The Wise Whoot: Guardian of the Elements - Part Nine
“We’ve made it,” Blaze announced, his voice never faltering in Kaleb’s presence.
In one quick motion, the forest in front of them became a forest no more. A large clearing appeared, and in the middle of the clearing was the giant tree and pond.
The Green Whoot was completely stupefied by the beautiful scene. The only light in the dark Neopia now seemed to be radiating from the tree itself. Blaze’s family, excluding Rivulet, had never been here before. The rest of them were also in awe of the strange yet wonderful place.
They wandered toward the tree. Kaleb had taken flight and flew on ahead, and Blaze dashed to Zihark’s side.
“Are you okay?” Blaze whispered. It was the first time he had spoken to his master in a while.
Zihark nodded but looked at his apprentice with a serious expression. “Blaze, what do you think you’re doing? Sending the darkness here? This is the very place it shouldn’t be in.”
Blaze glanced over at Kaleb, who had finally landed near the pond. “Trust me, okay?” He winked at him, like all the times the Wise Whoot had winked at him.
Blaze told them to stay some ways away from the pond and tree, and to not try to help him if something went wrong. He didn’t want his friends to worry, but he couldn’t accept their help, either. What he needed now, more than ever, was their trust, their belief in him, and their pure spirits of hope. With those elements, he walked forward, promising Rivulet that when this was all over he was going to go for a swim in the pond with her.
The Doglefox strolled up to Kaleb, who was reaching into the water, but for some reason drew his talons back. He glanced up at Blaze, and there was something in Kaleb’s eyes that made Blaze see the true brother of Zihark. They were pleading eyes, full of sorrow. But in a moment those eyes disappeared, and the face of darkness appeared in its place.
“So, all the elemental power in Neopia thrives in this place, huh?” The Whoot turned to the tree. “The Guardian of Magic... your power is mine.” He glanced at Blaze and snickered, “It wasn’t wise of you to bring me here, you know. I can become the most powerful being... even the once great heroes of Neopia will cower in fear of my presence!”
Blaze didn’t hesitate as his plan went into action. “Kaleb, I want you to realize something.”
The Green Whoot faced him. “And what would that be?”
The Wise Whoot’s apprentice stood up straight took a deep breath, and his eyes glittered. “I’m no ordinary Petpet, Kaleb. Neither are you. We both were created for some purpose, sure, but your purpose isn’t this. I know the real Kaleb is in there somewhere, and I know he doesn’t want this to happen. Kaleb, if you can hear me, then I want you to know that I’m here to help you, not to defeat you.”
The Whoot laughed. “My real self doesn’t exist anymore! Your speech was worthless!”
“Was it really?” Blaze summoned a light mote and threw it at Kaleb, just to get him off balance. It worked, making Kaleb stumble and fall backwards, shielding himself with his talons against the light.
Blaze worked quickly, closing his eyes and concentrating. First, he mediated on his own element: fire. Before long a fire mote suddenly appeared in front of the Doglefox. Then he focused on water.
A water mote appeared in front of Rivulet, and she jumped in shock. Everyone around her stared at the mote, too. Then an earth mote appeared in front of Forrest. As if on cue, a smoke mote appeared in front of Rosa, then a fog one in front of Plum. A snow and electric mote floated before Snowdrop and Sunshine. Then, in front of their parents, Dusk had a dark mote and Jewel had an air mote. A gold mote for Star, and a light mote for Lethe. Surprisingly an ash mote came from Kaleb, and last but not least was Zihark’s mote, a Nova.
All twelve motes drifted to combine with Blaze’s mote, which was in front of him. The motes combined created an Ultranova, a special mote that was rarely found, since it was a combination of more than one mote. Each of these motes was the element that lurked inside each and every soul. A long time ago, Zihark had taught Blaze that each creature had an element hidden inside of them. Blaze had memorized which mote belonged to whom, and had studied the elements, in secret, to figure out how those elements helped to make up a spirit.
