For The Want Of Hands: Jingle's Unexpected Gift
This story explores the early origins of the famed and powerful JubJub Scream. :)
“Gather round, gather round, and don’t you run about or touch anything!” shrieked a commanding, rather shrilly voice from behind, startling them both.
Jingle the green JubJub blinked a couple of times, before making a note about the well-dressed female Kyrii who had just issued the stern instructions, while making notes on her clipboard. “Well, that’s friendly,” Jingle noted with raised brows.
His newly-made friend, Sinch the red Scorchio, was busy taking in the surroundings in fascination. “Probably because it’s her responsibility to make sure none of us gets lost or anything gets broken. This is a sacred training school, after all,” he replied distractedly. “And besides, there sure are a lot of students here; I didn’t expect it to be this crowded.”
Sinch was right. The front yard of the Mystery Island Training School was packed with young students of all species and from all over Neopia. It was their first day of a year-long exchange training program at the School, and every potential student there had been sent the much-sought-after golden letters from the School two months ago, inviting them for the program.
Jingle hadn’t expected to be picked at all. He was an only child, and had been born in an obscure, lesser-known JubJub haven within Neopia Central. Having led a quiet life diligently concentrating on his studies (his parents were both famous JubJub scholars at a specialized JubJub School and expected no less out of him academically), he had seen little of the world outside. When he’d received the letter, however, his parents, although doubtful at first, decided later that it would be good for Jingle to pick up extra words of wisdom from the famed Techo Master at the School while training to fight, and come back to impart the knowledge to his other fellow JubJubs.
Thus, he’d packed his little bag excitedly, dug out his precious JubJub Rainbow Socks which he’d received as a Christmas present from his Aunt Judy, and had set out, full of anticipation, after being sent off by his worried but happy parents. The journey by ship was a very long one, given the considerable distance between Neopia Central and Mystery Island. That was where he first met Sinch, and instantly bonded with the playful, talkative Scorchio.
The sun was beginning to rise high in the noon-day sun, as the crowds of students slowly began forming obedient lines in front of the stern-faced Kyrii. Jingle and Sinch got in line as well, and like all the other students, clearly stated their names and their birthplaces, while producing the golden letter for verification.
“Jinglery JubJub, Neopia Central?” the female Kyrii asked, peering at Jingle over gold-rimmed glasses.
“That’s me,” Jingle brightly replied.
Immediately, a rumble of deep giggles sounded, from somewhere farther down the queue. Jingle turned around, and so did Sinch, who had heard the giggles as well.
The laughter had come from a plump red Skeith, a grey Buzz, and a shifty-looking grey Hissi. The grey Buzz, who’d seen them both looking, was about to say something when the female Kyrii crossly scolded, “Kindly behave yourselves. There is no time to lose before your first lesson of the day.”
After their registrations, Jingle and Sinch walked quietly into the great hall of the School. Sinch whispered, “I bet those three are sure to give us trouble later on; we should be on the look-out.”
Jingle, though concerned, decided not to be too worried about it at the moment. “Well, there’re plenty of other students here. And anyway, they can’t do anything to us with the instructors around.”
“I suppose,” Sinch doubtfully replied.
The unpleasant incident was quickly forgotten as they made their way to their assigned dormitories to unpack, where they both made some nicer friends with some Gelerts, Kacheeks and Unis who were going to be their bunkmates. Unpacking was swiftly done, and soon, everyone was headed down to a nutritious lunch made from Hot Skrazzles and Green Octopeppers, and then straight into their first training session in a clean, white room. Unfortunately for Jingle and Sinch, the red Skeith and the grey Buzz were also there. They nudged each other when they caught sight of Jingle and Sinch, who were determined to ignore them.
Their instructor, Ryshu himself, was already there waiting. He cut a trim, light figure, clearly due to aeons of dedicated training, and his no-nonsense tone told the students that he expected them to be serious about their training. After giving a short, welcome speech to them all, he said in a deep voice, “Today, we will begin with the art of Kirichu; a form of counter-attack which is essential as you begin training in your main areas of Endurance, Strength, Defence and Movement. We shall begin by learning a basic move, which you will find very useful when the enemy comes at you from the front.”
With a mature trainee as his assistant, Ryshu demonstrated the counter-attack move, which involved using the arm to stun the enemy’s waist, and using the feet to unsettle the enemy’s balance at the ankles. All the students were awestruck as they watched Ryshu defend himself with ease.
After the move, when the trainee was left lying painfully on his back, Ryshu helped him up kindly again, before addressing the class. “You will practice this move three hours every day, for one week,” he said calmly as the class gasped at this, “until you have perfected the move and are ready to move on to other more complicated techniques of Kirichu.”
