Tales From Elysian Fields: The Demon Drink
You're entering a world as real as you make it out to be — there are no limitations to the possible inputs and outputs. But unlike an equation, you can't chart relics of a time yet to come; an opening into the dark matter before us. Free from the shackles of reality, you are about to take a walk in Elysian Fields.
Meet Myrvin Mynci: shy, quiet, and at the moment, very nervous. He lives an average life at 1123 Coconut Road, Mystery Island. Myrvin does not live there for the coastal waters or for the volleyball — no, not at all. He is a door-to-door salesman of Mynci Banana Imports, and therefore must live very close to the warehouse where the fresh tropical produce is kept.
However, if Myrvin had one wish, it would be this: To move as far away from Mystery Island as possible. While one might find joy and pleasure at living in a humid, jungle-ridden paradise, he does not. No, if Myrvin had his way, he would live a life of paleontology in The Lost Desert, where he could study the wisest and most sophisticated (deceased) rulers in all of Neopian history.
But Myrvin should know better than to wish on Elysian Fields.
Dusk is spreading its final word over the grasslands east of The Lost Desert. After many days on a small ship with nothing but the company of bananas and a toothless Ruki, Myrvin has landed on the outskirts of the Haunted Woods. Questioning his sanity for having accepted a delivery job this far out, Myrvin begins loading crates of bananas onto an awaiting wagon.
The Ruki stares at Myrvin with sadness in his aging eyes. "Lo does not think Mr. Mynci should venture into woods this late," he croaks while supporting himself on a walking stick. "Lo reminds Mr. Mynci that woods are dangerous at nighttime. Lo will stay with Mr. Mynci, should he choose to wait till daylight."
Despite his longing to take up the old Ruki's offer, Myrvin declines. The higher-ups said their client had promised double the offer if they could get the bananas to the Haunted Woods in a week's time. Any chance at extra pay... he'd take it.
Armed with a flimsy hat, a simple fur lined cape, and a wagon stocked with bananas, Myrvin pays the distressed Lo and steers his team of Vacanas off into the night, ready for anything Neopia throws at him...
... Almost anything.
It's been six hours, and the Vacanas have stopped for a rest. Meanwhile, Myrvin is using his time to check on the bananas.
Suddenly, a group of wild Lupes appear, howling at him. Upon closer inspection, he sees that they are in fact Werelupes. Frightened, Myrvin starts the wagon up again. The Vacanas panicking, they run down a steep cliff and straight into a swamp, breaking free of the wagon and scampering off. The leave Myrvin lost, confused, and wet.
Worried the Werelupes might have followed him, Myrvin runs towards the lighted shack in the distance, leaving the toppled wagon behind. Upon reaching it, he bangs on the door.
"Please! Please let me in! I beg of you!" he pleads, shouting above the drone of insects surrounding the bog.
The door opens, and Myrvin is greeted with the thick smell of rotting meat. He winces as he runs inside before coming face-to-face with a glowing green rod with an eyeball at its end... and the green Ixi who's holding it.
"If you aren't the banana salesman," she says, anger in her bright, green eyes, "you have five seconds to scram before I turn you into a stink beetle. Five—"
"No! No! Please, I mean no harm—"
"I AM THE BANANA SALESMAN," shouts Myrvin, on his knees with his paws over his head, waiting for the witch to strike. Instead, she lowers her wand and moves over to her brewing station.
"Ah, perfect," she says, pouring a large flask of blue liquid into a cooking pot. "Bring them inside and I'll pay you handsomely."
Still startled over his encounter with the Werelupes, Myrvin stumbles out the door in the direction of his wagon. Luckily, none of the crates were destroyed, and Myrvin proceeds to carry each of them inside the witch's ramshackle homestead.
"So, miss... uh..." He looks down at the forms attached to one of the crates. "Miss Sophie... What do you plan on doing with all these bananas?"
"We don't grow many bananas here, as you can tell," Sophie says, tossing him a crowbar. "And there's this recipe I've been dying to try..."
She trails off as he opens the last of the crates. "Well, five crates of bananas across 450 miles, more or less... that's gonna be about 52,500 neopoints, ma'am," he calculates.
"That seems fair," she almost whispers, looking deep into her cauldron. She then turns to him, a roguish smile on her face. "I'd pay you a personal tip if you helped me make it."
His eyes lighting up, Myrvin frantically nods his head. Perhaps he was going to get off Mystery Island sooner than he'd thought.
"Excellent," says Sophie the Witch, reaching for a dusty cookbook. "We're going to need to mash those bananas up. Think you can handle that?"
Myrvin nods some more, having mashed many bananas during his longtime career of being a Mynci.
"Good," says Sophie as she grabs an old coat off its hanger. "I'm going out to get some roots. I'll be back before dawn."
And without another exchange of words, the witch leaves the hut, leaving Myrvin to make banana purée alone.
How amazing this is, thinks Myrvin. I'm getting paid extra to mash bananas. What luck! King Heksas of the Fourth Khonsu Dynasty, here I come!
