Circle of Five, an Ancient Neopia Legend
Many thanks to o_liveandlearn_o, for reawakening my Neoquest inspiration!
The following scroll is comprised of many pieces and bits of notes penned by a long-forgotten and unnamed scholar. The diary context has been left intact.
Quiet. All is quiet.
Ever since the white Lupe defeated Xantan and Jahbal, and the monsters disappeared, it's been so still here. Now that it is safe to journey outwards, I've made the most of the wisdom of Gali Yoj and begun exploring the Techo Mountains. Yoj herself mentioned that with a little more experience, I might be able to become a lore keeper myself, when the time comes.
Sometime after I had begun my travels, it was announced that the Staves of Brilliance were to be returned to the Mountain Fortress. The action was to pay homage to the wizard who, during the time of the Great Empire, had built the mountain fortress itself.
Yoj was unable to make the trip, though many believed she should complete the task. I, her newest apprentice, much less venerated but eager, was allowed to go.
And so, in these once-hallowed, once-feared halls, I stand, and it is still and silent.
The only company I have is that of these five Staves of Brilliance. It is now that I wish someone else had come with me... I feel unsettled in the presence of these powerful relics. But I suppose that is precisely why I am now laying them to rest... this is simply where they belong.
I first placed the bone-colored Shadowgem Staff. The other Staves are restless, in response... One emits incessant heat, another is almost too cold to touch... but I was told by the Hero that powerful enchantments were cast upon them in preparation for this task. A full day was required in between placements; the Staves would settle when it was time to place another one. I was to be neither hasty nor afraid.
The mazelike chamber of rooms was slightly unnerving to navigate, but I reached the place where the Hero had defeated the Guardian of Spectral Magic. There were no chairs or tables in the room—I had not noticed this before, as on my previous journeys I had never ventured deep into the fortress. But now was the time to convince myself that these monsters were gone.
There were still fragments of healing potion bottles scattered around... the final remnants of the monsters. I've heard fantastic tales of the Elementals that once lived within these walls... I cannot imagine facing them.
The Shadowgem Staff gave off a brilliant surge of light when I placed it on the ground... and for a moment, I thought I saw the Guardian, regarding me with a calm expression. It must have been my imagination; it was soon gone. And yet I am sure I did not imagine the ethereal rainbow of light...
A brief pause, and the stone around the staff hissed, warping, folding in on itself. Growing, climbing, the stone shifted upwards as I scrambled back. The staff rested in the stone's grasp, and its color began trickling into the self-shaping stone itself, dying the dull gray a smooth, marble-like white.
The bone-colored staff sat on a bone-colored throne, intricately shaped and glowing brilliantly with inner light. Small dots of light, almost star-like, twinkled in the air above it.
What was it that Gali Yoj said to me before I left? "You are the next keeper, you are another piece of the future. You will explore and learn, and write the cantos the next generations will sing. You and those who follow your path will sing the new melody of the Five Spheres."
I still have a little less than half a day to wait, I believe. The remaining staffs continue to give off menacing auras of magic... but I have enough provisions to last several days, and what's more, enough ink to last much more than several verses.
The Life Magic Stave of Brilliance, the Moonstone Staff, seems to be reacting much more violently than the others...
It smells funny.
Spectral force, I call to you
Reflect the light and darkness true
Face the fray with no surprise
Defend my heart and raise my eyes.
Shock Magic staff placed next. I approve of this Guardian... its chosen place reminds me of a study hall, what with the tables and chairs arranged so nicely...
There was a small circle of charred stone at the far end of the room... possibly the last mark the creature left when it was defeated. As I approached, sparks erupted from nearby pillars and an image of the Guardian of Shock Magic seemed to hover in the air before me... a flash of lightning and when I again opened my eyes, a twisted column of gold stood before me, amber glints curling off the decorative spikes that curved around a central pedestal.
I placed the Thunderstar Staff there.
The fortress is frightening at night... But I chase away the ghosts by writing. The Staffs are little help, rather, they intimidate me. The wide stone walls seem unfeeling, uncomforting, and my footsteps echo wherever I walk.
I sleep when I am unaware. I feel as if I should be looking for something... and yet though I know the monsters are gone, I feel the need to sneak around. Every step is uncertain.
Lightning's breath, strike with force
And never sway from your straight course
Disarm and stun, reduce their skill
Overcome with strength of will.
Gali Yoj once mentioned to me that the five guardian spirits were accidentally summoned by the wizard. I'm not sure how I first reacted. Did I feel pity? The Guardians are the reason the wizard is no longer here... but there seems to be another part of the story that I don't know. It seems important. They were, after all, torn away from their world without a means to return.
