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Finding Kourage: Part Three

by larenbeka


Maieben stood in her Neohome, dumbstruck. She shook herself to make sure she wasn't dreaming. Everything was still. More stagnant than imaginable. The silence was penetrating; a tranquility that only humidity and allay can utter. She could feel the tranquilness of the the room on her back. It made her fur rise on end when the quiet, calmness brushed against the tips of her fur. She shivered as it tickled her. It was so peaceful and immobile. She never wanted to leave…

      Then she remembered what Tylorra said about going to Kourage for help. She did have a reason. But, it was supposed to be of superior importance. Well, it was important. No, not really. Yes! Not exactly… Maieben fought with her conscience, back and forth like a tennis match. Little, minor guilt fits would not help, Maieben decided.

      She wished clandestinely that Tylorra had stayed to help her go on her quest. This would be very essential and eminent to her self-esteem and personal values. She kept chickening-out and deciding to forget about it. Then she wished that Reagan were there to coach her comfortingly like she always did. But, then, she thought, this whole trip is about finding my own inner strength and valor, right? Yes. I mustn't let anything impede me from continuing on this pursuit. I have to show myself what I'm made of; I must seek happiness within myself, for fear is only truly diminished when one finds serenity inside their own heart and soul. I must not only be understood by others, but I have to be able to understand. To accomplish is to think of the good times that have helped us through previously and I have to cultivate and utilize my own bliss. This is an experience of a lifetime, as said and my contentment can only be possessed if I know I can do it, for who cares what others think? That philosophy has always gotten me through in the past and now I have to exploit on that motto. And there's only one way to do all that must be done…

     When she was finished lecturing herself, Maieben prepared herself with all the necessities of the journey ahead. And then, she was off as quick as if a powerful wind had gusted her to ecstasy.

      Maieben consulted the map she possessed. There were a lot of inky lines that squiggled and reached and curved towards their destination: Kourage's Cove. The map said (literally said, because this map appeared to talk. Whenever she took a wrong turn or headed in the wrong direction, it scolded her and made her turn around; it also gave her tips on the fastest way there) it was a fjord that was immensely isolated and, unless you happened to be looking in that direction at the precise moment you passed it, you would never see it at all.

      Around midday, Maieben broke for lunch. She had brought bacon omelette, strawberry jelly and faerie toast. She devoured them all rather quickly because all the hiking and traversing all over Neopia was very tiring indeed. The map told her the cove was on the coast of Mystery Island where few inhabitants still remained. This meant that she had yet another full day of navigating to endure.

      Maieben maintained her voyage with a hopeful heart and the spirit of one who has stumbled upon a newfound treasure. She trekked with the knowledge that she would be a different Aisha tomorrow. She kept telling the map (whose company she was glad of) that she would behold confidence and bravery of the utmost expertise on the day following.

      Maieben finally settled down for the night not far from the border of Mystery Island. She perched herself on a secluded and remote area under a tree by the water. It whispered to her with melodic words and tickled her with its clammy hands of sea-spray. Its waters played her a lullaby of longing and despair and hope that she related to well. It urged her on to the familiar land of sleep where one is free to roam and do anything at all and where so many wish to remain in because of its flexibility for ambition.

      When Maieben awoke the next day, groggy and dulled from sleep, she looked out at the vast ocean of freewill and relaxation before her. A person could feel harmonious and so comfortable here that the temptation was almost too prevailing to overcome. She let the gentle breeze hug her robustly a final time and then, once again, she sustained towards the mysterious Cove.

      It was early then they expected when they searched the surrounding hills for the Cove and, found it. Maieben at once wanted to turn back, but Tylorra's magical hand seemed to emerge out of the salted air and compel her desire to meet Kourage. The incite was tempting and she marched on, nervously.

      The water here was different than it had been in the south. Here it was prouder and it rolled more, like a giant tongue that's only purpose is to lick the shore. The mountains sloped awesomely. The greens and browns curved and blended and rose and fell radiantly all in a pattern of great defiance. The majesty of it all enveloped Maieben and all who set foot there in veneration and wonder of the captivating qualities of the hillside.

      Maieben stopped in her tracks, mouth slightly open, before continuing. She took a long time to take it all in, as if to savor the last memory she would conceal as her old self.

      She finally proceeded towards the cottage between the hills. The little house looked like a postcard picture. It was almost squashed between the enormous mountains and seemed greatly out of place, and yet, it fit just right. The tiny house seemed to complete the landscape with a homey feel and a sort of comfortable quality that made you feel immediately secure. This presented Maieben with the courage to lift the brass knocker on the door. She let the pieces clank together two times, as a way of greeting the owner favorably.

      Not right away, but soon enough for Maieben, someone answered the door. A formidable-looking Eyrie in a servant's outfit opened it. He gave her an inquiring look and then spoke: "Can I help you, Madam?"

      Maieben's speech failed her and so she simply nodded, helplessly like a young child in awe.

      "Who do you wish to consult with?" His manner was so proper that it alarmed Maieben and she became quite self-conscience.

