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A Quest for Edna


by pippylouise

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Haltz the Halloween Uni lived in the Haunted Woods with Talakin, his Mazzew. He worked in the Deserted Fairground as a fortune teller and had also persuaded Edna the Swamp Witch to teach him how to make a few simple potions. I know that ordinarily Unis are concerned with beauty and grace, but since Haltz was painted Halloween, he'd been rather more drawn to ugly things. So, if you wanted your opponent to get some temporary yet hideously ugly warts just before the beauty contest and Edna wasn't in, well Haltz was the Uni you went to see.

     One morning, while he was adding a few cheap but key ingredients to a funny potion for a friend who wanted something to make spots appear on an enemy's nose, it was his turn to get a visit from Edna.

     "Edna?!" exclaimed Haltz. "Well my goodness, it's not often that you come to see me.... What can I do for you? Talakin?! Come here, we have company."

     "Weeeeell," croaked Edna as Talakin greeted her, winding through her ankles in a figure-of-eight. "I am in need of some ingredients for a potion."

     "And you think I may have them in stock?" asked a puzzled Haltz, glancing up at his shelves with jars full of techo claws, peanut butter spiders, candy corn and the like.

     "Oh no no no," cackled Edna. "What on earth could you have here that I wouldn't have in my tower?" She bent down and absent-mindedly patted Talakin's head. He loped off, satisfied with the acknowledgment, and hopped up onto the table beside Haltz's cauldron.

     "That's a good point." Haltz nodded. "So you want me to go on one of your quests, Edna? I haven't done one for you in quite a while." Talakin leaped over the cauldron to the shelves.

     "Yes. I know. But this will not be an ordinary quest, not for you, Haltz…. I'd like to make it a bit different."

     "And how would you do that?" replied Haltz.

     "I um… thought of a poem… to make it more unusual… instead of just giving you a list of items." She looked embarrassed. "I hardly ever get to try anything new," she mumbled. "People come to me all nice and helpful, 'Edna, Edna, what do you need today?' and off they go to get it - which is great - but they never stay and chat, they just take their payment and leave…." Her voice trailed off.

     Haltz glanced at Talakin who shrugged and jumped from his perch on the topmost shelf, next to a bowl of jellied eyeballs, onto Haltz's back.

     "Go on then, Edna," Haltz said kindly.

     Edna looked from Haltz to Talakin and back again. She cackled gleefully as she leaned her broom against the wall and pulled a grubby slip of paper from the pocket of her robe. She cleared her throat and began to read:

     "Travel back in time," she croaked.

     "To a land far away,

     Though you never leave

     The present day.

     Find for me

     A tangy treat,

     Hard bread, hard milk,

     But no hard meat.

     From this land

     You must get a flight,

     Travelling up

     To a dizzying height,

     To find for me

     Something sticky and brown,

     They're wing-shaped and earthy,

     Now hurry back down.

     It's a long way to land,

     So travel safe and well

     Into this place

     That rhymes with 'bell',

     And tell a joke

     To a grumpy king

     His stale reward

     Is the final thing;

     If you can't decide

     Quite how to begin

     Find someone 'round here

     Who can give you a hint

     But be it by magic

     Or be it by track

     You have to make

     Your own way back."

     Edna stopped reading and looked expectantly at her listeners. "Well? Think you're up to it?" she asked.

     Haltz looked over his shoulder at Talakin who shrugged again as if to say 'We may as well give it a go.' So, turning to Edna, Haltz nodded.

     "When do you need them, Edna?" he asked.

     "Well, I need to have the potion made for Friday afternoon," she replied.

     "But it's already Wednesday!" exclaimed Haltz. He thought for a moment. "I think we can do it though, Edna."

     "Thank you, Haltz," said Edna, handing him the paper. "I'll be waiting for you in my tower." And with that she took up her broom, tapped it on the floor three times, turned around, and vanished.

     "Well," sighed Haltz to Talakin. "We'd better get packing!"

     Haltz started planning for the trip. He told Talakin to gather up everything he thought they might need on their journey.

