Tales from Neopia Central: Part Eleven
That Old Black Magic – the Wizard's Tale
Neopia Central had changed a lot – and far too quickly for Moriarty Bungle.
As Head of the Magical Research Department in the depths of the city's Museum, Bungle and most of his fellow wizards had lived in isolation from the rest of the citizens. There had been entire decades when Professor Bungle hadn't stepped outside.
But then Mr. Jennings had entered their lives, and the wizards had found themselves becoming much more involved with city life. And then Jennings had died. And the city had begun to tear itself apart.
A few days after the news of Jennings's death broke, Bungle ventured up out of the Magical Research Department's basement to the upper levels. That alone was a strange sight – the green Bruce who worked on reception certainly eyeballed him – but stranger still was that he was going to see the curator.
Fiscal Mode had an office on the Museum's second floor. The blue Moehog greeted Bungle, the green Techo with a beard as long as his body, with his characteristic false enthusiasm.
"What can I do for you, Professor?" Fiscal asked.
"We need to talk," Bungle answered, sitting down.
"Yes, Professor," Fiscal agreed. "Talking is the normal reason people come to speak with me. Aside from Professor Doogan, the man who devoted his life to studying mime artists."
"We have a problem in the Magical Research Department," Bungle announced.
"Not another bomb, I hope?" Fiscal asked.
"No," Bungle answered. "Something worse."
"Magic, Mr. Mode, is a matter of will power," Bungle explained. "Well, that's putting it in layman's terms, of course. It's not really about will power at all – it's about science. But imagining that it's about will power will help you understand, so let's say that it is."
"Very well," Fiscal agreed.
"Now magic, let's pretend, works because people believe it works," Bungle continued. "That's how witches and wizards get power, by believing so strongly in their abilities. In truth it's about charged particles but that's a four year degree in itself so we'll ignore that. Now imagine, if magic is effected by belief... then magic would be inherently unstable in conditions where a lot of people are around – such as a city, perhaps?"
"Normally of course, such things are not dangerous because any group tends to end up thinking more or less the same thing," Bungle added. "But in situations such as these, with riots in the streets and chaos settling into the mindset of citizens... magic reflects this. It can become somewhat chaotic."
"This presents a problem to us?" Fiscal asked.
"We have a lot of dangerous magical artefacts in the department, Mr. Mode," Bungle replied. "Since the looting started, they have become a bit... unstable. If the situation continues, we may have a magical explosion on our hands."
"The result of which would be?" Fiscal asked.
"Death," Bungle said plainly. "And perhaps some talking shrubberies."
"Ah," Fiscal answered. "Well, we can't have talking shrubberies, can we? Do you have a possible solution, Professor?"
"We do..." Bungle admitted. "But you're not going to like it."
"Go on," Fiscal said.
"It would involve isolating the magical equipment from the morphic field of the city," Bungle explained. "That would involve considerable shielding magic, and, not to put too finer point on it, sealing the Museum to the public."
"Great," Fiscal groaned.
Fiscal was hardly enthusiastic about the idea, and neither were the majority of the non-magical staff. But faced with Bungle's explanation that it was the best option available, they could do little to protest. The Museum was sealed. No one could gain entry.
Given that most of the staff rarely left as it was, it wasn't exactly that big a change to get used to, but it was the principle of the thing that somehow offended them.
This was made somewhat worse by Professor Bungle's second visit to Fiscal a week later.
"Yes, Professor?" he asked.
"We need to talk," Bungle announced. "We have a problem."
"Another one?" Fiscal sighed.
"The same one," Bungle explained. "The shielding has not worked. Well, precisely speaking, the shielding has worked, but the chaos on the streets outside appears to have increased. The volatility of our magical equipment is reaching breaking point."
"Wonderful," Fiscal replied. "So I take it this week's isolation has been for nothing? Professor Higgins in the Haunted Woods History Department has complained every single day."
"Professor Higgins hasn't left the building in twelve years!" Bungle protested. "He's picked a strange time to crave fresh air!"
"Indeed," Fiscal agreed. "Do you have a new solution?"
"Yes," Bungle said. "But you're not going to like it."
"No," Fiscal agreed. "A common trend."
"If we can't shield the equipment from the morphic field, we will have to remove the equipment from it," Bungle explained. "Effectively, remove it from the city."
"You are suggesting moving highly dangerous magical equipment through the streets of Neopia Central while they are filled with looters?" Fiscal asked.
"The alternative is..."
"Death and talking shrubberies." Fiscal nodded. "Yes, I recall. Well, Professor, it appears I have little real choice – you may proceed."
The magical shields of the Museum were dropped – not that anyone noticed, as they were quite busy with minor things like gang wars and criminal breakouts.
The wizards of the Museum gathered outside, preparing the various mystic apparatus by tying them to the top of several of the Museum's carriages. The plan was to move them in a convoy.
