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Around Neopia in 80 Days - Part Three


by burning_shadows_79

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Neopia is an amazing place, full of wonders and marvels. You haven't experienced Neopia until you've travelled to all its corners; any Neopian who stays in the shelter of their own home, and never explores the world, is missing out.

Welcome to the third part of your journey around Neopia in eighty days! With half your voyage complete, you have travelled far and seen a great deal - you have scaled the Shenkuu mountains and the Tyrannian plateaus; you have ascended the chilly heights of Terror Mountain and probed the scorching depths of Moltara; but there are still many things to see and do in the regions of Neopia that you have not yet visited. It is now time to enjoy the tropical paradise of Mystery Island, which is a feast of fun and games for tourists.

***

MYSTERY ISLAND

DAY 40 - Harbour Beaches

Back in the open air after four days in Moltara, even the humid tropical atmosphere in Mystery Island will feel refreshing. When you first arrive on Mystery Island after an overnight boat journey from Moltara's entrance, you really can't go past the beautiful sandy coast.

Before you start worrying, the native tribes that eat Neopets don't live in the parts of the island open to tourists - naturally, that means you shouldn't go past the warning signs (and when I say "warning signs" I mean tall wooden posts with skulls mounted ominously on top; these are erected around the territorial borders of the native peoples). As long as you stay clear of the natives' lands, you're perfectly safe - and there is no better place to go for a swim than in the sparkling turquoise waters surrounding the tropical beach. There are two main beaches on the eastern shores: the one that stretches north is quiet, peaceful and ideal for relaxation if you don't like hustle and bustle; the southern beach is far busier because it's home to the Tiki Tack Tombola and Mystery Island's souvenir shop.

It is recommended to begin the day by relaxing on the northern beach, either swimming or playing Mynci Beach Volleyball; you should then head to the Tropical Food stall for lunch. Most of the produce here is fresh fruit; a Zeenana Crepe or Stramberry Coconut Milk is a healthy and delicious meal, but if you want a real treat, save room for the irresistible Roseatte Ice Cream! On the southern beach, the Tiki Tack Man has the joint tasks of running the Tombola and the souvenir shop; spin the Tombola for a (small) chance of winning a (meagre) prize, then pop next door to buy a Mystery Island memento. All the icons of the local culture are here: grass skirts, wooden masks, palm fans, and models of the Coconut God statues - take your pick. Strange as it may seem, it might be a good idea to buy some bottles of sand, because certain colours can be combined in Jhuidah's Cooking Pot (which you will visit tomorrow) to create beautiful sand sculptures. As the sun sets, head to the Tropical Resort for a comfortable night's rest.

DAY 41 - Mystery Island Markets

Having explored the beaches around the harbour, you'll be ready to explore the many attractions that lie further inland. The population centre of Mystery Island is loaded with entertainment for visitors, as can be expected in a place which is adapted for tourism more than any other Neopian land.

You'll pass by the Tiki Tours centre on the way to the markets, but ignore it; the tour lasts only a few hours and doesn't do justice to this magnificent place. You'll find a raft of user-owned shops here, too: ignore this as well, since it's a clone of the Marketplace in Neopia Central that you visited early on. The Trading Post is a major attraction, as it is the only place in Neopia where items can be traded in groups. Along with the food stall you have already visited (while you're here you may as well sample a wide range of the local fruits), there are two kitchens here. One of them belongs to the (formerly) Underwater Chef, who prepares meals for the mighty Mumbo Pango, prince of the Coconut people - and the other is the Cooking Pot, watched over by Jhuidah the Island Faerie, where you can receive wonderful rewards for providing offerings to the king of the Coconut people: the Great Pango Pango. Certain combinations of coloured sand will please Pango Pango, and the Cooking Pot will return a sand sculpture: a wonderful souvenir, especially when crafted from your own offerings.

The Rock Pool, a showcase of the Petpets that live in the rivers and shallow seas of the island, is located close to the Cooking Pot; the creatures sold here are indeed kept in beautiful rock pools which are worth taking the time to admire. Once you're done browsing, head back to the Tropical Resort along the jungle road: along the way, you may catch sight of Wheeler the Lenny on his coconut bicycle, or the Hasee duo Jimmi and Woogy leaping to gather Doughnutfruits. There are more attractions deeper in the jungle; you'll explore those tomorrow.

DAY 42 - Techo Mountain Trek

From the markets and tourist hot spots on the island's outer shores, there is a path that runs deeper into the jungle and over the volcano in the very centre of Mystery Island: Techo Mountain, named for the bizarre shape of a rock formation on its western side. The mountain slopes and the surrounding jungles are home to a whole raft of activities.

Head down the path that leads past the markets and into the central jungles. (Along this road, you will see many smaller tracks decorated with skulls, which lead into the natives' territories; avoid these at all costs.) The main road into the jungle is wide and well-used, because the biggest attraction in this land lies ahead: the Mystery Island Training School. Despite the heat and humidity, many hundreds of Neopets come here regularly to beef up their battle stats, bringing the mysterious codestones which serve as currency to pay for the training courses. The courses take hours and are not suitable for tourists, but you can still visit the school and hear the wisdom of the Techo Master.

