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March of the Fire: Part Two


by blizard131

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Art by blizard131

“Well, Mr. Filishimer,” I said, grasping the twenty-year-old Kougra’s hand, “Pleased to meet you. I’m Mayella Chester. May for short.”

      He nodded quietly, “You look rather familiar. But I don’t believe that I have ever met someone named Mayella before. Nor someone with the last name Chester. Though there was... ah never mind. I suspect you shall be going on the expedition, am I correct?”

      “I’d have to be dead not to,” I said, grinning hugely for a second. For some reason or another, he gave me a weird look. “You do look so familiar. But it’s okay; there are plenty of yellow Wockies in this world,” he said. He still looked pretty confused.

      The currently unnamed mysterious Zafara came out of the house, and looked at us, asking, “Are you going as well?”

      “Well, why not! I have nothing to lose anyway!” I exclaimed, wondering why anyone would have second thoughts. “I’m May, by the way.”

      He smiled, a small smile, so very different from my large grin that took up the entire width of my face. “I’m Moht. I have plenty to lose, but this isn’t exactly an opportunity to pass up, now is it? I mean, how many chances are there in one’s life to be able to see so many things. The normal world is so boring, but just imagine,” he paused for dramatic effect, “all of the things that basically no one has ever seen before! I will be able to take so many pictures.”

      “Oh, wait, right, um,” said Jordie. “You have eyes, but do you have soul? I think that’s my line. I’m supposed to see if anyone will back out if I try to scare them, but I forget. Oh well,” he said, smiling. “I didn’t think anyone would back out.”

      The Moehog, who I had determined to be named Kerlie, walked out of the house. “You have brains, but do you have the braveness?” Jordie asked him. Moht and I burst out laughing, as Kerlie started to sweat nervously.

      “Uh, uh, well, um, I just,” he stuttered, and we all continued laughing as he fiddled with his glasses.

      “Oh sorry,” said Moht. “He’s just asked all of us a similar question.”

      “Yeah,” I said. “He asked me the exact same one as you, except backwards,” I said, my grin, my laugh, all so big, that I wondered why my life hadn’t been this good before. I just had to say something.

     ***

      I smiled at the last part. I would probably see all three of them tomorrow.

     ***

      That night, I lay on my cot, my smile as big as it had ever been. I thought it was the biggest in the world. It turned out to be second, since my face was smaller.

      I had never felt so happy in all my life. Finally, I had three friends, and something to do. I looked forward to tomorrow.

      As I fell asleep, I heard “Art” again.

      My dreams were filled with strange moments that night. It was how it was the night before, a shaded figure, pacing about. But I understood the person this time. “She has her mother’s eyes. But she looks so much like her father,” a pause, “but she certainly skipped his attitude. Oh, a reminiscence of clear,” and I awoke to a reality consisting of being poked furiously by Veer.

      “You were saying stuff in your sleep. Something about clear art. What the slorg does that even mean?”

      I yawned, “I don’t know. I remember someone saying clear. But I want to find out what that means.”

      “Yeah, well whatever. Now that you’re up, I can go back to sleep,” and with that she flopped back down on her cot and began to snore.

      I stood up, and found myself pacing amongst deeply breathing sleepers. I went to the single window of the girls dormitories, and stared up at the pencil thin moon.

      I saw the red light fly across the sky, and immediately thought flying ship. But that made no sense, what with the way it seemed to flicker and flutter. Like it was flapping wings.

      I concluded that it was a faerie, off to give some random pet a quest that would cost all of their savings.

      I sat back down on my cot, and began to have thoughts of not going. I pushed them from my head. Lying down, I realized that if the island didn’t even exist, I now had some friends. That was good enough for me, along with the opportunity to travel a little bit.

     ***

     After my far too long shower, I went back to my small room in the Orange Weewoo. It was a small comfortable inn and tavern, though it seemed to be rather rowdy downstairs. I didn’t care; actually I found it quite awesome to even be on Krawk Island in the first place.

     I threw on my PJs and lay down on the bed. It was the largest bed I had ever slept in before. And the comfiest, and the only one that didn’t creak. Well, I’d only ever really slept in my cot in the pound. I would have just lain down, and fallen asleep, but I had an agenda.

