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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 21st day of Eating, Yr 26
The Neopian Times Week 99 > Short Stories > A Tale of the Brain Tree

A Tale of the Brain Tree

by blackestsurreality

It was a very sunny day when the Aisha, nicknamed Star, decided to explore Neopia by herself. She had nothing but a compass with her, and since she didn't like the cold, she headed almost due south. She walked past all the shops, and even poked her head into the Book Shop just to see if there were any interesting books left. Treading on the outskirts of Neopia Central, she heard a noise.

     It was quite a strange noise, almost like a raspy moan. Star's curiosity overcame her intense fear, and she walked further along the thinning dirt pathway. Then the moan came again, louder, and then a grunt. Slowly and cautiously tiptoeing forward, she tripped over a branch. She suddenly noticed how dark it had become. Star gasped. She hadn't gone quite SO far, and it definitely wasn't supposed to be even near dusk yet. She must be in the only place she could think of now – the Haunted Woods.

     Taking a deep breath, she started to pad along the trail again. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a large, green lump. Fearing it was something dead, she ran a little faster. Her heart beat faster and she jolted to a stop as soon as she saw a clearing.

     All that she could see were dead trees and rocks – but wait, what was that? A tree with a brain! It couldn't be, Star thought, and rubbed her eyes. When she opened them again, she saw eyes in front of the brain, staring at her. Uttering a small shriek, she froze. Looking up into the giant tree, she finally met his gaze but was afraid to hold it. The very moment she blinked, the tree boomed, "Will you accept my quest?"

     Suddenly, she recalled something. The Brain Tree!! She'd heard of it but had never seen it, or hardly believed it much anyway. But here it was, staring at her, asking her to complete his quest. Too scared to say anything else, she stammered "Y-yes..."

     Gentler, the Brain Tree stated, "Chester Chomby died a long time ago, and I need to know where, and when, for my records. You must go and find this information out. Return to me within 0 hours and 57 mins, and I shall give you a prize."

     Something clicked in her head. Oh, it was such a while ago! But for some reason she remembered "Esophagor", and instantly recognized the green lump. She must have had her brain freeze with fear.

     Running back to the Esophagor, she found it asleep. So that was what was moaning and groaning. She softly poked it, and it unexpectedly shouted, "WHO GOES THERE?"

     At this point in time, Star wondered if either everyone was deaf here, or they just liked to talk loudly.

     Flipping an eyelid open, the giant wide lump began to smile. "Goooooodddd," he said. "Yyyyyou arrrre onnnn a Brain Trrrrree questtt. Iiii neeeed foooodd."

     Star sighed. "But I don’t have any NP with me!"

     "Ssssilly Neeeeeopetttt," the Esophagor laughed. "Gggooo to Eeeddnaaa thee Witchhh."

     Star squinted into the distance. She saw the great, towering castle that was Edna’s. Knowing not what to do, she strolled up to the door and knocked. It creaked open.

     "Hello my pretty!" the great green Zafara said. Star had to tell her about her situation, so she quickly began to babble.

     "I got myself on a Brain Tree quest, and I don’t have any NP, so I can’t feed the Esophagor or anything. He told me to come to you, but I have no idea why, maybe you can help me but it’s okay if you don’t--"

     Edna laughed, and then shushed her. "Well my darling, I can’t help you there. But I suppose you could dash off a note to the Brain Tree, and he might not be TOO mad at you, dear."

     "Why does the Brain Tree want to know everything, anyway?"

     "It’s a long story,” said Edna, "But I suppose I can tell you, since it’s my hour off soon." Star nodded content.

     "A long, long time ago, these woods were still haunted, but there was more cheer among them. The trees actually were alive, you know. And that was the time in which Eliv Thade lived."

     Star drew a quick intake of breath, trying to hold back surprise. She could barely imagine Eliv Thade being alive, he’d been dead for so long. She clapped her paw over her mouth and Edna continued.

     "Eliv had so many servants, you see. He had bathtub cleaners, at least 5 cooks, and it was rumored he had a servant to clip his toenails!" Edna laughed. "Anyhow, one of his servants that he didn’t pay much attention to was the gardener. No one remembers the gardener's name, for he was a mysterious fellow, not very talkative, you know." Edna licked her lips. "But he never took a day off, except for those four days when his dear mother was sick. He was a terrific caretaker, and his favorites were the scrubby bushes and trees. No one knew why he didn’t like the beautiful flowers.