Myrvin spends the next couple of hours working on the banana purée. When he is finished — paws and knees covered in mush — he leans against the wooden walls and eats some of the mash.
I wonder what recipe's worth 52,500 neopoints worth of bananas halfway across Neopia, he wonders. Eyeing the cookbook, he gets up, wipes his paws on his fur cape, and reaches for the cookbook on the table.
"Banana Mince Pie," he reads aloud. "This pie is filled with large chunks of banana and a warm banana purée..."
"And it is quite delectable," adds Sophie seemingly out of nowhere, startling Myrvin so much he drops the book in the mush.
"YOU FOOL! THAT COOKBOOK WAS—," she begins to scream, and the stops, putting on an awkward smile. "I mean, here, let me get that. It's alright," she says as she picks up the cookbook, wiping it off with her sleeves.
Shaking, Myrvin tries to ease his way into conversation. "So... Just, erm, curious... Is that pie really worth the neopoints you're spending on it?"
Sophie doesn't respond immediately, but rather flips through the cookbook. "What? Ah, yes. I love the taste of Banana Mynci Pie."
"You mean 'Banana Mince Pie'...?" Myrvin corrects her, feeling uneasy.
"I know what I said, you silly Mynci. Everyone knows you can't have Banana Mynci Pie without fresh ingredients." She cackles, and Myrvin's expression shows that he understands the events that are about to unfold before him.
"Good-bye, Mr. Banana Salesman. It's been a real treat."
He starts backing away as the witch draws her wand, mumbling undecipherable speech under her breath. As he hits the wall, he slumps down to the ground, putting his paws in front of his face, as if that would shield him from the witch's wrath.
"Please don't cook me!" Myrvin shouts, unnecessarily loud. "I have so many dreams I want to fulfill — so many places I want to go! I WANT TO STUDY THE CORPSES OF EMPEROR RAZUL AND PRINCESS SANKARA!"
Lowering her wand from him for the second time this evening, she smiles. "You know," she says, "I haven't had Banana Cream Coffee in ages..."
She leans towards Myrvin and offers him her hand. He gets up on his own, however, ready to bolt for the door.
Sophie reaches behind a weathered desk and picks up two large jingling bags of neopoints. "Thank you for your services," she says, handing them to him.
Surprised, Myrvin takes the bags. "Why—Why you're welcome!" he says, slipping out of the door and into the night. "Thank you for using M—Mynci Banana Imports, where we bring the it f—fresh to your door!"
As he hastens away, Sophie calls out to him.
"Wait!" she says, "I have something for you!"
Reluctantly returning to her eerie abode, he sees her standing on the porch, holding a flask of clear liquid. As he approaches her, she gives it to him.
"An Altador Strength Potion," she explains as he holds it up to his nose. Odourless. "You'll have the strength of nine Lupes! Consider it a tip."
Knowing that he'll have to face the Werelupes to get back to Lo, Myrvin lifts the flask bottoms up and guzzles down all of it.
"Feel the strength?" asks Sophie, watching Myrvin closely.
"No... No, not really..." He feels weak, and his head starts spinning. "I think I'm gonna be sick..."
Suddenly his mouth opens wide, as if he were a Reptillior about to feast on its prey. He watches as a blue, transparent shadow floats out of him, changing its shape and form. Myrvin then realises that the shadow is really a spirit — a ghost. He is the ghost.
Myrvin's body falls to the ground, motionless, as do the bags of neopoints.
Sophie cackles as she scoops up the money. "Only the foolish would drink from a witch's potion!"
Now a spectre to haunt Neopia for eternity, Myrvin cries. He cries the tears of an aware ghost: slowly, and then all at once.
"Now now, don't cry," says the witch as she smiles curtly. "You'll be amongst the great! Chen-Ra, Galat-Ra... you'll see it's not so bad being dead! And here's food for thought: you being a ghost benefits one of both of us!"
And with a final laugh, Sophie the Swamp Witch drags Myrvin's body and his neopoints into the hut, shutting the door behind her, leaving Myrvin's ghost behind as he begins his unknown future.
He closes his eyes and imagines himself slipping through the walls of an ancient pyramid buried beneath the sands, reaching the tomb of King Coltzan I, and being able to read the inscriptions on the walls.
So close, and yet so far.
As noted in Percival T. Wanderwart's Guide to Modern Adventuring, "A sip from an unmarked vial can be vile." This is especially true when said vial is given to you by a green Ixi dressed in patchwork clothes and a witch's hat. But it also states that, "Free is as free does." What does this mean? That freedom is demonstrated by ones actions.
Meet Myrvin Mynci: shy, quiet, and at the moment, very dead. But also very much alive. No longer does he live an average life at 1123 Coconut Road, Mystery Island; Myrvin is a ghost free to wander Neopia to his heart's content, with obvious restrictions before him. Restrictions he'll have to live with for eons to come and go... in Elysian Fields.
For Mary Faith, who taught me to get out of my comfort zone. Now it's her turn.