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A Quest Unlike Any Other: Part Four

by toffee_choc


Milk_choc85 chuckled again as the Huggy, after spending a few moments looking despairingly at the front door, opened its arms wide and grasped TC firmly by the middle.

     TC's look of irritation quickly turned to alarm as the Huggy's grip tightened.

     "I can't breathe," she hissed, flailing her arms wildly.

     Milk stopped laughing long enough to squirt some soap suds at the Huggy, which immediately loosened its grip and looked at her in disgust.

     She watched in increasing amusement as her owner picked up the Huggy by the scruff and dropped it a nearby empty box, conveniently labelled, "Health Hazard."

     "I thought Toffee made that for Orange's science project?" she asked casually.

     TC glared. "Yeah, well, this thing is far more dangerous."

     Milk smiled and hung up her tea-towel. Her Green Kadoatie peeked its head out from under the table, and uttered a plaintive mew.

     TC looked at it dubiously, then at Milk, who was getting ready to go out.

     "Where are you going, hun?" she asked.

     "Just to visit the Chef on Mystery Island," answered Milk. "Why, do you want me to get something?"

     "Are you taking that?" asked her owner, pointing at the Kadoatie, who was nonchalantly licking up some spilt coffee.

     "Um…" said Milk, starting to beat a hasty retreat.

     "You'd better hope that was a 'yes, TC, of course,'" said her owner, icily.

     "She'll complain," said Milk, desperately.

     "Not as much as I will. There's no way you can leave me here with her too! She's going with you; I'm sure she'd love a trip to Mystery Island."

     "Fine. But if I have a headache this evening and can't cook dinner, don't blame me!"

     Sure enough, the Kadoatie started to complain as soon as the cold air of Terror Mountain hit them. The faint grumbling turned into outright protests as the predicted snow showers began. Milk sighed and wrapped her petpet further under her cloak.

     "Come on, Swirly, we'll be out of the cold soon," she said comfortingly.

     By the time they reached Mystery Island, she was beginning to wish she had brought some ear plugs. Her Tuskaninny ears complained every time the Kadoatie opened her mouth. Fortunately, some kind stranger on the boat had given her pet a particularly chewy fruit to nibble on, and so now the Kadoatie wasn't complaining quite so much.

     Milk trotted onto the shore, enjoying the warmth of the breeze on her face. Even Swirly was purring softly. She turned to watch the ship depart, watching as its sails filled in the morning air.

     Morning was nearly over when she wandered into the Chef's kitchen.

     "Morning, Chef!" she said cheerily. "How are you today?"

     "It is a disaster!" cried the Chef throatily. "I am ruined, ruined!"

     "Doesn't he normally have an accent?" murmured Milk to Swirly.

     "Um, why's that, Chef?" she enquired politely.

     The Flotsam rounded on her, looking even more perturbed.

     "Because I have lost it, that's why! Oh, what shall I do?"

     "Um, what exactly is it that you've lost?" asked Milk, slightly worried by his melodrama.

     "An Ancient Hourglass, that's what - and it is essential to my recipe!" wailed the Chef.

     "To time it with?" Milk was now thoroughly confused.

     "Oh never mind. You are here for a Quest, right?" asked the Flotsam.

     "Yes, but-"

     "Good, then you can bring me an Ancient Hourglass! You have two hours. Goodbye!"

     Milk blinked. "But I don't know what that is, or how to find one!"

     The Chef rolled his eyes. "Take this map, and get on with it!"

     Hustled by the impatient Flotsam, Milk found herself outside the kitchen with a map of Meridell in her hands. Sighing, she put it in the pocket of her cloak and started to make her way back towards the Mystery Island Docks.

     The boat journey to Brightvale (the trade route meant that all passengers bound for Meridell had to get off in Hagan's kingdom) took nearly as long as that from Terror Mountain to Mystery Island; and this time there was no kind fellow traveller to comfort Swirly. The Kadoatie appreciated the gentle rocking of the ship and the salty sea air even less than on the previous journey, and made her views known to all the other passengers.

     By the end of the journey, most of the deck was empty - the other passengers had all beaten a hasty retreat below in order to escape the noise. Milk got off the ship as fast as possible, and hurried to the nearest shop.

     "Excuse me," she said, slightly breathlessly. "Do you know where I could get some food for my Kadoatie?"

     The Brightvale Glazier looked at her stonily.

     "Try the Fruit shop," he grunted, indicating the way.

     Fortunately the Acara in the Fruit shop was more helpful.

     "Ah, I expect you'll be wanting something that will keep her busy for a while?" she asked, amused.

     Milk smiled back. "Yes, have you got anything that could do the job?"

