Ten Acts Of Kindness, A Techo Story: Part Five
The Fifth Act Of Kindness
Everyone was gathered in Meridell for the celebration of Illusen Day. Throughout the land, people were being cheered by the delicate Faerie songs of her Faerie choir, who fluttered here and there spreading gaiety and mirth to every corner of the continent. Glossy brown and green streamers, the signature colors of Illusen, floated from the hats and coats of every Neopet who had arrived to take part in the festivities.
Even our Techo Master, who had many students from the land of Meridell, wore festive brown and green streamers on his woven purple belt and knotted around his wrists. He had come to Meridell with a group of his students to watch the party under way, and it looked like this would be the best Illusen Day yet.
Illusen, for those of you who don’t know, is an Earth Faerie who makes her residence in a secret glade in Meridell. According to the Neopedia, she is “Meridell’s resident Faerie guardian who fought to protect the magical kingdom against the Darigan invasion, but even her magic wasn’t enough to withstand the power of Darigan’s Orb. No one knows why Illusen came to Meridell, although a few have their suspicions. Some say she left voluntarily, tired of the squabbling politics of the Faerie Queen's court. Others say the Dark Faeries forced her from Faerieland (led by Jhudora, of course). Since taking up residence in Meridell, she's created a network of spies and devotees willing to help her cause. Under the glade is a cavern filled with trinkets and treasures, but as to why she's collecting them... even the wisest scholars can only guess.”
Illusen had yet to show herself on this auspicious day, but rumors abounded that the Faerie was busy working on the projects she was famous for, such as mixing golden Honey Potions and crafting muddy Earth Potions for those Neopets brave enough to chance her quests. Everyone forgave her for her absence, for they all loved and respected the busy Earth Faerie and her endless mission to equip every Neopet with priceless weapons and defense items. She even gave out avatars on her special day. So it was quite understandable if she was busy today, too busy to visit her adoring public.
So the people rejoiced and cheered in her stead. Knowing how the people loved her, and appreciating the efforts they made to make the day such a beautiful and happy one, Illusen had dispatched her personal Faerie choir to the farthest corners of Meridell to sing and warm people’s hearts.
The Techo Master, who loved the choir greatly, lifted his head to listen to the beautiful arias being sung.
“Illusen Day has come at last!
And so we welcome one and all
To this, our joyful gathering.
We hope you like our festival!
“The grasses grow, they wave and glow
With sunlight from the skies up high.
The trees bend down to hear the sound
Of revelers who caper by!
“The leaves are sparkling, wet with dew.
The soil is sweetly scented earth.
The very woodland creatures are
All dancing in their blissful mirth!
“Illusen works the day away
Within her glade of earth and wood.
She sends her love this special day.
If she could come, you know she would!
“Her battle magic wanes today.
Her “Marks of Love” are hard to find.
What this enigma means to you
We hope you solve, for we are blind!
“We Faerie folk know this much, though.
She needs the “Marks” to cast her spells.
Her spells, in turn, are bonded to
The weapons crafted where she dwells.
“So take some comfort, darling friends!
Illusen knows that you are here!
She sends her love and wishes you
A celebration full of cheer!”
The Techo grinned and burst into wild applause when the Faerie choir finished its song. The Neopets around him hooted and yelled, “Hurrah!” Smiling and tossing up handfuls of sparkling lavender Faerie dust, the Faerie choir gracefully bowed, lifted themselves up into the air and drifted off to another corner of Meridell, where they could spread more gladness and delight to the people who had come out to celebrate Illusen Day.
The Techo thought about the lyrics to the song he had just heard. What were these “Marks of Love” he had heard so often about? He knew that Illusen offered quests to the Neopets who come to visit her, and that although the items she asked for tended to become more difficult to acquire with each successful quest, she rewarded her most diligent helpers with an amazing assortment of prizes. But how did she come by these prizes? The thought had never occurred to him before.
So these “Marks of Love” were somehow connected to the fantastic weaponry Illusen crafted, far away in her hidden glade? How could you grasp and utilize a “Mark of Love”? The only marks of love he had ever heard of were tokens of love, like love notes and hugs and kisses. He had never heard of a mark of love that could be transmuted into a spell, certainly not something that could be used in manufacturing weapons. The two seemed like such polar opposites, love and weaponry. He furrowed his eyebrows at the thought.
“Techo Master!” yelled a Tonu, one of the students he had come to watch the festivities with.
He snapped out of his muse. “What is it?” he called.
“They’re having a contest at Test Your Strength! You should enter! You’re always telling us that strength and intelligence are the two best traits to have in the Battledome. Arnold says he’s only going to be open for another hour or so, and then he’s packing up to enjoy the celebration with the rest of us!” The Chia was giddy with excitement.
“Let’s go!” said the Techo, always game for a bit of amusement. The students clustered around him as they walked together to the Test Your Strength stand, where Arnold the Mynci held out a mallet to anyone brave enough to risk 100 Neopoints to whack the wooden peg with all their strength.
