The Lost Prophecy: Part Three
Many days later, as I faced my rabid, debt-riddled owner, I was to remember the fiery gaze of the Magma Pool as I plummeted toward it.
Of course, being a Shoyru, it wasn't that big a deal. I wrenched my wings open and halted my descent until I could get my bearings. Ten feet above certain death (I exaggerate) and still hurtling at a modest clip, however, my options seemed a tad limited.
If I hadn't been in such a worrisome position, I might have wondered why I was glowing blue.
Then, it all happened in a flash. The blue light solidified into a pendant around my neck. It pulsed and shot out a jet of water at the magma below. For a moment, the magma cooled into rock, and so I bounced off of that like some sort of extreme Bouncy Supreme and slammed into a walking rug whose head was on fire.
The magma Tonu in front of me frowned. "What on Neopia do you think you're doing?" he demanded.
I honestly couldn't answer. Oh, jolly old Edna had just made me poison the Esophagor and then teleported me above a bathtub two shades too hot. Yes, that would have made perfect sense.
"You have to be well-versed in the ways of Moltara in order to enter the Magma Pool," he elaborated and whacked me away with his pointy stick.
"Learn more and try again later!" he yelled after me.
I decided not to argue with the talking fire rock and concentrated instead on my dismal surroundings. I wondered how anyone could live in such darkness, even with lanterns and pools of magma everywhere. And that heat! Whose bright idea was it to have steam power deep underground next to, I don't know, liquid burning stone? I couldn't wait to get out of there.
As if to prove my point, the world began to rock with violent tremors. I took off into the air, but stalactites and shards of obsidian started to fall from the ceiling. I dodged them the best that I could, but grains kept pelting me, and it was getting difficult to see.
In fact, while dodging a particularly agitated chunk of rock, I slammed into a blue Kougra in a basket. It was lucky that I did, though, since his basket had been tied to the ceiling with a bit of string, and so it had snapped like the seams on King Skarl's dinner shirt when the earthquake started. I caught him and glided to safety in the main town, where the damage seemed lighter.
The Kougra was less than grateful. "You idiot!" He batted me with his paws. "I was about to break my high score."
"You were about to break your neck," I retorted. "You're welcome, by the way."
He glared at me, straightened his straw hat, and scarpered off behind some buildings. Not wanting to waste my time further with that idiot, I went to go see if anyone needed help freeing their limbs from under the wreckage.
All seemed fine, however, at least as far as I could tell. Several Neopets had already sprung into action, chief among them a blue Lupe clad in armor. He dashed between debris sites, surprisingly quickly for a guy wearing his body weight in iron, and shouted encouragement and dragged out the unlucky. Medics dashed on the scene and tended to the wounded. I got the feeling that this sort of thing happened frequently.
When I meandered into Molten Morsels, realizing that I hadn't eaten since lunch the previous day, my suspicions were confirmed. Aside from some drywall in their Moltatoes and Fire Rice, the patrons were unfazed by the fact that a large earthquake had just ravaged their home.
"Welcome to Molten Morsels!" exclaimed the Bruce behind the counter. "Fancy a hot meal?"
"Sure, I'm completely satiated! I'll have a, uh, actually never mind." I really had to do something about my Neopoint problem. "I'm not that hungry."
"Oh, sure, that's fine. Let me know if you need anything." He went off to go fill up some bowls with Root Stew, which, as I could gather from the expressions of the Neopets eating them, tasted somewhere between Three Layer Humus and Florange Jam.
I turned to the Aisha sitting next to me. "So, do you guys get earthquakes a lot in Moltara?"
"Oh, yes, it's more common than you'd think," he replied.
"So, why do you keep living here?"
"Rent's cheap." He smirked. "Also, there's really not much to worry about, not when we have buildings made of industrial-strength iron." Something about his expression made me think he was really proud of that fact.
"Why iron? Doesn't that rust really easily?" I crept my hand up toward his fries to see if I could take some. He didn't seem to notice, lost in a ferric reverie.
"Psh, not with a good few coats of paint and some tender loving care! Iron is one of the cheapest and most reliable metals around."
"You don't say." I stole some more fries.
"I do! Iron is one of the last elements to be fused in a star, as hydrogen becomes helium and lithium and so on, and so its abundance and pervasion is formidable throughout Neopia."
"Really, now? What about aluminum?" I pinched off bites of his burger and ate them.
