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Change Needs Growth: Part Three


by jehtredmonkey

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      "Visitors?!” Patrick looked stunned. What kind of visitors would make a huge blast and shake the cottage? The green Psimouse darted outside to see what had happened. In front of him, trees laid skewed in a pattern suggesting that an explosive had been the culprit for the prone trees. Smoke billowed from the epicenter of the blast and on the far side, outlines of figures could vaguely be discerned. As the outlines became recognizable, Patrick identified the Wain and the Flerper from before when they attacked him in the woods. Along with those two, there were four others. A Cobrall came out of the smoke, tasting the air with his tongue. A Grobrin and a Sutekh huffed into view. Lastly, a Drackonack ran in behind, large white teeth contrasting the dark gray of the smoke.

      “Hello again!” taunted the Wain.

      “Agent loser! You came back! I was wondering when you would bring your friends!” Patrick called back.

      “At least I have friends!” seethed the Wain.

      “Good thing someone is friends with agent ugly over there,” Patrick motioned towards the Grobrin, “Because it seems that you guys are suited to be best friends!” A screech halted the bickering as one last Petpet streaked across the sky from beyond the smoke. Landing in front of the group of agents was a Skree, but only more muscular than any other Skree Patrick had seen. His dangerous eyes quenched Patrick’s desire for humor as he retreated a single step in response to the Skree’s razor talons. Its feathers reached far into the wind, meaning that this was a seasoned Skree. Several of its feathers were painted colors of the rainbow, the only contrast to the otherwise serious atmosphere extending from the Skree. As the Petpet scanned the area, it locked eyes with Patrick and took a few determined steps forward.

      “We are here for the creature at the end of the rainbow. Hand it over and no harm will come to you.” The Voice of the Skree was monotone, but deep.

      “Can’t we beat the Psimouse up a bit?” The Wain complained.

      “Silence!” The Skree shouted.

      “He beat us up real good! I want to show him a lesson!” In a blurry flash, the Skree was in front of the Wain in a second, smacking him across the face. Even in a harsh whisper, the voice of the Skree could be heard a long distance away.

      “Do not question my authority, or it will be you that I will humiliate!” The Skree turned around and casually walked towards Patrick again. “Where is the creature of the rainbow, Psimouse?”

      “Long gone, agent. And even if he was here, he would not go willingly with you clowns.” The Petpets behind the Skree looked shocked, but the Skree remained unphased.

      “I am not an agent. I am one of four Lieutenants of our organization. I am feared and respected, so I will ask the same from you.” The Skree seemed calm.

      “I do not respect lunatics who want to steal magic!” Patrick barked.

      The Skree merely smiled. “You see these colored feathers I have?” Patrick eyed the colorful display of hundreds of feathers. “Each feather was painted after defeating an opponent. Some begged for mercy, others did not receive it. Stand down, lest you would rather be crushed.”

      Patrick gawked at the Skree for a moment. Talking was getting him nowhere, but what he wanted to accomplish by talking, even Patrick did not know. The Psimouse reeled back to create a mote, but before he even moved, the Skree thrusted a gold mote forward and it hit Patrick square in the chest. The Skree took off into the sky and landed behind the six petpets as they charged forward, letting loose a volley of rock and fire motes. Dropping his backpack, Patrick withdrew his sword and swung ferociously at the onslaught of motes, using the sword as a baseball bat to hit the motes back at his opponents.

      Patrick finally stopped when his opponents did, but only because they had surrounded him completely. Each hurled a fire mote at the Psimouse. Using the sword as a pole vault, Patrick jumped over the petpets as the fire motes whizzed by him and each other. One of the fire motes hit the Sutekh and he dropped to the floor, rolling around to put out the fire. Taking advantage, Patrick hurled a silver mote at the Sutekh and knocked him out cold, though he was still a little warm from the fire.

      “It will just be you and me.” The Wain taunted. These other bozos will be knocked out and we will at last have our rematch where I will win!” The wain started to make another fire mote. Patrick lunged in and brought his sword in the mote as it was being created, stopping the forming of the mote with a blast. The Wain went flying and twirling through the air, landing on his head, knocked out.

      “Be careful,” Patrick warned. “Whenever you create a mote, if you fail, there are repercussions.” The Wain laid on the grass not moving.

      The Cobrall slinked towards Patrick as he took a step back, slicing at the enemy. Recoiling from the attack, Patrick quickly formed another silver mote and launched it as it hit the Cobrall in the face, knocking him out. Patrick faced three more petpets. The Flerper, the Grobrin, and the Drackonack. The Drackonack formed motes in its mouth as it started firing continually. The Grobrin revealed a pitchfork weapon that doubled as a spear on the opposite end. The Flerper waited at a distance. Jumping and rolling to dodge the motes from the Drackonack, the Grobrin came into the fray and started poking at Patrick as he swung his sword violently to keep the attacks away from him. As the motes came at Patrick from one side, and the Grobrin from the other side, Patrick was pinned. Desperate, he dodged a stab from the pitchfork and counter attacked with a swing aimed at the Grobrins head. Reeling back, the Grobrin caught the sword with his pitchfork and twisted it to keep the sword in place. Trying to retract the sword, Patrick was unable due to the pronged tips of the pitchfork and the tension made by the Grobrin twisted his pitchfork.

