Telzleh's Quest: Part Three
The former Acara-turned-Mutant Usul felt a sudden rush of chills envelop her as she found herself in a new location. Standing up quickly, she realized she was covered in snow and quickly shook her fur to get rid of it. Placing her arms to the side to keep cool, she looked up and gasped in awe. Terror Mountain stood before her very eyes. She was now in the snowy north! But how was it possible? Why did she instantly teleport?
She then brought out the amulet. She finally noticed that one of the black stones placed in the seal of the amulet was now a beautiful white color. The energy she received from Thackery must have recharged that stone. Once it did, she was instantly transported to the next area the new energy recipient was near. Just five more stones left to charge before the amulet could grant her wish.
She quickly assessed the situation. She was at the base of the mountain, which meant Happy Valley wasn’t far away. She hoped whoever would have the next energy for her would be found there. As luck would have it, the compass stone indicated that way and she smiled. Hopefully, this next one would be easy to obtain.
With every step she took, the more the weather started to affect her. The snow began to fall in large lumps and the wind blew with more force. No doubt she headed straight into a blizzard. She was lucky to be an Usul since her thick coat of fur was perfect insulation from the cold. Still, her vision was very blurry and had no idea where exactly she was going.
Suddenly, her foot tripped on a rock and she lurched forward as she started to roll along the snow. It quickly began to accumulate as she kept rolling and soon turned into a giant snowball as it moved down the sides of the hill. The snowball finally crashed against a hard surface, releasing her from within. The impact was strong enough to slowly cause her to lose consciousness. The last thing she saw before passing out was a small figure slowly walking up to her.
Telzleh woke up with a gasp. She looked down and noticed she was lying on a bed with a warm quilt draped over her. The room she woke up to seemed to be quite cozy and spacious with the bed and a few pieces of furniture occupying space. Next to her, she saw a small desk with a picture frame on it. Bending down closer to look at it, she saw a photo of an elderly brown Wocky with a white moustache and beard looking sternly at the camera along with a younger striped female Wocky with long curly brown hair.
The door nearby opened on cue and Telzleh turned to see who it was. The striped female Wocky from the picture came into view wearing a simple dress with an attached apron, glasses, and thickly padded gloves in her paws as she carried a hot water bottle. Despite her homely appearance, she was quite beautiful.
"Oh! I see you are finally awake, Miss. Here I was ready to bring a bottle for you to warm up with, but that won't be necessary now, yes?" the Wocky spoke in a soft tone. "I never saw a Mutant before and I was quite surprised to see one.”
“Um, hi there. You... aren’t afraid of me? You don’t think I’m a monster?” Telzleh asked her.
The girl shook her head. “Not at all. I can tell you have a good heart inside you. I was shocked to see you out there in the middle of that huge snowball that crashed against our cabin. We were both startled by it and I went to check things out. All I did was find you in the middle of snowing, all passed out. I did the only thing I could and brought you inside."
"Yeah, uh, thanks. You’re very kind and all for saying that about me. So, how long was I out?" Telzleh asked her as she slowly got out of bed.
The Wocky gasped as she hurried over to her and sat her back down on the bed. "Gracious, Miss! You're in no shape to walk about yet. It has been nearly two days since you were unconscious and you must be famished. Let me get you something to eat first."
"TWO DAYS?! Oh man... where will I find the next energy carrier now?"
As Telzleh contemplated this turn of events, the girl immediately ran out the door and returned a few minutes later holding a tray with a bowl filled to the brim with a strange mush and a spoon. She then placed it on the bed next to Telzleh. The mutant Usul sniffed at it for a few seconds in worry. After all, it was a strange stew which was the cause of her plight to begin with, so she was naturally cautious. She turned her head up to the girl who was smiling softly. One confident nod was all she needed before she started to dig in.
It was some kind of oatmeal, she felt, blended with cinnamon and chokato which gave it its strange color. Nevertheless, the taste was heavenly, and she soon found herself satiated.
"You see? You needed to regain your energy now, Miss... um... Miss... Come to think of it, you never quite told me your name..." the striped Wocky girl said with a nervous giggle.
"I'm Telzleh. I'm from Neopia Central. And who're you?"
The girl nodded. "Pleased to meet you, Miss Telzleh. My name is Rubie. I live here with my grandfather, Humphra."
Telzleh rubbed her chin in thought. "Is he the one in the picture? And why are you living with him?"
Rubie looked sad and turned her head. "He is the only member of my family left. I don't really like to talk about it much. Basically, I came here to live with him ever since my grandmother left him. He needs someone to look after the house for him mostly because of his... obsession."