     It was ten o’clock, but I knew what I had to do. I whipped out my rarely used hairbrush, and began. It was a half an hour later when it was entirely brushed. You might be thinking, “May? Brushing her hair? This rarely ever happens!” but I had to. The last neomail I had received had said to come in disguise. So, I brushed my hair straight, and had borrowed Veer’s pink sweater. “Borrowed.” I needed to get back at her, for all of those humiliating moments, since I might never see her again.

     I looked like a different person now, not the quiet little May who stands out too much, but someone who blended in. Unfortunately, I wasn’t going to get to wear my hat for most of the morning, at least not until I got on the boat.

     There was no meeting the day after I met Moht, Jordie and Kerlie. We had just gone to the meeting, the real one, since Mr. Fairweather hadn’t specified a time. I had received many neomails, including reservations at the Orange Weewoo. And 5,000 NP for supplies. I bought a knot tying guide for my rope, and now could use it almost like a grappling hook.

     Beyond that, hiking boots, a vest and some gloves. Oh, and with 150 NP left over, a pair of purple knee socks to protect me from pickers. I found my attire to be perfect for this specific excursion. I didn’t know.

     The most recent notice I had gotten had said that tomorrow at 6:13 AM I would find a yellow Lutari with information on our boat. It had also said that it did not matter what he looked like, as he was also wearing a disguise, and was also coming on our boat. We were leaving at 6:36.

     ***

     The next morning, I walked downstairs with a mission on my mind: to eat my very first muffin. I was going to pretend to be a slightly rich traveller from Faerieland who loved all stuff light and airy, as most pets from Faerieland did.

     As I stepped onto the ground floor, I surveyed the room. I saw a green pirate whose species I wasn’t quite sure of, a group who looked like someone’s crew, someone asleep in the corner, and a pink Gelert, sitting alone. I decided to sit down by myself.

     After getting my muffin, I looked at the wall clock. It read 6:11. I waited for a minute, nibbling. Bored, I got up and inspected the sleeper, and found that he had his hat over his eyes, a wisp of black hair escaping from underneath it, and a number written on his hand. Twenty four was all it read. I shrugged; who knew what had happened to him.

     I went back over to my table, and sat down. I looked at the clock again. 6:14. I glanced around wildly, uncertain and confused. There was no yellow Lutari, anywhere in this room at all! I looked at everyone else, no Lutari with the pirates, and not a pink Gelert, and not the other green pirate, who I realized was Moht, as he seemed to have the same reaction as I. The Gelert looked mildly concerned, and thus I concluded that she must be Gaviella, or her replacement.

     Then, someone burst through the door, but he was still no yellow Lutari. The purple Meerca thrust himself through the door, holding a pair of glasses, and glanced wildly around the room. “Has anyone here seen a yellow Lutari?” he said, and we all shook our heads.

     “Kerlie!! We are so very late for our appointment at the lab ray, Kerlie!” I heard someone shout, and saw a Darigan Ixi run by, screaming at the top of her lungs. I realized that the purple Meerca must be Kerlie, as the psycho Ixi burst in, shouting, “Oh there you are, Kerlie! We must leave this wretched place at once!” and proceeded to grab poor Kerlie’s small Meerca paw. I saw him mouth, “help me” in my direction, as he was dragged away. I quickly followed the two of them.

     I knew that we were probably not going to continue without Kerlie, for whatever reason, and ran up behind the Ixi. “Excuse me, ma’m,” I said, in my sweetest voice possible. “This is my little brother, Murphs, not your friend Kerlie. I think this must be a mistake.”

     She glared at me. “Well, this is my brother, not yours; you can get your own. Isn’t that right, now, little Kerlie?” Kerlie grimaced as what I believed to be his crazy older sister patted him on the head. He grimaced again, and ripped away from her grasp, and took off running.

     “Kerlie! You come back here this very instant! Father will be so very angry!” shouted Kerlie’s sister, but we were already dodging our way through the busy streets of Krawk Island.

     Twenty four , I thought to myself, where is dock number twenty four?

     We passed the Orange Weewoo again, and spotted Gaviella and Moht inside, beginning to follow us. Moht seemed to realize something, and quickly turned around. Most likely he had forgotten something of his, but I had everything that I was going to need in my backpack.

     We kept running, and when we got to dock number twenty four, I got a glimpse of our boat’s name, the S.S. Primella II. But we both sprinted up the gangplank onto the actual boat, almost knocking over a yellow Gnorbu lifting what looked like to be an exceedingly heavy crate.

