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Journey through the Centre of Neopia: Part One


by kaioti

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      "How are things going Agent 31?”

      “Just fine Mother Bruce. The local petpet population here in Tyrannia seems to be doing quite well, despite all the excitement.” Kaylee stretched as she walked. It had been a long few weeks, but she was due for some vacation time soon. Altador or Shenkuu seemed like ideal vacation spots right now.

      She scanned the area one more time. The Tyrannian plateau near the volcano had been carefully monitored by the Petpet Protection League ever since the latest earthquake that had revealed the Obelisk. There was no telling if that meant an eruption was near. All that fighting also worried them, though so far the local petpets seemed fine.

      Sweat formed on her brow and she wiped it away. It seemed strange to be this far north and not have snow. The snow-covered face of Terror Mountain was just beyond the volcano, but the area felt more like Lost Desert. She shook her head. The natural weather patterns of the different lands of Neopia were best left to the experts. She was about to leave when she saw something shiny.

      “Mother Bruce, is anyone supposed to be living this far north?”

      “Not that I know of, but the Tyrannian natives don’t exactly keep strict records. Why?”

      “I see something odd. Please stand by.”

      Kaylee crept cautiously forward. The shiny thing was a fallen weathervane. Before her, hidden in sandstone, was a neohome. It looked abandoned.

      “Hello? Is anyone here? Do you need help?” Watchful for any movements, Kaylee went to the opened door and knocked. The interior was dimly lit by the outside sun. The main hut was small, only large enough for one Neopet, but it had extensions. The room she entered seemed to be a combination of kitchen and work room. The area that didn’t have cupboards of food or a stove was lined with books and scrolls as well as some other things. Everything was covered with a layer of dust. No one was here and hadn’t been in some time. On the table there was a book. Kaylee went to it and dusted off its cover. The title was Journey to the Centre of Neopia. Under the title was the name Garon the Lupe. She gently opened the book, read the first page and gasped.

      “Agent 31 are you alright?”

      “Yes, Mother Bruce, but I just found something very remarkable.” She looked again, more closely, at some of the items on the shelves. “And I really think we’re going to need some more people here.”

     

***

      “Why are we scavenging on this pile of junk, again?” asked Aldric for what seemed like the thousandth time. The Magma Kougra was trying to carefully balance his way across the piles of gears, cogs, and various other metal items that had been discarded. “The mayor isn’t going to be very happy if I break something before the next Cup.”

      “You can always wait on the side somewhere while we do this if you think you’ll hurt your delicate paws,” replied Mog, who was looking with interest at some of the larger bits of scrap metal.

      “Not all of us are lucky enough to be made out of stone,” said Aldric, sticking out his fiery tongue at the Relic Moehog. “Shouldn’t you be training in Tyrannia?”

      “You’re captain of team Moltara; you tell me why you’re here instead of recruiting and practicing.” Mog picked out a piece that seemed to be gold. “The things people throw out,” he said, shaking his head sadly.

      “Is that real gold?” asked an Orange Shoyru, looking at the Relic Moehog.

      Mog nodded. “It’s real and it’s mine. I can use this for something special.”

      Cog sighed, “So could I. Ah well. There’s bound to be more somewhere in here.” She kept her eyes out for any other bits, though she knew it was unlikely.

      Aldric looked at all the scraps and shook his head. He never imagined people could be so wasteful! “Look at this brass! It’s practically new! Who throws out good brass?!”

      “Now do you understand why Mog and I do this every year?” asked Cog as she picked out some gears and leather clothes from a pile. She could remake them into nice new clothes or some invention.

      Aldric nodded his head. “When Mog first told me, I thought you were both crazy. Now that I see it for myself…” He shook his head. “Igneot would have a lot to say about this!” He picked up a leather jacket that looked barely used. “I’m keeping this! It just needs washed and maybe let out.”

      “I’ll resize it for you for free since you’re helping out here. Just keep an eye out for anything interesting.” Cog smiled as she watched Aldric head off towards the northern end of the pile. “But be careful! The mayor will never forgive me if you hurt yourself!”

      “I’ll be fine. I have great reflexes and…hey, there’s a cave down there. Uh, there’s also something blue and shiny!”

