Telzleh's Quest: Part One
Zanzibar quickly flew to her room as fast as her faerie wings could take her. Shutting the door and locking it behind her, she wiped a bead of sweat coming down from her cap. Digging into her small book bag, she quickly pulled out a bottle she was worried would shatter in her flight home from the National Neopian.
Cassolari had warned all her sisters about the potion she now held in her hands. The yellow Xweetok told them a tale long ago when she was still a Desert Aisha. When she had bought a Yellow Xweetok Morphing Potion from Kauvara to change her looks, a mysterious stranger appeared and handed her a bag. Upon opening the bag, she saw it held a foul-looking potion giving off a bizarre orange and cream hue and topped with a cork.
A note attached to it said it would transform whoever drank it into an Usul. However, the way the word “Usul” was written and shaded in a dark shade of red was unnerving. The merely sight of the bottle itself brought chills to the Aisha’s bones. Before she could hand it back, the stranger vanished without a trace.
Cassolari mentioned she thought of throwing it away or donating it at first. However, the image of some poor innocent Neopet who would be harmed because of her carelessness made her hesitate. Instead, all she could do was store it in their safety deposit box and swear that it would never be taken out.
Curiosity, however, overtook the faerie Ixi. The local science fair was a few days away and she was hard-pressed for an entry. Perhaps finding a way to solve the mystery on how these bizarre morphing potions could be turned for good would give her the 1st Place ribbon for sure. It was simply a matter of finding out the combination to the Safety Deposit Box's PIN number at the National Neopian and take out the potion before anyone found it missing.
Placing the potion on her desk, she quickly threw her hat and blue jumper on the bed, put on a pair of goggles and a lab smock, and took out her chemistry lab equipment. Rubbing her hooves together, she was just about ready to remove the cork of the potion and begin experimenting when a loud knock came from her room's door.
"Zanzibar Ixi!" Cassolari's imperative voice yelled from behind the door. "Don't try and play games with me, missy! I know you went to the Box today! What did you take out?"
The Ixi gulped as she held the bottle in her shaky hoof. Whimpering with fright, she looked everywhere to find a hiding place for the forbidden item. Without thinking twice, she opened the window and carefully flew to the top of their house, placing the potion right on top of the chimney of the house, and quickly flying back to her room. Just as she shut the window again, Cassolari and Pashmandy, a royal Cybunny, forced the door open and stormed inside.
"Ok, Zanzi. Enough games," Cassolari said as she placed her arms akimbo, "what were you doing at the Box today?"
"Yea. And refrain thyself from telling a fib, sister of mine, or else thou shalt be most heavily punished!" Pashmandy commented as well as she tapped her foot against the floor.
"Hi, Cass! Hey there, Pash! Fancy seeing you two here!" Zanzibar responded with a sheepish grin.
Cass's eyes lowered in suspicion. "And just why are you dressed in your scientist gear? Did you try to do any more crazy experiments for your science classes?"
The Cybunny nodded as she said, "Perchance your recent incursion into yonder Safety Deposit Box would grant thee more ingredients for thy tests? Lie to us not, Ixi sibling!"
Zanzibar gulped as she realized the jig was up. "All right. You got me. Let me go fetch it..." she mumbled sadly to herself.
Lowering her head, Zanzi fluttered slowly towards the window and opened it. The two pets noticed her slowly flutter out only for her to let out a scream. She flew back in faster than she flew out as her face was marked with worry.
"It's gone! It's not there anymore!!" Zanzibar said, exasperated, as her eyes began to water.
"What? What's not there anymore, Zanzi? Tell us!" the Xweetok asked urgently. After Zanzibar explained what happened, they all ran down the stairs towards the exterior of the house.
"Zanzibar, when we find it again and place it back in the box, you're grounded for a month!" Cassolari said as they went outside.
"Less idle talk and more haste in finding yon vile concoction!" Pashmandy replied as they split up to search everywhere for the potion.
As they started to search, bounding up the gate was Telzleh, a Tyrannian Acara and the last of the sisters. Humming a tune to herself, she walked up the path leading to their house when she noticed her sisters were running everywhere, looking for something. The Acara tried to greet them, but they were far too preoccupied to take notice of her. Shrugging her shoulders, she entered the house.
Her stomach started grumbling as she realized she had not eaten anything in a while. She noticed an unusual aroma coming from the fireplace near the kitchen. She padded over to the chimney and saw a pot placed under a low flame inside. Telzleh took a quick whiff of the pot's interior and found the aroma strange. It smelled somewhat of tigersquash, neggs and something else. Some rare seasoning added for different taste perhaps? It had been a while since she ate anything with tigersquash and it was her favorite.
