Techo Mountains. Now they were actually
there, and though he'd never let Ajora know, he was more than a little nervous.
He shivered once, involuntarily, and to his surprise
heard movement behind him. Turning, his formerly sober mouth quirked into a
smile at the sight of Teris. Out of the four others, he shared the closest bond
with Teris. He didn't know really why, but he thoroughly enjoyed spending some
time with the Chia when the others weren't around.
"I couldn't sleep," Teris said softly as she
settled down next to him. Her rotund body was warm, and it felt good next to
his cold one.
For a moment, the Lupe and Chia sat quietly,
until Kanich asked in a quite voice, "Teris, do you think we'll find the grand
adventure Ajora said we would?"
"Yes, Kanich, I think we will," Teris replied,
"I think it lies somewhere in these caves. I don't know why, but I feel it.
I think we're getting closer, too. To somewhere important."
"How do you know that?" Kanich was curious. "I
mean, how can you tell we're getting closer to... whatever we're supposed to
do, wherever we're supposed to go?" Kanich knew Teris had very good intuition,
but he still wondered how she spoke so certainly of their future.
"I don't really know, Kanich. I think it's just
my… intuition, is that what you call it? But I can feel something... I guess
building is the right word. Like we're being called someplace. But I do know
that wherever we go, whatever we'll do, the five of us will stick together."
"I hope so, Teris. I sincerely hope so."
An hour later, when K'chel came to relieve Kanich
of guard duty, she found the Chia curled up against the Lupe's side, totally
asleep. She also thought she saw tears in the eyes of Kanich, but she didn't
"Wow… This place is cool," Ajora whispered reverently.
It was three days since the night Kanich and Teris had shared guard duty, and
it seemed the Chia's predictions were right. They had reached a ruined fortress
of some type, hidden in a tiny pocked valley accessible only by the cave they
had just passed through.
Ajora was chomping at the bit to explore the
place, and her excitement was contagious. Teris claimed that this was the place
they were meant to be, that she sensed it intuitively. Pulors and Kanich and
even usually quiet K'chel had darted in only pawlengths after Ajora.
It was all they had wished for, full of rotting
wood tables and ancient stone pillars and eerie forms you could see out of the
corner of your eye but were gone when you looked at them full on. It was a huge
place, a great hall with several antechambers, and they were many days in exploring
Indeed, things went quite well for the first
several days. They met an old red Kyrii with long teeth who rambled at them
for a full twenty minutes before they realized he was mad, probably with isolation.
Another time, they were attacked by what looked to be an Eyrie carved entirely
out of dark brown wood, which they beat off using Kanich's flamethrower.
All of them were intrigued by the contents of
the fortress. K'chel discovered plants in one room she had never seen nor heard
of in all their travels, Ajora found a wooden door that was tightly locked despite
the rotting of the doorframe, and Teris claimed that she felt some great power
behind the door, which she would greatly like to investigate once they found
out a way to open the door. Pulors found a strange round shield lying on the
ground bearing a strange symbol that looked like a setting sun, which he devoted
most of his time to examining.
It was one week exactly since they entered the
fortress, and all five were seriously debating how much longer to stay. K'chel
and Pulors wanted to take their finds to a city (they had heard from Eleus that
there might be cities beyond the Techo Mountains) where they could investigate
them with more modern equipment. However, all five of them, Ajora especially,
wanted dearly to know what lay behind the locked door.
That night, a storm blew through the fortress.
They hadn't felt a storm in weeks, being in the caves for so long, and none
of them slept a wink for the entirety of the storm's duration. It was a frightening
thing, as the thunder echoed off the mountains, increasing in volume by at least
ten times, and at one point they heard a keening wail that seemed too high-pitched
to be wind. They were all good and scared by the time the storm had been there
About a half-hour into it, there was heard a
large CRACK! like the snapping of wood somewhere to the east of where they slept.
From the excitement on the face of Ajora, they could tell what she thought might
have happened. All five hoped for it as strongly as she did.
When the storm had subsided, they found their
wildest hopes had indeed come true. The locked door had been reduced to splinters
of wood. All hastily trooped through, and the sight that met their eyes stopped
even daring Ajora in her tracks.
In the center of the room, there stood what could
only be described as a stone podium. Hovering above it-for not a centimeter
touched the stone-were five staves that glowed with an unearthly light.