      Patrick made a quick decision and released the sword and started forming another silver mote. Before he could finish, the Flerper was crawling around his body, hitting specific points. Patrick collapsed as the energy used to create the mote dispersed and hit him like a shock wave. The three Petpets held Patrick in place as Lieutenant Skree flew from the sky back down to meet them. “Unfortunate. You were not able to beat these pathetic Petpets? It was entertaining though.”

      “Coward!” Patrick spat.

      “Now have you resorted to name calling? You truly are at an all-time low. Leave the name calling to children, for with maturity, we can settle matters without being overcome by emotion.” The Skree smirked.

      “You have these three fight your battles for you! You have no honor!”

      The Skree’s smile widened. “I know what you are trying to do. You want to fight me because you think that you can appeal to my emotions in a way where I lose sight of my objective. I am here to tell you, that I have no emotions. Luckily for you, I wanted to fight you anyway. Show you what you missed out on. Also, I couldn’t resist adding another green feather to my cap after defeating you.” The Skree motioned for the three to release their grips on the Psimouse as the Skree stepped a few paces backwards. “You may have the first move.”

      Analyzing his opponent, Patrick already knew that the Skree could fly, so there would be a lot of aerial dodges. He needed to get up high so that the Skree would not have an advantage in the air. Forming a bubble mote, Patrick leaped into the air as the mote grew bigger and bigger to become the size of a parachute, but instead of falling down, Patrick gracefully and slowly soared upwards. Patrick looked at the Skree in pride when he noticed an electrical mote flying towards him. Unable to move, Patrick braced as it hit the bubble and electrocuted the water that landed on top of Patrick. He plummeted to the ground and landed in a heap.

      “I would say I was impressed, but you had no movement control in the air and you made yourself an easier target. Stand up. I do not want this to be over that easy.” Patrick lifted himself to his hands and knees, but could not move anymore. The Skree frowned. “Pathetic!” He launched another electrical mote sending the Psimouse flying. The motes of the Skree were not normal. He had extra strength when they landed, hurting Patrick even more. As Patrick landed, his hat tumbled away. “Stand up!” The Skree demanded. Patrick paid no heed to the Skree as he crawled towards his hat. There was no way he would be able to fight without his hat. “Pathetic! You need the hat to fight?” The Skree kicked the hat out of reach from Patrick and picked it up. “What happens if I were to…” Talons flashed close to the hat. A chuck of the rim of the hat fluttered down. “Oops.” The Skree raised his arm to strike again when a light mote flashed and blinded the Skree. Dropping the hat, the Skree shielded his eyes as he fell back a few steps.

      “Do not harm my friend.” Gumdrop called. The three remaining Petpets charged at Gumdrop. He flicked his hand and out came a Gold mote that ricocheted between the three in a blur that left all three unconscious. “Leave, Skree.” The Lieutenant hissed as he brought up his wings and rocketed into the sky. Walking over to Patrick, Gumdrop helped him to his feet and placed the hat back on top of Patrick. “You don’t need the hat to create motes. I know it’s a comfort thing, but the sooner you can rely on yourself for magic instead of your hat, the sooner you can grow confident as a Petpet instead of hiding behind the walls and masks you put up.”

      “You sound like wise Shane…” Patrick muttered, wincing at the pain.

      “Well I will take that as a compliment! But next time I say that you should wait before going outside, you should listen to me.” Gumdrop laughed when he was interrupted by an explosion. Looking over to the cottage, it lay in ruins. Patrick peered into the Sky to see the Skree glowering at the duo before flying away. Gumdrop closed his eyes as he said, “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.” Gumdrop opened his eyes. “Because there is no home!!”

      “Sorry this all happened. Everyone wants to get the end of the rainbow.”

      “No worries! I was getting hungry and the house was looking tasty. Now let’s go find us a rainbow!”

     

***

      Exiting the woods, the duo said good-bye to Cosmo (or Flash depending on who was saying good-bye) and the spooky setting. “Onward to the land of the rainbows!” Gumdrop said as he marched forward. Patrick had no idea where he would lead the duo and he was not thrilled by Gumdrop’s constant happy attitude, but he needed to get to the end of the rainbow to save Unishire. This might be the only way. Unless Mordecai really had tricked him into leaving Unishire so that he would not bother anyone.

      Gumdrop lead the group through plains and grassy areas as they walked most of the day. Soon they found an open space near the outskirts of a forest that and they planned on spending the night there. Gumdrop volunteered to gather wood if Patrick would set up camp. Patrick had one sleeping bag, but he decided he would buy Gumdrop a sleeping bag with the money he had brought. Until then, Patrick assembled a makeshift shelter from sticks, vines and leaves. It wasn’t roomy, but it offered more protection from the elements than Gumdrop had previously. Maybe Patrick should have brought a tent as well, in case it rained. He felt unprepared for this kind of adventure.