     “Wait,” said a green Ogrin with a scar across his eye, his hat darkly shading his eyes. “Ticket,” he said, holding out his hoof. I glanced sideways over at Kerlie, but as his reaction was similar, we both realized that neither of us had tickets.

     “I have never seen them before,” said an oddly familiar Kougra, coming up behind him, “In fact, I think they aren’t even on the right boat. What are your names?” he asked us.

     “Well, um, I’m, uh, Kerlie Brown, sir, but, I, uh, keep getting zapped with the lab ray,” stuttered Kerlie. Jordie smiled, a bit relieved, and shooed him away towards the cabins. The Ogrin glared at him, and turned to me.

     “And you are?” he asked gruffly.

     “April Walnut,” I said, trying to be calm as I could.

     Jordie eyed me, and said, “You are most certainly on the wrong boat. We have no April Walnut on the list...” he trailed off a bit, and a look of comprehension came over him. “But, ah, it seems that we could give you some extra space, unless our other passenger shows up, eh Captain Rourke?” He elbowed the Ogrin, who simply glared at him

     “Gee, thanks, mister!” I said, quickly running below deck to get out of the view of the creepy Ogrin who was the captain.

     I dumped my stuff below in a room that was labelled three. I had been told that it was going to be my room. I was slightly surprised that there were four hammocks inside. I guessed Lillian, Gaviella, and I, but I did not know who else.

     I came up above, and saw Moht dragging the sleeping yellow Lutari up the gangplank. I ran down to help him; along with the yellow Gnorbu I had seen lifting the crate earlier. Together, we managed to lift him up onto the deck, where he slumped backwards as we tried to sit him up.

     “Bah, that Colchester. Who knows what trouble he’s gotten himself into this time,” snorted the captain, “I can’t believe he wants to go back to that miserable island. Took me three months to repair my ship last time.”

     Kerlie popped up next to him and asked, all curiosity, “What type of boat is this, Mr. Captain?”

     “Ship,” corrected the captain, and stalked off to fill out whatever forms he had to fill out in order to leave the docks with so many passengers and so much cargo.

     Kerlie glanced around at the two of us, and asked, “Well, what kind of ship then?” and we just shrugged. He shook his head and went below deck, off to do some research on different kinds of boats.

     “Hello,” we heard a strange, calm, smooth voice say, “I am Gaviella. Who are you?” asked someone. We both turned around and were face to face with the pink Gelert that we had seen in the Orange Weewoo.

     “Well, I’m Moht,” he said, “and she’s May. Nice to meet you, Gaviella.”

     “Yes,” she said, her eyes a little distant, “pleased to make your acquaintance, May and Moht.” She calmly placed her hand in the air, as if expecting us to shake it.

     I grasped her hand and shook it firmly. “Salutations!” I said gleefully.

     “Yes,” she said, still a little bit distant, “I am going to go below deck now,” and stepped down, rather zombie like, the steep stairs.

     Moht and I exchanged glances. “Well,” he said, “I guess I’m going to have to go set up my camera equipment for now. See you later.”

     I was left on the deck alone with the sleeping Lutari. I decided that probably the best thing to do was to try to awaken him, which was probably going to be rather difficult, since he had continued snoring through the ordeal of being dragged all along the streets.

     I started by shaking him. I poked him repetitively. Then I shook him harder, and tried yelling at him. He just mumbled in his sleep.

     “Bah,” said the captain, coming up next to me, “That’s not how you wake someone up,” and kicked him in the stomach.

     “Ahh!” shouted the Lutari. “What happened!” He glanced around at us. “Oh, right, I meant to fall asleep, Cap,” he said, grinning.

      “Stow it, Colchester,” muttered the captain, “you just jeopardized this whole operation by taking a nap.”

      “Sheesh,” he said, “You don’t have to yell at me like I’m a little kid. Oh,” he looked at me now, “You must be May. I’m Roxton A. Colchester III.”

     May rescuing Lillian

      “At least I think that you’re May,” Roxton said. “They told me you were a yellow Wocky with dark hair. And you certainly don’t seem to talk all that much.”

      “Well, Mr. Colchester,” I said, “it’s a good thing you woke up, ‘cause it looks like we’ll be leaving soon,” and as if on cue, the boat started to move.

      “Certainly does,” he said, grinning hugely, as if joyful to be leaving land. “Well, it looks like I should go help out the captain.” He ran off.

