Brightvale's Biggest Secret
Journal Entry #763, 10th Day of Gathering, Y16
Oh, dearest journal. Of all the beautiful and terrible things I have seen, none is so great as what I have seen in Brightvale these last few months. More specifically, the University there with its cavernous halls and floor-to-ceiling stained glass windows. When the sun sets, it seems to set the entire place ablaze with a rainbow of lights; no torches are needed to light your way through these hallowed halls of learning. And the beauty of it all is that I am surrounded by like-minded intellectuals, students of both the literary and magical arts!
Of course, as most of my travels go, not everything is Candy Floss and Chocolate Bows. It never is, it seems. I've discovered one of the darker secrets of the University and, rather than going ahead on my own, brought my dear sister, Amulatt, with me. I learned back in Neovia to not go into the suspicious building by one's self, as it often turns out that the suspicious building is not just misunderstood.
"Tell me, sister mine, why thou art so apprehensive." Her lovely dark face looked almost bemused when I brought her to one of the darkest corners of the library. "'This is a Library." She waved a hoof around us, as if to prove her point. "With books and the sole Cause of Learning. Mayhap a bit of Entertainment, as well." I could almost hear her capitalizing the proper nouns, but I've long since gotten used to her Old Neopian way of speaking.
"Amulatt, that's not what I'm trying to show you, if you'd quit being condescending for a minute. It's what's under the library that I'm freaking out about." I did my best to quietly move a bookshelf out of the way. I was thankful that it was one of the smaller ones that held more dust than it did books, as it only complained a little bit when I revealed a trapdoor.
"Methinks thou hast been reading too many detective novellas, Aerlliin. This is, most probably, an old servant's Hallway. They lie all over Altador, no secrets held within Them."
"Quit assuming I haven't opened it already. You haven't seen the weird part, yet." Just as it had last week, the rusty-looking door opened as though it had just been greased. And, just as they were last week, the torches lining the algae-coated halls were still lit in spite of having no apparent source for fuel.
"That is curious." She tucked her lovely wings in, apparently deciding that the stardust that cast a faint light within them wouldn't be needed. She, as an eventide Peophin, puts off her own natural glow, so we weren't worried about what would happen if the torches would suddenly go dark. "Shall we descend, sister mine?"
"Please don't say it like that. It makes it sound worse." I shuddered a little. "Maybe we should have grabbed spelunking tools."
"Aerlliin, we lack spelunking tools, for there are no caves in Altador. Travelling to Moltara to purchase them would almost seem idiotic." She looked annoyed, but any time she gets cooped up inside and is unable to gaze at the stars, she's bored.
"Maybe this leads to Moltara. Or worse." I'm usually quite the optimist, and usually having my sister tag along increases this optimism.
"Or, more likely, thou art Panicking over a small Trouble that is simply a servant's Hallway." She wasn't helping. Her complete dismissal of my suspicions was actually putting a bit of a damper on what should have been a pretty exciting little adventure.
"Look, Amulatt, either you're with me or you can wait in the library and hang out with all the books. It's no skin off my muzzle." I had started walking away from her and suddenly she was on my tail again.
"Were you not mine sister, I would verily leave thee down here." Her face twisted a little, as if she were searching for words. Neopian isn't her first language, and sometimes she struggles with it. "And... ah."
"What's up? Meowclops got your tongue?"
"There be no Meowclopses down here to do such a thing? I was just going to say that I think Someone may have closed the Door." I watched as one of her ears flicked back, and mine followed. Yup. Someone had shut the door and was sliding the old bookshelf back in front of it. "Mayhap they thought us unseemly for leaving the door open."
"Maybe. Let's keep moving, though, in case we were followed." I might be paranoid, sure, and I may have been even more paranoid than usual in that tunnel. To be completely fair, though, places that skeeve me out typically haven't been full of Kadoaties and lollies, if you know what I mean.
"Coward." She pressed on, and I was impressed with her sudden ability to not be long-winded. One of her personality traits could be 'verbose' and not one person, Neopet or human, would disagree with it.
"Wow, I didn't know you were capable of one-word sentences," I teased. I'm sure she would have said something mean right there if the torches hadn't suddenly gone blue- and such a dark blue that if I hadn't known that Amulatt was standing in front of me, I might have thought she'd totally disappeared.
"QUI AUDEAT VERTO OFF LUMINARIA PER TUAS COELO STELLIFERO IMPERATRIX?!" Amulatt cried out. I heard her spin around a few times, her hooves furiously beating the cobblestone and causing a huge ruckus.
"Amulatt, please calm down. I can't understand you when you go into rage mode." I see her flutter her wings a bit- it's almost a nervous tic amongst any winged creature.
"Sed luminaria?" She cleared her throat. "But the lights?"
"They're still on, but apparently you can't see in low light. You're a stargazer, so this is a worrisome development. And that first outburst there? Care to translate?" That outburst is what she calls 'starspeak,' and was originally the only language she spoke. That's a different story, though, and it's not my place to tell it.
"I would much rather keep the Meaning of that outburst to mineself, thank thee well." She practiced a bit of the deep breathing exercises that Flutter had taught her, and I see her starry eyes flicker. "I should like to lean against thee, sister mine, if thou shalt allow it."
"Sure, the last thing we need is for you to run into the wall or a torch because you didn't see it." I found out that her version of 'leaning' is actually some sort of gentle touch, just to make sure that I was there.
"I hear chanting," she whispered into my ear. It wasn't a whisper that would carry far, and if I hadn't been paying complete attention to her, I might have missed it. "Dost thou hear it, as well, Wafting from the Room over there?"
