Prelude to the Resurgence: "Seeking" Aid
Jacob, a Christmas Kacheek, slowly set the remaining gears into place and shut the hatch. Taking a winding key from his vest pocket with one paw and wiping his sweat-fogged brass goggles with his other, he placed the winding key into the box and began to turn it.
A sweet melody broke the silence. The music box was complete, Jacob thought with a smile. He placed it on the apartment's lone windowsill and gazed at the busy streets of Moltara City below, the rowdy hustle and bustle replaced by a soothing symphony once he closed the window. He sank into his chair and opened the day's issue of the Neopian Times, finding solace at last.
All of a sudden an envelope appeared in front of Jacob's face, right between him and the Times.
"Neomail? At this hour?" Jacob said as he opened the envelope and read the enclosed letter. He took note of the stunning penmanship.
Jacob's roommate, a brown Grundo named Stealth, groggily shuffled into the room while stretching.
"Who's it from?" he asked through yawns.
"Professor Lambert," said Jacob. "He's asking for all members of the Seekers to report to him in Brightvale immediately."
"I'll hold down the fort while you're gone," said Stealth, giving Jacob a thumbs up as the latter gathered his things.
"Thanks again, Stealth. I'll be back as soon as I'm able to be. I'll be taking H.O.O.T. as well, if that's okay with you."
Stealth looked over at Jacob's Albot, which was twirling slowly in a small circle.
"Yeah, that's fine. I'd probably end up spilling something on it and staining it anyway," he said with a laugh.
With that, Jacob put on his satchel and scooped up H.O.O.T., all while waving to Stealth one last time, before stepping out to the streets of Moltara. Hopefully traffic to Brightvale wouldn't be too bad, he thought.
After a delayed boat ride and several hours of Whinny-to-Whinny carriage traffic upon reaching Brightvale's shore, Jacob finally arrived in Brightvale, heading right for the headquarters of the Seekers. He reminisced fondly of his days at Brightvale University when he passed by it. Joining the Seekers had been his biggest dream since he was but a young pet, and as of the past few years, he'd finally achieved it.
He entered the room to find a plethora of scholars, writers, inventors, and archaeologists strewn about the room, idly chatting and speculating over just what this impromptu meeting could be about. Jacob, H.O.O.T. in tow, took a seat. Some time later, Professor Lambert appeared from the door and stood behind a podium.
"My dearest friends and colleagues, I must sincerely apologize for this meeting's short notice. I hope the lack of decorum can be forgiven, however, as a matter of great import has come to my attention." Lambert cleared his throat. "Faerieland's annual Faerie Festival has been ransacked and vandalized. The evidence points to the Wraith as the perpetrators."
Gasps littered the room.
"Now, the Wraith are still a species that Neopians know little about. What little we do we only know as a result of the fall of Faerieland...and it's looking grim."
"What do they want?" asked Tom Cotterpin from the audience.
"We know little of their motives, Tom," said Lambert. "However, there seems to be evidence that someone, or something, is controlling them. The attack was
unusually coordinated for usual Wraith activity. We'd have spotted Oblivion if it were here, and Xandra is still encased in stone. We're at a loss as to who led this effort. Queen Fyora and Aethia have launched a full investigation."
Lambert adjusted his glasses.
"That being said, we've been given ample reason to prepare for the worst, no matter the cost."
"Lambert, have you gone mad?" bellowed Cotterpin. "We're still reeling from the Obelisk, and you'd ask us to fight yet another war?"
"A threat to Faerieland is a threat to Neopia, Tom," said Lambert, softly but firmly. "The world is changing."
"You would ask us to fight or possibly perish, and for what? We're about knowledge, not bloodshed."
"The Sway beat us to the Obelisk because no one knew they existed. We know the Wraith exist, so we can better prepare."
"But why us?" asked Tom. The Lutari lowered his eyes. "If we lose so much as one more life for the name of needless war..."
Chatter littered the room once more. Different ideas bellowed out from all directions. What followed, however, no one could have expected.
Professor Lambert slammed down on the podium.
