The Hidden Tower's Hidden Room
Yellow_Cheese_Burger was, by all means, a normal Island Aisha. His companion, however, was one of the most powerful and unique beings in all of Neopia: Queen Fyora. He walked quickly alongside Fyora, a clipboard in his hand as he quickly scribbled down the faerie’s instructions.
“…the delegation from Mystery Island is awaiting a response, but I don’t know what to tell them. Geraptiku is an ancient civilization, they have as much a right to the island as the Mystery Islanders, we can’t just ask them to relocate. I’ll need you to do some research on the situation, Yellow, maybe draft a response, but don’t send anything to them just yet. I’d do it myself but I really need to address the situation in-- Oh my word, what is it this time?”
Queen Fyora stopped walking abruptly; Yellow looked up from his notes to see the reason. A mob of Neopets was crowding the gate to the palace. When they spotted the queen, they began to frenzy; there were a great many flashes from multiple cameras and voices yelled questions at Fyora.
“Queen Fyora, is it true that you’re a dark Faerie?”
“Fyora, why do you insist on maintaining the Hidden Tower’s invisibility? Are you aware that, just this year, fourteen Neopets and two Faeries reported injuries due to crashing into the Tower?”
“Why are you selling cursed items? Where exactly do the profits from these items go?”
“My dear Neopians,” Fyora said; though she did not shout, her powerful voice carried over the yelling and talking of the news reporters. “If you’ll kindly direct your attention to the news bulletin in the Faerie Library, you’ll see many of the answers to your questions. I can assure you, the recent rumors you have heard are definitely not true. Now, if you’ll forgive me,” she said, raising her voice slightly as many Neopets and Faeries protested, “I’m afraid that Faerieland does not run itself. If you have further questions that you wished to be addressed, I grant audiences all day on Saturday.”
“This is getting ridiculous. All of this because of one hair-brained article written by a Neopet who just wanted to stir up trouble,” Fyora ranted. Yellow nodded uncomfortably, his stomach twisting guiltily. He hadn’t mention to Fyora that it had been his own sister, Cream, who had written the article in question.
Entering the palace, Fyora continued talking to Yellow. “What was I saying? Oh, yes, the situation in Meridell. King Skarl seems to think he’s entitled to a share of Faerieland tax money. He’s threatened us with war if we don’t comply. It’s just an empty threat, but I have to go and see him, to placate his honor if nothing else. As if he thinks we can afford to give Meridell any of Faerieland’s taxes; the Faerie Quest Event was not nearly as profitable this year as I had hoped, and I swear we’re actually losing money off of the Hidden Tower recently.” Fyora stopped walking again once she was in the comfort of her own castle and pulled out a pocket watch; it glowed faintly purple. “Yes, I really must get going. Yellow, would you mind opening up the Hidden Tower? I wouldn’t be surprised if people are trying to get in right now.”
“Of course, your majesty.” Yellow gave the Faerie Queen a tiny bow before hurrying off in the direction of the Hidden Tower. Yellow was a young Aisha, still in Neoschool, although he had the summer off. Queen Fyora trusted him, however, and had hired him as an advisor and assistant after he had rescued her from a Dark Faerie. Yellow admired the monarch and was proud to do his part to ensure that Faerieland was run effectively.
The palace entrance to the Hidden Tower was unremarkable in comparison to its surroundings: a tiny wooden door with a slightly rusted lock. Yellow took a key out of his pocket and opened it, hurrying up the stone stairs to open up the public entrance. About halfway there, a Ghost Kadoatie floated out of the wall, mewling at Yellow.
“Hello, Tritter,” Yellow said happily, patting his petpet’s opaque head. “I wondered where you had gotten to.”
“Meow,” Tritter replied; she swam through the air in Yellow’s wake. At the top of the Tower, a variety of magical items bubbled, rattled, and shimmered. Tritter quickly floated through the wall again, and Yellow walked among the artifacts, checking the Everlasting Apples for bruises and putting the Maractite Battle Ducks back on their shelves. As he picked up a bottle of Petpetpet Spray to ward off the pests attracted by the large amounts of Battle Dung, a magical chime filled the room. Quickly, Yellow straightened up as a Blue Kiko entered the Hidden Tower.
“Welcome,” Yellow said. “Can I help you with anything?”
