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The Soul of Maraqua: Part One


by grapesourhorse

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Author's Note: A few people have asked me about proper pronunciation on a few of my previous stories. In order to keep my readers happy, I have included a guide below:

     Atomasphere: (Uh-toe-muh-sphere). Her nickname is Atom, which sounds like Adam

     Cyniquelle: (Syn-ih-quelle). 'Syn' like in 'synonym'. Nickname is Cyn, which is pronounced Syn.

     Fardeep: (Fahr-deep). Pronounced exactly as it looks

     Mirilin: (Mihr-ih-lyn). 'Mihr' is like the beginning of mirror. 'Lyn' rhymes with 'tin'

     Naracissus: (Nahr-uh-sea-suss). 'Suss' is like the 'sus' in 'suspicious'.

     Aresto: (Uh-rest-oh).

     Aegean: (Ay-gee-ehn.) 'Ay' as in the beginning of 'apron'

     All right, let's begin the story now -wink-

They were gathered, at the depths of the ocean, five representatives of the watery home of Maraqua. There was Fardeep, the fierce copper-brown Peophin, representative of the Depths of Maraqua, pacing, a frown on his face, his tail swishing back and forth restlessly. His large bulk rippled with muscle and sinew, and his eyes were always deep chocolate and serious, as if he had never laughed in his life.

      And he never had.

      Strength was his power-never had he lost a battle before that had been played fairly.

      Beside him, as graceful as a miniscule seashell compared to a conch shell was Mirilin, the silver Peophin. Her mane rippled like a silver coin in the warm water, and her eyes were piercing and narrow, but they sparkled, as if she were always laughing at a hidden joke. Her mouth was pulled down in a grim frown, and her hooves stomped against the sandy bed of the ocean floor. Mirilin, representative of the Heart of Maraqua.

      Besides Mirilin was Aresto the rainbow Peophin, glimmering underwater, her multicolored body flashing decoratively as it hit certain rays of the sun. Her eyes were deep gold and merry, her mane a multicolored glitter, and forever shining in the murky water. Her tail was swishing forwards and back, and she too, was restless, the representative of the Body of Maraqua.

      There was only one Peophin left-and she was the one that the fate of Maraqua relied on so desperately. It was Naracissus, the small and slim White Peophin. Her body was a coat of luxurious white, never marred, never unclean. She held herself with regal disdain, but her body was trembling with anxiety. Her pale white eyes were dull with despair, and every once in a while, she would let a small moan of longing escape from her lips. Naracissus, the one Maraqua depended on so deeply, representative of the Soul of Maraqua. But she was young-so young. Nothing more than a mere infant, really. Nothing more.

      Fardeep, the Depths, Mirilin, the Heart, Aresto, the Body, and Naracissus, the Soul. Four Peophins; the fate of Maraqua depended on them.

      In entered a beautiful red Peophin, her eyes old and wise, glittering with not mischief, but sorrow. Her body shone like a scarlet sunset above the waters, and her mane was a fiery orange beam. Her smile brought happiness like nothing else and banished sorrow-but she was not smiling. Not now.

      She spoke, and her voice was not full and deep as it always was, it was cracked, and every word dripped sorrow. This magnificent leader, reduced to a shadow of her former, lively self.

      "Fardeep, Copper, son of the Depths of Maraqua. Welcome," she murmured softly, touching her tail to his forehead. The fiery red leader turned to Mirilin and repeated: "Mirilin, Silver, daughter of the Heart of Maraqua. I welcome you." She then turned wearily to face Aresto, and whispered: "Aresto, Rainbow, daughter of the Body of Maraqua. I greet you in turn." Then, the great leader, so sorrowful and pained, turned to the last member of the party, Naracissus. "Much hope lies with you, Naracissus, White, daughter of the Soul," she said softly. "May the wisdom of a thousand queens and kings go with you. May the power of a thousand warriors go with you."

      Fardeep, Mirilin, Aresto, and Naracissus bowed their heads as the brilliant leader took out a plain and unadorned wooden box. There was nothing special about that plain box-except for the fact that it glowed like a beacon. But it wasn't the box itself that made it glow-it was the contents of the box.

      Everyone knew what it was. The leader gave the box to Fardeep, and the contents shone brightly, illuminating his darkened face. Similar effects happened with Mirilin and Aresto. Everyone held their breath as the box was in turn handed to the little White Peophin, Naracissus. Everyone was hoping it was a mistake. Hoping that it would not glow, hoping that Naracissus would be able to stay at home. But no-the box shone brighter than before, recognizing her as the true representative of the Soul of Maraqua. The leader, her eyes downcast and sparkling with tears, placed the box in Narcissus's hooves. She bowed her head, crying freely, and Fardeep, Aresto, and Mirilin bowed there heads as well, a pained expression on their faces.

      "Fardeep of the Depths, Mirilin of the Heart, Aresto of the Body, and Naracissus of the Soul. The fate of Maraqua lies with you now."

     xxx

      "Wow. Where is this place?" asked Atomasphere the Maraquan Uni in awe.

      Cyniquelle the Maraquan Eyrie smiled proudly. "I found it a few days ago while I was exploring through that sunken ship ruin I told you about. A whirlpool swept me to this area. Isn't it awesome?"