The closest one to Kanich was made of a strange
blue metal, a kind which he had never seen before. It was stick-straight and
topped with a clear diamond-like gem cut into the shape of a rough heart. The
next one was made of amber-colored maple wood, polished so that it glowed like
a jewel. It was topped with a jagged blob of yellow crystal that emitted sparks
every few seconds.
The middle staff was by far the most impressive-and
the most sinister. It was made of a pure-white material Kanich had a lurking
suspicion was bone, and the circular blob of black stone topping it reflected
no light. Despite this, tiny rainbows of color flicked across its surface every
Next to that was an oaken staff that still bore
tiny leaves, topped with the largest lump of pearly greenish-white moonstone
Kanich had ever seen. It seemed to be growing even as the red Lupe looked, sprouting
more leaves by the minute.
If the first four staves had impressed Kanich
(which they had) they were no match for the last one. It was made of a wood
so deep brown it was almost crimson, and the stone topping it was a red so bright
it was nearly blinding. It was beautiful, and it was exactly the kind of weapon
Kanich had always dreamed of wielding.
"Look," Ajora whispered, "Five weapons, one for
each of us." She stepped eagerly toward the middle staff, "Exactly what we've
"Wait," Teris cautioned, putting a paw on the
Usul's shoulder. "I sense... power... about these staves. Very strong power, and
I'm not sure if it's entirely friendly. I think we should leave the staves be,
"No," laughed the Usul, "They've been here, just
waiting for us. You and your warnings, Teris, when right in front of us could
very well be the five most powerful weapons in Neopia?"
Kanich looked curiously at Ajora. It was hard
for the Lupe to tear his eyes from the red staff, but there was something wrong
with the group's leader. Despite her bravery, she had always heeded Teris's
As Kanich looked, he saw something in her eyes
he couldn't recognize. He couldn't place the emotion, and he didn't care. The
red staff was calling, it was right there, so close...
Just as his paw reached out, he stopped himself.
Teris's warning. But strangely, he no longer cared. He wanted, needed, lusted
after that staff. It was the perfect weapon, so close, so there.
Yet he held himself back. Teris. His friends.
The Chia's warning. The staff. The beautiful staff... So hard.
Then Ajora, who seemed to be having the same
struggle within her, jumped forward with a cry of triumph and grabbed the staff.
Rainbow light flowed from the staff, and my mind made itself up. Kanich grabbed
the red prize, just as Pulors snatched the blue, K'chel's hand found the green,
and even Teris forgot her own warning and took the amber staff.
"See, Teris? All that warning, for nothing,"
the Lupe laughed, nearly in hysteria over the new prize, but it didn't last.
He was hot, too hot, there was something wrong... .
"Kanich! Help!" Kanich turned like lightening
at Teris's cry. To his surprise, he saw his Chia friend was transforming. Her
untidy mop of orange hair was disappearing, spikes were bursting from her back,
her teeth were lengthening... .
Terrified, Kanich glanced around for the others.
Ajora was screaming as ethereal rainbow light began covering her fur, nearly
blinding the rest of them Pulors's blue fur was quickly hardening and turning
into clearest ice. He was growing, too, until he was nearly twice the size as
Kanich. And K'chel was... sprouting leaves? Yes, she was becoming like a living
tree, made of leaves and bark instead of scaly Nimmo skin.
What of myself? the Lupe thought. Hurriedly,
he turned to the old cracked mirror he'd just realize was on the wall... and
He was still red, but it was no longer fur. He
was burning, but it caused him no pain. In fact, he was made of fire, a gigantic
Lupe composed of flame and ember, the power of fire running through his veins…
He turned toward Teris. The Chia... no, the gigantic,
mutated Chia-beast…would know what to do. "Teris, Teris help us!" he called,
but it came out not as words but as a roar. The fiery power consumed him, he
could no longer speak...
Suddenly, awareness came to him. He was no longer
Kanich, but something far more ancient and powerful. The staff he held-he could
no longer let go of it-contained the power of the inferno, at his very disposal.
He was the Guardian of Fire Magic, and it was his new lot in life to protect
the magic of the flame.
With that knowledge came understanding-that in
a few moments, he would no longer be a thinking, feeling Lupe, but a monster
who lived to burn and kill. The others would be the same way. They would start
attacking each other in a few moments if they didn't separate each other.
K'chel had the same idea. "Ajora... what... save
us... what can we do to stop this?" She tried to fight against the vines bursting
from her torso, but to no avail.
