The Source of the Mystery
Also by chivo
The shores surrounding Shenkuu were tranquil late at night. Gentle breezes whispered through the trailing boughs, warm and serene. In the harbour ships rocked to a gentle rhythm the sea created, the famous Cyodrake's Gaze itself settled snugly against the dock. The paths through the realm were deserted, the only light cast from delicate lanterns which hung at the doors of each Neohome.
However, this serenity did not envelope everyone in the land. Near the harbour, in an elegant Neohome, one small pet was tossing and turning in his sleep, plagued by unrest. Closer inspection, dear reader, would show us a rotund Plushie Draik known as Meti, entangled in his blankets and murmuring in his sleep. Something seemed to be disturbing his sleep, for he now and then muttered in his slumber.
With this final mutter Meti awoke, sitting upright and frowning. Slowly he tumbled out of bed, waddling sleepily toward the calendar which hung on the back of his door. There it was, plain to see. The fourteenth day of the Month of Awakening, marked carefully. He had bought his friends Mysterious Valentines Cards, having saved all the Neopoints he made from cleaning the Neohome garden for months. Of course, the idea of gifts exchanged and cards sent wasn't what was keeping the little Draik so alert at this late hour. Rather, it was a conversation he had held with a friend that afternoon that was causing such distress.
He had been lounging around the pond in the garden, his friend Spectra sitting nearby. Spectra was an exquisite Royal Kyrii, her flowing tresses and regal gown a far cry from Meti's patched and faded Plushie Coat, yet the two remained firm friends. He had been listing off the cards he had purchased for various friends when Spectra had raised a troubling question.
"Meti?" she had ventured, azure gaze seeming perplexed.
Meti had nodded, only half listening. He had just found a loose thread near the stitching that led to his paw and was occupied with trying to make sure no stuffing had gotten free.
"Those Mysterious Valentines Cards... Why are they so Mysterious?"
Meti recalled he had laughed and explained to his friend.
"Because you never know who sent it to you!"
She shook her head, not convinced.
"But that's not mysterious. Everyone knows they don't mention the sender's name.”
This had stumped Meti and the same question had kept him up late. Spectra had raised a fair point; that didn't seem very mysterious at all. This thought process had led him to consider the cards. They seemed such innocent objects. A pretty coral color, each sealed with a crimson heart. But what kind of magic or toil had created such an object? Every Valentine's Day Neopians exchanged the cards at a frenzied rate, the amount that floated around was rather copious.
Meti realised that he could sit and question this until the sun rose and be no closer to a solution to the mystery. This kind of question called for an adventure and the little Plushie Draik had never turned down anything that called for some excitement!
Wandering quickly to his room, he gathered up anything he thought he might need. A backpack, some rope and a green apple, just in case he got a little peckish on the adventure. He was just about to amble out the door and into the night when it dawned upon him that his owner, Anjie, would be furious if he went wandering around Neopia alone in the dark. The temptation of an adventure was irresistible, but he was going to need a travelling companion!
A few moments later found him outside Spectra's Neohome, tossing small pebbles at her window. It only took a couple of well aimed shots until she flung the shutters open, glancing down to find the source of the noise.
"Meti!" she hissed in surprise. "What are you doing here?"
Meti looked a little sheepish. It seemed a bit selfish to wake his friend, but she was the one who had raised the question anyway. Hastily he explained his predicament, looking hopeful.
The Royal Kyrii sighed. This wasn't the first time she had been dragged along on one of Meti's adventures and she suspected it wouldn't be the last. With a cranky murmur she vanished, appearing at the door moments later, a backpack in tow.
"Fine. We'll go solve the mystery. But you owe me one!"
Meti grinned. The mystery of the Mysterious Valentines Cards would soon be solved!
The two pets set out together towards Neopia Central. The cards themselves were sold in the gift shop there and the pets hoped the shopkeeper, a rather merry Scorchio might be able to help them.
Like all shops in Neopia, the gift shop was open, even at this late hour. It hadn't yet restocked, so the crowd was thin and the two friends were easily able to make their way to the counter.
The jovial Scorchio was busy counting the profits from the previous restock, though he placed his Neopoints to the side when they approached, then beamed.
"Welcome, little Neopets! Can I help you?"
Meti nodded firmly. "We hope so..."
With a deep breath he launched into the tale, explaining that they were seeking to find out where Mysterious Valentines Cards came from and who created such a popular item.