Telzleh wondered whatever she meant by that only for Rubie to look at her again with a soft smile. "But enough about me. What about you? What brought you here to Happy Valley? And most importantly, why did you ever come this far without proper protection against the cold climate?"
Telzleh knew she couldn't tell her about her quest, but then she couldn't quite explain the fact that an amulet magically teleported her from the Haunted Woods to here.
As she tried hard to find an excuse, a loud scream was heard followed by an angry voice calling out from outside the room, "What balderdash! Curse that archivist!"
Rubie immediately looked sad and sighed as she got up. "Please excuse me. I imagine my grandfather needs me now. Please rest now. I’ll be back later."
Telzleh watched Rubie leave and she was curious. What was this "obsession" she spoke of? This she had to see for herself. Placing the tray with the empty bowl aside, she got up and went towards the corridor outside the room. The first thing she saw outside her door was an enormous row of books stacked up against the wall. Then, she saw even more stacks as far as the eye could see. Telzleh looked everywhere in shock and amazement. Stacks upon stacks of books of all types were everywhere. Against the walls, on tables, inside bookcases and drawers, and anywhere that people would not accidentally walk over. These were enough books to put even the Faerieland Royal Library to shame!
Just then, Telzleh felt the amulet beckon to her. The next energy carrier holder was nearby! She grasped the crystal under her black mane and held it out as the compass directed her to where the energy was found. She was eventually led to a large door in the house. It appeared most likely to be the grandfather's quarters as it had more books inside and outside the perimeter than the rest of the house. Leaning forward towards the half-opened door's frame, Telzleh caught a glimpse of the same elderly brown Wocky from the picture stomping around the room in a huff. Rubie was nearby trying to calm him down.
"Blast! I sent a message to Altador to get a copy of the book I need for my collection and that snooty Finneus tells me the books there aren't for sale! What does that old bird think he is?!" thundered the old Wocky.
"Grandfather Humphra, please come to reason..." Rubie protested.
"Balderdash, girl! I want that book! You haven't an inkling of the dedication I have to my collection! I NEED it! Oh, what do you know about this anyway? Leave me be! I’ll call you again when I need for you to bring me my dinner," Humphra answered back haughtily.
The striped Wocky girl started to form tears in her eyes and quickly left the room, passing Telzleh by as she went off to cry. The mutant was appalled. This Wocky was obsessed with books to levels unreachable even by Neopian Book Award members. As she groused, the amulet’s compass stones began to flicker again. She pointed it at the door which made the stones flash crazily. She finally realized now who it was that held what she wanted.
"Just my luck... How will I ever get the energy off him anyway? All he cares about are books! Books..."
Formulating a plan in her mind, Telzleh prepared herself for anything and slowly padded into the room. The room was a mix of both a bedroom and a study. On one wall was a clean bed with a small night table with lamp on one side and a wardrobe at the other. The rest of the walls were filled with bookshelves of all types along with the many stacks placed on the floor. A comfortable chair was next to an old reading lamp and sitting on it at the moment was Humphra, busy with a book in his hands. Despite his actual reading, Telzleh could see an eyebrow twitch as his eyes darted around in deep concentration.
Clearing her throat, she softly said, "Excuse me, Mr. Humphra?"
At that, he looked with an angry scowl only to soften his gaze enough to show annoyance. "Oh, the 'guest' that good-for-nothing granddaughter found in the cold. Hmph. By your looks, she should've kept you out there instead. Well, speak up! What do you want?"
Telzleh ignored his reaction and replied, "My name is Telzleh, sir. I was wondering about your book collection. I'm very impressed with everything you have. My sisters and I also like to collect rare books and..."
The elderly Wocky's face son lit up as a warm smile spread across his face. "Ah, a fellow bibliophile, yes? So glad to meet a fellow book lover! Anyone who loves them is a friend in... my book! Ha ha ha!"
Telzleh laughed nervously, "Yeah, in your book... right. Heh heh... so, um, how did you manage to get all these books?”
Humphra placed the book he was reading on the floor below and said, “Well, that’s a good question. See, long ago when I was a younger lad, I had this vision. My conscience was speaking to me. It told me to become the greatest bibliophile in all Neopian history! That’s how I began. I scoured the corners of the planet, obtaining all sorts of tomes, books, volumes, digests, manuscripts, paperbacks, hardbacks and any other ‘backs’! You name the book and I probably have it! Heh heh. Yes, books are my life, my dear girl.”
