Baby Adventures: The Secret Note - Part Four
Treaphie, Kasthie, and Kolyae looked down at their feet in shame. Thoughts were swimming in Treaphie's head about how they had been discovered already, had not completed their mission, and hadn't properly investigated the cause of the disturbance in Neopia. Never would she have dreamed that seeing her kind sister would make her feel so depressed.
"How'd you find us?" Kasthie asked in a small voice.
"I do my research," Toupahz explained with a wave of her paw. "I questioned everyone I could find. The banker at the National Neopian said something about three masked figures questioning him on how expensive it was to travel to Roo Island. I asked him what time this occurred, and strangely enough, it was soon after you three were discovered missing. I thanked him and flew over here as soon as possible. Then I waited here."
"Oh," said Kolyae timidly.
"Now, the questioning goes to you. What's going on?"
There was silence from the babies.
"Well?" Toupahz demanded. She always used kind tones with the babies before, but now she sounded furious.
"Well," Treaphie babbled, making her words as distinguishable to the older pet as possible, "we're trying to save Neopia." She didn't know how else to begin, but she supposed after the words had slipped from her mouth that it was not the most believable statement.
Sure enough, Toupahz looked skeptical. "Saving Neopia?" she scoffed. "From what?"
"We don't know, exactly," Treaphie tried to explain. She felt her cheeks turning red in embarrassment. Telling her sister she was saving Neopia, and not even knowing what she was saving it from? She knew that she wouldn't be taken very seriously.
Toupahz sighed. "Why did you leave home?" she asked, and her tone seemed almost pleading. "Tell me. Did I... did I do something?"
"Of course not!" Kasthie cried, rushing up and hugging her sister.
Toupahz smiled. "Well, then, what was it?"
"We told you," said Kasthie, looking up at her sister with wide eyes. "We don't know. Here, this should explain it." She looked at Treaphie meaningfully, and Treaphie removed the parchment and handed it to Toupahz. Toupahz scanned it quickly, her eyes widening with every word.
"Where did you get-" she began, but Treaphie had already removed the White Faellie from her bag.
"We found this little petpet in the snow," the Usul explained, absentmindedly stroking the soft white fur. "She was holding the letter. This was obviously meant for whoever found it... and it's very extreme..."
"We wanted to tell!" cried Kasthie, practically bursting into tears. "But we c-couldn't! The p-paper said not t-to!"
There was a silence. Then Kolyae spoke up, "Are you gonna turn us in?"
Toupahz answered, "You're coming with me."
"But we need to save Neopia!" Treaphie exclaimed, anger bubbling in her stomach. Why wouldn't Toupahz let them go? This was serious!
"You misunderstand me," the Meerca said calmly. "I'm not stopping you. But I'm coming with you."
The others stared. "Are you serious?" whispered Kolyae.
"Of course I am," said Toupahz incredulously. "You think I'm gonna let my baby brother and sisters out on their own? Where are you guys going next?"
"Um... Faerieland," murmured Treaphie.
"All right. You guys are gonna need a Uni," Toupahz said. "Got any money? Or food?"
Treaphie laughed and handed her a few 500-neopoint coins and a Banana Hot Dog. Toupahz accepted them and ate hungrily. "Ah, much better," she said, smiling. She fluttered over to the many Unis waiting on the docks. They were majestic and beautiful, looking to be in good shape from all the exercise they got flying up 10,000 feet and back down again. Toupahz conversed with a large Purple Uni, who looked enthusiastic to get three customers at the same time that would weigh the same as one usual pet. Toupahz handed her the three 500-neopoint coins that Treaphie gave her, and the Purple Uni smiled, putting them into a brown sack around her neck.
Toupahz came back to the babies and led them to the Uni.
"Climb on," Toupahz instructed.
"But what about you?" Kasthie asked, wide-eyed.
"I'm a Faerie pet! I can fly on my own," said Toupahz proudly.
"But aren't you tired from all the flying you've already done?" Kasthie asked. "You could just join us on another Uni..."
"No, no, I'm good!" Toupahz insisted, though she seemed to still be breathing heavily from her exhausting flight not long ago. "Look, I'm not going to go wasting your money. Get on your Uni and I'll meet you up there." Each of the babies scrambled up and mounted on the winged Uni.
Kolyae was sitting on the front, his hands around the Uni's neck.
"Are you scared, Kolyae?" Treaphie asked, noticing his terror-struck face.
"N-no," he stammered, but it wasn't very believable.
Kasthie, whose skinny little arms were grabbing onto the Chomby equally tight, looked very horrified indeed. Treaphie, seated in the back, sighed and grabbed onto her brother and sister. Her little arms were stretched very far.
