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Never Take Artifacts from Strange Faeries


by mesmirez

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It was a gloomy midday in the swampy mires of the Haunted Woods, much like the gloomy midday before, though not quite as gloomy as the midday before that, but pretty close. You get the picture - the Haunted Woods was simply a gloomy place; you'd be a fool not to know that by the name alone.

      On this gloomy day, on the outskirts of the gloomy woods, a faerie Lenny was making his way slowly across the very gloomiest, swampiest part of the dark forest on his way to the gloomy Morose Mansion, a crumbling tower at the dead center of the Haunted Woods where he made his abode, whether he liked it or not. The two pets - he and his sister, a Hissi named Anetti - had been on their own for quite a while now, as their owner, Mesmirez, had been out on a trip to Mika and Carassa's never-ending garage sale on Terror Mountain for almost a week now and thus, Qisat, as the oldest, was left in charge of the manor. And being in charge meant daily treks through this mire for food and other essentials - understandably, Qisat didn't really care much for being in charge.

     It was only after a few minutes of trudging through the muck that he noticed, with an unpleasant shock, a dim prick of light drifting in the air at his shoulder. He nearly fell over backwards in surprise, letting his bag fall with a loud clatter of devilpuss food, almost gummy rats and assorted grooming products.

      "What the-!" he began, but two small hands clamped themselves over his beak.

      "Shh, shh - There's no need to be frightened!" A tiny voice came from the luminous form, and he realized that he was dealing with a faerie instead of one of the many unsavory creatures the Haunted Woods had to offer - a light faerie, in the Haunted Woods? Before he had time to act, however, the voice spoke again:

      "Greetings, blessed pet, I come to bring great news!" the faerie twittered, releasing his beak and hovering just in front of his face. "You have, on this day, been chosen by Fyora herself for a most perilous and exciting quest!" The faerie motioned to a small blue orb clutched tightly in her tiny hand.

      "Er - no; no thanks. I'm already on a faerie quest," said Qisat. Indeed, there was a very distressed air faerie at the Quest HQ who had been waiting for her collectable card for five days now. He eyed the orb warily. It was glowing dull blue and humming softly. The faerie waved it persistently in front of his beak.

      "I don't think you understand; this is one of the most powerful objects in all of Neopia! Fyora herself has enlisted me to seek out one who is worthiest of holding this ancient artifact-!"

      "I said no, thanks," insisted the Lenny and turned to leave. The faerie followed crossly, her soft golden aura shot with angry red.

      "The fate of Neopia rests in this orb! We could all die if you don't take it!"

      "I don't want your bloody rock!"

      "You-are-the-Chosen-One-you-narcissistic-idiot!" The faerie huffed and stomped her foot in mid-air, all pretense of sugary-sweetness forgotten. "You have to take it!"

      "No!"

      "Take it!"

      "No!"

      "Yes!"

      "No!"

      "Blast you!"

      This went on for several more minutes, each participant growing progressively louder and angrier, until the faerie finally chucked the glowing orb at Qisat's head and flitted off stormily.

     -

      Qisat walked home slowly, his head giving a painful throb every few minutes where the orb had hit him. Stupid faeries - why couldn't they do their own dratted magic? The aforementioned orb had somehow made it into his muck-coated bag, where it was now glowing like a dim blue lantern in the gloom. The normal array of beady red eyes, strange noises and eerie shadows accompanied him on the way to the mansion on the outskirts of the Haunted Woods.

      By the time he reached home, he was almost happy to see the forbidding manor on the horizon, complete with the omnipresent storm cloud rumbling ominously above it. Qisat shoved the heavy wooden door open and threw his bag unceremoniously onto the floor next to the coat rack, sending the contents clattering all over the stone floor of the entrance hall, and stormed up the rickety spiraling staircase to wash off the several pounds of muck he had acquired on his journey.