Without thinking twice, she ran to the cupboard to fetch a bowl, dipped it right into the pot and took out some of the sticky-looking stew from inside. Blowing on it for a few seconds to cool it down, she brought the bowl to her lips and began to slowly eat the contents without waiting for a spoon. Seconds later, the bowl was empty and Telzleh was satiated. She eyed the stew again and poured the bowl again to take a second helping.
She was halfway to finishing the bowl when her sisters suddenly burst inside. Telzleh looked up from her snacking to see them all in a dither as they walked towards the fireplace she was sitting next to.
"How could I have miscalculated such an error?" the faerie Ixi said, exasperated. "I was so shocked by its loss I didn't realize that the potion could have actually fallen INTO instead of OUT OF the chimney!"
"Oh woe to me! And I was in the midst of a broth of tigersquash and negg at that very location! Such a fulsome meal to be wasted! My heart breaks in twain..." the royal Cybunny answered sadly.
The yellow Xweetok shook her head. "Better we throw it out and make sure nobody eats it or else..." The three stopped and gasped as they approached the fireplace and saw Telzleh sitting on the floor while holding a half-eaten bowl of the stew between her paws.
"Hey there, sibs! What's all the commotion outside for?" Telzleh asked as she waved at them.
"Sister Telzleh! Prithee, whence did thou enter the domicile?" Pashmandy answered in surprise only for her eyes to grow wide in shock. "And... did thou consume the broth beneath yon fireplace?!"
Telzleh nodded her head as she smacked her lips. "Yeah, and it was really tasty! I haven't eaten tigersquash in a long, long time!"
With silent uneasy steps, Zanzibar moved towards the pot over the fireplace. Carefully taking the poker nearby used to stoke the flames, she dipped it into the pot much to Telzleh's dismay.
"Aw come on! You spoiled that stew! And I was just enjoying it, too!" she grumbled angrily.
"Sister... That stew was long spoiled before you arrived... Look..." the faerie Ixi said glumly as she pulled out an empty potion bottle by its inside through the sharp end of the poker.
Time stopped all around them. Cassolari, Pashmandy and Zanzibar could only stare in shock at Telzleh. The Acara looked at them with confusion. "Why is everyone giving me that weird look?"
"Telz, couldn't you tell that smell or even the texture that came from the stew as you ate it?!" Cass said, exasperated, as she grabbed her Acara sister's shoulders.
Feeling concerned, Telzleh replied, "Listen I just ate some stew. The taste and smell I thought came from some rare Geraptiku herbs or something. Why is everyone sounding worried? You're beginning to scare me!"
Suddenly, she winced and began to moan in pain. Cassolari tried to grab her sister down, but the Acara shoved her away with such force, she landed on Pashmandy, knocking them both to the floor. Telzleh moaned even louder as she dropped her bowl which shattered into pieces as she clutched her stomach.
"UUUUGGGHHHH!!! What... is.. .happening... TO ME?!?!" she yelled in pain as she got down on her knees. Her eyes suddenly opened up as her brown retinas with black pupils soon shrank into nothing, leaving behind the yellow corneas.
As everyone looked on in alarm, Telzleh's horns became smaller by the second and eventually vanished. Next were her large Acara ears that scrunched up into themselves and shrank down in size until they too were gone as her nose horn soon followed suit.
Telzleh stood upright as suddenly her head was scrunched inward as it became a more oval-like shape. The transforming Acara was able to drag one paw toward her forehead as she began to scratch it madly.
"What is this?! Forehead... itching... like crazy!!" she yelled as suddenly a scar appeared on her forehead, opening up to reveal a third eye forming there with the same yellow cornea as the other two eyes.
The transformation wasn't over as suddenly fur began to grow all over her body, changing the brownish cream tone to a sickly purple color. As the fur enveloped her body, her claws became longer and darker on her front and back paws. Then, her dark brown mane turned into a shadowy black version of itself as a similar black bow began to form on the base of the tail. The small slender tail soon stretched itself out from behind as it became furry on one side and with scaly coils on the other - all the same pale purple color.
Where her ears once stood, two small tufts of hair began to form out, sagging to the sides as a pair of black hairbands held them in place. Her mouth opened wide as her fangs became smaller and her front teeth grew a few inches so that they could be seen even with the mouth closed while a small bluish button nose formed out of her empty nasal region. Finally, the three eyes, devoid of anything but the yellow corneas, soon formed small red pupils inside of them. With that final step, Telzleh stopped shaking and she fell to the floor, breathing and heaving loudly.