      “Well that shelter looks awful.” Patrick spun around to see another Psimouse.

      “What do you want, Nash?” Patrick grumbled. Nash was barely illuminated by the fire that Gumdrop had started before leaving to find more fuel.

      “Friends, a life, redemption. Lots of things, palio. Yet I came here for a different reason.”

      “What is it?” Patrick said through clenched teeth.

      “I see you found a friend. It would be a shame if something were to happen to him.”

      “Stop it, Nash. What do you want?”

      “I cannot help my curiosity. I know you think you are able to save Unishire, but we know the truth. Everyone you disappointed before Unishire. I want to watch what you do. I want to see where you go. Unfortunately, I seem to be the only one who understand what is really going on.

      “Don’t bring up my past, Nash. Your past is pretty ugly too. AS for your curiosity, what do you mean that you are the only one who understands?” Patrick was becoming a little nervous.

      “Where are you and little Christmas going anyways?” Nash seemed to know the answer.

      “The end of the rainbow.”

      “Are you sure about that? You guys walked a big circle. If anything, I think you wasted more time getting midnight snack than if you were to search blindly for it yourself.”

      “Go away Nash, or I will fight you!”

      “And who would win that fight?” Nash sneered. Patrick remained quiet. “Ask your friend where you are going. You’ll understand soon. Sorry to cause any conflicts. I just wanted to help because I couldn’t bear to watch you fail in this mission of yours. It will be funny to watch you lose. Anyways, it’s getting late. You better get some rest. Long day tomorrow with traveling in circles and all. Nash backed away from the fire and started walking casually into the veil of blackness.

      As the crunching steps of Nash faded, new ones sounded in the direction of the woods. “Greetings and salutations my little green friend! I have found wood and some leftover food! It was in a bag marked “trash” which made no sense to me, but food is food!” Gumdrop set down some wood and plopped down next to Patrick, offering him some gross looking vegetable. Patrick made no effort for the food. “Your loss. Just trying to be nice by sharing.” Gumdrop dropped the food into his mouth. “Gross… has an earthy aftertaste.” Gumdrop put another one into his mouth. Patrick wanted to ask Gumdrop about what Nash had said. Yet, he would be doubting. Gumdrop seemed to know the way. He would just have to trust the Jinjah.

     

***

      Morning came and the two packed their equipment. Patrick proposed stopping at a nearby town to buy a sleeping bag for Gumdrop since he insisted on coming. Patrick came into a store of a small village and bought a sleeping bag and some real food so that he didn’t have to rely on Gumdrops all natural diet. The store owner seemed oblivious of the eminent doom lurking beyond the village borders. Patrick felt a sliver of pity for the old Whoot as he struggled to bag the items. Patrick handed over a few extra Neopoints and explained that he was trying to be nice by sharing. Patrick exited the small village and found Gumdrop skipping rocks in a pond.

      “How can people go about their normal routines and days as if nothing is happening?” Patrick thought aloud. He located a rock and tried skipping it himself. No skips.

      “I don’t think they know.” Gumdrop stated matter-of-factly. “It might be better that way.”

      “Should we tell them?” Patrick was realizing that after a single day with Gumdrop, he was already feeling changed. He didn’t like it, but he couldn’t help it.

      “No. I think the saying ‘ignorance is a bliss or else you could miss’ really fits the mood.” Gumdrop tried skipping a rock. It sailed and bounced a possible nine or ten times!

      “I don’t think that is the saying. But is not knowing actually good for people? If there was something wrong with the world I would want to know. If there was something wrong with me or with what I was doing, I would want people to tell me.” Patrick said as he found another rock. Gumdrop was about to toss one, but he hesitated. The Jinjah glanced over at the Psimouse with a look of concern. He then focused on the rock and skipped it. Only seven.

      “Sometimes truth is like a wall. You hit it hard and it seems like there is no way to get through it.” Gumdrop watched Patrick toss his rock. “So if no one tells you there is a wall in front of you, people tend to walk around it and it doesn’t have to slow them down.” Patrick’s rock bounced off the rippling waters as it skipped twice and dove into the pond. Patrick nodded in agreement to Gumdrop’s words.

      “Then let’s not slow down anyone- including ourselves.” Patrick started walking away from the pond. Gumdrop liked the somber moment. He enjoyed talks like that. But Patrick would need some cheering up.

      The two left the village and crossed the plains. They traversed south through the Lost Desert for several days. The sun beat down like rain as they trudged forward through the shifting sands. Patrick told Gumdrop to remain quiet. Traveling with someone was unusual because Patrick liked isolation. He liked time to contemplate, but Gumdrop just wanted to talk. Patrick refused to talk and tried ignoring the rambling Jinjah. Nothing stopped the flood of words and questions. Patrick one day gave up and answered several questions, but nothing too personal. He told him about some of his finest pranks and jokes which made him feel proud as Gumdrop applauded his genius. Patrick was hesitant to ask questions himself because he did not care, but that feeling peeled away and his former self started melting in the hot sun of the Lost Desert. Though legends claimed that souls were still lost to this day in the desert and wandering at night, Patrick felt found.