     "I have just the thing." announced the Acara, heading to the back of the shop.

     She came back brandishing a small object, which looked like a mixture of a toffee and a mini pineapple.

     "This should do the trick," she said, popping the treat into Swirly's mouth.

     The Kadoatie paused, confused, and then started trying to both chew and suck the strange fruit with extraordinary concentration.

     "Thanks!" said Milk, with some relief. "Perhaps I should invest in a bag of those!"

     "No problem," answered the Acara with a cheery smile. "Have a nice day!"

     Having sorted out her Kadoatie problem, Milk swiftly crossed over the bridge that led to Skarl's kingdom - Meridell.

     "Right, Swirly, let's see where this Flotsam's map leads us," she murmured, unfolding it.

     "I guess X marks the spot," she commented dryly, after surveying it for a few moments.

     Setting off in the direction indicated on the map, she passed all the sights and sounds of the country, watching as some unsuspecting Neopet picked the wrong Mortog and got covered in foul-smelling goo, and listening to the market traders calling in the distance.

     However, after about half an hour, she noticed that although the sights and sounds were still interesting, the smells left a lot to be desired. Frowning, she pulled the map from her pocket and pored over it again.

     "Well, this is definitely where the map indicates…"

     She stared up at the huge mound of rubbish in front of her. If that Flotsam thought she was wading through rubbish to find his missing item, he had another thing coming.

     "OI!" shouted someone to her left, "What do you think you're doing?"

     The Tuskaninny turned to face her assailant, who was an angry blue Kacheek.

     "I'm sorry, sir, I was looking for something," she replied politely.

     "There's nothing here but rubbish!" announced the Kacheek unnecessarily. "Now be off with you!"

     "I don't suppose you've heard of an Ancient Hourglass?" asked Milk, desperately.

     The Kacheek mulled it over for a moment before replying.

     "Aye, I heard tell of them when I was a lad - but I've never seen one. Rumour has it the Smugglers over on Krawk Island brought a few to shore years ago, but all them ones were snapped up. I expect it'd cost you a pretty penny nowadays…OI!"

     Milk watched him tear across the farm to stop some other pets that had got too close to his precious rubbish.

     "Well, Swirly, if it's that expensive I'm afraid the Chef's going to have to find someone else to get it," she said to her Kadoatie.

     "I know!" she continued. "Let's go and pick some berries at Meriacres Farm."

     Milk spent the next few hours gleefully searching for berries. Even Swirly joined in, having finally got to the end of the strange fruit she had been given in Brightvale.

     Milk had always been quite good at this game, but even she managed to turn up three old boots, several pieces of wool and some dung.

     The Tuskaninny and her pet lounged contentedly in the afternoon sun, nibbling on the berries they had managed to procure. Finally, Milk got to her feet and stretched.

     "Come on, Swirly, let's go and do an Illusen's Quest," she said as she scooped up her pet.

     She strolled along merrily to the edge of the Earth Faerie's glade, which was the usual hub of activity. Gently winding her way through the crowds of excited pets, she reached the front door of Illusen's small cottage and knocked.

     Almost immediately the door flew open, and Illusen appeared, looking even more flustered than usual.

     "Yes?" she demanded.

     "Um, I'm here for a quest, ma'am," answered Milk.

      "Quest? I'm sick of giving out quests!" snarled the Faerie. "If you want something to do, go and look down the Symol Hole; or try your luck with the Turmaculus - there's nothing like dicing with fate!"

     With this strange response, she turned on her heel and returned to her cottage, slamming the door behind her.

     Milk stared at the heavy oak panelling for a few moments, before shrugging and turning away herself.

     "I guess something is trying to tell me not to do any quests today," she commented.

     Her Kadoatie mewed in agreement before jumping down and weaving her way swiftly out of the glade. Milk rolled her eyes and followed her. She found her pet sitting calmly on the edge of the trees, basking in the sunshine again.

     "Okay, it was a little crowded in there." She sighed. "Tell you what, let's take some of Illusen's advice. I'm not taking you to see Turmy, but we can go visit the Symol Hole."

     But even from that distance Milk could see something wasn't quite right there either. The hole seemed to have grown, and now even the Monoceraptor himself could probably fit in. She stared concernedly down into its black depths. Swirly mewed impatiently, and started to make her way down the ladder that had conveniently been placed on one side. Once she'd reached the bottom, she mewed impatiently again, staring up at her owner. Milk sighed.

     "I must be mad," she muttered, swinging herself onto the first rung.

To be continued...

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Other Episodes

» A Quest Unlike Any Other: Part One
» A Quest Unlike Any Other: Part Two
» A Quest Unlike Any Other: Part Three
» A Quest Unlike Any Other: Part Five

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