Telzleh gave a low whistle. “Wow. That’s really impressive, Mr. Humphra. So anyways, I couldn't help but overhear your problem of some rare book?"
The old brown Wocky’s brow lowered and looked to a bookcase off to the side. "See that over there, Miss? That there is the personal of THE most personal of my collection. Books so old and out of print that even high-ranking members of the Neopian Book Awards would give their trophies to get a peek at them! I have acquired many of the books I longed for, but there is one left that I need to get."
He stood up and placed his hand on one empty slot in the bookcase. "There is this book. An unabridged version of the tome that I heard some pets used to help regain the forgotten history of Altador after the nasty business with the Darkest Faerie and all. However, the creation of Altador is not the only thing referenced in that book. Oh, not at all! This book is a lexicon of wisdom beyond Neopet dreams! The tales of the creation of our world, the first communities, the origins of our lands, even the origins of Faeries themselves! This tome holds all those answers! Think of it, Telzleh. Knowledge of the ancients themselves! All condensed into one book!"
Humphra's euphoria soon left him as he looked down in shame. "Sadly, though, the book is so brittle that no hand can touch it without disintegrating the pages. Only places which keep the book in a controlled environment could hold it together without destroying it. There are two known places where that ancient tome can be found: the Royal Library of Queen Fyora herself and the Altadorian Archives. I would be daft to even ask her Highness for the book, hence, why I chose the next location. But as you can see that pompous bird Finneus doesn't want to part with it! The nerve! However, there is another way nevertheless..."
He went to a pile of books near the door, took out the fifth book from the stack without knocking the rest over, opened it up to a particular page, and showed it to Telzleh.
"According to this passage of Neopian myths, there was a second printing of this book done. A messenger was supposed to deliver this book to a worthy Neopet as a reward for some brave deed on behest of Queen Fyora. Sadly, the messenger got lost in Terror Mountain, where the book itself was lost in the Ice Caves and was never recovered. It is just a myth told through the ages, but I believe it must be true! There is only one place in the Ice Caves where that book could possibly be held...”
Telzleh looked up in disbelief. "Hold on. Don't tell me... you mean... that THING may have it?!"
"Precisely! The Snowager has a collection of many artifacts and I'm sure that book is in its den among them! As a fellow bibliophile to another, come with me to the beast's lair and help me obtain it! I can not trust any others to help me in this and my stubborn granddaughter would simply dissuade me from such actions, so I implore you to help me. It is my life's dream to own that treasure!"
Despite sounding hesitant, Telzleh was actually happy the old man gave her the opportunity she wanted. The positive emotions he would show when he got his hands on the book were sure to be sufficient for the amulet! Her only worry was the fact that as soon as she got it, she would vanish again. If that happened within the Snowager's, the poor Wocky might not make it out alive. But why did she care? Her Acara form was at stake!
Telzleh hid her feelings in a sad sigh and said, "Ok, Mr. Humphra, you win. I'll help you. But what about Miss Rubie? Wouldn't she be worried?"
Humphra chuckled again, "Oh don't worry about her! We will leave in twilight hours, more than enough to reach its Den while it sleeps and return just as quickly. She won't even know we were gone! Now then, go rest up. I shall awaken you in twilight hours. Be ready!"
The old Wocky and the Usul slowly walked up the side of the mountain and headed towards the Ice Caves. It was a few hours ago that he woke her up without making a sound to get a head start on things. Soon enough, they made their way through the cavern, where Telzleh was glad to see they didn’t encounter any snowbeasts or other vicious denizens. Eventually, they reached the entrance of the Snowager's den and both could hear loud snoring coming from inside.
The Wocky had a glint in his eye as he rubbed his hands in anticipation. "What luck! The fiend is asleep!" he whispered quite happily, "Come now, my fellow bibliophile. Onward!"
Sure enough, the Snowager's cave was a wonder to behold. Piles upon piles of treasure were everywhere: plushies, scratchcards, snowballs, neggs and more. One thing she noticed was that there were no books. Not like Humphra didn't expect it as only one book could only be here if the myth proved to be true. In the middle of the room was the ice worm itself, coiled around some its treasure, fast asleep. Trying hard not to wake it, the two started to carefully dig around.
Some time later, both met up again with empty pockets and no book. They knew the only pile left to search was the one the Snowager was sleeping on.
"I doubt I'm spry enough to search that pile, my bibliophilic associate. You do it better. I shall be waiting," Humphra said as he rubbed his back and groaned in pain.
