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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 24th day of Hunting, Yr 22
The Neopian Times Week 119 > Continuing Series > The Legend of Harquin: Part Two

The Legend of Harquin: Part Two

by shelleylow

Tirra floated through the warm, crystal sea. Pure, white light from the glorious sun was gleaming from above, sending ripples of light dancing across her body. She glided through the waters' cradle, following the waves and the pull of the tide as they led her to she knew not what.

     She saw in front of her strange things, apparitions and shadows that appeared and disappeared again as swiftly as they had come. Two Flotsam swam around each other, their sleek forms leaving twisting, curling, intricate designs full of spirals and curls in their wake that gradually dispersed and melted into the bright water. A giant Koi that could have fit comfortably into their dining room yawned lazily as he drifted past her, letting out a thread of glittering bubbles. A Jetsam's face leered at her suddenly, mouth agape, showing sharp white teeth like jagged rocks. And then, last and most wondrous of all, a blue Peophin, with blue-green mane and a long golden horn sprouting from her face mask. She turned her long, elegant face to Tirra and then--

     Tirra gasped and sat up straight. She was in her room, on her bed of sea grass. It had all been a dream.

     But such a wonderful dream, Tirra pondered as she rolled over in the soft vegetation, feeling the supple blades dance with her movement and then settle around her again, cradling her. It had all been so real…it had been like actually being there. What could it mean? The Flotsams with their swimming formations…the enormous Koi…the ferocious Jetsam…and last of all, that blue, horned Peophin with such wise, kindly eyes…

     "Harquin," Tirra breathed, softly, wonderingly. For she like so many others knew the story of the lone Peophin, how Venuquin had created her for the purpose of having at least one Peophin that was forever free, and of how shy and elusive she was. Her mother had told her of the mysterious figure when she was a podling, and she had longed then, with all her heart, to see the Lady of Solitude for herself. But Harquin, like so many other creatures of legend that she had listened to tales of in early age with wonder and eagerness, had been buried under the greater excitement of growing up.

     Now it seemed she had been uncovered again, and Tirra realized that even though now she was halfway through her adolescence, she didn't think of Harquin as just a story, as she had for a short time before she stopped thinking of her altogether. She thought of her as she had when she was a podling, as a real, existing being.

     Could Harquin be the answer to Kaoren's call?

     "It is said she has lived for many, many years," she could recall her mother's voice saying, "and that she knows all the secrets of the oceans, and holds all the wisdom of the seas, that were bestowed on her by her mother and creator, Venuquin the Mother Of All Peophins."

     The more Tirra thought about it, the more convinced she became that to solve the mystery of Kaoren's deterioration, she must seek out the horned Peophin. Her heart rose in her. An adventure, one that would carry her far beyond the palace walls and indeed the city, farther than she had ever been allowed to go in her own short life.

     But her parents would never believe her. As the youngest princess her plan, even if she told of her dream, would probably be dismissed as a wishful fancy. Still…

     It had to be worth a try at convincing them.

***

The galleon sailed through the sea, waves parting before its mighty bows in a great misty haze of white froth. It was a fine day, with the wind whistling merrily around the sides of the great ship, making its flags flutter merrily and filling its sails so that they billowed out strongly. The captain, a cheerful looking Blumaroo, whistled a happy tune at the tiller as the wind ran through his blue fur and the salt spray stung his face. All was going well. They should reach Roo Island by sunset if this lovely weather kept up, and such wonderful things they had brought back from Mystery Island! Juicy, exotic fruits and fantastically shaped, multicoloured flowers, gold pieces, hand made trinkets by the natives…King Roo would be pleased.

     The captain was jolted out of his reverie by a warning cry from above.

     "Jetsam ahoy!" The lookout was hanging from the mast by his long, strong tail, pointing ahead. Alarmed, the captain dashed to the bows and gazed out to sea through his telescope. Sure enough, the jagged points of fins were showing above the white crests of the waves quite close to their vessel. With sudden horror he recognized them, from stories told at ports all over Neopia he had been to. That fin, leading them, with the black skull-and-crossbones tattooed on it, and the serrated scar along the back of it… Spearblade!

     Swiftly, barking out orders, the captain assembled his crew and got them battle ready. Bows, slings, swords and spears were collected from the armory and the crew of Blumaroos took their positions, to be prepared if they managed to come aboard. The strongest slingers were sent to the prow to try and deter the forthcoming Jetsam horde. Their stones splashed into the water among the approaching fins, but did nothing to stop their arrival.

     A thud sounded as something hard hit the side of the boat. Then the blunt nose of a Pirate Jetsam thrust itself over the side of the galleon. It was Spearblade, Scourge of the Oceans. Another Jetsam and then another, male and female alike, all swinging dangerous looking cutlasses, were beginning to climb over the side.

     Instantly, the Blumaroos jumped into action. Both parties were equally matched in fighting and numbers, and the battle looked even until the Blumaroo captain, sending a Jetsam flying with a strong swipe from his tail, lost his balance, tripped and fell onto the deck, hard, in front of a young Jetsam.

     The young Jetsam looked down at the fallen Blumaroo, and slowly, reluctantly drew his cutlass, but as he raised it high over his head he hesitated. That instant was all the Blumaroo needed. He surged up again, dealing the young one a hefty blow with his strong tail that sent him hurtling over the galleon's side.

     Spearblade muttered something in frustration. Then he turned back to his horde. "Retreat!"

     The surprised Jetsams did as they were told, and the Blumaroo galleon was left to go on its way in peace.

***

Spearblade glared down at the youngster before him. "Just what did you think that was?"

     The Jetsam shifted his tail fins uncomfortably. "I… couldn't do it," he mumbled.

