The Adventures of Jake the Explorer!: Part Eight
Jerdana's Orb! Flying Scorchios! By the wand of Fyora! Holy Kau! Bouncing Blumaroos! That's right, you are reading the very last chapter of 'The Adventures of Jake the Explorer'! But don't cry; this is the best one yet! Okay, probably not, but it's still a grand adventure; so hold onto your chair and read on!
"I can't believe some pink Aisha solved the mystery of the missing Princess Lunara!" I threw a newspaper - the Shenkuu Bulletin - on the floor. Sigh... "Oh well, now I have plenty of time to explore this place before I get a ship back to Mystery Island."
I stood at the ledge of a cliff and looked out at the mile-high city of Shenkuu. The mist was clearing and I could catch glimpses of fantastic buildings in a style I've never seen except for in pictures. The real thing was much more ethereal. Much more BEAUTIFUL. "First I've got to get some information on the kinds of legends here that involve treasure." I gobbled a paw-full of Islandberries. Ah... their sweet taste melted down my throat - and my face. It's been such a long time since I've had some; Kelland the Thief was kind enough to get me a sack as a farewell present. "Mmm, so good."
Okay! I'm ready for anything.
I walked through a gold gate and into Shenkuu. Since the stores and houses were built on the tops of vertical mountains, suspension bridges were used to get to them. "That big temple to my right looks promising. I think I'll try that place first..."
A yellow Shoyru welcomed me as I entered a store selling Battledome weapons: curved swords, lovely-but-deadly fans, razor-sharp stars, and fancy staffs.
"Ah, welcome to Kentari's Wondrous Weaponry. What can I get for you? Ah, you wear a whip, may I interest you in this - "
"Legends," I said. The Shoyru was trying to sell me a weapon I had no need for, so it was best to get to the point. "I'm here to hear what Shenkuu's fireside tales are and whether they may be true."
"Oh. Is that all? Why don't you try Princess Lunara? She's such a good storyteller she faked her own kidnapping. Or Bonju the Chef. He claims his 'magical bowl' changes the everyday item into something extraordinary, but so far his claims have fell through the mists." The poor Shoyru seemed put out.
"I want a story that is real, not fake," I said.
"If you buy something, I MIGHT have a tale for you," the Shoyru said.
You 'might', huh?
I glanced around, looking for something cheap. It was always nice to bring home a souvenir. I could get the Black Fan... No, maybe this Pocket Feather.
"Ah, smart choice," the Shoyru said. "It's the secret weapon of warriors, this tickling feather is very dangerous. Now for your story: 'The Shadows of Charity'. It deals with a man coming home from a battle. He had been traveling for days and his strength was slowly being drained. He felt like he'd never get home to his waiting wife and kids. Then one night IT came: a being of legends older than time itself. Its gold horn glistened in the moonlight, and its mane floated around him like a cloud. The man gasped, 'A Quilin!' Such a petpet was known to have magical powers, and they used those to grant one wish to the deserving.
"The Quilin had come to help the man, of course, for his aid in the battle helped save many lives; and now he was on the verge of losing his own. The man was too weak to get up, though, or even speak to the Quilin. Yet, as he stared into the kind eyes of the Quilin, suddenly a peaceful sleep overcame him. When he woke, it was morning and he was feeling as strong as ever; the Quilin was gone but in its place was a fantastic meal fit for the Emperor. And as the morning mist melted away, the man saw Shenkuu just beyond his cave. He had reached home.
"Many have said they've seen the fabled Quilin appear by the cave that the man took rest in, but it would vanish before they got close to it. If you catch it it's supposed to grant you a wish - but only if you are of a noble heart.
"Was that good enough for you?"
I nodded. "Yes. I'm intrigued. Where is this cave?"
"You have to leave Shenkuu; it's about a mile from the main gate, to the left as you leave. Good luck."
"Thank you." With his bargaining skills, he must be the shop owner himself: Kentari.
So, another adventure brought on by a petpet, huh?
Outside the City of Mists I saw a path winding around the mountain range that overlooked all of Shenkuu. It had been used often, probably by those hoping to receive a blessing from the fabled Quilin.
I set off.
"What a wonderful view... I almost believe I WILL see the Quilin in the legends."
I turned towards the sound, it was like someone stepping on a branch stick. Hmm, nothing and no one.
I was going to keep my guard up, however. I could sense someone following me, and they didn't want me to know.
As I trudged on the day started to get hot. I sipped some water.
I heard the call of a Tomamu in the distance.
"I'm sure I'm almost there." And surely enough, when I rounded a large rock, there the cave was; a sign posted with the words: Taban's Cave. Taban must have been the warrior in Kentari's tale.
