Petpet Adventures: Mistress Maxie's Marvellous Circus - Part Six
Harro was lying next to what Eva would have classified as a small pond, except a cascade of multi-coloured water was plunging into it from over a grassy cliff.
The Noil dipped his paw into the clear water, and it turned sky blue. Then he lifted his paw out again and it turned back into yellow, water dripping off it. Labez eyed the water suspiciously, then also gave it a try –careful not to fall in. His red paw turned a yellow similar to Harro's, before returning to its normal red when he lifted it out.
"Strange," the Magmut muttered, inspecting his paw, then putting his face up to the water, but not quite touching it. "I should have brought a spare vial or two. It would have been interesting to try in a potion."
"I still don't know why you're still wearing those beads," Eva said. "Is it some sort of necklace?"
Labez snorted. "Far from it." He adjusted them more carefully over his back, spine flaming higher than normal. "These are fire pearls. How else do you think we get those fancy effects during the show?"
"You mean just before Maxie and Max perform?" she asked. "Why are you carrying them around still?"
"Well," the Magmut looked faintly abashed. "We only prepare them a few days before the show, because have to be kept at a constant temperature that whole time, or they may prematurely explode."
"WHAT?" Eva exclaimed. "I was sitting on those beads for you! What if they had exploded with me on top of them?"
Labez had backed away to a suitable distance before he had replied, and was now several metres away from her bristling mane, and more importantly, her claws.
"Well it was only for a few minutes, and you were keeping them warm enough. Besides, they're perfectly safe. It would just be uncomfortably hot; it wouldn't actually burn anything.
They were interrupted by the appearance of a water faerie poking her head out of the pool. She eyed them with liquid blue eyes and a beautiful smile, and Eva felt all her anger melting away. The faerie said something in Pet, her tone soothing, and Eva shuffled a few steps closer so that the faerie could gently stroke her mane. She usually saw faeries during their performances in Faerieland, but she had never touched one. The hand was cool when it touched her skin.
The water faerie beckoned to Labez, who shook his head emphatically and inched away from the water's edge. Harro had no such qualms and wandered over, and soon both Noils were purring. Eva found that she could no longer be angry at Labez, and turned to give the faerie a friendly lick on the face. However, faeries obviously did not hold with such things, because the faerie dived back into the water, her form instantly vanishing without so much as a ripple.
"Let's move on," Eva said happily.
Labez eyed her, waiting for some trick, but when it didn't come, he turned to stare at the purple city ahead of them, towers shining with some sort of magic.
"So where should we start?" he asked them.
There were a few dwellings outside the City, but she could see his eyes shining with the same inner light as the city as he gazed at the cluster of purple buildings in the distance. He loved magic, and Faerie City was the centre of learning for it.
"Well, I think it's likely Max is from the City," she mused. "Besides, he's a magician isn't he? And a faerie pet, so it makes sense he would have studied at the Faerie Academy.
"He's a magician?" Harro asked, as they set off towards the shining city. "I thought he was just Ringleader."
"I thought you'd seen our performance in Neopia Central," Labez said, glancing at him. "Isn't that why you wanted to join so much?"
"Well, I only saw the first half," Harro replied. "After I saw the Noils do their act I had to go and find one of them, and I found Eva and begged her to let me join. Then I had to quickly hide in a cart so I ended up missing the second half."
Labez shook his head sadly. "You missed out. Max and Mistress Maxie's act is amazing. They don't need any of Kaulisa's spells or potions because Max just waves that staff of his and does it himself. And Mistress Maxie herself..." he trailed off. "If you see her perform, you'll see why we all worship her, even the Pteris who have their own flying act."
Eva was staring at the landscape. Every now and then she saw a speck of coloured light in the distance, and once or twice the faeries were closer enough to make out the details of the clothes they wore. More common were the pets, mostly faerie, who passed them on the road. They paid the petpets no heed, which Eva was used to. It suited most petpets quite well.
Not that she had never seen fairies or faerie pets before. In fact, the troupe had visited Faerieland twice since the Noil had been chosen to join. However, it was a bit odd seeing the shining purple buildings against a background of green rather than white. And the ground was not the spongy surface of the clouds anymore. Although she was rather grateful that there were no longer the low-lying bits of cloud that used to engulf her and any other petpets in Old Faerieland. They had given Faerieland a mysterious air, if one was a pet and the clouds only came up to their ankles. But to a petpet like her they had just been a nuisance.
They had left the circus in the early afternoon, but now the sun was beginning to sink, sending long shadows in front of them. Faerie City was still a fair way away, and Eva guessed they would reach it by late morning the next day. She started to wish she was a pet with larger legs – they would have reached the City by now if they were – but then she looked at the pets trudging past, looking concerned about the strange things pets worried about, and changed her mind.