Thereafter, everyone divided into pairs, and Jingle and Sinch turned to face each other. Smiling nervously, Jingle offered, “Why don’t you try out the attack on me first, and I’d see if I can defend myself using the move.”
Sinch nodded, and, clearly getting into role, screwed up his face into one of fierce concentration, before charging at a wide-eyed Jingle. “Whoa!” Jingle yelled, as he bent quickly and prepared to stun Sinch at the waist. It was then that something both funny and pitiful happened – Jingle had completely forgotten that being a JubJub meant he didn’t have hands. As a result and out of reflex, he used the side of his fluffy head to stun Sinch instead, before using his trim feet to knock Sinch off balance. The move was not completely successful, but Jingle was pleased that Sinch was at least dazed for a couple of seconds at the end of it all, and had almost lost his footing.
But before Jingle could congratulate himself, familiar sniggering came floating towards him and Sinch at that moment. The grey Buzz was laughing hard, and pointing towards Jingle, mimicking Jingle’s head-stun move. “Awww Seethe, the po-or, po-or little Jubby-Jub’s got no hands!” the grey Buzz said to his red Skeith friend Seethe, who snickered meanly.
“Haha maybe he’s here because they felt sorry for him and his kind, Borish,” Seethe replied, shooting a nasty look at Jingle.
Sinch got angry immediately, and shouted at the Skeith, “Hey, are you guys talking about Jingle?”
“Does it look like I’m talking about anyone else in this room, Scorchy?” Seethe smiled, glad to have caught their attention. “Your pal’s the only one here who’s got no hands.”
Feeling a sharp sting of humiliation at their remarks, especially since he wasn’t used to bullying and people talking meanly about his kind, whom he was very proud of, Jingle nevertheless made a great effort to control himself, and tugged at Sinch’s sleeve. “It’s okay, Sinch, let’s just get on with the lesson.”
Sinch was about to protest, though, when Ryshu, who had heard the commotion, came over. Casting a stern look at the Seethe and Borish, who immediately tried to look obedient, he told Jingle kindly, “There is nothing to be ashamed or concerned about with regards to your lack of hands, young Jinglery. In fact, the greatest trainers and fighters we have seen have lost limbs in the course of battle, and yet are still unbeatable till this day.”
Jingle blinked back some tears, and nodded bravely. “Thank you, Master Ryshu. I will work hard to do my fellow JubJubs proud.”
Nodding approvingly, Ryshu smiled. “That’s the spirit.” With that, he patted both Jingle and Sinch on their backs, and moved on to supervise the rest of the students.
“We’d get our own back later on,” Sinch grumbled, soothed by Master Ryshu but still feeling angry for the horrible remarks made about his friend.
“It’s okay, Sinch, really,” Jingle reassured quietly.
Sinch gave him a doubtful look, and wanted to say more, but because Master Ryshu was getting into the training proper, he decided to focus on it with Jingle, and do their best to perfect the Kirichu move.
The day passed rather uneventfully thereafter, but it was a tiring one as Master Ryshu made them do some round-tree exercises in the yard for the remaining evening, before sending the sore students for a healthy dinner and an early night’s sleep. Jingle and Sinch did not have much time to talk, and by the time they were tucked into their beds, they were simply too grateful and sleepy to indulge in any kind of bedtime chitchat.
Sinch fell asleep shortly after, along with most the other students in their dormitory. Jingle, however, couldn’t fall asleep that easily, his big, tired eyes blinking in the darkness as he thought about the day’s unpleasant events.
The Buzz’s mean words repeated themselves back to him, “Awww Seethe, the po-or, po-or little Jubby-Jub’s got no hands!...” Feeling bothered, Jingle tried to recall his childhood and how him and his family, and some of their neighbours grew up. Having only feet was never a problem; everything was done using them – walking, running, eating, putting on clothes, cooking, chores, reading, studying... the list was endless. No JubJub in their hometown and close by was ever mocked at or made fun of for having no hands; everyone he had encountered and grown up with had been nice and warm and kind, and he never had a reason to believe that JubJubs were handicapped or inferior to other kinds.
But now, some new doubts were beginning to come into Jingle’s mind for the very first time in his life. What if he fell behind in his training, because, like today, most fighting moves required hands for efficient usage? What if he failed the exams and tests at the end of it all? How was he going to return to his home and tell his parents what happened, and how he shamed them all?
Frustrated, Jingle tossed and turned in his pillow, fretting about the issues and the questions, until he finally fell into an uneasy sleep. A strange dream soon came upon the sleeping Jingle, borne of his worries...
