The Lost Prophecy: Part Two
Screaming, I smashed through the spydery branches and crash-landed on something squishy and blue. Oh, no. . .
"WHOOOO GOOOOESSSS THERRRRRE?" demanded a hideous, gravely voice. I stared up in horror at the abominable face glaring out of the side of a mountain.
"N-nobody, I'm just, I'm sorry," I stammered.
"III AMMMM HUUUUNGRRRRRYYYY," the Esophagor roared, a nasty leer in its eyes.
I hurried away as quickly as I could, feeling rather peckish myself.
A pack of ghost Meepits rolled across my path. I tied my Ghostkerchief closer about my neck and carried on, trying to remind myself that I was now on a quest and so I had to be brave. Well, I'd kind of forced my way onto this quest, but that's what you have to do in life, assert yourself on occasion.
"Assert myself," I whispered as a pack of Sklydes howled in the near vicinity. Suddenly the great, looming castle next door seemed like an ideal place to spend the night. I'd have to visit the Brain Tree in the morning.
I knocked thrice on the door, which didn't so much slowly creak ajar as fly open with a loud bang. I scuttled inside and closed the door. More darkness.
"Mewolec," murmured a voice in my ear. I turned, but there was no one.
"Colemew ot het Teslac fo Live Death."
"I beg your pardon?"
"Are you super brave . . . or are you a scaredy cat?" taunted the voice.
"I am super brave!" I shouted into the void.
The voice chucked, and suddenly the halls were illuminated. My path split left and right, as far as I knew. I chose the right path, since it seemed like the right thing to do. Ha, puns.
"To move there, correctly guess a seven letter word," announced the voice before I'd even put my foot down.
"All right, fine, I'll bite: toe stew," I shouted.
"That's not, that's not even a – no, you have to soooolve this anaaagraaaam." The voice ended on a mystical tone to cover up its earlier annoyance.
"Sock it to me, Bubblebee."
"Wait, what? Can you write that down?"
The letters appeared written in fire on the wall. I regretted my request, but I decided to go ahead and try it anyway.
"Lessee. . . Mystery? No, that's not – Relysmi? Selmiry? Yerlmis? Milesry?"
"Yoooou'rrrre terrrriblllllle at thissssss."
"Give me half a minute, would you?" I thought harder.
"Dooooon'ttttt strrrrainnnn yoooourrr–"
"Ha, 'miserly!' In your face!" I proceeded to the corner, three paces away. A door stood just around the bend. "What's in there?"
"The Crypt. I assumed you would have guessed it, since you're oooooh sooo cleeever."
I looked around for a face to frown at, but, seeing nothing, made a horrible grimace at the wall.
"Fine, I wanna go there. What's the anagram?"
"You can't go into the Crypt just yet."
"What? Why ever not?" I stamped my foot.
"You have to plaaaaay by the ruuuuules of the Caaaastle of Eliiiiv Thaaaade."
"What rules? This isn't a game!"
There was silence. "Yessss, it iiiiiis."
"Siiiince, uh, aaaaalwaaays. Y-you didn't know you were playing a game?"
"No. I just came here to –"
A fierce bellow of hot air rushed past me. It carried me off in a miserable torrent and hurled me out the door. I could hear, echoing within, "Noooo solllicitoooors!"
The doors of the Castle of Eliv Thade slammed shut.
I threw a "lodc fo irtd" at the edifice and went about my merry way. You know, as merry as is possible to be at midnight in the midst of the fog-strewn Haunted Woods.
Exhausted, I slumped down on the steps in front of Spooky Petpets and went to sleep, stomach growling like the Werelupes all around. Being on a quest wasn't all it was cracked up to be.
I evidently didn't sleep well, since I woke up mere hours later as dawn barely broke. The morning vigor promised a dreary, miserable day ahead. But, I didn't have the luxury of going back to sleep, firstly because a Meepit had taken to gnawing on my horn, and secondly because I believed in my mission, uncovering the secret behind a forgotten prophecy.
I had no idea where to begin, but at least I had a plan in mind. I got up to go enact it and walked across the street to the Brain Tree, as it pulsed and groaned and oozed pink slime.
"Mortal!" he roared at me when he saw me approach. "I need your help."
"Well, isn't that a funny coincidence. I need –"
"Where and when did Chris Korbat die?"
"WHERE AND WHEN?"
"Uh," I tried to make up something plausible, "BN 8 in Kreludor?"
"Incorrect!" shouted the Brain Tree.
"How can that be incorrect? You don't know the answer!" I yelled back.