     While Talakin was busy doing this, Haltz re-read the poem. He knew that it was talking about Tyrannia to begin with, because that's where Talakin was from, but he didn't really know how to get there. From reading the last verse he knew that Edna meant he could ask the Esophagor for some hints about how to get started and he knew what she meant about how to get home. He could walk, or he could use magic, and seeing as he didn't have a lot of time, he felt magic would be the quicker way. He set about altering a basic travelling potion to bring them back to the Haunted Woods after they'd found the last ingredient. He added things that reminded him of home: a coconut from the Coconut Shy and some of his favourite food like Pumpkin Cookies and Mummified Ice Cream, so that the potion would know where to send him and taste really nice too.

     As soon as the saddlebags were packed with plenty of food and neopoints they set off for the swamp to talk to the Esophagor about how to get to Tyrannia.

     ~*~

     Once they reached the swamp, Talakin jumped up on Haltz's back and they slowly approached the place where they knew the Esophagor rose from. Haltz braced himself as the ground shook and parted in front of them, watching as the beast appeared.

     "II AMMM HUNGGRRYYY..... feeed mmeee annndd I wwilll reeewwaardd yoouu...." he groaned.

     Talakin hurriedly opened the left saddle bag and took out some of the food he had packed, throwing it on the ground for the Esophagor.

     "Please, Esophagor," Haltz called out as the beast began to eat. "I need some information for a quest for Edna."

     "Eeddnaa?" asked the Esophagor, puzzled. "Noorrmaally tthee quueestss I heelpp wiithh arree quueestss foorr tthee Brraaiin Trreee."

     "I know," explained Haltz. "But you see Edna has given us this quest; it's a little out of the ordinary, and she said you would help us if we needed it."

     "I wwilll trryy," the Esophagor replied. "Yoouu caann aassk ttwoo quueestiioonss; tthiinnk caarreefuullly annndd woorrd thheemm wwelll."

     "Thank you, Esophagor. The first question I have to ask you is how can I get to Tyrannia," Haltz thought for a second and then added, "Really quickly?"

     "Tthaat iis ssiimpplle," the Esophagor began. "Iif yoouu heeaad nnoorrtth tooo Neeoopiia Ceenntrraal yoouu wwilll fiindd a wwisshhinngg wwelll. Tthhroow iin a feeww neeoopoiintss annndd aassk tooo bbee iin Tyrraannnniaa. Annndd yoouur seeccoonnd quueestiioon?"

     Haltz paused. He realised that he had no clue how to get from his first destination to his second, so he thought carefully and asked the Esophagor, "How do we get from Tyrannia to our second destination?"

     "Thhiiss wwilll bbee mooorre diiiffficuultt," the Esophagor said. "Yoouu wwilll neeed tooo cliimmbb frroom tthee juunnggllee iin Tyrraannnniaa tooo a roocckky plaatteeaau. Tthherree yoouu wwilll fiindd tthee toowwnn haalll annndd bbee aabllee tooo taallk tooo Teekkeel wwhoo wwilll giivvee yoouu a sppeelll. Tthhaat iis aalll I haavvee tooo saayy." With that the Esophagor finished off the last of the food and sunk back down to the depths of his lair as the ground closed up after him.

     So Haltz and Talakin left the safety and shadows of the Haunted Woods and headed north over a vast expanse of uninhabited green land until they reached Neopia Central. Once there Haltz looked around for someone to help him. Talakin looked pointedly at the Post Office.

     "Good idea Talakin," he said. "If anyone knows where something is, it'll be them." So he headed into the Post Office to ask for directions to the Wishing Well.

     He approached a friendly looking yellow Chia who was manning the ticket kiosk. "Excuse me?" he asked politely. "Could you possibly tell me where to find the Wishing Well?"

     "Why certainly." The Chia grinned. "You just leave here and turn left, head away from the main shops and into the bazaar. The old wishing well is tucked way back at the far end of the bazaar, on the right. If you get to the soup faerie's soup kitchen you've gone too far."

     "Thank you very much," Haltz said, and he and Talakin left the post office, following the directions the Chia gave them until they reached the stone well in the corner of the bazaar.

