Telzleh's Quest: Part Eight
Telzleh appeared confused and scared. She looked at her amulet, now fully charged. She witnessed the sad fates of Anselm and Ranell turning to stone before her very eyes and it affected her greatly. Were all those others whose energy she had absorbed also petrified? Was their sacrifice worth it to be herself again? Maybe Fauna was right when she told her she was tapping into forces too powerful for her to control.
She looked around and saw an endless black cloud with the familiar sight of a city with a large castle in the distance. She was in Faerieland now. Why was she brought here to the realm of Fyora now that she was finally done?
"I see you successfully recharged the amulet, young one," said a voice too familiar to Telzleh.
Turning around, she saw the mysterious robed form that gave her the amulet many months ago stand before her. With newly found fury, the mutant charged straight at the figure and grabbed it by the shoulders.
She then screeched, "What did you make me do? What happened to those farmers? Why is everything dark? Tell me now or I swear I'll..."
Suddenly, a blast of dark energy radiated from the form which knocked Telzleh back and she landed painfully on the cloudy floor. The figure then started to float in the sky above her.
"Make you do? Why, you were so desperate to become your former self again, that it was all your doing. All we did was merely help along..." the figure cackled as the cloak burned away in purple flames.
Telzleh looked in horror, seeing the figure in front of her. The cruel, fear-inspiring form of Hubrid Nox the Chia.
"You wanted to be normal again so badly. Did you ever try and realize in the pursuit of your folly you'd end up becoming the monster you so despised?" the wicked Chia asked.
"We waited forever to find one so adamant in helping obtain all the necessary power needed to charge the amulet. How lucky we found someone as gullible as you are to do it for us," said a second voice out of nowhere. A brilliant flash of dark light burst into the scene and dissipated to reveal a wrinkled Moehog crone Telzleh recognized from her readings of evil denizens: Morguss.
"How ironic. In the pursuit of your own vanity in finding your old form, you doomed not only yourself but all of the pathetic creatures of this planet!" said a third voice as a small figure flew in with monstrous wings. A cursed Acara wearing all black stood next to both Hubrid and Morguss while looking at Telzleh with an evil smirk. Vira.
Telzleh couldn't believe her eyes. Three of Neopia's most feared villains all in one place. What was happening? She started to shake her head in blind confusion.
"I believe our poor little pawn deserves an explanation. The least we can do before we leave her to her existence of black doom," Hubrid deliberated with an evil smile.
"You see, little fool. Some time ago, I found this book during my little girl's occupation of Meridell. It told about this legendary King who ruled a once-mighty nation. Oh, he was much beloved and ruled a large kingdom where everyone was happy," Morguss said as she spat in disgust.
"Yeah, I know. Nauseating. But this guy owed all his power to this amulet of his. It said that whoever possessed it could make all wishes come to life. Wealth, power, immortality. You name it, the amulet granted it. We, of course, are talking about the very amulet you see hanging over your neck,” Vira said as she pointed to Telzleh.
Hubrid then scowled. "It took us forever and countless undead minions to find that accursed ruins of his city of his buried in the mountains between Altador and the Lost Desert, but we eventually found his palace and that amulet! There was a small problem, though. The stupid thing didn't have power! Morguss here researched the book she got but found it mostly destroyed. We were all still lucky she did manage to find out the energy source for the amulet."
“‘Channel the sacrifice's life aura through moments of great positive emotion. Once all stones of the seal are alight by someone pure of heart, the power of Khaldun shall be unleashed.' That's what it said. However, we had the problem of being... evil by nature. We needed someone pure of heart to collect the life aura of the sacrifices we picked. As luck would have it, you stumbled upon us just at the right time!" Morguss cackled as did Hubrid and Vira.
Telzleh could only stare in disbelief. "Sacrifices... you... chose?" she finally muttered.
"Yes. We chose all those whose auras you absorbed. That Techo boy made the first sacrifice quite well. Of course, I made sure the zombies wouldn't eat you or our special guest when I summoned them to attack you. In the final stretch, I sent a lightning bolt out to burn that branch and gave the boy the needed boost for you to absorb his aura," said Hubrid as he folded his arms over his chest.
"The foolish bookworm Wocky was our next choice for a while now. I poisoned his dreams with thoughts of more and more books for him to collect until he was insatiable. When he asked you to go to the Snowager's, I figured the time was right. Forging a note for that granddaughter of his to come up was a master stroke but not enough to make the aura strong. The cave in after causing an avalanche outside did the trick in the end, though!" Morguss said proudly.
She continued, "Another target on our minds was that Grundo. Transforming myself as a Grundo maid, I made sure I caused enough discord in his demeanor feeding him dangers of his daughter socializing with that friend of hers so much, he reacted wonderfully. Of course, I had to save you a couple times by magically casting a floating spell to soften that fall and summoning that asteroid to destroy that Grundo's machine before he destroyed you."
Vira mumbled angrily, "We overestimated the damage that foolish Grundo did to you and knew we couldn't go after the next targets until you got better, so we bided our time and waited for you to wake up.”
