350 Days Of My Deepest Desires
Nyx shifted on his futonfish, seeking a small snippet of comfort that evaded him. The young Flotsam hadn’t slept much through the night. His eager mind was always much too aware, filled with too many thoughts to relax enough for him to slip into slumber. Surprisingly, even now, in the early hours of the morning, Nyx scarcely felt tired. His body was already eager to slip out of his Maraquan home and begin his daily ventures.
Sighing a little, Nyx lifted a soft purple fin to turn off his lampfish. The sun had already lifted itself high enough into the sky to cast murky light into the depths of the Maraquan sea. Plus, he imagined his little friend was tired. He’d kept his light on all night.
“Feel free to go. I’ll see you again tonight after sunset,” Nyx addressed his lamp.
The purple fish peered up at him with gratitude, and, in a fluid motion, its large mouth closed, sealing away its rather sharp-looking teeth, and its light blinked out. With that, the small creature turned and swam off, disappearing through Nyx’s home as it swam for the door. Nyx waited until his lamp had vanished from view, and then he released a sigh.
He didn’t bother to turn and try plumping up his pillowfish again—he’d tried this many times already through the night—because he knew that his lack of comfort was not his problem. He simply couldn’t sleep, because he was utterly restless. There wasn’t any use trying to catch a few Zs now. He hadn’t been able to sleep all night, and he knew he wouldn’t be able to sleep now. Nothing had changed. His mind was still painfully awake.
Resigning himself, Nyx slid off of his futonfish and, with a kick of his fin, propelled himself out of his bedroom toward the kitchen. He paused in his living room as he noted the glimmering light that was casting moving squares on his walls. A little confused, Nyx looked around for the source of the light, and immediately smiled sheepishly.
“Oh, sorry, I thought I’d turned you off,” he apologized, and moved to turn off his discballfish that he’d accidentally left on and rotating last night.
The circular fish looked more than mildly relieved as it abandoned its position on the ceiling and deflated to its normal size. Nyx waved it away, pardoning it as well for the day, and continued on his way to his kitchen.
He went to his habitual seat, and the starchairfish modified the length of its legs automatically to suit Nyx’s size. Sitting on the table before him was his typical breakfast. He had a weakness for the Kelp’s stramberry sausages, and that weakness was abided by when it came to cooking him food. That, of course, was not too much to ask for a Royal Flotsam such as himself, even despite the short time he’d actually been royal. Maraqua, however, had been in need of more leaders, and he, being well-qualified, had been volunteered. It couldn’t have been helped. Even though they were rebuilt, the leadership was still being tentatively built, and the Maraquans had needed a few friendly faces to look to in their time of uncertainty. Nyx was one of those faces, even though he was a reluctant one. But his reasons for that were secret.
So long to his old color of unoriginal red, hello to new color of royal. Crown included.
Frowning, Nyx looked around the table, searching for his eating utensil, confused that it wasn’t in its habitual spot beside his plate of food. He stared at the slender green fish that swam to him with a puzzled expression.
“Where’s my forkfish?” he asked, as the green fish shifted into the shape of a spoon.
The spoonfish merely stared up at him with its one, ponderous eye without replying.
“Oh, right,” Nyx answered his own question, “he’s on vacation with the knifefish this week.”
Clasping the end of the spoonfish, Nyx began to shovel his food into his mouth the best he could. It was hard eating sausages with a spoon, however, and, because of this, Nyx left his meal uncharacteristically half-finished. He didn’t really have much of an appetite this morning anyway.
Releasing the spoon, Nyx headed for the front door of his home. If he couldn’t sleep, and he wasn’t hungry, then there was really not much else for him to do but to cave into his desires that had kept him up all night. With one fin on the doorknob, he turned back to what would appear to be an empty neohome.
“I’m going to be gone most of the day. Feel free to take a break. Just be back here this evening,” he said to the empty room.
Almost at once, various objects around his home shifted out of their household appliance forms into their natural formation as different types of fish. Nyx nodded to them and left the door open as he took his leave.
Most of the Maraquans in his neighborhood were still slumbering, so he easily slipped out of the rebuilt world and headed for the surface. The surface was one of his main fascinations, and it repeatedly drew him upward. Though he had to make these visits in secrecy, they were no less exciting. The secrecy was a must, because he was a royal. He was respected and looked to for advice among his kind, and what would they think of him should they find out that he so desperately wanted to be a land creature?
Nyx gave a harder kick with his fin to propel himself more quickly upward, a frown tightening on his mouth. Was it his fault that he was so intrigued? Really, in Maraqua, there was only Maraqua. If he was a land creature, there was so much more, so many more places to explore. Roo Island, Tyrannia, the Haunted Woods, Meridell... Nyx had heard about them all from stories he’d overheard. Myths and legends, bedtime tales. He’d gathered some from eavesdropping on sailors and pirates as well. It was all very fascinating. Most of it was even slightly unbelievable. Really, could there possibly be an egg that fed omelette portions to anyone that happened by, and it never ran out? Nyx rolled his eyes. It was most likely the workings of a senile old pirate’s mind. Such things didn’t exist.