“You don’t have any Enchanted Kiko Squeeze Toys, do you?”
“I’m sorry, we don’t carry that item anymore. Can I interest you in Dr. Sloth’s Personal Bath Buddy, or a Maractite Battle Duck?” Yellow caught one of the ducks as it attempted to walk off its shelf again.
“Oh, no, I was really just looking for the Kiko toy. Thank you, though.” The Kiko turned around and headed back outside the Hidden Tower, but as he passed, the magical chime went off again and two Faeries floated in.
Yellow spent most of the morning helping customers, but nobody bought anything except a hopeful-looking owner and his chia lab-pet who purchased a Super Pea Chia Cape. As they left, Yellow put the large sacks of Neopoints in a safe, straightening up as another chime rang in the air.
“Ha! No way! Yellow?”
In the doorway stood a very familiar Fire Blumaroo, one hoop earring dangling in his left ear.
“Forest?” Yellow said. For a moment, shock filled him, and then the two friends laughed and hugged each other briefly. Forest was one of the pets who had helped Yellow rescue Queen Fyora. “What are you doing here? You don’t want to buy anything, do you?”
“Nah, this stuff is way outside of my allowance budget,” Forest said, leaning down to examine the Rainbow Swirly Thing. “I’ve got summer classes, can you believe it? Failed physics and Neopian history, my advisor said it was either summer school or staying behind a year. Anyway, the old Korbat who teaches Neopian history says that we’ve got to write a report about a magical item that has had a great historical impact, and I figured what better place to do research than a tower full of magical items?”
Yellow nodded. “Is Willy here with you?” he asked, referring to Forest’s identical twin brother.
“Nah, Willy wouldn’t dream of failing a course. He got straight A’s, as usual,” Forest replied, now looking at the Squeezy Tombola Guy Toy. “Hey, does this thing have any great historical impact?”
“Not unless you count the legendary tantrum the Tombola guy threw when he was refused a discount on them,” Yellow said. “If you want to see something with a history, check out this Mask of Coltzan. It was buried with the deceased king to protect him in the afterlife.”
“Woah!” Forest said, jumping backwards, but when Yellow looked up, he realized that Forest hadn’t exclaimed about the mask. Tritter had floated back through the wall and was chasing dust motes. “Geeze, you mention the afterlife and a ghost pops up. That’s just creepy, dude.”
“Oh, no, she’s just my petpet. She comes with me to work sometimes. Fyora doesn’t mind as long as she doesn’t bother the artifacts.” As Yellow watched, Tritter suddenly stopped in mid-air, her ears twitching. She turned and stared at the wall for several long moments before sprinting frantically back into it.
“Where did she go?”
“She just wanders outside sometimes. She’s probably floating outside the tower.”
“I don’t know, man,” Forest said, walking forward and examining the blank space of wall where the Ghost Kadoatie disappeared. “I mean, I was looking up the whole time while I was trying to find the Tower. I didn’t see a ghost petpet floating anywhere. Is there a tunnel here or something?”
“No. The Hidden Tower is connected to the palace at its base, but besides that, it stands alone.”
“But it’s invisible, right? If it connected to something else, that would be invisible too, wouldn’t it?”
Yellow opened his mouth to protest, but then closed it again. That actually made sense.
“Do you think it’d be hollow if I knocked? This stone looks pretty solid.” Forest raised a fist and brought it down on one of the gray bricks; Yellow expected to hear him cry out in pain, but instead, the stone slid neatly back into the wall, creating a six-inch gap.
“Woah! Does Fyora know about this?” Forest asked, pressing against the back of the stone, but now that it had moved, it wouldn’t go any farther.
“I don’t think so. She didn’t tell me about it.” But then again, he was only an advisor, a young Aisha. Fyora wouldn’t tell him all of her secrets. “Are there are other loose bricks? Maybe if you push enough of them, something will happen.”
Forest pressed on the bricks adjacent to the loose one, but none of them moved; Yellow joined in and together they kept on pressing stones. Finally, Forest pushed a stone three stones higher than the original which sunk into the wall as well. At the same moment, Yellow pushed a stone several stones to the right; it moved of its own accord after the first nudge.
“How many more do you think there are?” Forest asked.