Hubrid smiled and said, “While you did, we set our next targets in motion. Did you like the Opera in Shenkuu? Let me tell you a true operatic tale. There once was a poor yet ambitious Lutari musician which I, in a disguised form, helped become an opera impresario. I gave him all he wanted and fed his greed and hunger for power. We were lucky that stupid Kougra girl showed up when she did. I made sure Guonji made her life miserable so she would rebel. That’s when Pawn #2, that stupid Poogle friend of hers, came into the picture. I told him about you and to help unite you with our soul target. If he did, I would reward him. He let that Quilin escape on purpose to start things out. Next, Guonji had a great plan ready once the step when she ran away was set. What he didn’t know was that I told him he was destined to lose anyway. He retreated on purpose to let me know that the plan succeeded. I rewarded him, of course. I hope he enjoys being a Blechy!”
"Did you like Zabroo's Fun Fair? My personal idea. Cheating all those stupid Blumaroos out of their Neopoints was a great way for us to earn some quick cash on the side. I should thank Morguss for that hypnotizing spell and crystal ball to help create the amusement park. Oh and please, don't mourn Zabroo. I mean, I'm perfectly all right!" Vira said smugly as she reached into her pocket and pulled out the mask of the green Blumaroo, tossing it at Telzleh's feet.
"Vira finally decided on those farmers after she had some fun unlocking the pen of that enormous Turmac and made sure it ate that bumpkin's berry! The Korbat reacted just like we wanted. Of course, we poisoned his mind a bit more with delusions of persecution and he was the perfect sacrifice! Our only obstacle was that earth faerie guardian of theirs. We convinced Balthazar to capture her in order to keep her from warning everyone. We didn’t expect her to be freed so soon, but by then it was too late! You collected the last souls to recharge the amulet and the end was nigh!" Morguss said triumphantly.
The three wicked Neopets laughed madly while Telzleh slumped down to her knees. All this time she was deceived and forced to do their evil job. Her spirit was completely crushed.
"So you see, dear girl. We were behind everything from the start...” Hubrid gloated. “The magic transport spells, the energy field protecting the amulet from anyone stealing it, the compass stones I added to help ‘find’ the sacrifices, and the force field that protected you from both the Snowager and that mucky clay prison? Our doing. Naturally, we had to transport you before you could see the hollowed-out stone husks of those whose souls you stole. I mean, you would end up having second thoughts! My magic was unbeatable! Which reminds me..."
The despicable Chia hovered down towards the still-catatonic Telzleh and waved his hand in circles as a dark aura emanated from it. The aura started to react to the amulet and soon its protective barrier was gone. Hubrid then snapped the amulet from Telzleh’s neck and held it floating in the air as he rejoined his cohorts.
"Your part in this is done. It is our turn to take over. Now, as promised. We drew lots and Vira won the first pick on what to do with the amulet,” Morguss said as she looked at the ecstatic evil Acara. “Ok, dearie. You told us to come to Faerieland. Now what?"
Vira grinned showing her fangs and replied, "For a while now I've been sick of all these so-called beautiful Neopets using that stupid Rainbow Pool to paint themselves. Since Faerieland’s Rainbow Fountain is the core source of all the magic, what say we use this little beauty to poison its waters and make every Neopet ugly! Then, only I will be the most beautiful in the entire planet!!"
Hubrid and Morguss clapped. "Masterful choice! A perfect way to start the destruction of Neopia!" the Moehog witch proclaimed.
The three villains looked back at Telzleh. "Like I said before, dear. We thank you for helping us. Helping us obtain the tool which spells the end of natural order for this miserable planet! So long!" Hubrid said as he and his cronies all flew off.
Telzleh just stood there completely frozen and oblivious to all her surroundings. She was tricked. She was the harbinger of sacrifices to the amulet. She remembered the faces of all those whose auras she absorbed thinking it was simply positive energy.
"...What have I done?"
At that moment, she felt herself wanting to hide in the deepest darkest cave she could find and be dead to the entire world. They were right. She was so mad at herself since she was turned into a mutant, she basically allowed them to manipulate her. She was no better than they were because of her blind ambition to become that which she once was. Instead, she became more and more of a monster on the inside than she looked as on the outside. There was nothing left to do.
Suddenly, she saw three forms materialize out of thin air in front of her but she didn’t pay any attention to them. Altador, Jerdana and Fauna ran over to where she was and surrounded her.
Jerdana held her hand out and waved it in front of the emotionally frozen Usul. “My Liege, it’s futile. The amulet has already been removed from her. Nox and his accomplices have fled,” she announced sadly.
Altador growled under his breath. “Are they nearby, Jerdana? We must catch them before they start to use it!”
The Aisha nodded quickly. “I can feel their dark energy in the vicinity of the Rainbow Fountain. They must be doing something there.”
“Then there is where we must go. Come, Jerdana,” the Lupe commanded. He then faced Fauna. “Please help her. We know she was an unwilling participant in all these horrors and needs someone to console her.”
The yellow Acara gave him a solemn nod. “I shall help her, Altador. Please be careful, the both of you.”