Though he had been surprised before, Nyx admitted, finally breaking the surface. He came up for fresh air in what appeared to be a mote. It was a circular path of water dug out around the castle of King Skarl in Meridell, and very few knew that it wasn’t, by all definitions, a mote. Those few would be the King himself, the Neopians that had constructed it, and the few poor souls that had tried to cross it. It was actually quite bottomless, seeing as how it connection with the waters of Maraqua. Just like Nyx hardly believed in the giant omelette, he knew that land Neopians would hardly believe that Meridell was mostly a floating island. There was no land underneath, at least not very far.
Keeping his body and the majority of his head concealed underwater, Nyx swam around to the rear of the castle, another place that few Neopians saw. It was Skarl’s private garden, and it was a place where he could often be found. Nyx enjoyed watching the king out there. He’d brought a full-length mirror into his garden, nestling it around a rose bushes, and was often given to standing in front of it, reciting what Nyx could only imagine were jokes.
Or what Skarl thought were jokes. The only thing that made them funny was that they were ridiculous. Nyx really wasn’t entirely sure why he even enjoyed listening to them. Perhaps to have a small laugh at the King’s expense, or maybe just to puzzle out why the king made it his occupation to sit on his throne all day listening to jokes constructed by his people in an attempt to make him laugh, while he himself really wasn’t a very funny Neopian.
Nyx was unsurprised to find the blue Skeith in his usual position today, standing before his mirror, eyeing himself skeptically, and reciting his own jokes. Nyx was just in time to catch the end of one that had something to do with Peophins and spots. Nyx tried to hold in his laughter, but it came forth anyway, causing a few bubbles to be blown to the surface were they popped noisily. Nyx was forced to dive back down as the king heard the small noise and turned to inspect the source.
It was just as well. He didn’t really have the heart for jokes today. Especially ones that lacked admirable humor. Swimming away from the dark mass of Meridell, Nyx considered his other options.
There was Kiko Lake, but that small piece of land hardly offered anything of excitement. It was mostly underdeveloped, and was made up of enough water that it reminded Nyx of his own home, and that wasn’t what he wanted today. Today, he wanted some variety.
There was always Tyrannia, which usually was an interesting experience, but he grew wary of the surface much more quickly there than anywhere else. Trying to decipher what the grunts and shouts of the Tyrannian’s meant was stressful, difficult work, if not completely impossible. One had to suffice with being entertained by their movements and facial expressions on most occasions. Nyx didn’t feel up for that either. It was hard for him to revert his mind and way of thinking back to the times before proper grammar became a popular trend in Neopia.
Mentally, Nyx crossed Tyrannia off of his list for the day.
The Haunted Woods was too far away, and it was impossible to stay near the Lost Desert for too long. The desert sun dried him out far too quickly for a comfortable stay, even when he was partially submerged. So that left three islands: Roo Island, Krawk Island, and Mystery Island.
He admired the perpetual joy that always seemed to be associated with the Blumaroos and their island, but it was too far away for his liking. The next choice was easy. Krawk Island was far too rough and rowdy for his tastes. Living in Maraqua, he’d had enough of pirates for one lifetime. It wasn’t that he was afraid of the pirates. Of course not, that was absurd.
The thought that he might have actually been cowardly when it came to Krawk Island brought an old saying to Nyx’s mind. There had once been a popular saying that went something like, “I fear that as much as Meepits fear defeat.” It was a saying that was used when one wanted to imply the fact that they were not frightened of something, because, of course, Meepits fearing defeat was ridiculous. The tiny pink creatures never lost.
Either way, the pirates had failed when trying to crush Maraqua, and Nyx feared them no more now than he had then. He simply didn’t want to deal with pirates today was all.
That left Mystery Island.
Nyx let his mind drift easily as he coasted through the waters in the direction of Mystery Island. He was always amused by the fact that the island drums were always the first sounds to greet guests. Even from his distance, Nyx could hear them now. He’d never met a more livelier bunch than the Islanders. He enjoyed watching them go about their days, enjoyed hearing their stories, learning of them from those that ventured to the beaches within his earshot. The last time he’d visited the island, he’d learned of the Ghost Lupe from a pack of youths camping on the beach telling ghost stories.
Today, however, it appeared that other more jovial activities were taking place.
Oh yes, Nyx remembered, as he popped up to the surface several feet from the beach. The Altador Cup was beginning again. How had he forgotten? He smiled as he watched a crowd on the beach waving banners and talking amongst themselves. Some of them carried large baskets full of Cup merchandise that they seemed to be trying to trade amongst themselves.
