Neopia, Year 200: The Beginning - Part Five
Chapter Five: The Lost City
“Can we stop?”
“Can we stop?”
“Can we stop?”
“Can we stop?”
The four siblings and Brianne ran into a clearing, Yorick looking at Layla with a tired look on his face.
“Layla,” he said wearily, “it’s only been an hour, and already you’re tired. Can’t we stop somewhere else?”
The baby Aisha shook her head. “Nope. I’m tired, and this looks like a nice place to lie down.”
The siblings complied, and once everyone had sat down Kayna began to look around for something to rest her head on.
“Guys,” she said, pointing at a spot at the other end of the clearing, “what’s that?”
Everyone else followed Kayna’s finger to an entrance, above which a sign read ‘THE LOST CITY OF GERAPTIKU. POPULATION: 0, AND DECREASING.’
“Cool! A lost city!” Before anyone could say something, Cillo was on his feet and dashing towards the gates. However, he was stopped by a scaly yellow claw that grabbed the Techo’s shoulder.
“Cillo,” said Yorick seriously, “don’t go rushing off without another person with you, okay? We don’t know just what’s in this ‘lost city’, so it’s better if we stay together as a group. That way, none of us will get lost.”
The blue Techo nodded, and thus the siblings entered Geraptiku, taking care not to wander off lest they get into trouble. Behind them, Brianne was having some troubles of her own.
The Fire Faerie had been having extreme difficulty navigating through the winding jungle paths in her tightly-fitted outfit, which wasn’t helped here by the fact that roots and stones protruded from the ground at every step, leaving ripe opportunities to trip and fall. The siblings, however, were unaware of this as they gazed around at the ruined splendour of the lost city.
“We probably shouldn’t go into any of these ruins,” commented Kayna, who was eyeing the city with equal awe and gravity. “We could set off a trap.”
Before anyone could comment on Kayna’s advice, there was a muffled ‘Oof!’ from behind the four Neopets. The siblings quickly turned around to see Brianne teetering around. The Fire Faerie had clearly tripped on a root and was waving her arms in the air, hoping to grab onto something to stabilize herself.
Luckily, that stability was offered in a nearby vine dangling down from a tree, and as Brianne reached out towards it, Kayna remembered what she had just said about setting off traps.
“BRIANNE!” the Zafara shouted. “DON”T—” Alas, it was too late.
The minute Brianne grabbed the vine and pulled on it to stabilize herself, a loud noise that sounded like two coconuts hitting each other reverberated throughout the entire area.
“Oh no,” whispered Kayna as the sound of chanting began in the distance.
“HAGGA HAGGA UN! HAGGA HAGGA UN!”
“Great,” muttered Kayna, “we’re doomed.”
“Well, how was I supposed to know?” snapped Brianne from her position near the vine.
The opportunity for further arguing suddenly ceased when a group of chanting Neopets decked out in yellow and blue tribal garb appeared from the trees around the city, their spears glistening as they surrounded the adventurers.
“Brianne! Do something!” called Yorick, but the Faerie was unable to release her hands from the thick black cloth that surrounded them.
“I knew this getup was a bad idea,” she muttered as she worked at ripping off the many layers of fabric she wore. However, the more layers Brianne ripped off the closer the tribal Neopets advanced, and soon the situation looked anything but hopeful.
Just as all hope seemed to be lost, though, a rustling came from the trees nearby. Everyone’s eyes moved towards the source of the sound. One tribe member slowly advanced towards the trees, his spear raised high...
Just as a heavy rock flew through the air and conked him on the head.
As the Neopet fell to the ground, the rest of the tribe began to run towards the bush, but all were defeated by the stone-throwing stranger.
Once all the tribe members had been defeated, a short green Techo emerged from the trees with a long white beard and a slingshot in one hand.
“Hello there!” he said cheerfully as he walked towards the group. “Don’t worry about those Neopets, by the way. They’re just knocked out.”
“Who are you?” asked Kayna.
The Techo smiled. “I used to be quite well-known in the old days; however, it’s been a long time since I’ve operated a school, so it’s understandable that you four would have forgotten me.”
There was a loud gasp from Brianne, which the siblings turned around to see her with a shocked expression evident in her eyes. “You’re the Techo Master!” she exclaimed. “I’ve heard so much about you!”
The Techo Master nodded and smiled. “Very good job. And I believe that you are a Faerie, correct?”
Brianne nodded, but before she could continue gushing, Layla looked at the Techo Master.
“Who exactly were those Neopets you just fought off?” she asked.
The Techo Master beamed. “That’s a good question, young one. Such curiosity would have been greatly rewarded in my classes- that is, if I was still teaching them.” His face darkened for a moment, then returned to its previous happy self. “Anyhow, as I was about to say, those Neopets were part of the Tribe of Chak. The Tribe of Chak worships the power of the storm- in fact, ‘chak’ means ‘storm’ in their language- which is why they wear yellow and blue clothing.”
“But why would they be so mean to us?” asked Layla.