Blaze’s eyes shot open as he directed the combined motes toward two different places. One part went to Kaleb, the other went to the Guardian of Magic. As soon as the Ultranova hit the giant tree, it lit up, and the darkness began to fade away. The giant tree, Blaze had figured out after all the times he had spent near it, could lose its power, but it could also gain new power. He had realized that if the tree could obtain more than one element in one conclusion, it could rejuvenate.
The Ultranova that went to Kaleb, however, was able to free his real self. As soon as the elements had hit Kaleb, the darkness vanished from his mind and heart. He collapsed onto the ground with a thud, exhausted. Immediately, Zihark and the rest of the group ran toward Blaze and Kaleb, the newly freed Green Whoot.
But the darkness continued to thrive in the Heart of Neopia. The darkness was like a shadow that appeared as the tree brought a new morning to the world. It was the first time Blaze had seen a dawn that he was thankful for.
The shadow made its way toward the tree, but Blaze saw it and threw a light mote at it. The ball of magic seemed to bounce off, and instead the shadow headed toward Blaze. Blaze gritted his teeth. He hadn’t planned on the darkness taking another victim.
But then it seemed as if the tree came to life. A few leaves shuttered from its branches, and a strange light appeared from it. A Faerie appeared, wearing a light green cloak. In one swift movement, she extended her right hand toward the shadow, and a glass ball trapped it inside.
Everyone stopped to stare at the Faerie. She wore an emerald cloak, and she had light blue eyes. She had burgundy long hair, and her wings were almost transparent, as if they weren’t really there. She turned to Blaze and spoke. “Come forward, young one. I need a task of you.”
Blaze cocked his head. Every event had happened so suddenly, he wasn’t sure what was going on. “What do you need from me?” he asked.
She gestured toward the container that held the darkness. “This is a very dangerous thing. If the darkness once again gets released into this world, then chances are there will be no way to stop it.” She paused, watching him. “I cannot hold it for much longer, but there is another place it can go, and can possibly never be awakened again.”
Blaze looked up at her in astonishment. “Can we really prevent this from happening again? Where can it go?”
She pointed at him. “It can lie in your heart, Blaze. Blaze the Doglefox, Blaze the Lupe, it makes no difference what kind of title you go by now. You are a hero through and through, Blaze, and since you have revived this tree, I’d like you to contain the darkness in your heart. Your heart is a special one, you have always thought of those close to you throughout this journey, and I believe you are the one to protect Neopia from this threat.”
Blaze was speechless. He turned to look at his friends and family, to see their expressions. Zihark, Lethe and Star were helping Kaleb up, but Zihark was looking at Blaze with pride in his eyes. So were his sisters and parents. Everyone knew that if the darkness had to go somewhere, it could be concealed in Blaze’s heart forever.
Blaze turned back to the Faerie. “I’ll accept your request,” he answered. “I never want this evil to set free ever again, and I would do the honor of protecting Neopia.”
The Faerie smiled. She took the orb that had the darkness in it, and it floated toward Blaze. When it reached him, it glowed, and so did Blaze. It wasn’t long until his body absorbed the darkness, and afterwards the orb evaporated. Blaze didn’t feel any different, but he could sense the strange shadows inside of him.
The Faerie continued. “Even though the rest of Neopia may not know you are a hero, fame isn’t worth everything.” She smiled. “The Guardian of Magic hasn’t forgotten how you saved Neopia, either. You know how the Guardian of Magic controls all of the elements on Neopia, correct? Well, Blaze, you just were able to summon many of those elements.” She paused for a moment, glancing at the tree. “I am the Faerie of this tree, and never once have I seen someone else be able to combine many elements into one. For this reason, I shall give you a new title: Blaze, the Guardian of the Elements. You have become a master of the elements. You are special, Blaze. You have friends and family who would do anything for you. So I leave you with this last bit of advice.” Her face turned grave. “If the tree ever begins to fade again, it is up to you, Guardian of the Elements, to protect it.”
