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The Quest


by graveyardcandyapple

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It was an unfortunate truth that Meridellians were full of pride for their kingdom. Theolounious Scrivenger was, on the other hand, buzzing with energy, about to burst with the idea of finding anything useful in Altador. Edgar Ivange was however a contrarian at heart and insisted upon visiting Meridell before retreating back toward the Lost Desert.

      Dempsey Rowen had never visited Meridell, and it was in his nature to agree. Rosemarie Willow agreed for the same general reasoning – rather no reasoning at all – which left only Theo to contend with the other three. Truly outnumbered, Theo grumbled to himself and went along with his comrades, considering heading into the Meridellian archives while they were there.

      It was half a day's walk to Meridell. Along the way Edgar extolled the virtues of the kingdom to the avidly listening Dempsey and Rosemarie; Theo looked out over the landscape and tried to ignore him. The landscape consisted of mostly farmland and fields with the occasional section of forest, all silhouetted against a blissfully clear blue sky.

      When the four reached the very edge of Meridell, they paused on the road. From where they stood on a ridge it was easy to see where the dirt road wound out into the countryside, between farms and a hill that led to some woods, and up to the grand white castle on their left. "Edgar," said Dempsey suddenly. "Do you see that? Over there?" He pointed.

      Theo pulled his hat further down in order to shield his eyes further from the bright sun. He, along with Edgar and Rosemarie, looked out to see where Dempsey was pointing. It appeared to be toward a large hill to the right with various blurs of color rolling up and down it. "Is it a festival?" asked Rosemarie.

      "What in all of Neopia," Theo mumbled.

      "That, my dear comrades, is cheese rolling!" Edgar exclaimed cheerfully, clasping his paws together. "It is quite a fun game, and it can only be played here in Meridell. There are quite a few other games as well that we could play while passing by."

      "Brilliant, Ed," said Dempsey, clapping Edgar on the back. "That sounds simply brilliant." Before anyone could respond, Dempsey was off, striding down the road in the direction of the cheese rolling hill and what appeared to be a fenced-in section of swamp.

      Edgar followed Dempsey at once. Rosemarie sighed. "Mr. Rowen is a funny fellow," she remarked, afterwards glancing at Theo. "Would you like to accompany me to see the famed Illusen? I think perhaps a Faerie ought to know a thing or two about a magical Grimoire."

      "I want to stop by the castle," said Theo haltingly.

      "We can go there after," Rosemarie replied. "Come now, off to Illusen we go!" She offered Theo a blinding grin, grabbed his arm, and pulled him along rather jauntily after Edgar and Dempsey.

      Meridell did seem, at the very least, to be an interesting country. On their way toward the woods, where Rosemarie claimed Illusen lived, they passed a variety of farmers and tourists. There was one group of darker chaps who seemed rather out-of-place; Theo had to assume that they had come from the landmass floating in the sky several miles away. That, he knew, was the Darigan Citadel, where there was always some sort of distress.

      Illusen's Glade, as it was called, seemed to be under no distress – for the most part. There were a variety of colorful people wandering in and out of the woods, some laden with items, others running out with lists clutched in their paws. "I think she may do quests," said Rosemarie uncertainly, when the pair was almost run down by a frazzled yellow Ogrin.

      "I hope she does quests," Theo commented, raising one eyebrow at the odd sights.

      A small line had formed for the Earth Faerie in the clearing where she resided. Those standing in it were antsy enough that they were always on the move, blocking any real sight of the Faerie herself. Theo craned his neck to try and see but was left unrewarded. He gave Rosemarie irritable glances, which she did not return; her patience was annoyingly everlasting. Theo could only think of the Krawley brothers, three and Cyrus Scrivenger and how easy it would be to return to Altador and perhaps discover not only a book of magic but also his own family history.

      At long last Rosemarie and Theo reached the front of the line. Illusen the Earth Faerie was seated casually on a tree stump, surrounded by crunchy leaves and dark green grass. She had long red hair, darkly tan skin, and a never-ending supply of freckles. She was wearing a green outfit that was downright bizarre in comparison to Neovia's norm. "Welcome," she said, oblivious to the looks Rosemarie and Theo exchanged upon seeing her. "Welcome to my home here in Meridell. It's so peaceful and serene – and I get to be as far away from those Dark Faeries as possible!"

      Illusen smiled peacefully up at Theo and Rosemarie. "Anyway, I have a couple of jobs that you may be interested in. If you fetch me some items from around Neopia, I can reward you with some of these cool things I have made over the years." She somehow produced what appeared to be a cupcake with green icing, and made as if to offer it to Rosemarie and Theo; Theo's stomach growled, and her smile widened.

      "How about we start off with a few easy errands," Illusen suggested as she pulled the cupcake back, "and go from there? I don't want to waste too much of your time, but I really do have to get these items, you know..."

      "Excuse me," said Rosemarie, "I apologize, but neither of us are here for a quest."

      Illusen's smile faded away. "Did Jhudora send you?" she asked.

      "No."

      "Good," said Illusen, but then she frowned, tilting her head to the right. "Why are you here then?"

      Theo cleared his throat. Illusen looked toward the red Gelert, raising her eyebrows. "We hail from Neovia," said Theo. "Recently I was approached and given vague information as to the whereabouts of a certain book. My companion here wanted to ask you if you knew about it."

      Illusen stared at Theo for a long moment, her alarmingly green eyes narrowed. Then she slowly turned to look back at Rosemarie again. "Well?" Illusen asked the shadow Kacheek. "What is it you want to know? What is the name of this book?"

      "The Grimoire of Inkdeath," said Theo, watching Illusen closely for her reaction.

      He was not let down. "Do not say those words here!" Illusen shouted, jumping to her feet. Rosemarie took a panicked step back; Theo staunchly held his footing. "What do you mean to accomplish by bringing this information to me? You must be from Jhudora!"

      "We are not," Theo said back, raising his voice. "I am Theolounious Scrivenger, and I am meant to find the Grimoire."

      Illusen and Theo stared at each other for a very long moment, energy positively exploding through the trees in the glade. Illusen's magic, tangled and green, seemed to weave through the air for a moment, crackling dangerously. Theo thought he could see it out of the corners of his eyes, but when he glanced in that direction, there was nothing there. "You are the next Scrivenger," said Illusen, voice lowered. "Indeed, you are meant to find the Grimoire – but you are also meant to destroy it."

      "I am?" asked Theo, all of his confidence seeping out of him.

      "Yes," said Illusen. "You are."

      With this, she sat back down on the tree stump. Theo looked back at Rosemarie, who shrugged helplessly. "Could you tell me where it is?" Theo asked Illusen. "Do you know where the Krawley brothers are?"

      "No," Illusen answered. "Now move on, you're holding up the line."

      Theo, surprised by her sudden ungracious manner, was vaguely affronted. He thanked Illusen and bid her farewell before turning and walking back out of the wood, Rosemarie following close behind. He threw several looks back over his shoulder, wondering still about those threads of powerful magic he had been able to see, made uneasy by them.

      Rosemarie and Theo stopped outside the woods. "That," said Rosemarie, "was incredibly strange. What in Neopia could it mean, Theo?"

      "I have no idea," said Theo. "Somehow I feel as though we are about to find out."

The End

 
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