The Princess of Flowers: Part Three
PART THREE: THE ROD
Rose threw her stool at the ghoul. “Stay away!” she hissed. “Don’t make me find anything else to throw!”
The ghoul laughed and floated towards her. “DO YOU HONESTLY THINK A MERE WOODEN STOOL WOULD STOP THE LIKES OF ME?” His red eyes glowed, and Mildred screamed.
Without a second thought, Rose grabbed Mildred’s arm and attempted to run past the ghoul. When her nemesis stepped in her way, however, Rose pushed him aside and rushed out of the bakery, with Mildred struggling to catch up.
“We have to find a good place to hide!” Mildred huffed, freeing herself from Rose’s grasp. “Shall we try hiding at the palace?”
“He already tracked me down there before,” Rose insisted, “so we need to find somewhere else.”
Although she didn’t know where she was going, Rose led Mildred past the village and towards the outskirts of Floritua, passing the flower meadows and flowered trees as they made their desperate escape from the mysterious ghoul. Rose mused. She knew she could summon up something—something powerful—that could protect them and save them from the ghoul. On the other hand, her parents were specific when they commanded her to keep her powers a secret. Would they be willing to trust Mildred with respecting their beloved daughter’s privacy?
<“She could be a horrible gossip and spread the news to all the other filthy villagers,”> her mother would most likely remark.
<“I’ll bet anything that so-called-baker was behind the ghoul’s creation,”> her father would most likely say. <“This is exactly why nobody outside the palace can be trusted.”>
Her mother would most likely nod and say, <“Indeed.”>
“Where are we?” gasped Mildred.
Rose stopped. She was going to scold her new acquaintance for interrupting her thoughts with a stupid question, but retracted it when she looked at their surroundings. Where they were standing, the meadows weren’t adorned with any flowers and a translucent dome stood in front of her. “This must be…the end…” Rose’s voice trailed off. She stared at the small key-hole in front of her and gulped.
“The end of where?” Mildred asked.
Before Rose could answer, the ghoul had reached them and was cornering them near the dome. “NOW YOU WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO ESCAPE!” The ghoul inched closer, moving slowly.
Rose knew how to escape the dome, but she was still torn about how to deal with her ominous enemy. She could also tell that Mildred was petrified, as her eyes were shut close and she, for some reason, kept backing up towards her. Rather than push her away, Rose decided that, despite her parents’ countless warnings, enough and was enough and that was the obvious solution out of their sudden predicament. “Okay you creepy oaf,” she scoffed, stomping past Mildred, “if you want a fight, than I will be your opponent!”
“YOU DARE TO CHALLENGE ME, FOOLISH MORTAL?” the ghoul demanded.
“And what am I supposed to do instead?” Rose asked. “Run away?”
“DON’T GET SNIPPY WITH ME, YOU IMPUDENT—”
Before the ghoul could finish his petty insult, Rose clapped her hands together and closed her eyes. “Rose Rod!” she shouted, separating her hands to reveal a long pink staff forming between her palms. Once the object was solid, she grabbed it and twirled it with her fingers. “You ready to fight?”
The ghoul floated back. “IS THAT THE LEGENDARY ROSE ROD?” Then he inched forward, hissing, “HAND IT OVER TO ME! GIVE ME ITS POWER!”
Rose pointed the staff’s rose shaped tip towards her enemy. “Rose blaster!” she shouted, and a whirlpool of rose petals flew towards the ghoul, surrounding the creature until it disappeared into the swirl of petals. Exhausted, Rose sank to her knees and breathed deeply. “At last that thing is gone,” she sighed with relief.
Mildred sank next to her. “Are you all right? Do you need anything?”
“I’ll be fine.” Rose snapped her fingers and the staff poofed away. “I just need to rest for a little bit.”
“That was absolutely amazing!” Mildred exclaimed. “I’ve never seen anything like that in my entire life! It was…oh, so amazing!”
“It’s a secret,” Rose said bluntly.
“I can’t believe you can summon such an extraordinary weapon!” Mildred gushed.
“And it’s a secret,” Rose persisted.
“It is?” asked Mildred.
Rose nodded. “You’re also the only Neopian outside of the palace that knows of my magic powers,” she added. “Unfortunately, this also means that will also have to keep this a secret.”
“Oh of course!” Mildred nodded eagerly. “I won’t tell another living soul about what I have witnessed." She looked around and asked, “By the way, where are we exactly?”