Telzleh muttered under her breath but knew this was all for the wish. She advanced towards the treasure pile and silently searched around it, hoping she doesn't wake up the Snowager. As she approached its sleeping head, that's when she spotted it. A book. The only one in the entire cave. Unfortunately, the worm placed its chin directly on top of it and it was snoring peacefully, icy vapor shooting out of its nostrils.
Telzleh gritted her teeth as she tried to come up with a way to remove the book without waking it up. Finally she saw a plushie at her feet and formulated a plan. Picking it up, she slowly approached its head, hoping it didn't awaken. With cold sweat on her brow, she slowly rubbed the plushie against the worm's chin. The Snowager began to groan as it started to lean slowly towards the plushie. Without a moment to spare, Telzleh snatched the book just before it placed its chin back down again.
The book was a very old-looking tome with a drawing of Neopia on the cover. It felt extremely cold to the touch, possibly from being the Snowager's personal chin rest for a long time. Thanks to the sub-zero temperatures it was under, it could be read once it thawed out. Smiling, she slowly climbed down to an exuberant Humphra below.
"At last... my collection is complete!" Humphra whispered in joy as he grabbed the book and cradled it close to him. "My jubilation has no limit!"
Telzleh smiled and stood triumphantly. However, her smile soon faded as she felt nothing. Where was the positive energy? Wasn't helping him what she needed to do? Her teeth gnashed and, without realizing where she was, she let out a frustrated scream. She immediately shut her mouth, but it was too late.
A loud rumbling was heard behind them as the Snowager woke up. The ice worm roared realizing trespassers were there, holding one of its treasures. Without time to spare, Humphra beat a hasty retreat out of the cave, leaving Telzleh alone to fend for herself. The frightened mutant could just stand there as the Snowager loomed overhead, rearing its head back and shot its icy breath down on her. Telzleh closed her eyes, telling herself this was her end.
Miraculously, though, Telzleh remained standing unscathed as the blat harmlessly bounced off her. Both she and the Snowager were shocked to see this. How did she take that blow and be unharmed? She then realized to her surprise that she was surrounded by a oddly-colored aura. Looking down, she saw the amulet shine with the same color as the aura over her body. That's when she remembered the words the mysterious figure who gave her the medallion told her.
“‘The amulet’s power will protect whoever wears it from any substance that wishes to cause harm to it.’ Of course!” she said to herself and softly thanked the amulet for saving her life.
She still wasn’t out of danger yet as the Snowager roared again and charged straight at her.
Outside, the bibliophilic brown Wocky was hiding behind an icy rock as he hugged the book giddily in his hands. “At last! I have you, my precious book. Who cares if that mutant doesn’t survive the Snowager’s wrath? At least she sacrificed herself for a good cause: Mine! I will never let you go, my wondrous treasure! I shall enjoy reading you tonight!”
Little did he know that at that precise moment, Rubie appeared and walked up into the cave. The elderly Neopet didn't see her as he was far too ecstatic to notice.
Inside, the Snowager roared as it lunged towards Telzleh, only for her to leap in the air and grab hold of an icy stalactite above with her razor sharp paw and feet claws. Again, the Snowager sent its icy blast towards her, and Telzleh jumped to the icy wall and latched on. No use pressing her luck again if the amulet would actually repel more blasts. As the ice worm sent barrage after barrage of icy breath, Telzleh was always one step ahead as she used her claws to scurry around the wall. Once again, she managed to find a way to escape danger with the help of her mutant body, as much as she hated to admit it.
By now, the Snowager was panting as beads of icy sweat ran down its body. Never had it had so much trouble with a trespasser as difficult as this one before. Just before it could further frustrate itself, it quickly sensed the presence of a new intruder at the entrance. Growling, it quickly slithered away to capture it. Another loud roar and the screaming of the Wocky girl was enough for both Telzleh to open her eyes in fear as she saw her and Humphra to snap out of his revelry outside.
The Snowager lifted its head back, ready to turn Rubie into an ice sculpture, when it was suddenly pelted from behind by various neggs. Growling, it turned around to see Telzleh on top of a treasure pile, holding neggs in her paws.
"Leave her alone, you overgrown piece of bait! Come face a REAL challenger!" she called out. The worm roared again as it slithered towards her again. Telzleh definitely succeeded in getting both its attention and making it angrier.
"Rubie, get out of here, NOW!" Telzleh yelled as she scampered away.
The Wocky girl, however, was still too scared to move. Someone placed their hand on her shoulder and she screamed. She was immediately turned around and she saw Humphra.
The grandfather said, "Rubie, I don't know why you're here, but now isn't the time to argue! We have to leave!" The girl nodded and the two Wockies began to retreat.