"Oh, don't I?" The Brain Tree's eyes glowed brighter. "Go figure it out."
I shuffled away, grumbling. Everyone knew that the Esophagor had all the answers, but I wasn't exactly looking forward to seeing him again.
Yet I went, nonetheless. A line of Neopets had already queued up, and so I had time to think of a likely excuse as to why I had barreled into his backside the previous night. When it came to be my turn, however, the Esophagor didn't appear to remember me.
"Bring me a Creepy Spring Salad!" he glowered.
My jaw dropped. Those went for about five thousand Neopoints a pop; I knew, because I'd read about them yesterday in The Green Book, before it had prematurely turned into a puff of purple smoke.
"You have two hours! Get going!" snapped the Esophagor before I could refuse.
I stalked away past the Game Graveyard and the Haunted House. A vague notion congealed in my head to go to the Deserted Fairground to see if I could restock a Creepy Spring Salad, but it seemed useless. Perhaps that was part of my quest, that it had to be done alone, without the aid of sentient plants or mountains. If I wanted to figure out the prophecy, I'd have to do it myself.
I wandered up the twig-strewn path, lost in my thoughts, and so I didn't notice when I had reached a stone tower jutting out of the ground. A green Zafara in a black hat leered at me from her garden. I felt like I should have known who she was, but apparently I hadn't read that far in The Green Book.
"Lost, are you, my tasty little Neopet?" she cackled as she watered her Zobamints.
"Not really," I called back.
"Oh, that's a pity. I could be of such use to you . . . Pryora."
I should have been scared about the fact that she knew my name, but really I was intrigued. "Who are you?" I asked, walking up to her gate.
Her face pinched into a grin. "I? But a humble witch, dearie, and so very eager to help you." She pulled a Creepy Spring Salad out of her pockets and sprinkled it with an acid purple potion. "The truth serum on this salad will make the Esophagor reveal all you need to know for this quest of yours."
"The Esophagor?" I echoed. "Wouldn't the Brain Tree know more?"
"Bah!" The Zafara slammed down her watering can. "He's no brighter than a Baby Fireball. Trust me, he gets all his knowledge from the Esophagor. He's the one who can help you."
"I don't know. . ."
"What if I told you," she moved closer, "that he was the one who made your prophecy?"
My jaw came unhinged. "Really?"
"Yes," she purred, placing the Creepy Spring Salad in my hands. "And don't worry about payment, dearie. I'll just, ah," she tugged my Ghostkerchief off my neck, "take this in trade."
I hesitated, since my Ghostkerchief had been one of my first presents from my owner Reyna, but I realized that the prophecy was of greater importance than such cheap trinkets. "Thank you, miss!"
"Oho," she blushed. "Little old me, a 'miss.'" The Zafara waved me on my way.
I got back in line and waited for my turn. The Esophagor inhaled deeply, so much that I thought I was going to go airborne.
"Aaaaaaah my Creepy Spring Salad. Feeeed meeeeee." He opened his jagged mouth in a huge, gaping yawn. I tossed in the salad, bowl and all, and it disappeared into the rank depths.
The Esophagor chewed thoughtfully, which surprised me, because compared with his bulk, it should have been as simple as swallowing a Mootix.
"Yoooouuuu," he hissed slowly. His giant eyes flickered and blinked. "Whaaat haaave you dooone?" He trailed off for a while, making those in line behind me grow impatient, until we were all silenced by a massive snore.
"Did he just–?"
"What's going on?"
A horrible feeling eating away my insides, I fled before anyone could think to grab me. The crowd grew increasingly clamorous behind me.
"Witch!" I screeched. The Zafara looked up from her Bleeding Heart.
"Well? How'd it go?" she sneered.
"You poisoned the Esophagor!"
"Technically, you did, my pet." I wanted to fill that smirk of hers with dirt.
"Why would you lie to me?"
She twirled her trowel. "Why should I tell the truth? Lying's much more fun."
"Edna. Your name is Edna," I realized.
The witch held aloft her trowel, turning it into a trident with a puff of smoke. "I'm so honored you remembered."
I could barely hear her, what with all my thoughts buzzing around in my head, not to mention the dull roar of the mob out to get me. I dove down and stuck my nose to hers.
"You have to fix this," I snarled.
"Do I?" She pulled back and tapped me on the chin with her trident. "But I'm afraid that's a job for heroes, dearie."
Before I could react, she threw a potion on me. It was searing cold and freezing hot, and then all went black.
To be continued...