The Lost Prophecy: Part One
Darkness. "Sweet Fyora's beard, I'm blind!"
"No, the lights just went out."
"Oh." I stared down sheepishly in the direction where my book had been while my owner fumbled for candles. She couldn't find them until my book disappeared into a cloud of, luckily for us, luminescent purple smoke.
I sighed. Now I was never going to know about everything that was green in color. "Never mind about the lights."
My owner's face appeared, a red phantom in the gloom. "Aw, I'm sorry, Pryor. Do you want me to buy you another copy?"
"No, thanks, I've already read that book." The words spilled automatically out of my mouth, no matter how hard I tried to say anything different, as though my tongue were programmed to avoid rereading.
My owner, Reyna, shrugged and looked for the rest of the candles. "Go pull back the curtains and get some light in here," she said.
I stumbled my way over to the window and tugged back the ancient, hideous things. Not even the resulting dust storm could mask the harsh blare of the noontime sun.
Over in the garden, a lush and bounteous collection of dirt patches and weeds, something metallic glittered in that light. "Huh. What's this newfangled contraption?"
"That's called sunshine." Reyna finished lighting the rest of the candles.
"No, not that. The other one." I tried to get her to look, but she was busy.
"You mean fresh air and blue skies?"
"No, I mean that – never mind." I decided to take matters into my own hands and stepped outside.
"How's that fresh air?" Reyna shouted from within.
"Freezing," I muttered. Nevertheless, I had to know what the metal thing was. Could it have been a robot, fallen from Virtupets, fresh off the factory line? Some futuristic apparatus sent from the depths of Moltara, which would reveal an ancient riddle I'd have to solve in order to save all of Neopia?
No, it was just an empty can of Neocola.
Many sighs oozed out of me. I took it back inside to recycle it. Reyna was lighting a fire in the fireplace, but the house was still very dark, no doubt due to its lack of proper rooms. Not even her army of candles could illuminate a cavern that spacious and dark.
"Well, this is unprecedented," sighed Reyna. "D'you reckon we need to start paying electricity bills now?"
"In any case, you should go play outside while I try and sort this out." She wiped the sweat off her brow and kept poking at the fire. It would have been more effective if she hadn't used her bare finger; I considered telling her that, but then, pain was the best teacher.
Besides, I had more pressing issues. "Outside?"
"Yeah, you know, out of doors. You were just there."
"What would I do out there?"
"I don't know, go fly around and spit fire on stuff. You're a dragon, go do dragon things."
"What's a dragon?" Sometimes, Reyna mystified me.
"Fine, Shoyru, whatever. Sorry for not being up to snuff on your jargon."
I went back outside into the arctic tundra and howling blizzards of Brightvale. Darn winter. There wasn't even any snow anywhere, yet somehow it managed to be twenty degrees below absolute zero with still colder wind chills.
The tree in the yard seemed fat around the trunk, so I huddled behind it, out of the path of the invisible icicles which cut through the air like a breeze. Everything in all directions was brown and dull, so I looked up at the sky, which was only gray and dull, with a smidgen of bland.
My mind wandered back to The Green Book. Visions swam before my retinas of bitten green apples, green sculpting clay, green lined notebooks, green toothbrushes, green Marbleman T-shirts. . . A green-and-white satellite zooming across the sky.
I did a double-take, but it was already retreating beyond the horizon, a small, mysterious something flying at the speed of six Poogles racing.
Heart racing, I waited a while longer to see if it would reappear. It did not, and so my curiosity was further inflamed. What could it have been? A space ship to Kreludor? Dr Sloth's private intergalactic jet, hovering over our unwitting heads as he plots our imminent doom? The Darkest Faerie's latest prison, kept under the watchful eye of the Space Faerie?
A million possibilities whispered into my ears, whipping my brains into a frenzied meringue.
I stuck my head in the door, but I couldn't see Reyna anywhere. "I'm going out!" I yelled.
She murmured, "Have fun," from the depths of the murk.
The sun had not yet set when I arrived in the ruins of Faerieland, right in front of the book shop. The bell jingled as I hurried in and started searching through copies of the Neopian Times to see if there had been any reports on the UFO. It took a while, but I found a few of them, although they didn't offer any concrete answers. The consensus seemed to be that it was Dr Sloth's own spacecraft. I knew it.
"I hope you're going to pay for those." I looked up to see the Library Faerie frowning down at me. The smoke from all the used Neopian Times had not yet faded.
"Uh, sure, of course, ma'am," I said hurriedly as I dug into my pockets for Neopoints. I scraped lint.
The Library Faerie's scowl deepened as I sweated. "Well?" she demanded.
"L-letmejustsendaNeomailtomyowner," I squeaked. I cowered under her glare, but I managed to convey my message to Reyna.
The Library Faerie didn't have time to watch over me, so she dragged me to a back storage room, warned me not to touch anything, and left me there.
The room was overflowing with books, some flying around, all very colorful and so irresistible. I sniffed around, taking in the vanilla aroma.
As I dug deeper, some subtle overtones infiltrated the bliss, whose scent I couldn't put a finger on, yet curled my nostrils down to the sinuses. I discovered its source, a rotting piece of paper which was so yellowed, and the ink on it so faded, that I could barely discern the words upon it.
