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The Box from 10,000 Years Ago


by chantili_doce

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Chapter 1 – New Life

     ~~~

     Under a light that is slightly visible for the camera, furry hands are painting some cardboard. They're creating art with Neopian themes like Faeries, iconic items, and joyful Petpets. A baby Wocky's small hand leaves a pink paw print on the wall. As the camera moves, it reveals a theatre backstage filled with theatre props and Neopets in costumes practising dance routines. The naughty baby Wocky running around is Teca, a 4-year-old Fire Wocky, and she seems really happy having fun being there with them.

     The next scene are silhouettes of Neopets starting to enter the theatre, a furry white hand is peeking out from behind the curtains of the backstage, observing the visitors as they take their seats. Then, the same white figure lifts the baby Teca up from the floor to avoid her invading the stage before the actors. It’s time to start the show.

     The feet of a Green Zafara steps onto a wooden floor, she calmly starts playing a flute. Then, three other Neopets appear, dancing around her as she plays, and then finally the Zafara joins the dance with the others. The four Neopets represent elemental symbols: Zafara (Earth), Blue Acara (Water), Red Xweetok (Fire), and Yellow Eyrie (Air). Each of them are the four basic colours when we start a new journey in Neopia. More Neopets appear dancing across the stage, carrying cardboard figures while a sweet voice begins to tell the story of Neopia.

      A Long time ago, our planet was beautiful, with nature flowing all around, but it was empty of creatures that could enjoy it. Then, a powerful spirit appeared; she was able to create every life form. Since then, we have called her Fyora, the Faerie Queen, and the creatures she later created would be called the Neopets!

     The little Fire Wocky yearns to get closer to her mother, Genevieve, a beautiful White Wocky who is one of the dancers on the stage and is narrating the story. The baby watches the theatre peeking behind the curtains of the backstage, paying attention to every detail happening in front of her. A giant cardboard figure of Fyora passes across the stage, along with cute images of Neopets. Then, other cardboard figures are brought onto the stage. They have monsters, dry trees, and dark clouds. The cardboard figure of Fyora leaves, and an evil image of a faerie appears.

     We Neopets were meant to care for our planet alongside the Faeries. But then, one of Fyora's sisters revealed different intentions. She wanted to make her own creatures, even though she wasn't allowed to create new life forms. Creatures that are not Neopets are called Monsters. They are aggressive and meant to harm us, the Neopets. The one who made these Monsters later became known as the Darkest Faerie. After betraying the Queen, she was banished from Neopia, but we think the devil still lives among us.

     Mesmerized by the dancers, Teca sneaked onto the stage copying the moves, getting carried away with her enthusiasm. Because she was so small, no one noticed her among the dancers until she accidentally got kicked by someone there dancing, knocking the baby over cardboard figures and unintentionally causing the child to release big flames from her body as she got scared. It is the first time that Teca's fire powers have been manifested.

     “Does your child have fire powers??” Asked one of the dancers to Genevieve.

     “No! Neopets don’t have powers! …. Or do they?”

     The flames quickly spread among the cardboard figures and curtains, growing faster than anyone expected towards the theatre stage. Genevieve has no idea her daughter was born with the ability to make fire, she instead runs against the panicked crowd seeking the safety of her child. Amid the chaos, the kid doesn't seem to be affected by the flames and walks around as if it was nothing. Baby Teca is between many objects on fire and watches in horror her mistake threatening the safety of everyone in there.

     Everyone begins to flee the theatre, except for some dancers trying to extinguish the flames to not lose everything they built with love there. Genevieve starts coughing with the thick smoke and seems to be about to faint, having no success in finding the daughter. Teca hears her mother’s voice and comes out of the burning curtains calling for her, but one of the dancers notices the kid and, in panic, throws her towards the window to keep the child safe and away.

     Outside, Teca ends up hitting the head after being thrown. Her vision fades as she loses consciousness on the floor. The last thing she sees and remembers is the scene of a cluster of Neopets trying to stop the fire in the theatre.

     ----

     The baby Teca wakes up in a small iron cage being carried by Neopets, she is scared and has no idea what is happening. She calls for her mom, but everything she hears is a single “shut up”. Inside a medieval castle, the baby Teca is thrown outside the cage and sneezes due to the dust. Suddenly, a fat blue hand grabs her.

