Thyla's Tale: Part Six
I decided there was no point worrying about the challenge. I drew myself up tall and mustered all my courage, walking up to the fire. I thrust my hand in. Instead of the pain and agony I'd been expecting, I felt a bit like I was putting my hand in warm water. It wasn't as substantial as water, though, it was almost like cooler steam, yet it was more substantial than THAT. It was a very hard sensation to describe. I quickly made a fist and pulled my paw out. Then I opened my paw.
A large red flame was dancing in my paw. I gasped. Then I shuddered. How was I supposed to EAT fire? I drew my hand up to my mouth, eying the flame. I opened my mouth as wide as I could get it, and then I pushed the flame in. I was shocked. The flame had a similar texture to smooth ice cream, and it tasted like a sort of hot cherry sauce. It wasn't so hot that it burned my mouth, though. I swallowed, and in a couple more mouthfuls, the flame was gone. I felt warm and snug all through.
I turned my eyes to Rikyo, who seemed far brighter and more noticeable than now. He took flight, and I followed. The sun quickly set as we flew. We reached the colder regions of Neopia, and suddenly we found ourselves battling a blizzard. I would have been extremely cold if it hadn't been for the flame, which made me snug throughout it all. But the blizzard was hard to get past. It pushed and shoved us, and I tried to keep my eyes on Rikyo and keep flying. Soon I was in a dream-like state. I was very dazed. I don't really remember much after that until I snapped out of it when Rikyo and I landed on an island made entirely of a large hunk of ice.
My head felt clear now. Rikyo rumbled in his funny way again, and then he flew away. I wished he would stay, because even though he couldn't talk, Rikyo was company. I walked around the desolate hunk of ice. It was large, but not nearly as large as the last island I'd been on. I could just see the end of it, but since the island had no trees or life on it anywhere in sight, this didn't mean it was a terribly small island.
I began to walk, looking at the ground in search of a blue pool. It was much darker and far colder when I found it. The flame was still keeping me relatively warm, but not enough that I wasn’t shivering. It must have been about nine o' clock by then, and I wished that Daeda could have simply had Rikyo lead me to her house. The pool wasn't large; in fact, it was only about twice the length of one of my arms. There was, like Daeda had said, a large bluish orb in the middle of the pool. It was in the middle of the pool, so I could almost reach it from all sides, but never quite. I grimaced. I was going to have to go out on the pool, then break the ice in the middle, and then grab the orb (which was sure to be freezing) in my arms.
I didn't feel like moving, but I did. I slid out a ways onto the pool, bent down, and touched the space of ice above the orb with my paw. It was very cold and hard. I took a deep breath, raised my paw, and hit the ice as hard as I could. A few small cracks appeared where I'd hit it, and my paw got very sore. I pounded the ice again with my fist. It broke. But it was tricky to get my paw in there to grab the orb without breaking the ice more and falling in. Eventually I managed to scoop up the orb, which was, as I had imagined, freezing cold. It was large, requiring me to wrap it tight in the crook of my left arm. It was so cold that it made me tremble.
But after I controlled my shivering, I noticed that there was a strange sound coming from not too far away. Hadn't Daeda told me to follow the singing after I got the orb? The song was beautiful, but in an eerie way. I began to walk toward the source of the song. After a while, I found that it was coming from a hole underground.
I peered into the hole doubtfully. It was large enough that I could just fit into it if I crawled. Daeda had said to follow the singing, and this hole wouldn't be here in the ice if it wasn't magical. I somehow managed to squeeze my way in still carrying the orb, and I began to crawl through a dark, cramped tunnel with the orb still tucked under my arm. The tunnel was very steep, so as I crawled it was difficult not to fall, and the tunnel was made of ice, which made it far worse. The song was getting louder and louder, and suddenly I slipped on the steep hill of ice. And I began to slide. The orb fell out of my arms as I slipped down the tunnel. I slid very, very fast, and everything was a blur. It went on like that for a while, and I was going at such a high speed, I barely had time to worry that I'd lost the orb and couldn't hear singing anymore. I tried to stop myself multiple times, but it just gave me little scraps in my hand.
