The REAL Key Quest
Chicka admired her reflection in the dark lake water. She loved the way her teeth gleamed as she smiled, the way her claws were sharply fierce, and the way her snake tongue was split. She awed over her dappled scales and haunting green eyes that started back at her. Then Chicka tilted her head and saw the annoying other head attached to her body. This head looked very much the same as hers, except Poonga seemed nervous.
"Come on, Poonga, the water will be fine. Stop being a chicken!" Chicka said matter-of-factly.
"You don't know that..." started Poonga. "There could be Maraquan Grarrls lurking below."
"But there's not. Maraqua is a very safe place to swim," groaned Chicka. "Now c'mon!" Chicka tried to pull their body into the water but Poonga's resistance was too strong.
"Oh fine, you're right, I've got to conquer my fear of water," said Poonga, giving in. Chicka shrieked with delight, grabbed Poonga's paw, and they both leaped in. The splash was so large that it startled several Pteris that were bathing nearby.
Below the surface, the twins were casually paddling through the lake, trying to avoid the slippery seaweed growing on the bottom. Poonga felt Chicka start to pull up for air.
"See? That wasn't so bad! The cannon ball is the best part!" giggled Chicka. Poonga rolled her eyes, knowing that Chicka was right. Chicka pointed across the lake, near the shore at the base of Terror Mountain.
"Look! There's a Draik over there!"
"Wow, they're rare to see in Maraqua! We'd better leave before the PCers flock over here." Agreeing, Chicka led her towards a part of the lake that was hidden by foliage.
"Chicka! Where are you going? We've never been this way before."
"Chill out, fraidy cat. Lighten up!" Chicka replied with a grin. They followed the bend into a shallow area with lilies and cattails sprouting from the water. It was a perfect day – blue sky, calm waters, a clear view, and even some Koi were playing tag below. The shore was blooming with evergreens and fragrant colorful wildflowers.
"Can we go swimming again?"
"Fine, fine." And with Poonga's permission they dove back into the murky lake.
Poonga's arm moved in and out as she paddled, until she struck something below. She shrieked underwater and released a shower of bubbles from her mouth. Seeing the bubbles, Chicka pulled them to the surface.
"What happened?" asked Chicka, worried.
"I hit something hard!"
"So! It was metal. Inside the lake!"
"Awesome! Let's dive under and check it out! Was it floating or stuck to something?"
"It seemed like it was on the lake floor."
"Okay, let's go! Finally something adventurous to do!"
"What do you think it could be?"
"I don't know! Maybe it's a secret passage way, or a trap door, or buried treasure! Let's go find out!" She imagined all sorts of possibilities and shivered with excitement. Poonga didn't want to disappoint her so she agreed with much apprehension.
Under the water, they both groped in the weeds until their claws felt a round, metal circle with a latch on top. Chicka eagerly grabbed the latch and started to yank upwards. As the circle lifted Poonga shook her head at Chicka, eyes filled with fear. Chicka brushed it off and gave her a reassuring smile before pulling the metal up on the hinge, revealing a gap in the ground that let to a tunnel.
Before either could react, they were sucked into the tunnel. It was rather frightening for the both of them – much like falling down a large slide, except that they kept bashing into the walls around them.
Eventually they landed in a shallow pool at the bottom of the tunnel. Everything was pitch black, so Poonga whispered, "Chicka? Are you there?"
"Yeah," she replied.
"Where are we?"
"I don't know, I can't see a thing. Any ideas?"
"Oh, here – I'll breathe fire for light." With a roar, purple and orange flames burst from Chicka's mouth and immediately they could see the damp rocky walls lined with thorns and a muddy path straight ahead. The girls could hear the gentle but continuous drip drip of water falling from the stalactites above. The air that was thick with moisture made it hard to breathe.
"Oh, that's perfect, just keep doing that and we can follow this trail out of here."
Chicka nodded and turned around, but they saw that the way they came in was now sealed shut.
"I guess we have to go forward then..."
They slowly crept along the tunnel, huddled together in fear. They passed several forks in the road, where the tunnel broke off into corridors that were too dark to see into, but the girls always stayed true to the main path. Every once in a while, a bat with nefarious red eyes would pass above their heads, and cause them to jump.
"What was that noise?" Poonga gasped. But Chicka, being unable to answer since she was breathing fire, just shook her head questioningly. They kept moving; the end of the passage could not come sooner. Suddenly the fire reflected a shiny surface straight ahead. It was a stone door with a glimmering lock. Poonga raced forward and tried to open it – but it did not budge.
