The Tribe Who Say "A-Bit"
While the other knights had gone their separate
ways, Monty and Wellington had chosen to ride their trusty steeds west, to catch
the ferry to the Island of Mystery. Wellington had reasoned that an Island of
Mystery certainly must have someone knowledgeable in the ways of questing for
a Holy Censer, and sure enough, they had discovered an ancient sage, who lived
in a hut in the middle of the forest. The Island Mystic stirred the contents
of his Cooking Pot with a bone, hopefully not from his last visitor, as he listened
to Monty's questions.
"Undergoing a quest - yes, I understand. Very
much danger, you are in for, because you must travel far to the south, through
the forests - and face the challenges of the Tribe of the Island of Mystery,"
the Island Mystic said contemplatively, stirring the pot and nudging something
vaguely fuzzy back under the surface.
Unbaut brayed lightly in fear, and backed away
from the pot. Monty patted the fearful Whinny with a paw, and leaned forward
to question the Mystic further. "And they will lead us to the Holy Censer?"
"They know of an island... a place where no
Neopet has ever been, a place lost to maps, yes... the Isle of Krawk," the Island
Mystic whispered, a strange glimmer in his eyes as he stared at Monty's golden
Monty persisted, "Which is where we shall find
the Holy Censer?"
"Seek you must, the Wizards of Jub," the Mystic
stated emphatically, thumping his bone against the pot. He reached into his
supply of pouches and selected one from the bundle, beginning to open it.
Wellington shied away from the Mystic's pot,
which seemed to him to be a bit too mysterious at this point, but Monty leaned
forward, continuing with his line of interrogation. "The Wizards of Jub, who
will lead us to the Holy Censer?"
The Mystic merely laughed, and poured the contents
of the pouch - a strange white powder - into the Cooking Pot. Steam billowed
from the Pot, enshrouding the room in fog, and causing Monty to step back quickly.
Wellington swiftly rose to his feet, drawing his Bruce Fish Slingshot and pointing
it about, expecting danger to strike from any direction. As the steam cleared,
however, Monty and Wellington found themselves, not in a hut, but in an empty
clearing, with only the fire the Cooking Pot had been seated upon to show any
sign that the Mystic had been there at all.
Collecting their wits, Monty and Wellington
looked to each other and nodded. They entered the southern woods, and began
marching, hoping to find some sign of the elusive Tribe of the Island of Mystery.
As they traveled, they could distinctly feel the gaze of dozens of eyes, watching,
waiting... Monty tried his best to whistle a cheerful tune, but in the murky
fog, his musical exhalations seemed muted and dulled. Whispers and footfalls
echoed around the pair, and shadowy images flitted on the edge of their vision,
disappearing just as they whirled to eye the newest apparition. With such distraction,
it was understandable that when Unbaut came to an abrupt halt, braying in panic,
Monty was caught unawares, and tossed off of his Battle Saddle. Wellington promptly
walked into Unbaut's leg, and yelped in surprise and panic. Both of them looked
up to see what had panicked the Whinny, and neither liked what they saw.
A tall figure, masked in a robe made of woven
grasses and palm fans, peered down menacingly at the knights. His face was covered
in an ornate, painted wooden mask, with two eyeslits and a mouth carved into
the surface. He stood nearly eight feet tall, and swayed lightly as he peered
down. Glancing about, Monty could clearly see that others, similar in nature,
had gathered, effectively surrounding them. The figure before them commanded,
Monty got to his feet, and carefully straightened
his crown. "We're halted already - who are you?"
In a faintly menacing voice, the figure said,
"We are the Tribe Who Say 'A-Bit'."
Monty blinked. "Who?"
Wellington winced. "The Tribe Who Say 'A Bit'
- they are the most dangerous of all islanders. Those who hear their sacred
curse are seldom seen again. They must be the Tribe of the Island of Mystery!"
The figure nodded. "The same."
"Oh, I see." Monty didn't see, really, but this
seemed like a good opportunity to inquire. "So, you have knowledge of the Isle
"Yes. But you must complete a test for us first,"
the figure stated. The other figures, hearing this, began to cheer and wave.
"A test! A test for the Tribe of 'A-Bit!'"
Monty winced. That didn't sound at all like
what he had in mind... but how could he refuse? He was on a heroic quest, after
all. "Well - what is it you want?"
"We want... a Loveberry Bush!" the figure proclaimed
Wellington and Monty looked at each other blankly
for a moment. Finally, Monty spoke up. "A what?"
The ominous figures began calling, "A-bit! A-bit!
A-bit!" Wellington winced, and covered his ears, while Monty looked around nervously.
The continued taunting eventually got to him, and finally he shouted, "Fine!
Fine! We will get you your Loveberries!"
The figure nodded. "Make sure that they're ripe."
Monty nodded rapidly. "Right."
"And not half-eaten," the figure added warningly.
Wellington chimed in, "But of course..."
The figure pointed back along the road they'd
come from. "Now... Go!"
Monty and Wellington retreated along the road
they'd come from, considering their options. Where were they going to find a
Loveberry Bush? They were far from the farms of their homeland, after all -
and even there, a Loveberry Bush was hard to come by. They decided they would
simply ask at the first village they came to, and hope for the best...
Maggie, a Meerca maid, was busily beating out
her Kadoatie's dustiness problem by idly smacking it against a tree when she
noticed the golden Peophin and the armoured Bruce approaching. She squinted
at the two of them as they grew closer, trying to see past their metallic glare,
and mostly ended up looking rather silly as her Kadoatie scurried back into
her NeoHome to hide - baths at Maggie's had never been the Kadoatie's favourite
time of the month.
"Lady Meerca," Monty boomed, in his most imperious
voice, "is there anywhere in this village where we might acquire a Loveberry
Maggie blinked. "A what?"
