Stand behind yer sheriff Circulation: 100,597,592 Issue: 199 | 14th day of Swimming, Y7
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Mushroom for Phila: Part Two


by ssjelitegirl

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Even though the sun had risen, the narrow path was still dimly lit and the five Neopets walking down it felt like they were the only creatures left in Neopia - everything was so quiet and seemed abandoned.

     "No living Neopet has been here for ages," Saura commented, patting his Wuzzle so that it would be calm, peaceful and therefore not ready to burn anything down.

     "Words of the simple-minded one," Shad snapped, still remembering the Zafara's words from the previous day. "Who do you think made this path here?"

     They pondered that for a moment.

     "I'd rather not think about it," Kat said. She was trotting behind everyone else, carrying their food and the supplies of fresh water. AoiKatana was the fighter of the family, the strongest and next to Tsuki's mage abilities, the most powerful. Now she had the duty of tracking down any possible enemies.

     "Perhaps the Faeries aren't flying around in daytime," Ice guessed.

     "Another simple-minded one," Tsuki's calm voice remarked right by her side. Ice didn't even scream - she was already too used to Tsuki's perpetual coming and going. "The plain is right behind that corner."

     "We should try and negotiate first," Kat suggested from the back of the row. "Or did you do that already, Tsuke?"

     The Shoyru shook his head. "Negotiating with the Dark Faeries? Good luck trying."

     "I will." The Uni crashed her way through the bushes past her siblings. "Saura, take the bag, will you? Tsuki, come with me." She trotted down the path and disappeared. Tsuki sighed and followed her, dropping a dry "stay here and don't move" at the others.

     "So… anyone for a game of Kacheekers?" Shad asked after a short pause.

     "They sure don't look… friendly," Kat said quietly, standing behind a bush and looking at the small plain in front of her. It was brighter than the rest of the forest and dozens of little Faeries flew around above it. All Dark Faeries, with a purple glow around their bodies.

     "Good luck, kid," Tsuki replied as quietly. "I've got your back. Just remember, don't try to play a heroine, get away from there as soon as things get sticky. These are Dark Faeries, and not regular ones. They practically own the forest and they can be really cranky with trespassers."

     Kat nodded and stepped out of the bushes. The Faeries instantly stopped in the air and turned to look at her.

     "Good day, Faeries of the Jungle," Kat said. "I and my siblings are on a quest to find a mushroom to cure our sister. Can you help us?"

     There was silence for a second, then suddenly dozens of little voices stung the Uni's ears.

     "No!"

     "We will not help!"

     "You are a trespasser!"

     "This is our forest!"

     "Get away… we don't want you here!"

     "You are not welcome, little Uni. Go away! Now!"

     "Predictable," Tsuki remarked as Kat quickly backed into the bushes, out of the Faeries' sight. "They're quite a nuisance. They believe that they own the whole jungle, even if they never leave the plain. I've read about them."

     "Have you also read how to get past them?" Ice's voice asked from the height of his waist. Now it was the Shoyru's turn to glare at her.

     "I thought I told you to wait there!" The Ixi grinned widely at him. "Ugh, fine. Yes, they're not undefeatable. There's a spell that freezes them temporarily so that we have enough time to cross the plain and get far enough so that they won't come after us."

     "Do you have the scroll?" Saura asked with a frown.

     "I know it by heart," Tsuki replied, turning around to look at the plain. "Ready? Here goes nothing…"

     "Great memory," the Zafara commented, raising his brows as Tsuki stepped on the plain, spread out his wings and rocketed into the air. The Faeries screeched furiously and rushed after him.

     "Come on!" Kat called and galloped out on the plain. The others followed her - Ice galloping as fast as her short Ixi legs could, Shad with long powerful jumps and Saura running with full speed. Some of the Faeries stopped following Tsuki and turned to the four Neopets. Tsuki raised his front paw. The golden ring around it flashed in sunlight. The Shoyru called out three strange-sounding words… and all Faeries stopped in the air. Tsuki whizzed down, maneuvering past the frozen Faeries and disappeared into the forest after the others.

     "That… was… pretty cool, Tsuki," Saura gasped about two miles later. Ace the Wuzzle was furious because of the bumpy getaway and Saura was forced to put it into a puddle by the path. The water started steaming instantly. The others had stopped too and were now trying to catch their breath.

     "A simple Battledome spell," Tsuki replied and sat down on a tree branch. "Ouch… ouch, ouch, that wasn't nice." He fingered his eye. "One of those Faeries gave me a black eye!"

     "We couldn't have made it through there without you," Kat said still a bit breathlessly. "Thanks. And the black eye will heal soon; just put something cold on it."

     "Better yet," Saura stepped to the tree and gave Tsuki a little green plant, "put that on the eye. It's the Coolaplant, it cures every swelling, scratch and inflammation within ten minutes. They're very rare, though, and some say that they only grow on the other side of Neopia. Looks like some seeds have travelled here with the wind."

     "Thanks," Tsuki nodded. "Shall we go on then?"