"Oh, sure, aluminum." His face grew sour. "Just because its rust doesn't weaken its structural integrity, suddenly everyone and their mother love it. But, you know, it only became economically viable recently; iron's been Neopet's best friend since before the dawn of Donna."
The Lupe in iron armor from earlier approached us. "Are you guys talking about iron?" he inquired.
The Aisha beamed. "But of course, my good fellow!"
They shook hands. I polished off the Aisha's milkshake.
"Ferrero Rocker's the name," said the Lupe.
"Aaron Ironside," replied the Aisha.
They looked at me. "Uh, Pryora," I said, trying not to show the bits of french fry stuck to my teeth.
"So," the Lupe turned back to the Aisha, "have you discussed its role as an indicator of the decay of stars?"
"Of course! I personally can think of no better, safer, sounder material than iron to use in the construction of our fair city," extolled the Aisha.
"I concur, I concur." The Lupe nodded.
Their conversation was interrupted by the 99% pure iron ceiling as it collapsed upon us all. The iron seared white and red and shivered in the face of the Lava Monster currently blowing fire on our heads.
"By the tendrils of Eithne!" shouted the Lupe, who drew his iron sword. "That was unexpected!"
I scarfed down the rest of the Aisha's burger while he and the Lupe went to battle the monster. I considered joining them in their heroic struggle since that was one of the cardinal rules of questing, but unfortunately I'd left my weapons and poor judgment at home.
Nevertheless, something gnawed at my brain as I made my escape. At first I thought it was my conscience, but then echoes of the prophecy I'd read in the Library Faerie's storage closet started to come back to me. Something about mountains, and iron quaking. . . Nah, I hadn't been to any mountains recently, and the iron quaking? Coincidence. I'd have to try a lot harder to solve this mystery.
First, however, I had a bone to pick with Edna.
I exited Moltara with all due haste and made my way toward the Haunted Woods. It was getting late, so I spent the night outside the Giant Omelette so that I'd have two cracks at that piñata.
In the morning, after I'd consumed my glorious, wholesome Rotten Omelette, I set off for Meridell. It was a safer alternative as a layover than Brightvale, where waited my royally irked owner with her cans of punishment broccoli.
I landed, after hours of flight, at the Cheeseroller station, which everyone knows is the hub of gossip and activity in Meridell. Even before I landed, I could tell that there was trouble in the air, no doubt because of the prophecy.
"Did you hear–?"
"Yes, Kiko Lake–"
"–Up in smoke and lava, yessir."
"What happened?" I asked a nearby jerkin-attired Meerca.
He replied, "The volcano under Kiko Lake erupted!"
"Wait, what? Isn't it supposed to be dormant?"
"So they say." He jerked his head in the direction of some grumpy-looking Neopets. "But ever since that satellite went rogue–"
Excitement bubbled in me. "What satellite?"
"You know, Dr Sloth's spaceship, the green and white one always whizzing about." He gestured up toward the cloudy sky. "It went off course sometime yesterday and caused a lot of ruckus. It broke Princess Amira's favorite mirror, chipped the roof on one of the Gypsy Caravans, and finally crashed into the Glass Bottom Tour boat just as the volcano went off."
"Is everyone okay?"
"Oh, yes, as far as we can tell. The damage the volcano could have done was largely mitigated by the mind-bogglingly huge volume of water in the lake. Also, because Kiko Lake isn't a huge tourist attraction, there were only like, five Neopets around to witness the event."
"Well, that's a relief. There was an earthquake in Moltara not yesterday, too."
"Yeah, well, I hear they get those a lot."
"Hm, sure. Well, thanks, mister."
I wandered off into Meridell, knowing that I'd have to get prepared to face Edna. As the day ticked on, I became less and less certain of how I was to get my revenge. After all, she had her own stamp; such fame didn't come lightly. I also had no idea what she was planning.
With all that doubt moldering my brain, I decided to go visit Illusen. Maybe one of her potions or topical creams would be of some use.
As soon as I wandered over, however, I stopped dead in my tracks. Standing in line, staring disinterestedly at the sky, was my owner, Reyna. I ducked behind some shrubs and hoped she hadn't seen me. Apparently she hadn't, since waves of Chomby and the Fungus Balls' Deluxe Edition Gormball Championship Theme weren't crashing down on my ears.