The three worried Neopets approached the new Telzleh as she remained on the floor. Without warning, she turned her head up at them. Zanzibar screamed in fright as the other two could simply stand in disbelief.
"Wha... what's wrong? I... GASP!" said Telzleh with a raspy high-pitched tone as she started to touch herself. "My voice! What happened to my voice?! My hands! My body! My tail! What happened to me?!"
She got up and ran towards the large mirror in the center of the hall. She could only stand there mutely seeing her reflection with all three eyes. No longer was she a Tyrannian Acara, but a Mutant Usul. She opened her mouth widely and saw her two buck teeth stick out. She placed a purple paw on her cheek and pinched it with the extended claws, hoping this was just a nightmare. She began to shake her head in disbelief as the words "no" were silently mouthed. The No's became louder and louder until she screamed at the top of her lungs with her raspy voice.
The scream was so shrill that it broke the mirror into pieces. Zanzibar placed her hoof on Telzleh's shoulder, only for the mutant to growl and swiped her limb away, leaving a small cut on the side of the purple hoof.
"Back off! Look at me! I'm a freak! A monster!" she hissed as all three eyes frowned.
"Telz, calm down now. Try to relax..." Cassolari said, trying to comfort her.
"RELAX?! HOW CAN I RELAX?!" she shrieked. She looked at everyone, scared witless.
"I'm a monster! Leave me alone! I don't want to be near anyone ever again!"
With that, she ran on all fours towards the door, throwing it open and slamming it behind her so hard, it broke right off its hinges. Her sisters could only look on in confusion and disbelief.
Zanzibar could just stand there, solemn in grief. This was her fault and she knew it. No words came from her lips as she simply hovered up the stairs and closed the door behind her with an audible click. Cassolari was just about ready to run off after her transformed sister only for the royal Cybunny sibling to stop her.
"But she's lost and alone! She can't survive one day without us near her and you know it," Cass pleaded.
Pash hopped over to the Xweetok and placed her paw in hers.
"Sister Telzleh hath been cursed, verily true, but it is she, and only she, whoso hath the stamina and fortitude to see the true path to recovery. We follow, we hamper. Tis all there is. For now, let us focus on Sister Zanzibar. Her soul and feelings are torn asunder by all this. She beseeches assistance more at this moment. Prithee, let us go."
Cassolari nodded and sighed. Besides, they had to find a way to get rid of the stew before anything worse occurred. Sighing sadly, she and Pash started to clean up the mess.
As Kreludor rose over the night sky throughout the land, one could barely make out a lone figure running without ever looking back. Telzleh did not stop for an instant, not wanting to have everyone point and stare at her. As she kept running, the same thoughts were stuck on her mind like a broken record.
Now she was no longer an Acara. She was now a three-eyed, sickly purple-colored Usul with enormous front teeth and sharp clawed paws. Deep within her mind, she started to cry and belittle herself for all the dreams she had for her future: Graduating at the top of her class, winning a Beauty Contest, and becoming a deep-sea archeologist discovering new wondrous secrets hidden in the Neopian oceans all the more easier due to her natural Acara amphibian body.
All those dreams were now distant memories. After all, who could ever stand being close to a monster?
The word that was constantly repeated in her mind. She could also imagine the jeers, insults and mocking laughter from everyone. Who could ever stand being close to a mutant? Anger swelled up within her once more as the adrenaline kept her running.
Finally, she stopped running and her heart began racing as exhaustion finally caught up. She licked her lips and found them quite dry. Thirst had set in and was made worse by the long run. She spotted a small stream whose water reflected Kreludor from the sky and looked inviting enough to drink from. Padding close, she opened her mouth to drink only to be greeted by her reflection on the water's surface. She stood there silently with her mouth open showing her elongated front teeth and her three eyes blinking. The eyes suddenly scowled and her teeth gnashed in anger once more. Shrieking angrily, she slammed her paw on the water over and over, dissipating the reflection.
Still infuriated, she got up and went over to a tree nearby. With one powerful blow, she swiped her paw against its bark, leaving behind three deep marks. She swiped again and again at the tree with such force and speed, the tree eventually was worn out of its foundation and fell. She did that to other trees in the vicinity as her rage swelled up.
"Stupid potion! Stupid stew! Stupid sisters! Stupid everybody!" she yelled in her wheezy voice as she swiped away. "I'll give anything! Even my very life to turn back into an Acara! I want to be normal again!"