I put my head inside. There was nothing extraordinary about it. I went into the cool grotto and saw pictures on the walls; brushed on with the lightest of touch. There was the Quilin, floating down to a man (a Krawk), on a cloud. Another picture showed the same petpet living in a mythical land in the sky, of towers, temples, and pink blossoming trees. Kazerius and Hegelobs flew through the air above.
SCRAPE. What was that noise? A foot sliding over rocks and dirt?
"So what are you looking for?"
I turned to see a green, female Gnorbu - hands on hips - standing at the entrance to the cave. She wore men's attire: a tunic and pants; though her hair was done up in buns adorned with decorative chopsticks.
"You," I said. "You're the Emperor's youngest daughter; the one who wishes to be a Warrior for Shenkuu."
"That's right, you can call me Latana. Now, what are you doing here? I came looking for the Moon Sword when I saw you. You are not seriously looking for the fabled Quilin, are you? Only those worthy - one who has done a great deed for Shenkuu - will meet it.
"Have you done such a thing?"
"No; curiosity is what truly drew me here," I said. "Do you know who painted these pictures?"
The Shenkuu Princess entered the cave and touched the pictures. "Those who saw the Quilin of Legends did, to pay homage to him; to THANK him."
There was a sudden commotion outside.
"Ha! Ha! Hey, Meika, you can't catch me!" A Gelert came jumping down, his practice staff hitting the cave entrance. Some rocks fell on our heads.
"Hey! Watch it out there!" Latana yelled. "This is sacred ground!"
An Aisha jumped down now. "Haji! Get back here!" she called after the Gelert. "I'm going to catch you for sure!" Her wooden sword scrapped against the inside of the cave. Even more rocks fell.
"Darn kids, have they no respect?" Latana remarked.
"They're just playing," I said.
"Humph! Playing in the mountains is no joke. Ow! See? This cavern is practically collapsing on me because of them."
"Uh... La-Latana?" I said. The girl wouldn't pay any attention to me, though. "Latana, watch out!" I rushed at the princess and pushed her out of the way of a falling stalactite.
We both stared at the mess of rock on the floor.
"That... could have been me," Latana said, dazed. "You saved me. Oh! And I don't even know your name."
"It's Jake." I helped the Shenkuu Princess up. "Jake the Explorer."
The Gnorbu laughed. "Well, thank you, Jake the Explorer." She bowed low and long. "Since you probably won't find the Quilin, would you wish to aid me in locating the Sword of the Moon? Finding it will prove to my Father that I am ready to be a warrior!"
I was about to answer the Princess, but the world suddenly became quiet. A soft breeze brushed our faces, carrying the scent of exotic spices.
"What's going on?" Latana could only whisper.
I turned around for no reason and saw it: the Quilin.
Latana gasped. "It's really HIM..."
The Quilin stood there, staring at me. It never blinked. Then it roared. But in that sound I heard words: "Noble Kougra, you have showed your worth to me by saving Princess Latana of Shenkuu, someone whom you have just met. I know you feel like you only did what anyone would do in such a situation; yet not ANYone would.
"To save another life is the greatest of deeds. For this I shall grant you one wish. Name it."
"Ah! Oh, um... let's see here, it should be an honorable request, huh? I guess wishing for treasure is out of the question."
The Quilin roared again: "If that is what you want, then I have no objections. You seek adventure too, correct? Then listen, your journey shall start in Faerieland, though no one can tell where it will end - not even I. Search out the Keeper of Dreams."
"Is that all?" I asked. I needed more to go on than THAT.
The Quilin growled now. "That shall be all you'll need. Your bravery and smarts will guide you the rest of the way." With that the sounds of nature were restored and the Quilin suddenly vanished.
I turned to Latana, her mouth was wide open. "Did you hear that?" she asked me. I nodded yes. "So you're going to Faerieland now?"
"I guess so." I looked up at the sky, there was an unusually large cloud of pinks and purples floating above lazily.
"How are you going to get there?" inquired the Shenkuu Princess. "You'll need a flying ship, like the Cyodrake's Gaze."
I grinned. The Cyodrake's Gaze, captained by the blue Gnorbu, Tuan, was moored on a high, vertical mountain top. It was hard to see, from where I was, whether or not someone was onboard it. A long bridge went to a door set into the mountain, about two hundred feet from the ship.
"Yeah," I said. "I'll need the Cyodrake's Gaze."
"Whoa, hey, wait a minute, that wasn't a suggestion." Latana blocked my way down. "That was an example, an EXAMPLE. You can't go using the Cyodrake's Gaze; that's Captain Tuan's precious vessel. Besides, do you even KNOW how to work it?"
"Actually, I'm quite skilled at manning a ship," I said. "So, if you'll excuse me."