Monty muttered, "That's what I said." In a louder
tone, more commanding of the royal respect he felt he was deserved, he continued.
"A Loveberry Bush."
Maggie scowled - what sort of nonsense question
was that? "Who has given you such a quest?"
Monty stated, flatly, "The Tribe Who Say 'A-Bit.'"
Maggie winced, and looked about rapidly to see
if anyone had heard. Nobody had, but still at unease, she shook her head rapidly.
"No - we have no Loveberries here."
Monty narrowed his eyes. Why did Meercas always
have to be so difficult? It was obvious to him that she knew something she wasn't
telling... "If you do not tell us where we can purchase a Loveberry Bush, we
shall... ah..." After a quick glance to assure that nobody else was around,
Monty continued. "We shall say 'A-Bit.'"
Maggie whitened, looking nervous. "Eeek... no...
we don't have any!"
Monty looked to Wellington, and nodded. They
both leaned in close, and began chorusing, "A-bit! A-bit! A-bit!" Maggie looked
terrified, and backed up from the vicious verbal assault. "Stop cursing... there's
no Loveberries here... eeeep..." The two continued, until a voice broke the
silence behind them.
"Ahem... are you saying 'A-bit' to that poor
Meerca?" The owner of the voice seemed to be a human fellow, a rarity in these
parts, with a sabre at his hip, a backpack on his back, and silvery white hair.
Monty and Wellington turned to face the gentleman,
while Maggie swiftly fled into her house and closed the door. Monty broke the
silence, somewhat abashed for a moment. "Well... yes."
The human shook his head. "Ah, what a sad place
this is where people can curse at elderly Meercas." He grinned lightly. "Nobody
is safe from these curses - even those who collect and sell rare plants are
in danger at this period of Neopian history."
Monty contemplated rapidly, exhibiting all the
brain power of his royal lineage. "Did you say 'rare plants'?"
The human nodded. "Yes. I am Roger, a travelling
collector and salesman. I deal in all sorts of rare and mysterious things -
including plants, weapons, and artifacts."
Monty brightened, and raised a fin to make his
request. Wellington, looking determined, advanced. "A-bit! A-bit! A-bit!" Monty's
eyes widened, and he quickly began to shush Wellington. "No! Wait!"
Several hours later, Monty and Wellington returned
to the place where they had met the Tribe Who Say 'A-bit', and set their new
purchase, a Loveberry Bush, down before the mysterious figure.
The figure nodded. "This is very pleasing to
us. I like the blossoms particularly. But there is just one problem..."
Monty sighed inwardly. "What's that?"
The figure boomed, "We are no longer the Tribe
Who Say 'A-bit'! We are now the Tribe Who Say 'Naughty Naughty Naughty Party
Title'!" Behind him, one of the other figures murmured, "A-bit!" only to be
rapidly shushed by his fellows.
Monty rolled his eyes, "Oh, come on! What is
it you want now, oh... Tribe Who Used To Say 'A-bit!'"
The figure stood straight, and said, in a commanding
voice, "We want... another Loveberry Bush!"
Wellington stared. "Is he joking, my king?"
The figure continued. "And once you have brought
us another Loveberry Bush, you must beat our champion at Whack-A-Beast, with
a score of 525, with your face!"
Monty looked unamused. "Oh, that does it. Play
Whack-A-Beast with your face, and get a score of 525! As if - I'll pass."
The figures simultaneously winced and shuddered.
Monty blinked. That was unexpected. "What now?"
The lead figure stated, a bit nervously. "Don't
say that word."
The two knights looked at each other a moment.
Monty shrugged, and turned back to face the lead figure. "What, 'as'?"
The figure snorted. "Don't be ridiculous! You
wouldn't get very far in life without saying 'as'!" The others chorused in.
"No, not 'as', certainly not..."
The sounds of arguing in the distance distracted
Wellington from the peculiar conversation - turning to look, he spied Maciste
and Eda tugging along a rather unhappy Nimmel coming from one direction, and
a distressed Sir Rasher and his singers coming from another. "My liege!" he
called. "Our fellow knights!"
Monty turned, and waved. "Greetings, Sirs Rasher
and Nimmel; greetings, Ladies Maciste and Eda!"
Eda saluted tiredly. "Hiya, King Monty."
Maciste stretched a moment. "Greetings, my liege."
Sir Rasher hadn't noticed who he was approaching,
as he was busily attempting to silence his singing Pawkeet, who was still in
the midst of extolling Rasher's cowardice. "Yes, Sir Rasher's split and gone,
he's given up, he's goin' home, he's no longer in the fight, he's said goodbye,
good riddance, goodnight!" Rasher finally managed to restrain the erstwhile
bird... only to notice that he was now surrounded by his fellow knights, who
were staring at him in surprise.
Monty cleared his throat. "I hope you haven't
given up your quest for the Holy Censer, Sir Rasher..."
Rasher sat up straight. "Well, ah... no, of
course not... I was just... ah... looking for it... along this pass..."
The tribal figures let out another fearful wail.
Monty turned, and bellowed, "Oh, stop it, tell
us where the Isle of Krawk is, and let us pass!"
The lead figure held his head, and cried, "Go
south, to the sign - you can't miss it! Now never pass this way again... aaagh,
I've said the word!" With that, he turned, and began fleeing into the woods,
The other figures backed away hastily as well,
still yelping and shouting as if possessed. Monty nodded, content, and turned
to talk to his knights about what the Island Mystic had told him and Wellington
about the location of the Holy Censer. Behind them, the lead figure hit a tree
branch in mid-flee, and seemed to break in half. The top half crashed to the
ground, while the bottom half continued to flee through the woods. After a few
moments, a Kougra emerged from the broken figure shroud, and hurried off after
To be continued...