A Quest For Art: Part Four
Arca had put all of her energy into the thrust, and she was rewarded. The door had opened!
When she saw the door budge slightly, Arca yelled in excitement. “It moved, it moved!” Brynt glanced in her direction, and saw the cause of the excitement. He yelled into the house for all the other Poogles to come out, and then rushed over to help Arca, yelling, “You did it, you really did it!”
But apparently, help wasn’t needed. With no help from either of the Poogles, the door was swinging open on its own! Arca stood back and watched, amazed. When it opened, it revealed who had really been pushing it.
Leah, the pink Aisha from storytelling, stood there, looking sternly at Arca.
Arca stopped where she stood, and Brynt quickly arrived behind her.
“Who are you?” he asked curiously.
“My name’s Leah,” she said in a polite voice. “I work in the Art Centre. May I talk to Arca for a moment?”
Brynt only gaped at this, so the Aisha took that as a yes. “I told you not to come,” she said. “Why do none of you stubborn Poogles trust me?”
“Can we talk about this after you get us out of here?” said Arca. “I need to go find Lynsk. He might be in trouble.”
At this, Leah jumped in surprise. “He’s still up there? That’s impossible! He should have been taken down here by now!”
“What do you mean?” Brynt said as if interrogating the Aisha. Apparently, he had regained his speech. “How do you know so much about the caverns?”
“All of the shopkeepers of the caverns know their way around in here. Me included. Now, let’s go find Lynsk.”
Brynt just stood there. His speech had disappeared again, as quickly as it had come.
Arca scrutinized Leah’s face. Whenever she mentioned Lynsk’s name, she reacted strangely. “Do you know who he really is?” she asked, but Leah just turned.
“Brynt, keep the door open for the rest of them, and when they get here, just keep going straight. Don’t take any turns.” Brynt nodded, and took up his duty. Arca and Leah ran off into the caverns, but this time, the passage was well lit.
“So can you find him?” asked Arca urgently, but the Aisha just kept running, making so many turns and twists Arca would have gotten lost without her. “We have to hurry, or he may find the treasure.”
At this, the Poogle stopped, and glared questioningly at Leah. “Want to explain that to me?” she said.
“No time,” Leah said. “Follow me.” And the Neopet turned down another passage. Arca ran to keep up.
“We’ll cut him off down here. He should be there in a few minutes,” she said, and started to slow. They had arrived at the intersection of five different tunnels, and the roof of the cave towered above their head.
The two Neopets sat there, not speaking, until they heard footsteps echoing from down one of the passages. Soon, Lynsk came into sight, looking dazed. His black form blended into the background, but Arca spotted him, and yelled out his name.
Lynsk looked up. He had heard someone calling his name. No, he had heard Arca calling his name! He spotted them, and rushed forward.
“Arca, you’re all right!” he said happily. He slowed down just as he reached them, then looked at Leah. “You finally decided to come,” he said. “For her.” At this, Arca saw Leah’s head drop in shame.
“You know I couldn’t help you, Regyl. You can’t find the treasure. I won’t let you.”
“Regyl?” said Arca incredulously. “That’s your name?”
Lynsk nodded. “I changed my name from Regyl to Lynsk when Targ and Flyra forced me to help them. But I could’ve stopped this from happening long before now if Leah would’ve just shown me where it was to begin with. She has known where it’s been ever since she became a storytelling leader.”
“You two know each other?” she asked.
“Let me explain,” Leah said, and Arca turned to stare at her. “If you find the treasure, the greatest piece of art in Neopia, you sacrifice your life to become a part of it. That’s why it’s the greatest. It’s alive with the lives of Neopets.”
Arca couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “Then why does Lynsk, I mean, Regyl, want to find it?” But Arca knew the answer, even if she didn’t want to accept it.
“I don’t have a home. I didn’t even have a family. If Leah hadn’t saved me from these tunnels the first time, I wouldn’t have been missed by anyone. That’s why.”
Arca watched him closely, looking for any signs of regret in her newfound friend, but sadly, there were none. “Okay, then let’s go to it,” said Arca, making up her mind.
At this, both the others’ heads popped up, Lynsk’s in joy, Leah’s in surprise.
“Are you sure?” asked Leah. “You do realize if you accidentally put even one foot in the room you may never see your father again.”