The green Techo frowned. “I’m not quite sure. I suppose that since there’s a massive storm approaching, they’re getting ready for a festival of some sort, and when you five set off that alarm, they became angry that their preparations were being interrupted. It’s a classic example of getting worked up about old traditions and not accommodating those of the new.”
He studied the four Neopets. “Where are you from, anyways?” he inquired. “You certainly don’t seem to be native to the island!”
“We’re from Neopia Central,” replied Yorick, “and we were just going to see the Island Mystic to help locate our friend Naia.”
The Techo Master nodded for a moment, and then frowned. “Naia, you say? I think I’ve heard that name before, but I can’t remember where...”
“Mister,” said Layla curiously, “you said you used to give classes. Why did you stop?”
The Techo snapped out of his thoughts and turned towards Layla. “Well,” he said, “it’s a bit of a long story.”
He cleared his throat. “Back in the old days, I used to run a Training School on this very island. I taught Neopets in the arts of agility, strength, endurance, and several others in exchange for Codestones.”
“Codestones?” asked Yorick.
“Mystical stones that contain some sort of energy,” explained the Techo Master. “Anyhow, this process went on brilliantly for many years- until one day, not long after the Region Council disbanded. I was the representative for Mystery Island, you know.”
“What happened then?” Layla asked.
“One morning, not long after the Council disbanded, I awoke to find that all the Codestones I had accumulated over the years had vanished! Every single one was gone! Luckily, I remembered the secret stash I kept in the pot by the front doorway and managed to grab them before taking my belongings and running into the jungle.”
“Why did you do that?” asked Kayna, raising an eyebrow. “Wouldn’t you have just received more Codestones from Neopets?”
The Techo Master shook his head sadly. “After the Council disbanded, trade between Neopian regions was heavily crippled. With no-one able to pay for my services, what else was I supposed to do?”
“Couldn’t you have just offered them for free?” Kayna asked. The Techo Master looked outraged at this for a moment, then calmed down and spoke again.
“I apologize,” he said, smiling. “I forgot that you do not know the importance of the Codestones. You see, it is not just the training each Neopet receives that increases their skill in a certain area; the Codestones they give me also has a part to play in their training.”
“How?” asked Layla.
“As I explained before,” the green Techo continued, “each and every Codestone contains mystical energies. When a Neopet gives me a Codestone, the energies within that Codestone help the Neopet to focus and work hard during training. Without Codestones, any of the Neopets I trained would be far less skilled than they would be with the Codestones.”
Kayna nodded, and then spoke. “Now that you’ve explained about Codestones to us, do you know any shortcuts through the jungle to the Island Mystic’s hut?”
The Techo Master, to her relief, nodded. “Certainly! I’ll give you a map with a couple of paths you can follow.” He handed the Zafara a rolled-up piece of parchment that seemed to have faded with age.
Just as he was about to wish the adventurers on their way, the Techo Master paused. “Oh! And before I forget...”
He withdrew a small red pouch from a pocket of his robe and handed it to Yorick. “Inside there are four of my last Codestones,” the Techo said solemnly.
“Um...” said Yorick hesitantly, weighing the bag in one of his hands. “Are you sure you wouldn’t need them?”
The Techo Master laughed. “Nonsense! You five will probably get more use out of them than I ever will. Anyways, good luck on your journey. I hope the Island Mystic will be able to help you with your friend Naia!”
As the group of five disappeared into the jungle, the Techo Master frowned and stroked his beard.
“Now where have I heard that name before?”
Meanwhile, as the four siblings and Brianne were making their way through the jungle, Scylla was standing on a ledge looking down at a massive cage.
The cage was locked with a magical lock that only Scylla herself could open, and its bars were made of impenetrable Faerie steel. Its contents, however, were far more interesting.
The member of the Valkaeum smirked as she saw the hundreds of Grey Faeries trapped inside the cage, their panicked sobs filling the eerie silence of the empty cavern. Of course, Scylla reasoned, the Grey Faeries in the cage below her had actually been Water Faeries once upon a time, but you wouldn’t figure that out by just looking at them. Once she had had her fill of watching Faeries sob miserably, Scylla continued along the ledge to a small pond where the albino Flotsam was.
Since the Flotsam had appeared mysteriously from a whirlpool that had been specifically created to only draw in Water Faeries, Scylla had learned only two things about her: her name was Naia (which she had some vague recollection of hearing before, but Scylla had reasoned that it probably wasn’t important), and that she had no idea whatsoever of how she had gotten here.
“Hello, Naia,” said Scylla with a false smile as she sat down by the edge of the pool. “How are you doing?”
The Flotsam looked at her with tears in her eyes. “Can’t you just take me back?” she cried.
Scylla smiled again. “I’d love to, Naia,” she said sweetly, “but I can’t. Until I figure out how you got in here, I can’t let you leave.”
“When will that be?” asked a hopeful Naia.
“I don’t know,” snapped Scylla. Naia burst into tears and dove underwater, which caused the Water Faerie to scowl and storm off. This conversation wasn’t getting anywhere.