His fellow Maraquans also participated in the Cup, but Nyx had never felt skilled enough to try out for the team. It was better left to the more athletic-inclined. Still, Nyx smiled as he watched the natives go about their business, faintly imagining himself among them.
What would he have been? A Kougra? A Mynci? A—
“What are you doing here?”
Nyx jolted, swirling around in the water until he found the one that had addressed him.
“Oh, it’s just you, Eleon,” he breathed a sigh of relief, his heart pounding.
Perhaps he was a little quick to be relieved, considering that this mentor wore a frown on his face that made his features look particularly severe, but, considering who else Nyx had imagined might have been behind him, it was definitely relieving to find that it was simply the purple Flotsam that was scowling at him.
“What are you doing here, Nyx?” he repeated, his tone sounding even more stern.
Nyx tried not to squirm. Technically, he outranked the Flotsam addressing him, but Eleon had been his mentor since he had been given his new occupation, and Eleon was considerably older and wiser than he was. He also had more experience with royalty.
Nyx still tried not to look so guilty as he replied, “Just watching.”
He knew what was coming. He was going to be prodded until he returned back to Maraqua. Why couldn’t Eleon understand that, even though he was qualified to be a leader, he didn’t want to be one? His heart had always remained somewhere other than Maraqua.
Eleon snorted. “Watching what, your highness? These aren’t your people. You should be in Maraqua. You are not safe here.”
Nyx couldn’t keep himself from rolling his eyes. “Why? Because of the pirates?”
He’d only been royal for 350 days. How many pirates could possibly know of his existence? He knew of Neopians that had been royal far longer.
“Yes,” Eleon agreed without pause. “They’d take any chance they could get in order to have the upper hand over us. Don’t think they’ve relinquished their desire for Maraqua, young sir.”
Now Nyx did feel guilty, as he always did when Eleon used the safety of his people against him. It was one thing to put himself at risk, and another entirely to place his people in harm’s way as well. Nyx sighed, defeated.
“I’m sorry, Eleon. I just... I enjoy it here.”
Eleon, having experienced many more years than Nyx, and all of them in Maraqua, did not understand the royal Flotsam’s strange passion about land creatures.
“You shouldn’t succumb to such silly whims as this, your highness. Like I said, you place yourself and your people in danger. Even without your clothing, the markings on your tail still give you away for who you are,” Eleon reminded him.
Nyx thought sourly about the white lines on his tail that Eleon referred to. They would, of course, bluntly tell anyone that looked at him that he was indeed royalty. It was a common sign for all royal Flotsams.
“Not to mention, your highness,” Eleon continued, “but I highly doubt your people would understand why you prefer the land creatures over them.”
Now it was Nyx’s turn to frown. His mentor had just issued him a rather low blow, and one that he could think up no decent excuse to weasel out of.
“That’s not fair,” he grumbled.
Eleon shrugged his fins. “Few things are. Now, come along, we must return before anyone notices that you are missing.”
Eleon caught the remorseful glance Nyx sent over his shoulder in the direction of the islanders.
“And you must put all of that nonsense about being a land Neopet out of your head,” Eleon commanded, and Nyx winced.
“Very well,” Nyx agreed, though he wasn’t entirely sure if he could abide by those terms.
Nonetheless, he followed suit as his mentor dove beneath the surface and began the journey back to Maraqua. A saddened frown remained on his face, however, and his mind would not leave thoughts of the world above Maraqua alone. He wished to travel home in peace, but it appeared that neither his mind nor his mentor felt like keeping quiet.
“Also, your highness, we must also discuss the problem with you allowing your appliances to get up and leave whenever it tickles their fancy,” Eleon began his next round of complaints. “It’s hardly acceptable for a prince to suffice without a knife and fork.”
Half-heartedly, Nyx tried to explain, “They were very tired. I thought they deserved a vacation.”
Eleon appeared to have not heard him. “They should know their duties are to you first, and then to themselves. I will have a stern conversation with them when they return. Don’t worry, your highness, you won’t have to make due with just a spoon ever again.”
Nyx rolled his eyes. The fact that he didn’t mind eating with just a spoon didn’t seem to phase Eleon. Little Nyx felt or thought phased Eleon, unless it interrupted his firmly constructed plans for Nyx.
While his mentor was preoccupied, Nyx turned his head to glance over his shoulder once more, back toward the fading, dark shadow of Mystery Island. Quietly, his heart yearned for more than he could have.
Eleon was right. Few things were fair when it came to being a royal Flotsam.
Nyx sighed, turning his head away from Mystery Island.
But maybe one day... He’d been a royal for 350 days. What would 350 more days hurt to see if his fate changed? If his stars realigned, and his most dire wish was granted? Neopians had long life spans. He could be a land creature yet.