The codestones have another purpose as well, for those brave enough to approach the mouth of the volcano (which, having been to Moltara already, will not be too intimidating). If you acquire ten codestones and throw them into the volcano's lava, they will melt and fuse into a single Red Codestone. These rare stones are used to train high-level Neopets at another training school, concealed on the mountain's slopes - but unless you have the necessary strength, the Ninja guardians will not allow access. This means there's no real point in creating a Red Codestone, so instead, simply admire the views from the mountain peak and then head back down into the jungle. Here you can find a Yurble in a traditional mask, spinning coloured blocks to crush them into a fine dust; if you enjoy puzzles, you can lend the Yurble a hand in the Goparokko game. When you're done, head past Techo Mountain, down the much narrower path that leads toward the ruined city of Geraptiku.

DAY 43 - Lost City of Geraptiku

It is not known how Geraptiku came to be abandoned; it is presumed that the native tribe who constructed the city either died out or wandered away. Whatever the reason, this once-bustling settlement is now a ghost town, its buildings in ruins, and all the natives avoid it. This makes it safe for tourists to visit, but still considerably eerie.

The highlight of Geraptiku is its fauna: it is now only inhabited on a permanent basis by Petpets, which, in the absence of any competition, have developed complex habits and customs similar to civilisation. It is not clear whether this unique behaviour evolved independently, or is simply an imitation of the former inhabitants of Geraptiku - either way, it's pretty fascinating. The local Lizarks have even created a clever way to pass the time: an activity known by tourists as Lost City Lanes, which is a bizarre cross between ten-pin bowling and an obstacle course. All the Petpets in the area partake in this game, and so can you. In Geraptiku, this is the best way to consume a few spare hours, because there's not much else to do in the city centre.

There is only one shop in Geraptiku, where the Petpets found here can be purchased. The "shopkeeper" is an open jar with a sign requesting that payments be left there, but don't be fooled: the shop is not unguarded at all, because it is watched over by a pair of Blugars who will pounce on anyone who tries to sneak away without paying or purloin money from the jar. In a city inhabited by only Petpets you might wonder why they can be bought for Neopoints, but these creatures have found that the best punishment for bad behaviour is to send them out of town - and why not do so in return for currency that can then be exchanged for a little extra food? The Petpets you can buy here may by unruly if they have no master, but they settle down under the supervision of a patient enough Neopet; although, as always, they are not ideal purchases on a long journey.

DAY 44 - The Deserted Tomb

You need a whole day to explore the Deserted Tomb, the main landmark of the Geraptiku ruins... and you have to come prepared: bring a torch, plenty of food and water, a grappler and rope, and a first aid kit. Unlike your passing visit to the Temple of 1,000 Tombs in the Lost Desert, this will be a thorough exploration.

Built centuries ago, this vast stone temple is a resting place for the king of the city's original tribe, and as a storage hold for his vast riches. The passages inside the tomb are a labyrinthine maze, extending into the network of caves beneath Geraptiku; your goal is to enter the tomb through the door at the top, then explore the interior and find your way back to the entrance. It takes considerable planning to ensure you can leave the tomb by the end of the day: sticking coloured ribbons to the walls is a good way of letting yourself know where you've already been (as long as you don't run out of ribbons). Although the treasures held in the tomb are immense, don't think you will come across a single treasure chest and walk away with wealth undreamt: the king's valuables are spread across many dozens, perhaps even hundreds of treasure chests, so any successful raider will locate only a small portion of the royal riches. It is, of course, a good idea to bring a sizeable bag in case you do find one of the treasure rooms.

Armed with a light source and a food supply, it's time to enter the tomb. Beware, the tomb is full of traps, set by the original builders who were determined that the king's fortune should never be stolen: the walls are set with arrow guns, there are trapdoors concealed in the floors, and hidden switches that could see you caught in a net or the corridor blocked by a rockslide. Apart from the elusive treasure rooms, there are smaller boxes which contain precious trinkets (although Petpets like to use these boxes as nests, so watch out for them). Most of the actual treasure chests have already been emptied. Apart from the traps, the only real danger here is the king's ghost: a huge and ravenous Hissi, who aggressively chases after any intruders. If you come across him, run for your life!

LUTARI ISLAND

UNSAFE TO VISIT. Storms are far too dangerous at the moment.

MARAQUA

DAY 45 - Dive on the Coral Reef

Before heading to the oceanic city of Maraqua, you need to prepare your oxygen supply. At the northern dock of Mystery Island is a shop that sells enchanted seaweed necklaces, which allow the wearer to breathe underwater: purchase one and secure it tightly, then don your wetsuit and set off along Sandpoint Highway, the underwater road that leads to Maraqua from the island's northernmost beach.