     Haltz took a few of the neopoints from his saddlebags and threw them into the well, wishing, as he did so, that he and Talakin were far away in the land of Tyrannia.

     "Do you feel any different, Talakin?" asked Haltz, stepping back from the well. Talakin shook his head. "Oh well," he continued. "They do say that even if the well grants you your wish it doesn't happen straightaway." Haltz looked around him. "Oh!"

     Away off to the west he could see the sun starting to set, its orange rays brushing the leafy trees of the Tyrannian jungle and shining on a huge stony structure in the shape of a dinosaur that bore a sign saying 'Tyrannian Food.'

     "I suppose that's as good a place as any to start looking," he said, and together he and Talakin climbed up the stone steps and entered the shop.

     Haltz cleared his throat. "Excuse me," he called. "Is anyone here?"

     "Ugga ug Tyrannia!" came a loud raspy voice from behind him. "Ug ugug ugga ug?"

     "I don't know what you just said." Haltz smiled. "But I need some food… FOOD." He mimed eating something to the shopkeeper.

     The shopkeeper nodded, smiling, and held his hand out, moving it in a large sweeping gesture at the contents of his shop. He nodded again and ushered Haltz and Talakin forward so that they could look among the shelves for whatever they needed and went back to sitting by his money pot.

     Haltz and Talakin split up and started searching the shop for something to fit Edna's description. After a few minutes Haltz felt Talakin's paw touch his hoof and looked down to see him holding a plate of food. The label read 'Tangy Tyrannian Cheese and Crackers - 786NP.'

     "Hmm. Cheese is hard milk, and crackers are hard bread. Good work, Talakin!" he exclaimed. Haltz took the food to the shopkeeper and got some neopoints from his saddlebag. He placed 786NP in the money pot and left the shop with Talakin on his back and the cheese and crackers carefully packed into his saddlebags.

     Standing at the top of the steps, at the entrance to the shop, Haltz thought he could make out a path up to the rocky plateau. The sun was already much lower in the sky and he realised he had better hurry if he was going to make it to the town hall before night fall.

     He set off at a trot with Talakin riding on his back so that he wouldn't have trouble trying to keep up. The path to the plateau was rocky, but well worn. Haltz had to be careful of where he was treading in the ever increasing darkness but he made it safely to the top and saw, to his right up on a ledge, the fires of the town hall. He approached slowly, getting his breath back from the climb, and stood by the rocky ledge looking up at two neopets who were having a discussion about something. Haltz didn't know what it was about but it seemed important because one of them was shouting.

     He tapped his hooves on the ledge and said, "Excuse me, I'm looking for, um, 'Teekkeel'?"

     "Ig ugga Tekel… uh…" The neopet appeared to be deep in thought. "Um. Me be Tekel," he said.

     "Oh! I'm glad you can understand me," Haltz said, slowly. "I need a spell… um… to fly… FLY." He flapped his useless bandaged wings.

     "Ugga spell," Tekel said. "You…stay." He walked to the fire and grabbed a burning branch. Returning to Haltz he said, "You…fly…high and… far. To …South."

     "I have to go south? To where?" Haltz asked

     "To… land of flying… pretties." Tekel waved the flaming wood around Haltz's head three times, muttering under his breath in Tyrannian. "This good spell," he said. "Work good. Walk. Jump. Fly. Run."

     "Thank you," Haltz said. He pressed some neopoints into Tekel's hand and walked to the edge of the plateau. He looked down on the jungle below and then, backing up, prepared to leap. "Hold on, Talakin," he said as he ran forward, lifting his front hooves and pushing off the ground with his back ones in a giant leap as he reached the edge of the stony outcrop.

     He felt a cushion of air beneath him and looked down. Far below him the jungle was falling away and, though the light was fading fast, he could see for miles all around. He set his sights south and began to gallop through the air. After a short while he settled into an easy rhythm. He could hear the sea below him but it was too dark to see properly so he just kept running through the dark night sky until, faintly in the distance, he could make out a shimmering cloud.

     "Talakin, do you see it?" Haltz asked. His eyes were sparkling as he turned to look at his Mazzew, but Talakin was fast asleep and so Haltz continued in silence towards the land of the Faeries.

