The Statue Collector: Part Three
The first stop was the Snowager and he was no easy task. The Snowager, a powerful and treasure hungry beast, blew ice at anyone that he caught trying to steal from his pile of treasures. I couldn’t just steal anything; I had to specifically steal a negg, which meant I couldn’t just run in and out. I’d have to choose carefully what I got my fins upon. I didn’t like the idea at all but then again, I didn’t like the idea of leaving all those statues in Avawna’s power.
So, with Silent’s encouragement and armed with a health potion should I get blasted, I crept into the Snowager’s Cave. I heard a sharp scream and a roar of fury, moments later, an Acara came racing by with sharp icicles sticking out of its rear end and tears streaming down its cheeks. That didn’t help me much, but I couldn’t turn around, so I continued forward, hoping that by the time I reached the Snowager, he would be asleep again.
He was and why wouldn’t he be? He only slept three hours a day so he had to go right back to sleep or he’d be exhausted for the rest of his awake time. A pretty Chomby was busy creeping around his thick tail and in the blink of an eye, she snatched a plushie and ran out of the cave. I watched her enviously; if only I could just snatch anything up and run, it would make life so much easier. However, clearly, this wasn’t about being easy.
Quietly, I snuck up and began peering into his pile. There were plushies, weapons, melted chocolate neggs, snowballs and more but I couldn’t see what I needed. Suddenly the Snowager shifted and in a panic, I grabbed the first thing I could snag and ran from the cave. When I got out, I looked in disappointment at the evil snowball in my fins. Not only was it not what I wanted, but Silent wouldn’t be able to even sell it for very much.
“Well, I guess we can try tomorrow or maybe later tonight.” Silent shrugged her shoulders, taking the snowball from me. That wasn’t acceptable and I ran back into the cave with her shouting at me to come back. I had to rescue those statues and if I got a couple of icicles in my tail, so be it. The Snowager was awake and glared at me viciously, daring me to try to steal his treasures.
I dared, for I had spotted the elusive negg. I raced forward, ignoring his snorts of rage, snatched the negg, and ran. He blasted his icicle breath at me and I rolled to the side, just barely avoiding the cold missiles. He prepared to blast again and I dodged out through the cave opening, hearing him shoot another blast of fury after me. Quickly, I ducked behind a large ice-cube and the icicles shattered on the walls around me. Not waiting to see if he had more in stock for me, I made it out of the cave and presented the negg triumphantly to Silent.
“Let’s not do that again,” I begged and she laughed, patting my head softly and tucking the negg into the bag on her hip. Now, I only had to face Meuka, the Shadow Usul, and I believed King Skarl. If “only” meant that it wouldn’t be a difficult task, I’d be so happy.
Silent explained to me that the only way to meet Meuka was to get sick with one of two diseases, and the only way to get sick with them was the Wheel of Excitement. This didn’t exactly make my day because I didn’t want to rely on a game of chance but we didn’t really have another option.
However, four games and eight hours later, the Wheel of Excitement had not looked fondly down upon us. Granted, Silent had won over 2000 neopoints, but what were neopoints when I couldn’t get sick? I couldn’t help it, I was tired and discouraged. All I wanted to do was get sick; how come when I didn’t want to, it always seemed that like that was all we got? I was ready to give up and go home, but Silent wouldn’t let me. Instead, she paid for yet another spin and perhaps the fates were looking down on us or chance just paid us a visit, but I landed on the skull. Excitedly, I began to sneeze and cough from the effects of neoflu.
At last, I was sick. Silent went to the quick reference to make sure that I was sick and to our great relief, there was Meuka. He was nasty, slimy, and I had the urge to go hide behind Torinaar, my Maraquan Techo brother, but I had to be brave.
“Excuse me, Meuka, sir. There’s an evil Aisha mermaid out near Maraqua and she’s been changing neopets into statues. I want to help them but to do so, I need help from you.” I was trying to be polite but my tail fins were quivering and it was all I could do not to swim away in terror.
“What? Getting me as a Battledome challenger isn’t enough for you?” He glared sharply at me and tears welled up in my eyes. “An evil mermaid, eh? Statues? Well, it sounds like someone needs to do something, so let me know what you need from me and I’ll try to help.”
I was shocked, so shocked that I almost forgot what I needed, but Silent came to my rescue. She pulled a bottle from the bag on her hip where the negg rested and tossed it to me. I caught it without any hesitation and explained, “For the counter spell, Endivan said that I needed a negg from the Snowager, shadow from the shadow Usul, a laugh from King Skarl, and a glob of snot from you. I’ve got the negg, so now I’m working on the snot.” Meuka eyed me hungrily and I wondered if Koi were a staple of his diet; then he raised his hand and dropped a large, sloppy pool of snot into the bottle. I almost gagged but quickly subdued the reaction; he was after all, helping us out.
“Thank you.” I smiled weakly and just like that, he was gone, but I was still sick. Neoflu is not fun to have and it quickly began to sap my energy.