Altador grimly turned around and walked over to Jerdana. The Aisha sorceress waved her hands once more and they both vanished.
Fauna sat down in front of Telzleh, whose face was still stationary as she looked down at her paws and feet. The yellow Acara placed a hand on her shoulder.
“Hello again, young one. I imagine your mind is in turmoil at this moment and I wouldn’t blame you for your actions. None of us do,” Fauna began.
“My fault...” Telzleh said in a low voice.
Fauna leaned closer. “What was that?”
“My fault... All my fault... Those poor innocent Neopets... I... stole their souls... Because I wanted to be an Acara again... I’m... really a monster...”
With those words, Telzleh dug her face into Fauna’s lap and started to cry loudly. Fauna placed her hand on the back of her head and stroked it tenderly.
“Young lady, do you remember when we first met in Shenkuu and recall what I said to you? You hold interior beauty and courage. I can tell you went through many trials and encountered many perils on your mission, despite the corruption those maleficent beings imparted,” Fauna explained.
Telzleh immediately looked up at her with a frown. “But it’s my fault for being tricked! I was so angry and worried about what others thought of me that I wished for an opportunity to be changed back no matter what the price. Nox was right. I was the perfect dupe and I went along with it willingly.”
“You can’t change the past, my dear. I mean, how many times Altador wished that he knew in advance that the Betrayer would end up doing she did and find a way to make things better,” Fauna explained as she placed a hand over Telzleh’s forehead just above her third eye. “We all travel through life unsure what it brings us. What matters most is the way you touched the lives of those around you. The present and the future are what matter the most. The book of life one writes may begin with stumbles and falls but later chapters may include triumphs and eventually redemptions over past deeds. That is what we take with us when we pass on.”
When Fauna said that, Telzleh felt a new sensation run through her body. It was at that moment when she finally thought about the ways she touched the lives of everyone she met. Though she ended up absorbing their life force to power the amulet and sometimes acting out of her own selfish desire to be what she once was, she really did things beneficial to others.
Despite the claims of Hubrid, Morguss, and Vira that they helped her along, she also realized all those poor innocent Neopians were pawns in their game just like she was. They were completely oblivious they were used to satisfy the selfish means of the villains. She realized she wasn't the only one.
The grief and self-loathing soon turned to rage and resolve. Fauna did have a point. She had to stop loathing herself and work towards redeeming herself any way possible for her actions.
“You are right, Lady Fauna. I was foolish to wallow in self-pity and hatred. I have to find a way to set things right. We must hurry to the Rainbow Fountain right away and see if there is any way I can help out. I may not be as strong as King Altador or as well-versed in magic as Lady Jerdana, but I am still the one who recharged the stones and the amulet and I also a rightful claim to the wishes the amulet has!”
The Acara smiled. “Very true, my dear. However, the Rainbow Fountain is far away from where we are currently located. Let me see if a friend of ours is around to help us get there hastily.”
She then held her hands in prayer and closed her eyes. Telzleh felt a gust of wind suddenly form as both she and Fauna were lifted in the air. Fauna opened her eyes and smiled.
“We’re lucky she heard me. Now, grab hold of my hand, young one. We have a lot of distance to cover!” Fauna ordered and Telzleh did as she said. Hand in hand, they were suddenly carried by the winds towards their next destination.
Things looked worse than she realized when she and Fauna finally reached the Rainbow Fountain. The three villains were all huddled in a circle in mid-air as the amulet close to the water's surface in the middle of the fountain. Radiating with a sickly purple and black aura, the amulet corroded the once beautiful multi-colored waters turning them a grotesque blend of dark colors. The waters themselves washed down around the city and spread down to the land below. Nothing, it appeared, would escape from the effects of this corroded water.
Looking around for the Fountain Faerie and the Altadorian heroes, Telzleh gasped seeing a monstrous creature close to the water's edge that looked faintly like a misshapen caricature of the magical water faerie. Wrinkled scaly skin, long bony hands ending in misshapen nails, a face with a long hooked nose and warts and dirty mussed-up hair. Its tail, now covered in mold and slime, slid constantly against the water. Close by were Altador and Jerdana lying unconscious, also transformed into Mutant Neopets. If the contaminated water of the Rainbow Fountain could do this to the Fountain Faerie and the regal heroes, then Vira had succeeded in her intentions.
"Look! The amulet's magic is working! The water is ready to infect and transform all it touches into horrific monsters. Excellent," said Hubrid with a mad cackle.
"We did well in test its new qualities on that foolish fountain faerie and those stupid Altadorians. The perfect subjects!" Morguss added.
"Soon every single being on this planet will be ugly and horrible! There is only place for one beautiful Neopet in all Neopia, and that is ME!" Vira proclaimed, much to the uneasiness of her partners.
"The waters will soon spread our malevolent payload around the entire planet. Not even that thorn in our backsides Fyora can stop this! Nobody can!" the malevolent Chia said as he rubbed his hands.
"Think again, jerk!"
The three evil Neopets turned and looked down at the edge of the Fountain and caught glimpse of Telzleh as she landed, standing defiantly as she looked up at them. Behind her was Fauna, who ran over to check on her mutated friends and the transformed faerie.
