Thyla's Tale: Part Five
"No way am I painting you Christmas. I may be nice for a dark faerie, but that's too nice of a color."
Daeda and I were standing beside the Rainbow Pool, looking at the chart of Zafara colors.
"Electric is okay," I said.
"Too plain," said Daeda dismissively.
Daeda was picky. Some colors were too noisy, some were too plain. Some were too goody-goody and some were too dark. We looked through the colors for a long time. Eventually, we narrowed it down to four colors: speckled, starry, spotted, and Island.
"Your choice," said Daeda in her lazy voice, and she floated up in the air as I thought.
"I choose speckled," I finally said.
Daeda perked up.
"Great," she said. "One second."
She stamped her right foot twice, snapped her fingers, and sent up a brilliant green flame. The flame went out, and where it had been was a Speckled Paint Brush. Daeda grabbed it. I waded into the rainbow-colored pool.
"Ready?" I asked.
"Yep," she replied.
I dove down into the water and opened my eyes, because the waters of the Rainbow Pool are enchanted so that you can open your eyes and breathe underneath them, because you need to be painted while you're submerged. As Daeda ran the brush over me in all different directions and I felt my new color spreading, I watched the other pets that were being painted. A yellow Ixi was practically bouncing with excitement as she became Maraquan. A yellow Eyrie was grinning as she became an Island Eyrie. I watched the other pets until I could tell that I was completely speckled. I swam up to the surface and climbed out onto the grass. Then I looked at myself. I was beautiful. White speckles and splotches covered me, and I was a lighter shade of green.
"You look nice," said Daeda in her regular voice, which had an uneven air about it, because one word would be crackly and the next silky. This gave it a sarcastic lilt, but I was now enough used to it to know that it sounded far more sarcastic when she was actually being sarcastic.
"Thanks," I said.
"Well, the next stop is home, otherwise known as ThaekaDaedana, which, in an ancient language known by few, means Daeda's Home," she said crisply. "I believe I haven't shown you my wings yet?"
"I can see your wings fine."
"Yes, but I keep them folded up, because when I'm not flying a long way, I enjoy floating more."
There was a loud flapping sound, like when you go outside and shake out a big sheet on a windy day, and a pair of huge, bat-like wings folded out. I'd never seen a faerie's wings up close. The very tips of her bat wings were covered in white cloth that was so tight it made it look like the tips of her wings were actually white.
"Well, I suppose you don't know how to fly," she said, ignoring the curious glances the neopets around us were giving us. "I'll give you enough power to fly for a day. Now just give me your paw ...."
Ten minutes later, I was soaring through the air along Daeda's side. She had given me the power to fly, but I didn’t actually have wings. I sort of had to flap my paws when I started to sink. It was an excellent feeling, flying. It was scary at first, but I soon got used to the way my stomach felt and began looking down. We were soaring over the body of water separating Neopia Central from Meridell. I suddenly had an idea.
"Hey, Daeda, could we make a detour?" I asked.
"Maybe," she said. "Why?"
"Well, I've got some friends in Meridell, and I was wondering if I could drop down and say hello."
Daeda thought for a moment. Then a wide grin spread on her face.
"Sure!" she said. "But don't stay for too long. I'll give you three hours there. Then fly up to the biggest hill over on the southeast side of Meridell. You'll find your next instructions there, but I won't be there. It will be a scavenger hunt to test your skills at fending for yourself. Go ahead."
I soared down to Meridell, unsure about the scavenger hunt, but very sure that I wanted to see the Maddells. I landed on the soft green grass on my knees, tearing up grass and pushing small flecks of dirt in all different directions, and I gazed at my surroundings, not bothering to get up. Meridell was beautiful, as usual. I was underneath a smallish tree with dark green leaves. Turmaculus was sleeping a little ways away with a small line of eager petpets beside him. He gave a huge yawn as I looked over at him. The petpets stared hopefully at him, but no, he was still asleep. I drew myself up and dusted off as much dirt as I could from my knees. I'd have to learn to land more smoothly.
There was Maddell Farm off in the distance. I could just see the farm house and the petpet farm. It was a long walk away, and I didn't want to waste any of my time. I stretched for a moment. Then I clapped my paws together three times and leaped into the air like Daeda had taught me. I was flying, but close to the ground. I flew as fast as I could, and so I soon reached Maddell Farm. It was beautiful, just like it always had been. My heart skipped a beat when I saw Kalli and Nara playing outside the petpet barn. Amelaia, Calliopa, and Cherki were on the swing, and Trika was nowhere to be seen. I smirked. Maybe she was gone. I'd only been away from the farm for a day, but I felt like I'd been away for months, so much had happened. I dropped down to the ground, this time more elegantly. I slowly walked past the girls, and suddenly, they all shrieked and ran up to me.