      Desiring minimal contact with other Neopians, the two cut north-west to bypass Altador and to avoid Shenkuu completely. Patrick knew he did not fit in and a Jinjah was not exactly a normal sight in places such as Altador and Shenkuu. Avoiding attention and staying secret as to not lead unwanted attention onto the source for magic in Neopia. If the wrong paws and claws were to grab onto the magic, then the world would go into chaos. Yet, the magic was being stolen by this organization. Unishire was becoming exposed to its enemies. Patrick thought about this and it made him more determined than ever as him and Gumdrop made camp south-east of Shenkuu in a forest. They had traveled far and had spent nearly a week. Supplies were running low and Gumdrop was more than willing to grab some of his natural dietary specialty.

      Gumdrop dropped from a tree and rolled behind a log. “…. And then you were like…” Gumdrop dived over the log and rolled to the log Patrick was sitting on, nearly missing the fire Patrick had just finished setting up.

      “Careful!” Patrick warned.

      “Then you jumped up and yelled, ‘did you forget me?!’” The two laughed at their inside joke. Gumdrop had been trying really hard to ease Patrick up. The Pismouse claimed to not want any company and that Gumdrop needed to be quiet, but upon constant comedy relief, the walls came tumbling down and the Jinjah was thankful. Now he had something to bond over as he shared some of his greater pranks on the residents of the Haunted Forest and other locations he lived before settling there. Patrick was impressed, though he did not want to admit it. Especially since some of his pride was still hurt by how Gumdrop had outsmarted the Psimouse. The two joked by the fire and laughed. Gumdrop was sure they were close to the end of the rainbow by now.

      Patrick wiped away a tear from the laughing. “…Well you tried and failed to switch the Chia’s slippers so they were all left ones! That would have been great, but you came up short.”

      Gumdrop grinned. “Well you failed to see through my prank back in Haunted Forest!” he jested.

      “Nuances.” Patrick shrugged off. He was reminded of the seriousness that he had felt in the Haunted woods. He then was reminded of Nash. The Red Psimouse’s comment was eating at him for days now. He did not want to question Gumdrop to prove Nash wrong. Yet he felt as though Gumdrop was confused in leading them through the Lost Desert. He seemed to be following the green Psimouse. His original comfort in having a guide has dissolved like snow in the summertime. Gumdrop noticed the change on Patrick’s visage and realized the switch to a solemn mood.

      “What’s the matter, Pat?” Gumdrop had given the Psimouse his first nickname on their journey so far. Gumdrop popped some food into his mouth.

      “Oh nothing… I just…” Patrick lowered his glance, piercing through the flames of the inferno. “Where are we going?” Patrick whispered, eyes not leaving the fire.

      “What?” Gumdrop stopped eating.

      “Where are we going?” Patrick repeated, raising his voice slightly

      “What do you mean?” Gumdrop looked confused.

      “Are we going to the end of the rainbow?” Patrick was getting slightly irritated.

      “I think so. Why are you asking me?”

      “I am asking you because I want to know where you are taking me.” Patrick stressed.

      “Where I am taking you?” Gumdrop looked baffled. “I thought you were leading me to the end of the rainbow?”

      Patrick felt dizzy. Nash was right. They have gone nowhere. They wasted a week’s worth of time. If they had continued in their confusion, who knows how much more time they would have lost or where they would have ended up. “You are supposed to take me to the end of the rainbow so I can save Unishire.”

      “Oh.” Gumdrop laughed. “I thought you were taking me back to my home because my family asked you to come and find me.” Gumdrop continued laughing harder.

      “Did you not hear anything I said?!” Patrick yelled.

      “Calm down, I’m sorry.” Gumdrop apologized. “If you want me to lead I will.”

      The Psimouse was upset, furious, and confused, but at least now they would head in the direction of their destination. “Thank you.” Patrick managed.

      “Except…” Gumdrop continued. “I don’t know the way…” he admitted. Patrick stood up and stormed away, taking his sleeping bag far from the fire. “Are you mad at me?” Gumdrop called. No answer. “Should we have a house meeting about this?” Still no answer. “Well… I know a way to get to the end of the rainbow. It might be a little out of our way, but we can talk about it in the morning. Get some rest!” The Jinjah awkwardly called after Patrick.

      He better have a plan otherwise this whole excursion to find Gumdrop would have been a major waste of time and effort. Patrick thought. He was embarrassed that he did not see the signs sooner. He was caught up in the excitement that he might be able to save Unishire, that he had become blind to the facts. He needed to stop letting his emotions get in his way. He had to get rid of his emotions if he wanted to succeed on this mission. That meant no more talking to Gumdrop for fun. Only on serious matters.