"See you up there!" Toupahz called as she fluttered up into the sky.
The Uni asked, "Ready?" The three nodded and murmured, "Yes," and she took off.
They began soaring through the sky, clouds whizzing past their heads. They easily passed Toupahz, who seemed to be realizing just how hard this was going to be. She made tremendous effort, flapping her wings, but she was rapidly growing smaller as the babies watched her. Kasthie cried, "Slow down, please! Slow down!" The Purple Uni turned her head to look at them, but she could only twist it enough to see part of their faces.
"Don't you guys have some insane deadline? That's what the Meerca said."
"Yeah..." Treaphie began, with a nervous look at her sister. "You can go just a little slower, though. So we don't, you know, fall off or anything. Not that we would!" she said quickly, for Kolyae's eyes had widened drastically, "But just as an added precaution."
The Purple Uni continued going fast, but it was far slower than her original extreme pace. They reached the first clouds of Faerieland, 10,000 feet above their starting point, only half an hour later. The Uni looked relieved at the sight of it; clearly she had gotten very tired from her efforts. She slowed her pace and rested her shimmery hooves upon the nearest cloud. The babies held their breath, expecting the Uni to fall through the feathery strands of wispy mist holding the cloud together, but surprisingly the cloud stayed aloft.
"How is that possible?" Treaphie asked her. The Uni turned around and smiled.
"Magic, of course," she said dreamily. "The faeries are able to keep these clouds nice and stable. Go on, you better hurry!"
"Thanks!" Treaphie said. She watched Kolyae carefully put his foot down, gradually sliding off the Uni. Kasthie wasn't even budging. Treaphie just jumped straight off and got into a cannonball position, as if it were a pool below her. She hit the cloud, but it felt soft and feathery, as if she were caught in a net woven of cotton. As she hit it with large force, the cloud sunk down, still below her and surrounding her on all sides. Then it gently released her, causing her to fly into the air before landing softly nearby. Treaphie laughed. "Come on, guys! It's fine!"
The others looked uncertain, but they climbed off slowly. Finally, they made their way over to Treaphie. The clouds seemed to give them a bit of an extra bounce on their way over. Treaphie glanced around and found herself instantly captivated. The outskirts of Faerieland were beautiful - glistening white clouds, with the sunlight magnificently filtering through them and casting a golden beam down upon Neopia; pink and purple stones stacked on top of one another to form towering structures with a hint of both power and elegancy; petpets roaming around, flying on their Faerie wings, their owners laughing and scooping them up. Treaphie was already enjoying her visit.
However, she, Kolyae, and Kasthie knew what lay ahead - they had seen it on their way to Roo Island. There was dark purple overcoming the clouds, leaking through the mist as ink does when it splatters paper. And there weren't any faeries in sight.
Treaphie tried to shake the thought out of her head. She looked at the edge of the cloud. "Hey, where's Toupahz?" she asked.
"I thought she was coming!" Kasthie wailed.
"Relax," the Uni said calmly. "Your friend is probably on her way up. Anyway, I've got a tight schedule and have to get going now. Good bye!" With that, the Uni ran along the border, shouting, "Going to Roo Island! Anyone need a Uni to get to Roo Island?"
Treaphie peered over the edge of the cloud, to the gasps of Kasthie and Kolyae.
"I think I see her," she said quietly. "But she's so far down..."
"Maybe we should have a quick breakfast," Kolyae suggested. Kasthie nodded fervently, staring at her rumbling stomach.
It seemed that Roo Island was home to quite a talented chef. The gourmet food he packed was delightful. The first delicacies they found were egg rolls topped with fresh, lightly sprinkled small leaves. They also ate cinnamon pasties with jam spread on the top, small cakes with berries in between the layers of frosting, and assorted fruits inside large scoops of yogurt.
They had just finished this hearty meal by the time Toupahz came up, gasping for breath. She flopped down on the cloud and did not move.
"Toupahz!" Kasthie cried, throwing aside her backpack and rushing up to her sister. Toupahz sat up, looked at her baby sisters, and gave a weak smile.
"I'm fine," she confirmed, "Just... exhausted... I spent so long flying to Roo Island today, and now up to Faerieland, well..." she took a deep breath. "Good exercise, I suppose."
"Toupahz, you need some food and some rest," Kolyae told her firmly.
The Faerie Meerca smiled again. "Please, I'll just lie here..."
"Don't be ridiculous - it's winter! Look at this altitude! You'll catch a cold, Toupahz!"