     ~*~

     Dawn was breaking as he landed softly on the largest cloud in the cluster that made up Faerieland. Nevertheless, the jolt from smooth gliding air to relative stillness was enough to wake up Talakin, who stretched and jumped down from Haltz's back.

     "I think this is the best place to begin, Talakin," said Haltz. He checked his saddlebag to make sure the cheese and crackers had not fallen out in the flight and headed for the arch in the high walls to enter the Faerie city.

     Shopkeepers in Neopia rarely sleep and their shops are open at all hours of the day and night - a fact that Haltz was very pleased about as he approached a shop selling faerie foods and entered it. There was a friendly faerie with beautiful leaf-green wings behind the counter and Haltz approached her timidly.

     "Excuse me? Miss? Could you help me please?" he asked.

     "Why certainly!" She fluttered out from behind her desk and came towards Haltz and Talakin. "What can I do for you?"

     "Well I'm looking for some food for a friend of mine. She didn't give me the name of it though… just told me it was, um..." He fished the poem from his saddlebag. "'Sticky and brown, wing-shaped and earthy.' Does that make any sense to you?"

     The faerie nodded and smiled. She skipped to the back of the shop and stood on tip-toe to pull down a plate stacked high with chocolate brownies. "These fit the bill perfectly," she said in her light sing-song voice. "They're my specialty! Sticky brownies. See? They're wing-shaped!"

     "And earthy?" questioned Haltz.

     "Well, I'm an earth faerie and I made them so, yes, I guess they are." She giggled. "Would you just like one portion?"

     "How many do I get in one portion?"

     "There are three. I can let you have them for 500NP, as I think you are a noble steed and kindly neopet to run errands for your friend."

     "Oh, how kind!" said Haltz. "We'll take them. Thank you so much. I wonder," he continued as Talakin packed the brownies into the saddlebag next to the Tyrannian cheese and crackers, "if you could help me with just one more thing?" He looked expectantly at the pretty faerie and she nodded for him to continue. "Well, you see, I flew through the night from Tyrannia and I haven't slept. I'm really tired but I have to find a final ingredient for my friend and she needs it by tomorrow. I have to get to somewhere that rhymes with 'bell' and I have to get there quickly."

     The faerie looked at him for a moment, then gestured for them to follow her out of her shop.

     "First of all, I think the place you need to go to next is a land called Meridell," she began. "Now, over there, beyond the city walls, you'll find some faerie friends of mine with very fast racers. One of them will surely be kind enough to give you a lift down to Meridell, for a close friend of ours lives there. Her name is Illusen and she can probably help you to find your final ingredient if you ask her nicely."

     "Oh, thank you!" exclaimed Haltz and he bowed to the faerie before turning to leave the city with Talakin at his side, saying, "Goodness, Talakin, aren't people friendly in Neopia?!"

     In just a few short leaps from cloud to cloud they reached the one that the earth faerie had pointed them towards and saw all the faerie racers lined up along the edge. They approached a group of faeries who were chatting together.

     "Pardon me," Haltz started as the faeries turned to look at him. "Um, I need to ask if one of you would be so kind as to give us a lift down to Meridell?"

     A beautiful faerie with a yellow dress, golden hair and shining wings stepped forward and lightly touched Haltz's neck. "Come with me," she said in a voice softer than sunlight on a flower. "I will take you to Illusen and Meridell."

     Haltz climbed into the back of her racer. "This is really very kind of you," he said. "Talakin, won't you see if we have something we can give to this faerie as a thank you?"

     "Oh no, don't worry," she whispered. "This sweet little Mazzew will sit with me a while you can have a short sleep, dear tired Uni," she said quietly. Her fingertips brushed his eyelids and Haltz fell into a deep sleep as Talakin sat in the front of the racer with the light faerie and they sped down towards Meridell. "Don't worry about your friend," the light faerie said to Talakin, scratching his ears as he curled up in her lap. "He will sleep for only a short while, but he will feel fully rested, I promise."