     So one day he was watering this tree, and he noticed two eyes had grown upon it. Now don’t be scared, dear, this is very rare, but sometimes they say a spirit dwells in a tree, or the tree has been blessed by faeries and is magical. He also had a mouth, but sometimes that's hard to see if you're not looking at it directly. The gardener was a bit scared. He slowly dropped the book he liked to read in the shade of any tree, and then ran inside.

     He came back the next day to find the tree with a bit of brain behind its eyes! It was clutching the book with its branches.

     'I must know more,' the tree boomed. The gardener had a bit of a conversation with it. The tree went on and on about how much it loved reading and learning things. So the caretaker told him he would bring another book to him, and nicknamed him affectionately the 'Brain Tree'.

     This, you see, went on for quite some time. The Brain Tree read enormous amounts of Neopian books. But one day, the gardener sat by his roots and sighed.

     'Brain Tree,' he said, 'Eliv Thade is stuck on a riddle and has gone mad. All the servants but me have left him. Now I must leave, too. I am very sorry.'

     Sniffling a little, the gardener left the Brain Tree one last book – "Breathe". Then he turned tail and ran, never to be seen again.

     The Brain Tree moaned over the loss of the gardener for many, many days. He read the book over and over, and never looked at the last page, for then the book would disappear. But alas, one day the wind blew the pages and the tree, eyes shut, tried not to read the page, but it was too late. He had seen the last sentence. The book disappeared in a puff of purple smoke. For the first time ever, the Brain Tree cried."

     Star sniffled and wiped her eyes. What a sad story! Edna bowed her head for a little while and then continued.

     "The Brain Tree watched the woods, waiting for the gardener to return. He never did. He grew sadder and sadder as time went on. Then one day, a little red Kyrii wandered into the woods. When he saw the tree, he shrieked.

     Softly, the Brain Tree looked up. 'Don't be afraid,' he said soothingly.

     'I-I’m l-lost,’ the Kyrii said uneasily. 'W-where is the e-exit t-to this p-place?'

     After thinking a moment, the Brain Tree said, 'I will help you out of the woods if you bring me something to read.' Then he wrote out instructions to and from the Haunted Woods.

     The Kyrii stared up at the tree. The tree was too sad still to tell his long story, so he held in a sob and motioned with a branch. "Go. Please, come back soon."

     The Neopet did, carrying a heavy volume marked 'Quick Reference Dictionary.' The Brain Tree's eyes lit up, and he smiled for the first time since the gardener's last visit.

     This happened many more times, as more and more Neopets were born to explore Neopia. Actually, soon the Brain Tree had read almost every book. Then he got interested in other things too, like science and ancient literature. While exploring this literature, he saw many mentions of people who had died, but no one knew when exactly! This puzzled the Brain Tree to no end. So that was what he asked people, and was very surprised to know the Esophagor knew. What a greedy thing, he thought to himself, He has to have food before he can help people learn things. But the Brain Tree could not move, so he relied on people feeding the Esophagor to get the answers to his questions. And he still does that, to this day."

     Edna let out a humongous sigh, and grabbed a cup of water by her spellpot. Downing it quickly, she turned to Star and said, "Well, dear, that’s the story, y'see."

     "Why does the Brain Tree get so mad when you don’t complete his quest? One Kougra even said that he swiped at him!" Star said, still ingesting the story.

     Edna chuckled. "Why, the Brain Tree has a bit of a temper, still gets sad now and then too. So many people have failed his quests, he feels sad inside and releases it through anger. But he would never, ever hurt a Neopet. I've talked to the Brain Tree myself, and he said that’s the one thing he would never do, because Neopets are his only hope.

     Well dear, that’s my hour off, and some more spells need to be completed," said Edna, yawning.

     "Thanks a lot," Star said, and realized she should be home.

     On her way out, she handed the tree her note she'd written and hung her head. The Brain Tree sighed. Star skittered away. Going back on the path, she turned suddenly.

     "Brain Tree," she said.

     "Yes," the tree said, with a little bit of bitterness in his voice.

     "I promise I'll come back and do one of your quests someday."

     The Brain Tree's harsh face folded into a smile. "Thank you," he said quietly, and Star smiled back at him. She trotted a little more along the path, poked the snoring Esophagor who grunted, and headed back towards Neopia Central.

The End

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