      Cog and Mog looked at one another and headed to where Aldric was pointing. There, behind a boulder at the end of the junkyard, was a cave. At the base of the cave there was something blue. The bits of it not covered in dust looked shiny.

      “That can’t be what I think it is,” said Mog.

      “Only one way to find out,” said Cog as she carefully walked down the side of the pile to the boulder, and then to the object. Mog and Aldric followed her. Cog was holding up the strange, blue, metallic object with a look of awe. “This is Maractite. Real Maractite! How on Neopia did it end up here?!”

      Aldric looked closer. “I think there’s a name on it. Those swirls form an inverted lettering. It looks like ‘Garon’.”

      “Who’s Garon?” asked Mog.

      “Beats me, but we’d better show this to the mayor. That boulder’s high enough to block view of this cave from our side, but these tunnels go on for a long way. I hate to think that some poor surface pet got lost down here,” said Cog.

      “What makes you think it’s someone from the surface?” asked Aldric.

      “Maractite only comes from near Maraqua as far as I know. No one down here ever heard of it until we reopened to the surface.”

      “Wasn’t there mention of some mine being found in the Western Caves recently?” asked Mog.

      Cog nodded. “You’re right. I forgot about that. Still, it was only found this year. Judging by the dust on it, this has been here a lot longer.”

      The three climbed back over the boulder and made their way past the junkyard with their find. Cog only hoped the mayor could provide some answers!

     

***

      As they arrived back in Moltara City, Tulah ran up to them. “Hey guys! Where’ve you been? You’ll never believe it! They just got a new table-top Yooyu Ball game at the pub! Isn’t that the coggiest?!”

      Mog and Aldric looked each other and then at her. “You’re kidding!” they said in unison.

      “I know! I was, like, completely vulced too! Vere’s in there now and she’s completely smelting all comers!”

      “Even Harlis?” asked Aldric.

      “Oh Harlis was the first to go down! You know how his nerves are! He totally wants a rematch, but she wants to prove she can beat the whole team first! I never stood a chance, and poor Zax was completely smelted. I mean he never even scored once! You two have got to try it!” She linked arms with the two and the three headed towards the pub.

      “Wait! What about that plate we found?” called out Cog.

      “Uh, well only one of us really needs to talk to the mayor about it,” said Aldric.

      “Yeah. I mean, someone’s gotta represent a different team, right?” said Mog.

      Cog rolled her eyes as the three ran off together. When she got to city hall, she was surprised to see Igneot was there talking to Mayor Chromeswell and a strange Yellow Gelert.

      “And you say you found this journal in an abandoned hut near the Tyrannian volcano?” Chromeswell asked.

      “Yes,” she said. “If you read it, you can see why this is so important!”

      Chromeswell read some of it and frowned. “Hmm, yes. This is most disturbing. I see why you bring it to us.”

      Igneot nodded. “I can assure you, until the fixing of the Core Stabilizer, no other outsiders were ever known in the lava caves. Still…”

      Mayor Chromeswell looked and saw Cog. “Ah, Cog, did you need something? Igneot and I are a bit busy.”

      “I was looking through a junkyard to the far north with Aldric and Mog and we found this!” She held up the Maractite plate. “We think some outsider is lost in the caves to the north!”

      Mayor Chromeswell, Igneot and the yellow Gelert all looked at one another. The Yellow Gelert stepped forward. “My name is Kaylee, and I think we have a lot to talk about.”

     

***

     

Garon’s Journal:

      15 Awakening 7 Annos Neopia Central

      Today my hard work has all finally paid off! After over a year of exploring, I have finally discovered the fabled city of Moltara! I had first found legends of it in Faerieland and, after I was rewarded for exploring their caves, I sought it out. I have drawn images of this strange underground city. It is a marvelous place with technology quite unlike most of the surface world! I longed to introduce myself to the inhabitants, but I refrained. They had locked themselves away from the surface for some reason, and it is not for me to intrude upon their seclusion. Having found it, however, I can always visit again.

      Within the journal were several maps outlining different routes of a cave system leading from the volcano in Tyrannia to various locations underground, including Moltara City. Along it were marked various lakes and rivers as well as some notations about local fauna and flora.