"That's quite enough!" he roared. The room instantly fell silent. "Do you realize how much was lost in the fall of Faerieland? Their library suffered greatly once the flames rose. Many an ancient tome and mystical grimoire burned to cinders on impact. That knowledge is now lost forever. That isn't just a loss for Faerieland, that's a loss for all of Neopia."
He looked out at the crowd that stared at him in a stunned silence and continued.
"Each and every one of you is important to me. None of you are expendable. But the situation is worrisome. Even this long after Xandra was sealed away, her fervent supporters have spread their anti-Faerie message much further than expected, so much that their ideas have gone from remaining in the realm of conspiracy theories to pervading mainstream discourse."
He looked toward Tom Cotterpin.
"Tom, you're a dear friend to me, and among the kindest pets I've had the pleasure of knowing. I apologize for raising my voice."
"It's quite alright. Think nothing of it, my friend."
"Friends and colleagues, I believe in the good that Neopians possess within themselves. But at the moment, I also fear that should a war arise, more than a few might side with the Wraith due to Xandra's ever-present influence. Should there come a time where Neopia goes to war with these creatures, I will not force you to enlist. Know, however, that I will aid Faerieland however necessary. And with that, meeting adjourned, everyone."
As the rest of the Seekers went about their business, Jacob couldn't help but feel a great deal of worry. It was Professor Lambert's voice. He seemed almost unsure of the future.
Jacob quickly stowed away to one of the empty rooms in the facility and drafted a Neomail to Stealth.
"Dear Stealth," it read. "Something quite severe has come up. I may be away for an extended period of time depending on when this comes to a close. There's trouble in Faerieland and I must aid the Seekers in assisting them. I have emergency rent money stored behind the boiler in case you need it."
Jacob thought quickly of what else his friend might need.
"And there's some change in the couch cushions if you need to order a pizza." That should do it. "Warm regards, Jacob."
After sending the message off, Jacob walked through the halls before stumbling upon Professor Lambert's chambers. He knocked on the door.
"May I come in?"
The door opened and Professor Lambert stood in the doorway.
"Ah, Jacob. Yes, do come inside."
Jacob noticed some medicine on Lambert's desk.
"I don't mean to pry, but is everything okay?" he asked while gesturing toward the medicine.
"Ah, think nothing of it. That's just for my migraines," he said.
"Professor Lambert?" Jacob asked. "I just wanted to tell you I'll stand by you and the Seekers however you need me to."
Lambert smiled. "That's...that's very kind of you, Jacob. Thank you. I worry that many of the others don't feel the same way, leaving me to grapple with whether or not our cause is just. Cotterpin did raise some valid points, after all."
"I'm sure most of them will come around in time," said Jacob. "They all respect you a great deal."
"One would hope so. However, on the other hand, vast knowledge often comes with knowing not to blindly follow authority, but instead to think critically for oneself. For all I know they could cast me aside."
"You inspire so many, though," Jacob said. "If we're being candid, you were my personal hero throughout my time in Brightvale University. You inspired me to join the Seekers in the first place, what with your passionate approach to furthering our knowledge of Neopia and beyond. And that's coming from someone who's not nearly as high in rank as some of the other Seekers, so I can only imagine how highly they view you. It isn't blind hero worship, but genuine appreciation."
"Jacob, I..." Lambert began. "Thank you, truly, for strengthening my resolve. Are you truly willing to stay here for the time being? I realize this place is awfully far from Moltara."
"Absolutely. I can easily stay at a local Neolodge for a while if need be. Thank you, though."
As Jacob left the room after their goodbyes, Professor Lambert began to draft a letter to the queen. To his surprise and relief, all Seekers present at the time signed the letter, pledging solidarity to their cause and to the safety of Faerieland.
"Your Majesty Queen Fyora," it read. "The Seekers offer their fullest support in assisting Faerieland in the aftermath of the vandalization of the Faerie Festival."
As each member signed it, Lambert smiled, yet still worried as to just what would possibly come of this.
"Knowledge is power, and our power is yours to command."