"Nothing... " Teris replied, forcing the words
out, "We are Guardians now. We... our thoughts... our personalities… will be
gone… in a few minutes we will be monsters… we will attack… each other."
Pulors nodded. "Where… do... we… go… to… protect…
ourselves?" He had the hardest time forcing the words through his icy mouth.
"No... idea..." replied Ajora, holding her staff
as far away from herself as she could, while trying to keep both paws on the
ground. The rainbow light surrounding her Usul form was trying to pull her so
she hung suspended in the air.
Suddenly, Kanich had an idea. "The five... antechambers... we
explored," he gasped, trying with all his might to suppress the urge to drive
his fiery claws into Pulors's icy skin.
A moment later, none of the five could move.
They were frozen in place, their staves glowing like they had when they were
on the podium. For a second, Kanich thought Pulors had cast a spell of ice on
them, until he saw the Light Faerie standing in their midst.
"Foolish youngsters," she said in a booming voice,
"You touched the staves despite the warnings I tried to send you. There is nothing
you can do. You are no longer Ajora, Kanich, Teris, K'chel, or Pulors. You are
each a Guardian of one of the five types of magic. You must separate yourselves,
so as not to attack each other, and create elementals to serve you and tame
the Mountain Protectors to fight for you. For many hundred years, so you are
"Is there nothing we can do? Will it ever be
ended?" the Guardian of Spectral Magic asked, tears sliding down her rainbow
"Miss Faerie... you can't... help us?" the Guardian
of Life Magic begged.
"My name is Neenah, guardian, and no, I can't
help you. You brought this curse upon yourselves, Guardians. However, there
is yet hope, hope for all of you."
Each of the Guardians looked at Neenah, their
eyes pleading with her to continue. Hope... even faint hope…that they would be
reunited one day as simple Neopets?
"Hundreds of years from now, that hope will come.
You will be full monsters, have cultivated elementals that guard you and prevent
any one of you from reaching another. There will come to this place a Lupe with
fur whiter than the snow of Terror Mountain, who carries in her the blood of
you, Guardian of Fire Magic, through your sister. She will have passed many
trials, and will have cast down with her own paws two powerful wizards from
the Circle of Twelve. She will have been guided by the descendent of your very
own Eleus Batrin. She will bear in her right paw the mighty Life Staff, and
will be clothed in the Robe of Inferno. She will enter this place through the
western door, and she will seek out each of you in order."
Here Neenah paused, and the Guardians, ever hopeful,
begged her to go on. At last she did, "This Lupe will have one chance, and one
alone. If she is strong enough to defeat all five of you, and take each of your
staves from your own paws, then your spirits will be freed and you will rise
to the skies as five ordinary, young, Neopets. If she is defeated by even one
of you, then you will be trapped forever in this place. Here is your hope."
The Guardians could not believe what Neenah had
said. The hope was so slight, this Lupe must fulfill so many credentials, and
she must be strong enough to defeat all five of them in one-to-one battle...
Yet she was hope.
"Now, go, to each of your chambers, and begin
your task of guarding. You shall not lay eyes on one another until your Freer,
the White Lupe, has come. Go, Guardians, and I hope someday you shall be free..."
With that, Neenah faded away, and the five Guardians
turned to each other. "Let… us... go. Goodbye... friends," the Guardian of Shock
"Goodbye..." they all replied, and it was the
last word each spoke. As they turned to go, the Guardian of Spectral Magic raised
her staff and pointed it at the ruined door. The pieces sprung together, and
they heard the lock firmly click. All Guardians knew, by silent agreement, that
they wished no other poor young Neopet to enter the cursed room that had held
As the Guardian of Fire Magic turned from the
others, he began to walk toward the chamber he would make his. Where he stepped,
the stone turned to hot desert sand, and when he walked, tongues of flame jumped
from his skin to the ground, to become servants bound to him-the powerful Fire
Elementals. He did not look back, not even to try and catch a last glimpse of
Teris, his dearest friend, now condemned to guard the magic of Shock.
However, as he walked, a single tear fell from
his green eye. It shimmered for just a moment on the hot sand before it evaporated
with a soft sizzling sound.
The Guardian, angered at such a display of emotion
from his supposedly heartless self, gave a gigantic roar that echoed off the
walls of the Mountain Fortress.
For a moment, he was almost certain he heard
four faraway roars echo it.