Yellow looked at the three holes in the wall; they almost formed the corners of a square. He pushed at the stone that would complete it, and sure enough, it sank into the wall. There was a loud thunk, and then a grinding noise as all of the stones sank backwards and then split in half, creating a small entrance.
“I think that was the last one,” Yellow said.
The two Neopets peered into the black space; the light from the windows didn’t penetrate this far into the room. Now that they had discovered a tunnel, Yellow was unsure of whether or not to explore it. The thought that Fyora might be keeping something dangerous down there, like a dungeon or a secret army, flashed across Yellow’s mind. Absurd, he said to himself firmly. Fyora was a good Faerie; she would never have something so evil.
“Do you think we could borrow that glowing sword for light?” Forest asked, pointing to the Sword of Thigl.
Yellow glanced at the valuable sword and shook his head. “Too dangerous, pets have gone blind from that thing. Besides, can’t you just make fire?”
“That’s a myth, dude, not all Fire pets can just spontaneously combust if they want to.”
“Alright,” Yellow said, although his sister’s Fire Swabby could produce fire just fine. “Let’s just take the Portable Kiln; it’s practically a torch.” Yellow grabbed the wooden handle; fire spewed from the metal kiln on top. Still not entirely sure whether or not they should be doing so, he crouched down and crawled through the opening.
Once he was past the stone wall, the tunnel opened up wider so that Yellow could stand straight again. He waited until Forest joined him before speaking.
“I don’t know if I should leave the artifacts unattended. What if somebody steals them?”
“That ding will go off, though, right? I bet we could hear it from here,” Forest pointed out. Yellow thought for a moment, and then nodded. If the tunnel went on too long, they could turn around and get one of the guards to watch the Tower.
The light of the kiln flickered, but otherwise held steady, and Yellow and Forest were able to see the stone floor ahead of them quite clearly. After a little while, though, they heard a strange scratching noise.
“What do you think that is?” Forest whispered.
“Tritter went through here, right? Maybe its just her,” Yellow whispered back, although his heart was hammering in his throat. What if it was a Meepit?
Very suddenly, the tunnel turned a corner, throwing light into a space that had previously been dark. For a moment, Yellow was sure that there were people in here too, shining their lights at them. Then he realized that it was just the reflection of the kiln, off of what looked like…
“Are those Neopoints?” Forest asked.
Sure enough, here was a stash of Neopoints that would probably satisfy even the Tax Beast. The room couldn’t have been bigger than ten square feet, but it was filled to the brim with glinting gold coins.
“What are they all doing back here?” Yellow wondered aloud. And then his Aisha ears picked up the scratching noise again. In the tiny clear space where Neopoints had not dominated the floor, Tritter was crouched upon something. It struggled uselessly against her grip.
“Tritter, did you do all this?” Yellow asked.
She meowed at him, purring and standing up. The thing that was between her paws wiggled free and waddled across the room.
“It’s a duck,” Forest said, crouching down to examine it.
“A Maractite Battle Duck,” Yellow said, walking forward as well. “Maractite has special powers, it causes the ducks to walk and quack and everything, just as if they were alive.” As they watched, the duck wiggled through a crack in the wall. “I wonder how it got back here.”
“Here, let me see the kiln,” Forest said. Yellow handed it over and Forest bent it close to the crack. “I can’t see what it’s… wait, hang on… I think it’s coming back.” Forest moved out of the way, and as they watched, the duck waddled back into the room, pushing a Neopoint into a pile, before turning around and going through the crack again.
“It must have gotten stuck in here somehow, and it’s been stealing Neopoints ever since. I bet this crack goes straight to the safe,” Yellow said. They waited several minutes, during which the duck managed to get a handful of Neopoints. “If he kept that up without stopping, it would definitely put a dent in our profits.”
A chime suddenly rang through the air, as loud and clear as if they had been standing in the main room of the Hidden Tower all along. With one last glance at the battle duck, Yellow and Forest hurried back through the tunnel and crawled out of the entrance. An Elderlygirl Yurble was standing near the floating Faerie Fog.
“Ah, there you are. I wish to purchase this,” she said, gesturing to the pink mist.
“Of course,” Yellow said, hurrying forward to accept the proffered Neopoints. “Can I get you a bottle for that Faerie Fog, ma’am? It’s kind of hard to transport otherwise.”