You need the wetsuit because of the lower temperatures in deeper water, but close to the surface it is wonderfully warm; the currents are gentle, making it a pleasant swim. Breathing in water feels bizarre unless it comes naturally (as it does for several Neopet species), and the taste of salt in the ocean is strong - but try not to notice these things too much, because the surroundings are wonderful. Take your time; the going is easy, and even at a slow pace you'll easily make it to the city by nightfall. The road itself is beautifully paved with sea shells; near the beach it is bordered by rocks which are teeming with Kelpflakes, but as you head further along the highway, the rocks are encrusted with sensational coral formations. You only got a small taste of this scenery when you visited Kiko Lake, but here in the ocean, the sheer scale and beauty of the reef is without equal.

As well as the stunning, brightly-coloured corals themselves, and a few dense thickets of very long seaweed fronds (a bit like underwater forests), you'll see dozens of aquatic Petpet species. Not all of these are the same as the ones found in Kiko Lake; only in the ocean will you see Waleins, Eelika, Delfins, Filamen and Neucloop, as well as the hundreds of Sandpoints that give the highway its name. Eventually the shallow sea floor will fall away into colder and darker waters, which have their own flora and fauna: darker-coloured species of corals, as well as Lurmans, Urgoni, and Splime (which is actually a relative of the sea anemone) can be found here. In the depths, the highway is lit by rows of Filamen and you can see shoals of fish everywhere. The city of New Maraqua will eventually loom on the horizon: you'll explore tomorrow, but for now, check into the Seascape Hotel for dinner and a comfortable rest.

DAY 46 - New Maraqua

Along with the unique landscape on the ocean floor comes a unique experience for tourists. Not only are the local flora and fauna distinctive and beautiful, but the Maraquan population is friendly, welcoming, and generous. Today, you will focus on the exquisite wares sold in the city centre.

Luckily, your Bag is magically waterproof, so none of your belongings will be soaked through and your Neopoints won't have rusted; this is important in the shops, because unlike the Seascape Hotel there is no air space in the other local buildings. In terms of retailers, there's only one place to go to purchase a Maraquan souvenir, and that's the Sea Shell shop. As with all collectables, the full set is displayed on the shop wall. You can buy more than just sea shells here - there are also Maractite coins and hand-made jewellery pieces. If you do choose a sea shell, be careful which one you choose because some (notably the Pink Curly Shell) are very prone to breakage. If you want to be creative, the Worn Maractite Coin fits neatly into the Deep Seashell to make a handsome little ornament.

Other shops are mainly for browsing, including the Petpet Aquarium which houses several of the local species in vast glass tanks - you can learn about all the Maraquan wildlife here, so the aquarium is well worth a lengthy visit. But the real highlight, if you're cashed up - very cashed up - is to enjoy some of the finest cuisine in all of Neopia at Maraqua's luxury restaurant, Kelp. Excellent lunches include the Maraquan Cream Broth and Ocean Delight Salad, while the Filet of Beef or the Fish Special accompanied by a cool glass of Funnydew Melon Delight makes an exquisite dinner. You may even wish to try a slice of Coral Cake or the signature Kelp ice cream for dessert, but you have to be swimming in Neopoints to afford all these delicacies. If you're not wealthy enough for this superb dining experience, you can still sample certain items on Kelp's menu, because some guests sell leftover dishes from their three-course meals at bargain prices: Spicy Radish Salad, Braised Turkey Cutlet and Honeyed Horn of Plenty are all available at local shops for less than 5,000 NP.

DAY 47 - Tour the Underwater Palace

Now that King Kelpbeard has learned that not all surface dwellers are dangerous, he has opened his doors for visitors to explore the grand palace at the centre of Maraqua - although tourists do still need to be checked by the Maraquan Shieldmaidens to ensure they're not Captain Scarblade's pirate henchmen. Once you've been deemed fit, you will be permitted to enter one of Neopia's most amazing buildings.

The Underwater Palace is unlike any other structure in Neopia. It is built partly from stone, but mainly from coral, which is harvested from the marine trenches surrounding Maraqua. The windows appear to be made of thick glass, but in fact they are much stronger and larger versions of the magical bubbles which the residents of Kiko Lake use to craft furniture and trinkets. These force fields keep out the ocean currents and can withstand almost any impact (except perhaps a headlong full-speed charge by the Chasm Beast, who doesn't live in this part of the ocean anyway). Inside, many of the coral walls are embedded with sea shells, and the floor tiles are made from smooth sandstone quarried from the trenches. As well as the guardians of King Kelpbeard's court, shoals of Mundos and Arkmites can be seen roaming through the vast chambers and corridors. But it's the shape of the building that is most impressive - it's like a group of colossal bubbles bound and fused together. The impact, when viewed from inside, is positively otherworldly.

Visitors can only tour a small part of the palace; you can see the main hall, the ballroom, the palace restaurant and part of the armoury, but nothing more: King Kelpbeard is not so unwise as to become complacent. From the armoury, there is a portal that leads to Neopia Central's Dome of the Deep, but what you'll really want to see is the weapons, because surplus items crafted from super-strong Maractite are available for purchase. (An Enchanted Magical Necklace or a Finned Maractite Helm makes a good souvenir.) At the palace restaurant, you will be offered a selection of rare delicacies no longer available for purchase, such as fish eggs, various corals, clams, and squid. Unlike Kelp, the palace restaurant does not allow visitors to take home leftovers.

