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Tesh and the Draik on the Mountain


by pyndragon

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The little town of Littleton is a tiny hamlet hidden in the far corners of Meridell, overshadowed by a great mountain. Many years ago, the pets of Littleton cheated a band of traveling Kyrii gypsies. In revenge, the Kyrii gypsies laid a curse on Littleton: all of the pets turned into plushies, fully able to walk and talk, sing and dance, but unable to feel a thing at all with their bodies. “They will never truly live again, for they do not know what it means to be Neopians. Let them die as toys, the way they have toyed with us!”

      There was a second part to this curse, of course. In the middle of the town square, the Kyrii gypsies left a great standing stone. And on the stone there was only one sentence. The letters were carved in deeply and burned black as night. This is what it said:

      If You Wish To Be True Neopians Once More

      The Draik On The Mountain Will Settle Our Score

      At first the citizens thought that being plushie was the greatest thing in the world. After all, they could run around all day and never get tired, they could stay up late and eat as much as they wanted and still they would be the same plushies as always. But then they found that the food they ate had no taste. And the sleep they got gave them no rest. Then, their bodies began to wear and tear, and the stuffing came out their sides. Try as they might, they could never sew themselves back together. Plushies that started losing parts of their selves kept losing it, getting thinner and thinner, until they fell like empty socks to the ground and never moved again.

      Every once in a while, a desperate plushie would leave and head up the mountain to find the Draik. None of them ever returned. It was thought that they died trying.

      Now, it just so happened that a little Zafara named Tesh was born just before the town had been cursed. Baby Tesh, of course, became a plushie Zafara. Her father had died before she was born, but her mama had been turned into a delicate, soft Bori. She used to tell Tesh all about what it was like to be a real Neopet, and Tesh grew up dreaming that one day she would lift the curse on the little town of Littleton.

      One day, when Tesh couldn’t stand it anymore, she set out on the path up the mountain, away from the little town of Littleton. Along the way, she met a friend of hers, a Shoyru named Lyraelin Gray. That day, Lyraelin Gray was pretending to be a pirate.

      “Where be you goin’, Tesh?” asked Lyraelin Gray in her best pirate voice, brandishing a toy cutlass. Lyraelin Gray was something of a tomboy. She was always dreaming about running away from Littleton and becoming a sailor, or a messenger for the faeries, or a treasure hunter in the Lost Desert.

      “I’m going to find the Draik on the mountain and make us Neopians again,” said Tesh.

      “Arr, that be a noble cause indeed, matey. I will come with you, and lend you my sword.” So Tesh and Lyraelin Gray went up the mountain. Soon enough they met another of Tesh’s friends, the young Lord Vander kin Maraqua. He was actually not a citizen of Littleton at all, but rather a traveler, trapped in Littleton when the gypsies cursed the town.

      “Where are you going, you two?” said Lord Vander, gliding over to them.

      “I’m going to find the Draik on the mountain and make us Neopians again,” said Tesh.

      “Hmm, then you will need the help of a good Koi. I will come with you, and lend you my fins.” And all three of them went up the mountain together. They met one more plushie on the way. His name was Ili Longears, and he was the smartest plushie Gelert in the world.

      “Where are you going, Tesh?” asked Ili Longears, adjusting his glasses.

      “I’m going to find the Draik on the mountain and make us Neopians again,” said Tesh.

      “Oh! What a dangerous path. I will come with you, and lend you my wits. Such as they are.” Then all four of them set out. Presently they came to a stream, and Lord Vander, the only swimmer among them, helped each of the other three travelers cross over. But after that he lay exhausted on the bank, and couldn’t move at all.

      “Oh, my friends, I fear that crossing the stream has used up all my strength, because you could not swim and I had to carry you. You will have to go on alone.”

      So Tesh, Ili Longears, and Lyraelin Gray went on by themselves. They walked through a dark wood. Eyes seemed to follow them. Lyraelin Gray drew her sword, just in time to fend off the first attack.

      “Spyders!” she cried. “Foul, filthy, stinky Spyders!” And with a great battle cry she charged into the fray. “Yaharr! Go on, you two! Ye must go up the mountain and find the dragon!”

      And so Ili Longears and Tesh ran away, high up the mountain. As they climbed, a great blizzard blew up and surrounded them with snow. Ili Longears shivered from cold, placed his plushie paw on the next rock - and slipped!

      “No!” cried Tesh, rushing down to help him. Ili Longears got to his feet slowly, limping. There was a huge gash along his side. “Oh, Tesh, I cannot go any further. If I do, all my stuffing will come out, and I will die. But let me tell you this: only if you are good and true will the Draik set us free.”

      Tesh went on alone. She was feeling very sad by now, for all her friends were far behind her. At long last, she came to the lair of the Draik. The Draik, curled on his heap of gold, stared down at her.

      Tesh took a deep breath. “Draik, sir, I’ve come to ask you to make us true Neopians again.”

      The Draik laughed cruelly. “Didn’t you know, Tesh? Only the one who comes to meet me can be a real Neopet again. And once I have worked my magic, she can never return to Littleton. That is the law.”

      “Then… no one else can be turned back? They’ll all die as plushies?” Tesh felt tears spring to her eyes as the Draik nodded. No one else. She thought of Lyraelin Gray, and Lord Vander, and Ili Longears, and her mama. They would be trapped in the curse forever, while she walked free, all alone. Tesh shook her head.

      “Draik, sir, I don’t want to become a real Neopet if no one else can.” And Tesh walked away.

      She went into the snowfield and helped the freezing Ili Longears limp down the mountain. They went into the dark wood and helped Lyraelin Gray escape from the Spyders. They crossed the stream again in with Lord Vander’s help, and together they helped the exhausted Koi back to Littleton. Tesh went to bed that night surrounded by friends.

      In her dreams, the Draik appeared again, his laughter joyful this time. “Ah, Tesh, you were too good. You alone of all the plushies of Littleton who reached me didn’t choose to be a true Neopet alone - didn’t choose to abandon the town, or your friends. Your selflessness and courage has won you, all of you, your Neopian bodies, the ability to feel and love again. Now sleep, and when you wake, give everyone my message. The Neopian soul comes at a high price, one you never stop paying. Do not cheat yourselves of it again.”

      That’s not quite how it happened, Tesh would say. But it’s close enough. And there’s more, of course. There’s the legend of Lyraelin Gray, the Robin Hood of the high seas. There’s the tragedy of Lord Vander and the refugees of Maraqua. There’s a tale for each of the scars that Ili Longears collected in his travels in the Lost Desert. And Tesh, too, has more to her story. But it all began in the little town of Littleton, with a curse and a brave young Zafara, and the blessing of a Draik on the mountain.

The End

 
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