     "Take… five, everyone," Ice gasped. She was still breathless and lay down on the path, staring blankly at a little worm crawling cross it. "Whoa, why do I have to have such short legs? Huntress could really morph me into a Uni with huge wings and long legs… then I could just fly over the treetops and get that stupid mushroom in no time."

     "Yeah, until the King's Vine grabs your pretty little Uni legs and pulls you down from the sky, poof, just like that," Saura commented, taking Ace out of the puddle. The others glanced at him.

     "Say what?"

     "Just another legend," the Zafara replied. "But once the Coolaplant grows here, the King's Vine may be true as well. According to the story, there's a huge plant called the King's Vine somewhere in the middle of this jungle. Whenever a Neopet goes near it, it reaches out its long vines, grabs the pet and eats them."

     "Kinda sounds like one of those stories that are supposed to keep kids from venturing too far into the jungle," Shad commented.

     "And the main problem with such stories is the fact that everyone has forgotten where and when they started," Tsuki added, turning the plant on his eye. "Most of them are very old and are often based on true stories. So much of that… Ice, didn't you say that it took you days to get to the city of Geraptiku?"

     Ice nodded.

     "Then how come there's only one path?" the Shoyru asked, jumping down. "There haven't been any forks and the path is clear. We never had to worry about where to go."

     "Weird, isn't it?" the Ixi agreed, getting up. "I don't remember the plain with the Faeries either. But after all, we're on Mystery Island and things change over the years. Let's just keep going until we get somewhere."

     They continued down the path with Ice in front of everyone else, not only because she was the pathfinder but also because she was the slowest. Kat was at the end and Tsuki fluttered above the others, keeping an eye on the forest. An hour slid by and another one started. The Neopets were quiet and careful even though the jungle seemed peaceful enough. There weren't many sounds, just a few parrots blabbed in the distance and wind whispered in the treetops. Suddenly Shad's ears twitched.

     "Did you hear that?" he asked with a frown. The others didn't stop but they slowed down and tried hard to hear something. Saura's long Zafara ears moved quickly back and forth.

     "There's some whispering," he said then. "Is that what you meant?" The Lupe nodded. "Keep it down then, I'll try to comprehend."

     They stopped and tried to be as quiet as it gets as Saura's long ears raised above his head. He looked pretty funny that way but nobody felt like laughing.

     "It sounds like "trespassers, trespassers"," he said then and let his ears down. "Not much of a shock, really. Looks like something hostile awaits us soon enough."

     "Things were peaceful enough until this morning," Ice commented with a frown and started going again. "Tsuki, perhaps you should fly ahead and…"

     "He's already gone, Ice," Shad remarked, pointing at the treetops where only a small piece of azure sky was to be seen. The dark figure of the Shoyru wasn't there any more.

     "Typical," Ice snorted. "Whoa!" She jumped high into the air and almost landed on Shad's back. Saura stopped quickly, Ace started hissing and Kat was forced to rear up.

     "What?" she asked, reaching out her head and pricking up her ears. "What gives, Ice?"

     "I almost stepped on a Wadjet!" the Ixi grunted, poking the petpet with her hoof. "Funny. They're Lost Desert petpets, what's this one doing here in the middle of the jungle?"

     The Wadjet crawled away quickly, leaving Ice behind to ponder that. The Ixi snorted quietly and started down the path. At the same second she had to stop again as Tsuki landed in front of her.

     "I can't get through," he said with obvious surprise in his voice. "The treetops are so thick that it's impossible to get there through air. And that path ends in a thorny bush after a few miles, couldn't get through that either. Something has secured the whole area."

     "We'll see about that," Kat replied. "Let's keep going."

     A couple of miles later the path really ended. There was a huge bush right in the middle of it and there were other bushes by its sides. Kat tried to cut it through with her horn but she didn't succeed.

     "Too resilient," she sighed. "I really should've brought my katana along. Coming into the jungle without a sword - what were we actually thinking?"

     "We'll do without it," Saura guessed and put Ace down under the bush. "Okay buddy, do your thing." He poked the Wuzzle, it started snarling and burst into flames. A few seconds later the whole bush was on fire.

     "Be careful not to burn the jungle down," Kat warned him.

     "Don't worry, it's practically a rainforest," the Zafara comforted her. "Look, the flames are fading already." Before he could finish his sentence, Ace was sitting in the middle of a small pile of ash. The bush hadn't completely burned down, there was only a small hole in the thorny wall in front of them. But it was big enough to get through. Ice lurked past the Wuzzle and gave a short "ouch" when disappearing into the bushes.

     "How's it looking like in there, Ice?" Shad shouted.

     "Thorny," the Ixi's grim voice stated. "And those bushes are really thick…! Come on already, there is no other way."

     The Neopets crawled into the hole one after another and for a while the only things they could see were the green spiky walls all around them. Ice's light blue tail was in front of everyone else and she was also the first one to get out of the bushes.

     "Hey Ice, how does it look like out there?" Shad shouted.

     "Wow.." was the only thing they heard from the Ixi. They hurried up and eventually came out of the thorny tunnel one after another.

     "Cool…" they gasped at the same time.

To be continued...

 
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