The Expedition of Walter Wesley: Part One
The usual, morning breeze had already lifted the flags of Brightvale Castle. The Wheel of Knowledge had already begun to spin as Neopians from distant lands began to form a queue, in search of enlightenment. The stalls of Brightvale Fruits had already been stocked with Magenorbs, Jipple Pears, and Grenannas.
It was the beginning of another day in Brightvale, and as rays of light slowly spread across the land, chatter from the Scrollery, crashing from Brightvale Armoury and clinking from the Royal Potionery could increasingly be heard.
As Brightvale was beginning to wake, the undivided attention of a well-dressed green Lenny was captured by a specific item at the Brightvale Motery.
"What an extraordinary mote," he muttered, as he slowly walked closer to the display. His feathered fingers cautiously picked up a Gold Mote, and by slowly rotating it, his expert eyes studied it from all possible angles.
There was something about early morning that inspired the Lenny. Maybe it was the stillness across the whole of Brightvale, as Neopians peacefully slept. Maybe it was the magic of known past events of the night, transitioning into a day of new, unknown possibilities.
Or maybe it was just the supernatural silence of the Motery.
"DR WESLEY!!" A booming voice filled the room, causing the windows to tremble and the startled Lenny to nearly drop the precious mote.
"Is this the finest Gold Mote you have ever seen, or... is this THE finest Gold Mote you have ever seen?" the shopkeeper bellowed, emerging from the stock room.
"Good morning to you," Dr Wesley responded. "There's never a dull day at Brightvale Motery. This Gold Mote is fine indeed."
"I only source the best motes, doctor. Excuse the mess... but, let me just see..."
The shopkeeper disappeared into the stockroom again.
Dr Wesley carefully placed the Gold Mote back on the shelf. He had collected motes ever since he was a small boy, and year by year, his collection expanded more and more.
Ping! Clang! Pop!
It was Dr Wesley's honest opinion that one could never have too many motes. In fact, what was the point of collecting mediocre items, when motes could conjure so much power, yet look so cute?
Boom! Bash! Bang!
He had ventured far and wide, across the seas of Neopia, in his past expeditions, and encountered artefacts and trinkets that he never knew existed. Yet nothing, not even Coltzan's Battle Sceptre could capture his interest like these motes.
"How bizarre.... I must have taken from Uncle Edward," the Lenny thought to himself, as he remembered his uncle's unusual passion for collecting garden gnomes.
With a crash, the shopkeeper burst into the shop floor again, this time followed by a blue Wocky.
"Cora, time and time again I tell you to leave the cataloguing system as it is. How am I supposed to find what I'm looking for...?" the shopkeeper blurted, waving her dramatic hooves in the air.
"But... madam," Cora pointed out, "thanks to me, those motes are in alphabetical order. Like, how hard can it be....?"
She rolled her eyes after the shopkeeper turned to approach Dr Wesley. She then began polishing the motes on display.
"Dr Wesley, this mote will complete your collection. You can search the whole of Neopia – even go as far as Virtupets Station - yet you will never come across a mote better than this one."
The shopkeeper handed over a Mud Mote. Dr Wesley looked at it closely.
"This Mote is... interesting. It reminds me of my last expedition to the Lost Desert."
Cora's eyes widened. She immediately ceased polishing a Metallic Mote and joined the smart Lenny and the twitching Peophin.
"You've been to the Lost Desert, like? Really? Have you been to Qasala?"
The shopkeeper cast a sharp look at the young Wocky and stammered, "Cora... I don't think now is the time... stop bothering Dr-"
The Lenny raised his grand green wing to silence the shopkeeper and replied, "I've been buying from this Motery for years, yet I have never seen you before. Are you a new shop assistant?" Cora nodded. The shopkeeper began polishing the Metallic Mote Cora abandoned on the shelf.
"Nice to meet you, Cora. I am Dr Wesley."
Cora held out her blue paw and firmly shook hands with the doctor. She had always dreamed of becoming an archaeologist herself, and now finally meeting one was like a dream come true.
"I know who you are," Cora continued, as Dr Wesley raised a brow. "Everyone in Brightvale knows who you are. Walter Wesley – like, one of Neopia's greatest archaeologists."
Dr Wesley smiled. "I daresay you are exaggerating now. I did not believe myself to be so well-known."
"Well," Cora explained, "I have read about you in the Neopian Times and in archaeology books, and I hear that your own library is open for all Neopians."
Dr Wesley was impressed to see the Wocky's enthusiasm on the subject and began questioning, "So, what fascinates you about Qasala?"
"Well, you see... there's this temple. It descends deep underground and is believed to treasure a whole library of wisdom! Awesome, right?"
A sarcastic chuckle came from the bemused shopkeeper, who was busy rearranging the mote display.
"Er... yeah so," Cora continued, "they say that the treasure is so well hidden--"
"-- that even the temple's builders forgot where they were," the shopkeeper interrupted, as she ceased fiddling with the mote display and impatiently turned to Dr Wesley and Cora.
Dr Wesley's eyes sparkled with sudden excitement. Should he reveal his plans for his next expedition? Should he reveal that he was indeed planning to embark on a journey to Qasala to discover the libraries of wisdom in the Temple of 1000 Tombs?
He let out deep sigh and decided against it.
