Nan and the Night's Message
Nan, a Green Xweetok, could not sleep. It was late, for sure; everyone else in the Neohome was fast asleep. Nan herself had gotten a little bit of sleep, but now she was awake again. Why was she awake? She did not quite know for herself, but she did feel like she was called to a task other than sleeping. She quietly opened the window and snuck out. She was called to the forest near the suburban area of Shenkuu in which she and her family lived. What did she find? Not much. She did, however, have an opportunity to meditate; throughout her entire life, she was prone to breaking out into meditation suddenly while in nature. Nobody including herself had any idea why, but it was at least always refreshing. She returned early in the morning to find her family searching all over the Neohome for her. It could not really have been worth worrying her family so much to have taken that trip, could it?
And yet, that was only the first time. These trips became increasingly frequent. Her owner, Red, had the window closed more securely, yet Nan still managed to sneak out without anyone noticing. Perhaps her family really need not worry; Nan really was a natural at navigating the forest, even in darkness. Yet they could not help it. Nan herself heard a manner of slight whispering during each trip out, which increased in intensity every time.
On one particular night, Nan, still unable to control the urge to make the journey yet extremely doubtful that anything significant would come about as a result of it, came to a clearing that she had never visited before. To her surprise, the clearing was lit brightly by mysterious lights. Every flower glowed, random leaves on the trees radiated light in numerous colors, a fluorescent fog covered the ground, and radiance was all about her. She then realized that the clearing was filled with various Neopets, none of whom she had ever seen before, each wearing different outfits apparently from all of the lands of Neopia. They were holding a social gathering of sorts. She slowly walked up, greatly intimidated since she was so much younger than any of them, but they welcomed her in. The night was spent with them telling them exploits of their stories, which Nan relished but somehow managed to not remember, and ended with a particular Ogrin handing her half of a sheet of ancient parchment, covered with ancient text that she could not understand a single letter of, and telling her to meet them again the next night. Nan shortly went into her meditation trance, and when she awoke, they were all gone and the lights had faded. Perhaps she had imagined the whole thing? Yet, she was still holding the half sheet of parchment. She rushed home to tell her family.
They look only slight notice at her return; they had gotten pretty used to this routine. She ran up to Thal, a Yellow Zafara who was her younger brother, to tell him all about her experiences.
"Thal! Thal! It was amazing! There were all these pretty lights, and these people, and these stories, and..."
Thal, overwhelmed by her sudden outburst, replied, "Wait, slow down! What happened?"
Nan answered, "Well, I went on one of those late night journeys again, and I came to this clearing, and it was filled with pretty lights. There were a bunch of Neopets, all with amazing stories to tell, and they gave me this piece of ancient writing, telling me to come again tomorrow."
Nan showed off the piece of parchment to Thal, but he clearly did not see it. "Perhaps it's invisible? Try touching it." His hand went right through it.
"Nan, I think you might be losing it!" Thal went off to tell Red about it. Nan felt ashamed for even bringing it up and refused to talk about it for the rest of the day despite Red's insistence. Yet, she clung tightly to the piece of parchment, fearing that it would fade from existence if she were to let go of it. Nightfall came, and she prepared herself mentally for her second visit. Yet, she might as well get a bit of sleep first.
She awoke, same time as the previous night, and started to make her way to the door when she felt a tug at her leg. She turned around to find Thal, asleep on the floor next to her bed, with a string tying his wrist to Nan's ankle. Thal awoke.
"Nan, are you really going to do this today?" He was still mostly asleep.
"Shhhh! Yes, let's go." Nan led him out of the house quietly, not wanting to try to convince him to stay, lest anyone else wake up.
They arrived eventually at the clearing. As before, it was aglow with mysterious and beautiful lights, at least in Nan's eyes. Thal, however, saw nothing. Nan began to talk with those attending the gathering there, but to Thal, Nan was just talking to herself.
"Nan, you really are crazy! Let's go home." Thal attempted to drag Nan back to their Neohome; however, Nan had suddenly apparently become very heavy, so Thal could not cause her to budge an inch. He gave up and fell asleep next to a tree. A Bruce handed Nan the other half to her parchment, and after which, again, Nan went into a meditative trance which lasted the rest of the night.
Thal and Nan woke up the next day at about the same time and headed home, after which Thal immediately went to go see Red and tell him about what happened. Nan, fearing that she might really be going mad, decided that she might be able to prove her sanity by asking Coco about it. Coco was a Skunk Kyrii, living in a cave in the back of Red's property, where she had a laboratory set up.