There was a flash of light, and without another word, the Faerie was gone.
“Hey! You got me all wet!” the Starry Lupe exclaimed.
The six Doglefox sisters shrank back. “Sorry, Star!” they all exclaimed at the same time.
The elder Lupe smiled at them. “Remember what I told you?” he warned. “If that water reaches the outside of this place, the darkness might come haunt you!”
Rivulet swam up to him and got out of the water. “Yeah, but Blaze’s protecting that darkness now, so we don’t have to worry.” She cocked her head, thinking for a moment. She turned back to the pond. “I’ll be right back!” she called.
Star had been sitting with Kaleb and Lethe at the base of the giant tree. Kaleb had recovered from the shock of losing the darkness three days ago, and was finally becoming like his old self. His Darigan Petpet henchmen had been set free from their enslavement, and had gone back to their own homes.
Rivulet looked around, noticing her parents climbing up the tree just to have some fun. She laughed to herself, thinking how silly it was with Mommy, a Faerie Doglefox, floating in the air and her father was clinging to the branch for dear life.
Finally she spotted her brother and Zihark not too far from the pond and tree. She sprinted toward them, across the meadow of new grass. Everything seemed almost perfect now.
Blaze sensed his sister before she even reached them. “Hey, Rivulet!” he greeted her. Zihark turned to her, nodding his head in welcome.
She halted in front of them. “Blaze, Zihark! I just got this amazing title for my new story!”
“You just thought of this now?” Zihark laughed. “Well, go on, tell us.”
The Blue Doglefox blushed. “Actually, I did just think of it.” She paused for a moment, as if she had forgotten it already. Blaze watched her, realizing how much she had matured from everything that had occurred. He felt closer to her too, as if he could tell her anything without hesitating. “Oh, the Guardian of the Elements!” she exclaimed. She looked at both of them. “Well, what do you think?”
“It’s a nice name, Riv.” Blaze smiled at her.
“Do you really think the world should know about us?” Zihark asked, uncertainly. “Do you think it is wise to tell our story?”
Rivulet smiled. “It doesn’t matter if anyone thinks our story is real or not,” she replied. “What matters is that our story is worth reading to someone! So why not get it published?”
“Come on, Rivulet!” There was a call from across the clearing. It was Forrest’s voice. “We need one more player, and that’s you!”
“I have to go,” Rivulet said, turning away.
“Riv, wait,” Blaze stopped her.
She turned toward him. “What is it, Big Bro?”
“Thanks for everything.” He winked at her. “Thanks for giving me the right advice at the right time.”
She gave him a hug, and Blaze returned it. “You couldn’t have asked for a better sister, huh?” she laughed. “Don’t tell our sisters I said that,” she whispered, and he nodded, sealing his lips.
As she ran back to the pond, Zihark turned to his apprentice. “Blaze, there’s something I need to tell you.”
Blaze caught his gaze. “What’s wrong?”
Zihark was struggling for words for a while. Finally he said, “I never had any doubt when I took you as my apprentice. I knew that one day, you would do something that no one else could do.”
“You mean about the Ultranova?” Blaze stopped for a moment. “Wait... is that why I was chosen? Is that the reason you were talking about in Lethe’s letter? You chose me so I could defeat the darkness and save your brother?”
Zihark laughed. “From the moment I asked you to become my apprentice, you always asked yourself why I chose you. Well, sure, maybe one reason was that I wanted some help saving my brother, but there was more. A teacher always expects a lot from his or her students. They want their students to learn everything, and to never fail at anything.” He paused. “Blaze, you have never failed at anything, and you have learned everything that I have to teach. Blaze, my friend, you are no longer my apprentice. I have taught you everything you need to know.”
Blaze was stunned. “But... then what happens next?”
Zihark shrugged. “We may take different paths, but it doesn’t matter.” He winked. “Every path has twists and turns, but every path shall meet somewhere along the way.”