“Nonsense, I can manage it.” The Yurble stuck her cane straight into the middle of the fog, swishing it so that it floated along ahead of her. Yellow watched her go, and then opened up the safe again. He pushed the Neopoints and items out of the way, and sure enough, in the very back corner, a large crack had appeared.
“Well, that explains the mystery of the Tower losing money,” Yellow said, closing the safe. “Fyora will be pleased.”
“I’ll be pleased, will I? That’s a relief.” The chime went off just as Queen Fyora appeared at the top of the staircase.
“Your majesty! I wasn’t expecting you back so soon.”
“It appears that King Skarl had forgotten he demanded to see me today. He was napping when I arrived, and his guards were most hesitant to wake him. I thought it best to return to Faerieland; with luck, he’ll have thought that his demands for Faerieland’s tax money was just a dream.” Fyora looked around the Tower, then, and her gaze fell on Forest. “Hello, Forest,” she greeted him, before looking back at Yellow. “So tell me, Yellow, why will I be pleased?”
So Yellow and Forest began to explain about the hidden room, the Maractite Battle Duck, and the missing Neopoints. Fyora’s eyebrows rose to her hairline, and she quickly went to examine the entrance to the tunnel.
“Amazing. This castle is even older than I am, but I thought that I had discovered all of its secrets. Apparently I am mistaken.” She turned and smiled broadly at the two pets. “Thank you, both of you. These Neopoints will help with the ongoing repairs of our fallen city. And as a reward…” Fyora plucked up two of the wandering Maractite Battle Ducks and handed one to each Neopet. “Maybe you could give these little culprits a good home.”
“Wow!” Forest said, his eyes going wide at the valuable artifact in his hands. “Thank you, Queen Fyora!” He turned and grinned at Yellow. “I’m going to go do my report on the Maractite Battle Duck; after all, stealing Neopoints from the Hidden Tower? That definitely has a historical impact, right?” He waved goodbye to Yellow, and still clutching his battle duck, left the tower.
“Between this and saving my kingdom, I’m beginning to think that taking you on as an advisor was the best thing I’ve ever done,” Fyora said, but right at that moment, the chime rang again and a red Ruki entered. In her hands were a notebook and pencil, and she looked dazed as she saw Fyora.
“Queen Fyora, do you have any comment about recent rumors concerning your element?” She burst out, and Fyora sighed in a tired way.
“One of them got past the guards,” she said to Yellow.
But something had just occurred to Yellow. “Your majesty!” He said, putting his battle duck back on the shelf. “I just had an idea; come with me!”
Fyora looked bemused, but obediently followed her advisor; after a moment, the reporter tottered along after them, calling question after question which both Fyora and Yellow ignored.
The crowd around the front gates had only grown during the day as more hopeful-Neopians wanted to try and question the Faerie Queen. They practically rioted as soon as she came into view. Yellow whispered something to the Grarrl guard, who took a deep breath and yelled, “QUIET!!!”
The silence was instant, but Yellow could tell it wouldn’t last long. Before a reporter could so much as snap a photograph, Yellow said, “I’m going to tell everyone whether or not Fyora is a Dark Faerie!”
There was a rush of questions again, only this time they were directed at Yellow. He raised his hand again, and silence fell.
“Okay,” Yellow said. “What does a Dark Faerie look like?
“They’re purple! Like Fyora!” Somebody at the back of the crowd shouted.
“Dark purple!” Somebody else said.
Yellow nodded. “And what do their wings look like?”
“They’re bat wings,” Yellow emphasized. “Big, leathery wings. What do Fyora’s wings look like?”
Almost as one, every head in the crowd turned to look at Fyora’s wings, which were not big and leathery but delicate and soft.
“Now, can we all agree that Fyora is not a Dark Faerie?” Yellow asked.
There was a noncommittal muttering from the crowd. Someone murmured, “They could be disguised… Dark magic…” but it didn’t gather much momentum. Slowly, they dispersed.
“You handled that very well, Yellow,” Fyora said approvingly as, for the second time that day, they entered the palace together. “Hopefully now we can get past these trivial rumors.”
Yellow nodded in agreement. He thought about telling his trouble-starting sister the events of the day and smiled at the prospect.