Neopia, Year 200: The Beginning - Part Four
Chapter Four: The Oncoming Storm
Naia dove into the current on the shore of Mystery Island. The Flotsam loved water. She also loved looking for shells, which was why she was in the water today.
Picking up a pearly white shell from the grainy sand of the ocean floor, she wiped some sand off and smiled. It would perfectly compliment her skin, which was nearly the same hue.
Ever since she was little, Naia had been teased for her skin colour. No matter how constantly her parents reassured her that having white skin and pale eyes was perfectly normal, the jeers and jabs from her classmates and other Neopets had hurt. A lot.
Deciding to banish these unhappy thoughts from her mind, the albino Flotsam dove into the tide again to find another shell. Spotting a particularly shiny turquoise one that resembled her own tail, she reached out to grab it...
And got a handful of scaly tail instead. Almost immediately, Naia found herself face-to-face with a Water Faerie. The two looked each other in the eye for a few moments, and then the Faerie was gone.
Naia was puzzled for a moment. Hadn’t all Faeries been banished to Faerieland? At least, that was what she had been taught in school. What was even more puzzling was that the Faerie hadn’t tried to hurt her or anything. Since all Faeries were bad, wouldn’t that have been the first thing the Faerie she met would have done?
Deciding that this was an issue too complicated to understand on her own, Naia swam back to shore. Maybe her parents could help her with this one.
“Whoa,” said Kayna as the siblings stepped off the ferry, “this place is beautiful.”
Yorick turned to his sister and smiled. He was glad that Kayna was enjoying the trip; he certainly knew that she wouldn’t have been in the same boat as a Faerie two days ago.
“It IS nice,” the Draik remarked, and unfurled his wings to let them bask in the warm sun.
“You’re lucky,” muttered a voice from behind them. “You’re not the one with sixty layers on.”
Everyone turned around to see Brianne standing there, looking like a mummy with all the black cloth wrapped around her and her wings. To explain her unusual appearance, the siblings had been passing the Fire Faerie off as their Eyrie friend who’d had a bad incident with some paint a few years back and liked to walk on her hind legs. So far, it had worked brilliantly.
“Oh, Brianne,” said Kayna reassuringly, “we’ll find a nice shady spot for you to sit down in soon, I promise. Meanwhile, we’re staying in two huts in the Tiki Beach area, so we should be heading there now.”
The five adventurers continued traveling along the beach. As they neared their destination, however, they noticed loud voices coming from a hut close by. As they drew nearer, they noticed a sobbing white Flotsam sitting outside.
Kayna immediately rushed to her aid. “Oh, there, there,” she said consolingly, patting the Flotsam on the back. “What’s your name?”
The Flotsam looked up at her with teary pale eyes. “N-Naia.”
“Well then,” said Kayna, “what’s wrong, Naia?”
Naia sniffed and wiped a few tears running down her cheek. “I-I told my parents that I saw a Faerie today,” she said, sniffing again, “and they didn’t believe me. Now they’re angry with me. That’s them in the hut.”
She pointed a flipper to the door of the hut, from which the voices were becoming even more belligerent. Kayna took this opportunity to converse with Yorick.
“Poor kid,” she said softly. “She must feel really terrible. Her parents don’t believe that she saw a Faerie.”
“Well, until we met one, you wouldn’t believe her either, would you?” Yorick muttered.
“You’ve seen one too?” Both siblings turned to see Naia smiling. “I thought I was the only one, but I guess I’m not the only one now!”
“Hold on,” said Yorick, frowning. “How did you just...”
The Flotsam smiled. “I have exceptional hearing. It was given to me when I was born, I think, along with...” She gestured to her white skin and pale eyes.
“Right. Well, Naia,” said Yorick, smiling, “you don’t have to worry about that with us. We’re very tolerant.”
“Thanks.” There was a moment of silence, before Naia spoke again. “So, who’s your friend with the bandages?”
“Er...” said Kayna quickly. “She’s an Eyrie that got in a nasty paint accident a few years back and has to wear bandages because of that. She also likes to walk on her hind legs.”
Naia seemed to be suspicious of this, so Kayna hastily changed the subject. “Naia,” she said, “have you heard of any Water Fae- I mean, magical objects around here? Especially in the water around the island?”
The albino Flotsam shook her head. “The only magical objects around here are Codestones, and those are hard to come by. Ever since the Council disbanded, Codestones haven’t been appearing as much. I wonder why...”
“Wait a minute,” snapped Kayna, a look of fear coming into her eyes. “Did you just say the Region Council disbanded?”
Naia nodded, unaware of how devastating this news was to Kayna. “Yup. Apparently, all its members couldn’t agree with each other, so they disbanded. It’s been, what, about forty or fifty years since they last had a meeting?”
The siblings were silent for what seemed like eternity, after which Yorick spoke. “Naia,” he said slowly, “we’re from Neopia Central, and we never heard about the Council disbanding.”
The Flotsam shrugged. “I guess news travels faster to some places than it does to others.”