"Wha... hey, y-you can't. I-I'll tell my Father. Sir Jake?" the Shenkuu Princess called after me. I continued to walk away, however.
I knew she wouldn't tell the Emperor, because then he'll want to know why she was here. Training, or looking for a sword she probably wasn't supposed to?
I'll bring the Cyodrake's Gaze back safely.
"Wow, that's a long way up." I gazed up at the red and black flying ship. I stood at the start of the bridge to the mountain that was a pier to the Cyodrake's Gaze. "Come on, Jake, this will be way easier than scaling Techo Mountain."
The bridge swayed and creaked, and far below a rushing river raged. "Oh, boy." I gulped and made it across.
The door going inside was unlocked. I went in.
"It's like the inside of a lighthouse." Wooden stairs spiraled all the way up - the mountain was hollow! Well, not completely; as I made my way up I came across opened rooms and closed doors. Did the crew of the Cyodrake's Gaze live here?
I better be more careful then.
Up, up, up I went.
I abruptly heard voices half-way to the top and hid behind a convenient boulder.
"I'll be right back, Hoban." A green Scorchio came out of a room. "I'm going to go get lunch at Orrin's shop."
"Good, and don't stop at that Bonju's silly place, Shumi," a yellow Aisha said, sticking his head out, "and try to get his cauldron to work; because if you did, I definitely wouldn't want to EAT it, anyway."
"Don't worry, Hoban, I won't. Not today, anyway."
The Scorchio flew down the stairs and the Aisha went back into the room, closing the door.
Whew... Hoban, huh? Wasn't he the navigator of the Cyodrake's Gaze who was pushed overboard by one of his crewmates?
So this mountain really IS the home of the Cyodrake's Gaze crew. I better HURRY.
I stepped outside and was immediately welcomed with a slap in the face. No, not by Captain Tuan, but by WIND. I was not surprised to see the great ship anchored down by several ropes of coarse cord.
"Okay." I glanced here and there. "Nobody seems to be around; now to get up there."
There were no ladders or stairs.
There WAS a temple, however, and stretching from the topmost floor was a bridge leading right onboard the ship. All right, Faerieland here I come.
It was kind of creepy with no one around, not even a guard. I wonder where Tuan is? I began to panic at the thought of finding him on the ship, in his cabin or somewhere. But no one greeted me when my feet touched the planks of the Cyodrake's Gaze. Time to let this girl fly the skies again.
I first familiarized myself with the ship's trappings, then I went to untying the tethers.
"You're already to set sail, huh?" Princess Latana said. Once again she stood there for the world to see, hands on hips.
Wha... w-what are you doing here?" I asked.
"I'm coming with you, of course."
"You are? But what about the Moon Sword, your training, what you said earlier?"
"Oh, come on, flying on the great ship of Shenkuu to Faerieland? That's WAY more impressive than climbing a mountain. Father is BOUND to see that. Besides, if I come with you, you won't be stealing the Cyodrake's Gaze, just borrowing it."
"I see your point. Yes, I rather borrow than steal. You can be my first mate. Want to help me undo these ropes?"
"No. YOU need to be at the wheel. Once the ship is set free of the ropes, it will move like a wild beast. Let me handle it."
"Wow, you're already proving to be a good first mate. Thanks, Latana. What about the sails, too?"
"Oh! Yes, sails control the maneuverability of a ship, huh?" the Shenkuu Princess unfurled the Cyodrake wing-shaped sails, then went to work on the tethers. "They need to be done evenly or else the ship will capsize," she told me, running back and forth: first to starboard, than to port side.
"Can a flying ship capsize?" I wondered.
"It HAS happened."
"Flying Scorchios!" I cried out then.
"What!? Where!?" Latana got behind the railing.
"No, I didn't mean that literally - "
"Oh, good, because I thought you were talking about Shumi, Captain Tuan's first mate. I know that the captain is with Anshu at the moment, yet..."
"And I know that Shumi has gone to visit Exotic Foods, to get lunch for him and Hoban," I said. "What I meant to say is, well, HER."
A blue Cybunny crawled out behind some barrels and crates next to the helm; accompanied by a petpet: a purple Kazeriu!
"Lunara!" Latana exclaimed. She was very frazzled at seeing her older sister. "Wh-what are you doing here?"
"I should like to ask you the same thing, Latana," the Cybunny said. "I saw you come this way and followed. You're always getting into trouble, so I had come to watch over you - for Father's sake."
Princess Lunara definitely looked like royalty, from her mannerism to the way she dressed. Latana was a tomboy next to her sister.
"You mean, you're not going to tell me to leave and come with you?" Latana asked Lunara.
Princess Lunara shook her head. "You would find one way or another to sneak back. No, I worry about you, dear younger sister, and watching over you where I can see you is better than from a distance - simply HOPING you'll be all right.
