Still thwarting Sloth's mind control... Circulation: 135,120,757 Issue: 269 | 8th day of Celebrating, Y8
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Orbulon and the Founder of Symol Hole: Part One

by tashni


Chapter 1 of 3

Orbulon felt like the unluckiest creature in all of Neopia. After several unpleasant events in Mystery Island, he had been thrown down into an erupting volcano which blasted him up the atmosphere. In fact he was still flying up Neopia's atmosphere. He started looking for the Virtupets Space Station, daring to hope he might finally return to his climate-controlled home. But just as his hope peaked, so did his flight.

     He tumbled down towards who-knows-where in Neopia - again. He looked at the planet below and saw a stretch of green land dotted with white and brown buildings. It looked pleasant enough. He also saw a purple island hovering above the land. It didn't appear as pleasant, but it seemed as likely a landing site. As he closed in on the island, he recognized it was actually a castle. Whether he landed on the ground or the castle, it would be uncomfortably close.

      Orbulon was about to pass by the outer edge of the citadel when a wind blew him into one of the buildings. He slid down its rough side, his skin scraping against it. He kicked himself off of the building and crashed onto the citadel floor. The ground beneath him caved on impact, and he fell through into a dark cavern. Watching the stone floor rapidly approach, he saw a Korbat chained to the wall. He collided with the creature on his way down, causing its chain to break. As the two tumbled down, the Korbat screeched, "I don't have your toast yet!" Upon hitting the ground, Orbulon and the Korbat rolled into the wall. The Korbat stood up and gawked at his severed chain. Then his crazed smile became even more deranged.

      A purple Mynci with a scar across his eye dashed into the room and his good eye locked onto the severed chain. "No!" he yelled and whipped his finger out at the Korbat. "Barallus, don't you dare move!"

      Barallus the Korbat howled with crazed glee and flew up toward the hole Orbulon had made, singing, "At last I shall find your buttered toast!" Orbulon's foot was caught in Barallus' chain and he found himself being yanked by his ankle up out of the dungeon. He didn't mind too much, though. That purple Mynci gave him the creeps and the dungeon smelled like rotten cheese.

      "I'm coming, my Lady, I'm coming!" the Korbat chanted as he flew around in circles and corkscrews and back flips through the purple city. Orbulon's head swam and his ankle felt about ready to fall off.

      Barallus finally shot up above the citadel's tallest towers and darted over the edge of the island toward the green land below. This would not have been Orbulon's first choice of transportation, but anywhere was better than that purple citadel. The Korbat dove straight down; a crash landing shot up on Orbulon's extensive list of things to worry about. But just before they became Korbat-and-Orbulon omelettes, Barallus leveled out over the grass. Still in-tow by his ankle, the Petpet was looking for something to grab on to when Barallus suddenly performed a stunning back flip. Orbulon slammed into the ground and his foot jerked free of the chain. This would have been a good thing if he hadn't slammed into the side of a steep hill.

     Having a round, plump body, Orbulon dutifully obeyed the law of gravity and started to roll down the hill. He was dizzy and nauseous all over again. He must have started hallucinating because he thought he saw around him wheels of cheese being chased by Neopets. Trees started popping up, and he tried to shift his weight to avoid them, but soon there were too many to avoid and he got knocked around like a Zurroball. He tumbled past a giant tree house and ran over some metal tools that started to tumble down with him, poking and bludgeoning him worse than the trees.

      Finally he rolled out of the woods, the land flattened, and his mad descent slowed. The metal tools grabbed onto the ground and he gladly rolled past them. Stone buildings dotted the grass, and a few Neopets strolled along dirt paths, not paying any attention to the rolling alien Petpet. Then he noticed in a small hole in front of him, and before he knew it he had dropped down it, finally coming to a standstill on solid ground.

     * * *

     Illusen was in front of her tree house, lovingly tending to her plants, when she heard metal clanking. She looked around for the source, but saw nothing. A few moments later, she went to look for her rake and shovel, which she had left leaning against an old oak tree. They were not there, so she went looking through the other trees, supposing she had misplaced them. Then she checked her tool shed, tree house and the flowerbeds. Her tools were nowhere to be found. Only one possible explanation remained: Jhudora. The Dark Faerie would pay for this thievery.

      Illusen would never forgive Jhudora, not after the first time her nemesis had stolen from her. Had Jhudora no honor? Illusen had just opened her Glade to the public for quests and was giving everyone grape lollypops when Jhudora stole her recipe. Now they were the Dark Faerie's 'Poisonous Lollypops.' They weren't even toxic!

      What could she be trying to steal this time? The gardening tools were only a start, Illusen felt sure of that. Jhudora must have an evil plan, and Illusen would have to figure it out fast.

      Outside of her tree house, a line of Neopets were waiting for her to give them quests and Cream Cookies. She started a batch of her top-secret-recipe Cream Cookies as she pondered what she would need to get back at Jhudora.

     * * *

     Orbulon sat still until his head stopped spinning. Then he peered into the darkness around him. There was a lot of room down here, much more than the little hole above him implied.

      Out of the darkness a voice called, "Welcome, my guest. So nice of you to come."

      Orbulon squinted but could see only the outline of a creature about his size. He stood up and walked toward the figure. Before him stood a mouse-like Petpet with a royal purple cape draped over his shoulders.

      "I am the Founder of Symol Hole; you may call me Founder if you wish. I believe I have seen one or two of your species down here before. You are an Orbulon, correct?"

      Orbulon nodded.

      "Unfortunately, I have nothing to give you today. However, if you wish to join my Resistance, I welcome you to Symol Hole with all the hospitality I have to offer."