Chicka pointed to a bottle laying on the ground next to a pile of bones. Interestingly, there was a dark glow inside the bottle, and Chicka reached down to unstopper it. With a plink the cork came loose and the light fluttered out.
It was a dark faerie.
Poonga gaped, completely overwhelmed with terror, for she had heard dreadful stories about dark faeries and their collaboration with meepits. Chicka, on the other hand, was fascinated by the prospect of talking to a faerie.
"Hey there, Miss Dark Faerie! What's up?"
The dark faerie just muttered angrily to herself. Since the faerie did not attack, Poonga come to her senses.
"Hello, um, where are we?" she asked shyly.
"Do I look like I know? I've been stuck down here forever!" the faerie retorted.
"Oh, sorry. Well do you know how we can get through this door?"
"That I do know. You have to go on a quest," she growled menacingly. But the thought of more adventure was sweet to Chicka's ears.
"Ooh, what kind of adventure?"
"I don't know, stop asking so many questions! It's got something to do with finding the gold key to this door. I think." The faerie rolled her eyes, more annoyed with Chicka than Poonga was.
"So, how do we find the key to the door?" asked Poonga.
"Ah, you have to go on the key quest to find five keys. One red, one blue, one green, one yellow, and one white. Only when you successfully gather all five keys and race back to this door I will bestow upon you the gold key to unlock the door."
This task seemed too large for the girls to complete alone.
"Can we have three wishes or something?" wondered Chicka, hopeful.
But the dark faerie gave a wicked laugh and replied, "Haha, no! What am I? The Wishing Well?"
"What about two wishes?" bargained Poonga.
"Hmm, I suppose two is doable, one for each of you. Young Chicka, what will it be?"
Chicka thought of every cool gadget she had ever wanted and all the powerful skills out there. After contemplating for a few minutes, she decided now was not the time for fun – but for practicality instead.
"Can you bless us with night vision so that I don't have to breathe fire all the time to see?" Chicka said with a more mature tone than before.
With a flick of her finger, the girls could see clearly again. Everything had a dark glow, but it was very clear.
"Thank you! As for my wish, I would like our friend Karkesa here to help us. She's a mutant Hissi, too!" requested Poonga. The dark faerie flicked her finger again, and poof Karkesa stood before them. She looked quite dazed and confused. Poonga turned to the faerie.
"Thank you so much! We will be back with the keys soon!" And with that, Chicka and Poonga raced towards Karkesa.
"Where am I?" she asked, puzzled.
Poonga giggled, "Good question!" And the twins began to explain their predicament to Karkesa. Once they were finished telling her about their key quest, they set off in the direction they had just come to search for the five colored keys.
It didn't take long before they saw one of the corridors to their right.
"Maybe it's down there?" suggested Karkesa.
"Let's check it out," the twins agreed. But as soon as they rounded the corner into the corridor, they realized this was going to be no small task. The room became a maze with too many turns and walls to count.
"Obviously the key is at the center of this maze, but how will we find our way back out?" asked Poonga.
"One of us could sprint back to the door and gather those bones I saw, and we could leave them as breadcrumbs for a trail?" suggested Chicka.
"Good idea! I'll go," volunteered Karkesa. "Wait here."
Only a minute passed before she returned with her paws full of grimy bones. "Okay, every little while I'll drop a bone behind us, so we can see the way we came."
But as they progressed through the labyrinth, they realized that the maze was also filled with traps and tricks. At one point, they had to carry umbrellas over petpets to shield them from rain. Since the petpets stayed dry, they let the Hissis pass. Another time, they had to give a meowclops a bath. This was particularly difficult because it kept squirming and swiping at the Hissis. Clearly it didn't like water any more than Poonga did. When they finally scrubbed all of the mud from the meowclops's fur coat, they were permitted to pass. The third task they had to complete was feeding the Esophagor. He stood blocking their path, and they had to pick up various food that was laying on the ground, and throw it into his mouth! Once he was full, he stepped aside and let the girls through.
Needless to say, it was an exhausting trip. When they finally made it to the center of the maze, they found a yellow key, which they held for safekeeping.
Luckily on the way out there were no more traps, and they could easily follow the bones back to the main route.
"That took forever!" panted Chicka. "How are we going to get all five keys?"
"We could split up?" mentioned Poonga. They looked down the path and saw four more corridors similar to the one they just came out of.
"Yeah! You two could go into two of the corridors, and I'll go into the other two! Meet back here in an hour?" Karkesa's plan sounded fool-proof, so they nodded and set off towards a corridor.