"Now, where are we going, Sir Kougra?" Her Kazeriu twirled around her, trailing mist from its tail.
"Oh! Yes, I am Jake, by the way. We are going to Faerieland, Princess. Er... I-I'm not stealing the Cyodrake's Gaze. I needed something to get to Queen Fyora's kingdom."
"Do not worry, Jake, I will tell Captain Tuan when we get back. May I be of any assistance?"
I looked to Latana for help. It felt wrong to order the lovely Princess Lunara around.
"You can help with letting the ship free," Latana said. "Then we can work the sails at 'Captain Jake's' request." The Gnorbu winked at me.
And so the three of us: an explorer and two exotic princesses, set off.
I hoped I wouldn't be accused of kidnapping.
"I've never been to Faerieland," Latana said to me; in awe as the City of Clouds - faeries of all kinds flitting about - appeared. "It's beautiful, magical... Do you see the Hidden Tower? Where do you think it is?" She leaned dangerously over the ship railing to try and get a better view.
"Near Fyora's palace," Lunara said. "And you wouldn't be able to see it."
"I know. This is just so exciting! Look! Jhudora's Cloud! And the Wheel of Excitement. And, and I think that's the Rainbow Faerie's pool!"
"Fyora's gardens are lovely," Lunara remarked.
"We're here to seek out the Keeper of Dreams," I reminded the princesses. I anchored the Cyodrake's Gaze at the platform for such visits, and we stepped off. Faerie Eyrie guards greeted us.
"Where is Captain Tuan?" one asked.
"And shouldn't the Princesses of Shenkuu have a band of escorts?" another questioned.
"Captain Tuan gave permission for Sir Jake to use his ship, though he hasn't realized that yet," Latana said.
"We do not need escorts, for this is a very special mission we are on," Lunara said, her Kazeriu nodding.
The guards gave us funny looks - especially ME - but let us by with no more inquiries.
Stepping into the heart of Faerieland, I had never seen so many faeries in all my life. By a fountain there was a group of Water Faeries chatting about seashells; smelling the flowers and pruning the hedges were Earth Faeries; dipping and diving above us were Air Faeries; laughing in the sun while doing cartwheels were Light Faeries; and Fire Faeries were juggling spheres of fire. I began to feel out of place. There were only a handful of Neopets like myself and the princesses.
"Why do you seek this Keeper of Dreams?" Lunara asked.
"Jake is a treasure hunter," Latana said. "We met the fabled Quilin and he told Jake that the Keeper of Dreams in Faerieland was the start of his treasure hunt."
"Oh? How... silly," Lunara said. "As Father would say, Sir Jake, you are chasing after whispers. I would have wished for something of a grander importance."
YOU insisted on coming!
"Actually," Latana spoke up for me, "the Quilin didn't mind granting Jake this wish for treasure. I think the Quilin KNOWS something, even though he acted ignorant."
Princess Lunara shrugged. "I suppose the fabled Quilin knows best."
I turned to Latana. "Who do you think could be the Keeper of Dreams?"
"Queen Fyora, perhaps?"
"Hm, I don't know, wouldn't the Quilin SAY Queen Fyora instead of some title like the 'Keeper of Dreams'?" I asked.
Princess Lunara yawned.
I was planning on wandering around Faerieland looking for any leads to the Keeper of Dreams when an Acara ran up to me. She was a plain, green one, not of the Faerie kind. "You're Jake the Explorer," she said. "My friend ADORES you. I can't believe I'd meet you up here in Faerieland! This is so unexpected! Did you find all the skeletons in Mystery Island? Wait, that sounds weird. Well, anyway, by the way, I'm Chartreuse, but everyone calls me Char. It's not very pretty, is it? Do you think I'm chartreuse? I've heard it was more of a yellow than green. I don't know..." She stared at her fur.
"The color chartreuse is a bright green shade," I said. "Though it CAN be a greenish-yellow. Anyway, I'm in a hurry."
"Orpheus says you're ALWAYS in a hurry, and that you should take a break now and then," the Acara said. Orpheus? As in Orpheus Draco? I just met one of his friends in Altador, what was THAT all about? "Of course," Chartreuse went on, "he says that because he wants to talk to you, he never gets to, you know."
Well, I'm a very busy explorer; it's what I do.
"You talk too much," Latana remarked to Chartreuse. The Acara was wounded.
"Hey, Miss Chartreuse, could you help me? Do you know of a Keeper of Dreams? She - or he - lives here in Faerieland," I said.
That brought the Acara's spirits up. "Uh, let's see. Air Faeries are known for sleeping a lot, especially if thrown into a bottle. Psellia, an Air Faerie, is called The Dreamer, though, and resides in Altador. Hm, I'd say your best bet is Imiya; she's a white Aisha. See that lone cloud to the right of Fyora's castle? She lives there."