      Fluffykins, the ill-mannered devilpuss Mesmirez had bought as a birthday present for him last year, and whose one purpose in life seemed to be making Qisat's life as miserable as possible, stalked into the room, drawn by the clang of the devilpuss chow hitting the floor. He stopped as he reached the odd orb and eyed it curiously. Then, eyes narrowed suspiciously, he reached out one scrawny paw and batted it lightly. And suddenly there were two devilpi blinking bemusedly at one another. After a few seconds, their bemused expressions turned to devilish grins, and each tapped the orb again. Two more devilpi appeared. Then four more. Eight more…

      Qisat entered the room ten minutes later to find the room packed wall-to-wall with grinning devilpi, all obviously having the time of their lives cloning themselves. It was like a nightmare of fluffy red terror. Hundreds of slitted yellow eyes jerked up as he entered, and then each whiskery face simultaneously shifted into identical twisted smiles...

     -

      Let us move away from the rather gruesome scene that followed, and join Ellura, a young green Hissi who lived with her owner on Mystery Island, and who was making her way across the same gloomy mire that Qisat had traversed that afternoon to visit Anetti, her blood-sister. A flash of lightning silhouetted the manor in front of her.

     A loud, gruff "Meow" made her glance down - it looked as if Qisat's devilpuss had gotten out. She gave it a fond scratch between the ears, failing to look up towards the steady stream of devilpi pouring thickly out of the shattered second story window of the mansion and into the gloomy sky.

      Ellura rapped on the door thrice with her tail and waited for someone to answer. A few crashes were heard from inside the mansion, a stifled yell, but after five minutes no one had come to the door. She knocked again. The door banged open and a stressed looking Qisat stared down at her, wild-eyed, his usually perfectly groomed feathers in complete disarray.

      "Er, hi, I'm here to see -" she began hesitantly, but Qisat cut her short,

      "You! Take it! For Fyora's sake, just take it!" he snapped and shoved something into her wing before disappearing again behind the heavy door with another bang. She heard the muffled sounds of the many locks clicking into place and stared quizzically down at what he had given her - a small blue orb, glowing and humming softly - shrugged and tossed it into the backpack slung around one shoulder. She still had to reach the Lab and then the Marketplace by dinnertime.

     -

      Thirty minutes later, Ellura tied her skiff to the rickety dock of the island where the Lab Ray was located and stared up apprehensively at the cold looking laboratory where who-knows-what would happen to her. She entered through the metal doors and into a small metal room, where a very large metal gun was pointed at a platform in the middle of the room. She sighed and, without taking off her backpack, stepped onto the platform. Instantly the familiar countdown began -

     10…

     9…

     8…

     7…

     5 (The machine never had been much on numbers)…

     4…

     6…

     3…

     2…

     1.

     And Ellura knew at once that things had gone horribly wrong - instead of the usual "Bzzzt" of the Lab's ray being fired, there was an ominous cracking sound and an angry bolt of fiery red shot from the machine. Ellura shrieked and threw her wings over her head, not that she actually expected that to help. The malfunctioning ray hit the small green serpent and a cloud of thick, foul-smelling green smoke filled the room.

      Ellura coughed and sputtered, eyes watering from the smoke, wincing as a sharp pain shot through her body. After a few tense moments, the smoke began to recede and Ellura was able to open her eyes slightly to see what the ray had done to her.

     She was grateful to see that she was still a Hissi, and doubly so that she was still a female. There had been no changes in her color, intelligence, strength or - as far as she could tell - anything at all.

      Figuring the Lab malfunction had been mostly fireworks, she shook her head vigorously and tried to get back on her feet - or tail, rather - and almost screamed again as her entire body shot straight upwards, light as air. She spent a few seconds hovering, almost comically, in mid-air, wings wheeling like frenzied propellers for some support. It was almost like the time she had visited the anti-gravity chamber at Kreludor with her owner.

      A dull humming from somewhere below her caught her attention - a small pile of ash lay scattered on the ground below her, and on top of it, a small glowing blue orb and a few scraps of tattered cloth. Her insides gave a frantic flutter - or were they her insides any more? She couldn't possibly be…but then how else…? She beat her wings uselessly in the air, brain working furiously - there could be no other explanation.

      She was a ghost, and it had nothing to do with having a bad run-in with a paint brush.

      She soon found she could control where she flew if she just thought about where she wanted to go instead of beating her wings; she floated back to the ground towards the orb curiously - had it caused all of this…? She reached out a wing and tested it - weren't ghosts supposed to pass through everything? And yet the orb was just as solid as it was when she was alive… only very powerful magic indeed could do something like that, she was sure of it.