     "Are you sure this will be safe, King Skarl? I can't believe you BOUGHT a baby!" The servants ask while the king examines the baby.

     "Hah! It's not just any baby... Haven't you seen the news? This baby knocked down an entire building! This girl would be phenomenal in a war! Even her father was scared of her and agreed to my offer.” Everyone in the room gasps, then they quickly regain their composure in front of the king.

     The majestic Blue Skeith goes on. “Godric, can you explain why this kid has powers? You are the wisest Neopet in this entire castle."

     An Orange Skeith, sitting next to the king and counting the taxes, slowly gets up and bows at the king after being called.“Sure, Your Majesty. Maybe you think I am wise because many of your servants are not literate.” He cleans the throat, then continues. “Anyway, everyone knows that a Neopet is born with one of the Basic Colours: Green, Blue, Red and Yellow. However, this kid seems to be born with the Fire Colour, it's a very rare occurrence. It's even rarer for them to show such powers so young. Neopets that are painted as adults can spend their entire lives trying to manifest any elemental power.”

     Skarl starts to laugh loudly in the room. “HAHAHA! Then I won't need to give her weapons in a fight, she WILL be the weapon! The addition my army needed, this will be the most perfect idea ever! My army will be at the top with her!“

     Godric frowns angrily, not believing what Skarl is planning with the little girl. "But... She's just a kid and not a weapon. Putting such a title on her seems… Wrong. This kid doesn't even have the age to go to the bathroom alone! "

     The king frowns back at him and raises an eyebrow, pondering for some moments. "... Then YOU will be teaching everything to her." Said the king while throwing the baby at Godric, then Skarl sits and bites a big piece of ham.

     "WHAT?? ME?? But… I never took care of a kid before!!!" The Orange Skeith exclaims with a funny, scared face as he holds the baby. “... And this one has fire powers!! How will I proceed with that??"

     The little Fire Wocky hisses and escapes from Godric’s arm right away.

     "Hah! I'm not telling you it is going to be easy, but I am telling you to do it." Skarl replies while eating another big ham.

     Godric frowns angrily once again, but then looks at the scared baby in the corner and his heart melts with the sad scene. He decides to go talk and approaches the child slowly.

     "Your real name is Tereza, right? I see you are very scared Wocky… Don't be afraid, even though I'm big, people say that I'm actually very kind. Haha, like a Gentle Giant." he says.

     “Mommy… I want my mommy…” The child says with teary eyes.

     “I’m afraid to say this, but… Your mommy… She is no longer with us.”

     Teca's ears droop as she struggles to understand the situation. She wipes her teary eyes with her tiny hands, sniffling softly. "Mommy used to call me Teca. Where is she, Gentle Giant?"

     Godric kneels down. "I don't know, baby girl. But one thing I promise you, you're safe here with me. I will…" He takes a deep breath before continuing. "... I will take care of you."

     Tereza looks at him with a mix of fear and curiosity. "Why do you want to take care of me, Mr. Gentle Giant?"

     Godric smiles gently. "Because I believe every creature deserves a chance to be loved and respected. No matter who you are, if you are small or if you are big, your soul is still equal to mine."

     Tereza's smile grows a bit, Godric lifts her up gently and holds her close. Teca begins a new chapter of her life, having a caring home inside the Meridell castle under care of the Gentle Giant.

     ----

     The text/story above is narrated by Teca, who is now 18 years old and wearing a simple knight armour. She is telling her whole story to a few hungry Snorkles that are interested in the bucket of food that she is carrying.

     "Aww… Skarl won’t be convinced after telling all my story… He never understands my feelings..." Says the sad Wocky as she puts food for the Petpets in the castle's farm. Once she finishes, she takes a book from her belt pocket and lands on a random page.

     "Rule number twenty-nine: a knight should never EVER show discouragement, as negative feelings can distract from the objective! ... Rule number fifty-seven: a knight should always be ready for anything unexpected!"

     A running Snorkle accidentally spits mud on her chest, covering the Meridellian shield image on the armour. The Fire Wocky gets angry and takes a piece of cloth to clean it while still mentioning what she learned in her classes.

