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A New Professor at Brightvale University

by orlytheowl


The principal of Brightvale University, the Brown Aisha Lora Ledgum, had finally been able to sneak away from the endless meetings of how to get more applicants to the University, to do what she loved the most – reading. Over the years, she had gathered quite the library at her office. But she did not have the time to read as much as she wanted. This resulted in endless piles of books and scrolls that were currently unread.

     “The only thing sadder than a bad book is an unread book” she sighed, as she picked one up and started flipping through the book.

     Her office was big, and her library was an adjacent room, only separated by heavy, burgundy velvet drapes. They matched the drapes that coated the large, arched windows that were placed behind her sturdy wooden desk that faced the entrance. On the floor was a round, old but surprisingly thick and soft green rug, and the walls were covered with paintings of former and current principals and patrons of the University. The library was her favourite part of the office, as it was covered by floor-to-ceiling bookshelves all over. The floor was coated by a matching green rug as the neighbouring room.

     Lora made herself comfortable. She found a stack of pillows, a blanket and a cup of tea, and sat down with a sigh.

     “Finally”, she thought, with a smile on her face as she started reading.

     She hadn’t even finished reading the introduction before she noticed a low knocking on the office door. Lora went quiet, hoping they would give up and walk away. To no avail. The knocking continued louder this time. Lora sighed, but this time it was not out of comfort, but out of annoyance. She got up, placed herself by her desk and cleared her throat before saying in a stern tone:

     “Come in.”

     In entered a character she did not know. Lora blinked. It was something familiar about him, but she couldn’t quite grasp where she had seen him before. It was a Red Lenny, with a funny, pointy and starred hat and a blue cloak.

     “Can I help you?” Lora blurted.

     “Yes.” The Lenny said with a slow, but steady voice. “I find myself in a need for work.”

     Lora invited him to come sit. As he approached, Lora noticed that his cloak was a bit ragged at the bottom, but other than that clean and well kept. His eyes were big and intelligent, and something about them made Lora interested.

     “I am sorry, mister,” Lora said, “But I have a feeling we have met before. Who are you?”

     The Lenny smiled at her and answered:

     “That may very well be, miss Ledgum. I have met many Neopians in my days. Sadly, a long time has passed since I had any visitors. You probably do not know me by my real name, but I was widely known as the Lenny Conundrum Wizard.”

     Lora gasped. Could it be true? She had sometimes wondered what happened to him after his weekly event was removed from the program. She had visited him multiple times, but she had only been a young Aisha at the time. Other, then more knowledgeable Neopians had always beat her to it, and it was always already crowded by the time she had figured out his riddles and came to deliver her answers. She had always been too late. Lora looked at him:

     “Well, it is indeed an honour to have a legend like you in my office. Tell me, where have you been the last few years?”

     The Lenny paused for a minute before slowly starting to tell his story:

     “It happened almost exactly ten years ago. I had run my little Conundrum for quite some time. Every week, my office was invaded by friendly Neopians that tried their luck with solving my riddles. Oh, my riddles…” The Lenny’s eyes turned watery.

     “It was always the highlight of my week to come up with new riddles. It is difficult, you know, to make riddles that are neither too difficult nor too easy.”

     Lora let out a little laugh.

     “Well, to be honest, being a young Aisha at the time, I never found them to be too easy.”

     The Lenny looked at her and answered.

     “Even elder Neopians struggled. Some came by week after week but never got it right. But then again, other Neopians had perhaps a more similar mind as me and came rushing in the door as one of the first each week. It was quite impressive.”

     “But what happened to you?” Lora asked. “One week you were all of a sudden gone?”

     The Lenny had a sad look on his face.

     “I wish I could tell you, miss Ledgum. I would have told you, had I known. A sickness spread in my body. Something was off. I had noticed it for quite a while. I thought it would be easy to fix. One week, after I had awarded the prizes, I decided that enough was enough and that I should fix myself before it got too bad. It turned out that that time around, I had been too late like many Neopians had previously experienced with my Conundrums. What I thought would take only a few hours, a day tops, to fix, stretched out. It took weeks. Months. By the time I had sorted myself out, Neopians had started to forget about me. I was no longer in the program.”

     The Lenny let out a deep sigh.

     “I guess it was my own fault. I should have notified someone before starting the treatment. The King, the University, the Apothecary, or anyone. Perhaps they could have helped me to get well sooner too. But no. I locked myself in, determined to fix myself this time too, as I had done multiple times in the past.”

     Lora gazed at him, with a feeling of grief growing in her body.

     “Oh my… I didn’t know. I am so sorry.”

     The Lenny straightened his back and continued:

     “Thank you for your compassion. In the time that followed, I tried to get the Conundrum, and well, myself, back at the program. But it was not easy. Firstly, who even makes the program? Being a wise wizard, I still haven’t been able to track them down. Secondly, although I read in the Neopian Times that for some weeks after my disappearance, many Neopians worried about me, and wanted my Conundrums to continue. But then it went silent. It is like Neopia forgot about me.”

     The silence lay heavily in the room. Lora did not know what to say. In many ways, he was right. Neopians had indeed stopped asking about him and had accepted the fact that he was gone. Had they just known what happened, things would probably have been different. She looked him directly in the eyes:

     “Well, my dear Lenny. You know, when one door closes, another one opens. You have perhaps lost your weekly Conundrum. All we can do is learn from it. Your lesson should be to trust others to help you, and not avoid leaning on others in times of need.”

     The Lenny gazed at the floor. Lora paused while thinking, before continuing:

     “We have to focus on here and now. What is done, is done. Not even a wizard like you can fix the past. It is obvious to me that I want you to be a part of my staff. Someone with your knowledge and power can easily be an important figure of the faculty. I want to offer you a job as a professor. Your classes can have a wide range of subjects. I mean, you are probably one of the most intelligent Neopians to roam these lands. What do you say?”

     The Lenny’s eyes lighted up and he got up.

     “Miss Ledgum, thank you so much!” he exclaimed while shaking her front paws eagerly with his wings.

     “Oh, what a future that lies ahead! Imagine all the younglings, thirsty for knowledge! Oh, this is the best days I’ve had in over a decade. Thank you so much!”

     Word soon spread around Brightvale, yes, around all of Neopia, that the Lenny wizard had started tutoring at Brightvale University. Like Neopians earlier had flocked to his office to solve his Conundrums, they now flocked to his lecture hall, learning of everything and all that is Neopia and solving his new riddles in tests and finals. Neopia had not forgotten him after all. Brightvale University had gotten themselves a new professor that knew how to reel in new students. And Lora had simultaneously gotten herself more time to spend in the library doing the thing she loved the most - reading.

     The End.

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