DAY 48 - Maraquan Ruins

Before the first invasion by Captain Scarblade, the Maraquan population lived on another seafloor plateau, several miles west of where their rebuilt city now lies. The remnants of Old Maraqua may no longer have any Neopets living there, but it's still full of attractions for tourists, especially history buffs who love visiting ruins.

The first thing you'll notice is how very creepy the abandoned city is, because it's devoid of life except for seaweed, algae, and a handful of Petpet species including Noak, Gulpers, and clusters of Kora and Urgoni. The second thing you'll notice is that the architecture here is different: the buildings of Old Maraqua were made of simple stone, with no coral reinforcement, and the windows were plain glass which is now mostly shattered. Indeed, the old-school construction is part of the reason why this city was less able to withstand Scarblade's invasion than New Maraqua, which survived a similar attack with far less structural damage. The old city is now a lonely and silent place, but there are still several activities here.

Although the former inhabitants of Old Maraqua took most of their valuables with them when they built their new city, plenty of treasure still remains behind - there are also numerous wooden chests, filled with gold and jewels, that fell overboard pirate ships and sank. Some Neopets (such as Kelby the Maraquan Shoyru) regularly set out to collect these riches, while others (such as Sir Pompadour) prefer to send others to search the seafloor for valuables. This is a hazardous business, so help is always welcome: most of the games in Maraqua are centred around treasure hunting. Other activities involve the ocean currents: the Whirlpool game is one, but the Bubbling Pit is also worth a visit because the upwelling of water here is warm and comforting, almost like a spa. As you explore the ruins, you may come across an oversized Slugawoo defending his territory, but as long as you move away promptly, he won't do you any harm. Beyond the Slug Monster's den is a large cavern containing an air pocket: the Fishing Vortex, which will require a whole day's attention. Return to the Seascape Hotel now, and leave the fishing trip for tomorrow.

DAY 49 - Ye Olde Fishing Vortex

After a few days' wandering around, you're likely to want to spend a day kicking back and relaxing, and there's nothing better for that than a spot of fishing. Beyond the ruins of Old Maraqua lies a rocky tunnel that eventually opens into a vast cavern, with an air pocket trapped inside. Inside this cavern is a bait shop and a wooden pier: the most popular fishing spot in Neopia.

Adjusting to breathing in air again after so long underwater is likely to feel strange, but the peculiarity only lasts for as long as it takes to visit the bait shop, hire a fishing rod, and buy some worms to fish with. The air here is fresh and clear: the Fishing Vortex is actually located right at the surface of the ocean, half full of seawater but cut off from the surrounding air. Fresh water leaks in from the cave ceiling and dilutes the salt water, effectively creating a low-salt lake in which a wide range of aquatic species live. However, most of the things that fishermen reel in are inanimate items, such as rubbish or sunken treasure washed in by the tide. Some of these miscellaneous objects actually have great value.

One of the most common catches is seaweed; just like the local fish, this seaweed comes in several varieties. Another common catch, sadly, is rotten old trash such as mouldy shoes, rusty tin cans, and driftwood. It'll take many attempts and an awful lot of patience before you'll catch an actual fish - the more experienced a fisherman you are, the more likely you'll reel in a species that usually disentangles itself from the line quickly. You can catch octopi and squid too, which again come in many strange forms - the fact that so many odd species live here may somehow be related to the bizarre paraphernalia that expert fishermen sometimes catch, such as mysterious molten rods, glowing discs, and anti-gravitic glass pyramids. Perhaps their magic or radiation has affected the creatures here (so whatever you do, don't drink the water!). If you're very skilled and immensely lucky, you might snag a real treasure, like a potion that can change a Neopet's colour or species, but don't hold your breath. Eventually time will slip away and the sun will set; when it does, return to the ocean, leave the Fishing Vortex and head back to the cave entrance.

KRAWK ISLAND

DAY 50 - Governor's Mansion

Your next stop is the centre of activity for Neopia's swashbucklers and pirates: Krawk Island. The quickest route is to head east from Maraqua until you hit the cold ocean current that flows from the Tyrannia Sea to the icy islands south of Krawk Island. Like a river, the current will carry you to your destination.

After an hour or so swimming with the current, you'll be within sight of the shoreline - and you may spot several pirate ships, too. Although most of the locals are treasure hunters, there are several thieves who will happily seize your coins and goods if they get the chance, so be sure to secure the clasp on your Bag before coming ashore, and don't leave your valuables unattended! However, for a keen traveller, coming here is worth the risk - the western region of Krawk Island is full of entertainment for tourists. The first thing you'll want to do is to trade some of your Neopoints for Dubloons, since both currencies are used on the island. The vast southern beach is home to two main attractions - one is the strategy game Armada, which you can play with a friend or with one of the locals; and the other is the chance to search for buried treasure stolen from the Black Pawkeet years ago (before Garin the Foolish captained the ship). For a cost of 300 Neopoints you can choose a place to dig, but most likely you won't find anything. Still, you can use the opportunity to make a great sandcastle.