"Thank you! Come on, girls!" I beckoned Lunara and Latana to follow me.
"All right! We're getting somewhere now!" Latana was happy too at this startling news. Even Lunara seemed interested.
"Glad I could help!" Chartreuse said after us.
A red-eyed, tired-looking Imiya answered my knock at her door. "Huh? What is it?"
"Are you the Keeper of Dreams?" I asked.
Imiya blinked. "I USED to be called that; but seeing as I can't get a wink of sleep anymore..." She left off to yawn and rub her weary eyes.
"Why can't you sleep?" Latana asked.
"I keep having nightmares about math problems! It's horrible! Awake I can solve any kind you can throw at me - as long as I'm not nervous. But I'm so FRAZZLED in my dreams, and problems keep coming and coming until I can't take anymore!"
"And then you wake up?" Princess Lunara asked. "Why don't we help you? We'll test you; if you can handle us, you should be able to handle any math nightmares and conquer them."
"Really?" Imiya smiled for the first time since we met.
It was a chaotic afternoon. Princess Lunara was brutal with her mathematical questions. I couldn't keep up, yet Imiya passed with flying colors; all the hype seemed to make her concentrate harder, giving the answers quicker and easier.
"Thanks, now I can sleep peacefully without any fear for tomorrow's test," Imiya said.
"You mean you have the big test tomorrow?" Latana asked.
"I have a big test EVERY morning. My teacher, Wizard Earl, is so strict, he expects the best every day. It makes me so nervous! Do you mind if I take a little nap?" A huge yawn followed. "Thanks..." Imiya fell right into her bed and fell asleep.
"So how is she going to help us now?" Latana asked me. "And what kinds of dreams is she Keeper of? What an odd title."
“Shh, patience, little sister," Lunara said. "And look."
Above Imiya's head a bubble of cloud appeared, the mist formed a moving picture.
"Ah! Now I understand, Imiya isn't Keeper of Dreams AT NIGHT, but dreams of the HEART," I said.
"And when she dreams, a Neopet's fondest wish comes true," Lunara said.
"I see me," Latana pointed, "and you, Lunara. And there's you, Jake. What are we doing?"
The pictures of mist were a little fuzzy, but it looked like Imiya was dreaming of the ruins of an ancient palace outside the mountains of Shenkuu. And there were others there, I couldn't make them out completely but they looked familiar.
"I know where to go," I said, standing up straight. "Come on, back to Shenkuu."
"You're passing Shenkuu up," Latana told me.
"I know, where I'm going is BEYOND the mountain walls of Shenkuu," I informed her. "I don't know what I'll find there besides a ruined palace, but quests are often like that."
"I remember reading about a palace outside Shenkuu," Princess Lunara said. "A lord of some merit lived there a hundred or so years ago. One day a sorcerer knocked on the man's door and offered him a great power. The 'power' remains a mystery, but in so agreeing the man had to give his beloved daughter to the sorcerer. Without thinking the lord agreed. He regretted his rash choice right away; with his daughter gone the man became lonely, so he left his grand palace to seek the sorcerer and get his daughter back.
"The palace has not been touched since that time. Ghost stories say the lord's spirit wanders the halls and courtyards of the forsaken palace."
"And there said ruins are." I brought the Cyodrake's Gaze in low and touched ground.
"I sense a legend is about to be brought to light," Latana said; there was that pose again with her hands on her hips as she stood tall and proud - ready to take on anything. "Come on, you two. Adventure is THIS way."
We ran up to the front entrance. Decorative columns leading up to the door had mostly fallen over. One even crushed one of the stone benches set in-between the pillars. There had also once been a walk, but grass had grown through the cracks and overtook it.
"What kind of treasure could you possibly find in this place?" Lunara wondered. "A vault of money that the lord of the palace left behind?"
"If the lord left everything as it, the palace could be FULL of all kinds of various treasure," Latana said. "Right, Jake?"
I nodded. "If time hasn't taken its toll."
But time had. Everything was tarnished by dust and mold. And vandals also took their share of what the palace had to offer.
"What a beautiful palace this once had to be," awed the youngest princess.
There were marble floors, gilded stairs, and a crystal chandelier so high up that no thief could reach it. There were also empty frames where someone stole the paintings; vacant pedestals, the statues and busts taken; and broken floor tiles, where thieves had hoped to find buried treasure.
"Let's try upstairs," I suggested when we found the lower floor to be a complete mess thanks to time and thugs. Half way up, the steps began to crumble behind us and we had to sprint to get to the second floor.
"Wonderful. Now how do we get down?" Lunara asked.