     ~*~

     The cloud racer touched down softly in Illusen's glade. The light faerie went in to talk to Illusen and left Talakin to wake his master. He leaped into the back of the racer and rubbed his head against Haltz's cheek. The Uni awoke, stood up and stretched, looking around for the light faerie. Moments later she came out of Illusen's little hut and beckoned to Haltz who stepped forward to explain the last part of his quest to this newest friend.

     "You see, we have to find a grumpy king and tell him a joke," explained Haltz, "and get a reward and then we can go home."

     "In that case you need to head out of my glade and towards the river, cross the bridge and enter the castle," explained Illusen. "Once inside, seek an audience with King Skarl and tell him your joke."

     "Thank you both," Haltz said, bowing low to Illusen and the light faerie. "Wish us luck!"

     Haltz and Talakin left the glade behind and trotted happily through Meridell towards the river and the castle. They crossed the drawbridge and entered the old castle to find King Skarl in his throne room looking very grumpy.

     The King looked down at Haltz and Talakin. "Tell me a joke," he said in a gruff voice.

     "Yes, Your Highness," began Haltz. "Well. Um. Oh yes, here we go...." Haltz took a deep breath, but the King held up a hand.

     "No!" he yelled. "You can only tell me a joke using the choices of words on the cards that you will find neatly stacked upon the table, there." He pointed.

     "Oh," said Haltz, he looked down at the cards, feeling rather worried. He began looking through his options and after a few moments had formulated a joke that wasn't really very funny but would have to do.

     "What shouldn't you do if you're eating?" he said to the King.

     "I don't know," he responded. "What?"

     "You shouldn't explode," Haltz finished lamely. He looked up at the King who, to his surprise, chuckled slightly.

     "Hmmm, not too bad. But not good enough for one of my expensive rewards I'm afraid…. However, you can choose something to eat from my kitchens if you wish…."

     That was just what Haltz wanted to hear and so, thanking the King, he and Talakin set off for the kitchens where they found bowls of gruel, piles of potatoes and slice upon slice of stale bread. Tapping his hooves impatiently on the floor, Haltz watched as Talakin took a slice of the bread and placed it in the saddlebag, removing the travelling potion at the same time.

     "Hop on, Talakin," said Haltz, happily. "We're going home!" He drank the potion in one gulp.

     They heard a sound that was a little like 'ziiiingPOOF' and in a dizzying instant they were back in the Deserted Fairground with all their familiar things about them. Haltz sighed contentedly and set off for Edna's Tower with all her ingredients still stored in his saddlebags and his helpful Mazzew at his side.

     He reached her tower shortly after lunch and entered her front door.

     "Edna?" he called out into the gloomy darkness. "It's Haltz and Talakin. We're back! We have your things… I hope…."

     Edna appeared with a loud bang beside him. "Welcome back, my weary friend," she cackled. "What did you bring for me?"

     Talakin hopped up onto Haltz's back and opened the saddlebags. "From Tyrannia we brought you Tangy Cheese and Crackers," said Haltz as Talakin handed them to Edna.

     "Marvelous!"

     "From Faerieland we brought you some of the earth faerie's brownies." Again Talakin handed the package to Edna and she placed it with the crackers and cheese, clapping her hands gleefully.

     "And the final ingredient-- Haltz, do you have it?" she asked.

     "Yes, right here," the Uni replied as Talakin produced the stale bread. "From the castle of King Skarl himself."

     "Haltz, that really is wonderful." Edna nodded to him. "You've done a marvellous job. Everything I needed is here and on time. Now let me see…."

     She waved her hands in the air and with a snap and a crack produced, from thin air, a small bag of neopoints and a round plate with an oozing snorkel snout upon it.

     "Just a little thank you," she explained, handing them to Haltz.

     He gave the neopoints to Talakin to put in the saddlebags and began munching on the snorkel snout as he left the tower with Edna standing in the doorway waving him off.

     "Oh, Edna," he said, turning quickly to catch her before she shut the door.

     "Yes?"

     "If you ever need any more help, you know, with any more unusual style quests or anything, you know where we are." And with that Haltz turned on his heels and he and Talakin headed off towards the deserted fairground and home.

The End

 
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