“We’ll work on the rest of the items tomorrow. Tonight, you need to rest and we’ll pay visits to the Healing Springs. Perhaps the water faerie will heal you.” Silent scooped me up in her arms. I didn’t protest; I was so worn out by all the excitement and the neoflu that I actually went to sleep.
When I awoke, I felt a hundred times better and was no longer feeling the effects of the neoflu. Silent told me that the water faerie had taken a few tries but that she had eventually healed me of my illness. If she’d been anywhere near, I would have kissed the water faerie with gratitude. I hoped that for the rest of my existence that I wouldn’t need to get sick again. It just wasn’t a pleasant experience and despite Meuka being kind enough to help us out, I really had no desire to meet him again.
We had no idea how we were going to find the Shadow Usul, so we decided to go pay King Skarl a visit. There were many neopets lined up to tell him their jokes, some looking white with fear and others chuckling to themselves in confidence that their joke would make him laugh. Out of all of the items I had to collect, a laugh was the least intimidating. I mean, yeah, King Skarl was known to be moody and having screaming fits over a joke that he’d found funny only moments ago but there was no concern whatsoever that he would try to eat me. He was a Skeith but it would look bad if a king began eating his visitors and a bad looking king can find himself facing a revolt.
When it was almost my turn so that I could just see into the royal hall, I was horrified to see a royal attendant putting up a sign that read “Out to Lunch”. I felt as if someone had kicked me in the belly; how dare he choose to eat now? We needed his help and he was too busy filling up his already fat gut? Quickly, I tried to reassess things, calm down a bit. He’d only be gone for about an hour. What was an hour when I didn’t even know how to find the Shadow Usul?
The line began to thin out as not all the neopets were willing to wait. On any other day, I probably would have joined them out; I’m not patient at all, but not today. Today, I was going to endure an hour of his gluttony and hopefully, for my troubles, I would be able to bottle up his laugh.
Suddenly, after about a half hour, I heard a chilling voice whisper from the shadows near the wall, “I hear you were looking for me.” The voice reminded me of the sound that nails make across a chalkboard for my skin crawled and it was hard not to grind my teeth in response. I looked around but didn’t see anyone, just the other bored neopets waiting in line.
“I’m the Shadow Usul; I blend in with the shadows. Why are you seeking me?” I still couldn’t see the source of the eerie voice and apparently no one else could hear her, because I was the only one looking for her.
“Well, I’m trying to help make a counter spell for a curse that has turned innocent neopets into statues. I was told that I needed to get shadow from you but I didn’t think I would be able to find you. I never thought you’d come to me.” I didn’t mean to talk so much but when I was nervous, I tended to babble.
“You’d be amazed who talks to who here on Neopets. When I found out that you were looking for me, I had to find out why. It seems like a good enough reason so I will give you my shadow.” I still couldn’t see her so I wasn’t sure how the transaction was going to transpire but I certainly wasn’t going to say no.
I had to ask, “How am I going to get your shadow?”
“The bottles that were given to you are enchanted; all you have to do is scoop up some of the shadow in which I sit and they will sort out my shadow. But please hurry, I do not like being out and about like this. It gives me a headache.” Her voice was still scary sounding, but I felt kind of bad for her. She didn’t seem like a bad neopet, but so many feared her; it must be a lonely and painful existence. Thinking about how crazy I must look, I bent down and scooped up the shadow with the bottle I had on me. I quickly corked it and gazed at the dark cloud that swirled inside. I can’t deny, I didn’t like looking at it; I felt as if I’d be sucked into its darkness if I stared too long and somehow I knew, bad things lurked in those shadows.
I thanked the Shadow Usul and then hoped that Silent would come to pick me up soon so that I could get the last bottle from her. After all, I still needed King Skarl’s laugh and I now had nothing to capture it with. As if sensing that I was pressed for time, King Skarl returned from his lunch, patting turkey gravy off his chin and glaring at a grease spot on his shirt. That glare said bad news for those of us that were telling jokes; he clearly hadn’t been put in a better mood by his lunch.
The first two comedians were meant with roars of fury and they came running out in tears with a barrage of insults following them. The next neopet was met with little better, but I was getting antsy; where was Silent? I’d have to either hope that she arrived in time or else give up my spot in line. Looking at the many neopets behind me, I wasn’t very keen on giving up my place in line.
The attendant told me that it was my turn and gestured for me to walk into the hall. I took a deep breath when I heard Silent call out to me. I turned and shouted back, “I need another bottle.” She gave me a weird look, but understood that now was not the time to question and immediately tossed me a bottle.
I strode in and King Skarl sat on his throne, glowering down at me, daring me to try to crack a smile across his bitter features. Taking a deep breath, I told a joke about fierce Peophins; I don’t remember it exactly, but apparently it was just the thing to tickle his funny bone. It started with a little chuckle and then he had a full guffaw going. I held open the bottle, hoping that I was capturing his laugh, and then I corked it. I must have caught something for inside, a yellow sparkly light swirled around and glittered. King Skarl gave me hot cross buns and a handful of neopoints as a reward for making him laugh then sent me on my way. At last, I had all of the ingredients.
To be continued...