Coco, upon seeing Nan enter the lab, asked, "Hi, Nan. How are you doing today?"
"I'm not sure. I got this parchment with ancient writing on it, but nobody else can see it, so I was thinking you could decipher it for me and prove that I'm not just imagining it?"
"Well, then, could you please write it down?" Nan then proceeded to carefully copy the ancient text onto a blackboard. "Yes, this is an ancient language, all right. Give me some time and I'll get to work on it... Keep Steph busy in the meanwhile, all right?"
Steph, an 8-Bit Flotsam, popped out from behind a bookcase in the lab, startling Nan. "Hi, Naaaaan! Are you here to play with me?!" Nan and Steph spent some time playing games like catch and hide and seek, although Nan was unsure if Steph was cheating at the games by means of using her magic powers or not.
In the afternoon, Coco revealed the results of her translation. "It says, 'An ancient duty befalls the one who sees the unseen writing. Darkness reveals what should be seen in light. Friendship is the true test. One that opens any door, another who sees what is a true danger. A long undertaking is the path of those who do receive the message delivered down through time. Darkness will again show this path of light, the path that echoes again and again as they traverse its length.' Huh... seems like you're part of some kind of prophecy, assuming that it's true of course." Nan was astounded that such a thing would fall upon her, such an apparently insignificant individual as herself.
With Nan's purpose finally ascertained, Red left to go buy some supplies. Nan expressed that she wanted Trista to go along with them on their trip. After some looking around the Neohome, they were a bit surprised to find her sitting on the roof. Trista was a Water Xweetok, but, interestingly, with a mechanical skeleton to help her hold her body against gravity.
Hey, Nan. So many houses... funny that you guys claim ownership over them, right? Just seems kinda amusing."
Nan replied, "Trista, no time for thinking about that. Thal and I are going on a trip, and you really need to come with us."
"Why?! You'll be fine on your trip without me, right?"
"I think this trip seriously concerns you. You remember how we met, right? It has to do with that. You were wondering about that, too, right? Maybe we'll find out why?"
Nan and Trista had met on one particular fateful day when, during one of Nan's meditational trances, they suddenly became able to communicate telepathically for a time. Neither of them expected to find each other that way, but it truly was an incredible occurrence, indeed.
"Really? I was wondering about that too. Okay, sure, let's go!"
Of course, they could not set out until Red returned and they packed up their equipment. None of them really knew where the goal of their adventure was exactly, but Nan had felt that it was to the south. They said goodbye to all of their family members at home and set out.
Many days were spent traveling. They went through forests, over hills and valleys, crossed rivers, and visited small villages. They took small breaks from traveling to acquire more food, such as by fishing or gathering fruit growing in the forest. Fortunately, Trista did not eat much, so they only really needed food for two. They eventually travelled all of the way down to Altador, where they decided that they might as well see the sights of the city and spend the night at the inn.
"Nan... what happens if we get down to wherever you're taking us and there's nothing there?" asked Thal.
"Well... we'll get around to that when we get there, huh? Err... at least it is good exercise, right? Plus we're getting to know each other better as siblings?"
Trista joined in. "Personally, I'm glad to have come all this way and seen so much. You know, since we met, we haven't traveled much, have we?"
Thal responded, "Well, yeah. But there's something I'm even more worried about. If you're really part of some kind of mysterious ancient prophecy... then isn't there someone or something out there that would try to stop us? None of us are really trained for the BD."
Nan attempted to answer this by saying, "I... have no idea? We do have some weapons at least. But..."
Thal then said, "Nan, don't tell me that you're willing to die trying! The prophecy is about you, anyway; I don't want to die, and I don't want you to die either! Is this even worth it?"
"But, of course this is bigger than either of us! If it's really destiny, though, we should have nothing to worry about, right? ...Err, at least you and I are good runners, and Trista shouldn't have too much to worry about anyway due to being made of water..."
The group left Altador. Nan, after another meditative trance, felt assured that their path still led south. They traveled over some steep mountaintops, facing tough conditions yet continuing on their path. Thal, however, was becoming increasingly worried about whatever opposition he might face. He had started to hold his laser blaster all of the time, just in case. After they had left the mountaintops, Thal's worry had increased so much that he began to just fire his laser at harmless movement, such as leaves on bushes blowing in the wind.
Nan was so fed up with this, since she and Trista both jumped every time, so she said, "Thal, you must stop firing that laser all over the place! It's bad both for the wildlife and for our sanity."
"Nan, seriously, there's something out there, following us! Some kind of shadowy stuff... Look, there it is again!"