     

***

      In the morning, Patrick was calm and asked about the way to the end of the rainbow that Gumdrop had mentioned last night.

      “Well, there is a powerful and scary Petpet that lives up in Terror Mountain that makes these magical Shamrocks that will guide you to your desired destination. She believes Shamrocks are natural compasses that she can influence with her magic. There are other inventions this Petpet makes like a squishy ball that whenever squeezed you can transform into whatever color you wish. I heard rumors of a belt that when worn, it can sense when someone is lying or telling the truth. Lots of neat stuff!”

      “Well it sounds like we will need the Shamrock. How will we get it?” Patrick asked.

      “That’s the tricky part…” Gumdrop looked down as if he were guilty of something. “We might need to… borrow it… for a time.”

      “You want to steal it?” Patrick was shocked with Gumdrop’s switch of morals.

      “Well if you put it that way, then it makes things sound worse, but yes. The Petpet that makes these items is not a nice Petpet. Not quite evil, but it is said that this Petpet will tend to take the opposite side from the one you are fighting for. I heard the Petpet had captured a fabled hero set out to find a permanent cure to disease, just because the hero had asked for an item. Another time, the Petpet was rumored to have stopped an entire war from the Darigans because an esteemed leader had asked for an item. Long story short, if we ask, the Petpet will surely stop your quest.”

      “If this Petpet is really that powerful, wouldn’t a powerful Petpet put up security?” Patrick eyed Gumdrop as he looked perplexed.

      “No worries!” Gumdrop finally managed. “We will scout out the area and see if there are traps or security and then make a plan from there. It will be as easy as building a rocket!”

      “Building a what now?” Patrick was taken a back.

      “Nuances. Onward!” The duo packed up camp and set out for Terror Mountain to see the Powerful Petpet.

      From their campsite near Shenkuu, the team decided to navigate north, past Shenkuu and cross the waters separating the main island from the Northern ice cap that housed Terror Mountain. Patrick was not entirely thrilled of going to a place he was terrified of, but he had to make a sacrifice to save his town and prove them all wrong. The duo set off across hills and through valleys. Camping for a few nights, Gumdrop continued with his wittiness, humor, and optimism. This had a positive effect earlier, but now it was starting to annoy Patrick as he was again trying to ignore Gumdrop. Instead of talking about it, Patrick decided that emotions would slow them down, so he let his annoyances fester.

      The journey to the ocean was two more days and they were able to hire a Floatsam to take them across the waters. On the boat, they were able to sleep and so when he team neared the base of Terror Mountain, they were feeling refreshed. The mountain stretched into the sky, past the cloud line, its height seemingly never-ending. The snow was heaped all over the mountain as if some giant raked the snow from all of Neopia into a pile likes leaves. The mountain almost reminded Patrick of whipped cream on top of a banana split. The white cushion of snow blended with the sky to create an optical allusion that made it seem that they were surrounded from head to toe by a snowy landscape.

      “Well, where is the base?” Patrick finally muttered, still in awe of the immense size of the mountain.

      “I think she is in a cave about two-thirds the way up.” Gumdrop nodded as if to agree with himself.

      “You think?!” the Psimouse was shocked that yet again Gumdrop had been leading blind.

      “Well The rumors say that the powerful Petpet is up there…” Gumdrop seemed to go into a pensive state.

      “I cannot believe that I trusted you yet again! I would have better chances to run around Neopia blind than follow a walking cookie!”

      “Harsh. Yet I understand your frustrations.” Gumdrop was gentle and slow with his words.

      “How can you be calm?! All residents of Unishire are looking to me to save them! If I am too late, they will be disappointed with me forever! I can’t fail! Even Mordecai trusted me!” Patrick was restraining tears and his fists.

      “Mordecai? Is he your friend?” Patrick was stopped in his fury. He hadn’t realy told Gumdrop a lot about his life. Just his accomplsihments.

      “No… but he is someone I look up to. I had a funny way of showing it. He trusted me. I have to save Unishire.”

      “Ok.” Gumdrop nodded thoughtfully. “Well do you have any ideas on how to find the end of the rainbow?” Patrick shrugged; he was made uncomfortable by the question.

      “No… I guess not.” Patrick admitted.

      “Well I do. It’s based on rumors, but at this point, it is better than nothing. I understand you have been upset by my presence at times, but you wanted my help and here I am offering it.” Patrick reluctantly agreed that Gumdrop was right. “In that case, let us figure a way to get us a Shamrock!”

      The duo began climbing the mountain, searching for caves as they started reaching half-way. The trees were covered in frost and wrapped in white blankets of snow as they produced leaves of icicles. The clouds swallowed the team as their line of sight was restriced by the intense fog and gusts of snow lashing against their faces. The snowy wasteland instantly froze Patrick’s paws as he hugged himself for warmth. Glancing over at Gumdrop, Patrick noticed that the Jinjah was practically skipping along.

      “How are you not frozen?” Patrick asked, shivering.

      “Just let it go.”

      “Excuse me?”

