The Wise Whoot: Guardian of the Elements - Part Five
Blaze stared at Lethe. “‘That reason is catching up with me?’ What does that even mean?” He stood up from where he was sitting.
Lethe shrugged. “I’m not sure what your purpose in life is, Blaze. No one really knows except for you.”
There was silence for awhile. “Wait,” Rivulet finally spoke up. Blaze looked down at his sister with a confused look. The Blue Doglefox continued, “There’s something else that doesn’t make sense. What about this place? If Zihark brought me here, and he knew I was gonna bring my brother here, too, what was the point?”
Blaze nodded, realizing he had missed that little crucial point. He had completely forgotten about the withered tree when Lethe began reading Zihark’s letter.
The Faerie Whoot looked bewildered for a moment, then she thought for a moment. “Oh, I almost forgot to mention that,” Lethe replied. “This place is known as the Heart of Neopia. It’s a place where magic resides, and it never stays in one spot forever.” She pointed to the tree with her talons. “We call that tree the Guardian of Magic. Star taught us that the tree was the source of all the elements in Neopia.”
Blaze turned to Rivulet in shock. “Riv, that’s the name you came up with!”
The Blue Doglefox was quiet for a moment. “Oh! I remember, now. I think Zihark mentioned the name in my dream. He did say something about a guardian, I recall.”
Lethe continued. “Some type of warning came to me, after I read Zihark’s letter. I sensed that something was deeply wrong here, so I came immediately. I’ve been here for awhile, examining the tree.” A look of sadness crossed her face. “I thought someone was coming in and out of this place, taking away the tree’s power. It’s begun to wither away.” she paused and lowered her voice. “If this keeps up, then all of Neopia will be in danger.” She shook her head. “No, Neopia is already in danger thanks to Kaleb.”
“What kind of power does Kaleb hold, anyway? And you said the Guardian of Magic was the source of all the elements ever created?” Blaze pondered. “Then... that means if it starts to wither away, everything will be destroyed!”
“Kaleb now holds the power of darkness, and that has already endangered our world.” Lethe shook her head in confusion. “If Zihark or Star were here, they would be able to figure everything out.”
“What do you propose we do?” Blaze asked.
“We aren’t going to do anything,” Lethe snapped. “I did what Zihark asked; tell you everything about our past. I did that, and I’m going to make sure you stay out of my way now.”
Blaze narrowed his eyes. “If we stay out of your way, we might just be wasting time. Why can’t you just accept our help?”
Lethe shook her head. “I’m well capable of doing this on my own, without some kids’ help.” She sighed. “Well... if I need you I know where to look. I want you two to go back home, now. Please. I might be able to find a source of where the tree’s power is going.”
Blaze turned to Rivulet. “Come on, let’s get out of here.”
Blaze didn’t say anything as they left the Heart of Neopia, and led the way back toward the Petpet Village. Why wouldn’t Lethe allow him to help? He was her brother’s apprentice, after all!
Rivulet caught up with her brother after they had gone far from the mystical place. “Wait, Blaze. Please.”
The Doglefox turned to face her. “What now?”
The Blue Doglefox flinched back a little at his tone, but she brought up the courage and said, “Lethe and Zihark need our help. I think we need to find Star for answers.”
Blaze was perplexed by his sister. Never once had she sounded so concerned as now. She indeed was the youngest of them all... but she was the wisest. “You mean Lethe and Zihark’s caretaker from forever ago? How are we supposed to find someone who’s been missing for so many years?”
Rivulet didn’t lower her gaze. “Why do you doubt yourself, Blaze? You’re the apprentice of the Wise Whoot! I thought you could do anything as long as you set your heart to do it!” Her gaze seemed to penetrate into his very soul. “If you want to help your friend, and Neopia, you can’t just deny yourself any longer. Actions speak louder than words, so do something about it.”
Blaze was silent and astonished for a long time. His sister was a teacher in her own way. Actions speak louder than words... he thought. But what could he do to make a difference? Save Neopia?
That was it. Blaze caught his sister’s gaze and nodded. “Alright, then. I left my backpack in the spare room, so we can pack once we get home.” He sighed. “Do you think we should tell the rest of the family?”
Rivulet shrugged. “That’s your decision; I’m just tagging along, is all. Where do you think we should look for Star?”
Blaze thought for a long time as they headed toward the village in silence. “I have an idea of where to look first,” Blaze finally answered as the forest opened up into their home.