“We’ve reached the edge of Floritua,” Rose explained. She pointed to the keyhole. “You see that? If you use my family’s special Royal Key, you can unlock a hidden door and leave Floritua.”
“Do you have the key with you?” asked Mildred.
“It’s in my father’s study,” said Rose.
Mildred looked up at the sky. “This dome was made to protect the miracle flowers, correct?”
“Of course,” said Rose. “We need to keep them a secret from the outside world. And we need the dome to keep Floritua’s location a secret, too.”
“So nobody else in Neopia knows of Floritua?” gasped Mildred.
Rose stood up. “Only a very few selected Neopians know about Floritua’s existence.” She paused and then turned to stare at Mildred. “Mother says it’s best for us to keep our land’s secrets…well, secret.”
“And your parents also insisted that you keep your abilities a secret, right?” asked Mildred, getting up.
Rose nodded, silently hoping Mildred wouldn’t ask anymore nosy questions.
“Why?” asked Mildred. “Why must you keep your powers a secret? What would be the harm of exposing them to others?”
Rose fumed. Instead of asking, she said firmly, “If anyone were to know of my powers or of how I can summon up my Rose Rod, they would see it as an excuse to ostracise us or, worse, attempt to steal my powers. And without them, I wouldn’t be able to stabilize the miracle flowers.”
Now that she had explained things, Rose hoped Mildred wouldn’t pester her with anymore trivial questions. At the same time, she also had another realization: she and that nosy Acara were the only ones who could find out what happened to the citizens of Floritua. Though in order to do so, Rose had a feeling about what their first move must be. “We only have one option,” she said, turning to Mildred, “but once I tell you, I do not want to hear any frivolous complaints. Got it?”
”Of course, your majesty,” said Mildred softly.
“Then follow me,” said Rose. “We shall make our way to the royal palace. It’s there that I’ll share my idea with you.”
“Yes, let’s go,” agreed Mildred.
Rose opened the door and entered her father’s formally-private study. Mildred was aghast as she entered the room, admiring the tall bookshelves that lined the walls, and the desk, with its curled legs and the intricate rose pattern etched on its wooden surface. Not caring for her father’s desk, Rose made her way to a side of the bookshelves and began scanning the books, looking for the one she’d been thinking of.
“This place is wonderful,” Mildred gushed. “Why, the carpet is velvet and the drapes are also velvet!”
“Yes, yes,” Rose huffed. “Velvet everything is swell.” She began examining a lower shelf, using her finger to aid her search.
“Have you ever spent an afternoon here, just reading whatever you can get your hands on?” asked Mildred.
Rose continued her search. “No. I had other, more important and useless things to do.”
Mildred twirled. “I could spend the rest of my days in here! You’re so lucky to have lived here all your life!”
Rose rolled her eyes. She wasn’t too fond of Mildred’s giddy nature, and she had already wasted her patience leading her new accomplice to the study, not caring for Mildred’s constant “oohing” and “ahhing” over the trivial things they passed on their way. Everything—from the painting and sculptures to the drapes and rugs—greatly fascinated the boring Acara. Rose thought,
As Mildred continued her “oohing” and “ahhing” as she explored the study, Rose went on with her search. When she finally made it halfway through the bottom shelf, she pulled a thick, purple book from the shelf and announced, “At last! I’ve founded it!”
“You have?” asked Mildred.
“Yes, thank goodness.” Rose placed the book on the desk and opened it. “This book is all about the five mystic lands of Neopia,” she explained. “With this, I hope we’ll be able to end our quest for answers.”
“Ooh,” Mildred marveled. “And what are the five mystic lands?”
Rose read aloud. “In Neopia there are five distinct lands that are inaccessible for most Neopians: Wraithland, the Air Faerie Kingdom, Floritua, Lutari Island and Wobbleshire. These lands are mostly hidden—the exception being Lutari Island—but they all remain today, each holding its own hidden treasures and secrets from the rest of Neopia.”
Mildred nodded. “And how will this book be helping us?”
“We need to go to one of these places immediately,” Rose insisted. “Only there may we find the answers we seek.” She nodded firmly. “Yes, we must. We have to go to the Air Faerie Kingdom.”
“Darn it! I was certain he wouldn’t fail!”
“Well he did, Missy. So, when will get his time to shine?”
“Fine. You may go, but remember our main objective.”
“Of course! I won’t fail ya, Missy. Trust me.”
“That’s what I’m afraid of doing.”
To be continued…