The grandest tourist attraction here is the handsome mansion owned by Governor Gavril McGill, who reunited Krawk Island's many component islets into one landmass after the legendary Krawken tore the island apart. The architecture of the mansion is similar to the buildings of Old Maraqua; its walls and floors are made of slate and marble, and it is exquisitely decorated with tapestries and statues. Visitors can explore only the main hall, with one exception: the Krawken still threatens the island's foundations, so the Governor ordered an underwater cannon room to be built in order to keep the beast at bay. Guests are free to fire the cannons if the Krawken approaches; if you land a hit, the Governor will reward you with a prize.

DAY 51 - Tour the Warf Wharf

The main harbour, situated on the southern side of the island, is where pirate ships are moored when not in use. When they're not sailing the five seas of Neopia in search of gold and treasure, the locals enjoy all kinds of activities that are also great entertainment for visitors.

The only shop here is Little Nippers, the Petpet store; as always, tourists should restrict themselves to window shopping. However, as the hub of activity on Krawk Island, the Warf Wharf is home to lots of games. Stowaway Sting is an obstacle course across the decks of an anchored ship, where the crew will raise the stakes by trying to catch you. Dubloon Disaster is a salvage operation for spilled treasure among dangerous heat-seeking mines - you don't get to keep any Dubloons, but you will be rewarded with Neopoints. Deckball is a sport played by Petpets on a disused deck; also involving Petpets are the Barf Boat game (which is probably best avoided as it is rather gross) and Petpet Cannonball (which is best avoided in case the Petpet Protection League finds you out). There are also several betting games on the Warf Wharf, including Bilge Dice, Krawps, Pawkeet Slots, and the Food Club. The Food Club is an eating contest held regularly by the locals; if you aren't the betting type, you can visit the Food Club just to spectate, although this too can be a little gross.

Speaking of food, just to the east of the harbour is a dock which is home to Krawk Island's famous floating restaurant, the Golden Dubloon. This is the place to be if you want to sample the foods of the island, and although only Dubloons are accepted as payment, the meals here are very good value. There are drawbacks - seating capacity is limited, the place is very noisy and rowdy, and there's bound to be at least one guest singing dreadfully out-of-tune sea shanties after consuming too much grog - but the atmosphere here captures the essence of Krawk Island's culture, and there are some great meals and drinks on offer. The Headless Horsefish and the Belt Busting Burger are favourites among sea dogs, and the most popular drink is of course grog, although there are also some nice cocktails - and like the Kelp Restaurant, you'll get a doggy bag if you can't finish your order. After a full day of fun, it's time for a good night's sleep at Ye Olde Ship Inn, near the centre of Krawk Island.

DAY 52 - Hike through the Fungus Caves

On the northern side of Krawk Island is some sensational scenery in the form of caves, cliffs, beaches, and even shipwrecks. Be sure to bring a jumper because the wind can be cold, pack some lunch and a few water bottles, buy a map to the Forgotten Shore, and get ready for a day's bushwalking.

Northwest of Ye Olde Ship Inn is a narrow, rocky path that leads to the high cliffs of Krawk Island. The view is spectacular, but the sea breeze is slightly chilly. The road leads uphill to the best lookout points on the island - from here you have an excellent view of the pebbly beaches below, as well as the Governor's Mansion on the island's western plains - before winding down a steep incline into a small cove, which is surrounded on three sides by sheer rock faces. On the opposite side of the cove from where you entered, there is a bare cliff face with a small opening inside it - this leads into the legendary Fungus Caves, a subterranean river system. It is dark and freezing cold inside, but the fungus covering the walls is magical: when fed to a Krawk Petpet, it causes rapid maturation into a fully-grown Neopet. However, if you're fortunate enough to own a Krawk Petpet, there's no point scraping fungus from these walls to feed to the Petpet - it would quickly die if removed from this cave, eliminating its magical power.

The cave will eventually open up into another rocky beach, on the other side of the Hook Peninsula. Turn left at the cave exit and you'll soon get lost, until you put together the Forgotten Shore map; eventually, you'll come across a rugged beach where an old pirate ship once ran aground. The shipwreck looks awesome, although it's far too fragile and slippery to walk on. The beach is a great picnic spot, and you might even find some treasure in the sand, washed up from the cargo hold of the wrecked ship. When you're finished here, you can head south again and follow the shoreline to the Smuggler's Cove, where Scurvy Island's pirates sell their ill-gotten gains (although, since these treasures sell so fast, there's rarely anything here). If you're feeling brave and adventurous, the cavern here leads to more treasure in the famous Pirate Caves, first charted by the explorer Hannah. In the late afternoon, head up the hill to a small travel agency near the Swashbuckling Academy, where you can rent a Cloud Racer to take you to your next destination: Faerieland.

FAERIELAND

DAY 53 - Faerie City

Faerieland most probably takes the prize for the greatest number of tourist attractions of any land on Neopia. It is still recovering from the disaster of Y12, when Xandra's petrification spell weakened the faeries' magic and caused their city to fall from the sky; but although the Faerie Castle is yet to be fully repaired, the faeries' home world is thriving once more.

