Now with 50% more useless text Circulation: 175,958,071 Issue: 351 | 18th day of Swimming, Y10
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The Ring


by inkeh_chakra

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Kalari the Faerie Koi was happily swimming around the small pond, and her easily distracted Lutra trailed behind. Because of Lutras’ nature, Melody would stop and gape at anything that sparkled or shone. Sadly, the pond they were currently playing in didn’t have many shiny things for Forschia to ogle.

      “Melody!” Kalari called, waving her fin in the air to get her petpet’s attention. Melody came to her companion, head tilted to the side in curiosity. “Look what Mommy’s got.”

      Kalari tossed a small bivalve to her friend, smiling in satisfaction when the treat was caught in midair.

      “Kalari!” someone called from far away. She looked to the rocky outskirts of the pond, and gasped in delight when she saw Corbin, her Xweetok buddy, waving her over.

      Kalari swam at record speeds, laughing and splashing her way to the shore.

      Out of breath and still giggling, Kalari greeted her longtime friend. “Hey, Corbin. What brings you around these parts of Kiko Lake?”

      “Martha told me to ask you to run an errand for her,” Corbin said with a grimace, kneeling down so he was at eye level with the Koi. “She needs you to deliver this to a customer over in Mystery Island.”

      Martha was the town jeweler. The old Cybunny had crafted many a fine decoration for Neopets over the years, and she even sold some of her finest to the royalty of Neopia. Kalari had recently become the old Cybunny’s apprentice, because Martha would soon be too old to fashion wonderful masterpieces out of metals and precious stones.

      Kalari thought that being a delivery Koi was such a lowly job, but she held her tongue in the presence of the strict Cybunny. She didn’t want to lose her chances of learning Martha’s trade, after all. There weren’t many jewelers left in Neopia since Maraqua had been destroyed...

      “She said to be extremely careful with this; if you lose it, Martha vows to hunt you down and toss you into a box that’ll be sent to Dr. Sloth.” He laughed as he dug around in his pocket for the object to be delivered. Kalari rolled her sapphire eyes, her “wings” fluttering with annoyance. But once Corbin revealed what he had gotten from Martha, Kalari couldn’t contain her gasp of awe.

     Lying on the Xweetok’s furry palm was the most beautiful piece of jewelry Kalari ever laid her eyes upon. The ring itself was welded from the purest of pure white gold, curled around in intricate vine-like patterns. Small blue gems were sprinkled with care around the band. But what was most stunning was what lay in the center of the ring.

     Nestled in between curls of white gold was a decent-sized emerald, cut so its facets caught the sunlight just right. It seemed to call to Kalari, whispering words of endearment and love into her ear. She wanted it just as much as it seemed to want her.

     She carefully took it from Corbin, cradling it like a babe. “I’ll be sure to take care of it. Where does it have to be taken to?” she asked absently, still studying the ring.

     “To the big cove on the right of the Island.”

     Kalari looked up from the ring in surprise. “You mean Alara’s Cove?”

     “The very one.”

     “But she’s a Fountain Faerie!” Kalari said in shock. How could she show her face to such nobility? Fountain Faeries were really up there in the Faeries’ social pyramid, only overpowered by the Queen herself.

     “Martha said no complaining; if you want to keep your spot as her apprentice, she said that the ring had better be delivered by this afternoon.”

     “But it’s nine o’clock! That only gives me a few hours!”

     Corbin shrugged. “It’s what she said.”

     “Stupid old bat,” Kalari muttered.

     x x x x x x x x x x

     Kalari was breathlessly swimming towards Mystery Island. It was already noon, and she was barely halfway there.

     Melody was easily keeping up with her owner, and she was even skipping around in the waves as they swam. Kalari envied her friend’s litheness in the water.

     Kalari made sure to keep the ring very safe. She wore it on her fin, and it seemed to perfectly fit.

     ‘Alara will definitely enjoy this ring,’ Kalari thought sadly. ‘I sure would.’

     Her mind rudely reminded her of how gorgeous the piece of jewelry was, with its delicate swirls and intricately placed stones. The one large emerald placed in the middle of the ring...

     Melody eyed her owner curiously, because they had stopped swimming altogether. The petpet gave a questioning clicking noise, and the Koi just shook her head, still crestfallen.

     “Mel, look at this ring! It’s beautiful!”

     It definitely was. No, it was more than that; no words could properly describe the ring or do it any justice. Kalari frowned, a strange emotion making her eyes sparkle angrily. “It should belong to me!”

     The Lutra blinked in surprise; Kalari merely sighed. “Come on, Mel, we have to get this ring to Alara before I wind up doing something stupid.”

     x x x x x x x x x x

     They made good time, swimming as fast as they possibly could so that they could get the errand over and done with. Melody was now swimming around in figure eights, making small squeaks of delight as she found pieces of kelp to play with.

