The Wise Whoot: Guardian of the Elements - Part Four
A couple days had passed since Blaze had stayed in his hometown. Thankfully Snowdrop and Sunshine had found the owner of the necklace the two of them had been fighting over, and his relationship with Rivulet was back to normal. It was a nice vacation, as Blaze called it. Blaze was still a little worried that Zihark hadn’t sent word yet, but the Doglefox kept himself busy and had little time to worry. Especially with his sisters, Blaze was asked to do things he rarely did with Zihark, such as playing with Plushies.
“What should we do with the Guardian today?” Rivulet asked as they walked toward their Hideout.
“Hmm... I dunno.” He thought for a moment. “Maybe it can be our pirate ship today, or a castle like Fyora’s!”
“Let’s see what the Guardian wants to be,” she decided, as if the tree could talk.
As the two of them took a couple steps into their secret place, Blaze sensed a strange and different atmosphere. Sure, it was quiet; it was always quiet here. Yet, something was off, as if it was quieter than usual.
Rivulet stopped. “Blaze, I don’t want to be here.” Her voice quivered, and he believed she felt the same as he did.
“Something’s not right,” Blaze agreed. For a moment they stood there in silence. “Come on, I want to examine the tree.”
Rivulet reluctantly followed, her blue fur tense on end. Blaze wanted to get to the bottom of things if something was really wrong. This place had an aura to it that reminded him of Zihark, and he wanted to help if something wasn’t right. He figured if there was different with this place, it would have something to do with the tree.
From far away, the tree seemed perfectly fine. However, as they got closer, the tree didn’t seem normal. Some of its leaves had fallen onto the ground, and it wasn’t even close to autumn yet. Its branches looked withered and they all slunk toward the ground. The tree looked like it wasn’t in good shape. It was strange how just yesterday this tree had been perfectly fine. Now it was as if the tree was fading away....
“Blaze, who’s that?” Rivulet asked, almost stopping.
“What?” Blaze took a closer look at the tree. There seemed to be something up on one of the branches, not too far from the ground. Was it a Petpet? Blaze couldn’t tell exactly from their position. “Come on, let’s go see.” They quickened their pace and stopped when they reached the pond. Even the water seemed different, Blaze realized. It was obvious that the liquid had begun to evaporate. The water had originally reached the giant tree’s roots; now it was about a foot less than that.
As the two of them stood at the foot of the tree, they looked up to see who or what was up in it. Blaze saw a few beautiful colored feathers, but he still couldn’t get a good look at it. Finally he dared to yell, “Hey! Who’s up there?”
At once the creature stumbled and lost its balance, falling down to the earth below. Blaze led Rivulet out of harm’s way, and turned around to see the creature land with a thump. “Ow....” He heard a voice, and he stopped. The creature before him was indeed another Petpet, and she had beautiful rainbow colored wings. When she finally turned to face the Doglefoxes, Blaze saw four familiar talons that reminded him of one certain Petpet.
“A Faerie Whoot!” Rivulet exclaimed. She took a step closer. “What are you doing here?”
The Faerie Whoot shook her head and looked at them angrily. “What do you mean, what am I doing here?!” The Whoot blinked, her voice rising in anger with each heartbeat. “No wonder the power is fading... with some kids playing around here!”
Blaze stopped her, he didn’t like her tone. “What are you talking about? You’re the first one we’ve met who knows about this place.”
The stranger narrowed her eyes at him. “Does anyone else know, besides you two?”
Blaze glanced at his sister, and she shook her head. He decided to speak again. “We haven’t told anyone about this place, and as far as we know no one else nearby knows about it either.”
The Whoot sighed. “Well, that still doesn’t explain...” Her voice trailed off as she examined the two. She cocked her head. “So, what have the two of you been doing here?”
“Nothing, besides playing and swimming!” Rivulet exclaimed.
“Playing and swimming?!” The Whoot’s voice rose into a pitch cry.
Rivulet shrank back at the outburst, and Blaze protected his sister. “What’s wrong with playing or swimming?”
“This is no place to be playing games and swimming like you’re on some vacation!” she snapped. “This place is a very sacred place! No uninvited guests should even show up... this whole thing is your entire fault!”
“What are you talking about?” Blaze tried to keep calm. “The two of us just happened to come upon this place. What’s wrong with that?”
“That’s not possible.” The Whoot shook her head; her voice still held anger. “This place can only be reachable if you’re an invited guest.”
Blaze looked at his sister. “Riv, did someone bring you here?” If what the Whoot said was true, then Rivulet must’ve had some access to this place. She had invited him in, after all.
Rivulet closed her eyes for a moment. “I...”
Blaze eyed her. “Well?”
She opened her eyes, and she avoided his gaze. “Someone showed it to me through a dream. I heard a voice, and then the following day I explored and found the place.” She paused. Her eyes suddenly lit up. “I just remembered where I heard that voice before. It was Zihark’s voice!”
Blaze was stunned. “Zihark talked to you in a dream? Rivulet, when was this? Before or after I came back home?”
“It was definitely before you came back. I remember playing in the water and I wanted to tell someone about this place, so I waited until you came back and then I’d tell you.”
Zihark had talked to Rivulet in a dream? And he had invited her to come to this place... why? Did the Wise Whoot know that Rivulet would keep the secret, and bring her brother here? But why all the secrecy? So many questions filled Blaze’s mind, and eventually he remembered the Faerie Whoot was still in their presence. He turned to her, almost ready for another outburst, but she was staring at him with unblinking eyes.
Finally she spoke. “I don’t suppose you know a Doglefox by the name of Blaze, do you?”
Blaze stopped. “How do you know my name?”