"Why don't we get a room in the Neolodge?" Treaphie suggested quickly. "It's right nearby. There's one up here called 'Faerie Castle'. It costs 1,000 neopoints per night for the room, 2,000 for a suite, and extras are charged separately."
"Well..." Toupahz looked skeptical. "I didn't bring any money; we're going to have to camp out on a nice cloud somewhere-"
"No need," Treaphie interrupted. "I brought money."
Toupahz smiled gratefully. "As long as you can spare it," she consented, and she flew determinedly toward the Neolodge Hotel nearby, looking as if her wings were going to stop any minute.
After they had gotten checked into a suite (as a regular room had only two beds and the suite had double) and handed over 2,000 neopoints, Toupahz entered their room. Treaphie, Kasthie, and Kolyae toddled behind her and got a good look at the place. The suite was large, decorated to resemble the most breathtaking parts of Faerieland, and included 4 beds. Toupahz beamed as she saw it. "This is beautiful!" she cried. "Oh, we should live here! Come on, let's all recharge our energy and take naps." She collapsed on the nearest bed, which had light blue blankets on a fluffy pink mattress that was as puffy as the clouds beneath them. The floor looked as though it had been woven of Babaa wool and it felt very soft to tread upon.
Treaphie put a finger to her lips and quietly climbed into one of the beds. The other two did the same. After a few minutes, they noticed a change in Toupahz's breathing as she lay on top of the quilt of her bed. She had fallen asleep.
"Okay, let's go," whispered Treaphie.
"What?" exclaimed Kasthie and Kolyae in unison. Treaphie winced at the noise and shushed them.
"Come on," she persuaded. "We can't put Toupahz in danger for us!"
"But I feel so much safer with her," Kasthie murmured. Kolyae nodded fervently.
"This quest was meant for us, and we're not getting anyone else involved in the dangerous parts," Treaphie insisted. "I have a bad feeling about Toupahz going with us into Faerie City to investigate."
"What's wrong with Toupahz in Faerie City?" asked Kolyae suddenly, and there was a note of curiosity in his voice.
"Think about it," said Treaphie, relieved that they were listening, "Toupahz is the type of person who would put herself before us-"
"A quality I greatly appreciate," Kasthie added, nodding.
"She would keep us restrained and forbid us to talk or plan," Treaphie continued. "She would follow her own instincts. No offense to her, but her instincts are usually to confront someone. We need to spy. She wouldn't listen to that. We need to do this alone."
The other two looked sadly at Toupahz's body, lying gently on the bed, and then turned back to Treaphie. "How long do we have until she wakes up?" Kasthie asked.
"Given her very obvious fatigue after the long journey," Treaphie mused, "I'd say we've got a guaranteed three to four hours, maybe more."
The babies stood there for several moments before Treaphie said, a little sharper, "Didn't you hear me? Three to four hours! We've got to get moving; time is of the essence!"
The others jumped and quickly scurried out the door. Treaphie hesitated at the door, then pulled her Yellow Lined Notebook and an Earth Faerie Pen from her Faerie Backpack. She hastily scribbled a note to Toupahz explaining why they had left and pleading her not to follow, set it on the nightstand beside her bed, and left the room to the two waiting babies on the other side.
Quietly they crept through the corridors. Treaphie murmured along the way, "The Neolodge isn't too far from Faerie City... and Jhudora's Cloud is just beyond that... we need to hurry... it will take at least an hour of traveling there and back, so we'll need to stay focused..."
That, however, proved impossible when they came to a halt inside the golden gates of Faerie City. The purple spots dotting the clouds had leaked much further since they had last seen them. Treaphie had wondered why she hadn't seen any faeries outside of Faerie City, and here was her answer: they were all too busy working on removing the dark stains from their precious clouds. The light faeries were apparently in high demand. They all were huddled in groups, concentrating hard, and lightening the Dark patches, but it seemed to take great energy out of them and made them very weary and dizzy. The other faeries were helping, too. Treaphie spotted some nearby water faeries trying to cleanse the clouds by rinsing them diligently with pure water. It wasn't working too well, but it seemed to take off a few patches. Fire faeries were setting the patches on flames, hoping it would get rid of the Dark substance and that the clouds would be able to regrow soon. Air faeries were sending such strong blows that the clouds themselves were ripping apart, but the dark purple did not linger on these severed pieces and instead moved quickly to the main part. Earth faeries were trying desperately to entangle the purple in vines, trapping the dark and stopping it from spreading. It seemed to be working rather well; the Earth magic seemed particularly strong today.
Unsurprisingly, the Dark faeries were nowhere to be seen.