"Cora, not all folk tales are the truth. Sometimes truth is exaggerated and turned into some adventure story because that's what everyone wants to hear. But most of the time, they're just stories vaguely based on the truth."
The shopkeeper nodded and snapped, "Now, Cora, did I hire you to entertain customers or to stock shelves and sell motes?"
Just as Cora was about to answer back, Dr Wesley intervened, "There's no need to be so stern; youngsters are curious naturally. But thanks for suggesting a Mud Mote, although I have decided to acquire the gold one."
"Obviously... who in their right mind would choose a Mud Mote over gold... like...?" Cora snarled as she scurried to the stock room to fetch a boxed Gold Mote for the doctor.
Meanwhile, the shopkeeper placed the Mud Mote on a nearby shelf, and added with satisfaction, "Excellent choice, Dr Wesley. Your taste in motes never falters."
Dr Wesley smiled weakly and chatted with the shopkeeper a little longer. It was bizarre that after all these years of purchasing motes from the same Motery, he still didn't know the shopkeeper's name. He would make it a priority to ask, as he would hate to come across as rude.
Home is where the heart is. Or at least, that's how the saying goes. Yet Dr Wesley spent more time in libraries, in offices, on excavation sites, and in means of transport. Therefore, it was no surprise that his own Brightvale Neohome was more of a stranger to him than the next random Neopian crossing that bridge leading to Meridell.
It was not long before he power-walked his way past Brightvale Books, crossed the path towards The Scrollery and dashed on along the pastures until his home was in sight.
The doctor paused. "Such a grand space... yet for me, there's so little purpose."
Having called Brightvale his official home for most of his life, he knew that he lived in a land of knowledge and wisdom. After all the resources he had used to advance his education, and to gain expertise in his subject, he felt it was time to give something back to the Brightvale Community. Wasn't it thanks to King Hagan's wise words, The Scrollery, The Wheel of Knowledge and even his beloved Motery, that he had become the successful archaeologist he was?
Dr Wesley attained many tomes from his travels and archaeology work, and came to the decision that his vast library was to be open to all inquisitive Brightvale Neopians.
"Knowledge is power – that's what Father used to say," Dr Wesley thought to himself as he approached the front door of his home.
For the second time in just one morning, the green Lenny jumped out of his feathers, as the heavy oak door swung open. Dr Wesley was greeted by a blue Aisha.
"Walter, you are late. You are so late," she shrieked.
Dr Wesley entered his home, and his footsteps echoed with every step. The reception area had never looked so magnificent, as the sun seeped through the multiple stained glass windows, showering the vast room with light.
"Walter! You still have to pack your clothes, your tools, your parchments..."
The hysterical Aisha followed the Lenny up the spiralling staircase. He was headed to the library.
"Walter! What about the scrolls... will you need the scrolls?"
Dr Wesley halted and spun round to face the blue Aisha and confidently declared, "Vivian, everything is under control."
"Walter, the ship leaves tomorrow morning-."
"Don't worry; it's going to be fine. Between today and tomorrow, there is a space of twenty four hours. That's plenty of time to finalise everything."
"Yes, but what about –"
Dr Wesley swiftly spun around and entered his majestic library. Vivian joined him shortly, clutching an amulet.
Vivian was none other than Dr Wesley's trusted colleague. She was disciplined, determined, and maybe a little too obsessed with detail. Nevertheless, her enthusiasm for discovery through the years has driven her fast ascent from apprentice to archaeologist.
"Walter, look – this Amulet of Reflection I asked you to fix weeks ago...?"
Dr Wesley approached his desk. He urgently rummaged through a set of drawers displacing parchments, launching stationary in all directions.
"Vivian, Qasala is no longer that desolate cursed city it once was..."
"...and now we will need it –" Vivian waved the amulet with desperation.
"The only problem I expect to encounter is a swarm of scarabs..."
Dr Wesley dodged his colleague as he shot straight for the "S" isle of the library.
Vivian frantically picked up the parchments from the floor. "Walter, what about this amulet?"
"Selket... Seti... Sutek..." The Lenny's eyes scanned the shelves.
"Walter, this won't be ready in time, and I won't be able to acquire a new one..."
"Sandcastles... Sand Sculpture Strategies..."
"Walter!" Vivian continued to pick up loose sheets of parchment and scrolls.
"Scarab Secrets – here you are!" Dr Wesley declared with satisfaction and handed the dusty tome over to Vivian.
He sped past her again, and leaped over a Bagatelle Bean Bag. His accurate eyes skimmed his messy desk until he seized what seemed to be a mirror.
"This, dear Vivian, will do the trick!"
Dr Wesley handed it over to Vivian as her long pair of ears fell forward with disbelief.
"Walter, it's a mirror - are you seriously joking me, or are you literally being serious?"
He hopped over his desk chair. Vivian discarded the item on the desk again.
"What's great about Neopia is that nothing is ever what it seems." He picked up the presumed mirror again and continued, "This is an Artisans Lens - a powerful tool which will reflect any damage. This is what we will use, if occasion calls for it."
Vivian sighed and snatched the Artisans Lens.
An unexpected, sharp sound filled the house.
It came from downstairs.
Dr Wesley froze mid step. Vivian turned to face the clock.
"Was that the doorbell? I do not believe we are expecting anyone."
"No," the Lenny replied, with a frown.
To be continued...