“And you’re all okay with this?” asked Kayna, having gotten over most of her initial shock.
“Oh, sure; we just ignore it now. We were always isolated from the rest of Neopia, so it didn’t really affect us the way it did for folks from other regions.”
Kayna nodded. “S-sounds good, Naia. We’ll meet you again a little bit later, okay? Just go and swim in the bay or something.”
“Okay. Bye!” The minute Naia dove into the water, Kayna turned to Yorick.
“Did you hear that?” the Zafara asked, a hint of fear in her voice.
“Yes, I did,” calmly replied her Draik brother. “But we’ll talk about that later. Did you hear what Naia said about there being practically no magical items here? That means that this item, whatever it is, is off the island.”
Kayna was about to respond when a Neopet called from the shore. “FAERIES! In the water!”
Everyone’s heads turned towards the bay to see a mass of turquoise fins surging through the water, then vanishing below the waves before anyone could do anything.
“My daughter’s down there!” A red Flotsam burst from the hut and began wailing in anguish. Kayna also spotted a pure white tail disappear below the waves amidst its turquoise cousins.
“She’s right,” said Kayna quickly to Yorick, Cillo, Layla and Brianne. “Naia did disappear along with all those Water Faeries.”
The Flotsam that was wailing a few moments ago turned and rushed over to the siblings. “You were the last ones with my daughter,” she said, panicking. “I saw you from the window. What’s happening?”
“Well, madam,” said Yorick, “it appears that wherever those Faeries went, your daughter went as well.”
Naia’s mother began to panic. “Those Faeries have my daughter!” she cried. “What are they going to do to her?”
“Madam, calm down,” assured Yorick. “Those Faeries are perfectly safe.”
The Flotsam stopped crying to stare suspiciously at Yorick. “How do you know that?” she demanded.
“Er, forget we said that,” said Kayna, hastily stepping in front of Yorick. “We’ll help you find Naia, madam. We’re staying in the huts just over there, so let us know if you need anything.”
Naia’s mother sniffed. “T-thank you,” she said, wiping the tears from her eyes. “My daughter can be frustrating sometimes, but now that she’s gone I really appreciate her presence.”
“It usually seems like that,” said Kayna. “We’ll keep you posted.” Then the brown Zafara turned to her siblings.
“Guys,” she said in a low voice, “I’m guessing that all those Water Faeries weren’t just here for fun. I think they were after that relic Fyora mentioned.”
“But where did they go like that?” asked Cillo. Kayna bit her tongue.
“I’m not sure,” she admitted, “but maybe we could find someone who’s an expert on this sort of matter.”
“Madam,” the Zafara said quickly, turning to the red Flotsam, “is there anyone on the island with experience in dealing with magical objects?”
The Flotsam thought for a moment. “Well, there’s the Techo Master, but ever since all the Codestones vanished he’s shut himself up in secret somewhere in the jungle. Nobody knows where he is, and frankly I don’t care. According to rumours, he’s supposed to be a bit odd in the head, if you know what I mean.”
“Is there anyone else?” Kayna hoped that they wouldn’t have to trek through the jungle in search of some crazy Techo.
Naia’s mother nodded. “There’s the Island Mystic, who has a hut on the far side of the island. If you follow the trail through the jungle, you can get there in a couple of hours. Be careful, though; the jungle is said to be home to plenty of dangerous creatures, and anyone that ventures into its depths doesn’t usually come back.”
Yorick gulped a little upon hearing this. On the other hand, Cillo was yearning for something interesting.
“Great!” he said, brimming with excitement. “Don’t worry, madam, we’ll soon be on our way!”
Fifteen minutes later, all four siblings and one very sweaty Fire Faerie started their trek through the jungle.
Naia came to in a small cavern filled with water. Opening her eyes, the albino Flotsam noticed that her surroundings were silent, though she could hear the panicked sobs of what appeared to be countless Faeries through a thick, coral-encrusted gate in front of her.
Suddenly, the Flotsam heard footsteps above her, and slowly turned around to be faced with the most horrific Water Faerie she had ever seen.
The Water Faerie was somehow standing on dry land, her sparkling blue-green tail having been reduced to a dull shimmer by the countless years spent in hiding. She was garbed in a hideous dress that was covered in barnacles, coral, and the occasional piece of seaweed. But what were most terrifying about this particular Faerie were her eyes. Cold and cruel, their inky depths had as much light as the bottom of a deep underwater chasm and about the same colour too. Whoever this Faerie was, she certainly didn’t look very pleasant.
The Faerie looked at Naia with a great deal of confusion. Her first daytime whirlpool had gone particularly well, but how this Flotsam got in she didn’t know. Hadn’t she specifically crafted the spell to only admit Water Faeries?
Suddenly, the Neopet spoke, in a voice trembling with fear. “Who-who are you?”
“My name is Scylla,” answered the Water Faerie with a smirk, “and you, my dear Flotsam, have some explaining to do.”
To be continued...