The three babies were staring at this chaotic scene, observing the faeries' power fighting a losing battle against the dark substance.
"I bet Fyora could solve this," Kasthie said hopefully. "Her magic is the power of goodness. She could get rid of it."
"Um, if she could have disposed of it that easily, why hasn't she done it yet?" asked Kolyae.
Kasthie didn't seem to know how to answer that and kept silent. Treaphie, meanwhile, was scouring the skies with her two big, bright eyes, remembering their duty. She had a feeling this darkness was somehow linked to their mission, but it mystified even her. What was going on?
"There," she said clearly, pointing straight ahead to a small cloud that looked swallowed by the Dark magic. Every thread of wisp seemed to have fallen into a purple lake, coated in darkness. The babies clambered over to it, slipping and sliding across the slick patches of Darkness. They tried to go undetected, for the faeries certainly would not approve of having three babies in such a dangerous place, but all seemed too focused to notice them.
Treaphie saw Kasthie scamper ahead to the edge of the cloud and gaze uncertainly at Jhudora's Cloud above her head. "How are we going to reach it?" she whispered.
"We could ask a faerie," Kolyae suggested.
"Don't be ridiculous, Kolyae, the faeries would never allow us to such a thing!" Treaphie said. She frowned and crossed her fuzzy arms in front of her chest, staring at the cloud. So near, yet so far...
As usual, she, without realizing it, pulled the White Faellie out of her bag and began to pet her. The soft, warm body was of a pure white color, and with each stroke she made on it, Treaphie felt more calm. The Faellie yawned and stretched her legs, blinking her pretty, tiny eyes at them. The babies stared at her, watching her twitching ears and nose. The Faellie straightened up in Treaphie's arms and sniffed the air. Treaphie gasped.
The Faellie had suddenly, without warning, looked up above them and made a cloud form in mid-air exactly where she had stared. Then the Faellie had flown over to it and settled down, curled up, and fallen asleep.
They all blinked, uncomprehending. How did the Faellie just do that?
Treaphie was the first to come to her senses. A miracle had obviously happened. She put a hand onto the small cloud and climbed on. She then picked up the Faellie, who woke at her soft touch, and whispered, "Please, make us another one. Please make us a cloud staircase leading up to Jhudora's Cloud."
For a few seconds, nothing happened. Then the Faellie gazed off into the distance with a focused expression, and clouds formed, each higher than the last. It was exactly what Treaphie had asked for. She hugged the Faellie and stroked her, whispering her thanks repeatedly as she set off up the staircase. She was certain that the others were right behind her.
When she made it to the top, however, she looked down and realized that Kasthie and Kolyae were still all the way down. "Why didn't you come?" she hollered, but she soon realized why: the clouds had disappeared!
Treaphie requested more clouds from the Faellie, and asked her to keep them up until they had all made it to Jhudora's Cloud. Finally, the others had staggered up. They stepped onto the threshold of Jhudora's home, and the clouds behind them vanished.
The babies were amazed by what they saw. A dark archway was suspended above them, with two slanted yellow eyes carved into it that sent chills down their backs. The house was foreboding and misty. Green fumes poured out of the windows, causing Kasthie to gag for a few moments before Treaphie steadied her.
The house looked as though it had gone through numerous modifications in the past years. There was what looked like the original house, a normal square brick building, and then there were the oddly-shaped additions to it that made it a towering structure with an unusual form. However, it gave a chilling, intimidating appearance that lingered in the air. Creepy petpets were prowling outside the building, crawling along and hissing at the visitors.
"Remember," Treaphie muttered to the other two, "we're questers. Nothing wrong with that. Jhudora will hear us out."
"R-right," Kasthie said. "But how do we get in-"
"Shh!" Kolyae silenced her. "Don't you guys see the door is open?"
Sure enough, the elaborate purple door with its detailed green swirls was hanging on its hinges, having been pushed open from the outside. The three babies looked at each other and nodded, then slipped inside.
The inside of the house was very dark. They could barely see anything to their left except for a few odd pots and jars that were illuminated by the bright green light on their right. Treaphie pulled them into the dark area of the room, where she felt the cold stone wall against her back, and looked around at the brighter side. Jhudora was seated upon her throne, her cruel eyes glinting menacingly in the light pouring out of the cauldron in front of her. Purple and green mist was overwhelming the foot of the throne, drifting all over the room and seeming to disappear as it collided with the pure black. Kasthie looked ready to cough, but Kolyae seemed to have noticed this and stopped her from making it too loud with a few gestures.
"... would appreciate it if you had the common curtesy to shut the door," Jhudora was saying. Treaphie strained her ears to hear.
