The Statue Collector: Part Two
The moment she had left the hallway, I called to Bubbles, “Quick, look for some sort of lever or something that will make these bars move. She forgot all about you.” At least I hoped that she had forgotten about her and that there really was some way of making the bars move. While Bubbles swam urgently about the statues, I felt my way around the dark, hoping that perhaps there was something for me to do. Of course, there wasn’t. Why would a Sea Mistress of Magic put the switch for her clever trap where her victim could find it? I was about ready to give up altogether when I heard Bubbles squeal with excitement.
Moments later, a low rumbling filled the hallway and the bars slowly lifted, almost painfully slow. I didn’t wait for it to lift all the way; I darted out into the hallway of statues. It was almost sad looking at all the creatures, frozen in stone, their last moments wasted in fear and mock hope for mercy. I couldn’t waste time on feeling sorry for them, though; I had to escape before Avawna came back. I had no idea what she was capable of, but I had no intention of sticking around to find out.
It wasn’t difficult to find my way back out of the cave but once more I found myself in the deadly quiet gloom of the ocean, still lost and now hunted. What would I able to do, still lost? Bubbles whinnied desperately, reminding me that we couldn’t afford to linger near the cave. So, I swam blindly and almost immediately ran into a rock. A desperate cry escaped me before I could stop it and I made my way around the rock formation. It was a very slow, tedious way to swim for I had to do so with my fins outstretched in the fear that I was going to find another rock formation.
Despite making my way slowly forward, it seemed as if the rocks began to thin out fairly swiftly. Soon, I was able to swim quite a ways before encountering a rock and not too long after, they seemed to have thinned out completely. “Perhaps she won’t find us here and we can wait for someone to find us,” I enthusiastically called out to Bubbles but from the chirp of horror that my little peo gave, I decided that probably wasn’t a plan.
Shortly thereafter, I saw a thin glow in the distance and before long, it was blazing brightly and I could make out the all too familiar buildings of Maraqua. Not daring to slow down in case Avawna was right behind me, I raced to the city. Even at night, it was full of life, neopets swimming here and there.
Quickly, I found an authority figure and told them about my adventures out in the dark ocean. Of course, they scoffed at me and called Silent, who was more than willing to come pick me up.
“You might want to keep an eye on this one, m’am,” the neopet told Silent, “she’s making up stories and might influence other neopets to mob. Not a good thing and if she continues, charges might be pressed.”
“Charges?” Silent balked and held me against her fearfully. “Don’t worry, it won’t be an issue.” She was quiet as they returned to the surface and then on the way home, she asked, “What happened? What would inspire you to swim out of Maraqua? And what was that 'thing' talking about?”
“Oh Silent,” I cried out, “it was horrible. I was going to collect some cool seaweed and I got lost, like really lost. Then this mermaid, Avawna, found me and took me back to her place. I thought she was so nice but she was lying. She turns neopets into statues, and she was going to turn me into a statue, but Bubbles saved me. We have to find a way to go back and save the neopets. I don’t know how, I don’t even know where, but we just have to.”
“You’re sure that you didn’t imagine all of this while you were lost. I mean, you could have hallucinated it; it’s happened to others who have gotten lost in the ocean.” Silent was rubbing my head soothingly, trying to reassure me but she was doing the exact opposite. She thought I was crazy, thought that the whole thing was in my head.
“I am sure, Silent; you should have seen the statues. The poor creatures were scared to near death in their last moments. And I came this close to joining them. I know I didn’t imagine it, it just isn’t possible.” I didn’t know how I was going to persuade her but I had to, someway. Avawna was out there, casting spells and ruining innocent neopets' lives. I had to help them and I had to stop her; I just wasn’t entirely sure how.
“Okay, okay, I believe you.” I could tell that she actually did, which was a huge relief. “But that means, what can we do about? You don’t even know how to get back there.”
“I don’t know but we’ve got to figure out something. We just have to.” Enough was said now we’d have to figure out our actions. That was going to take some planning because Silent was right, I didn’t even know where her cave was located. First things first though, we’d have to find someway to counteract her spell.
As luck would have it, a friend of Silent’s had a neopet, Delacorte the blue Kiko, who upon her wanderings through the woods near Kiko Lake had encountered an earth faerie in trouble. Delacorte, being the nice neopet that she was, did her best to help out the faerie. The faerie, whose name was Endivan, had promised to come to Delacorte’s aid if she ever needed her. Silent thought, wisely so, that Endivan might be able to help us figure out a counter spell for Avawna’s statue spell. All we had to do was find her home in the woods.