      “Wow!” said Cog. “Imagine that! He found our city over four years before anyone else had!”

      “It was certainly respectful of him not to make contact,” said Igneot, “though it might have made things a little less hair-raising.”

      Mayor Chromeswell chuckled. “Indeed. What can you tell us of this Garon fellow Kaylee?”

      “Not much, I’m afraid. A while back he was famous for exploring the cave system in Faerieland. When he made a complete accurate map, however, he apparently went into semi-retirement. Obviously he wanted to do more exploring and went north to Tyrannia.”

      “We always suspected that there must be some connection between Moltara and Tyrannia,” said Igneot. “These maps are superb in their detail. Garon was meticulous if nothing else.”

      “But what happened to him? Why was there a Maractite plaque with his name on it by that cave?” asked Cog.

      “Well, there is this final journal entry,” said Kaylee.

     

Garon’s Journal:

      4 Awakening 15 Annos Neopia Central

      In my previous explorations, I took samples of soil as well as fossils and plants. I have been storing them in my hut near the Tyrannian volcano for future identification. Today I left something of my own behind, a Maractite plaque with my name on it near the cave where I first found Moltara. It might seem vain, but I wanted people to know I have been there.

      With the city being opened to the world for some four years now, it might be difficult to prove that I was the first to rediscover it. Still, I crave adventure more than fame and my curiousity know no bounds. There’s so much to see in this marvelous underground world! I think it would take several lifetimes to study it all! The maps I have made over the last eight years cover all the routes I have found between Moltara and the upper world so far. A remarkable number of these end in caves with primitive drawing of fire creatures. Surely there must be a connection!

      I have even found a route between Moltara and Kiko Lake. The volcano that was originally there may be long extinct and the caldera that forms it filled with water, but the old passages still remain. There remains only one passage I have not yet explored. Tomorrow I will amend this. It is an odd passage, I will admit, and I have heard the story of the attempts to investigate that passage that ended in tragedy. Still, it is worth the risk! I suspect it must lead to Mystery Island since there is a volcano there. Imagine if I could prove that Tyrannia, Moltara, Kiko Lake, and Mystery Island were all connected!

      “Say, wasn’t this just a couple days before that huge earthquake that revealed the Obelisk in Tyrannia?” asked Cog.

      “I’m afraid it was,” said Kaylee sadly. “If he was trapped somewhere…”

      “Given how long ago that last entry was written, it seems Garon must have met his end somewhere along that tunnel,” said Mayor Chromeswell. “At the very least he must have been trapped and could not return.”

      Igneot looked troubled. “And yet, surely we cannot simply abandon him to whatever fate befell him. If he is dead, he is beyond our help. But we do not know he is dead. He could be trapped and in need of rescue.”

      “But after all these years? How could someone survive?” asked Cog.

      “There are many places underground that are livable, young one. The adaptations of my own ancestors are proof of how life can go on even in unlikely circumstances. Being an avid explorer, I’m sure Garon would have found some way to survive if he could.”

      “And if he’s dead?” asked Kaylee.

      Igneot shrugged. “If we find proof of his death, we at least know his final fate. His spirit might even live on and be able to tell us much. I’m sure if his spirit lingers, it would be happier knowing its body was found and laid to rest.”

      “All this talk is very well, but that tunnel has an evil reputation,” said Mayor Chromeswell. “Most residents remember the sole person to return—delirious and ranting—who died soon after. I’d rather not risk anyone going down it.”

      “Hmm, I may have a solution—give me a little while,” said Kaylee.

     

***

      “Remind me why we’re here again,” asked a small, Red Korbat in an orange and yellow metallic suit as he looked down the long shaft that led to Moltara.

      “Mother Bruce said this is a job for the Defenders of Neopia,” answered a tall, Yellow Kau. She had on a form-fitting green uniform along with green bands on her horns and a green bow tied near the end of her long, orange hair. She had on a silver necklace with a turquoise gem and a brown belt and leg belt, each of which had a brown pouch.

      “Why us? Why not Scorchio or Mammoth?”

      “We’re the only two not on missions right now.”

      “But no one else is doing anything really important.”