"Oh, older sister, you need to lighten up," Latana said.
"I can be whimsical when I want to. After all, I let you talk me into faking my own kidnapping - as a GAME."
"That WAS fun, wasn't it?"
I let the princesses talk amongst themselves as I explored. Pushing some cobwebs out of the way - this place would of been creepy at night - I went down a sunny hallway and opened a door to a well-furnished bedroom.
"I guess the thieves were too scared to go upstairs," Latana remarked. "Those ghost stories helped save some of the palace."
"Yeah, just look at these artifacts," I said, picking a vase up. There were books, too! I was too cautious to touch them, lest they turn to dust, but I read the titles.
"Wow~ Just look at this view," Latana said from a balcony two stained-glass doors led to. "I'd LOVE to have a room like this. Hey, Lunara, do you think Father would give permission to build me a balcony?"
Lunara was having trouble keeping her Kazeriu from exploring the inside of a bottle, so she barely glanced at her younger sister when she said: "Maybe Father will, if you stop putting yourself in danger."
Latana stuck her tongue out at Lunara's back.
Though the room was fascinating, I insisted that we check the rest of the palace out. The next room we entered was the opposite of the previous one: utterly empty. Everything was taken up or torn down. There were only nails where paintings had been hung; and pieces of paper where fancy wallpaper had been plastered.
"Could this have been the lord's daughter's room?" I wondered.
"This could not possibly be the work of crooks," Lunara said, "or else why leave that other room untouched?"
"The lord may have destroyed his daughter's room in sheer grief," Latana offered.
"That's a sad thought," I said.
This was probably our only chance to check the higher levels of the palace, so we continued upstairs. On the third floor we came to an art gallery. Its floor was a mosaic design of blue, green, red, and yellow tiles. An old branch from a tall oak broken from age had crash-landed into the room; whatever was in its way was crushed by wood and roof. Half of the oak tree now grew INSIDE the gallery.
I tutted mournfully.
"What do you think any of this stuff is worth?" Latana examined a marble statue of a noble Pteri.
"Latana, it should not matter what any of this is worth in gold, but what it will mean to the whole of Neopia. Sir Jake, truthfully, you do not search for treasure in order to gain fast neopoints, do you?"
"Far from it (normally). Many times I am actually ASKED to search out a particular treasure. King Kawillawoa on Mystery Island hired me to bring the Mystical Tiki Idol back to his village because the idol protected his people from invaders. Then there was King Hagan of Brightvale who wished for me to guide Lady Roberta through an ancient temple to retrieve a magical wand.
"In this case, I think I'd like to know what happened to the daughter in your story, Princess Lunara; more than fancy jewels or chests of gold."
The art gallery had plenty of the usual treasure: one-of-a-kind paintings; long-lost artistic statues; hand-drawn maps of mysterious lands, framed in gold; vases, crowns, scepters, and really big diamonds. Stepping over roof debris and smashed artifacts, I took a peek outside through the hole in the wall and saw a garden. No gardener had taken care of it for a hundred years but the flowers and trees still grew and bloomed. Something down there intrigued me even more, however: six pedestals with a sphere each - red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple - were situated in a circle around a stone platform. Though the platform was cracked, no grass grew through the crevices - like it did on all the stone paths going to it. Could it be because of the magical symbol painted on the platform?
I had to get down there.
"Have either of you climbed a tree before?" I asked.
"TONS of times," Latana was happy to admit.
"Um, well, as a very young child, I did once," Lunara was shy to admit.
"Follow me then, and be careful." I grabbed the oak and climbed down into the garden.
"I guess this answers your question about how to get down," Latana said to her older sister.
"Yes, I guess it does," replied Lunara.
"Where are you going, Jake?" Latana inquired.
"There," I pointed to the pedestals. The whole structure was surrounded by fruit trees.
I kneeled down and examined the symbol on the platform. "Interesting, have either of you seen such a design?"
"I've seen something similar in my Father's scrolls," Lunara said. "It involves a spell."
"Do you know what KIND of spell?" I asked.
"I, I can't recall. I'm sorry, Sir Jake."
"Nah, that's all right." I took a little, thick book out and flipped through the pages - all the way to 'Magical Symbols'. "Ah, here we are: this symbol helps to call back a soul."
"What!? Like a real, live Neopet; or a g-ghost?" Latana wondered.
"Neither; a spirit," I said, "it calls back a spirit from the afterlife - NOT a ghost."
"How does it work? Can we try it out?" Latana kept playing with a necklace dangling an orb; the sun would reflect off of the jewel and blind me with bluish-purplish light.
"Where did you get that necklace?" I asked.
"Huh? This? Oh, I found it in one of the palace rooms - I can't believe I haven't gotten rid of it; I picked it up and couldn't put it down. Weird."