"When the mountain . . . and iron quakes,
Then . . . shall fall to boiling fen.
Where wakes ––'s worst mistake,
The first to . . . will be . . ."
The paper disintegrated into a puff of yellow smoke. I hastily fanned the cloud away, but my heart was pounding for other reasons. The words rhymed! The message seemed ominous! Could it have been – a prophecy?
I couldn't stop thinking about it, even as Reyna arrived later that evening. The Library Faerie wasn't in the best of moods, having to keep her shop open a lot longer than usual, and so she spared Reyna no pleasantries when she told her the bill. I quietly snuck out the door while Reyna gasped like Nigel in the Great Neodaq Crash of Year -5.
Deciding that I needed a safe place to hide until Reyna's newly acquired debt crisis blew over, I flew up to the Hidden Tower, which really wasn't that well hidden; several lawsuits from irate Unis and Scorchios who'd suffered minor injuries as a result of running into the tower had forced Queen Fyora to put up a sign warning passers-by that, indeed, there was an invisible tower obstructing their way.
It was difficult to find the window which led into the shop, so after scaling the invisible stones (easier than you'd think), I finally tumbled inside. The Queen barely looked up from her book.
"Good evening. I'd ask what you had in mind, but you could never afford any of these," she sniffed.
"Uh, yeah, I'm a little empty-handed at the moment," I admitted. "However," enthusiasm for the prophecy sparked anew in my mind, "I have a question for you."
"Well, since you asked," Queen Fyora set her book aside, "my favorite is the Rod of Nova. I'm out of stock at the moment, but it's just so," she waved hers around for effect, "resplendent."
"Actually, I –"
"Of course, you must be strong to wield these items in battle. Especially this Super Deluxe Faerie Queen Doll." She held it up enticingly. "Only five million Neopoints for an authentic scale replica of the Faerie Queen! For an extra million, I'll even autograph it for you."
"Wow, that's really something." I tried not to sound sarcastic. "But, my question –"
"Oh, all right, I'll autograph it for free, since you asked so nicely." She took out a purple quill and violet ink and signed on the wing.
"I just found a prophecy in the Library Faerie's storage room!" I had to interrupt.
The Queen seemed surprised. "Truly? A prophecy? That's unusual." She set the doll of herself down next to the Rancid Battle Dung, worth five million yellow ones.
"Yeah, it went like, um, when mountains and iron quakes, then, uh, something shall fall to boiling fen. Where wakes, uh, somebody's worst mistake, the first to, something, will be, something else."
"Ah, yes, it makes perfect sense," nodded the Queen. "Thank you for this information, young Shoyru. I will let one of my heroes know at once."
"One of your – wait, what?"
"Yes, you didn't think the Faerie Queen was without her personal legion of heroes?" She smiled serenely. "I have all the best at my beck and call, from Jerdana of Altador to Hannah of Krawk Island to Nigel of Meridar. Fear not, my dear, we will get this prophecy sorted out on your behalf."
"Well, but, I kinda wanted to –" I flinched as Reyna's screams drifted up to the Hidden Tower.
"I'm sorry, but it's getting late." The Queen kept up her smile, although it seemed forced. "You should be getting home. It's a school night, isn't it?"
"Good night, Queen Fyora," I muttered. After a short bow, I dove down out of the Hidden Tower. It was by then so dark that, regardless of its ordinary visibility, the Hidden Tower really would have been obscured from view.
Reyna stood out in the street below, yelling her head off. I could always tell when she was really angry, because she kind of seized up like a scarecrow. Despite my elevation, I could almost swear that straw was sticking out of her sleeves.
And so I pondered my fate, my near future. I'd be in a world of trouble, obviously, and I'd have to pay Reyna back every Neopoint. That would mean hours of repetitively playing games, dungeon crawling and spelling words, until I'd scrounged up a small fortune, the value of which would equal one-tenth of a third of what I owed Reyna. The worst thought was that I wouldn't be able to afford new books for at least a month – and not just books, but slushies, too. Man, I loved slushies.
And, all that, but for what? Life would go on, as usual: school for hours, with no foreseeable graduation, followed by Neopoint earning, an omelette for dinner, and then bed. Day in and day out, that same routine, broken up only by occasional fishing trips in Maraqua or field trips to Coltzan's Shrine.
On the whole, I pondered as I plummeted toward my irate owner, what sort of life was that? It was hardly the stuff of legend; I would know, I'd read about it more times than I could count. This great, wide world of Neopia held so many treasures and mysteries, and had so many myths and tales of high adventure, and I'd never be a part of any of that. Sure, I might participate in a war or two, but what good was that? I wanted to be a hero: me, little Pryora the newbie Shoyru, fresh off the presses and ready for whatever came my way.
Ten feet above Reyna's foaming mouth, I made my decision. I pulled out of my dive, ignoring her latest burst of screeches, and soared off into the night. I was going to solve the prophecy's quest and save Neopia from certain peril, from Dr Sloth flying around in his spacecraft, from boiling fens and worst mistakes.
Or so I imagined.
To be continued...