The guestrooms of the Faerie Castle have been renovated and are now just as luxurious as they were before the fall, giving you a comfortable and beautiful place to stay. In the morning, it's time to explore the city. This is the centre of commerce in Faerieland, featuring a furniture store, a restaurant, a Petpet store, and an armoury - and almost all the things sold here have ornamental wings. The Petpet store is worth a visit as always, unless you have an aversion to soft high-pitched chirping sounds; some of the sweetest Petpets in all of Neopia are showcased here, such as Faellies, Magarals, Harris, and Miamice. At the nearby Faerie Food Store, you can indulge in some exquisite dishes - Heavenly Roast Turkey, Celestial Salad and Faerie Dumplings are among the highlights on the main menu, but the restaurant specialises in desserts: cupcakes, sundaes, and the local specialty, Faerie Bubbles, which are filled with sweet syrup. Speaking of Faerie Bubbles, they feature in a game not far from the castle: the factory produces more sugar shells than syrup, and any extra Faerie Bubble capsules are routinely fired from a cannon and burst. (How strange.)

The furniture store features many home furnishings modelled on the various types of faerie, as well as a Nova range. Despite the inevitable faerie wings, the appearance of the sofas and beds are not nearly as striking as how soft and comfy they are, and happily the shopkeeper is willing to allow visitors to try them out (as long as said visitors are reasonably clean, since dirt on the furniture is never a good look). The Fyora Motif Vase is a recommended purchase as it is an excellent souvenir. Finally, there's the weapon shop, operated by Aethia the Battle Faerie. Since Aethia also runs the Ability Academy, the faerie minding the shop may be one of Aethia's students; however, if Aethia herself is taking a shift, you can receive advice on the best techniques for wielding weapons.

DAY 54 - Tour the Faerie Castle

As mentioned in yesterday's itinerary, the Faerie Castle is yet to be fully restored after the hard hit it took when Faerieland crashed. This means several of its towers are crooked, held up by faerie magic. However, it is still safe to navigate and is a fantastic place to visit.

The faeries' architectural style is distinctive and instantly recognisable: the exterior of the castle is built from simple stone and painted purple, lavender and pale blue. The towers are angled in a higgledy-piggledy way, which somewhat ruins the look of the structure from outside - but inside, it's as beautiful as ever. The walls are marble, so white they seem to be glowing; the ceilings are vaulted, the supporting arches painted purple. On the ground floor is the Faerieland Library, where you can read up about the faeries and take part in the daily crossword puzzle; the Library Faerie will insist that you keep as quiet as possible while you visit. The Employment Agency is also here, although fetching items for the faeries' spells is a waste of time when you're holidaying; the same holds true for faerie quests, which are based in an office in the castle. The Faerie Queen has several staff who manage Faerieland's resources, including requirements for potions and testing spells, and they send out messengers to request items when they're needed.

The rest of the tour is devoted to the castle itself. Although the towers are lopsided, clever gravity spells enable those inside to feel as though the floor is perfectly level; the same magic also makes the structure completely stable. Queen Fyora has reserved one tower for herself, one for the highest members of her court, and two for the Faerieland Guards; these are not included in the tour, but you do get to see the tallest tower, which is a watchtower that offers superb views of the whole city. The guide will show you through the tailor's workshop, where the faeries' gowns and robes are made; and the ballroom, which is on the second floor. You will also tour the gardens, which are maintained to a stunning level of beauty; these play host to the annual Faerie Festival celebrations, as well as the festivities of Fyora Day. The famous Hidden Tower can only be reached from the gardens: if you can find the invisible door and get through it, you can find a stash of Neopia's strongest weapons in a super-expensive shop at the top.

DAY 55 - Faerieland Crater

This is the suburban area of Faerieland, where most of the faeries' homes are. The majority of faeries are small and difficult to find, living in the trees, rivers, and hollow toadstools. But there are still loads of things to see and do in the outskirts of Faerieland.

On a high plateau is an oval track where the fastest Poogles compete for the honour of first prize in the Poogle Races. If you like, you can watch the races or even place a bet on your favourite Poogle; the contestants race on all fours, which is faster than running on their hind legs. Not far from the Poogle Racing Stadium is the top of a waterfall which flows into the crater from above; this flow of water is enchanted to shine in seven colours, and leads to the Rainbow Fountain at the bottom of a misty cliff face. The Fountain Faerie's quests are coveted because they are rewarded with free paint jobs; however, these quests are exceptionally rare because Queen Fyora only commissions them when a super-rare item is needed for a potion or spell (which isn't very often). Unless you've completed a quest for her, the Fountain Faerie will tell you that the magic of the fountain is used up; but when you bring an item she asks for, Fyora grants her a single-use magical charm which activates the Rainbow Fountain's magic.