"You all tricked me into helping you collect those pour souls into powering that cursed amulet for your own selfish desires! Time I paid back in spades!" Telzleh shouted as she pointed a clawed finger at them.
The trio looked at each and then back to the mutant Usul, only for them to break out in raucous laughter.
"Y-you?! Stop us? Oh please, I haven't heard a joke that funny in ages!" Hubrid chortled.
"Has the futility of your own form finally deluded you into believing you actually stand a chance against us, three of the most powerful beings of this planet?!" Morguss laughed.
"I thought you were just ugly, girlie. Not anymore, though. Now I KNOW you're crazy, stupid, AND ugly!" Vira concluded as she giggled madly.
Hubrid raised his hand to silence everyone. "Enough. Funny joke aside, we must go now. Morguss plans use the amulet to rub Meridell and Darigan completely off the face of the planet in retaliation for the way her girl was treated. Don’t think Hagan is off the hook, as his kingdom will be destroyed as well! I, on the other hand, I will create a new invincible army of undead to march all over the world that will put everything under our control! Not even that foolish Magax will be able to destroy THAT army! Once we are done, it's only a matter of time before we finally show that upstart Frank Sloth what real villains are capable of!"
Waving his hand in the air, the amulet slowly levitated up from the water's surface as it headed straight for them. The mutant could only look at them in frustration.
Fauna meanwhile, tended to the altered Altador and Jerdana. “My Liege! Jerdana! Please get up! We must find a way to defeat them or it will spend the end of Neopia!” she pleaded.
The Lupe slowly got to his knees as he pulled out from behind his tattered cape a bow and a single arrow. “By the spirit of hunters before me, give me the strength to do one last deed. Let my arrow fly true...” he said in a raspy voice.
As he tried hard to stay focused, the mutant Lupe managed to lock his sights on the amulet slowly floating up towards the evil Neopets. With his last ounce of strength, Altador shot the arrow from his bow and passed out.
The arrow flew through the air and hit the amulet straight on. The impact was more than enough to break the magic hold on it and it fell into the murky waters of the Fountain.
“NOO! Curse that Lupe!” Hubrid roared. He looked at his companions. “Ok, who wants to volunteer and retrieve it?”
“Forget it, Nox! I’m not going to be transformed because your spell was easily broken by a mere arrow! You go, Vira! You wanted the amulet to change the water so it’s your duty to retrieve it!” Morguss yelled.
“You’re both crazy! I am already beautiful! I don’t want to be changed just because you’re all a bunch of scaredy-Kadoaties! If you want your wishes granted, then YOU go get it!” Vira snapped back as all three began to argue with each other.
Telzleh looked at the fighting villains and then at the transformed trio behind her as Fauna hopelessly sat between them. Her resolve was hardening every second. It was time to redeem herself at last. She didn’t care what happened to her whatsoever. With the memories of all those she helped fresh in her mind, she closed her eyes and dived into the Fountain.
"What audacity!" Hubrid exclaimed as they stopped arguing and saw what happened. "Audacious but foolish! She'll be an even more horrendous creature once she gets back up."
"And we'll be ready to grab that amulet once she does! Watching her become an uglier Neopet is something I's like to see," the cursed Acara said with anticipation.
"What a shame. I should have brought Mouldy Cheese sandwiches for us to snack on while we wait..." the Mortog crone said with sadness.
“Good luck, young one. The fate of our world rests in you...” Fauna whispered as she sternly looked on.
Within the depths of the Rainbow Fountain, Telzleh felt her body mutate even further under the effect of the contaminated water. She looked down and saw the amulet just below her. She immediately snatched it in her hands as they transformed further into grotesque limbs. As she lay there, she wished there was something she could do to save everyone she knew and cared for.
"I wish to say I'm sorry all of you... I really made a mess of things..." Telzleh thought in her mind.
"Please, Miss Telzleh, 'ave faith in yourself! You can beat those blighters, you can!"
Telzleh gasped. Did she hear the voice of Thackery just that moment?
"Thackery? Is that you? Where are you?!" Telzleh said mentally.
"About time you hear us! What’s the matter? Your blind ambition made you deaf to us?" a familiar female’s brash voice then rang in her mind.
Telzleh gasped once more. That was Zuxie!
Telzleh looked down and saw the amulet's six stones she charged with the souls of those she helped flickering. What was happening?
"Zuxie? Is that you? Are you... in the amulet?" Telzleh asked psychically.
"We're all here, Miss Telzleh. Every last one of us," said the melodious voice of a familiar Kougra opera diva.
"Nairu?! But how can I hear you all now? Why couldn't I hear you before?" Telzleh asked again.
"Well, our souls were always here inside the amulet after they were absorbed. We tried to contact you, but it seems that the spell Hubrid Nox used to protect the amulet from outside forced also prevented us from speaking to you like we do now," Rubie's voice explained.