      In any case, she had to get rid of it; she would have to take it far, far away, where it couldn't hurt anyone else…

     -

      Back at the mansion, Qisat had nearly gotten the last of the devilpi shoved out of the window. The house was in utter chaos - the devilpi had spared nary a curtain, nor a sofa leg. The entire house smelled like an enormous litterbox, and he didn't even want to think of how the kitchen would look. Large clumps of his beautiful feathers lay strewn across the floor, and he himself looked like a badly constructed mummy from the several boxes of bandages he had used to cover the scratches the ruthless devilpi had inflicted.

     If Mesmirez got home in the middle of all of this (unlikely, as she was just now regaining full use of her limbs after being frozen solid for a week on top of Terror Mountain) she would skin him alive for about ten different things on the spot. With a worried glance at the clock, he pushed the door open reluctantly and made his way out into the sludgy mire outside.

      "Here, Fluffy," he crooned softly, though which Fluffykins he was looking for exactly he didn't know. A few stray devilpi swooped through the overcast sky above him. This was going to be impossible.

     A dull thud met his ears and he whipped around - or tried at least. His feet were stuck fast in the sticky mud, and he bowled headfirst into the muck, sputtering. But getting a face full of foul smelling glop was nothing compared to what lay half-buried in the mud before him…

     -

      "Anetti?" asked Qisat apprehensively, stepping into the dim room - there was no one else to turn to, and as much as he hated to admit it, Anetti was miles cleverer then him. It must have been the books - he had never really cared for books, but she would surely know all about creepy faerie things, "Anetti? Hello…?"

      "What do you want?" hissed a voice somewhere in the gloom, and as his eyes adjusted to the dimness he saw the sinister form of his sister the Hissi hunched over a completely gutted Punchbag Bob dummy, a dangerous looking collection of knives and swords arranged on the shelves around her.

      "Well - I was wondering if…if you had any idea what this could be…?" He held out the orb, which glowed brighter then ever in the darkness of the Anetti's room. Anetti slithered towards the light, her venomous green eyes widening in disbelief at the sight of the orb,

      "You're kidding!" she exclaimed, and before he could stop her she had scooped the orb into one wing, "How on earth did you get a hold of a-!"

      She stopped abruptly, mid-sentence. Qisat watched in horror as the red Hissi began to shrink rapidly, growing smaller and smaller right before his eyes. Before she could even cry out, she had transformed into a fat yellowish grub twitching slimily on top of the orb. Qisat felt his beak drop - what in the name of Fyora had just happened?

      Disbelievingly, he plucked the grub up off the floor, to which it put up a tremendous fight and bit him on the wing. Yes, there was no denying that it was Anetti. Fighting the urge to chuck her out the window, he shoved what little remained of his sister into the bag, along with the orb and the groceries he had failed to unpack in all the turmoil. What now? Where could he go? The idea of police in the Haunted Woods was almost laughable.

      And then a light bulb suddenly seemed to flicker on in the cobwebby space between the Lenny's ears - it was so obvious, how could he not have thought of it before? He rummaged through the many shelves of Anetti's room, narrowly avoiding chopping off his own wing in the process, until he found it - a small glass bottle, glowing bright, fiery red. Mes had been saving it for Anetti, but he doubted whether it would be of much use to her now. He pried open the bottle, tipped it upside down and shook it vigorously. A miniscule woman with a head of bushy red hair and flaming wings sprouting from her back fell out of the bottle, only to be caught once more in one of Qisat's outstretched wings,

      "Greetings, kind pet," said the fire faerie dully. "In thanks for releasing me, I hereby bless yo -"

      "Oh no, you don't!" interrupted Qisat. "You're going to put everything right! Change my sister back!"

      "We at the Bottled Faerie Co. retain the right to refuse service to any customer as we deem necessary," recited the faerie coldly, crossing her arms and staring defiantly up at the Lenny. "Now let me go so we can get this over with."

      "You're not going anywhere until everything is back to normal."

      The faerie sighed gloomily, "All right, all right, but reversing spells isn't my area of expertise. Now let me go and I'll take you to someone who can help. Agreed?"