I waited for a solid hour until Reyna had gone. In the meantime, I watched Illusen give out her quests to all the Neopets in line. The queue chugged along slowly, as returning questers were allowed to cut in line.
The more I watched Illusen, the more I became aware of how strangely she behaved. She kind of twitched and jerked her limbs about in a peculiar fashion, and I could have sworn that I saw flashes of blue and white appear between locks of her hair or about her ankles.
By the time my owner gave up and left, I was entirely convinced that Illusen was composed of Feepits.
Unsure of what to do with this information, I left Meridell. I hadn't read anything of the sort in The Green Book, but, as I hadn't exactly finished it, it was possible that it was common knowledge.
At around dusk, I landed at Edna's doorstep. She looked up from her cauldron and grinned.
"Welcome back," was all she had to say.
"Why do you keep messing with me?" I demanded.
She shrugged and dropped some peanut butter spiders into the vat. "How fares your quest?"
"Uh, it's going places."
"I think I'd best inform you that it's already been completed."
"WHAT?" I stomped up to the cauldron. "By whom?"
"Oh, that Hannah lass. 'Twas a very commendable performance, too. Queen Fyora enlisted her yesterday and she finished not two hours ago."
"Well, isn't that just spiffing. What was it?"
"Hm, well, let me see." She tossed some magic ghost marshmallows into her cauldron and peered into the bubbling froth. "Just before Faerieland crashed, the Darkest Faerie's statute was moved to the green-and-white satellite which floats around Neopia sometimes, but then the satellite went haywire and crashed when its control panel in Moltara was disturbed. Hannah met the Darkest Faerie at Kiko Lake, distracted her with a green sticky hand, and chucked ice motes at her until Queen Fyora showed up and turned her back into stone. All in all, quite a successful adventure."
"Great," I grumbled. "Thanks a lot."
"Oh, and you'll be pleased to know that the potion you fed the Esophagor was only a sleeping spell. He's up and at 'em now."
"Whatever." I left.
I reviewed the prophecy in my mind, although I knew it was pointless. The quest had already been solved, so it didn't make any sense that all the points would be revealed to me. Still, I muttered under my breath,
"When the mountain . . . and iron quakes,
Then . . . shall fall to boiling fen.
Where wakes ––'s worst mistake,
The first to . . . will be . . ."
I pondered. Still none of it made much sense to me, no doubt because I was missing so much. Something in my heart ate at my comfort, and so I decided to go see the Brain Tree again, just in case.
A pair of claws grabbed me from behind. "There. You. Are," hissed Reyna.
"Oh, uh, hi." I tried to give her a winning smile. Fond memories of the Magma Pool danced in my head.
"Five hundred thirty-six thousand, three hundred and forty-nine," she growled. "That's how much your little outing has cost me!"
"But, Reyna, I had to research the satellite–"
"But nothing! You spend entirely too much time wrapped up in your little fantasies. Did you ever stop to think that not everything is tied to some deeper and more mysterious plot? Did it ever cross your mind that sometimes the extraordinary is just mundane, that a satellite is nothing more than a satellite?"
She spoke too quickly for me to follow, so I just apologized over and over until her scowl softened.
"Well, come on. We've got games to play." She dragged me off to the Deserted Fairground.
The Aisha at the Corkgun Gallery smirked at us as we approached. "Well, hello there, strangers! Care to partake in a little game?"
"Yeah, sure." Reyna forked over her hundred Neopoints. She breathed slowly, took aim, and launched her cork. It ricocheted off the can of Achyfi and bounced off Reyna's forehead with a metallic ping. "Gummy rats," sighed Reyna.
Something like blue fuzz stuck out of one of the Aisha's teeth. I looked more closely at her while Reyna wasted all her Neopoints. Occasionally, her face distorted, swelled and bulged in places, as though tiny paws were slipping out of position and falling against the skin of their costume. Surely it couldn't be coincidence that two prominent Neopian figures were made of Feepits. . .
"Here, Pryor, you give it a whirl," Reyna panted.
Lost in my thoughts, I somehow managed to topple over a can of Banana Achyfi. It fell off the shelf and exploded everywhere, but Reyna and I still cheered as though we were winners.
"Good job!" shouted Reyna. "Come on, let's go do something else."
We walked off toward the Bagatelle, unaware of the seventy pairs of beady black eyes which followed us wherever we went.