Thal fired his laser again, this time at a rock, with both Nan and Trista clearly able to see that there was nothing there. Nan decided that she would just have to take the laser gun out of Thal's hands. After she did this, something grabbed her by the leg and dragged her away at high speed. Thal and Trista started running after her; clearly, whatever this was, it was invisible to everyone except for Thal. Nan managed to grab onto a tree and prevent herself from being pulled further back; Thal, using the only other weapon he had on hand, which was a wrench that he had forgotten to remove from his belt before leaving, hit the invisible thing to make it relinquish its hold of Nan. Thal took the laser blaster back and zapped it until he could see no more of it. The trio took off running, taking Nan's lead.
Thal said breathlessly while running, "Nan! I told you there was something up against us! If there's any more of that, we're in way up above our heads!"
Nan replied, "Thal, calm yourself! It seems to be gone, right? Maybe it isn't that strong, at least not yet? I think this just means we have to finish our goal, and fast! I think we're close..."
Seemingly in a flash, tucked within dense growth, they found (and nearly ran into) a door to an ancient ruin. They debated how to open it, or if there even was any way to open it, when Trista suddenly decided to squeeze her liquid body into the locking mechanism. She filled up the complicated design on the front of the door; not all of it, but a certain, complex pattern, and with a flash of glowing lights, the door began to open.
Nan, while they rushed inside and down the hall within, said, "Trista, thanks! How did you know the exact way to open the door?"
"I don't know; I just did!"
They eventually reached a large room. In the back of the room was a large pedestal, seemingly designed to hold a staff of some sort, but empty. Thal uttered the first thing that came to any explorer's mind at such a sight: "Fiddlesticks!"
He then noticed the shadowy thing entering the room, and started blasting at it, while Trista tried to also help out by swinging a tree branch she found at it blindly. Nan meanwhile investigated some ancient inscription on the wall. While in the same language as the parchment, she found herself able to read it clearly and so began to do so out loud despite Thal and Trista shouting at her to help them with the battle.
"Forever is, through the ages, an eternal echo of heroes, receiving the echoed gift and the echoed message. One is destined to seal away a great power with the foretold relic."
Thal answered to that part of the reading with, "Well, that magical relic isn't here now! What good is that prophecy, anyway?
Nan ignored him and continued: "Once this is done, no more shall force be needed over good will. This shall be sealed with that which echoes eternally, never ceasing yet decreasing until each day it be renewed in its glory." Nan proceeded to sing the rest of the inscription, in its original language. Pronouncing the ancient syllables perfectly and singing in perfect key, her words echoed off of the walls of the chamber, not in mere repetition as echoes normally do, but instead in pleasant harmony. Thal and Trista's minds focused wholly on the beauty of the song despite the fight that they were in. Nan had never sung so beautifully before and so they were put into a trance. Were the shadows creeping over them now and dragging them off to who-knows-where? They had no way of telling, nor did they care. They came back to their senses as soon as the song had ended; the shadows were gone (as so Thal claimed.) Had they really done their part? They could find nothing else of interest in the ruins and commenced their long trek back home. The sheer trance brought on by the music had made them forget why they were there or if the shadows were even there; how would they explain this to their family? Their family regardless met them again with great joy. Nan still had some unanswered questions, however.
Late that night, Nan felt the calling to head out again. She did not really feel in the mood after her last big adventure, but who was she to argue with destiny? She returned to the clearing to find the pretty lights and the social gathering, which greeted her with lots of cheering. A Scorchio in particular addressed her.
"My dearest Nan, we must congratulate you on your achievement! Neopia sleeps safe for another day thanks to your exploits. You are probably wondering what your goal was, right? Well, there's an ancient evil that was sealed away by an ancient relic. Well, every hundred years or so, someone like you has to go down to the ruins and repeat the endlessly echoing song. Isn't it a wonderful deal? And, to be precise, we're the ghosts of those who have done it throughout the ages! About you meeting Trista, though... we admit, it was only just to open the door. Still a very important job for her!"
"I have one much bigger question. If that was my goal, and Thal's and Trista's as well... does that mean that our purpose on Neopia is over and we have to join you guys?"
"Of course not! You have the rest of your life to live! Enjoy it! There might some more secrets in your gift of meditation; we didn't all receive it in the same way, you know!"
Nan returned home, much assured, and excited to tell everyone about her exact purpose. She returned to living her life as she always had; however, about once a month, she returned to the clearing to converse with the ghosts. They were a lonely lot indeed, desiring greatly the companionship of the living, and Nan was happy to help them.