Suddenly there was a hole in the floor of the tunnel and I slipped down it, and I was freezing and my stomach was surely out of my head right now, the drop was so long... and suddenly I hit solid earth. Not ice. I pulled myself up, dazed.
There were two holes in the ceiling: the one I had popped out of, and another one to my right. The cave was damp and musty, and the ground felt like wet sand. A few spots in the ceiling dripped a little. I examined the other hole, and I noticed that the floor underneath it had a red circle on it. As I was examining it, something flew out of the hole I'd just come out of and hit me in the head.
It was the orb. I grabbed it, but I couldn't hear singing anymore. I stared at the red circle. It seemed that I was supposed to stand on it, but I thought that maybe that would do something awful to me. I hesitated. Then I set the orb on it instead; it could be my guinea pig. A second after I set it on the red spot, the red spot pushed up like a spring, and the orb shot up like a bullet into the hole in the ceiling. My mouth fell open. I waited for the orb to come back down, but it didn't. I swallowed. Could it be that there was a trap up there? I thought. But then, maybe that was the way to safety and the orb would be waiting when I got up there. I looked around. There was no other exit. This had to be the way to go.
I took a deep breath and carefully shifted right on top of the red spot. I squeezed my eyes shut tight. One, two, three seconds passed, and nothing happened. The red spot was still firmly underneath my feet, and the musty smell of the cavern still tickled my nose. The wet sand was nice and cool below my feet. I opened my eyes. Yep, I was still in the cavern. Maybe it only worked once, I thought, panicking.
And then I hit myself on the head, because the answer was SO OBVIOUS and I should have spotted it AGES ago!! I could FLY, for goodness sake! I was about to leap up--in fact, my feet were barely touched the red spot--when the red spot sprang up as it had with the orb. I was launched into the air. Cool air rushed past my fur, and suddenly the air was fresh and nice, not at all musty, and I smelled the sea. But I couldn't see anything, I was going so fast, and anyways, it was late at night. I was shooting up in the air like a rocket.
And then, just as suddenly as the spring had shot me up, I wasn't. I was so surprised that I couldn't even catch myself before I landed. Since it was so dark, I couldn't really see much of the island that I was falling (and falling quickly) towards, but I could see that it was nothing like the cold island I'd been at before. It was a warm sort of island, but a very wild island, with lots and lots of wild plants.
I crashed on the beach. It was a pretty soft landing, but I still skinned my knee and nicked my arm and got pretty battered. I looked up at the island. The plants looked much wilder now, but in a sort of good way. Lots of soft and some slightly spooky nighttime sounds were coming from the forest. I realized this must be Daeda's island. It felt like her island. I looked around, and sure enough, there she was walking towards me with Rikyo in her shirt pocket. She was smiling. I was pretty bruised and battered, but I smiled back.
"Did you enjoy the challenges?" she asked.
"Er," I began. "They were interesting, yeah. But kind of wearing, if you know what I mean."
I had thought the challenges were interesting, yes, but really, all that hard work was completely unnecessary. I guess that was just part of my training.
"Well, welcome to ThaekaDaedana," she said, gesturing to the whole island. "It's where I live. And many other creatures live here, too."
She said the last bit in a mischievous voice, and her mischievous I'm-stirring-up-trouble smile tugged at the left corner of her mouth. She led me onto a narrow, twisty path which winded its way through the wild forest of plants. More than once I saw a strange creature pop out of the woods, but oddly enough, it didn't bother me. Finally, the path ended, and we were standing by an old house. It was very tall, and quite wide, but it wasn't exactly a mansion. It was more like a huge, tall house. I liked the looks of it. Daeda smiled when she saw me staring at it.
"It's not a castle," she said, "but it's good enough for me."
I nodded, and we walked in. The large room we walked into contained a roaring fire and a rather old fashioned kitchen, and lots of other odds and ends. Two large ladders that were sort of half staircases, half ladders went up into holes in the ceiling, and there were two doors leading into other rooms. I suddenly realized that I was very tired.