The Island Mystic looked up from puzzling over a pile of cards to see four Neopets enter his hut. Grateful to finally have some customers, the Kyrii leapt up and grinned.
“Welcome to my home! Would you like me to tell your fortune?”
“Actually,” said the Zafara, “we were wondering if you could help us find our friend Naia. You see, she—”
“Wait a minute!” The Island Mystic’s eyes were alight with excitement like lightning in a storm. “Was this friend of yours a Faerie, by any chance?”
“Er, no,” replied the Zafara, at which the Mystic looked crestfallen. “Ah well. I had a good story about a Faerie named Naia I’d have loved to share, too...”
“You can still share your story, mister,” piped up Layla. Almost immediately, the Mystic’s mood changed considerably.
“Thank you!” he exclaimed, beaming at the young Aisha.
“It’s been such a long time since I last had visitors, and then they didn’t want a story from me; instead, it was that annoying Tribe of Chak wanting something to help them in their ridiculous festival. Honestly... if you’re going to celebrate something, you could at least do it without sea shells and pancake syrup.”
The Kyrii smiled. “But I digress. My story begins many years ago, on a day not unlike this one, and on the same island, too.”
He paused. “On this day, a certain Water Faerie named Naia was becoming nervous, for she had overheard some of the local Neopets by the shore where she swam each day that there was a plan to capture each and every Faerie. Naia didn’t know why, but she knew that she had to take cover; for Naia was the sole guardian of a powerful item called Thyora’s Tear.”
“Who’s Thyora?” asked the baby Aisha, which caused the Island Mystic to sigh.
“Thyora,” he explained, “was an Eyrie that, saddened by the loss of her brother, was approached by Naia and had one of her tears transformed into a magical gem that could heal any wound. That gem was called, appropriately, Thyora’s Tear. Before you interrupt me again, that item was duplicated by Fyora countless times over to be sold in Neopia Central to assist those in battle, although none of the copies had nearly the same power as the original Tear. Now, may I continue?”
The baby Aisha nodded, which caused the Kyrii to sigh in relief. “Thank you! Naia knew that if she was captured, she would have to turn over the original Tear, which Fyora had ordered her to never let out of her sight. So Naia (who had a great friendship with Neopets, by the way) took drastic measures. Using a potion created by Jhuidah, the Island Faerie, the Water Faerie transformed into a Neopet. A Flotsam, to be exact.”
There was a shocked silence amongst the Neopets, which was rudely interrupted by a tall figure wrapped in black clothing crashing through the hut’s entrance and falling to the floor.
“Sorry,” she weakly apologized as she got up using a table for support. “It’s just that these clothes I have to wear aren’t that great for jungle expeditions...”
The Island Mystic’s eyes widened. “A Faerie!”
The figure looked surprised. “Huh?”
The Kyrii grinned. “Admit it, you’re a Faerie. Those wings are a dead giveaway.”
The figure sighed and sat down on a nearby chair. “Fine. I’m Brianne the Fire Faerie, and you’re the...”
Her expression changed to one of fright. “The Island Mystic!” she shrieked. “I’m really, really, really sorry about the tea I spilt on your rug way back in Year 30.”
“That’s okay, Brianne,” said the Mystic. “I didn’t recognize you for a second.”
“Brianne!” exclaimed the blue Techo. “You won’t believe what we just heard!”
“What, Cillo?” the Faerie asked.
“You know Naia, right? Well, guess what! Naia’s actually a Water Faerie, and the guardian of Thyora’s Tear! It all started when she—”
With impeccable timing, a red Flotsam burst into the Island Mystic’s hut and began panting heavily.
“Oh, Mr. Mystic,” she sobbed. “Can you help me? My adopted daughter went missing a few hours ago, and—”
“Wait a minute!” exclaimed Kayna, amid the Mystic’s mutterings of ‘Not twice in one day...’ “You’re Naia’s mother, right?”
The red Flotsam nodded, recognition dawning on her face. “Wait a minute! You four are the ones that were with Naia when she went missing! You—”
“Naia was adopted, so she washed up on shore after transforming and was found by her “parents”!” the Zafara exclaimed. “I don’t know why Naia’s colour was drained, though...”
“Then that means that Naia’s vanished- and she has the Tear with her somehow,” deduced Layla. “And that means that whoever has Naia has the Tear!”
“We’ve got to go save her!” Without another word, the four Neopets bounded out of the Mystic’s hut and dashed off into the jungle, leaving a very confused red Flotsam, the Island Mystic, and Brianne behind.
Back in Scylla’s cavern, the Water Faerie came to the same realization that Yorick, Kayna, Cillo and Layla had come to moments earlier.
“So,” she said, turning back towards Naia’s pond with a wicked grin, “that weepy little Flotsam might actually be of use after all. I suppose my little invention will just have to wait for later...”
The Water Faerie’s evil laugh filled the damp air of the cavern.
To be continued...