      “Your cares and worries. Did you know that the cold never bothered me anyway?”

      “What are you saying?”

      “Fine. I am making a small fire mote, but I am keeping it inside my body to keep me warm.” Gumdrop stated.

      “You can do that?” Patrick was astonished at the innovativeness of the Jinjah.

      “Certainly! Creativity is chief-ity! That’s my motto!”

      “That’s not a word…” Patrick reminded him.

      “And that’s where my motto comes in again! Creativity is in the eye of the beholder.”

      “Well I am creative in my own way as well.”

      “Exactly!” Gumdrop was becoming avid. “Some people just don’t understand creativity.”

      “Unfortunate.” Patrick agreed, thinking to some of his pranks that people frowned down upon.

      The duo hiked up and down the mountainside, searching behind the frozen trees and looking for closed off tunnels- or any tunnels for that. There were no caves, but right as they were about to give up, Gumdrop spotted a light. As they approached, a mouth of a cave came into full view. In their jovial excitement, they almost did not hear the loud noises dashing from the cave. A blast a smoke seeped out the entrance. The Psimouse and Jinjah ducked behind a log a hundred yards away from the tunnel. An Erisim exited the cave alongside a Niptor.

      “Lieutenant!” A Karren came fluttering out of the cave. “We got the Shamrocks. Should we smash the others?” The Erisim whipped around to face the Karren. “Do not harm any of them. Take them all. We cannot screw up as Lieutenant Skree did. This is our only way to find the end of the rainbow, and we will need every chance we get!” The Karren nodded and flew back into the cave, barking orders.

      This was not good for the green Psimouse. He fingered his hat as he pondered what to do. A cry for help echoed from the caves as Petpets started pouring out, bags over their shoulders, filled with trinkets and random toys. The Erisim ordered them down the mountain as they marched away. Following in the rear, the Erisim looked over his shoulder one last time right in the direction of Patrick. Smiling menacingly, he waved a hand and a few Petpets ran back into the cave as the large group left along with the Erisim and the Shamrocks.

      “Did you hear that cry for help?” Gumdrop whispered to Patrick. “We need to help that Petpet!” Patrick looked to the cave filled with the goons of the Erisim, an obvious member of the organization. Then he looked down the hill where the group had left. He needed those trinkets because one of those would be a shamrock that led to the end of the rainbow. Yet, if he was going to prove he wasn’t selfish, how could he ignore a cry for help? Patrick knew his emotions were getting in the way.

      “We need to go after the Shamrocks.” Patrick stated. Gumdrop looked at him in awe.

      “What about the Petpet? Do you even care about that one?”

      “One sacrificed for the greater good of many is fine by me.” Patrick stood up and started down the hill when he was grabbed by the shoulder and yanked to the ground.

      “Listen to me, cheese brain.” Gumdrop had never lost his temper until now and Patrick was not a fan. “We are going to save that one Petpet. How can you call yourself a hero if you were to save an entire village knowing you didn’t even try to help an innocent life?” Patrick shrugged, guiltily. “That’s because what you are trying to do is prove you aren’t selfish, but you are so consumed by that thought that you have become selfish again on proving others wrong.” Patrick’s head slumped as he stared at the ground in defeat. “If you want to prove you are not selfish, you have to have integrity. You have to prove you are not selfish to yourself, not just to other people.” Gumdrop released his grip from Patrick, finally satisfied with all he had said.

      Patrick considered what Gumdrop had said for a long while before he responded. “Let’s go save that Petpet.”

      Smiling, Gumdrop helped Patrick to his feet. “We are going to sneak in. If they see us inside the cave, noise above talking level will echo and travel down to the Erisim and we will be surrounded with no escape before we can do anything. Stealth will be our friend. Are you good at sneaking around?”

      Patrick thought back to several instances where he needed to sneak to pull off a prank. Back in Unishire, one of his closest calls had been when he sneaked up to a house and taped the locking mechanism so he could sneak in later. That night he came in through his taped door and went to the fridge, taking out the assortment of food and beverages and replaced them slowly with several small containers of cottage cheese. He was most the way done when a light flickered on and a voice called out from the top of the stairs. Panicking, Patrick had to hurry and put everything in the fridge, close it silently and slide under a couch. He had a plan in case that were to happen, but it caught him by surprise. As the resident checked the house and was satisfied, Patrick held his breath. Soon the resident had returned to her room and Patrick was able to slip out unnoticed. Patrick giggled a little bit when he had heard her scream in the morning. That particular resident was terrified by cottage cheese. Rightly so.

      Patrick snapped out of his memories and gave a stern nod to affirm that he was capable of sneaking, reminding Gumdrop of the memory that had entered his mind. Gumdrop stifled a laugh and reminded him that they needed to be serious. The two of them reached the entrance of the cave and peered in to see how the tunnel veered to the right. Without talking, the two had a plan. One silently dashed to the end of the tunnel and stayed out of sight and peaked around the corner. When all was good, the first motioned the second to follow. They continued this process through the winding tunnel made of sheer ice until Gumdrop had spotted sign of life. Catching up, Patrick looked around the corner to see four Karrens walking around the room, keeping patrol. Boxes stacked into piles near the entrance and all around the cavernous room. On the far side sat a water Faerie, tied up by glowing chains. Gumdrop crouched and ran over to a stack of boxes, sliding behind them just as a Karren turned in the direction of the entrance. Patrick followed without any close calls.