     "You couldn't!" Spearblade roared, losing his temper completely at the words. "And just why not? I take you on your first raid, only to have you totally mess up! The only Jetsam in the seven seas who backs down at an opportunity, and he has to be my son! Dagger, what am I to do with you? Ever since that Takur-Ath and his Flotsam exiled us from Kaoren, this is the way life has to be! It's the only way we can get anything to eat at all!"

     "If we hadn't been mistreating the Kaoren natives," Dagger spoke up boldly, "we wouldn't have been exiled."

     "We weren't causing them any harm at all," his father snarled back. "It was that fool, Saber, stalking around shouting threats. He frightened the natives no end, and it was because of that they refused to have anythin' t' do with us! All they did was scream when they saw us, until Saber finally overstepped his boundaries, trying to attack that young Flotsam from the pod that moved in. And what we got for that was exile!"

     Dagger didn't say anything, and his father's face softened slightly as he gazed at him. "We all have to live, Dagger. And if there was another way to do it…but there isn't, and this is the way it has to be."

     Silently the elder Jetsam swam away, leaving Dagger to himself. The young Jetsam gazed miserably at all the others of his shoal. The young ones his age were engaging in some rough-and-tumble somewhere further off. Briefly he considered the possibility of joining them, then let it slip. He had never liked hurting things, even if they were all just having fun. It was because of that that he had not learnt through play how to use his teeth and tail in battle, much less his cutlass. He certainly wouldn't be able to compare with them now.

     Even though he knew his father loved him at heart, Dagger knew he thought he was a disappointment; at times a frustration. He had often longed to be respected by the rest of his shoal. But they were all so accomplished, and adept at doing what was their only livelihood now - raiding ships. He had had that opportunity, to seem a hero in their eyes. If he had done the job he could have won them the ship, and all her cargo. But it had been impossible. He couldn't bring himself to harm anything. Was there any way to get around this?

     The only chance for him was if the Flotsam royals who had ousted his shoal from Kaoren when he had only been a very young pup himself were by some chance to lift their laws and allow his shoal back in. But with all that they had done in the past, plus their new reputation as Jetsam raiders, what chance was there of that?

***

"Absolutely not," King Takur said firmly. "It's out of the question, Tirra."

     "But I know that she holds the answer," Tirra insisted. "I know it. And I have to find Harquin before Kaoren dies."

     "Tirra," Queen Io broke in gently, "those stories about Harquin… that's all they are, dear. Just stories. As a half-grown Flotsam you ought to understand that."

     "I thought that, too. But I've seen her… I have. And I know that she exists, and that she knows how to save Kaoren. Please Mother, Father. What other hope do we have?"

     The Flotsam monarchs exchanged glances. Both of them thought the idea was preposterous. Imagine seeking out a mythical being as the remedy to their city's obvious disease, just because of some dream of their daughter's. It was too absurd. But at that moment some unseen current seemed to pass between them, and they seemed to weaken a little. There were no other plans. Like as not Kaoren would crumble and fall, no more than a remnant of the once-shining city it had been.

     "There are no alternatives other than to sit here and let Kaoren perish, or leave the city altogether," King Takur said softly. "We certainly can't tell what's wrong, and neither could the council last night. It was like we all couldn't decide on a course of action. I think that perhaps we should let Tirra undertake this journey."

     "But Tirra's so young," the Queen murmured to her mate. "She could get hurt, or…worse. It's that thought I can't stand."

     "We'll make her take someone with her," King Takur replied, patting Queen Io's fin comfortingly. Turning to his daughter, he spoke.

     "We've decided you will be allowed to go, as long as you go with someone. Who will it be?"

     Tirra considered. "Cowrie," she said finally. The Koi handmaiden, she knew that her parents knew, was loyal and true to the end. She would make a valuable and pleasant traveling companion.

     "Will do," the King responded. "When will you leave?"

     "As soon as I pack provisions," Tirra responded. "If I don't hurry, it may be too late."

     "May Fyora go with you," the Queen whispered as Tirra hurried from the throne room.

***

The entire city turned out to watch Tirra and Cowrie's departure. They were all as thin and pale as ever, as if the colours had been washed out of them, but they were all happy that something would be done about the situation.

     Tirra smiled all about her as she waved her fins and darted off, Cowrie following behind her.

     The pair had not gone far when Tirra realized that she had no idea where she was headed. "Oh Cowrie," she groaned, "I didn't think that I have no idea where to start looking!"

     The Koi placed a fin on her mistress's shoulder.

     "It's alright, Princess. We'll figure it out. Hmm…that dream you had…the one where you saw the Lady of Solitude… where were you going? In which direction?"

     Tirra's crestfallen face suddenly lifted. "Of course, I was following the tide! I just let myself drift along with the tide…and it got me to Harquin… oh, the other thing, there were signs along the way. They could be route markers, to show us the way!"

     "Now you've got it!" Cowrie clapped her fins. "Let's hear them!"

     "Let's see now… they're all in my head, as real as if I had actually been there. There were…a couple of Flotsams, making curly, twisty patterns in the water. Then there was a really, really big Koi, many times your size! And the last one was… a Jetsam's head, with long sharp teeth. And then I saw Harquin."

     "That's a start," Cowrie grinned. "So we should start by following the tides and looking for the three signs on the way."

     "But what do the signs mean, I wonder? They don't seem to make sense… do Koi really come that large? And how…"

     "They won't make sense now, but I have an inkling they will when we see them," the Koi told her placidly. "We'll just go where the sea takes us, and let the rest just figure itself out."

To be continued...

Previous Episodes

Legend of Harquin: Part One

The Legend of Harquin: Part Three

Legend Harquin: Part Four

Legend of Harquin: Part Five

Legend of Harquin: Part Six

Legend of Harquin: Part Seven


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