The Faerie Whoot took a step back. “I don’t believe this...” She shut her beak, as if in embarrassment. After a quick moment she spoke with a strange seriousness in her voice. “Then it was no accident this happened.”
“What are you talking about?” Blaze asked.
She sighed. “Here, have a seat. I’ll tell you everything.” Blaze and Rivulet looked at each other, then went to go sit down with their backs against the tree trunk. The two of them were confused by her sudden change in tone. She seemed friendly, now. The Faerie Whoot was silent for a moment before beginning her tale.
“My name is Lethe. Ever since my brothers and I were adopted by a Neopet, our lives were changed dramatically. His real name was Jaden, but we called him Star, since he was a Starry Lupe. He found the three of us wandering around Neopia Central, and took us in. To our surprise, this Lupe was able to speak our language, and was able to understand both Neopets and Petpets.” She paused and took a deep breath. “He named the three of us: Lethe the Gentle, Kaleb the Trickster, and Zihark the Wise.”
Both Blaze and Rivulet gasped at the mention of Zihark’s name. “Zihark’s your brother?” he asked shakily. The Wise Whoot had always refused to talk about his family and past... would Blaze finally hear his tale?
Lethe nodded. “Yes. When we were on our own we never had any names for ourselves. We were either Faerie, Green or Brown.” She laughed a little. “Our names were based on our colors. Anyway, for a couple years we trained under Star. His power didn’t work on all of us, though. It affected Zihark the most. Then, Zihark inherited Star’s powers. To be exact, he became Star’s successor.” She sighed. “I suppose that’s when everything went out of control.
“Kaleb grew deeply jealous of Zihark, and secretly began a plot to get rid of him. Eventually his anger seemed to just vanish, but then it jealously appeared again one day. Star was able to figure it all out, and he told me and Zihark about it. He told us that he would take Kaleb out on a little trip, just the two of them, and that they’d be back in a week. Star also warned us, though, that if he didn’t come back in one week, both Zihark and I would have to leave and take separate paths.” She closed her eyes and paused for a long time. “Ever since, the two of us never saw Star again. He’s missing, and Kaleb was too... for a while.”
Her face darkened when she opened her eyes. “Zihark and I took separate paths, and soon afterwards I realized I had a little of Star’s power, too. I was able to contact Zihark through thoughts, dreams and visions. I saw visions of the future, and he was able to see them too. The two of us have always been connected, but we didn’t dare see each other in case Kaleb came back and set his revenge on both of us. Zihark took on the name, the Wise Whoot, so he could be disguised as some feeble legend. But then he took a risk and took on another successor.” Lethe turned to Blaze as she said this. “Zihark felt Star’s power begin to drain from him. He wasn’t sure what exactly was wrong with the power, but he decided to take on an apprentice so the power wouldn’t disappear with him. He didn’t want the power to go away; Zihark believed that the powers Star had given him could be used for good purposes. I’m sure you’ve learned all about that thanks to your training.
“It happened about a week ago when I contacted Zihark last. We both had a vision of Kaleb appearing and everything in Neopia was swarmed in darkness. After about three years without seeing each other, Zihark and I finally decided to meet. Leading you back safely to your home was Zihark’s plan, because he didn’t want you to get involved. The two of us got together, and we found a lead. A couple days ago, we found something that might be able to lead us to Kaleb, and we were attacked by Darigan Petpets.” Lethe had a hard time continuing her story as she struggled to find the right words. “In a moment I was attacked, something pierced my left wing, and I blacked out.” She shook her left wing and flinched when she felt pain. “I haven’t been able to fly yet.”
Blaze stopped her. “You said this happened awhile ago, right? I felt a pain in my left shoulder and fainted for a couple minutes. Was I feeling your pain? Ever since I woke up, I thought it was Zihark trying to tell me something.”
Lethe blinked. “Really? So, it did reach you. You see, when my left wing got damaged, I sent out a distress signal to Zihark’s apprentice, but I was never sure if it had reached you or not.”
“But it did reach me, and how were you able to do that?” he asked.
Lethe shrugged. “I’ve been able to do a lot of things, not even knowing how to explain them. The same was with Zihark when he inherited Star’s power. There was no reason for that power to abandon Star, but somehow it did and entered Zihark. There are many things in this world that leave more questions than answers.”
“So, what happened when you blacked out?” Rivulet asked. She had been listening intently to the story, and didn’t want to miss one word of it.
“Well...” Lethe took a moment to gather her thoughts. “When I came to, I wasn’t in the same place as when I fainted. There was a note attached to one of my talons and, oh, wait. I have it here; I’ll read it to you.” She scrambled to find the piece of parchment through her belongings that were in a small pouch that had been hidden under her wing, which the two Doglefoxes hadn’t noticed before now. She took out the note and read aloud:
I’m sure wherever you are now you’re safe from harm. The Darigan Petpet attack had been an ambush from Kaleb. Our vision was right all along; Kaleb is planning on releasing the darkness to all of Neopia. Everything we know and love is in danger... which is why I used my powers to get you out of the attack.
I can’t let my sister get hurt because of me. This is my fault; Kaleb wants me and my power, and I have to face him someday. I can’t let you interfere. I’m sorry, please forgive me.
Otherwise, I have a mission for you. I need you to find my apprentice, Blaze, and tell him everything. Everything regarding our past. He needs to know this. He needs to know about Star and Kaleb. Besides this, I want you to tell him I’m sorry. I never thought things would get this out of hand.
Tell Blaze that everything happens for a reason. There was a reason I chose him, and that reason might be catching up with me.
If I do fail... no, I won’t fail you, I promise.
I’m sorry I wasn’t able to do any more for now. Take care of Blaze for me,
Zihark, your loving brother.”
To be continued...