“Think you can hit the top?” asked Arnold. “I assure you, this game is not rigged. I oiled the machine this morning; it should be easy to beat.”
The Techo Master looked at the crowd. It was quite a mixture of folks from all corners of the Neopian globe. There were shaggy, wooly Neopets from Tyrannia munching the cheeses they had won at Cheese Roller. There were golden Desert Neopets wearing bangles and bracelets and intricately crafted golden headdresses testing their wisdom at Grumpy Old King. There were Pirate Neopets from Krawk Island jingling their Neopoint winnings from Double or Nothing and Round Table Poker. And there was a group of Grundos from Kreludor lugging behind them a huge sack of potions from Kayla’s Potion Shop, hoping to resell them back on their home moon. They had all come out to enjoy Illusen Day and to take part in everything that the land of Meridell had to offer. The Techo had never before seen such a large gathering of people, and it awed him.
Something caught his eye. A cloaked and shadowy figure moved amongst the crowd, bumping into a Draik here, rubbing up against a Hissi there. Was it just his imagination, or did their purses seem a bit smaller after each collision? He frowned and moved to investigate.
The cloaked figure continued to wind its way expertly amongst the crowd, with nary a sound. This was a very skilled pickpocket, indeed. He had bumped into nearly a dozen people by now, and not one of them had noticed that anything was wrong or out of place. The Techo listened for the clink of a dropped Neopoint, or the scream of a dismayed Neopet. He heard nothing. He kept his eye on the cloaked figure and continued to follow it through the crowd.
Finally, the two reached the edge of town. They were on the border of Meri Acres Farm, and the place was mostly abandoned since the farmers and pickers had gone into town to enjoy the festivities. The cloaked figure stopped in the shadow of a large tree, and raised its hood. It was an enormous Robot Skeith.
The Techo Master, who had remained hidden until now, wondered what he should do. Should he confront the thief, and demand that he return what he had stolen? Should he play the role of the pickpocket himself, lifting the purse off the Skeith and returning the contents himself? Or should he stay hidden, waiting for some other inspiration to strike? He decided to do a little of everything.
“Robot Skeith,” he called out in a haunting voice. “Return the goods you have stolen, and make it quick. My patience thins and the forests of Meridell are displeased with your actions.” For he knew the stories of Meridell forest, and he knew that corrupt Neopets feared the spies and messengers of Illusen hidden throughout the woodlands.
Fearfully, the Robot Skeith looked around and tried to locate the sound of the mysterious voice. “My Neopoints are my own, and no one else’s. I came by these Neopoints fair and square.”
“Do not try to deceive the forest denizens,” called the Techo, “for they are magical and see all. Return the Neopoints now and we will try to forgive you your dastardly offense.”
The Robot Skeith untied the purse hanging from his belt and dropped it on the ground. “I was set up by my owner! She can’t ever seem to earn her own Neopoints through games and restocking, so she enlisted me to steal from other Neopets wandering around during Illusen Day, when they would be too busy celebrating to notice the weights of their purses. Please forgive me! I have always loved Illusen and all that she stands for. But my owner, she controls me and everything that I do.”
The Techo Master, taking pity on the miserable Skeith, stepped out of the shadows. “We are all messengers of Illusen, do you not see that? Anyone who serves in the name of love is a messenger of Illusen’s love.”
“You’re no Faerie!” snorted the Skeith in dismay. He threw back the edge of his cloak and raised his Altadorian Initiate Sword at the Techo’s chest.
“Heart and soul make a person; the other things are just details,” said the Techo, raising his hands in peace. “I’m a friend of Illusen and that makes me her willing servant. You showed loyalty to your owner, and that is admirable, but what she’s asking you to do is wrong. Escape the bondage of your owner, my friend, and come with me to my Training School. We could use someone as talented as yourself without asking anything wicked or harmful of you.”
The Skeith lowered his sword. “She won’t even give me a proper blade to fight with. She found the cheapest weapon she could buy and equipped me with it. Even if I wanted to harm you, I doubt I could.”
The Techo approached the Skeith, and gently took the sword from him. “There is a place for Neopets dissatisfied with their lives, who want to make something of themselves. The Mystery Island Training School welcomes everyone who wants to start fresh with their lives and forget the miseries of their past. Will you come with me back to the school and train with us to be the greatest warrior you can be?”
The Skeith smiled and said, “I will. And I thank you greatly for your act of kindness.”
The Robot Skeith joined the other students from the Training School who had come out to celebrate in Meridell, and together they celebrated Illusen Day. The Techo, meanwhile, threw the sword into the bushes, wanting to cast away the dreadful past of the Robot Skeith.
But a Faerie dressed in sparkling green leaves had seen and heard the entire exchange, and had grabbed the Altadorian Initiate Sword as soon as the two had disappeared out of sight. She lifted herself up into the air, and gleefully flew towards someone who she knew would make good use of the blade...
To be continued...