     “... Rule one hundred thirty-six: the knight must ALWAYS have the shield on their own chest armour clean! … Rule twenty-one, a knight must always seek the comfort and safety of all the other knights and citizens... Rule one hundred thirty-nine B: always keep the sword sharp and clean, as a dull or dirty blade can be less effective and even dangerous to the wielder... Rule eighty-two: a knight should always respect the Petpets and should only eliminate them if they attack. Hmmmn, so it means no BBQ if you don’t attack me?"

     The Snorkles around Teca look at her curiously as she mutters the rules to herself. She notices their attention and chuckles softly. “Don't worry, guys. I won't be barbecuing any of you!!” She winks at them and continues with her recitation.

     “Rule seventy-five, a knight must always obey the King, even if they don't agree with his orders…” Teca slowly pauses the recitation. She remembers the day she was taken from the theatre and brought to the castle, of how she was trained to be a knight during years and years. She wonders if Meridell should be her real place and feels a twinge of sadness, but quickly shakes it off.

     Godric comes running at Teca. "I found you! You're the only one missing! They're waiting for you in the arena! Today is the Promotion Exam day!! Did you forget??" He shouts.

     The young girl responds with a sad tone. "I'm a little discouraged to show up there now... You know, for years King Skarl has been forcing me to use my powers, but I refuse to do that… I am still too traumatized by what happened to my mother. I feel like a monster whenever I use my fire powers..."

     The Gentle Giant does a sad and worried face. “Teca, stop blaming yourself this much. You were a kid and accidents can happen all the time! Remember what I've said to you countless times before, you're not defined by your past actions!”

     “Still, I can't forgive myself for what happened that day. I would use my fire powers again only if I find a way to redeem myself... ” She replies with a melancholic tone.

     Godric shakes his head and gently grabs Teca's arm, taking his beloved "baby girl" to the arena where all the knights of the castle are. The Fire Wocky has her head bowed all the time during the walk.

     “I believe in you and in Genevieve!" He says, pointing at Teca’s old sword. “You still use the first sword I gifted you, remember? You named the sword after your mother, so she could be proud of you winning any duel!”

     Teca was going to say something, but then hesitates. Her mind has a lot of thoughts and mixed emotions.

     "If you pass the exam without using fire powers, you could finally be promoted from a Regular Meridellian Soldier to an Iron Knight. You will be able to travel and help on missions outside Meridell. Maybe the king will reconsider your situation!" He says.

     Teca stops walking as she does a resolute expression with a smirk. "Hah... I doubt it. The king is a hard-headed Skeith. Even if I pass the exam, he won't change his mind, buuut… I'll try anyway!" She says while raising her sword to the sky and blinking at Godric. He’s the one who has always treated her like a daughter, she also desires to make Godric proud of her.

     The arena is surrounded by a crowd. A knight standing high up repeats the rules to everyone as soon as Teca arrives.

     “... Ah! There's our last fighter! You all know the rules, right? Two knights will fight to prove if they're skilled enough to be promoted! The first combatant who knocks down the opponent's sword wins!”

     King Skarl watches everyone with attention from the castle balcony. By his side, there is a male Black Grarrl, a male Blue Gelert and a female Yellow Acara. These are the top three knights of the kingdom, they wear golden and shining armour. When the king notices Teca entering the arena, he asks one of his golden armour fighters to go face her. Elvira, the Yellow Acara, nods accepting the job.

     Everyone is surprised by the unexpected golden armour opponent going to fight a soldier with a very low tier in the military like Teca. No one understands what is happening. Godric notices the plan too late, as Teca is already facing her opponent in the arena.

     “Oh no! The king has put up such a strong opponent for Teca! There's no way she's going to pass the exam!” Says Jeanne, the Elderlygirl Aisha, one of the servants of the castle in charge of cleaning.

     “The king wants to force her to use the fire ability to defeat the strong knight.” Says Godric with a worried face.

     The battle starts with Elvira attacking aggressively, hitting Teca's shoulder pad with the sword. Teca doesn't understand why this Acara is so angry and our Wocky is unable to make a move that does not involve dodging. Teca tries to avoid the attacks at any cost, thinking of a way to take down the sword from Elvira's hand so she can finally be promoted after all these years.