"Listen here, Telzleh. Despite what you may think, we were always aware of everything you experienced as we were locked up in this prison of metal. We all also heard the confession from that dastardly threesome. To think we were all manipulated to be the ones you were to collect our souls for! Dear old Roody would have never allowed it!" Roonda's voice said with slight anger.
“At first we were all angry and thought you tricked us to satisfy your mad wish to become normal again. After seeing Nox, Morguss and Vira though, we all began to feel sorry for you. You were simply wishing to be normal again,” Rooger lamented.
"To think they were responsible for causing deception in my two daughters. I am ashamed to call myself a father. Xiggi, Zuxie, forgive your father for being such a fool..." Zoriaz's voice moaned sadly.
"Now more than ever I wished I actually paid attention to my brother. Ranell, I am so sorry for ever thinking that way about you," the fire Korbat's voice said with a sigh.
"Brother, this is not the time to rue past actions. We are here now to help Miss Telzleh!" the starry Zafara farmer's voice chided.
"Miss Telzleh. You may think things are done for, but one thing we all learned as we stayed within the confines of the amulet was that the magic works both ways," said Xiggi's voice.
"Wait. The magic works both ways? How? Where did you find this?" Telzleh asked in confusion.
"My dear, the book Morguss mentioned she read. I have it too. In fact, it was the same book I was reading when you first appeared in my room," Humphra’s voice said. “It’s true. King Khaldun was a mighty leader, but the amulet was his downfall. They never specified how he got his hands on it but what was known was the fact that it needed the power of souls absorbed through moments of great emotional bliss to grant wishes. Khaldun tricked his sacrifices by satisfying their fondest desires and then absorbing their souls soon after. The foolish Gnorbu’s wish was to build an invincible army so he could then have all of Neopia under his rule...”
"Please, Grandfather. Tell her quickly. She doesn't have much time left before she drowns!" the striped Wocky girl's voice interrupted.
“Yes, quite right. Sorry, my dear,” Humphra apologized. “Well, before he was set to make his wish, one of his generals, noble at heart and actually one of King Altador’s ancestors, grabbed the amulet and made his own wish: Stop his king from making his ambitious wish and to obliterate the kingdom for his foolishness. It did so and the kingdom was indeed destroyed and buried in an earthquake which formed the mountain range separating Altador and the Lost Desert. The general was the sole survivor and went on to live his life in peace. The amulet itself was thought lost until apparently this vile trio found it.”
The continously-mutating Usul then deduced, "So what you're saying is..."
"To put things right, you must do something the amulet hasn’t granted since its resurface. You now hold it in your hands. It is up to you,” Humphra's voice concluded.
Telzleh closed her eyes once more as she then heard the voice of everyone cheer her on.
"You can do it, Miss Telzleh! I 'ave faith in ye, I do!" said Thackery.
"Open your heart. Release all the anguish you had in and let purity once again surround you!" said Humphra.
"Show us your kindness. Show us everything you stood up for!" said Rubie.
"Let those three jerks see your inner power, Telzleh! Make them sorry they messed with all of us!” said Zuxie.
"Devotion to your cause was your original drive. Show that devotion once more," said Xiggi.
"We will all stand beside you in spirit, Miss Telzleh. That is a Boggbroxx promise!" said Zoriaz.
"My singing is but a trifle compared to your courageous spirit, Miss Telzleh. Let its power reach up towards the sky and beyond!” said Nairu.
“Rooderick will frown upon you if you let his dearly beloved and his son down! I’m cheering you on, youngster! Rooger, do the same!” said Roonda.
“Yes, Mother. Telzleh, as I said to you before, we all make choices. It is only those who carry on after the choice they made turn sour who will succeed. Prove to those three you have the ability to come through!” said Rooger.
"Turmy is like a Mootix in size comparison to your heart and soul, Miss Telzleh. You have all our support!" said Ranell.
"It was my nature to be bitter and self-loathing. Do not let them cloud your mind any longer!" said Anselm.
"YOU CAN DO IT, TELZLEH!" all of them said at the same time.
The Usul would cry if she could and nodded. Clutching the amulet deep in her ever-mutating hands, she finally shouted, "Amulet, hear my plea! Make everything the way it was before this entire fiasco began! Let those whose souls were used to empower you be free! Purify this beautiful fountain to its former glory! I don’t care what happens to me, but please make everyone I care about happy. This I wish!”
At that last moment, Telzleh finally began to expire as the water finally penetrated her lungs. Letting go of the amulet, she saw as it soon sank to the bottom of the fountain. Just as it did, the amulet began to glow with the intensity of a million Ultranovas.
Back at the surface, Hubrid, Morguss, and Vira were waiting for Telzleh or the amulet to come back up as Fauna kept her eyes closed and hands together in prayer surrounded by the mutated Neopets and Fountain Faerie.
"She's been down there a long time now. Shouldn't the amulet or her body be already floating up by now?" the curse Acara mused as she tapped her foot in mid-air.
"Give it time. Nothing can survive that long in that corroded water," Morguss said with an evil chuckle.
Hubrid's eyebrow arched as he suddenly saw a bright spot forming deep under the water. "What in the name of..."