      I looked back at Krawk Island again. I silently wondered if I was ever going to see it once more. I watched, as I saw the bustling streets, the pirates and sailors, the red Xweetok running to catch up with us-

      “Hey!” I shouted towards the captain. “We forgot Lillian!”

      “She was late,” he shouted back towards me. “We leave her behind!”

      I looked back at Ms. Fairweather. She was standing there, panting on the edge of the dock. But the captain looked like he was just going to keep moving forward, and didn’t care that he was missing a passenger.

      I knew what I had to do.

      I had each end of my rope tied into a bowline, a knot with a loop at the end, and linked one end to my wrist in about six seconds flat. I tossed the other end up into the air, and watched as it looped around the boom. Making sure that it was taut, I leaped off the boat and grabbed for Lillian’s hand.

      She let out a yelp as I grabbed her arm, and I yanked on the rope to pull us aboard. But we didn’t make it.

      I shouted for help as we fell, knowing that while we were attached to the boat, we were going to fall into the water. Then, out of nowhere, a hand grabbed onto my wrist and pulled us both up.

      And there was Roxton, panting a bit, having probably just saved both of our lives.

      “Kid,” he said, his hand on his knee, “don’t ever do that again.”

      “Hypocrite!” I heard someone exclaim. I looked around wildly to see where the voice had come from. “You do all of that kind of daring do all of the time!” and I concluded that it was coming from the crate I had seen earlier. “Now get me out of here, I am seriously getting sick of the smell of hay.”

      I walked over to the crate, just as a blue Wocky with blond hair tumbled out of the side and said, “That’s better. I knew I needed to get out of there as soon as the ship started moving. I’m going to smell like straw for the next three days.” She rapidly got up and stretched. She sighed, “I told you that your plan wasn’t perfect.”

      “Clara!” Lillian said. “I didn’t know you were coming.”

      Clara shrugged. “I couldn’t tell too many people I was actually going to come,” she said. “Besides, most people will presume as we start out that there’s only Roxton and you aboard, not the kids, or Jordie, or even Scrap.”

      “You do know that he changed his name to Arnold,” Lillian told her matter-of-factly.

      “Really? Well, now that he’s much older, it’s probably more suiting,” Roxton said, “though it’s a bit disconcerting to see someone you used to think of as a little kid now be just a few years younger than yourself.” He shook his head. “Serves me right, though.”

      “Wait, Mr. Colchester, weren’t you the one who got trapped in the time warp?” I asked, all curiosity.

      “That’s right,” he said.

      “And the one who discovered Moltara?”

      “That too.”

      “And didn’t you also-”

      “I did a whole bunch of stuff, May,” he said, looking a little bit annoyed at my repetitive questioning, but rather pleased at my interest, “and I’ve also gone to the Lost Isle before.”

      “And so did I,” piped up Lillian. “We used to be about the same age. But that time warp messed everything up.”

      Clara nodded. “Since I was with Roxton, I’m now a year younger than a cousin that was half my age. It’s a little bit scary, to tell you the truth.”

      Just then, Moht came up the stairs, holding a camera and a notebook with a pencil. “Could I get your pictures, Madams and Sir?” he asked, as if he was some kind aristocratic gentleman.

      “Huh?” I asked him.

      “Sorry,” he said, “I’m trying to learn how to be a reporter, and I’m supposed to ask all polite and stuff if I can take people’s pictures.”

      “Sure.” Roxton grinned and struck a rather melodramatic pose. Both Clara and Lillian snickered at him. “What?” he asked, “I’m getting my picture taken for the paper.”

      “You can all just stand around there, talking about nothing whatsoever,” said Rourke from the wheel up on a higher deck, “but we have a boat to get moving.” And so, we scattered about the deck to tend to our various chores.

     ***

     Clara and Roxton arguing

      As I came down to the galley for dinner, I found that only one person on this boat could really cook. And that was Jordie.

      I was not the first one to sit down at the table as the strong smell of frying ummagine wafted over the room. Besides me, both Kerlie and Gaviella were sitting, doing basically whatever they pleased. Kerlie had his nose in a book (it looked like something to do with ancient cultures), and was jotting down notes. Gaviella seemed to be concentrating hard on the tip of a candle, which I noticed had gotten rather wet, as if she had accidentally cast water instead of fire.