      Staring at each other, it was silently communicated that they had to get to the other side without drawing attention. They peered around the boxes to see another pile of boxes not too far away. Patrick was closer, so he timed his turn right and took a step and dove behind the boxes. Gumdrop followed. The next hiding place was too far away. As the Karrens circled the room, they would spot anyone making that run halfway into the run. They could not be caught or else they could easily be trapped. Gumdrop picked up a loose piece of ice and chucked it at the far side of the room. As attention turned that way, Patrick slinked behind the box, but in his rush, he bonked a box. It wasn’t loud, but it was enough. One Karren turned towards Patrick and started marching that way.

      Frantically searching for an option, Patrick’s eyes rested onto Gumdrop. The Jinjah looked at the other Karrens who were investigating the ice chunk slowly, then he looked at Patrick as if to say that he need Patrick’s full trust. Gumdrop formed a rock mote and tossed it full strength at the Karren. As the rock mote bounced off the top of the head of the Karren, the body slinked forward into unconsciousness. Patrick dove out from cover to catch the body, laying it down in a fast manner just in time to catch the rock mote. Dissolving the rock mote into thin air, Patrick pulled the body behind the crate, but it was too late.

      “Look!” Shouted a Karren. “There’s someone-” Gumdrop leaped out from behind the boxes and sent a frost mote sailing as it instantly froze the Karren who was speaking. The other two made no effort to yell for back up, but instead ran towards the center of the room. Gumdrop hit another Karren with a frost mote, but didn’t have time to stop the last one. Standing up, Patrick let loose an electrical mote right as the Karren dived for something. Patrick saw what the Karren was going for. A button. The outstretched arm of the Karren inched close to the button as the electrical mote hit the Karren. Pulsing with electricity, the Karren’s outstretched hand fell on top of the button. Instantly a loud explosion echoed from the entrance, but the decibel level was too intense in such tight quarters. Covering their ears, boulders of ice and rock filled the entrance and the only exit.

      “Well so much for stealth.” Gumdrop laughed.

      “Why are you laughing? There is no way out! We are stuck! That Erisim wanted us to save the Faerie so we would fall right into his trap! Why can I not see through other people’s tricks?!” Patrick was panicking. He searched the walls and the boxes, but there seemed to be no way out of the cave. All they could do was free the Faerie.

      “You doubt me too often young Sneak-hopper.”

      “Sneak-what-er?”

      “Over your head.” Gumdrop said dismissively.

      “Nothing goes over my head. My reflexes-” Patrick was cut off.

      “Yeah, yeah.” Gumdrop waved a dismissive hand. The two walked over to the Faerie who eyed them both wildly. She seemed to be talking, but nothing left her mouth. Heating up the sword Patrick had brought, had sliced through the chains masterfully as though he was a seasoned adventurer.

      “Who are you guys?!” That Faerie said scooting away.

      “You’re welcome!” Gumdrop said cheerfully.

      Rolling his eyes Patrick extended a hand to help the Faerie up. She slapped it away and flew up. Patrick was now a little upset they had decided to free her.

      “Those chains took away my powers. I lost my sense of time and I was unable to think! Now it’s coming back…” The faerie lowered to the floor, clenching her head in agony. Her head popped up from her hands like a Meepit from the ground, she looked at the two Petpets and realized what happened. “You guys saved me! Thank you! Do you know what those fiends wanted?” Patrick reiterated the problem going on and the Organization. As he was explaining things, he remembered the Wain mentioning powering up agent Splyke. He told the Faerie that as well and her expression shrank. Gumdrop also looked a little surprised.

      “You need to act fast and save Unishire by stopping that organization. If agent Splyke gets fully powered and restored, then I don’t think anyone can stop him. Quickly follow me.” The Faerie fluttered towards a wall.

      “Excuse me, but who are you?” Patrick inquired.

      “Don’t ask a lady that kind of question!” Gumdrop admonished.

      “No it’s fine.” The Faerie said. “I am the powerful Petpet that lives here at Terror Mountain. But the secret is: I am actually a Faerie.”

      “You are it?” Patrick was shocked.

      “Her, but yes. Now follow me, quickly! We haven’t got much time!” The three of them came to a wall and the Faerie closed her eyes. Raising her hands slowly, a section of the wall started rising as well.

      “You have another room?” Patrick was flabbergasted at how many surprises had been revealed so quickly.