Before he could finish, a column of bright light burst out of the water and blinded the trio as they shielded their eyes. Fauna opened her eyes and gasped as she witnessed the miracle.
When the column vanished, they opened their eyes only to stand them dumfounded. The fountain was back to its original multi-colored state! The water, once contaminated and cursed, was now beautiful and clean once more. They then looked to the side and saw the Fountain Faerie, Altador and Jerdana slowly returning to their original forms.
"Curses! What happened? Where's the amulet?" Hubrid roared loudly.
The Moehog witch pointed her finger at the fountain's surface. "Look! There it is!"
They saw the amulet hovering a few inches above the water surface, just like the way they placed it before Telzleh jumped to grab it. However, the amulet looked different as it shone with a powerful light.
"Finally! Let's grab it before anyone else finds it!" Vira said as she flew straight towards it.
"Wait! Stop! Don't touch it!" the evil Chia warned with futility as she approached the amulet.
As soon as Vira placed her hand on the amulet, she yelled in excruciating pain and dropped the amulet into the water. The cursed Acara held her hand as she winced. "What happened with that thing? Why did it burn me when I grabbed it?!" she screeched.
Morguss grumbled angrily. "It's ruined, that's why! It has been purified with energy for good. If we try and touch it, it would burn our hands off!"
Hubrid scowled at that. "What? You mean all those months as we helped that girl collect the souls was for nothing?! Blast it all!"
Morguss nodded. "We can't stay here any longer. We'll attract the attention of that horrible Queen and we can't be here when she does."
Hubrid's body shook in fury as his red eyes burned with hatred. "I swear. We will bring this planet to its knees soon enough!"
With that vow, Hubrid Nox vanished in a puff of black smoke. Morguss looked back at the purified amulet and scrunched her nose in disgust. “There is more than one way to get my revenge on that fat Skeith and those stupid denizens of Darigan. They will rue the day they messed with Morguss!” She then waved her hands in the air and vanished in a flash of black light.
Vira still looked down as she held her injured hand. “The so-called beautiful Neopets can keep their stupid Fountain for now. I’ll go have some fun with gullible souls for a while. I’ll be back soon and I will prove I am the most beautiful once and for all!” With those words, she spread her wings out and flew off.
Fauna meanwhile tried to revive her allies and soon the Lupe and Aisha opened their eyes.
“King Altador! Jerdana! You are back to normal! Thank Fyora you are finally safe,” the kindly Acara said as she helped them stand up
“Oh... My poor head. I should have been more careful. I shudder to imagine living the rest of my life with an extra pair of mouths hanging from the top of my head...” Jerdana moaned.
“We have reverted to our rightful forms and the fountain has also been cleansed of all its contamination. The magic has been reversed and the planet is safe once more,” Altador said, only to see the still unconscious form of the Fountain Faerie. “Jerdana, please help her return to the water.”
The Aisha nodded and waved her hands as a magical aura surrounded the comatose of the Fountain Faerie, carrying her up in the air and then setting her down gently on the water. Within seconds, she finally woke up.
“What a nightmare...” she murmured as she stretched her arms out. “I dreamt I was turned into a hideous creature and that the Fountain was corroded by dark energy. I’m glad to see my dream was not true.”
Altador walked up to the water’s edge and got down on one knee. “No. It really did happen. However, the magic was broken through the assistance of a brave and courageous girl who saved us all from the grip of evil. Come to think of it, where is she?”
Fauna gasped loudly causing everyone to face her. She pointed out at something in the water. “Look! There she is!”
In the direction Fauna pointed at, they all saw a small form floating on the water's surface along with a pendant placed on top of it. Without a second to lose, the Fountain Faerie swam over to retrieve them.
Fyora looked out her window and a smile of relief appeared on her face. The impending disaster was somehow averted.
Suddenly, the doors burst open and a faerie guard flew in. "Your Majesty! It's a miracle! The cursed ones! They have revived!"
Fyora looked back and quickly flew out of her throne room and out to the hallway where she had placed all the cursed victims of the amulet’s power. The sight that met her eyes made her feel happier. All the Neopets that were once petrified were now cured again as they were up and about.
"Blimey, can't wait to get back 'ome and tell all my friends about this. They'll be so jealous, they will!" Thackery said as she sat at the edge of the pedestal he was placed on.
Humphra and Rubie embraced each other in a long hug. "Grandfather, you were wonderful. If it wasn't for you who told Miss Telzleh about the cure for the amulet's energy, we could have all been lost. I'm proud of you," Rubie said happily.
The Wocky elder merely smiled back. "No, I'm proud of you, my dear girl. You made this old man happy once more."
"Daddy! Sis! I'm so happy we're back to normal!" Xiggi said as she hugged both her father and new sister tightly.
"I am too, dearest. Though I am a bit worried if my staff didn't take over the company while I was out of action..." Zoriaz said.
"Aw, man! I bet my landlord already threw out all my stuff since I was behind with the rent! My entire Gruundo CD collection is gone..." Zuxie muttered.
Zoriaz smiled and hugged his new daughter. “Not to worry, my dear. For your next birthday, I’ll invite them to play at our complex!” At that, Zuxie’s eyes lit up and hugged him back just as hard.