"We should use these tools for EVIIILLLL!" the familiar voice of Viktor, the possessed Moehog skull from the Necromancy division shouted.
"Manzazuu!" Bungle snapped. "Why did you bring him out here?"
The grey Wocky who was holding the skull tried to look innocent, "Well, he was saying he wanted air..."
"He doesn't breathe!" Bungle pointed out. "And what is Rasputin doing here!? Ghosts may trigger a magical reaction!"
The ghost Zafara, the third member of the Necromancy division, drifted off glumly.
"Well, sir, most of these artefacts do technically belong to our division," Manzazuu pointed out.
"Thornpipe was a much more evil department head!" Viktor sniped. "Especially after he went insane. Even Volgan was better and he was partially evaporated for several years!"
"You can stay, but keep him quiet – he's not above being replaced with a Snowbunny, Quantum still needs a home," Bungle instructed. "Right, let's get started."
"Jenkins," he instructed a blue Blumaroo. "You take the first carriage. Everyone else, pick one and let's get going!"
The various faculty members picked a carriage and set off. Bungle had the great misfortune of finding himself in a carriage with the Necromancy department.
The convoy continued through the streets, heading towards the Meridell road to leave the city. Eventually Viktor spoke up in Manzazuu's hands.
"Wait!" he shouted. "There're a lot of people heading this way!"
"How can you know that?" Bungle questioned.
"I can see them using my third eye!" Viktor shouted. "They look angry!"
"Looters!" Manzazuu cursed. "We can't meet them, it might cause an accident!"
Bungle leaned out of the carriage to shout ahead, "Jenkins! We have to change the route! You and five carriages head left – we'll take the rest to the right!"
Jenkins nodded, veering off to the left while Bungle's carriage veered right.
"We should avoid the crowd this way," Bungle explained. "Might take a bit longer but we'll get there."
The carriage continued along the road for a moment before Rasputin, the ghost Zafara, suddenly materialised in the carriage alongside them.
"What are you doing here!?" Bungle demanded. "You are risking a catastrophe!"
"That's the least of your problems," Rasputin answered calmly. "I just thought you'd like to know though, you've just made a monumental mistake."
"What?" Bungle asked.
"You've just sent Jenkins towards the Twelve Ways," Rasputin answered.
"Great Scott!" Bungle shouted.
"What?" Manzazuu asked.
"How did you ever become a division head?" Viktor complained from his lap. "The Twelve Ways – a magical fusion of twelve different routes, charged with about as much magical energy as the Qasalan Expellibox. What do you think will happen when a load of volatile magical artefacts get near it?"
"By the tentacles of Florthu!" Manzazuu gasped.
Bungle banged on the roof of the carriage, "Turn this around! We need to get to the Twelve Ways!"
Bungle leaned out of the carriage as it sped through the streets, hoping to catch a glimpse of the convoy ahead, but when they were only a few streets away the magical silence hit them and they all knew it was too late.
The carriage skidded to a halt as Bungle exchanged a terrified look with his fellow wizards, and then the green flash happened. The sound came back with a sudden immediacy as the explosion ripped through the Twelve Ways, forcing the carriage to topple over sideways.
Fighting each other to get out, Bungle, and then Manzazuu and Viktor emerged into the night air to join Rasputin, who had merely floated through the wood.
Together they beheld the pillar of green flame that had once been the Twelve Ways.
"How many wizards were in that convoy?" Bungle breathed.
"We're going to have a lot more ghosts in the necromancy division," Rasputin observed.
The flames slowly began to burn the surrounding buildings, as the four wizards beheld the destruction of their own making.
The green Krawk leaned on the railing of the ship as it sailed away from Mystery Island. He was free. He had escaped.
His leg was still hurting – he thought that perhaps running on it has caused more permanent damage.
He was approached by a new figure – a grey Lenny.
"Solomon Moody," the Krawk addressed him. "So I didn't imagine you."
Moody had formerly been a master thief in Neopia Central, but since leaving the city had found employment by helping Mr. Jennings topple the crime lord controlling most of the Lost Desert.
"What are you doing here?" the Krawk asked.
"I thought I deserved a holiday after Sakhmet," Moody replied. "After I got here, I heard about a Krawk being kept in the jungle – I figured it must be you."
"Well, you have my thanks," the Krawk told him. "I'm going to go to my cabin, I shall see you later."
The Krawk left Moody to go below, and cleaned himself in his washbasin. He reacted with some surprise when he looked in his mirror – a grey Krawk, the shaman, was looking back at him.
"You can leave the island, but you can never escape," the shaman told him.
"I appear to be doing quite well at it," the Krawk remarked.
"Your soul belongs to the island," the shaman said. "For your refusal, there will be a price to pay."
"What price?" the green Krawk asked.
"Oh, a terrible price!" the shaman laughed as his face disappeared from the mirror, leaving the green Krawk alone.
To be continued...