"Why are you back here?" asked Kalli.
"What did Trika's owner do?" asked Nara.
"I'll tell you in a bit," I told them. "But first of all... where's Trika?"
"Her owner decided she wasn't taking her back," she explained. "I never thought I'd say this, but really, good riddance!"
I nodded. We walked into the farm house, and Mrs. Maddell gasped when she saw me.
"How'd you get back here?" she asked. "My goodness, your knees are covered in mud! Come here, let me wipe them off!"
As she scrubbed at me knees with a wet rag, I told them all about what had happened to me. It took a while. After I was done, they stared at me.
"You're the apprentice of a DARK faerie?" asked Calliopa. "That's bad, Thyla. That's bad."
"No, it's not," I explained. "I told you, Daeda is really nice. Yeah, she can be mischievous, but she never does anything really bad, and I really like her."
Calliopa sniffed in her bossy way.
"Well, if she stabs you in the back, you come back here," she said.
"She won't," I replied.
"Three years, Thyla!" wailed Cherki, the youngest of the girls. "We won't see you for three years!"
"Do you think she'll let you visit us?" asked Amelaia.
"I think she will sometimes," I said. "And when the three years are over, I'll invite you all to my restaurant, and you won't have to pay a thing to have whatever you want!"
We spent the afternoon, from 1:30 when I'd arrived to 4:30, chatting and playing, and I was devastated when I had to go.
"Good luck on the scavenger hunt, Thyla!" they called as they waved goodbye.
Suddenly, a wave of uncertainty crossed my stomach. I hadn't been to many places in Neopia. I'd been to Neopia Central and Meridell, and, when I was little, the Lost Desert, Mystery Island, and Shenkuu. My owner had taken us other places, but those were the only ones I remembered. She'd never taken us to Krawk Island, because she'd thought that the bad manners of the pirates might rub off on Troi.
Thinking about Troi made my stomach hurt. Where was he now? I could only guess. And Iyka, my dear little sister, where could she be?
I pushed the thoughts out of my mind and leaped into the air. I flew to the southeast, and sure enough, a tall hill dominated all the others. I landed on top of it, and to my delight, I landed smoothly enough that I didn't tear up any grass. I stood up and looked around.
There was a small tree to my left, and in the highest branch a brilliantly white piece of paper was stuck. It had a purple rose stamped on it in the very center, and it was folded so that I couldn't see the inside at all. I knew it was from Daeda. I decided not to fly up to the tree, because I still wasn't good at precision flying even though I could land alright, so I swung myself up into the tree and began to climb.
As I got nearer and nearer to the note, the branches got skinnier and skinnier, and when I could finally reach the note, I barely trusted myself to reach out to it. But I did, and I wiggled it out from the branch. But unfortunately, at that moment there was a strong gust of wind, and I toppled out of the tree. I managed to fly towards the very end of the fall, but all that did was soften the fall for me, so I still ended up in a battered, bruised heap on the ground with the note clutched tight in my paw. I gave myself a few minutes to straighten out and stand up, and then I unfolded the note. It read, in thick, curvy handwriting:
"So you've found my note. Congratulations, but you've still got a lot more to do. Here are your instructions: go to the island closest to Meridell. It isn't registered as a country on any map, and is to the south. It's quite small. Find the mark of this paper there, and pierce this paper with the sharpest part. Good luck.
"Your instructor, Daeda"
I reread the note. Well, the island part was easy enough, but what did she mean by "the mark of this paper" and the whole part about piercing? I guessed that I should just find the island first. Suddenly a long rope wound its way out of the note, which I'd folded back up, and tied in the back like a necklace. I laughed out loud. Daeda thought of everything. I put the rope around my neck and decided to have some fun taking off from the hill. I ran to the edge of the hill and leaped off. Halfway through the fall, I began to fly, and swooped up into the air again. It was so much fun that I wanted to do it again, but I reminded myself that I wasn't a kid, that I was seventeen years old and I had to move on with this scavenger hunt.
I flew over the water until I saw a small island. I flew down to it and landed softly on the green grass. It was a pretty island, with slender, small trees spaced generously apart and thick clumps of plants surrounding them. I looked around, and suddenly it struck me what I was looking for. The "mark of the paper" was a purple rose! Of course! How could I not have noticed? I began searching through the clumps of plants. Sure enough, a tall purple rose stood in the middle of a clump of weeds. Of course I would have to use the thorns to pierce the paper! I carefully pulled a thorn out of the stalk of the dark purple rose.
