Stranded!: Part Five
Also by brookeppg
Piping ashes seared Rivers's neck uncomfortably. Even though the mouth of the volcano was dozens of yards away, she could still feel ashes once in a while that would drift towards her. The night sky was pitch black, only lit up by the full moon overhead and the torches that the members of the tribe held. We’re going to die! the faerie Xweetok thought to herself as she was pushed roughly from behind. She stumbled, and was about to turn around and yell at the pet who shoved her, but Madalleena nudged her and shook her head. It wasn’t worth it. Sighing, Rivers slowed into a walk until an island Kyrii in front of them motioned for the three friends to stop.
Now they were standing right in front of a rocky ledge, and behind it, still maybe four dozen yards away, was the mouth of the immense volcano. Amanda felt horrified, but no tears came. She had cried them all out back in the Cave.
“Announcing, the one and only, Princess Everest of the island Ta-hiki-pall-a-ooga!” an island Blumaroo announced, and then everyone in the tribe bowed, leaving only Rivers, Amanda and Maddie standing. A JubJub tapped them and scowled, so the three reluctantly bowed, which is hard to do when your hands are bound.
A curtain composed of glimmering seashells was moved aside by two Quiggles, revealing Everest. She now wore a deep green cloak that matched the color of her ruff. The markings on her body seemed to be even whiter than before, and her whole body seemed to glow under the light of the full moon. Madalleena scowled. She had thought that the princess was kind, but apparently not if she had come to watch them be thrown into a volcano.
The islanders leapt to their feet, raising their spears chanting, “Sacrifice! Sacrifice! Sacrifice!”
Concealed beneath the immense crowd, a solitary voice cried out, “Let Princess Everest feed these thieves to the volcano! Boil their brains, sear their eyeballs, and cook their insides out!”
An uneasy silence filled the side of the mountain, followed by a roar of applause bellowing from the tribe.
“So it’s set, my Princess?” the same island Blumaroo that had addressed her asked, bowing again. She nodded slowly, and he smiled at the crowd of natives.
“Now, let us return to the camp for a feast of celebration, and allow Princess Everest to sacrifice these three thieves to the volcano!” There was another roar of applause from the tribe, and then everyone turned to head back to their camp, only pausing to make sure that the princess had a firm grip on the rope that connected to Madalleena, Amanda and Rivers’ binds.
“Come along, prisoners,” the island Xweetok said in a loud voice, and then gave a sharp tug on the rope that jerked Amanda off of her feet, and brought her down face first onto the rocky ground.
“Why are you doing this?” Madalleena cried, kneeling to help the pirate Blumaroo to her feet. “I thought you were our friend!”
“Shush.” Princess Everest placed a paw to her lips, and then motioned for the pets to duck down. They obeyed, and then followed her behind a rocky overhang on the volcano. “I am your friend, and I am trying to help you. I want you to escape!”
Rivers’ jaw dropped. “You do?”
The island Xweetok nodded, and then reached under her ruff and pulled out a Nuranna tooth necklace. Leaning down, she used the sharp end to begin slicing the ropes that held the three friends’ hands together.
Rivers groaned and massaged the raw bruises the rope had sliced into her wrists. “Next time,” she sighed, “lay easy on the ropes.”
“I’ll keep that in mind for next time.” The princess winked at the others. “Move quickly and quietly. The boat house is not but half a mile from the volcano.” She started down the steep edge then stopped abruptly. “Anyone of you know how to steer a ship?”
The three turned to one another, a puzzled expression painted across their faces.
“I guess that’s a no,” Princess Everest began drumming her fingers impatiently on her lips. “Well, I’m a fast learner, it shouldn’t be too difficult.”
A few minutes later, the four pets were sneaking stealthily towards a large boathouse. Everest sneaked in first, motioning for the others to wait outside. A moment later, she reappeared and told them to follow her. When they went inside, Amanda’s jaw dropped.
Inside, there was only one boat. The boat was made of carefully carved wood, and was decorated with a few shiny rocks. The front of the boat had the image of a beautiful mermaid carved into it. The eyes of the mermaid were two large emeralds that seemed to follow you around the room.
“This is the tribe’s sacred boat.” Princess Everest pointed at the boat. “It is said to be enchanted, and on her sixteenth birthday, the princess is supposed to take it out to sea for a night, and she will learn the secrets of the many generations before her. Secrets of battles, legends, enemies, and friends.”