"Where do I sleep?" I asked Daeda.
"Go up the right ladder two floors," she replied.
I did so, and after passing through a huge library on the ladder, I reached a rather small, circular room. It had a four poster bed in the middle, many bookshelves, a big window overlooking a large, clear pond, and some other odds and ends. Nothing about the room suggested it belonged to a faerie. But it was a nice room. I collapsed on the bed and fell asleep.
Being Daeda's assistant was very interesting, rather fun, and quite demanding. Every day she presented a new challenge for me. Sometimes we stayed on her island, and sometimes we traveled through all of Neopia. I grew used to the wild feel of her island, and I befriended many of the petpets that wandered throughout the island. I also got skilled with using magical objects. I learned how to use staffs and wands, how to read ancient magical languages, and how to perfectly pronounce and understand a spell.
My room, which had looked un-magical at first, began to look different. Staffs leaned against the walls. Novas floated in the corners. Wands stood on the shelves. Magical books lay open in many places, glowing in strange colors and making strange sounds.
But aside from the magic, I also grew to love Daeda. She was like my owner. She was a little wild, and she loved to stir up mischief, but she had a very loveable side, and when she liked you, she did, and she didn't care who or what you were. I supposed that was why she and her scoach Rikyo were inseparable. She always dressed in brilliantly white clothes, and Rikyo was always in one of her pockets, his reddish hue standing out against the white clothes.
As the years went by, I almost forgot about my restaurant. The dream was now sort of a habit, something I turned to when I couldn't fall asleep at night. So when my three years with Daeda were up, I didn't realize it was the day I would leave. Daeda was waiting for me downstairs with a cup of coffee, and she wore suspiciously puffy eyes. A bulging sack of neopoints was beside her.
"Good morning," I said, sitting beside her. "So what are we doing today?"
"Thyla," she said, "today you leave. It's been three years."
I stared at her. And I began to cry.
"Daeda, I don't want to go," I said through my tears. "I want to stay with you!"
Daeda smiled wistfully.
"But you want your restaurant, Thyla," she reminded me. "I know you do. Even though you've almost stopped dreaming about it yourself, I know the dream is still there, deep down. You cook for me all the time. I can tell you love it. We're going to Neopia Central."
I tried to compose myself and stop crying as we flew to Neopia Central. Daeda hesitated before she waved her hand at the spot near the Money Tree that was to be my restaurant.
"Do you want it to be the same as it was before?" she asked me.
"Daeda," I said in a low voice, "I have an idea. But in order for my idea to work, you have to help me run my restaurant."
I whispered my plan to Daeda.
Six months later, neopets of all shapes and sizes were going to and from the most popular restaurant, TaerthaThylana, which meant Thyla's Restaurant in an ancient, magical language. The restaurant was large, owned by a Zafara and a dark faerie. Me and Daeda. The restaurant served spectacular food cooked by magical methods, and you could watch as your food was cooked. All sorts of astounding magical entertainment was provided, from surprisingly accurate menus that could tell you what food from the menu you might enjoy best to wonderful magic displays which featured many different things, including disappearances, flying, and the antics of a very special scoach named Rikyo. The food we offered was sophisticated but delicious, and Daeda and I took care to arrange it so that it looked pretty.
For six months, I'd been working at the restaurant, and I loved everything about it. Daeda and I took on various different jobs throughout the restaurant, but Daeda couldn't be there all the time. When she couldn't, she sent another faerie to help out. She said that she paid them to do this for her, but I wondered, since faeries could conjure neopoints, why did they need money? Daeda explained that faerie currency was of a different kind than ours, made of a different kind of stone. The stone was only found if you carefully mined in the faerie caverns, and faeries could not conjure it.
Our restaurant flourished, and I lived above it in a nice apartment. But something inside me, deep down, still ached. I had my dream, my restaurant, what I'd been working towards for so long. But now I wanted something else, something different. Every day when it was my turn to seat the customers, I watched the crowds coming into our popular restaurant for a little blue Zafara, now about nine years old, and a red Bori, around sixteen at this point.