      Qisat nodded and released the faerie reluctantly. She flitted into the air, stretching her flaming wings luxuriously. At a warning glance from Qisat, however, she ceased her flaunting, sighed, and clapped her hands together twice.

     -

      Qisat found himself standing in the middle of a very grand, imposing room. It was decorated elegantly with gleaming silver, and intricately designed stained-glass windows towered on either side of him. Streaks of multicolored light zipped past him - more blasted faeries.

     Against the wall opposite him was an imposing marble desk and, sitting behind it on a magnificent violet chair bedecked with silver wings, was a figure he had only seen in pictures. The fire faerie had transported him straight into the office of the faerie queen herself.

      "Excuse me? Do you have an appointment?" Even the faerie queen's voice was imposing, but Qisat was in too much of a hurry to appreciate it,

      "Look, I don't care about whatever Chosen-One thingy you have in mind, but I'm not buying it," he said angrily and threw the orb on the marble floor with a loud clatter. Fyora's businesslike expression quickly turned to disbelief as she stared at him and then down at the orb, obviously dumbstruck.

      "How-?" she mouthed, crossing the room in one stride and reaching down to pick up the orb. "How did you get this-?"

      "One of your messengers sent it to me!" spat Qisat, eyes blazing. "And since then it's made my house into a zoo, turned my sister into something even more disgusting than she already was and who knows what else!" He waved the frantically squirming larva that was formerly Anetti under the faerie queen's nose.

      "One of my messengers?" snapped Fyora abruptly, the orb clenched tight in her hand. "Who?"

      "How am I supposed to know? It was a dratted light faerie! Look, are you going to change my sister back or not?"

      "Oh, I just knew that they would do something like this!" cried Fyora with a furious stamp of her foot, making Qisat stagger and nearly drop the grub. "Come!" she commanded and, muttering, swept down a blindingly violet hall and into a room Qisat, at first glance, thought was completely coated in dazzling gold. Only after his eyes had adjusted to the blinding light did he realize that it was teeming with thousands of light faeries, all humming busily and flitting to-and-fro around a small mountain of humming blue orbs.

      "Melpomene!" demanded Fyora, and the light faeries instantly began to rush and flutter in every direction to make way for a very apprehensive looking young faerie Qisat recognized immediately as the one that had given him the accursed rock in the first place.

      "Y-yes, Queen Fyora?" she stuttered innocently, forcing herself to look up at the severe face of the faerie queen.

      "Does this look at all familiar?" Fyora inquired fiercely, brandishing the orb towards the light faerie.

      "W-why look everyone, this k-kind Lenny has found our missing Furtum!" The light faerie gave Qisat an anxious glance and clasped her hands together in very badly-faked delight. "Isn't that marvelous?"

      "I very highly doubt that that is the entire story, Melpomene," said Fyora curtly. "Perhaps you would like to explain to me how something of such power was given so freely to innocent Neopets?"

      The faerie mumbled something under her breath, and Qisat got the impression that she would much rather eat her own feet then explain. The other faeries exchanged confused glances, their work forgotten,

      "I-I touched one… just once - it was so p-pretty!" said the faerie finally. "I couldn't help myself… And, and you know what happens when you touch them - the next thing I knew my feet had been replaced with rutabagas and all sorts of other bad things started to happen, and you know the only way to break the Furtum's curse is to pass it onto another being, and, and…oh, please don't hurt me!" The faerie seemed close to tears now, wringing her tiny hands together fretfully and looking up pleadingly at Fyora.

      "I'm sorry, Melpomene, but you know the punishment for such blatant misuse of powerful objects," said Fyora gravely, and held out the orb, now humming louder then ever, to the quivering faerie...

      "Oh, no! No!" shrieked the faerie, but it was too late. The second the orb touched her hand there was a blinding flash of light…

     -

      It was a gloomy midday in the swampy mires of the Haunted Woods, much like the gloomy midday before, though not quite as gloomy as the midday before that, but pretty close. You get the picture - The Haunted Woods was simply a gloomy place; you'd be a fool not to know that by the name alone.

      On this gloomy day, on the outskirts of the gloomy woods, a faerie Lenny was making his way slowly across the very gloomiest, swampiest part of the dark forest on his way to the gloomy mansion at the dead center of the Haunted Woods…

The End

 
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