The next morning the two of them left home, early before the rest of the family got up. Blaze left a note, telling them that they were heading out to do something and to not worry about them. He apologized for taking some food out of the cupboards in the kitchen. He promised he would take care of his sister, and if something was terribly wrong they both would come home immediately.
“So, big brother, where are we going?” Rivulet asked, looking at their map for Neopia. They had found some shade on the Endless Plains under a big sycamore tree.
“We’re heading to Meridell,” Blaze replied, pointing at the map. “After that, we’ll head north to Meridell Acres and look for a cave.”
She looked up. “Why?”
“I thought you trusted me?” Blaze laughed. “I just have a hunch is all. If we keep traveling today, it should take us a couple more days to reach our destination.”
Rivulet shrugged. “Alright! This is so exciting... I’ve never been out of Uni Meadows before! Mum and Daddy would’ve never let me come out here.”
“Well, I have experience in the outside world, so don’t worry about anything, okay?”
“Okie dokie!” she answered in her cute high-pitched voice. Blaze smiled.
“There it is! Isn’t that it, Blaze?”
Blaze looked to where she pointed. They had traveled into Meridell the previous day, found Meri Acres Farm, and rested there for the night. The farm didn’t mind a few Doglefoxes to rest on their haystacks. As morning came, Blaze and Rivulet made their way toward a valley that resided not too far from the farm. Blaze had begun to describe a cave that he and Zihark had used for training, when Rivulet interrupted him.
Blaze blinked. “Yeah, Riv, I think that’s it.” At the top of a hill sat a lonely little brown and black cave. It had been a long time since Blaze had come here, and he was glad to be back.
“Why are we here, Blaze? Why this place?” Rivulet asked him as they walked up towards the cave.
“Zihark brought me here a long, long time ago,” Blaze answered. “It was the first time I ever summoned a mote. The night was as dark as any other night, with a full moon shining. Suddenly, shooting stars danced across the sky.” He retold the story, his voice in awe of remembering that night. “During that dance I summoned my first mote, and I’ve always done better at being a student, since.”
“So... you think Star might be here, because this was where you saw shooting stars?” Rivulet thought for a moment. “That makes a lot of sense! But would Star really be here? And why?”
“If Zihark was Star’s successor,” Blaze chuckled, “then that means Star knows everything, so he might know that we’re coming.”
Both of them took a step inside the eerie-looking cave. It wasn’t as friendly as it once was, Blaze decided. The cave was dark inside, and it took awhile for their eyes to adjust. As far as the two of them could tell, no one was living here.
“Star!” Blaze yelled, in hopes that the Starry Lupe would answer. Nothing welcomed them.
Blaze groaned. “Now what are we gonna do?”
“We might as well stay here for the rest of the day, until tomorrow morning,” Rivulet said, trying not to sound defeated. “Maybe he left the cave for a while. It wouldn’t hurt to stay, would it?”
Blaze shook his head. “No, it wouldn’t. Alright, then. Let’s set up for lunch and then get ready for a long day.”
They spent the day playing word games and watching the valley below them. Occasionally a few young Neopets would appear and play down there. Rivulet asked once if they could join in the fun, but Blaze reminded her that they were on a mission, and he didn’t want to miss Star if he came to the cave and then left again. He wasn’t sure what really made him so sure that the Starry Lupe was here, but they couldn’t give up yet.
As the sun began to set, Rivulet moaned. “I can’t believe this. What if we’re wrong and Star doesn’t even want to be found?”
Blaze didn’t answer. He looked up at the sky, noticing the faint shape of a full moon appearing. “Wonder if there will be any shooting stars tonight,” he mumbled.
Rivulet sighed. “I wonder what Rosa and Forrest are doing now. They’re probably laughing at us, because we’re not eating Plum’s famous macaroni and cheese.”
“Aw, come on.” Blaze tried to lighten the mood. “Would they really laugh at us for missing a good lunch?”
“Yes,” Rivulet said immediately after he asked. She shook her head and looked down. “I miss home... does it always feel like this? Like there’s no point in leaving home?”
“Only if you don’t want adventure.”
Both Doglefoxes jumped. The voice had come out of nowhere, yet the answer it gave to Rivulet was clear as day. They both looked behind them, toward the deeper area in the cave. Emerging from the shadows stood a handsome, elderly Starry Lupe. The Lupe had a staff, and at the top of that pole was a wooden carving of a Whoot’s head. The elder had a beard that reached the ground, and he showed them a smile. His next words were gentle with kindness as he bowed before both Doglefoxes.
“My name is Jaden, or as my friends call me, Star. I have been waiting for you, Blaze and Rivulet. It was very wise of you to come here.”
To be continued...