Caution: Quills may be sharp Circulation: 175,667,400 Issue: 357 | 29th day of Hiding, Y10
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Seashells: Part One


by iamcanadian1428

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The wind gusted, ruffling Samara’s fur as she looked into the horizon. There was a storm coming, and she knew she didn’t have long until the rain began. However, she didn’t hasten herself, for she loved this time of day more than any other, and she didn’t want it ruined by a bit of water. It was early, just around the time when the sun starts to peak over the sea on a sunny day, and no one was around. This was the best time to collect the beautiful sea shells of the island, for the sands had gone untouched for hours as the villagers slept.

      Samara had always been an island girl. Her fur was decorated with the native symbols of the land, and around her neck she wore a single seashell, the only thing she had that connected her to her parents. Samara had grown up with her grandmother, for her mother, a beautiful young Ixi, had vanished one night when Samara was little. She had been one of a few neopets in charge of keeping peace between Mystery Island and Maraqua, and she had always gone on trips to the underwater land, though Samara never knew how she had done it. One day, however, she left for a regular trip and never came back, though Samara wasn’t bitter; in her heart she knew her mother had good reason to leave, and she believed that one day she would see her again. The seashell had been the last gift her mother had given her before that fateful day had occurred, and it was why Samara had such a deep love for collecting the treasures of the deep.

      As the first droplets of rain began to fall, Samara grabbed her basket of the day’s finds and began to head back into the village. The wind was fierce, and her hooves slid against the moist sand as she battled through it, making the trip much more difficult than it would have normally been. It was an uphill trek to the village, and this increased the harshness of the journey. It was nothing she couldn’t handle, of course, but as she ducked her head against another large gust of wind, something caught Samara’s eye, something that made her stop in her tracks.

      It was the most beautiful shell she had ever seen, and it had just washed ashore with the latest tide; Samara had to have it. It was a shimmering gold colour, and it glistened as the rain fell upon it, making it seem as though it was a ray on sunlight on this dreary morning. Samara began made her way back to the water at once, hoping the tide wouldn’t come back before she had grabbed this latest find, for it was something she had never seen before, and something she doubted she would ever see again. She tried to hurry, but the sand was wet, and her hooves continued to slip along it as she made her way back. It took much longer than she would have liked, but finally Samara came within grabbing distance of the shell, and her excitement made her completely oblivious to the wave that was heading right for them.

     Since it was a bit difficult to grab the shell with one hoof, Samara put down her basket and used both of her hooves to reach for the shell, though she would soon see that it was too late. The tide rolled in, splashing Samara and knocking over her basket as the water stole the beautiful shell again, dragging it back into the sea.

      “No!” Samara shrieked, desperate to have the shell as her own. As the other shells scattered over the wet sand and slowly slid back into the water, Samara dove forward into the sea, clapping the shell between her hooves as she fell. The shell glistened beneath the surface of the water as Samara held onto it tightly, and for a moment she just admired it, completely unaware of anything else until thunder boomed overhead, bringing her back to her less than perfect situation. She curled one hoof into a ball and held it to her as she untied her necklace with the other, excited that she had gotten the shell, and even more so that she had discovered a tiny hole in the shell, perfect for sliding string through. As soon as she gotten the necklace untied, Samara added the shell to her necklace and then fastened it back around her neck, smiling as the two shells made a wonderfully clanking noise against each other. The sound was soon interrupted by another boom of thunder, however, and Samara knew she had to get back on shore.

      It was only once she began looking around that Samara realized her dilemma; the shore was nowhere in sight.

      Panicking, Samara swam in frantic circles, trying to peer through the sheets of rain and locate any sign of land. However, the sky was dark, and the waves tossed violently in the sea, making it impossible for Samara to see anything.

      “I’ve made a huge mistake,” Samara said quietly as she floated in the sea; the two shells clanked together again, the beauty of the sound being drowned out by the thunder overhead.

      ~*~*~*~

     Samara had started swimming with no direction, and she had swum until she could no longer stay awake. She tried to resist sleep with all of her might, but after some time she could hold out no longer. However, unbeknownst to her, a group of water faeries had been swimming beneath her as she made her endless trek over the sea, and when her body gave up and she fell into unconsciousness, they swam up and grabbed her, using their magic to give her an air pocket to breathe in and pulling her to the underwater city of Maraqua.

      News of the faeries' activity had spread through the city quickly, of course, and by the time the faeries reached the town, a group of neopets were already awaiting her arrival. Some were excited by the prospect of having an air breathing neopet around them, some were angry at faeries for bringing a foreign species into their city, and some, who had lived their lives in Maraqua and had never seen the other worlds of Neopia, were curious to see what land-living neopets were like.

      “Hush, everyone!” Clara, a beautiful water faerie, said as they arrived. “The poor creature is exhausted, and she needed help. We couldn’t just drop her off on some strange land, so she is going to be staying here until she is feeling better, and can tell us where it is she lives.”

      The townspeople accepted this response, albeit some more reluctantly than others, and they let the faeries pass into the center of Maraqua, where they could better care for the young neopet.

      The faeries, though not overly familiar with the Ixi species, knew enough to fit Samara with a special helmet so she could breathe while in the underwater city. It certainly wasn’t a pretty piece, for it quite resembled the metal explorer helmets of the days of early sea explorations, but it worked, and that was what was important. They also did spells for her to regain her energy, and then they set up a cozy bed for her to rest on in one of the faeries' homes, for it would be a while until she awoke. This faerie was named Ulalume, and she was fascinated by the new creature.

      “Let her rest,” Clara warned the young faerie before leaving her alone with Samara, “and when she wakes up, explain to her what happened. She may be a little frightened, and if that is the case, let one of us know and we will help you out.”

      “Yes, Clara,” Ulalume said, smiling to the older faerie. Clara nodded and swam away, and Ulalume went to study the sleeping Ixi.

      “Bizarre creatures, aren’t they?” she said to herself as she watched Samara’s fur wave softly in the water. Her focus was soon drawn, however, to the floating necklace Samara had around her neck, and at this, Ulalume’s eyes went wide.

      Carefully, she swam over to Samara’s side and took the necklace in her hand, staring at the glimmering gold shell. It felt silky under the water, and its shimmer was almost hypnotic in the way it shone tiny rays of light in every direction.

      “I know this shell,” she said curiously, watching the rays of light reflect through the water. Just then, a loud boom outside of the house made Ulalume gasp, and she tightened her grip on the necklace, causing it to break. “Better put it somewhere safe,” she said as she looked at the necklace, listening to the sounds of people talking outside. She swam to her room quickly and hid the necklace in the back of the drawer next to her bed, and then she swam back to Samara, concerned for the sleeping Ixi.

      “What were you doing with that necklace?” she asked, and when she was greeted with silence, she felt uncomfortably nervous. For an instant everything was utterly still, and Ulalume could have sworn that even the Ixi’s fur had stopped moving; that even the water had stopped. Then, a loud knock broke the silence, and Ulalume gasped again, her heart pounding, wondering now why she had agreed to house the neopet.

     “What have you gotten us into?” she asked again in a trembling whisper, glancing once more at Samara as someone began to force open the door.

To be continued...

 
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