     Avoiding Elvira's attacks starts to be more difficult as she quickly learns Teca's dodge moves. Each hit from the Acara breaks a part of Teca's armour, making her uncomfortable as she gets almost naked in front of everyone. As Elvira makes her last attack, Teca finally finds an opportunity to attack and the two end up crossing their swords.

     “Hahaha... Do you think you can beat me... with that old sword?” Says the Acara, panting.

     “It's... An old sword, yes... But Genevieve still deals great damage!”

     “C'mon... You can't beat me like that... Show us... Show us your fire powers!!”

     The crowd gets apprehensive as no one knows what may happen if fire starts in the arena. Teca now understands what is happening and frowns at her opponent.

     “... No!! I won't do that! It may kill you… Like when it happened to my mother!!”

     With an angry expression and having fire only in her eyes, Teca made an unexpected move to try to free herself from the swords crossing. She did a quick spin, pulling Elvira away for a brief moment. Teca took a few seconds to breathe deeply and heard the crowd going wild. She didn't understand why they were making so much noise in excitement until she noticed her own old sword, which had Elvira's sword stuck in one of its cracked parts.

     .

     “...... ELVIRA IS OUT OF THE COMBAT!!!” Screams the knight who is presiding over the event from a high place.

     Teca smiles big, hardly believing that she disarmed her opponent and has passed the exam. She removes the sword that had become stuck on her own sword and hands it back to Elvira.

     “It seems like an old sword beat you... hehe!”

     “Hmph. Well done.” says Elvira, taking the sword back with arrogance.

     Godric and a few other servants of the castle scream happily for Teca, while King Skarl is furious. He steps in the arena, seizes Teca by her hair and forcefully drags her inside the castle. The crowd goes silent after witnessing such hostile behaviour from their king.

     “OUCHHH!!! Let me go!!” Screams the Wocky.

     Some worried servants followed the two and they all ended up in a mossy room that had the entrance to the castle's sewer. Skarl threw Teca aggressively onto the floor.

     “HOW DARE YOU DISOBEY ME LIKE THAT EVERY TIME I PUT YOU TO FIGHT?”

     “Your Majesty... We all know Teca is skilled with the sword! And she also gets good grades. Please, leave her alone…” Godric says with a worried expression. The king began to calm down while Teca got up with a serious expression, cleaning the dust off her body.

     “I have many common knights who are stronger, bigger, and better than her!! I won't keep wasting resources on someone so useless... Urgh... Fine, Tereza... I'll give you a special task, a final promotion test. If you pass it without using fire powers, then I'll shut up about you forever.”

     Everyone in the room remains silent, waiting for the king to continue speaking.

     “The sewer is clogged again, and I need you to go take care of it. Remove any obstructions and clean the pipes, each one of them.”

     The servants gasped and quickly Teca nodded, accepting the task.

     “Is that all? Sounds like an easy task. You'll see that I'll be worth being in your army!!“

     The girl retrieved her sword from the ground and quickly made her way towards the sewer entrance. Once Teca was out of sight, the king grins while the servant Jeanne approaches him.

     "None of the soldiers you've sent there alone have ever returned." Jeanne said with concern. "Are you really willing to risk her life?"

     "Well, if she wants to survive the monster down there, she'll have to use her powers." The king replies with a shrug. "And if she doesn't, then I suppose I'll have one less mouth to feed in the castle."

     Skarl began to laugh loudly, the sound of his laugh echoing through the halls of the castle. Godric and the servants start to get very worried about the young girl who had been sent alone into the dangerous sewer.

     Inside the sewer, the disgusting green water is full of all sorts of garbage floating in it. The smell is terrible and the darkness is overwhelming, but Teca keeps her focus on the task at hand. She picks the tools to clean the pipes and pulls a lever that sucks all the water out of the sewer, allowing her to walk around. She passes by a knight skeleton in a corner who probably drowned. She gets scared at first, but takes a deep breath and keeps going deeper into the labyrinth that is the sewer. She spends hours cleaning every clog from the pipes, while two small creatures seem to follow her unnoticed. One is an octopus-like creature with one eye, the other a cute Usul spirit, these two seem to be friends for a long time.