It came into focus with him strolling along the cool, sandy beaches of Mystery Island in the night. Stars were twinkling brightly in the skies above the seas, and the air was cold as he breathed. The sand underneath his feet was powdery soft and was very pleasant to the touch. The whole dream felt almost strangely real somehow...
There was no one around at that moment, and it would have been almost eerie thereafter, if Jingle hadn’t spotted a spark of light in the distance, and three shadowy figures around it.
Moving quickly, Jingle snuck up quietly towards the light, which revealed itself to be a bonfire. There were three persons sitting around the area; a blue Kau with orange markings and a wizard’s hat, the Techo Master of the Training School himself, and lastly, a beautiful lady with golden hair and golden wings - by whom Jingle was completely enraptured.
They seemed to be involved in a relaxed, yet serious conversation. The beautiful lady said, “It appears that Jhudora’s been behaving rather recklessly of late. We have come in hope that Mystery Island still contains the wild herbs we need, in order to supply Fyora with the ingredients for some powerful new potions she intends to make for our protection again the Dark Faeries. Kauvara has kindly agreed to accompany me here, to hunt for and identify the herbs.”
“It is, of course, not a problem at all,” the Techo Master graciously replied. “We would be more than happy to supply you the herbs you need. I just need to be reassured that your activities here would not attract the wrong kind of attention – given that the herbs are also sought after by the evil kind – as I am concerned for the young students in my school.”
“Not to worry, Master; we are well-prepared and would be taking precautions to ensure that our presence here would not be discovered,” Kauvara said, holding up a bag which clearly contained bottles of magical potions which would aid them in their disguise.
“Then Mystery Island welcomes you here – even if I’m to be the only one who extends that welcome.” The Techo Master smiled.
They stood up thereafter, as a wide-eyed Jingle watched from his hiding place within a prickly Blackberry bush. The beautiful lady shook the Techo Master’s hand, and was about to head away with the blue Kau, when she paused and turned around sharply. Fishing out a wand, she declared in a stern voice, “Who’s there?”
Jingle gulped, frozen and unable to move.
Within a matter of seconds, Kauvara had whipped out a bottle containing a pale green, bubbling potion, before uncorking it and flinging the contents all around them. “Reveal yourself!” Kauvara commanded.
Fear came over Jingle, as the trees and plants around him, along with the Blackberry bush in which he was hiding in, magically and completely disappeared, revealing his shaking self huddled there, watching them three.
“What have we here?” the Techo Master questioned, frowning, as they moved towards the tiny JubJub.
“Please Master-” Jingle stammered, “I am only a student of your school... I- I couldn’t sleep, and decided to take a walk here... I did-didn’t mean to listen in...”
The beautiful lady stared at Jingle for a long second, her eyes burning into his as he looked back, trembling. Finally, she put away her wand, and in a less stern voice, asked, “Do you know, young JubJub, that what you have just heard may have severe consequences if it reached the wrong ears?”
He nodded. “I didn’t mean to listen... I was just... I just needed a distraction from-” At that, he stopped, embarrassed to admit his worries about his lack of hands to such powerful strangers, which he felt sure would find the issue very silly.
The Techo Master smiled. “I heard about your training today, young Jinglery. And how you were taunted because you do not have hands.”
Jingle’s eyes flew to the Master, and immediately looked away in awkwardness. He didn’t dare look at the beautiful lady and the blue Kau; for fear of seeing laughter on their faces.
The Techo Master persisted. “Hasn’t Master Ryshu reassured you already? It is no handicap or disadvantage in battle, to be lacking in hands. You can be as great as you know and think you will be, Jinglery.”
Jingle mumbled, “I know, Master. I just- I was just afraid of humiliating my family when I return, that’s all. If I should fall behind in my training or something.”
The Master nodded, looking at him in understanding. “Never doubt yourself. I see potential in you, young JubJub. Your good heart, strong determination to succeed, and your hardworking character are very good traits to begin with at the Training School. You will go far.”
Heartened by the Master’s words, but still not completely reassured, Jingle decided to mumble a simple, “Thank you,” and fell silent, suddenly aware of the beautiful lady’s presence again, and her blue Kau friend.
As if knowing that Jingle was thinking about her, the beautiful lady smiled, “My name is Shora, and I am a Fire Faerie, Jinglery. It is a pleasure meeting you.”
Blushing and awed, Jingle reached out with his foot to shake her hand as she laughed. But after that, she sobered down, and told him in a serious tone, “Come morning, you will not be able to hold on to these memories, my young JubJub friend. Kauvara will make you forget, to safeguard our presence here. Can you understand why we have to do this, Jinglery?”
Feeling greatly saddened that he would never remember meeting this enchanting lady but somehow already expecting that something like that would have to be carried out on him, Jingle’s smile faded into a sad one, as he nodded. “Yes, I understand. Thank you for not punishing me instead; I know I should not have listened in.”