Nairu sighed as she saw she was herself once more. “This is an experience that I would have never imagined in my life. I shall use it as a basis for my next story and possibly opera...” she said as she sang a small aria.
Roonda smacked the back of Rooger’s head. “You rascal! You didn’t bring my cane along! Now how will I walk back to our house?”
Rooger looked around in worry. “Well... um... Mother, I... I guess I can carry you in my arms if you want...”
The orange Blumaroo matron just smiled and hugged him to his surprise. “Don’t worry, son. I shall be all right. As long as you are here, this old Blumaroo can endure anything.” Her speckled son slowly smiled as well and returned the hug.
"So, Brother. I've been thinking. What will we do with that Unguberry I grew with the crystal? It'll spoil soon if I don't find a use for it," Anselm wondered as he rubbed his chin.
Ranell responded by placing his arm around his Korbat brother's shoulder. "Well, Brother, there's this certain Turmac who'd love a second helping..."
Anselm looked back with a mock grin. "You wish!"
Fyora simply saw the happy reunions take place and sighed once more. All was well once more in Neopia. Suddenly, the front doors opened as Altador, Jerdana, and Fauna appeared. The regal Lupe held a small form covered by his cape in his arms. The amulet was placed above the bundle. All the Neopets present stopped what they were doing as they saw them walk up to Fyora and bow in her presence.
Fyora looked down at the bundle and the amulet. “Are those...” she began to ask.
Altador nodded. “The amulet responsible for all the destruction of Khaldun’s domain and which nearly destroyed us all, and the girl who was tricked into recharging it but who also saved us all.”
Fyora immediately took them both and held the small form still hidden within the cape. The group of Neopets who souls were used for its recharge then ran up to her, worried.
“Please don’t be mad at her, your Highness. She was only a victim just like we all were. Don’t punish her,” Rubie pleaded.
“Yeah, your Queenship. She has gone through enough pain and suffering already! Leave her alone, will you?” Zuxie protested only for Zoriaz to hold her back.
Fyora placed the amulet around her arm as she used her free hand to slowly lift the hood of the cloak the figure held. Her eyes opened a bit in surprise before gazing at the pets huddled around her.
"Was this the girl who supposedly held the amulet and was responsible for the recent calamity?" Fyora asked them.
"Miss Queen Faerie Fyora, Ma'am? Will Miss Telzleh be well?" Thackery asked innocently.
"See for yourselves." She then placed Telzleh's form on the floor of the hall and with one swift move, completely removed the cape. Everyone present could only stare in awe and disbelief.
In front of their eyes was a beautiful Rainbow Usul, not a mutant. Her fur was a creamy yellow and the mane surrounding her neck was a splendorous multicolor hue. Her hair was tied with beautiful purple bands and she had a large multi-colored bow tied to the base of her long soft furry tail. Her lovely two eyes were still closed and everyone could hear her take short breaths from her little pink nose. Suddenly she began to sir and moan as her eyes fluttered open, revealing a bright blue gaze.
"Everybody... am I... alive?" she said only to gasp. "My voice! It's no longer hoarse and raspy!"
She then brought her paws to her face and started to touch everything. "My face! My paws! My body! What happened?"
She then got up as everyone took a step back and allowed Telzleh to run towards a large mirror on the wall of the hallway. The new Usul could only stare back at her reflection in silence. Slowly and surely she shook her head. A small tear started to form in her eyes as she turned around and saw everyone there, looking at her. Little by little, they all started to clap until it became a long ovation of applause.
Telzleh smiled as she ran over to everyone and started hugging them all. "Everyone! Look at me! I'm not a mutant anymore! I'm so happy!" She then stopped for a moment and looked at her paws once more. "But why wasn't I turned into an Acara again?"
Fyora walked up to her and knelt to be at her level. "Little one. Your pursuit to return to your old self was the catalyst evil needed to manipulate you. The travels you accomplished showed you many valuable lessons. The amulet itself finally blessed your sacrifice by giving you this new form. Cherish it, for it will be the form you shall remain with forever."
Telzleh nodded. "Your Highness, what will you do with the amulet? We can't let it ever get in the hands of evil like Hubrid Nox and his allies again."
Fyora thought for a second and finally answered, "King Altador. This amulet was long the bane of your lineage. Burying it under a mountain was ineffective. I believe you know what you must do before it is too late.”
The regal Lupe nodded once as he brandished his sword. “My ancestor didn’t do this, for he thought the amulet would have never been found again. No more shall I assume that. I am ready.”
Fyora then tossed the amulet in the air and Altador took an enormous leap. With one powerful strike from his blade, the amulet exploded into many tiny pieces that fell harmlessly to the floor. Fyora then waved her hands as she magically picked up the pieces and flung them out through an open window.
“I have sent the pieces of that accursed amulet where nobody shall find again. Its power shall never be abused again,” Fyora explained as the three Altadorian heroes finally showed relief.