     “Rule number twenty-nine: a knight should never show discouragement, as negative feelings can distract from the objective. Rule number fifty-seven: a knight should always be ready for anything unexpected. But who am I trying to fool?” Teca thinks to herself. “ I feel like I've been brainwashed all those years… The king clearly hates me…”

     Overwhelmed with despair, Teca drops to her knees, clutches her head with her hands and finally breaks down in tears. She drops her sword, and the sound of it clattering against the ground echoes through the sewer walls. She feels like a failure, her heart heavy with despair and her mind full of doubts, wondering if she truly was born to be a Meridellian knight. Despite being in the Meridellian army for years, she still hasn't been able to move up the ranks.

     The Usul spirit lets out a sigh, empathizing with Teca's pain and wishing to aid her in some way. The Usul goes to suggest something to its octopus friend. "Maybe we can trust her?" The small octopus-like creature thinks a bit and decides to crawl up to Teca, attempting to get to know her better and snatches the Meridell Knights Rulebook from her pocket belt. It begins playing with the object, tossing it in the air and causing the pages to scatter. Teca stops crying when she notices something happening behind her and gets startled by the creature, kicking its only eye in fright. The creature becomes angry at Teca's sudden aggression and begins to swell up like a balloon, expanding until it becomes a large and furious creature. The Usul spirit notices that something has gone wrong and hides himself.

     Teca watches in horror as the small creature grows bigger and bigger until it reaches the ceiling. She had never faced a monster before. "You are horrible!!" She screams, searching for her sword on the floor to prepare for battle. The creature uses one of its tentacles to prevent Teca from picking up the sword. Teca backs away, realizing that she is unable to reach Genevieve.

     The Fire Wocky has to think fast as if she were in a real war. She spots another knight's skeleton in the corner and quickly grabs a bone, throwing it at the octopus' only eye. The bone hits its mark, giving Teca a few seconds to retrieve her sword.

     She quickly grabs the sword and stands ready to fight the now temporarily incapacitated creature. The Usul spirit returns to the scene and tries to think of something to calm down its monster, but the creature is too quick and aggressive. Teca swings her sword at the creature, but the creature dodges the attack and lashes out with its tentacles.

     The Wocky struggles to dodge the many tentacles, but is caught by one of them. The tentacle spins her in the air and throws her against the dirty sewer floor, causing a sharp pain through her body. Despite the pain, Teca refuses to give up and gets back up, ready to fight once more. The Usul spirit tries to stop Teca, but it seems too late. Teca manages to cut one of the tentacles and makes the creature… Cry??

     The Wocky is confused by the monster being in tears and begins to realize that it may not be as evil as it appeared, perhaps it was only attacking to defend itself. "Oh no... You must be in a lot of pain. I'm sorry... Here, I think I have something that can help." Teca tears a piece of cloth from inside her armour and ties it on the injured tentacle to stop the flow of fluids.

     “I hope this will be enough." She says dropping the sword while feeling regret for hurting an innocent creature. The two stare at each other, both feeling a sense of understanding.”Once, a Gentle Giant taught me that every creature deserves a chance to be loved and respected. No matter who you are, if you are big or if you are small like me, your soul is still equal to mine.” said the Fire Wocky.

     The monster, seeing sincerity in Teca's eyes, suddenly extends one of its tentacles towards Teca, offering her a peculiar gift. Teca mistakes it for a stone as it is covered in mud and moss, but she graciously accepts the creature's enigmatic gift.

     “What a cute stone… Erh… Thank you…” Says Teca, trying to be nice to the new monstrous friend. “You want a gift too? Here, you can continue playing with my Meridell Knights Rulebook. I can get another one another time.”

     The giant octopus monster enjoys throwing the book in the air many times, scattering all the pages. Teca giggles with the cute moment in front of her. “So not all the monsters in Neopia are bad, huh? You seem to be very playful, I’ve never met a monster before.”

     Teca then shifts her gaze to the “stone” she received, noticing a beautiful blue glow under all the dirt. Curiosity piqued, she reaches a hand into her pocket and takes a cloth, gently cleaning the mysterious object. It is revealed to be a brilliant blue magical box, its transparent surface shows a miniature galaxy swirling inside. What can it do?

To be continued…

 
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