"Yes, Jhudora," came a raspy voice. They heard footsteps, the door swung shut, and then more footsteps echoed throughout the room as the person Jhudora was speaking to came before her throne once more.
"So, what did you request again?" Jhudora asked, raising her eyebrows. "I'm not sure I follow."
The other hissed, "I want you to destroy one of the rings. That is the deed I ask you to complete."
There was silence for a moment.
"But..." Jhudora looked appalled. "But isn't one of those the source of magic for--"
"For Dark magic, yes," the other said, laughing. "I understand your hesitancy, Jhudora, but we have a dilemma. I know we share the same goal: to make Dark magic stronger and to eliminate all other elemental magic. Now, we have already accidentally strengthened these two sources I found-" she held up two large purple rings, "-and the results are that Dark and Earth Magic is much, much stronger. You know that no further spells can be done on them unless by the Faerie Queen herself, who would never allow it. All we can do with them now to change them is destroy them."
Jhudora said nothing.
"May I assume you saw the Dark magic overtaking Faerieland?" the other continued, cackling.
"I did," said Jhudora in a toneless voice.
"And did it not please you?" the one before her pressed.
"It was good to see," Jhudora admitted in that same neutral voice.
"But Earth magic is strong, too," the other snarled. "That is not what we want. Obviously when we spilled that strengthening potion not long ago, we were expecting to see two types of magic towering over the others. It seems that they were Earth and Dark. This complicates things. We currently have no other sources of magic to test this with, and by the time we do, for all we know, Earth Faeries could have taken over! Just think of Illusen in charge of you!"
Jhudora again said nothing, though her fists clenched at the mention of the Earth Faerie.
"So tell me," the other said slowly, "What do you think we should do?"
Jhudora was silent for a few moments. "I don't think we should destroy one of the rings while we still don't know which is for Earth magic and which is for Dark magic," she said quietly. "I don't want to risk all of the Dark Faeries losing their magic with a fifty-fifty chance."
"Now, Jhudora, you know we can strengthen these no farther," said the other. "Even sources of magic have their restrictions. We also cannot weaken them. Our only choice to find out which is which is to destroy one of them and hope for the best."
"I refuse," Jhudora said angrily. "This is a terrible proposition you have. There must be another way. Dark magic must be able to one day become the only elemental magic."
"I know," the other said sympathetically. "You feel very strongly about this, yes."
Jhudora fumed. "As if you wouldn't in my position! You won't lose anything!"
"Not true," said the other silkily. "This is my chance for freedom. I'm willing to take it."
"Good to know," said Jhudora sarcastically. "But I'm not going to do it!"
"Then," sighed the other, "If you will not cooperate, perhaps I will just find another to destroy one of them."
"You're joking!" Jhudora gasped, mouth agape.
"Try me," the other sniggered. "If you refuse to help me, I will find another one to do the deed. But after the deed is done, you and I will not be on good terms with each other. If, however, you aid me, it will go a lot faster, and when we succeed-"
"If," Jhudora corrected.
"If we succeed, I will make both of us rulers of the new Dark Neopia."
Jhudora seemed speechless. She moved her hand up, as if about to scratch her chin, and suddenly a dark glow surrounded the two rings. However, they did not move.
The other laughed. "Oh, Jhudora, how foolish you are to think that any type of elemental magic can control something as powerful as the sources of magic. Trying to move them, eh? You can't move them away from me!"
Jhudora fumed. She said nothing for several moments. Then, finally, she agreed.
"Very well then..." she said slowly. "I will help you destroy one of the rings. But I have a few conditions."
"Name them, and I will see what I can do," the other said, with a slight bow.
"First, I get to choose the ring we destroy," Jhudora said. "Perhaps I will be able to feel which one has Dark magic by instinct."
"Good, good," said the other slyly.
"Second, I wish to do it at another time."
"What?" the other cried. "But Jhudora, you know I am not patient."
"True," said Jhudora with a hint of a smile on her face. "However, there is a chance I and all other Dark faeries will lose our magic when this is done. That would completely ruin my plans. I have a few... tasks to accomplish first."
"Of course," said the other impatiently. "I am looking forward to seeing how you use your magic. But when will we do it, Jhudora?"
Jhudora thought for a moment. "How about tomorrow?" she suggested. "That should give me enough time."
"Certainly," the other consented. The one Jhudora had been speaking to left the home.
The babies didn't dare breathe for a few moments. They realized that they were presented with a problem - how to get out. The babies looked at each other, horrified, but couldn't see each other's faces in the dark.
To be continued...