The Questionable Quest
It had been a long day and an innocent trip towards that large purple tower resting on a cloud when my day was tossed on its poor head. I was sitting idly in the library when one of those winged nuisances (known to you as a faerie) swooped in and caught my eye. Bad idea to look up in the first place, apparently, because she glided over, poked me on my nose, and said:
"Hey, there, little fella! Won't you please get me a Ghostkerchief Hammer?"
Now, normally, quests weren't my thing. But the promise of a raised statistic was too alluring when they were so rarely presented. "Fine," I grumbled, closing my book with a flourish of anger. She smiled and hauled her petite self right out of the window. Hmph. Someone likes showing off, doesn't she? Well, I can play that game. I seized a book on Neopian Weaponry and flew out the window on the same course, leaving a trail of dust that, if it could, looked just as furious and annoyed as I did.
I chose to ignore the purple-garbed librarian shouting at me that I had to "please check out that book before taking it!" I hadn't the time for that. It was already late afternoon, and if I wanted to finish this before nighttime. Now where could I find that hammer...?
"...very good weapons in a pinch..." Fantastic. "...are used by Ghostkerchief enthusiasts..." Wonderful. "...cost about 30,000 neopoints at estimate..." Pure joy. "...located in the Haunted Woods Fairground."
And somehow, that made it all the more "magical." Or however people described sheer and absolute dread nowadays.
A Christmas Zafara like myself would not blend in there.
A small shiver went through my spine as my hind paws touched down on the dry soil. I frowned. This was not my type of place. Ever since I was a young little green thing, I had this odd resentment for the Haunted Woods. The chills, the fear, the jump in your heartbeat at the thought of whatever could pop out from behind a tree to catch you by surprise... it was far too much for a spoiled brat like me, living a peaceful life in a quaint little Neohome somewhere in Happy Valley. What was with those faeries? Why can't they assign quests on their own turf? I would have much preferred hopping through the clouds and searching for something puffy and cute as opposed to a hammer in this beastly place.
A Spyder crawled by my foot and I cringed and let out a small squeak. Yeah, definitely spoiled. I already missed my fair-faced Angelpuss back home, probably waiting for me to feed her... Oh, why did I accept this quest?
"YOU LITTLE BRATS!"
I whipped around, shock running through me like a strong current. I saw an elderly old Eyrie hollering at some Halloween-painted hoodlums scurrying away from her home. "I have half a mind to call the authorities on you! So run while you still can!" A Mynci among the group took a daring step forward, his sunken eyes uncharacteristically lit up joyfully, and his pale white face emitting a wildly cheerful smirk.
"Well, sure, ya have half a mind, but where's the other, eh?" The Eyrie, already a faded crimson color naturally, went bright red in the face, her beak quivering in her feeble age protesting the stress.
"GET OFF OF MY PROPERTY, YOU MISERABLE MORTOGS!" The pets, giggling mischievously, ran into the deep woods, concealing themselves in the trees. Soon, the only memento of their prank was the angry old Eyrie, who soon slammed her door and retreated to the confines of her home.
The last thing I needed was to catch a band of mess-makers like that on my tail. The Haunted Woods always bid me a very foreboding welcome.
I had a bad feeling that this power boost reward wouldn't even be close to worth the effort of this madness.
"Hello?" I mumbled into the emptiness. "Anyone...?" I swiped away a stray piece of dust from my watering eye with a white fist. I wasn't crying. I was no coward. But, man, how did I get lost in the forest!? A whimper slipped out and I immediately found myself plopping down in the dirt, wondering how I got myself into this miserable mess in the first place.
I decided it'd be a good day to read a book.
Still, I didn't have to accept the quest! Why was I so eager for a little reward from some frivolous faerie!? "Please!" I shouted into the darkness. "I'm... I'm scared!" My voice cracked upon my admittance, and I hung my head. I traced my golden halo softly, thinking of ways to get out. I had no avail, of course; I only visited the place once every... Come to think of it, I hadn't been to the place since I was tiny.