"I think you've been quiet for too long and you're getting more colourful with your Neopian. But yeah, I hear it." After about half a mile of nothing but blue lights, the soft yellow glow of candlelight burned my eyes a little as we turned the corner. I wasn't familiar with the chant, but my sister's ears perked and listened intently. She's a linguistic maven, now, and there's a good chance she'll be able to translate this.
"(Oh, for the love of...)" she said something in her native language and immediately translated it. "It is chanting in the Doxian language."
"What." She said it like it was the most obvious thing in the world, and pulled me back into the darkness to explain it.
"Theirs is a study of magic and spell Invention, and of the Darkest kind. Their Cult predates even Altador." Her face looked grave, and though it was hard to tell, she was probably even a little scared. I know I was. "What ties they have to Brightvale, I do not know."
"Probably tied directly to the University or something. Regardless, we should move on." We were able to slink by the Doxians, who are apparently blind by nature, and past three groups that appeared to worship puns. One of them, woodent you know, had this really odd effect to where you slipped awful puns into random sentences when describing them or going anywhere near them. They're my new favorite people!
"We should be Russian along here, Aerlliin. I am worried this might be permanent."
"Soviet, then. Is there another way out of this hallway?"
"I'm a frayed knot." I watched as she forced her lips to stop moving. "Tis difficult to make it stop." It looked like the puns were physically hurting her. Amulatt is one of those odd Mallards that finds any sort of pun at all to be the lowest, wurst thing that can come out of your mouth. I think they're hilarious. "Please make it stop."
"Waterloo afraid of, Amulatt? It's knot like any harm ever came out of a bit of punniness." It's fantastic that I don't even have to try right now.
"I hope you falleth into a ditch." She walked directly through the pun cult, upsetting several ledgers and two candles.
"Uh, miss, there's nothing down that hallway but a labyrinth and some trolls." One of the members spoke up, and at least he tried. He had to get up and physically get her, but it appeared she had set off at least one of the trolls.
"UR SMELLY Y R U HEAR?!1 Go back 2 n00bland, n00b!" I should mention that we were still in pun territory.
"Close the door, close the door!"
"UR MUM SMELLS OF CABBAGE!"
"My mother doth not smell of cabbage!" Amulatt appeared to rally for battle before a Skeith and two Shoyrus pulled her away.
"Quit feeding the troll, it'll go away." The Skeith appeared to measure her words carefully. "As in, ignore it. They like starting fights for attention. They think it's funny, but it's snot." My sister bit her lips again, apparently quivering, and started up her own chanting.
"Ego sum imperatrix trium Galaxiae. Me tractatur verba. Ego sum imperatrix trium Galaxiae. Me tractatur verba. Ego sum imperatrix trium Galaxiae. Me tractatur verba." This seemed to calm her down, as long as no one talked to her.
"Is she gonna be alright?" Dippy, the first Shoyru, asked.
"I think so. She just doesn't like puns, and I've never been able to figure out why."
"Some people like them, others don't. We'll tone it down while she's here, out of respect. Especially if it makes her stop chanting. Chanting skeeves us out."
"Same, and thanks. Say, can you tell me what, exactly, all of these groups are underneath BVU for?" I was actually able to relax at this point, because this means I finally went on an adventure where nothing died or got accidentally transmogrified.
"Advanced studies!" Dippy said excitedly.
"You study down here for who knows long, and the only Thing you have to Offer the world is clever Wordplay?!" It was then my turn to hold back my enraged sister.
"I'm sure there's more than one way to skin a – I'm not finishing that. More than one way puns are useful other than being hilarious or inappropriate."
"Oh, sure! Especially in battles where spells are being cast left and right. We expand our influence to the bad guys and BAM- instead of seeing through the trees, they're seeing cheese. Puns aren't just replacing one word with another that happens to be a homophone; it's giving a different meaning to an entire sentence because of that one word."
"So why are you all cooped up down here and not, you know, in an actual classroom?"
"The sphere of influence, of course. It would be a downright shame if someone's dissertation was nothing but puns, or someone's Neopian Times submission was wrought with them." Shenlo, the big Skeith, seemed to be holding back some laughter. "Totally didn't do that ever. I swear."
We sat and talked for a while about their studies and the other groups (nothing bad, really, mostly just things that might cause a distraction), but realized that it would soon be dark and all of us needed to head home, anyway.
"I imagine the trolls are gone by now, so opun the door." Amulatt's left eye started to twitch. "You know, I wanted to be a chemist, but I couldn't get a reaction." She increased the eye twitching at this point, which lead to more quivering.
"Oh, careful of the cannibal cult, love. They like to meat people. Unless you're a clown, then you just taste funny."
"Please stop this." She had kept her eyes closed, and I had to give her credit.
"Oh, Amulatt, seven days without a pun makes one weak! Lighten up a little, darling eventide, you'll be fine." Dippy's words rolled off her tongue, and it was fairly obvious that she was born for this.
"Keep up the complaining and you'll need to see a hoarse doctor for that throat of yours." Shenlo stated this as a fact and I almost didn't catch the pun, and at this point I was wondering what they were doing. "Hey, you guys hear about the typist that lost her justification?"
"I really do not enjoy your company." Her head was now hanging low. "Stop it."
"Oh, deer, we're nearly there. Peas weight a little longer."
"ENOUGH! I have had it with all of you, as this behavior is not clever at all!" She stormed off ahead of us, slamming the door to the castle quad.
"I really thought one of those might make her laugh," I said. "I guess no pun in ten did."