      Atom stared around, eyes wide. They were in a small, underwater cove, filled with water. Her aqua eyes fell upon a small cranny between two walls and swished towards the little hole. Upon getting closer, she realized that the hole was not really that small, and she squeezed through quietly.

      "Atom, what are you doing?" called the voice of Cyn.

      "I think I've discovered something," answered Atom, her voice muffled. A great cloud of dust billowed throughout the hidden room as Atom managed to wriggle inside, causing her to cough.

      "Great Fyora," murmured Atom, her eyes as wide as saucers.

      In the room were four stone statues, and they were all Peophins. The one nearest Atom was unmistakably a male, his eyes serious and sorrowful, but his mouth was opened in a small 'o' of surprise and pain. His hooves reached towards the ceiling in a rear, and Atom could see that a feather-etched arrow was embedded in his chest.

      Directly behind the statue of the serious male Peophin was a smaller, slighter Peophin, her mane frozen flying into the air, her eyes wide with panic and fear, her mouth stretched wide open, screaming a silent name.

      'Perhaps that serious Peophin tried to save her,' thought Atom in awe. Far to the left of the statues was a slim Peophin, her eyes seeming to sparkle with laugher. Or was it tears? She was dodging an imaginary arrow, her eyes narrowed with fear.

      There was one more figure in the room-it was a small Peophin, the smallest of the statues. The Peophin was cowering in the corner; her eyes as big as the entrance hole, her body cramped into a small circle. She was cradling a plain wooden box.

      Atom turned as she heard a voice swearing and grumbling and coughing, and turned to see a very cross Cyn glaring at her. "What gives?" he demanded, dusting himself off. He stopped in mid-dust, his eyes wide, and his mouth hanging slightly open.

      "What...?" he mumbled, staring.

      "Some crazy statue builder must have built these from stone marble and left them here," said Atom in awe. "What I would do to have his talent! The statues look almost real!"

      Cyn smiled. "Maybe they are real," he said in his best scary voice.

      Atom rolled her eyes and walloped him with her tail. But she frowned and swam over to the statue of the little cowering Peophin that was clutching the small box as if her life depended on it.

      Atom reverently stroked the small box. As she did, a shudder ran down her body. A certain power seemed to emanate from the small box.

      Suddenly, a loud cracking sound echoed through the room. Cyn cried out in alarm and shouted: "Atom! Look at the statues!"

      Almost afraid to look, Atom glanced at the statue of the serious male Peophin and gasped. He was cracking!

      Suddenly, a roar of longing and pain and sorrow and a bunch of other emotions burst into the room, spinning around like a whirlpool and causing Atom to clamp her wings to her ears.

      The male Peophin with the arrow protruding from his chest was the first to awaken. The stone cracked off his charismatic copper-brown body like oil sliding off metal. His eyes lost their feared, haunted shape, but were replaced with pain as he lurched forwards.

      The small statue behind him was next. But not a statue, Atom realized, a real live Peophin! The stone cracked off her slight body and an enchanting rainbow sheen replaced the dullness of the grey stone. Her eyes were bright and alert, but she gave a cry of shock as she saw her companion down on the floor beside her.

      Atom and Cyn watched with their eyes wide and there mouths hanging open.

      Next to emerge was an enchanting, silver coated female Peophin, and her tail lashed furiously as she emerged from her long slumber. The little cowering Peophin was slow and last to emerge.

      Her magnificent coat of pure, glowing white finally emerged from the grey shell that she had been imprisoned in for so long, and her eyes fluttered open to reveal startlingly chocolate-white eyes. Her golden hooves unclasped around the small box, but she collapsed with fatigue.

      The silver Peophin, dazzling in the sunlight although they were underwater, wearily swam over to them, her eyes tired, and her motions dripping exhaustion. In a voice so quiet, it was almost swept away by the mere current, she said: "I am Aresto, of the Body of Maraqua." She gestured towards the rainbow Peophin, standing so quietly, head bowed, over the still figure of her companion, and murmured, "That is Mirilin, the Heart of Maraqua. There is our fallen companion Fardeep, of the Depths of Maraqua. And there," she said despairingly, her head gesturing towards the unconscious white Peophin, "is Naracissus." With that, her legs slowly gave beneath her, and her head slumped to the ground.

      "Is she... you know," whispered Cyn to a wide-eyed Atom. Atom knelt, and after a few seconds, responded: "No. That's a pulse. And that white Peophin, Naracissus, or whatever her name is, is fine but afraid." She turned and swam to the weeping rainbow Peophin.

      "Mirilin?" she asked quietly.

      The beautiful, rainbow Peophin looked up, her eyes not lively and golden anymore, but dull and a dark yellow, dull with despair. "Yes," she answered quietly.

      "Fardeep can be saved," interrupted Cyn gently, swimming over on soundless wings.

      A spurt of radiance entered her eyes as she asked, "Please. Take him with you. He must survive. And this one," she said, gesturing towards the unmoving White Peophin. "Mirilin and I, we are fine, we do not need to live. But Naracissus-everything depends on Naracissus. And take Fardeep, I beg of you."

      "But-" Cyn started to say. He had learned from a very young age not to leave a lady in distress.

      "Leave!" Aresto commanded, in a startlingly strong voice. She swam quietly towards her still Silver Peophin friend and murmured: "Leave. The fate of Maraqua depends on them. We are of no importance. Please. Leave. Leave us and save them."

To be continued...

 
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