      “Girl has to get some sleep somehow.” The Faerie winked. Following her into another room, trinkets scattered shelves on the far side. A bed and cozy furniture set were placed nearby and a carpet stretched the length of the room. “I keep the best inventions for myself.” She smiled, barely containing her pride. “And the originals.” She flew over to the shelf and grabbed a shamrock, which was about the size of a tennis ball. Flying over to Patrick, she handed him the shamrock. “This will guide you where you want to go. Be careful though because it is fragile. I ask for nothing in return except that you stop that organization! Do not let them restore agent Splyke! Now go!” She pointed towards a door that Patrick had not noticed when he first looked at the room. “This door leads outside near the base of the mountain. Tell no one of the secrets you have discovered. Sorry for rushing you away, but you must really be off!”

      “I heard rumors that you were unkind and stopped a brave Petpet from finding the cure to a disease. Why are you so kind all of a sudden?” Patrick inquired.

      “Don’t believe everything you hear at face value. That Petpet claimed to be helping others, but I saw into his evil heart. He wanted wealth and was going to charge more than it’s worth to cure disease. I saw into the future how it would have created a hierarchical system in which none would survive by the richest few. It was not pleasant. I am helping you now because I see the Jinjah’s intentions are pure. Yours are questionable, but your passion will surely overcome the obstacles in your future. Now hurry!”

      The duo said their good-byes and went through the threshold of the door to find a long narrow tunnel descending towards the base of the mountain. It was an ice slide! Taking advantage, Gumdrop slid down the tunnel and Patrick followed after. The tunnel bobbed and weaved in spirals and steep slopes like a bobsled team. The slide did not grow tiresome as the pair slid down the icy slope. The slide spilled them out near the base of Terror Mountain. Patrick realized that Terror Mountain wasn’t as bad as he had imagined. He actually kind of enjoyed it. At the base of Terror Mountain, they found the Floatsam waiting patiently. They hadn’t even been gone a day! They would reach the shore of the mainland and be able to camp in a warmwe climate. The duo made sure to thank the Floatsam and pay her extra as they ventured inland.

     

***

      “Wow, she sure was pretty.” Gumdrop said, clearly day dreaming.

      “Eyes on the prize, champ.” Patrick said, focused on the shamrock.

      “I thought sugar cookies were sweet and buttery.”

      “Excuse me? Enough of that.”

      “Did you see all those inventions? Gumdrop said excited.

      “Those inventions were pretty?”

      “No, just the belt of truth.”

      “Truth is pretty rad.” Patrick said rolling his eyes. He couldn’t help laughing to himself a little bit. The two had set up camp for the night and planned on making headway for the end of the rainbow tomorrow, but Patrick wanted to know how to get there now. As he fidgeted with the shamrock, he noticed a small crevice in the center of the shamrock. Placing a single finger in the concavity, he instantly saw himself outside his body, fast traveling in a singular direction. The scenery around him blurred as he continued traveling at a constant speed. Suddenly stopping, he saw a two trees in the middle of the field and nothing around them. He slowly moved in between the trees and an entire nature preserve flashed into view as if magically hidden. A pond covered in flowers, Petpetpets flying around, a blanket of colored foliage layered the hillside. Yet nothing compared to the beauty of the rainbow that dipped into the pool, rays of golden light twinkled. In that moment, Patrick knew exactly how to get to the end of the rainbow and he rejoiced!

      Feeling the shamrock, he looked down to realize his finger was in the nook. Removing it, he found himself back at the campsite. He forget most of the directions as they seemed clear in the vision, but he knew which direction to start going.

      “You ok?” Gumdrop called, a sliver of worry in his voice.

      “Yeah! I’m great! I know where the end of the rainbow is!”

      “That’s fantastic news! You had me worried! You went into a catatonic state for a solid twenty minutes there. I was beginning to worry!”

      “Twenty minutes? It felt as though I was gone a mere twenty seconds. The place is gorgeous!” Patrick recalled what he had witnessed.

      “Gold at the end of the rainbow?! Wait until I ring home about this! To celebrate, I think it’s time I find some s’mores! And more firewood! It’s a party tonight!” Gumdrop danced off into the night. Patrick was relieved to finally have direction, for once in his life, he knew where he was going.

      “A party? Were you going to invite me?” Patrick clenched the shamrock in his hands.

      “Leave, Nash. I am tired of you. I need to save Unishire then you can torture me all you want.”

      “Where is the fun in that? I just know how much you love a challenge.” Nash sinisterly grinned.

     

***

      Gumdrop returned whistling a tune with a bag over his shoulder and firewood in hand. “Well there weren’t any s’mores lying around but there was lots of nuts! I wonder how hard it is to roast nuts over the fire.” Gumdrop cheerfully returned to the fire. Patrick was silent. “Hey, my good Psimouse, what’s cooking? Well not s’mores!” Gumdrop laughed. Silence. “Are you bummed because I didn’t get s’mores? Nuts will be great! Let’s try them! Patrick was silent. “Ok seriously, what is up?”

      Patrick looked up and opened up his hands, broken glass pieces resting on Patrick’s paws. “It’s broken. Nash broke the only Shamrock left.”

     

      To be continued…

 
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