Arca looked firmly at Leah, her jaw clenched in determination. “If he wants to do something, then his friends should support him, or at least not hinder him from trying.”
Leah sighed. She couldn’t argue with this reasoning. Without saying a word, she turned and walked down one of the tunnels to their right.
As Arca and Lynsk (formerly known as Regyl) followed her, he mouthed the words ‘thank you’ to Arca. She smiled in response, but didn’t say anything. She didn’t want him to go, and she still thought it was strange that Lynsk resented the very person who saved him earlier in life.
After a few minutes, Leah stopped, and said, “We’re here,” in a tone that let Arca know she didn’t approve of this in any way whatsoever.
Lynsk turned to the door, then turned to Leah. “Thank you,” he started. “For saving me the first time, and letting me make my own choice.” Then he turned to Arca. “Goodbye,” was all he said. Then he turned back to the door, and pushed it open.
Leah turned her head away, but Arca couldn’t help but watch. The moment Lynsk stepped inside, he started to shrink. About half his original size, he started to fade, and finally, all that was left of him was a picture on the wall.
Then the most amazing thing happened. The shadow Poogle’s picture blinked, stood up straight, and turned to wave at Arca. All around him, other Neopets and even a few faeries, pointed and looked at the Aisha and the Poogle outside. Arca felt like they were on display.
Homes were painted behind them, beautiful Neohomes with amazing gardens, and the characters walked in and out of them as if they were real. Pieces of all the worlds of Neopia were there. There were houses from Tyrannia, shops from Neopia Central, and above it all, at the very top, pieces of Faerieland.
Arca smiled, tears in her eyes, as she watched Lynsk run to visit ships from Krawk and Mystery Island, trees and games from the Haunted Woods and Roo Island, and pyramids from the Lost Desert. She stood there quietly, not saying anything to Leah, and overwhelmed with joy for Lynsk. He finally ran to the Altador Coliseum, and the colors started to become a blur through the tears, so Arca turned back to Leah, and wiped them away.
Leah led her back through the maze of rock, Arca not even paying attention to where they were going, and they quickly arrived back at the Art Centre. All around, Poogles were dashing for the exits to visit family, or buying something from the Coffee Shop. A few even went to the Neopian Times to read the stories. Arca couldn’t decide who was happier, Lynsk or the Poogles who were finally free.
Before everything was back to normal, Arca had to do a few things first. She looked Leah straight in the eye, and said, "Thank you." The startled Neopet's eyes widened in confusion, but Arca kept talking. "For helping with Lynsk, and for being my friend. Friends and family aren't to be cast aside, and that's exactly the mistake I made. I ignored your warning, and you came to save us anyways."
Leah smiled in her comforting manner, and simply replied, "You're welcome." Finally, Arca focused on their surroundings.
At the Art Gallery, Arca caught a glimpse of Brynt and Hyra looking at all the new pieces that had been created while they were gone. She grinned when they started to criticize the artists, even though they’d been gone for who knows how long.
Off to the right, where she had originally entered, Judge Hog and the Defenders led Targ and Flyra off, to punish them for their misdeeds. The Meerca fought to escape, but Flyra just walked willingly, as if she'd given up hope long ago. Arca hoped they got a long sentence for all the pain they caused the Poogles and their families.
Wherever she looked, Arca couldn’t tear her gaze away from all the reunions, but then Leah turned to the Poogle expectantly. “Shouldn’t you go see your dad?” she said kindly. Arca gasped. She had completely forgotten!
“Thank you so much!” she said. “I promise I’ll come back.” Leah looked at her as if she had had this very thing happen to her before. Arca turned away and started to run.
But before she could go and see her dad, there was one more thing the Poogle had to do. She grabbed all of her Neopoints, and ran to the Wishing Well.
“I wish the art will be a better family to Lynsk than any Neopian ever was,” she said, and threw all of her Neopoints in.
Back in the Art Centre, a mysterious door faded into the wall, chuckling at what had just happened inside it. It decided that, if nothing else, a tribute should be made to the young Neopets before it disappeared. After all, they had been the best entertainment in years.
The brave overcame.
United they succeeded.
Choices made themselves.
The old magic cavern gave one last laugh, then disappeared completely... at least for a few years.