...Brandon sighed. He wasn't sure if this recent turn of events was irony or not, but... well, it seemed slightly ironic to him.
He picked up the can. "Pumpkin Neocola," the Zafara remarked to himself as the deja-vu became ever more real -- frankly, this entire situation was bordering on the surreal.
"Theodora!" he shouted at the can. Nothing out of the ordinary occurred.
Frowning, he threw the can at a nearby tree.
Brandon's spine tingled. Did that tree just express discontent? He walked over to it. "Hello?" he greeted uncertainly to no one in particular.
The wind played casually with some nearby leaves. That was all the response he was looking for. He turned to continue chasing Amyra...
"Wait, don't leave."
Brandon sighed again. This day really couldn't get any stanger, could it? It certainly couldn't get any worse. He turned and faced the tree. "I'm not sure who or what you are, but... you're a tree, and I'm almost certain you can't hurt me," the Zafara declared determinedly.
"Rest assured, I can hurt you," the tree responded ominously, "but I know who you are, who 'Amyra' is, and what you're doing for Theodora -- so, I will not hurt you."
Brandon gaped. Attempting to regain his bearings, he was forced to ask the question. "Alright... who are you?"
"I am the magician in Theodora's tale," the tree regaled with an almost mystical essence.
"Long ago, out of fear the AMA would come and destroy me and my magic institution, I faked my death and instead turned myself into a tree, this tree. A tree so far off the main path that no one would ever come here -- well, almost no one."
The Zafara disregarded the last part, assuming the "almost no one" was referring to himself. He grew excited. "So, you know how to decode the message in the ruins?"
"Well, yes and no," the tree replied.
Brandon's smile waned.
"I know how to decode the scripture, but I've long since forgotten what it reads," the magician said, his voice taking a forlorn quality.
"Well, I can lead you to the cave," Brandon began, despite realizing he was talking to a tree... "except, you're a tree. Can't you change back?"
"Of course I can. But... well, it's time for me to fulfill the scriptures, whatever they might contain."
Brandon admitted that he wasn't quite sure what the magician was referring to.
"Long ago, I left all of my notes -- including the spell to transform me back into a Neopet -- to my second greatest apprentice, a Bori named Sari. I would have left them to Theodora, but I knew she would eventually be placed under siege of the AMA as well."
"Where is Sari?"
"Well, she's long gone," the tree spoke sadly. "I commanded her to pass the notes down through her line until this year, when the eldest child in wherever her line ended up until this point was to bring me the papers."
"Why this year?"
"Because... well, I'm clairvoyant," the tree started. "I foresaw all of the events that transpired here today -- I foresaw today as the day 'Amyra,' once leader of the AMA, would be resurrected, taking on the form of your dear friend."
This, for some reason, hit Brandon hard. He almost felt like crying. "Well, where is Sari's descendant?" he asked, attempting to mask his despondency.
"Logan's already come and gone," the tree said. "See the cans of Pumpkin Neocola?"
Brandon nodded his head.
"He drinks the stuff vigorously -- he's practically the sole supporter of the new stuff." The tree almost chuckled.
The Zafara smiled.
"For any of this day to make sense at all, I instructed him to place cans of Neocola at select locations and now... well, here we are."
"So, where are the notes?" Brandon asked and then frowned -- something failed to quite make sense. "Also, why didn't Logan just read them to you?"
"Logan -- currently Sari's only living descendant -- is a mute. Regardless, he stashed the book above my branches. Jump up and retrieve it."
The Zafara did. The notebook was bigger than he expected, and he expected it to be pretty big.
"Flip to page 647," the tree instructed.
Brandon did as he was told.
"Read what's there."
He did... and soon, the magician was a Neopet again.
"Alright!" the now-Aisha exclaimed.
The two were in the caverns where Priya and Brandon had discovered the symbols.
"Okay," the Aisha said once he had deciphered the code. "According to this... Theodora most certainly does not lie." He smiled. "Rather, it suggests a way to defeat Amyra and save Priya."
"Oddly enough... with a very difficult decision," the Aisha responded.
Brandon gulped. That didn't sound very good...
Things were not going well in Faerieland.
An unknown Kacheek was totally wreaking havoc throughout the greater area, spouting crazy nonsense regarding the inherent evil in magic.
The faeries did their best to restrain her, but their efforts were mostly futile.
Eventually Fyora was called in, eager to destroy this terrible beast of a Kacheek from further damaging society...
Brandon and the magician arrived after Queen Fyora did.
The Zafara cringed when they took in the situation. There was devastation everywhere -- though, nothing looked more damaged than the body of Priya, the source of the onslaught.
"Well," the magician said, staring at her barely-alive state, "I suppose now is the time to make your really difficult decision."
Brandon shot an angry glance toward him. "What decision could I possibly make to resolve this?" He then took in something deeper. "Why did you tell Logan to plant the Neocola cans? If not for that, then this wouldn't have happened--"
"It had to," the Aisha interrupted. "The AMA head was looking for a female vessel to occupy and with which to make a grand return. You were coming, regardless... I just had to make sure there was some context."
"Fine," Brandon spat. "So, what's the decision?"
"The decision between Priya and the treasure."
"For turning me back into my present form, you are granted one wish. Do you wish to resurrect Theodora and get her wealth, or wish for the safety of your Priya?"
Brandon didn't even have to think about it. "Priya," he said.
The magician smiled...
Brandon and Priya were back exploring the caverns.
"You go," he told her.
She gave him a puzzled look. "You're the one who usually gets to see the new things first," she said, almost with a pout.
"I insist," he said with a smile.
She grinned, and then pranced toward their newest discovered rock fissure.
Brandon grinned, too...