After the entire grove was destroyed, Telzleh realized she had enough. As she slumped to the ground trying to stop her heart from beating so fast, she heard a rustling noise and turned to see what it was. A figure dressed in a ragged black cloak appeared before her. She had no idea what kind of Neopet was this stranger as it was completely covered by the thick long robe with a hood over its head preventing her from seeing any facial features. Even its hands were covered by the long sleeves so she had no idea who or what she was talking to.
"Poor soul. Poor, lost and sad soul..." the figure said in a soothing yet unnatural voice. "Your emotions are a whirlwind of change every second."
"Who are you? You got a lot of guts to say that to me!" Telzleh snapped as she raised a fist at the figure.
The figure lifted its sleeve-hidden hand at her. "At ease, young one. I mean no ill will at you." It then waved the hand in front of the mutant's head just above her third eye. "I could not help but overhear your outburst."
Telzleh scowled again. "Oh? You heard that? It's none of your business! I hate this! I want to be me again! Not this... this... monster!"
The figure lowered its hood-covered head and asked, "You wish to be yourself once more, yes?"
Telzleh nodded. "More than anything! I want to be an Acara once more! I want to be back to the way I was!"
The hooded stranger raised its head again. "Are you willing to do whatever it takes to realize your wish? Risk your own life and be driven by ambition towards realizing your goals?"
Telzleh's brow arched. "Just what are you? And why are you so willing to help me out? There has to be a catch!"
The figure raised its hand at her once more and said more forcefully. "Do you want to be the way you are? Do you want to be a mutant for the rest of your life?"
Telzleh stamped her foot and scowled again. "No! I hate this form! I will do anything and everything to get my old body back! If you don't want to help me, then get out of my way!"
The figure started to chuckle under its hood. "You have fire. I like that. If you are truly willing to do what it takes to regain your old form, then take this."
The figure then reached into its cloak's pocket, still with its hands covered by the sleeves and pulled out a most unusual amulet. It looked like a small silver medallion tarnished with age bearing a strange pattern of lines in its front like some kind of seal. Pockmarked around the medallion were several black stones arranged in a formation of six in specific areas around the seal insignia. Four white stones were placed in precise areas along the top, bottom, left and right of the circle almost as if it were placed as compass direction points. This was really a very bizarre trinket indeed.
"This is a special artifact. One blessed with the power of faeries, if I recall," the figure explained. "This amulet is powered by emotions of others as well as the emotions of its wearer. The emotions needed to power this amulet will appear as energy that is only expelled at moments of great positive feeling. The energy will then be absorbed by one of the black stones in the amulet and it shall light up. Collect enough of those positive bits of pure emotion and the amulet will be charged. As soon as it does, it will grant you your heart's fondest desire. There is no trickery afoot here. Power up the amulet and you will earn your wish and your longing to be yourself once more shall be fulfilled."
Telzleh could just stand there speechless. Could this amulet with its arcane seal and stones really power up with emotions and allow her to return to being an Acara? It sounded hard to obtain the so-called "positive energy" needed to charge it up, but she would do anything and everything to return to normal. The thoughts made her determined to do what is necessary.
“One more thing I must tell you, young girl. Always keep the medallion close to you. The amulet’s power will protect whoever wears it from any substance that wishes to cause harm to it. Should you ever stare your demise straight ahead, the amulet shall protect you.”
"One question. Just how will I find this positive energy to charge it? I mean, I wouldn't know who will have strong enough emotions to power this up..." Telzleh asked.
The figure nodded. "You are quite bright. The amulet itself will guide you to those whose emotions are strong enough you seek. Follow the compass stones at its edges as they will show you the way. Help these souls realize the true potential of their positive emotions. The more you help, the stronger their energy shall be and the more potent the wish shall be granted."
Suddenly, the amulet's four compass stone began to sparkle. "I see. The amulet has found your first positive energy recipient," the figure mused as it looked down at the glowing gem. "Let it magically guide you to this person and do whatever it takes to get the energy. Remember, it is all up to you. I just gave you the vessel. It is you who is responsible for its increase."
"I'll get so much energy, I'll be an Acara quicker than a Blumaroo can bounce!" Telzleh swore as she placed the amulet around her neck and hid it deep within the holds of her furry mane. Just like that, she instantly vanished leaving no trace of her at all.
The figure looked down and nodded silently as it turned around and vanished into nothingness.
A shadow watched the encounter take place from the trees. It immediately stood up straight and unfolded a pair of grotesque wings to fly off. The plan would be underway.
To be continued...