Nearby is the Wheel of Excitement, so roll on up and give it a spin - but be aware that there is a risk of losing Neopoints or an item, so leave these in the locker at the Faerie Castle. You might also be on the receiving end of a fireball from the Lava Ghoul, in which case you should pop over to the nearby Healing Springs, frequently visited by sick and injured Neopian, as well as potion shoppers. From the Healing Springs, head into the centre of the crater where a blue Grundo plushie hangs forlornly from a tree branch. This little guy is the Discarded Magical Blue Grundo Plushie of Prosperity (what a mouthful!) and if you say hello to him you may receive a blessing, such as a Neopoint prize, an intelligence boost, or a free toy. On the western side of the crater wall stands Jhudora's Bluff: her menacing castle and thorny gardens may only be observed from outside, because Jhudora's property is firmly closed to tourists.

DAY 56 - Hike through the Faerie Caverns

The network of caverns and passages beneath Faerieland has existed since before the Great Fall, and was formerly known as the Underclouds. These caves are still filled with mist and they're still dazzlingly beautiful, so the Faerie Caverns are definitely worth setting aside a whole day to see.

On the northern crater wall is the entrance to the caverns, which sits next to a sparkling freshwater spring. The unofficial entrance fee for exploring the caverns is a gift of 400 Neopoints thrown into the pond - this is not enforced, but it is considered incredibly rude to enter without making the routine donation. Toss the coins into the pool, light your long-lasting torch and head inside. The caves are cool and misty, but not dark at first because there are openings on the ceiling that act as skylights. The walls are stone, which in some places is engraved with lines of markings that recall the abstract patterns found on Maractite; these grooves are created by vines and left behind when they die. In the depths of the uppermost caves is a stash of treasure, lost from the former Underclouds when Faerieland fell; if you're lucky enough to find it, the treasure chamber is also the sole habitat of the rare Patamoose Petpet.

The real highlight of the Faerie Caverns is not in the surface caves, though - it is in the depths, which can be reached through a small opening in the largest cavern. The door is cloaked with plants and tricky to find, but beyond the narrow tunnel is a series of even more spectacular rooms and corridors. The depths are difficult and dangerous to navigate, but more treasure can be found down here; retrieving it earns you a Neopoint reward for its return (you're not allowed to keep it, unfortunately). The best feature of the deeper caves is the rock formations; there are sandstone corridors, shimmering crystal structures, dark basalt tunnels that magically glow ruby red, chambers flooded with perfectly clear water, sunlit rooms packed with dense tangles of vines, and even sections of the old Underclouds where the walls and floors are made of dense fog. The passages in the deepest caves are teeming with traps, so you must tread very carefully, but the dazzling appearance of the subterranean scenery makes it worth the risk to traverse. When you eventually emerge, turn in any gems you found to the Faerie Castle staff to receive a Neopoint payment.

DAY 57 - Faerieland's Fall Memorial Site

Arguably one of the most epic (if catastrophic) moments in Neopian history was the Great Fall of Faerieland, which once floated on a cloud at an altitude of 10,000 feet. In one corner of Faerie City lies a small town square that served as the battleground for the climactic conflict between Hanso and the sorceress Xandra, and also between Captain Brynneth and Oblivion. This square has now been converted into a memorial for the fall of Faerieland.

The largest display in the Memorial Square is a beautiful scale model of the Faerie Castle gardens, populated with bonsai-size trees and flowers, miniature garden furniture and archways, and tiny stone statues of Faeries. The plaque explains that during the Faerie Festival in Y12, a disillusioned Xandra channelled her magical power through an artefact of amplification to petrify all the faeries of Neopia, believing that their existence relegated Neopets to second-class citizens. With the faeries' powers waning, not only did the cloud foundations of Faerieland begin to fall from the sky, but the terrible Shadow Wraiths emerged, represented in the Memorial Square by a mural. The artefact through which Xandra cast the curse is displayed on a plinth, although the artefact is now broken. There is also a wall carving depicting Hanso and Brynn standing in front of King Jazan, the Ogrin Master, and King Altador and his guards - all of whom accompanied the two heroes on their mission to save Faerieland, only to be turned to stone by Xandra when she revealed herself.

The epic moment of Faerieland's impact has been depicted in art countless times - in a lithograph, a stamp, a background scene, and in many tributes by ordinary Neopians - and here in the Memorial Square, it is shown on a sensational mural. The battle between Hanso and Xandra, in which Hanso seized the artefact to gather Xandra's own magic to break the curse on the faeries and defeat her, is represented by a storyboard series of wall carvings and a statue of Hanso smashing the artefact to petrify both himself and Xandra. Nearby is a second statue, depicting Brynn wielding her sword against Oblivion, the mightiest of the shadow wraiths; she defeated him as the spell was broken, at which point Queen Fyora restored Hanso from his stone form and the petrified Xandra was taken into Fyora's custody. On a plinth near the square's exit sits a stone pie: the only object not restored when the curse was lifted.

BRIGHTVALE

DAY 58 - Brightvale Library

The route from Faerieland to Brightvale is short, and best taken in an elegant carriage drawn by a pair of Gallions. Brightvale, as the name suggests, is home to Neopia's brightest: its people prize knowledge and wisdom over all else, and the most iconic Brightvale building is the library.