“Not a problem, Jingle.” Kauvara smiled, rustling about in her bag. “Actually, this happened before, when I was out with Fyora herself on another expedition... but no point discussing it since you won’t remember by daybreak anyway.” She busied herself with yet another vial of bright blue fluid, as Jingle watched in some apprehension, knowing it would soon be used on him.
“Is there anything I can do for you before we go, Jinglery?” Shora asked kindly. “I feel as though I want to help you, but I’m not sure how.”
“Other than hands, I don’t really need anything, Miss Shora,” Jingle reassured her shyly, gazing at her fiery loveliness.
“I’m afraid growing limbs for you is beyond the boundaries of magical rules, my little friend,” Shora solemnly replied. “But... there might be a secret gift I can bestow upon you... and your entire kind... which you JubJubs will find very useful in battle, and would each discover the gift on your own perhaps by accident or, in time to come, information imparted through generations...”
Jingle’s eyes widened. “What gift would that be?” he eagerly asked.
“Close your eyes and trust me, Jingle.” Shora smiled.
Obediently, Jingle did so, and suddenly, a warm burst of energy was being directed at his throat and his entire body, which felt as though fireworks had just exploded in his lungs and voice-box.
Before he could blink and ask what just happened, though, Kauvara had already poured the bright blue liquid on his head, making him feel all fuzzy and sleepy, gradually.
“Use your gift wisely, for the good of Neopia, Jingle,” Shora advised. “If the fates allow, we will meet again one day...”
The images of the Techo Master, Shora, Kauvara, and the night-time Mystery Island beach gradually became blurrier and blurrier, until Jingle fell asleep once more... into the darkness of his other dreams and reality...
Early the next morning, Jingle awoke, feeling a strange heaviness in his head and soreness in his throat. Unable to figure out why, but yet remembering the incidents with Seethe and Borish the day before, Jingle shook his head to clear it, wondering too, why he didn’t feel as quite upset as he expected himself to be.
He was in a much better mood with Sinch, chatting merrily away as they ate their breakfast and prepared for the second day’s training yet again.
This time, the entire class got paired up together with partners chosen by Ryshu’s assistants. Very unluckily, Sinch and him were separated, and Jingle looked on in horror as he was paired with Seethe, who looked as though he was about to split apart with gleeful laughter.
Jingle looked at him, and in spite of all his doubts about having to unsettle Seethe, who was more than twice his size, and had his precious four limbs, he decided to use his own small size to skirt Seethe, and deliver as powerful a head-stun as he could, and give it his very best.
Seethe moved into position opposite Jingle, smiled coldly and then snarled, “I’m going to really, really enjoy this, Jubby-Jub. You’re a freak, and don’t deserve to be here training with us. And by the end of the week, we’d prove it to you.”
Calmly putting aside his anger, Jingle moved into position too, and waited for the whistle to be blown. One second, two second... three!
‘Phweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!’ came the loud, shrill sound of the whistle being blown. Seethe charged at Jingle, and Jingle, gathering up his courage, screamed, “Ai-yeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” as he jumped and head-slammed Seethe’s waist.
The whole room was stunned into silence. Including Jingle himself. Sinch was frozen and staring, with his jaw dropped and tongue hanging out.
For what was supposed to be a regular shout from Jingle, turned out to be a siren – a screeching, piercing, frightening war cry uttered deep from within Jingle’s throat.
No words were spoken for a good twenty seconds, until Ryshu, who was also shocked, composed himself again and stared hard at Jingle, before crisply ordering the class, “All right, everyone, back to training, please.”
Shaking in excitement and wonderment at his new-found power, a slightly-dazed Jingle turned to survey a completely knocked out Seethe, before turning to face Sinch, who was doing a victory dance. After dancing, Sinch turned to crow at Borish, who was looking very sour from the other end of the room.
I’m going to do my family proud... with my battle scream and some more hard work and training, I can become strong and worthy to fight for a good cause in future, if they need me! Jingle excitedly thought to himself, self-confidence flooding him fully.
With hope and a smile lighting up his heart, Jingle put aside all his earlier doubts, and paid close attention as Ryshu began to dish out important training advice to the class.
At the far end of the room, the Techo Master, who had been quietly watching, smiled in satisfaction before leaving. For in all of Neopia, it was the very first time the powerful and soon-to-be well-respected JubJub Scream had been sounded.
There was some real hope for the good side again – this time, from the shy and often reclusive group known as the JubJubs, thanks to Shora. They would learn that they had power in them and the real potential to fight. It was just a pity, the Techo Master smiled, that Jinglery JubJub would never know the secret of how it all got started with him.