“Then why are we taking it, Princess Everest?” Amanda asked worriedly. “If it is that important...”
The princess frowned. “Because I don’t believe in all that hocus-pocus. And please, stop calling me ‘princess’. I hate being the princess! It is so boring.”
Madalleena shrugged. “Okay, but who is going to steer the boat? Amanda, Rivers and I have never controlled one before.”
“I will. And, if you will let me, I would like to accompany you to your homes in Ne-o-pia.” The island Xweetok tested out the strange word on her native tongue.
“But what about here? This is your home!” Rivers questioned. “You’d be leaving behind your home, and all of your friends!”
Everest shrugged. “As the princess, I am rarely allowed outside of my hut, as the tribe thinks that unless I have a special reason, I will be cursed. So, I don’t really have any friends. And I despise this island! It is so boring, and I want to have adventure, not be stuck here watching the rest of the tribe fish and throw things into the volcano.” She rolled her eyes, and, as if to prove her point, pulled off the circlet that was on her head and dropped it onto the ground.
The three friends looked at each other thoughtfully, before Rivers finally nodded. “Okay.”
Climbing aboard the boat, the four were soon heading out towards sea. Resting her head and feeling her eyes slowly droop, Amanda gave a dainty smile as a single thought crossed through her mind.
Brooke, Savannah, and Lauren were all gathered around the front garden at Brooke’s Neohome on Roo Island. All of their pets were at home, still upset over the loss of their siblings and friends. The three girls’ eyes were puffy and red, a result of crying constantly. They all sat silently around the garden table, so deep in their misery that at first, that they didn’t notice the three pets rushing towards them.
“LAUREN! BROOKE! SAVANNAH!” three voices screamed. The girls all looked up, and then Brooke let out a loud shriek.
“Amanda!” Savannah and Lauren whipped around and leaped up, opening their arms and allowing their lost pets to run into them.
The brunette girl, Savannah, began to cry tears of joy as her faerie Kougra ran into her, nearly knocking her over. Rivers, clutching Jerum, hugged Lauren, who was on the verge of tears. The three groups finally all huddled together, making one giant hug. Even the two petpets climbed out of their owner’s arms and joined into the hug.
When they finally dispersed, Lauren looked up to see a slim island Xweetok standing a few feet away. The girl’s heart melted, as she had always had a love of island Xweetoks. Amanda caught the owner’s glance, and smiled.
“This is Everest. Without her, we wouldn’t have made it back home.”
Lauren rushed over to the pet and smiled, gathering the other Xweetok into her arms. “Thank you,” she mumbled into the princess’ ears. No one had ever thanked Everest so greatly. A proud bubbling sensation filled her Xweetok belly, coating her with mixed feelings. A roar of triumph squealed out of the joyful bundle.
For the next hour or so the reunited family rejoiced until they finally realized something.
“Where are you headed to now, Everest?” Lauren asked quizzically. The island Xweetok had never thought about it. Everest’s cheeks flushed a bright scarlet, but she only shrugged. Lauren thought for a moment.
“Well... you could stay with Rivers and me,” piped the girl, putting a comforting arm around Everest. She gasped with surprise.
“REALLY?!?!” she replied, jumping up and down.
“Of course, any friend of Rivers, Amanda, and Maddie is welcome to live with us,” Lauren concluded proudly.
The three once stranded neopets gazed at each other, their faces beaming.
“You know,” Rivers began, “it seems like the three of us always get tangled up in the craziest adventures.”
“Wait!” Amanda cried, leaning over and jotting on a note pad that was sitting on the garden table. “This would make a good story idea! We could publish it in the Neopian Times and everything!”
“Now that’s a great idea! Maybe we can start on it now!” Rivers suggested.
“Not after you four rest and get cleaned up!” Savannah squealed with her annoying high-pitched voice.
Maddie rolled her eyes then nodded. “Fine,” she mumbled.
The faerie Xweetok, Kougra, and pirate Blumaroo embraced one another, squishing themselves in an ever-lasting bear hug. Rivers caught a glimpse of Everest staring longingly at the three best friends. Rivers motioned for her to join the hug and the island Xweetok happily joined in. And as they stood there, in the sunlit garden, all four of them realized that they had survived the journey of a lifetime. They had... been stranded.