"Hey, Yuul! Let's go to the woods and play some fair games!" one of my friends had suggested. It seemed normal enough. There was no real threat in the place, right? Ah, wrong, apparently, because by the end of the day, I was shivering in my bed, visions of grinning Chia Clowns plaguing my mind with their mechanical movements and cream pies. Uck.
I could still hear his voice echoing in my head. Sigh. It had been so long.
Huh. His voice sounded a bit different than from the last time I'd heard.
"Kid, what's the matter? We heard ya squealing from the other side'a the woods!"
Wait, what? I looked up.
Oh no. It was those crazies from earlier, the ones harassing the old Eyrie. I jumped, holding up my paws in a cheap defense. The Mynci with the ridiculous smirk, a Kougra whipping his leathery wings, a Blumaroo with an eerily warm smile, and a sour-looking Uni. All eyes on me.
"Need help, do ya, Angel-kid?" the Mynci said, extending a paw. Oh, ha ha ha. How original.
But, hey... help is help. I shook hands.
"I'm Serv. The Uni's Zane, the Blumaroo is Mallory, and the Kougra is Jin. We wander around causing... fun." Fun? Trouble's more like it. "Now what's your problem, Yells-a-lot?"
I grimaced. "I'm Yuul. I live in Happy Valley." Some eyes widened at my being so far off. "Some faerie put me on a quest to find a Ghostkerchief Hammer. But I got lost in the woods."
Mallory took me by the paw. "Ah, a quest. Don't worry, we'll get you to the weaponry," she said kindly, betraying her fierce appearance.
"Just follow our lead, we know this place inside and out.. We've lived here all our lives... and then some!" Jin offered slyly. What was that supposed to mean. "C'mon, Angel-kid, follow us." Apparently the name was catching on.
I let out a sigh, but painted a grin on my face and walked forward. I needed all the help I could get.
"Sure, Angel. Tell us about yourself."
Zane nodded his head towards a shelf in the creaky old store, and I looked up to see the hammer. "Oh, thank goodness!" I cried, nearly lunging at it. "Thank you, thank you, thank you!" Zane simply tossed his head a bit and trotted off towards the door to wait. I cuddled the hammer like a beloved child.
"Ahhh, Angel found his... thingy..."
I gave a crooked smile as Serv removed his hood, his face still lit in an out-of-character display of happiness. I'd learned that, apparently, he used to be a brilliant Rainbow color, but had been ruefully turned Halloween. So he set a standard to maintain his cheer, even as a spooky-looking creature. I'd learned much about them over this time.
"I can't thank you guys enough, seriously. Do you want me to buy you something to eat or something?"
Zane frowned. "We don't eat much."
Mallory playfully petted him on the head. "But we like the offer, don't we? Right, Zane?"
I breathed a sigh of relief.
"Well!" Jin said concisely. "We really must be going. We have some work to do, right guys?" They all nodded unevenly. "It was very nice meeting you, Angel-kid. We're gonna split. Don't worry, though. If you ever need some help here, just look for us. We're hiding in the forest somewhere at any given time, trust me."
I smiled and nodded. The sun was just setting as I peered out the window.
I had to get going, too. I gave a casual wave and set off.
I began a slow and soft glide through the forest, proud to be able to gain some strength before the night was through. I stayed close to the ground, trying to dodge the sporadically placed trees. I slowed down as I saw a scared-looking Cybunny trembling in front of the Brain Tree.
"I... c-came for a quest..."
I imagined that was how I must have looked only an hour or so back. I was about to start up again when I heard the tree speak.
"Sev the Mynci died long ago. Tell me when and where, and I will reward you."
I stopped short. Did he say... Serv!?... No. No, I must have heard wrong. I shook my head aggressively. I was just tired. Nothing more.
Homeward bound, I guess.
Serv grinned as he watched the slightly shaken Zafara zip into the sky. Mallory approached, giving a wistful sigh. "I do hope he comes back again; he was such a nice boy..." Jin nodded in agreement.
"I dunno," Serv said with a shrug. "Something tells me he's a bit freaked out now."