      "Monsieur Kourage, sir," she half-whispered.

      "Ah, and do you have an appointment, Madam?" He gave her a look that looked as if he was looking through her and so, Maieben glanced over her shoulder expecting to see someone behind her.

      "Well, er, not exactly, but… I'm a good friend of Tylorra's!" she added that last bit as an afterthought, but she thought it was good she did because the next thing the Eyrie did was summon the Head of House.

      "Sire!" he called. "There is someone here who requests your presence."

      At this, Maieben instinctively put her paw to her head and flattened her fur. The Eyrie moved aside and beckoned her inside. She ascended slowly towards the front hall. It was very large, larger than the outside of the cottage suggested. There was a staircase that gracefully curved to the left. It was covered in red, velvet cloth; the same as the draperies from the picture windows near the oak front door. The floor was white marble and the gold chandelier that hung from the two-story ceiling glittered with crystals and gems, presumably from the sea. From the walls hung portraits of elder mentors of both genders. They all looked very wise and very old. Their eyes seemed to follow Maieben wherever she stood, as old portraits usually do.

      She was told to follow the short hallway to a small door into the Master's study. She walked with wandering eyes and nervous antics. When she approached the door she very carefully opened it, so as not to scare away the courage she has mustered. It opened to reveal the precious items inside. The walls all around held shelves upon shelves of the most ancient books even Maieben could never have imagined. They were convened in neat orders and not a book was out of place. There was a small desk and chair with the most intricate designs Maieben had ever seen. There were Pterii and all sorts of Neopets and wonderful lines that appeared to hold the desk together. Some papers were scattered in apparent frustration on the surface. Maieben stood there with patient respect, waiting to be acknowledged. But, the Faerie Blumaroo refused to welcome her. His oblivion was just a mask to his delayed greeting. Finally, he pretended to see her for the first time and came down from floating on the ceiling where he had been poring over one of his many books.

      Maieben smiled nervously. "Hello. I mean, hello, sir!" She was so tense, who knows what for, that she choked on her own words. This resulted in a sort of strangled talk. He looked at her horrified. The old creature faced her. He looked like he had seen a lot more than the requirement for one his age. His eyes seemed to see more than the things before him. They were crinkled and charming in an enjoyable way.

      "I can see we have quite a lot of work to do!" He then made a "tsk" noise. Maieben was very confused.

      "Work?" she inquired. "I thought you would just cast a spell on me and I'd have new bravery!"

      "Ah, if only it were that simple. No, I'm afraid that you must respect yourself first."

      "But, I do!" she insisted. He gave her a look of obvious doubt. Maieben asked him, "What are you? I mean your job. What do you do?"

      "I'm glad you are curious, my dear; you know, I find that answers can be found in the depths of meaningful questions. To answer your question, I am a just a Faerie Blumaroo. I don't really have a certain title. I like it that way. Although, some call me a philosopher, an enchanter, a doctor and a giver. I like all of these and don't care what you call me."

      Maieben was astonished at his calmness. He wasn't stern at all, like she had imagined. His voice was mesmerizing, lovely, delightful and harmonious. It made her think of a fatherly figure. His oval spectacles were made of thick glass and thin, gold wire. This gave the appearance of being fragile, ancient and astute all on their own.

      Finally, the Faerie Blumaroo put down his book and scrutinized her. She smiled wistfully; she didn't really like being looked at for so long and so meticulously. She felt hot, as if under a light that shone only on her humility.

      "Well," he lifted his gaze from her form. She let out a long, reassuring breath. "What is the reason you came to me?"

      "I have previously never let things get to me and only cared about how I viewed myself. I didn't let teasing ruin me, I was kind to my classmates, I didn't hold grudges, I didn't have friends. But, one time the teasing went too far and I…lost it. The feeling was so foreign and…unknown to me-"

      "Which feeling is that?" he inquired.

      Maieben looked him full in the face when she answered, "Hatred." He just nodded and leaned back in his red, velvet plush armchair.

      "In your explanation you used two words too often. Those were 'I' and 'didn't'. I do not want to know what you did not do or what you did. I want to know what the other Neopets did and why."

      "I can't tell you why they did it, Sir. But, they teased me, played pranks on me, got me in trouble and humiliated me. All the time."

      "I see. You know, I can see that you are capable of ignoring all those things. I can also see that you don't want to. Wanting is the act of craving and yearning. But, needing is the act of requiring and having. They are often said as the other, when they are really opposites. You, my dear, need to learn how to handle people."

      Maieben listened with complete and absolute attentiveness, but she didn't comprehend any of it. His knowing went out the other ear. It seemed that every time she tried to understand what he was advising her, she was dunked under the cold, harsh waters of confusion. She would struggle for air so she could understand, but this effort was useless. She was beating a dead horse.

      "Come again? I need to handle…what?"

      He saw her mingled confusion and uncertainty. "This is what we need to prevent," he said quietly.