     Kalari, however, wasn’t so exuberant. Her mouth was set in a morose frown, and she kept biting her bottom lip. If she looked down at the ring placed innocently on her fin one more time, then she would definitely turn around and swim back home, the apprenticeship forgotten.

     The cove they had to travel to was a ways away, but they had enough time on their hands that they could travel at a leisurely pace.

     Kalari gasped when her fin suddenly collided with a jagged piece of coral, jutting up from the clear water. “Ouch!”

     She shook her fin out, determined not to even take a glance at her fin, and continued on.

     When she didn’t hear Melody’s tail slapping the surface of the water, she turned around. Voice hard and commandeering, Kalari said, “Mel, come on.”

     The Lutra looked slightly downtrodden, but obeyed her master’s command, trailing her owner obediently.

     After a moment, Kalari sighed. “I’m sorry, Melody, but I’m just upset. You can understand that, right?”

     She didn’t receive a response... not that she was expecting one anyway.

     x x x x x x x x x x

     They were finally there, after half an hour more of traveling the Island’s coast.

     The cove was very grandiose, decorated with all sorts of marine knickknacks, from seashells to glittering kelp. The palace-like cove even had its own security, in the form of two large Jetsams dressed in uniform.

     Kalari eyed the two burly Jetsam guards with apprehension, fiddling with her fins nervously. “I’m here to make a delivery.”

     “Who’s it from?” one of them asked rudely.

     “Martha Stingleton.”

     “Let’s see the delivery then.”

     Kalari wordlessly held up the fin where the ring was—well, where it should have been.

     It took her a moment to realize that there was nothing on her fin, and when she did, she let out a horrified gasp.

     “NO! The ring, where is it?” She frantically looked around her, and even looked on her other fin, but the beautiful ornament was nowhere in sight.

     How could this happen to her? She had made sure to keep it safely on her hand at all times! Though, not looking at it was probably her downfall...

     “Ichor, Jero, let them pass,” a sweet, melodic voice commanded. The Neopets’ faces turned expressionless, and wordlessly, they let the nervous Koi through.

     Melody was already waiting inside the cove, having apparently snuck past the guards, and was playing with some shiny object.

     Then there was Alara, the breathtakingly beautiful Faerie. Her skin was the color of lightly toasted almonds, and her wavy brunette hair was tastefully pulled back in a seashell hair clip. Her hazel green eyes were staring down at Kalari intently, studying the Neopet’s nervous features. “Hello, young Neopet. Martha has sent you for me, it seems.”

     “Y-Yes,” Kalari responded breathlessly, twiddling with her fins. “But... I have a problem. I... I lost your ring.”

     All was silent for a moment, with the exception of Melody’s tail slapping the water as she played with whatever she held.

     The quiet was disturbed by a small giggle. Kalari was confused as she looked up at the Faerie. “Miss...?” she asked hesitantly, worrying for the Faerie’s sanity. What if the Faerie went insane from losing such a precious piece of jewelry?

     “Look,” the Faerie said, softly smiling as she pointed at Melody. Kalari looked at her petpet in confusion, not knowing what it was she was supposed to be looking at. “Your friend seems to be holding quite a treasure.”

     It was then that Kalari took the time to actually look at whatever it was her Lutra had found this time. She gasped in pleased surprise. “The ring!”

     Melody was nibbling on the delicate-looking ring, twisting it between her paws. She grumbled in dismay when her toy was hastily wrenched away from her, slapping water around in discontent.

     Kalari ignored her petpet’s temper tantrum, and quickly handed the ring over to the Faerie. “Here you go, miss. I’m sorry for the trouble. I’ll be leaving now.”

     “Wait just a minute, young one.”

     Kalari turned around nervously, wondering what it was the Faerie wanted now. Did Melody damage the ring? Scratch it up? “Yes?”

     “Martha gave me specific instructions when she told me of her plan,” the Faerie began, her shimmering purple tail slapping the rock gently.

     “Plan?” Kalari repeated dumbly. What plan? There wasn’t any plan! This was just a delivery, a part of Kalari’s apprenticeship that she had to complete! ...Right?

     “If you were to come to my cove with this ring, then you should be able to keep it,” she said with a lighthearted smile. Kalari stared blankly at the Faerie.

     “I... don’t understand...”

     “This was a test, Kalari. A test of your honesty. And you passed! Congratulations!” The Faerie handed the ring back to the dazed Koi, laughing at the Neopet’s expression.

     “This is... this is unreal!” Kalari exclaimed happily, tears of joy sparkling in her eyes. “Thank you so much, Miss Alara!”

     “Thank your master,” the Faerie responded with a grin.

     Kalari never thought of calling her master an old bat ever again.

The End

 
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