Into the House of Answers
Deep within the Haunted Woods lived a talented Techo who
could paint, write and who thirsted for knowledge. He wished that he could spend
all his time reading and painting beautiful pictures instead of taking care of
his large house. It was mundane work, sweeping the floor and cleaning every nook
and cranny. Having many servants would be nice, but he had no money, only a mansion,
an inherited library filled with rows and rows of books, and the magical ability
to enchant them.
Ah, the ability to charm books...
Gaiahue slumped onto
the ground. She had exactly thirty-six minutes and fifty-nine seconds left to
complete the quest that the Brain Tree had given her, without the faintest inkling
about when and where Michael Jetsam had died.
It was already ridiculous that the monstrous
vegetation expected her to know such inconsequential trivia, but to have it
sneer at her in such a mocking manner, like it was doing so now, was more than
a Hissi could take.
Since her arrival in Neopia, she had heard from
new friends near and far that the Brain Tree gave rare and valuable prizes as
rewards for completing its quests. Unfortunately for Gaiahue, these items seemed
far out of her reach.
As she pondered on her unfortunate lot, a shadow
loomed above, casting a grey shade on the sulking Hissi. She looked up and saw
a Techo staring at her curiously.
"You wouldn't happen to know when and where
Michael Jetsam died, would you?" asked Gaiahue glumly, secretly grasping at
a sliver of hope that this Techo was a trivia master.
A spark of realization shone in the Techo's
"You're on a quest for the Brain Tree? My name
is Storius and I have the largest library in the Haunted Woods. You can find
the answer to any question there. Now, hurry up, you haven't got much time left!"
Gaiahue flapped her wings in excitement and
slithered after the sprinting Techo. By a stroke of luck, she had found someone
who had the answer. It was simply too good to be true.
Storius the Techo stepped proudly into his mansion
and beckoned the Hissi to enter. When she stepped in, a row of torches lit themselves,
emitting a soft glow in the main hall. Storius barked out in a sharp voice for
a servant, and a Wocky hurried out of a darkened hallway, carrying a white quill
in his hands.
"Master, your quill has been repaired," said
the servant reverently, handing it to Storius.
"Bring the Hissi into the library and show her
the books," ordered the Techo.
As Gaiahue followed the servant silently through
a corridor, she admired some beautiful paintings that hung on the walls. They
were detailed landscapes done by an artist who clearly possessed great talent.
A hint of envy rose in her chest when she contemplated the home of Storius:
large and opulent, with a servant in tow. The Techo certainly did not have to
worry about housework. She passed yet another painting on her way down the long
corridor and curiosity got the better of her.
"Who painted all these landscapes?"
The servant gulped and replied, "Master did."
Gaiahue raised an eyebrow in surprise. "Storius
seems to be quite talented," she said, slithering on with the servant, without
"Why of course, Master does nothing but read
and write and paint," whispered the Wocky, "That's why he needs so many servants."
"So many? But I only see you...oh."
Gaiahue almost bit her tongue in surprise as
another Wocky appeared from the shadows along the corridor. She gazed around
and noticed a skinny Lupe dusting the floor, and realized that she must have
missed other servants along the corridor while her attention was drawn to the
paintings. Besides, it did not seem out of place for the gigantic mansion to
have many servants.
Suddenly, the Wocky stopped in front of a large
door and pushed it open. It was the library, which Storius had claimed to be
the largest in the Haunted Woods. Gaiahue was inclined to believe the Techo,
as she stared, marveling at the sight of rows and rows of books. At a glance,
she knew that the shelves were made from expensive rich wood. A fireplace sat
at a corner of the room, the flames a glowing amber. She wandered further in,
still in awe, when the Wocky servant cleared his throat.
"Call out your question and the book with the
answer will fly into your hands."
With that, he left.
The Hissi looked around and wondered which direction
the book that held her answers would come flying to her. She did not wish to
be knocked on the head by a flying volume, and stood with her back against the
door as she asked when and where Michael Jetsam had died.
There was a loud whirling sound and a thick
brown book dislodged itself from the bottom shelf. It sped toward the Hissi,
who caught it with relief. She flipped the flimsy pages quickly until she saw
Michael Jetsam died in 29 BN, in the Haunted
With a hiss of relief, Gaiahue placed the book
on a table by the fireplace and hurried back to the entrance of the library,
ready to face the Brain Tree. But before she pulled the door open, a nagging
thought lingered in her mind. Storius claimed that his library contained the
answers to any question. Would that mean that she could finally know if her
brother had stolen her cookie jar last Christmas, as she had suspected?
The Hissi looked back and the huge library of
answers seemed to call out to her. Just one more question, she thought,
as she took a deep breath.
"Did Ez filch my cookie jar last Christmas?"
Once again, the whirling sound echoed throughout
the library and a book from a higher shelf flew into her hands. She did not
have to flip far, for the third page of the thin book read:
Ez stole Gaiahue's cookie jar last Christmas.
"I knew it, that rascal," muttered the Hissi
as she slammed the book shut, "How can I ever thank Storius?"
At that, a similar book flew towards her, already
opened at the middle. She grinned when she read the answer to her rhetorical
question. The Techo's books certainly had a sense of humor. Written in scratchy
ink across the page was the statement:
Serve Storius for the rest of your life,
for he needs someone to dust the kitchen.
"Yeah right. I would love to stay in this mansion
but not as a servant, no way," muttered Gaiahue, as she recalled the fear that
the Wocky servant had of his master. She glanced at the clock atop the mantelpiece.
There was time for another question.
"Now, what should I ask?"
Immediately, a book bound in leather flew off
a top shelf and landed at her feet. She picked it up with a curious hiss and
opened the heavy volume. On the first page, a statement told her to ask about
the landscape paintings along the corridor.
"Well then, where did Storius get his landscapes
from?" asked the Hissi, fascinated and curious by the interactive books.
To her surprised, the book that she was holding
flipped on its own to another page, which read:
From his servants' memories of their old
"Wow, Storius must be quite sentimental to paint
memories of his servants. But why are they afraid of him?"
There was a soft rustling of pages, and Gaiahue
had her answer:
He bound them to the mansion.
She frowned. Apart from a rather fierce master,
there was little to keep the servants from leaving, was there? Storius was a
harmless artist, albeit temperamental, but he did little else other than write,
read and paint. Those were the words of the Wocky, as she remembered.
If so, how could the Techo bind others to his
The Hissi looked at the book in her hands, startled,
as the pages began to flip quickly once more. She realized that she must have
spoken her thoughts aloud. Soon, the rustling pages stopped and the answer was
scrawled right before her eyes...
Instantly, Gaiahue dropped the book in shock
and slithered out of the library in a bid to leave the mansion as soon as she
could. She flew down the corridor, surrounded by dark hallways on both sides,
unsure of where to turn. As she hurried past some paintings, the Wocky servant
appeared from the shadows and stood right in front, blocking her path. A familiar
shadow loomed over them and Gaiahue turned around in dread.
There stood Storius, with a duster in his hands,
which he held out to the Hissi. With horror, Gaiahue noticed that the gleam
in the Techo's eyes was exactly the same as the look she had seen earlier when
she had asked about Michael Jetsam. It was the gaze of a greedy Techo who could
never have one servant too many.
And just down the corridor, in the largest library
of the Haunted Woods, an enchanted book laid open, face up, on the ground. No
one but its owner, Storius, could sense the evil spells planted between its
magical pages. The only visible thing were the very words on the page that had
spelled doom for the Hissi:
They were trapped forever when they read
from a cursed book like this.