Telzleh was finally glad they managed to escape and now it was her time to do so. However, as long as the Snowager kept its eye on her, there was no way to escape without it pursuing her. She then saw the piles of treasure and immediately hatched a plan. Carefully diving into different piles of goods, she made sure the Snowager slithered in confusion around them all to make her way out as it tried to search for her in vain. As she left its den, she could hear it roar in anger.
As she scampered away as fast as she could, she immediately heard the caves shake loudly. Was that an earthquake or a cave-in? Worried, she knew she had to get out. As she approached an enormous crack in the cave floor that wasn't previously there, she heard Humphra's cry for help.
She quickly slid over to the crack and was aghast to see Humphra hanging on with one hand firmly grasping the ledge and the other holding the book. Just a few inches below him, was Rubie, also hanging precariously to whatever icy ledge she could grasp.
Telzleh leaned down and held her paw out. "Humphra, give me your paw! That ledge is too slippery and won't hold you much longer!"
The elderly Wocky nodded as he slowly tried to lift himself with his free hand until Rubie started to scream.
"Grandfather, help me! My grip is slipping and I can't hold on much longer!" she pleaded.
Humphra's blood ran cold and he quickly extended the hand holding the book towards her.
"Aah! I can't grab on, Grandfather! That book is too big!" she said as tears formed in her eyes.
The elder's mind was racing, seeing this predicament. If he released the book, he could save his precious granddaughter, but his trip and his life would be for nothing. If he didn't, she would...
Suddenly, Rubie screamed as her fingers finally lost their grip and she started to fall. Without hesitation, Humphra dropped the book into the abyss and managed to grab her hand before she could be lost. Rubie looked up at him with a smile of hope and the grandfather returned it. However, his own grip was starting to slip due to the extra weight he now held and he too was about to drop down. The quick-thinking Telzleh immediately wrapped her tail around a stalagmite nearby and jumped into the abyss, grabbing them just in time. Using both her tail and her sharp feet claws digging deep into the icy surface, she slowly but surely pulled them all up to safety.
They all sat around the floor of the cave soon after as they tried to get their bearings. "That was close..." the grandfather replied as he looked at Rubie with a smile that the Wocky girl had long forgotten.
"But Grandfather, you lost your book. What about your collection?" she asked, worried.
"What about it? The only thing that matters is you my dear. You are my true treasure." the kindly elder said as he extended his arms out.
"Oh, Grandpa... I love you..." Rubie said through tears as she and her elderly relative hugged.
At that moment, both grandfather and granddaughter began to radiate in a warm bright glow. Without a second thought, Telzleh stood up and help the amulet ready as the two small spheres of energy shot out of Humphra and Rubie, only to congeal into a singular larger sphere and flew into the medallion, changing another black stone to white. Apparently, the dedication and sacrifice for love was what Telzleh needed. Two essences found so far.
With the next essence already located, she immediately disappeared into thin air. Little did Telzleh realize as she left that the two Wockies immediately turned to stone statues. Both the statues were forever frozen in a hug between them.
A shadow loomed over the summit of the mountain. Forging a note in the old Wocky’s handwriting to tell that foolish girl to go meet him at the Snowager’s was a stroke of genius, and so was creating that earthquake to cause a cave-in. The carrier did well to obtain the next energy. Soon everything would be in place. Before anyone could notice, the shadow disappeared in a flash of black light.
Fyora looked at the scene outside her throne room window. It was a beautiful day in Faerieland, just like any other day. She sighed softly. All was well in the world.
At that moment, the doors opened and she turned around to see a faerie in armor appear. The royal guard fluttered over to Fyora and knelt in her presence.
“Your Highness. A most unusual occurrence has happened in Neovia. A Techo boy was mysteriously cursed with a petrifying spell, and the locals have no idea how it came about,” she reported.
Fyora looked seriously at her. “Is that so? Has the boy perchance taken that horrid potion that plagued the vicinity long ago?”
The guard responded, “No, my Liege. The locals swear it is not related to that incident. The curious thing is that the local Swamp Witch has tried to reverse the curse, but she has failed and is at a loss. They now beseech you to help them.”
The Faerie Queen looked at her, deep in thought. “I see no reason why I must meddle in their affairs. I’m sure if they work hard enough, they will solve their own problems, just like befo...”
Just as she was about to finish, a second faerie guard zoomed in and knelt just like her companion. “Your Highness, I bring you grave news on behalf of the Negg Faerie within the Ice Caves. Something strange has occurred!”
To be continued...