The monsters may be gone... the elementals may be gone... but I feel as if an essence, a presence, of the Guardians remains. They were powerful. I can still feel their unrest contained in the weapons they once wielded. Perhaps this is why the Hero thought it best for them to be returned.
Because I could not bring myself to venture into the outdoor areas of the fortress just yet, I decided to lay the Iceheart Staff to rest next. I remember the locations because I remember the stories...
I saw the Guardian of Ice Magic, I'm sure, and it's scaring me, to think that the Guardians still remain, even though they may no longer be capable of harm.
But there was something different. The Guardian was transparent, ghostly, and standing in what appeared to be a shallow pool of water. I placed the staff (well, actually, it was more that I threw it into the water as if it were going to bite me), and the Guardian, or the spirit or whatever it was, closed its eyes and dissipated. As it faded away, I approached curiously—the cobalt-blue staff was encased in a coffin of clear quartz, and a sparkling layer of ice covered the surrounding floor.
The Guardian didn't look angry, or disdainful. It looked... sad, perhaps.
I don't know what is happening, but I can hear things moving within the walls but the moment I think of running away the two staffs begin to protest I can feel it the fire magic and life magic won't let me leave there is something that they are trying to tell me I don't know if I'm in danger but I can't leave just now I don't know why
As graceful as the falling snow
Take my hand, strike and slow
Heart of Ice, please grant respite
Freeze the foe and turn the fight
One more staff remains.
I had to make an effort to bring myself to enter the sandy, desert-like area where stories say the Hero faced the Guardian of Fire Magic. The Firedrop Staff itself seemed agitated, giving off pulses of intense heat. I nearly dropped it a few times. (No, many times.)
(And the Moonstone Staff still smelled funny)
When I ventured deep enough into the rock-studded sands, I saw what seemed to be a jagged pillar of black glass jutting out of the ground. There was a vertical niche carved into the center, and when the flame-colored staff was placed there, flames erupted from the ground and a black cloud of smoke emanated from the glass. It remained there, hovering, shifting, and there may have been a pair of greenish eyes watching me... I quickly retreated.
I dropped the Moonstone Staff. I had to go back to fetch it.
Let wings unfurl and Fire burn
Destruction soar and embers churn
Conquer all that you can see
Stoke your strength and fight for me
I write in the half-light of early morning. I am still in the forested, slightly jungle-like area once inhabited by the Guardian of Life Magic. Somehow I must have fallen asleep earlier... But before I forget...
The Moonstone Staff had fortunately stopped smelling like rotting wood when I entered the grassy area. Something drew me to a particular spot... I happened to find an out-of-place pile of rock, dirt, and dead leaves.
I left the emerald-colored staff there.
But when I turned away, the air was suddenly thin, as if the fortress itself held its breath. And then a sigh, a rush of wind, and the plants at my feet bloomed, blossomed, flourished in sudden vitality. Life Magic.
I rapidly turned to face the Staff once more. It was gone. In its place was an elegant, living tree, branches stretching towards the sunlit sky and leaves shining with the very essence of the Life Sphere. What might have been a smile was hidden within the bark of its trunk, but when I looked closer, I could no longer see it...
And something told me it was time to go. Perhaps I could explore Two Rings, perhaps make my way to Kal Panning... I needed to be anywhere but this fortress. I had simply spent far too much time amidst the forgotten and deserted walls... my task was complete, nothing more to it... The Staffs are placed, my songs have begun. There's no reason to return. I'll write on my way home if need be.
I feel like I'm not as alone as I should be. I need to leave...
Got lost in the Techo Caves again.
Sphere of Life, grant nature's toll
Heal my pain and soothe my soul
Return to me what fate has crossed
Restore to me what once was lost
I've finally returned. I told Gali Yoj the task was done. I suppose I should go back to those verses I'd written on the Five Spheres of Magic. Revise. Continue.
No, perhaps another time.
It's been over a year since I've last added to these particular records. So much has passed; I've almost forgotten. I have not set foot in the mountain fortress since, but many others I know have... They have gone to see the staffs in their resting places.
None of them stay long; all of them say they can feel a very real presence within the walls, within the very air... they say the fortress seems thick with magic, with the energies of the Five Spheres.
Stranger yet, some return to bring me tales of words that have mysteriously appeared. Faint words, etched into the walls, engraved into trees, carved into freestanding stones:
Elcr icaev ifer aew
efil lartc epsk coh sec ie rif
sgno sru oyg nisll iwew
sedaf emit siht sa
desiar era seciov ruo
Perhaps one day I will return to see them.