      Kau Defender stopped and glared at Korbat Defender. “Is there a reason you’re whining about this?”

      “Well, I…”

      They had entered the city and were not far along when suddenly a voice cried out. “Thief!”

      They turned, Korbat Defender hiding himself behind Kau Defender’s legs. Cog flapped her wings and covered the distance quickly. Kau Defender looked confused. “Excuse me, but we’re the Defenders of Neopia; we’re not thieves.”

      “Maybe you aren’t but that cowardly Korbat cowering behind your legs owes me five thousand neopoints!”

      “I—I can explain! I had a mission and…”

      Cog tapped her foot on the ground and Kau Defender picked him up by the scruff of his neck and gave him a hard glare. “The Defenders of Neopia uphold the ideals of justice, truth, honor, and integrity.”

      “B-but…”

      “Pay up or I tell Judge Hog.” Korbat Defender gulped as he was lowered. Reluctantly he pulled out a bag of neopoints from somewhere inside his suit and gave it to Cog.

      After counting neopoints, she gave her thanks, smiled, took the bag, and left. Kau Defender shook her head and gave Korbat Defender another look.

      “Really, is that any way to behave?”

      Korbat Defender hung his head in shame and remained looking glum until they reached the mayor’s office. Mayor Chromeswell, Igneot, and a Cloud Bruce were there. The Cloud Bruce waved her flipper enthusiastically. “Hello dearies! I trust you had a pleasant trip?”

      “Yes, Mother Bruce. Now, could someone explain what’s going on?” asked Kau Defender.

      “Is Korbat Defender alright?” she asked. “He’s looking rather glum.”

      “He’s fine. Now, you mentioned someone is lost down here?”

      In short order Igneot and Mayor Chromeswell informed the two defenders of what had been discovered. They also included directions to the tunnel.

      Kau Defender shook her head. “Poor Garon. You know he tried to apply as a Defender just before all that. Maybe if he’d become one…”

      Igneot sighed. “There’s little use in contemplating might-have-beens. We can give you both supplies—we don’t know how long your journey may take or what you may find.”

      “Thank you. I promise we won’t fail!”

     

***

      The way had not been difficult so far. Korbat Defender was producing a light from one of his gloves while Kau Defender illuminated the way with her turquoise charm. “I wonder how much further this goes,” said Korbat Defender. “I feel like I’ve been walking forever!”

      “Doesn’t your suit have something to measure the neokilometres or similar?”

      “Aren’t you getting tired?”

      Kau Defender smiled. “Unlike you, I actually use the gym at Defenders’ Headquarters. Mammoth and I love sparring together.”

      “Ugh. There’s not even room to fly. If this tunnel gets much narrower we’ll have to turn back!”

      “Don’t be ridiculous! Obviously this tunnel must widen out or Garon would have turned back long ago.”

      As if to prove her correct, the tunnel suddenly opened into a large cavern. It was filled with glowing crystals and some glowing mushrooms as well. At the centre was a large lake. “Now this is something you don’t see every day!” said Korbat Defender.

      Kau Defender nodded. “It’s very beautiful. However, we shouldn’t linger here and, whatever you do, do not touch the…”

      She trailed off as she saw Korbat Defender touching one of the glowing mushrooms. It let off a puff of sparkly spores. “Hey! Look at how pretty these…” he stopped in midsentence as his eyes grew wide. “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!” he began to run around in a panic! His movements caused more and more of the spores to fly! Kau Defender touched her amulet and a blue glow quickly went around her body. She ran to where Korbat Defender was and grabbed him as he set off yet another puff of glowing, sparkly spores. With the struggling Korbat under one arm, she ran towards an exit on the far end of the cavern. The interior had the same glowing crystals but there were no mushrooms. It turned out to be a cave rather than a tunnel, but a spring was at the end of it, and it seemed to be the source of water for the lake.

      After testing the water with her amulet, Kau Defender took off Korbat Defender’s armor and used the water to clean off any remaining spores. Korbat Defender had stopped screaming, but was now still and shuddering. His eyes were wide with horror.

      “Oh Koris, I do wish you would have listened. Now I need to figure out an antidote to those spores before you die!”

     

***

      To be continued…

 
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