"We should probably stop soon," Labez said, pausing to rub one paw. "I don't think I can walk much longer."
Harro also looked a bit tired, but not so much as the Magmut, who did much less exercise than the two Noils while he mixed brews with Kaulisa. Eva wasn't quite tired yet, but then again she did vigorous exercise almost every day. And the grass was looking rather comfortable over by that tree...
Labez had obviously also spotted the large tree with some sort of red fruit hanging from the boughs, and they wandered towards it. Eva lay down at last. The grass was comfortable. As the air became cooler her and Harro snuggled up closer to Labez, who was obligingly keeping them warm with the flames on his back. Finally they fell asleep.
The purple cobblestones beneath her paws made it feel like Old Faerieland again. In fact, the whole of Faerie City was almost identical to its former self, except that the random clouds clustered around the buildings had been replaced by leafy green plants. The three petpets dodged between pets as they headed towards the Faerie Academy. Usually Eva would be sceptical of Labez' guidance, but she knew he would never forget how to find a place like the Academy.
At last they reached the vast building. It was, of course, the same purple as all the other buildings in Faerieland, but was more ornate, and was certainly one of the larger ones, barring the Palace itself. There were also a number of passageways that had been added on, leading to buildings on either side. A faerie Grundo stood by the entrance, an ornate wand thrust through his belt marking him as some sort of magician or wizard. In his hand he held a long scroll, but he never seemed to move the paper around at all as he marked names off with a large purple quill.
A long line of pets stretched in front of him, waiting to be let inside. The petpets bypassed the line and strode straight through the double doors. As usual, no one took any notice of them. The Grundo didn't even glance at them as he spoke to a huge faerie Skeith. Eva looked back and saw that with every pet that came next in the line, the words on his scroll would shimmer and change. It made her eyes hurt.
"Whoa," Harro said, sliding a bit over the cool stone floor. Eva would have hazarded a guess at marble, as that's what most grand buildings had as their floor, but she wasn't sure if purple marble even existed.
Labez was similarly enthralled, eyes straying to the huge sign that said Library. They were in a huge entrance hall, the roof not quite reaching as far as the roof of the grand tent, but still quite impressive. The walls were the customary purple, and pets of all species and colours were hurrying about, the occasional petpet flying or running in their wake.
They stopped close to one wall.
"Where to now?" Eva said.
"I say the library. Surely they have records of any pets who have been trained here there." Labes looked longingly towards it.
"But how would that be any help? It would have Max's old address, but there's no saying we'd actually find him there," Eva said helplessly.
"You have a better idea?" Labez asked.
Eva sighed. "No."
They quickly weaved their way through the throng, heading towards the large set of double doors. One was open, and pets streamed through it. They joined the stream and soon they had entered the library.
The noise difference was immediate. Even though the entrance hall had been full of sound and bustle, the library was hushed. Eva looked back at the door. She could see pets talking right next to it, but even though their mouths moved she could hear no sound. It must have been some sort of magic.
Pricking her ears, she realised that the library wasn't completely silent. There was the sound of pets thumping along, and some low murmurs of conversation, as well as a low whooshing sound that was unidentified until a book whizzed out from behind one shelf to disappear behind another. There were various scrolls and books floating all over the place, and Eva saw a Blumaroo curse as a particularly large volume struck him in the ear. He shook his fist at the unobserved attacker and strode deeper into the library.
And the library was huge. Staring down the aisle of shelves in front of her she couldn't make out the far wall. To her left the wall was only a dozen metres away, a bookshelf all the way up to the roof. But on her right it was similar to what lay in front of her, except that tables stretched away into the distance instead of shelves.
"It is going to be impossible to reach any books up there," she said gloomily, pointing to the higher shelves.
"Hey!" an irritated voice said behind her. The three petpets turned to see a Miamouse hurrying towards them, her face a mask of outrage, with petpet-sized spectacles perched on her face. "You know the rule. No open flames are allowed in the library. Get out at once!" The Miamouse came to a puffing halt in front of them, paw raised accusingly as she shot Labez a furious look.
Then she paused and her eyes narrowed even further. "You're not from around here," she said slowly. "In fact, I've never seen you before. Leave at once, before I call a faerie to make sure you go!"
"But—" Labez began.
"I don't even want to speak with you," the Miamouse cut him off. "And I did warn you." She produce a whistle from somewhere – Eva was too fixated on her spectacles to really notice – and raised it to her lips, ready to blow.
To be continued...