I hesitated, staring at the thorn, which was, for some reason, blood red. Then I stuck it hard into the purple rose in the center of the note, which I held out with my paw. The note began to shake a little. I noticed that all the red color from the thorn was seeping out into the purple rose, but the purple rose was changing and morphing as it turned reddish and orange-ish and dark and so much different than the rose. It happened so quickly that I could barely follow it with my eyes, but suddenly, I was looking at a scoach, like the one Daeda carried around in her pocket, instead of a rose, and instead of a blood red thorn stuck in the center of the rose, there was a pale, grey thorn on the ground beside my feet. I gasped and hastily unfolded the note. The same curvy, thick handwriting was on the note, but it was shaped in different words. Here's what it said:
"Congratulations on figuring out the rose clue. There are only two more now. Travel to the big island to your east. If you can find Rikyo, my scoach, he will lead you to your next, and last, clue. If you're confused about how to find a scoach, then think about this: where would you think, from looking at a scoach, the scoach's natural habitat is. Then try to recreate that habitat, and you will attract him to you. Once you have figured this out, this note will become useful to you, so make sure you keep it with you. Good luck, Thyla.
I stared at the note. What was a scoach's natural habitat?!? How was I supposed to know? She had told me to look at the scoach to figure out what its habitat was. I stared intently at the picture of the scoach. Then I decided to fly to the island before I thought too hard about the clue. That had worked for the first clue, after all.
The island wasn't far away, and it was very big, and very empty. It would take a while to cross that island on foot. A wide forest spread across the island, but I'd landed in a small clearing. I turned my eyes to the picture of the scoach. It looked reddish, like it lived in Moltara, in magma. So what was I supposed to do? Light a fire, maybe? There was plenty of wood, but how was I supposed to light it? I'd heard about how you rub wood together to make fire, but I'd tried before, and it had never worked.
Daeda had said that the note would become useful. Maybe I should just gather the wood. I spent a while gathering kindling and logs, and then I returned to the clearing. I made a stack with the wood, and soon all that I needed were matches. Then I could stuff the note inside, light it, and then the smallest sticks would catch, which would gradually catch the bigger sticks on fire, which would eventually catch the logs aflame. But I had no matches. I pulled the note off from around my neck and examined the scoach again. Maybe I'd come to the wrong conclusion.
But I had a sudden inspiration. What if sticking the note in the pile of sticks and logs would give me matches? I pushed it in the very center of the kindling. A few seconds passed. Nothing happened. Then there was a loud roaring sound, and a loud crack. The paper was aflame, but it wasn't just any flame, it was a deep red flame, a deeper red than any natural fire's flame. I looked at for a moment, and then I noticed that Rikyo was on one of the logs. I gasped. He made a happy kind of rumble. And then he spread wings that I hadn't been able to tell he had at all, long, thin red wings, and he buzzed up in the air, landing on my shoulder.
"What now?" I asked him.
He rumbled again and opened his teeny tiny mouth and—I couldn't believe my eyes—he spat. A tiny, tiny gob of paper fell out of his mouth very slowly. I reached out my paw and it landed on my paw. And it began to rapidly grow. It grew and grew, until it was the exact size and shape of the note I'd had before. It was the same brilliantly white paper, folded the same way, with a symbol in the same place the rose and the scoach had been. It was a realistic icicle. I opened the note and it read, in Daeda's handwriting;
"So you made the fire! Nice work, Thyla. Okay, so next you're going to follow Rikyo through the air. Do you know those ice islands to the south? You're going to the largest one of them. It's going to be a tough, cold journey there, so follow my instructions closely: walk up to the red fire and put your paw in. DO NOT worry about what will happen; in fact, do not be hesitant at ALL. Otherwise the magical fire may not let you in, but if you just do as I say, everything will be just fine. Close your paw in a fist and then pull it back out. Your paw should have a red flame on it now. Eat the flame. Yep, eat it. And eat all of it, mind you. Then Rikyo will take flight and you must follow him. If you keep this note tied around your neck, it will be easy for you to do so. Once you reach the island, search for the dark blue pool of ice. Break the ice in the middle and stick your hand in the icy water. Grab the orb. Then follow the singing. Good luck!"
I shivered in anticipation as I tied the note, which had sprouted a rope, around my neck. Daeda was a nice faerie, but this challenge was going to be very hard. Would every day be like this when I was Daeda's assistant?
To be continued...