"Can I see it?"
Latana handed me the necklace with no problem. I looked from the necklace to the platform: the orb had the same symbol!
"We may just be able to try that spell out," I said, smiling. "The sun looks about right... It's as if we were brought here, at this moment, on purpose."
"I told you that the Quilin knew more than he let on," Latana said. "This isn't just about a treasure hunt."
The light of the sun touched the amulet and, as I stood in the middle of the platform, the indigo light illuminated the spheres.
"Something is happening!" Latana exclaimed.
Yes, not just one spirit was appearing, but several! Wait, though, these souls were alive! "Hannah!?"
"Jake!?" Hannah, wearing the crown and holding the scepter of the Forgotten Queen for some reason, backed away in surprise.
"Garin and Jacques!?" I cried. What was going on here!?
"Hey, it's YOU," Garin said about me.
"Nabile, Tomos...?" I shook my head. Why were a select few that I met in my travels appearing all of a sudden?
"What are we doing here?" Nabile asked.
"More like WHERE is here?" Tomos glanced around the garden.
No space to talk, MORE were arriving! "Gilly, Mr. TYME? Roberta and Tor? Kelland? And - what the -? Roxton A. Colchester III!?"
The Lutari seemed to have been fighting something when he was suddenly pulled from that and brought to the forsaken palace gardens.
"Hey, I was saving Lilian Fairweather from a rabid Moach, I need to get back to her!" Roxton said. "Jake the Explorer? What's your game?"
I shook my head. I had no idea.
"I was enjoying a nice cup of mint tea," Danube Tyme said.
"And I was playing with Bruno," Gilly said.
"I was about to be thrown into the dungeon for swiping a Queela," Tomos said; Nabile eyed him. "So I'm not gonna complain about the change of events."
"I think you must have done something wrong, Sir Jake," Lunara offered. "Or you read the symbol mistakenly."
"If that's true, then who is SHE?" Latana pointed to someone standing RIGHT beside me. It was another Usul, but she wasn't Hannah or Gilly, and definitely not Garin.
"Hello." She stared right up at ME. "I am the one you called, Lady Celka. And you are Jake the Explorer, correct?" She wore a magnificently simple gown and a glistening tiara. "Who am I really, you wonder? To set the truth straight, I have been guiding your travels so you would finally come to this forsaken place. I am the Forgotten Queen." She pointed to Hannah and suddenly she was wearing a lovely gown too.
"The Forgotten Queen!?" Hannah squeaked, utterly shocked.
Lady Celka pointed to each of the friends I met along the way: Garin's and Jacques' clothes turned into old fashioned, extremely fancy pirates' attire; Nabile and Tomos suddenly wore plain desert togas; Gilly's red cape became a very puffy, lacy dress; Danube Tyme didn't change at all; Roberta's magical robes became even MORE magical; Tor's armor changed into a lord's garment; Roxton lost ALL of his clothes and only had on a grass skirt and cuffs; Kelland's clothes were brushed with a LOT of dirt and acquired more tears and patches than previously; and the two Shenkuu Princesses were both suddenly wearing the exact same Shenkuu-inspired gown from a hundred years ago. And to top it off, Kelland held an Alabriss and Tomos couldn't get rid of a Seti.
None of the clothes or petpets were real, though. They were all an illusion.
"Each of the companions that you met, I met too in my journey," Lady Celka said. "And you, Jake, represent the 'sorcerer', the one who started it all."
"The sorcerer!?" I said. "But he was the bad guy!"
Lady Celka shook her head. "No, no he wasn't. Let me explain: Lord Duncan - " she indicated Tor, dressed in that snazzy outfit - "took me in as a baby. I grew up knowing him as my Father. However, I found out from Lady Kira - " Roberta - "Lord Duncan's Enchantress of the Estate, that I had a different past and a greater future. Years later the sorcerer came knocking at Lord Duncan's door to bring me back to my real family: you see, I was actually a princess, and I had come of age to rule over my family's kingdom; the reason I was swept away from my real parents was that my uncle had it out for me and my life was in danger. When the very same sorcerer, who had dropped me off at the doorstep of my new family, came back to retrieve me he gave Lord Duncan magical powers to equal that of Lady Kira - in thanks for taking care of me.
"The trip to my kingdom was to be safe, but my carriage was attacked and I was taken away by an unsavory character -" she now pointed to Kelland in his new rags.
"This is like a play being performed," Latana whispered to us. Lunara nodded, agreeing.