      Maieben's shoulders sagged under the weight of so much advice that she couldn't make out. It was frustrating, the whole process.

      "You can call me Kourage. That's my name."

      He smiled cunningly at her as to comfort her. "You've had a long journey and I think you can use some rest. We'll pick up tomorrow. Meet me here at 7:30am sharp." He called for the green Eyrie, "Belzzari, could you please escort Miss Maieben to the guest chambers? Thank you, old chap." He turned to Maieben when he said, "I hope in your dreams you come to realize who you are and what you want of yourself. Sail to yourself in dream world, Maieben. Good luck!" No one had ever said anything like that to her before. She hadn't the faintest hint of what to say, so she just smiled in a way she hoped was grateful.

      The servant Eyrie named Belzzari took her up the wonderful staircase and down a dimly lit hall that was a pale yellow with orange splashed in all the correct places. It looked like the sun was setting on those very walls. The sconces on the walls were bronze and expertly decorated. There were many doors along the corridor, although they were all shut. All except for one. It bore one of the only sources of light and revealed an enormous bed and a room where wishes could be granted. It was more astonishing than it was large and more brilliant than it was furnished. There were four windows. Three of them were French doors with long, pink drapes that were tied with a green satin bow. The glass panes were long and clean. They beheld the powerfully radiant ocean and the shore which it hugged. But, the 4th window was immediately Maieben's favorite: Dare to guess why. It was a circular window with a window seat that had a pink cushion and a pale green pillow. Below was the pasture Maieben had walked by earlier and it had over a dozen Unis, grazing.

      There was an oak wardrobe that smelled like pine and an iron desk that was painted a beautiful, musty green. The bed was a canopy and it had pink and bronze-orange pillows with bows, ribbons, beads and other extravaganzas. The drawings that hung around the bed were an immaculate white that was made of sheer material. The quilt on the bed was a pale yellow that reminded Maieben of a cross between a noon sun and a midnight moon. It was lovely, breathtaking, outstanding and…not home.

      "Oh…oh, wow. It's more than I ever dreamed I'd deserve. Thank you." She looked up awkwardly at the Eyrie

      "I hoped it would suit you," she gawked at him; as if it wouldn't! "I will check on you in the morning." And he left. Maieben was all alone in the gigantic bedroom. She looked around and gave a long sigh, as if that would fix everything. She missed Reagan… she quietly ambled over to the massive bed. She plopped down and leaned back on the ocean of pillows. She didn't really have any paraphernalia, but she laid her few belongings aside and consulted her map. "I've come all this way… yet, I still don't know that it's the right thing." Maieben felt entirely discouraged to the extent of escaping.

      Her map told her that, "If it's not the right thing, then we'll work with what we have and make it work. Don't think about it too much. Rest your head now. That's right…"

      Maieben slept through supper and into the morning. She awoke to a loud scramble outside her window. She opened the French door and looked yonder. One of the Unis had broken the paddock fence and was now headed toward the ocean. She let out a pained, apprehensive screech. Belzarri came at once. She couldn't make out the correct sounds for words so she just pointed, horrified. He raced to her window and jumped out the window. He unfolded his long, graceful wings and soared to the devastating scene. He landed lightly and scooped up the Uni and flew it skillfully back to the pasture. Maieben breathed a slow, rattling breath.

      * * * * * *

      For a little more than a week Maieben worked with Kourage. They did exercises and studied large books on coping, they practiced showing emotion, she practiced getting her feelings down on paper instead of doing something dangerous, they also acted out situations that are particularly difficult to remain calm in. She was coached in how to be a better person to herself and others.

      They had many classes together, but one class (towards the end of the week) meant something to Maieben, but she couldn't pinpoint what it was. This is how it started:

      "Kourage…I've been wondering…what do you like to do? For fun."

      He looked at her and said. "I like working with words, because I can tame them and I can teach with them; I like working with people because they respond back and…they teach me. I also like making people come to a new understanding and make them see themselves or others in a new light. I also enjoy being smart…in a way that makes people think, and REALLY think."

      "You know. You've made me think in the way you speak of this week. What do you think was the most important thing I learned this week?"

      Kourage scrutinized her, but this time she didn't mind it. It was a heartbeat later when he said,

"I'm very proud of your progress. You found all the things you wanted: courage, confidence, bravery and strength. But these qualities are not for use on others… to be them, you must feel them within yourself. All heroes are scared; everyone fears something, but those who know that there are other times to look to for support will get themselves through. Remember when I told you that my teacher told me that 'Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the knowledge that there is something greater than fear.' Well, I wholeheartedly believe that there is truth in every syllable of that. You have to console yourself that you will be happy again even when your fate seems near. Fear is the absence of good things, but you can only lose that faith when your faith in yourself is lost. You have to know that you control most things that affect you. Emotion is a powerful thing, but there is something more powerful. Words, love and happiness. If these remain with you, so will your newfound qualities. Fear really only comes from unhappiness and to overcome it you have to have trust… in yourself alone."

To be continued...

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