The new rainbow Usul looked at the group of eleven Neopets she had met during her journey and whose souls she was tricked into absorbing. Her smile faded as she looked down at her feet in sadness. “Everyone, I’m really sorry I made you go through all of this. If only I wasn’t so blind in my pursuit of the dream I wanted, I would have never done it in the first place.”
Altador walked up to her and said, “Telzleh. Do not be angry at yourself. You did what you did. Besides, if you weren’t there for Nox and his cohorts to trick, they would have found one more gullible to carry out their deed. You, on the other hand, were courageous, intelligent, and kind. You have a pure heart that can never be corroded by evil.”
Jerdana added, “Hubrid claimed he helped you but more often than not, it was your own spirit which saved you. You must never forget it. Live on, my child.”
Fauna finally said, “Ever since we met in Shenkuu, I realized the special gift you were given. We will never forget your kind deed. Your name shall be forever remembered by all of us. We thank you.” With that, the Heroes of Altador saluted her. Telzleh blushed seeing this.
She then turned back to the friends she formed and was ready to speak.
“Like they said, Miss Telzleh, you ‘ave no reason to apologize to us. We too were puppets in their horrible game too, we were,” Thackery said brightly.
“Besides, during our stay inside the amulet, we eleven began to relate to one another more like one giant family. The amulet may have had another good side effect. It brought all of us, Neopets from all different regions and paths of life, together,” Rubie explained.
“For example, I plan to donate my books to create a fund to help those who were left poor by Vira’s evil fairground scam and even use some proceeds to place both young Thackery and my darling Rubie to the best academy in Neopia. Of course, my personal stash shall remain with me,” Humphra said with a light chuckle.
“Boggbroxx Securities will also donate funds to help with the effort to help rebuild Roo Island. Also, I will be talking with Master Coopley, Ranell and Anselm’s father, so we can discuss the offer of promoting Tennyson Bounty Farm goods and petpets in Kreludor. In return, we will share our own native crops and petpets for them to raise. I’m sure they will do wonders!” Zoriaz proclaimed.
“Yeah, finally I’ll show everyone what my green thumb is capable of! Plus, I will send some of my finest berries and produce to Lady Roonda. From what she told me, she makes the tastiest desserts and dishes that even Mama would be jealous of!” Anselm replied as Ranell patted his shoulder in pride.
“And Zoriaz here will send that little rascal Zuxie to our house so I can make her a proper young Grundo! That cheeky youngster will learn some manners, starting with that wardrobe of hers!” Rooann proclaimed causing the orange Grundo to whimper in fear, much to Rooger’s amusement.
Nairu added, “Both Boggbroxx Securities and the Tennyson Bounty Farm also agreed to help sponsor the Opera House. Everyone in Shenkuu will be thrilled to know they will still be able to perform. Becoming an impresario, writer and singer will be hard for me, but as long as I make Neopets happy, I will endure.”
“Lady Nairu also said we will all have admissions to all their productions from now on. I’m so happy! I always wanted to see an Opera for myself!” Xiggi replied excitedly.
Telzleh felt really happy seeing everyone she met socialize and bring together like this. She was truly glad she did all this now. She finally looked up at Fyora as the Faerie Queen looked back inquisitively.
“Your Highness. I only have one final request that I hope you can grant for me and all my new friends,” she said as everyone stopped talking and faced her.
She then turned to the multitude of people whose hearts she had touched and smiled. “I want to go home now. It’s time I go back.” She then hugged each and every single one present before returning to Fyora.
“It’s time we all went back...”
A knock came to the door and Cassolari went up to answer it. A rainbow Usul stood there waving at her with a bright smile.
"Hello there, Miss. Are you looking for someone?" the yellow Xweetok asked her warmly.
The Usul kept smiling. "Cass. It's me, Telzleh!"
Cassolari's eyes opened up as big as saucers and her mouth hung open. "Telz?! Telz, is that you?!" She then shouted towards the inside of the house, "Pash! Zanzi! Come quick! Telzleh's come back!"
The royal Cybunny hopped towards the entrance and she placed her paw over her mouth. "Sister Telzleh! Thou hast finally returned! And... prithee... Wherefore didst thy acquire thine new appearance?!"
Zanzibar flew like a rocket towards the door and inspected Telzleh all over. "You're a rainbow Usul now! What happened? How did this come to pass?"
Telzleh closed her eyes and sighed, "It's a long story..."
With those words, the Usul went inside the house. She was still sad she wasn’t an Acara anymore, but the amulet left her with a reward and she would not be ungrateful towards it. It was time for her to start anew with a fresh outlook on life.
In a remote corner of the planet, a small object made of silver metal was magically being removed from the ground and held high in the air. The small black stone in it was still intact. In front of the amulet piece were three mysterious robed figures who radiated with spectral power.
“It appears Khaldun was not fit for our power after all,” the Faerie said solemnly.
“Not only did he fail, but so did those so-called villains. Such a shame,” the Gelert responded.
“This amulet was not our only tool. Soon others shall resurface. All we can do is watch and wait...” the Skeith concluded as an outline of a skull emitted from its face.
With those words, the Three disappeared into the darkness from where they materialized.