A Frightening Adventure
A foul stench hung in the air. Perhaps it was the thick green fog or the damp rotting leaves on the ground. Kejolica couldn't be sure.
Kejolica Ann Miller was a curious baby JubJub, always getting into trouble. She and her siblings and owner would often take long trips to see the world of Neopia, which only fed to her vast imagination and adventurous nature.
But, as one might expect, this imagination and sense of adventure would often get her into trouble- like the time she visited Maraqua in hopes of finding a Maraquan petpet, but nearly drowned instead.
Today was no different. Kejolica had heard many enchanting stories about the notorious Brain Tree. She had completed faerie quests before, and suspected that brain tree quests were no different.
But, being a young baby JubJub, she was inexperienced in a lot of things- including planning ahead. She had not brought with her a map of any sort, food, or neopoints. She was broke and empty-handed, shivering in the chilly Haunted Woods.
It was so cold, in fact, that a light frost glittered on the very tops of the broken buildings and tops of trees. But it was too dark for a little JubJub to see the frost. It was too dark for a little JubJub to see anything much, really. Too dark to see strangers lurking nearby.
Kejolica hopped along nervously. Through her head ran thoughts that would make anyone shudder, but she knew they were all irrational, even in the Haunted Woods. But perhaps some of her fears were not as far-fetched as she hoped.
Finally, after hours of traveling, Kejolica saw a friendly face up ahead watching her curiously. She smiled, relieved, and bounded ahead. The face watched her coming, stared at her with the same blank expression. Kejolica was slightly discouraged by the way this face was watching her so closely. Too closely, perhaps.
She dared speak to this neopet. She called out, "Hello, there! Do you have a map I could see?"
But the face didn't move a muscle. It smiled blankly at her, and Kejolica felt her skin crawl. Little did she know that this face wasn't the only one watching her.
"Ah... er... hello?" she cried a little louder. The face just stared at her with the same vacant smile, never moving. Kejolica turned back around but was overwhelmed by a blast of cold and the sight of utter darkness. The wind rustled the leaves and whistled through the trees. Something rustled in the underbrush, and Kejolica could swear she heard heavy breathing. She whipped back around toward the face.
"Um, mind if I ask of you some directions around here?" she cried out to him. The face still did nothing. But Kejolica could swear she heard leaves crunching under swift footsteps behind her, so she ran to where the face was, never taking her eye off of it.
As she drew nearer to the peculiar face, she noticed that it seemed to stare right through her, as if it didn't even recognize her existence. And then a terrible thought flashed through her with a pang of horror: what if this unreadable face was... dead?
She stared at it fearfully, not watching out for where she was going, until she ran into something hard. She screamed and fell to the cold ground, into the cold leaves that crunched beneath her weight, bearing an eerie similarity to crunching bones.
"Whoa, there, watch where you're going." A booming voice startled Kejolica. She stared up at a tall, husky shadow with big hands. Kejolica stared at those hands, at the leathery skin damp with something sticky and red...
"B-blood?" She gasped and nearly retched. She jumped up and scrambled to go back into the woods, but a big hand grabbed her by the scruff of her neck and dragged her into the shadows- a hand perhaps wet with fresh blood.
Kejolica was too sick with fear to scream. She could swear she saw bones lying haphazardly on the floor, could see empty faces staring up at her. Would she soon be one of them?
"Alright, now, what're you doing here at this time o'night?" the husky shadow mumbled to her. He never let go of her. "Please, spare me, please don't hurt me, I don't want to be one of the faces..." she cried in a fearful voice barely audible.
"What? Those faces- they're just masks. Welcome to Neopet Masks. I just got finished painting a red Scorchio, and it's hanging out there to dry," he said proudly.
It all made sense now. That wasn't on his hands, it was red paint. And the face out there wasn't dead, it was a mask. And the "bones" were just tools used to carve masks out of wood. Kejolica was dizzy with relief.
"Oh," she sighed. "Thank goodness. In that case, can you point me in the direction of the Brain Tree? I, uh, was meaning to go there."
"At this time o'night? I don't know, the ghosts are just coming out now. I don't think a little one such as yourself would be safe out now," he said. Kejolica expected him to laugh jokingly, but his face was grave.
A foolish toddler, she looked up at him defiantly. "I'm still going. Now, would you please direct me to the Brain Tree?" she cried out determinedly.
The husky figure- who Kejolica decided was a Skeith- sighed grimly. "I guess the easiest rout would be past the Haunted House and the graveyard along the worn path until you get to Esophagor. Whatever you do, don't talk to him. He's always hungry, and you could be an easy victim. Go around him and cut across the yard of the Castle of Eliv Thade. You'll come to a cave with a sign that says 'Spooky Petpets.' Just in the distance will be the tree himself. Good luck," he said.
And with that, Kejolica was on her way, off on her own- or so she thought. But ghostly footsteps could be heard shortly behind her, if one listened close enough. Unfortunately, Kejolica didn't.
She wandered along the worn path, taking care not to make too much noise, until she saw an old house with creaking wood and a forlorn look about it. "That must be the haunted house... and that must be the game graveyard." Kejolica could make out several weathered headstones nearby. She hurried on her way.
She kept going, keeping her eyes pealed for the Esophagor. He was nowhere in sight, but something was rather peculiar. The floor beneath Kejolica's feet seemed to shake. A low rumbling escaped from a crevice in the ground, and Kejolica bolted away, just before a hill-looking thing rose from the ground.
She ran until she saw the Castle of Eliv Thade, with its elegant terraces and towering walls. She cut across the soft grass that tickled her bare toes.
Kejolica continued nervously down the beaten path, past the dark cave, until she saw it.
Its bulging brain throbbed and pulsed grotesquely, its branches like veins. Horribly disfigured, bloodshot eyes peeking out of a thick tree trunk, the notorious Brain Tree eyed Kejolica suspiciously.
"Kneel before Tree!" it moaned, opening its deformed mouth with difficulty. Sap dribbled down its chin like saliva. Kejolica, repulsed, took a step back and shielded her face.
"Tree!" she called to him. "Tree, please tell to me your quest!"
The Brain Tree's face twisted in a grimace-like smile. He looked amused and sly. Kejolica shuddered in fear.
All of the sudden, hands came out from the shadows. Bloody hands, real bloody hands. Two cruel eyes glared at her, among the features of a real face. Kejolica screamed and the Brain Tree laughed. Because all of Kejolica's fears had just caught up to her, after following her for so long.
"Kejolica! What are you doing here? You had me worried sick." Amsurito, Kejolica's owner, spun the baby JubJub around to look at her in the eyes. Kejolica sighed. "Aw, mother, can't we try to do the quest, just once?" she pleaded with her.
Amsurito glared at her. "I went to a lot of trouble chasing you down. I followed you through those awful woods, running into briars and thickets and all sorts of nasty things. See my bloody hands? I had to crawl through a nasty thorn bush in hot pursuit of you, my daughter," Amsurito cried. Kejolica eyed the scrapes on her mother's hands pitifully.
"I'm sorry, Mother. I just wanted to have some fun!" Kejolica protested.
Amsurito sighed pitifully. "Let's get you home. You're grimy. Maybe we can come back tomorrow," Amsurito said, and took the baby JubJub in her arms for a long journey home.
So you see, reader, nothing good ever comes from being too adventurous. Maybe you're lucky, and you have a good owner who will chase you through a dark dangerous forest to save you. But, no matter what, if you're a true adventurer, you'll most likely end up in trouble along the line. The best always do.