But for those first six months, I watched in vain. I would often see pets those species and colors, and sometimes even pets that fit those descriptions pretty well, but a closer look would always reveal that those pets were not my siblings.
But one sunny day, lunch hour was just about ended and I was waiting for a customer to lead to their seats, when I saw something that made my heart skip a beat. It was a striped Zafara. She looked about nine, and she had on NC Mall clothes—a sparkling red hair bow, an adorable short sleeved shirt with hearts, and a red polka dot skirt. I could tell this was my sister Iyka, not just because of her looks, which I could recognize easily, but because she was dragging a girl with bright red hair by the hand. The girl's hair was long now, swept up in a ponytail, and she was taller, though still short for her age. I could tell it was my sister's owner.
"Mother, I know this is her restaurant!" Iyka cried in a voice that sounded much more mature than I remembered. "Mother, the name means Thyla's Restaurant! This whole time we've been living in Brightvale, she's been setting up shop! I knew we should have come back to your apartment sooner! I knew she'd have her restaurant."
"I know, love," said the girl. "But won't Troi want to see her, too?"
"Troi's meeting us here!" said Iyka. "He told me to meet him there, don't you remember?"
"He did?" said the girl, surprised. "I don't recall you telling me that. Oh well. Let's go."
They were very close now. I was surprised that the girl had adopted Troi, too, even though for some reason I'd been expecting them to be together. I decided to tease Iyka, and I left the entryway for a moment. I put on a hat, sunglasses, a black leather jacket on top of my dark green shirt, and a dark red shirt instead of my dark green skirt. I assumed a stately posture that wasn't my own, and I adjusted my voice so that it was lower and grander. I could do pretty good voices when I tried. I trusted time to mask the rest of me, and my new color. I walked into the entryway, and I almost dropped my new identity when I saw Troi. He was painted electric, and wearing cool clothes. He was so much older! He was looking around the restaurant, apparently impressed. I cleared my throat.
"Would you like a table?" I asked rather grandly.
"Yes, please," said Iyka firmly. "Table for three."
I tried not to giggle. She didn't recognize me! I'd done a good job. I led them to a table and they sat down.
"Here are your menus," I told them. "They will tell you what foods on our menu you will like the best."
They were impressed. I left and came back as their server. After they'd had their main course, I asked them:
"Are you interested in dessert today?"
"Actually, we'd like to speak with the owner," said Iyka's owner.
"Very well," I said. "She's a speckled Zafara, like I am, and I should tell you, if you have complaints, she's not going to let you bully her around with them. I will go and get her. She may be too busy at the moment to come."
I left and walked up to my apartment. I pulled off the disguise and put on a sophisticated white dress. I grabbed a glass of lemonade and sipped at it for a moment. Then, lemonade in hand, I walked down and out into the restaurant, where Iyka, Troi, and their owner were waiting.
"Hello," I said coolly when they saw me and squealed with excitement. "Do you have a complaint? I am sorry that our restaurant has failed you, but I—wait a moment."
I peered more closely at them, pretending to have just recognized them.
"Iyka!" I squealed. "Troi! And, um... no offense, but who are you?" I asked the girl.
"I'm Rosamay," she said. "You're Thyla, right?"
"Yeah," I said. "And I just totally tricked you guys! I was here the whole time as your waitress!"
We talked for a long time. Rosamay had wanted to adopt me and Troi when Iyka had pointed out that she would miss us too much if she left, but after she adopted Troi, a user had been talking to another user outside my friend and saying they were going to adopt me. Rosamay had assumed the user would, and so she'd left. Then they'd moved to Brightvale, but they'd kept a little apartment here, and they were staying here for a while. I introduced them to Daeda (they soon grew to like each other) and I suggested that they moved into the apartment above the restaurant. Daeda enlarged the apartment, and we've been living there happily ever since, going to Brightvale for vacations. So after all that time, my dream had come true, and I am happy that today I can say that I am living happily ever after.