Only after Chicka used her fire breath to melt a wall of ice, Poonga caught enough fish in a pool to let them pass, they memorized a path of flower stepping stones, the twins harvested berries into a basket, and Karkesa put her battledome practice to good use by defeating a rogue meepit did they have all five keys.
When they met on the main path again, they were all completely worn out. Sweat gleamed on their face, their eyes were droopy, and they all had quite a few battle scars. But victory was still etched in their faces.
"Quickly! Let's get back and exchange these keys for a gold one!" hollered Chicka.
So they jogged towards the stone door, and found the dark faerie floating just as they left her.
"We have the keys!"
"Do you now? Well, let's make the exchange then..." The dark faerie gathered their five keys and in return gave them a large gold key. Cheers echoed throughout the tunnel as they took the key and placed it into the lock. Sure enough, there was a click and it swung open.
"Look! It's our prize! Buried treasure!" They were delighted.
"No... IT'S A GIANT MEEPIT!" corrected Karkesa. The three girls released an ear-piercing scream. The meepit stood about seven feet tall with eyes the size of apples and whiskers as wide as a doorway. They had every right to be terrified of this monster!
"Wh-what do y-you w-want?" stuttered Poonga, overwhelmed.
"You must answer three riddles to pass," boomed the meepit; his high-pitched voice radiated his power.
"Ohh-o-okay... Wh-what is-is the cl-clue?" squeaked Chicka.
"I have a head but no arms.
I have a tail but no legs.
I am not alive, but I help you live.
What am I?" declared the giant meepit.
"Hmm tail... head... I have no clue! Do you guys know?"
"Well... are there any animals that have no arms or legs?" asked Poonga.
"But he said it isn't alive, remember?" recalled Karkesa.
"What about the 'I help you live' part. When helps us live? Neohomes to live in? Food to eat?" noted Chicka.
"But that stuff doesn't have body parts..." said Poonga.
"I got it! It's a coin! Heads and tails? Like a coin flip! It's not alive, and it helps people live, so we can buy food and other things to survive!" Karkesa was ecstatic with herself for solving it, and the other two congratulated her.
"Yes, congratulations," boomed the meepit. "Here is your second riddle: Every dawn begins with me,
At dusk I'll be the first you see.
And daybreak could not come without
What midday centers all about
Daises grow from me, I'm told
And when I come, I end all cold
But in the sun I won't be found
Yet still, each day I'll be around."
"Wow, this one is so much harder, I'm terrible at riddles." While Chicka sat there discouraged, and Karkesa was still happy she had solved the last riddle, Poonga kept thinking it through. "What does a dawn, a dusk, a daybreak, a midday, and a daisy have in common? Hmmm," she thought aloud.
"Well they all have something to do with the sun, right? Dawn and daybreak are when the sun comes up, dusk is when it sets, midday is when it's in the middle of the sky, and the sun helps daisies grow?" Karkesa tried to help Poonga figure it out, but she was lost in though.
"No, because it says that 'In the sun I won't be found.' Maybe... hmm. What else do they have in common? I KNOW! It's the letter D! Dusk, dawn, daybreak, midday, daisy! D!" Poonga jumped up and down and clapped with pride.
"Correct. Your next riddle is this:
I have forests, but no trees.
I have lakes, but no water.
I have roads, but no neopets.
What Am I?" Announced the meepit.
"Chicka you should try this one! I bet you can get it!" encouraged Karkesa.
"You think so? Okay... Umm, well, Neopia has roads, forests, and lakes. But it also has trees, water, and neopets. What about a picture of Neopia? That doesn't have water. But it has a picture of the trees, so maybe that counts. Hmm. A map? Could that be it?" A smile crept onto Chicka's face as the meepit nodded.
"You have successfully answered my riddles. And with that, I give you this map. It leads to the greatest adventure of your life." He handed it to Chicka, who looked at it curiously.
"What does it show?" asked Karkesa excitedly.
"I don't understand Mr. Meepit... it leads to our house?" She looked up, but the meepit was gone.
"What does that mean?" she asked her twin.
"Maybe it means that the greatest adventure is just being at home. You don't have to go anywhere to have an adventure."
"I can't argue with that. Today has been way too adventurous for my taste," teased Chicka.
"Maybe you just need to find the balance between a little adventure and too much adventure?" suggested Karkesa.
"Yeah. And I always have my imagination, which as you know is very wild," laughed Chicka.
With that being said, they headed home to see what their next adventure would be.