Delacorte was quite polite, somewhat shy, and was eager to help us out. “I don’t remember exactly where she lives, but I’m pretty sure if we get there, I’ll be able to find it from where she was in trouble.”
“So, what happened?” I asked, curiosity being one of my biggest flaws. After all, I never would have met Avawna and her hideous collection, if I hadn’t been so enthusiastic about finding more exotic kelp for the neogardens at our home.
“Well, I was at Kiko Lake, visiting some friends and was on my way home, when I heard this voice, sobbing and begging for mercy. I had to help her and when I peered around the tree, there was Endivan, trapped against a big rock with the Pant Devil trying to bully her into giving up her necklace. I happened to have a pant devil attractor on me and I wasn’t sure if it would work, but I threw it out into the woods. It was apparently enough because the Pant Devil took off and left her there. She was so grateful that she promised to help me. I didn’t really do anything except for throw off something I carry with me regularly in order to try to save my expensive items from being stolen. It just pays to help fellow Neopians in need.” She was so humble about her story and acted as if it weren’t a big deal but I couldn’t help but stare at her in awe. I wasn’t sure how I would react if I encountered the Pant Devil, but I was pretty sure that it wouldn’t be to keep as level of a head.
Genie patted her Kiko on her head and grinned. “She’s acting like it was nothing, but it was pretty courageous of her. But that’s my Delacorte; she acts all timid until she needs to be brave.” Delacorte blushed and hurried ahead to lead them to where she encountered the earth faerie being bullied by the Pant Devil.
She wasn’t giving herself enough credit for when we found where she rescued Endivan, she easily found her home. Timidly, she knocked on the delicate carved door and Endivan appeared in a flash of green light.
“I was wondering when I was going to see you again.” She laughed and threw her arms around the little Kiko. Now, I’m not that shy or anything but watching their reunion made me hide behind Silent. I just felt kind of awkward and wasn’t exactly sure what to do in that situation.
When Endivan heard my tale, she was very grave and tapped her fingers against the table top. “Hmmm, this is serious,” she said, but I could tell that she was miles away, trying to figure out what to do. “A spell that turns innocent neopets into statues sounds more like something that Jhudora would devise than a mermaid out on her own. Hang on, I recall something similar in a spell book.” She rose and kind of fluttered over to a bookshelf that covered one side of her cottage. It was crammed full of books, with more books lying on top of each other. It was amazing to me that the thing hadn’t tipped over with the weight of its knowledge.
Endivan ran a graceful finger across the spines of the book, silently mouthing the titles of the books until she came to a dark purple one that seemed to tingle with dark magic. “Here it is. Now let me see....” She thumbed through the pages and even though I was sure it was my imagination, I could have sworn that each page seemed to whisper invitingly, encouraging me to take the book and thumb through it. “Yes, that’s what I thought. There’s a spell that sounds like she may be using it right here. You said that she needed slorg tears and uni horns? Well, those are both ingredients here as well. It does have a counter spell, but it requires a few things that are very difficult to get?”
“What kind of things?” I didn’t mean for my voice to shake so much but I had a bad feeling in my gut about the whole thing. Maybe it would be better and just easier to pretend that I had never met Avawna. Then I looked at Delacorte, the shy little Kiko, who in the moment of truth, had faced the Pant Devil. If she could face the Pant Devil, then I could stand up to Avawna and save those stoned neopets.
“Well, for instance, you must steal a negg from the Snowager. It cannot be purchased, it must be stolen from him or else it loses its potency and may as well be eaten. A glob of Meuka’s snot must be obtained and a bottle of Shadow Usul’s shadow must also be retrieved. Last but not least, you must capture a laugh from he who is grumpy. I have the rest of the ingredients but those are vital to making the counter spell work.” She looked at me hard, perhaps sizing me up and wondering if I was up to the challenge.
I took a deep breath and swallowed. I was scared out of my wits, but I was CoralWhispers, the Island Koi, and I was not about to back down from the challenge. “Is that all? Guess, I’d better begin soon then.” I sounded braver than I felt. Endivan nodded with a smile. I think she knew how truly scared I was, but if she had faith in me, perhaps I was worrying for nothing.
To be continued...