"Out at sea, now," Lady Celka went on, "I was rescued by two gallant pirates - " Garin and Jacques - "Like a Robin Lupe at sea, the two had sworn to steal from the rich and give to the poor. I sailed with them and helped in their work, learning magic from their sea Aisha friend, Nerissa. When we parted, I was left off on the shores of a vast desert, where I became fast friends with an Ixi and a Lupe - " Nabile and Tomos - "Narah would always remain my best friend - she, too, had learned she was of royal descent. And Tekoa owned such a loyal Seti." She laughed at the memory. "But I had to keep going in my quest. Soon I was in the Haunted Woods, where I met a kind painter, Danube Tyme, and his granddaughter, Serena - " she looked to Gilly and Mr. Tyme; the painter's eyes widened in recognition of Lady Celka. "I learned many things from Danube, and Serena was smart as much as she was sweet.
"I then boarded a ship in Brightvale that headed for the land where my kingdom stood. However, there was a terrible storm and I found myself on a primitive island. A kind native there - " Roxton - "took care of me. Together we built a boat so I could continue with my journey. Suddenly I was back where I started. Lord Duncan and Lady Kira were gone, though.
"I traveled into the nearby city of Shenkuu, where I met twin princesses - " Latana and Lunara - "the Guardians of Quilin." I gasped. "The twins told Quilin my dilemma and he used his magic to send me to my kingdom.
"But, alas, I had been missing for too long - TWELVE years - and during that time my kingdom had been attacked; all that remained was a small village. The Neopets there told me they had been waiting for their queen, but she never appeared. They couldn't even remember her name.
"And so, I became known as the Forgotten Queen. I left that village and made all of Neopia my home."
The elaborate costumes and petpets vanished at the end of Lady Celka's story.
"I hope I did not trouble you with the twists and turns in your journey, Jake the Explorer," Lady Celka said to me, "always sending you to one place or another and then the next."
"Definitely not, your Majesty!" I said, bowing. "Though I feel like I did the whole thing backwards. Shouldn't I have started with this palace first?"
"To tie it all together you had to come here LAST," Lady Celka said.
"Did you, too, bring all of us here, then?" Roberta asked.
"No, I did," a roar said.
Turning around, there was the Quilin. He winked at me, saying, "A journey is an endless circle." To all of us he growled, "To have the Forgotten Queen's tale understood fully, you all needed to come here. Now you know and are wiser for it."
"Thank you, Quilin," Lady Celka inclined her head, "most noble of petpets."
"Wait a second, though, what about our traveling to Faerieland?" Latana asked. "Why did you send us THERE?" We looked from Lady Celka to the Quilin for an answer.
"Ah, yes, Faerieland," Lady Celka said. She laughed a little. "At the time, Quilin was quite young and his magic didn't always do what it was supposed to. Before I was sent to my ruined kingdom, I was dropped into Faerieland. As I wandered the gardens of Queen Fyora's castle, I met a strange Aisha - fast asleep right in a pathway. When I woke him up he told me that he was sleep-deprived, for he was always having nightmares about MATH problems. I was swept away to my kingdom before I could help him. I have always felt bad about that..."
"Shouldn't Imiya be here, then?" Latana asked the Quilin.
We suddenly heard snoring. Garin and Jacques looked behind them and stepped aside. Between them, sleeping peacefully by a bush, was Imiya.
"I'm assuming she is the great granddaughter of the man Lady Celka met," Lunara said. Latana and I nodded.
Danube Tyme walked over to the Forgotten Queen. "Lady Celka, is that really YOU? I... I am so sorry that you were too late to save your kingdom."
"It is all right, Sir Tyme."
"What happened to you after that? What did you DO?" Danube asked.
"I traveled the world, having one great adventure after the next. I met up several times with my old friends, Narah, and the Robin Lupe Pirates: Piraket Jack and Will Kateil. I helped Neopets and they helped me learn what it truly meant to live your life to the fullest - whatever fell in your lap or whatever was thrown at you.
"When I left this world, for the one Beyond the Stream of Time, I was content, Sir Danube; it was not a sad ending but a happy beginning, make no mistake.
"Perhaps you can tell me what YOU are doing here in this time, Sir TYME?"
The two of them laughed.
In closing, when Lady Celka traveled the Path of Light to the Afterlife, I was given the Forgotten Queen's amulet. Quilin then sent my new friends back to their lands - or where ever they were at the time they were spirited away, in Roxton's case - and I took the Cyodrake's Gaze back, along with Latana and Lunara, to Shenkuu. I got into pretty big trouble with a big, blue Gnorbu named Captain Tuan, and an angry red Gelert - the Emperor - but I made it out alive. I've gotten out of plenty of boiling cauldrons. *wink*
At the moment I'm back in Mystery Island (Captain Tuan dropped me off, LITERALLY) and am out to discover the truth behind a magical gold spear. Maybe next time we meet I'll be wrestling some stone guardian. Until then, go out exploring and have your own adventures!