      Orbulon figured hospitality might mean food, so he followed the Founder deep into the hole. The Founder led him to a large room lined with torches, at the center of which sat a large banquet table. Orbulon's eyes widened as they roved over the meats, cheeses, breads and potatoes.

      "If you will join us, you may help yourself," said the Founder.

      Orbulon didn't wait for a second invitation. He nosedived faster than Barallus into the food and ate. Oh, the eating he did! He ate like a traveler who had not tasted a decent meal since a Grarrl kicked him off the Space Station. When Orbulon could not possibly stuff another crumb into his already bloated belly, he dropped to the floor for a nap.

      "No need to sleep on the floor," said the Founder, who had watched the feeding frenzy with little reaction. "I have a suite prepared for you."

      Orbulon supposed this might mean dessert and followed the Founder once again down the torch-lit tunnels. He opened a door, and inside, Orbulon saw a luxurious bed draped in red velvet. Orbulon jumped onto the bed and instantly fell asleep in the soft fluffiness to dream of this place, a hole in the middle of nowhere that was even better than the Space Station.

      Hours later, Orbulon was shaken awake by the Founder. With bleary but content eyes, Orbulon looked up at his new friend. Somehow, the Founder didn't look as friendly as before. "Time for training," he said and led Orbulon into the deepest part of Symol Hole.

     With a torch in hand, the Founder took Orbulon down a winding staircase. Though Orbulon remained unsure of what lay at the bottom, the Founder had given him more food than he could eat and a marvelous bed. That made the Founder all right in his book. As Orbulon started to lose his breath, he saw ahead of them an enormous cavern at the end of the stairs. Great carpets with red and white targets painted on them lined the walls, and pillars held up the ceiling at either end of the hall. Dozens of Petpets were sitting on the floor of the cavern. Curiously enough, they would sit up and lie back down, sit up and lie back down, all together and over and over again. Why they were doing this, Orbulon could not possibly imagine.

      The Founder took Orbulon up to a green Meowclops and said, "Earth Guardian, I have a new student for you."

      The Meowclops looked Orbulon over with his one eye and said, "What are you, anyway?"

      "He is an Orbulon," said the Founder. "We have never had one among our ranks before."

      "I know that," the Earth Guardian snapped.

      Orbulon was not sure he liked this Earth-Guarding Meowclops.

      "Come here," said the Earth Guardian to Orbulon.

      Orbulon looked over at the Founder, who nodded in agreement. He then walked to the Meowclops.

      The Earth Guardian slapped a pair of leaves into Orbulon's hands. "Come on, let's get started," he said and strode toward the other side of the cavern. As they walked, a giant Meowclops statue caught Orbulon's eye. The Earth Guardian must have a major ego.

      Orbulon assumed the Earth Guardian wanted him to follow, and as he did, he eyed the leaves in his hand. What were they for? Maybe they were food. He put one in his mouth. It didn't taste good and it was so hard he couldn't even chew on it.

      "What are you doing?" hissed the Earth Guardian.

      Orbulon quickly spit the leaf out of his mouth and held it out to the Meowclops.

      "You're not supposed to eat it!" He grabbed Orbulon by the arm and dragged him the rest of the way until they were stationed in front of a large hanging carpet with those red and white rings on it. There were lots of holes in it, too.

     "Throw the Battle Leaf at that target," commanded the Meowclops.

     Orbulon looked from the Earth Guardian to the target, and chucked a leaf at the carpet.

     "You're supposed to try to hit one of the circles on the carpet! Don't you know that?"

     Orbulon had not known that. He glanced over his shoulder to see if the Founder was nearby in case this Meowclops got mean, but the Founder was gone. Orbulon tried throwing the leaf again, but it still didn't hit any of the circles. Why did it matter, anyway?

     The Meowclops hissed deep in his throat and picked the leaves off the carpet. Handing them back to Orbulon, he said, "Try again! And you're tossing them like dice. You throw them, hard and straight, like a dart!"

     The Earth Guardian sounded serious, and Orbulon did not want to risk losing his free meals. He pulled his arm back, aimed, and let 'er rip. The leaf sliced through the air, but Orbulon's speedy throw sacrificed his already bad aim. Somehow the leaf veered to the left and drove into an enormous statue of a Meowclops. Cracks started to fracture out from the leaf along the stone.

     "Not possible," whispered the rapidly blinking Earth Guardian.

     Impossibilities didn't seem to mean much whenever Orbulon was around. The cracks grew bigger and louder, and with a final popping sound, the statue fell apart into dust and rocks on the cavern floor. Every Petpet in the cavern grew quiet, except for the Earth Guardian.

     "My-my statue!" he stuttered. Then, with a blazing yellow eye, he turned on Orbulon.

     Orbulon took a step back. He worried he had upset the Meowclops by breaking his big rock.

     "You! How dare you destroy my statue. I'll have you-"

     "What's going on?" commanded a voice.

     Orbulon and the Earth Guardian turned to see the Founder standing behind them. Orbulon scurried behind the Founder, looking back over at the Earth Guardian nervously.

     "How did this happen?" demanded the Symol.

     "Your new recruit, that's how!" hissed the Earth Guardian.

     "All by himself?"

     "That's right. He's a menace! He might very well have been sent to sabotage our plans for-"

     "Hush!" commanded the Founder. "There is no evidence of sabotage." He wore a grave look on his face for a moment, but then laughed. "Well, then I must have found someone special if he can destroy a stone statue with a single magic leaf! If you cannot appreciate him, Earth Guardian, I will take him to the Fire Guardian instead."

     The Meowclops humphed and turned his back on them.

     The Founder looked at Orbulon with mischievous eyes. "I think I know just the place to take you, young warrior."

To be continued...

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