The library in Brightvale is the largest and best-stocked in all of Neopia, with books and scrolls from every land lined up neatly on its shelves. Next door is the main office of the Seekers; and not far away is the Mages' Academy, which serves as headquarters for the Order of the Red Erisim - but you can visit these points of interest later, so ignore them for now and head back to the library. From outside, the building is very beautiful, clad in smooth sandstone and sporting magnificent stained-glass windows in green and gold. Inside, it has a large and comfortable lounge area where visitors gather to read and study, and a broad doorway leading to the bookshelves. These are arranged so it's easy to find your way around, but there are still so many shelves that you may get lost in here. It's best to ask at the front desk before searching for a book; borrowing is free, of course, but you can also purchase books. The title "Brightvale Wisdom", featuring King Hagan's favourite quotes, is a great souvenir.

The scroll repository, on the other side of the lounge area contains even more texts, but is nonetheless smaller because scrolls are more compact than books. In this part of the library, the subject matter is different, since parchment is not used for novels and history as much as for maps, royal decrees, poems, and especially written enchantments: the favourite spells of many members of the Order of the Red Erisim were learned by studying these scrolls. Again, you have the option to buy scrolls, although this is not recommended because they are generally very expensive unless bought second-hand. The scrolls sold here are not calculated to raise intelligence - they are battle items, to be read in combat to summon magic that heals the reader or strikes the opponent. Wherever you are in the library, silence must be maintained at all times - not least because reading aloud the incantation on a magical scroll might accidentally set something on fire!

DAY 59 - Tour the Castle Grounds

The ruler of Brightvale, King Hagan, cherishes knowledge and wisdom above all else. He is always keen to greet visitors, in case they hold knowledge he has not yet gained; and visitors too have much to gain from touring King Hagan's handsome castle. Only the ground floor and gardens can be explored, but this is still enough for a whole day.

At the gates, you will meet the guards; as always, you will have to be given clearance to enter, which in Brightvale means a quick interview. Once inside, you can admire the sandstone walls, the green and yellow Brightvale hangings, the handsome vaulted ceiling, and the dazzling stained-glass windows which were hand-crafted by local glaziers. The ground floor features a visitors' centre where you can learn about the castle and recruit a tour guide. It also holds the weapon storeroom, which is off-limits to guests; the Brightvale Guards will tell you that intelligence is a stronger weapon anyway. There is a bronze plaque set into the locked armoury door: a tribute to Captain Brynneth, the hero of the Brightvale Guards who has since left to join the Faerieland army.

Perhaps surprisingly, there are also shops to browse here. The royal tailor has a store in the castle courtyard, and if you're a fan of lavish robes and cloaks this will be a wonderful place to visit. Many of his wares are only affordable if purchased second-hand, but don't worry; these garments are very durable, and even possess the ability to lessen damage slightly in the Battledome. Other magics are on offer at the Royal Potionery, also based in the courtyard. Both these outlets should be regarded as only for window-shopping and learning about their wares, since both stock items that are rather pricy. The real highlight of visiting Brightvale Castle, of course, is the one known by just about everyone in Neopia - the chance to visit King Hagan and share with him a pearl of wisdom. The King listens to all comers, believing that the truly wise can learn from everyone, and he will be eager to hear what you have to say. Most likely he will already have heard it, but if you present him with new knowledge and it impresses him enough, you may receive a generous reward.

DAY 60 - Brightvale Markets

After enjoying the top tourist attractions in Brightvale, it's now time to explore the markets. As well as knowledge, Brightvale is also known for its magical motes and its stained-glass windows, both of which are sold not far from the town square; and let's not forget to sample the local cuisine.

The markets of Brightvale are situated near a green and spacious city park, which is popular with the locals for picnics and moments of deep thought. The route from the Meadow Park Motel to the marketplace passes through this park, and the first shop you'll see when you arrive is the Brightvale Motery. The small magical charms sold here are famous for the little smiles on their faces. Some of the motes (notably the Hair, Dust and Ash varieties) should be avoided by those with allergies, but others make excellent souvenirs: if you'd like, pick up one of the metallic motes to take home with you, or perhaps a Wood Mote. (Wood Motes also make excellent coasters, although they don't like it much.) When you start to get hungry, head over to the Brightvale Fruit Shop, pick up something to eat and walk back to the city park for a nice picnic. Grilled Shishkafruit and Fresh Skeem Salad are excellent choices for a lunch under the Brightvale sun.

For the final highlight of the day, visit the Brightvale Glaziers, whose business is situated near the road that leads northeast to Meridell. For safety reasons, you won't be able to enter the workshop where the glass windows are crafted - but the shop where the finished windows are sold contains a spectacular display of the wares on offer, with various windows set into niches in the shop walls, making the place look like a glistening art gallery. All the windows come in standard sizes so that buyers will know which window frames can fit them; and each is back-lit with a bright oil lantern to bring out the dazzling colours of the stained glass. All you can do while on holiday is admire the craftsmanship of the glaziers, but it's definitely worth your time. In the late afternoon, it will be time to leave Brightvale and follow the road to Meridell; you should arrive at Ye Olde Lodge by early evening.

***

Next week we come to the final part of the itinerary. Don't worry, though, because we've saved some of the best places in Neopia until last!

 
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