The Scorchio listened patiently, nodding now and then, letting the story unfold. As Meti trailed off, he shook his head. "I'm sorry, little friends. The cards just arrive here every now and then. I never see who drops them off."
Spectra's face fell. "They just appear?"
The shopkeeper nodded, then paused.
"Though if you're wondering, I always thought such special magic must be the work of Faeries."
Spectra thanked him and quickly led Meti from the shop. Faeries did seem to be a logical guess. They were well known for using their powers to spread joy and bless lucky Neopians who helped them. It was certainly a good magic that created such cards for the items to spread so much happiness!
Meti bit his lip, deep in thought. "Maybe we could find a Faerie and ask?"
Spectra nodded firmly. "The Soup Faerie isn't far from here; she often helps Neopians in need."
Meti laughed, shaking his head. "We're not in need, Spectra!"
The Kyrii grinned. Maybe they weren't in need of soup, but they certainly were hungry for answers!
It took them a little longer than expected to reach the Soup Faerie. To be fair, the delay was caused by Meti insisting they stop and share the green apple he had brought along and as breakfast time wasn't far off and her stomach was rumbling, Spectra didn't object in the slightest. It was dawn when they arrived at the Soup Faerie's quaint little home and the delicious scent of leek soup was in the air.
The two friends lined up and waited their turn in the queue of hungry Neopets. The serene and lovely Faerie spooned some soup into the bowl of a very grateful Lupe, then turned to the two, surprised to see they hadn't taken a bowl.
"Did you forget bowls, dear friends?"
Meti shook his head hurriedly. "Oh no, Soup Faerie. We're not here for food."
The Faerie smiled curiously. It wasn't often she heard that!
"We came with a question," Meti stuttered, honoured to be in the presence of such a generous soul. "We're wondering who created Mysterious Valentines Cards?"
The Faerie smiled enigmatically. "It's a mystery, little Draik! Whoever created such merry objects must wish to remain a secret, don't you think?"
Meti looked a little depressed, something the kind Faerie couldn't bear, so she hurried to cheer him up. "Some say, though, that they're created with Faerie magic, though not by a Faerie!"
Meti looked surprised as the Soup Faerie continued, ladling soup into a sad Kacheek's bowl at the same time.
"It's interesting. It would take special magic from one of each type of Faerie to create something as magical as a Mysterious Valentines Card."
Spectra frowned. "One of each Faerie?" she ventured.
The Soup Faerie nodded. There were six different types of Faeries in Neopia. Water, fire, earth, air, light and dark. Each Faerie offered a different blessing to any Neopet who helped them.
"You mean that there is a group of Faeries who each use their magic to enchant each card?"
The Soup Faerie shook her head. "No. We would know if such a group were around. They would have to spend a lot of time together at the rate those cards are produced. Faeries glow when they fly. The cards are delivered by someone who is very sneaky, moving through the night without being seen. That's a little tricky for a faerie who glows!"
Meti bowed slowly, thanking the Faerie for her information. As he and Spectra headed off, the Faerie called after them in a kind voice.
"Remember, little pets... The creator of the cards must have a very good reason to remain anonymous!"
Together the two friends wandered slowly back in the direction of home. The sun was now shining softly over Neopia and the land was coming to life after its nightly slumber. They walked in silence, both deep in thought until Meti gasped, stopping short.
"Spectra... Someone who moves in darkness and commands the powers of different types of Faeries!"
Spectra looked confused, letting Meti ramble.
"What about someone who traps Faeries, Spectra?"
The Royal Kyrii's eyes widened in shock. "Meti? You're not suggesting that the cards are the work of Balthazar, the Faerie hunter?"
Meti grinned, nodding. "Spectra, it makes sense! He commands the powers of many types of Faeries. He moves in darkness. And he has the best reason of anyone to remain a mystery! Who would be scared of a villain that makes Valentines Cards?"
Spectra gasped. It was a shocking thought, yet each piece of the puzzle seemed to fit flawlessly. As they neared her front door, she studied her friend.
"I never thought I would say this... But Meti, I think you may be right! Who should we tell?"
Meti gazed up at the shimmering sunlight and smiled faintly. "You know what? Those cards bring so much joy, Spectra. If we told everyone what we suspect, Balthazar might stop creating them. Think how sad that would be!"
The Royal Kyrii nodded softly. There was no disputing the extra fun the Mysterious Valentines Cards brought to the Neopets once a year. She smiled faintly. "I guess it will remain a mystery."
Meti grinned, nodding happily. "As it was always intended to be, my friend."