      And so, I sat rather awkwardly amongst the two of them, and quickly got bored. Standing up, I walked over to Jordie, and found him also reading while his ummagine and biscuits were frying. I shook my head, not wanting to disturb him, was about to go up above deck, when Lillian came down.

      “Well, aren’t we a quiet group,” she said, and plopped herself down on the bench. “Jordie, why are you the one cooking?” she asked.

      He shrugged. “I got assigned the job,” he said. “Looks like no one else here can cook at all, so I’m cooking. Seems like I’m the only one who, despite my worldly childhood, has ever really done everything normal. After I became a librarian, my life became as normal as the next Kougra’s.”

      “Wait, why did you become a librarian?” I asked, rather intrigued at the whole concept of him being an ex-adventurer.

      He shrugged again. “After I became a bit famous for helping discover Moltara, my parents quickly brought me back home and put me back in school. I was so bored with my life that I began reading adventure stories, and found my love of books. So, when I got older and Roxton and Clara were nowhere to be found, I became a librarian with the mission to read everything I could.”

      “Hmm,” I muttered. “It’s just strange to think that someone would just give up something they wanted, just because of one little thing like that.”

      He shook his head. “There was more to it than just that. The peer pressure was the worst; no one would think me sane to go off and do something crazy like exploring Shenkuu.”

      “I’m never ever gonna let anything get in my way,” I told him earnestly. “I’m always gonna go out there and explore, no matter what anybody says about anything.”

      “You make it sound easy,” said Jordie, pointing a batter covered spatula in my direction, “but following your dreams isn’t exactly always 1 2 3.”

      Lillian nodded. “I always wanted to become a world renowned botanist for my work on the Lost Isle and then be able to fund another expedition. But very few people believed what I said, so I was most certainly unable to continue exploration. So I worked at archaeological digs in Tyrannia mostly. But everyone still thought I was crazy.”

      Loud, clomping boots that sounded like about a hundred Elephantes walking in unison filled my ears, as Roxton came down the stairs followed by Clara and a certain grumbling captain.

      “There are not going to be any severe storms, Mrs., I’ve been sailing my whole life and you’re only some type of young scholar. I think I’ll know when there are going to be storms, Mrs. Chatham,” angrily muttered the captain.

      “But sir,” responded Clara, “you can tell by the clouds that there is easily going to be a large storm. What is that rhyme again? Uni tails and Techo scales? Or was it Techo tails and Jetsam scales? I forget the exact wording, but I can tell because of the nimbus overshadowing the low aero-cumulous, there is going to be quite the tropical storm in a few hours.”

      “Bah,” said the captain. “I hardly feel any extra moisture in the air, nor are there any high waves. Certainly, I understand what you mean by the higher wispy clouds, but those smaller lower clouds can only mean dryness. The two of them contradict each other.”

      “Ahem,” said Jordie as they continued arguing, “despite the fact that there may or may not be a storm coming, we have a meal to eat. So enjoy, and stop yelling at each other!” he finished with a shout, as the bickering in the room grew louder and louder.

      We went silent for a minute, but then continued our discussions.

      “Well, I happen to side with the captain on this one,” said Roxton. “He has had more experience than you.”

      “Oh, and do you remember the last time you didn’t believe me about the weather,” asked a rather annoyed Clara. “‘Oh, let’s take the direct route, we’ll lose too much time going the other way’; don’t you remember, Jordie?”

      Jordie paused in mid bite. He swallowed, and said, “It may seem recent to you, but for me, it’s a memory of my childhood. No, I don’t remember it, but I must believe Clara on this one. She is usually right, and anyways, better safe than sorry.”

      I tried to chime in that perhaps we should all look outside to see what we ourselves thought about the weather, but I was practically run over by their harsh and weary words as they squabbled over what to do.

      I think that pretty much everyone except Gaviella had entirely forgotten about Moht in the midst of the dispute. When she finally told us, in that quiet, zombielike voice of hers, we all looked around, searching in vain to find Moht in the galley.

      Since I had already finished, as I hadn’t been arguing and was able to eat instead of talking, I went up above deck to try and find Moht. I looked around, searching for him, when I found him, sitting there writing on the uppermost deck.

      I quietly approached him, not wanting to disturb his writing Zen or concentration or something of that sort. I read over his shoulder:

      Today was a day filled with excitement, thrills, and just a few fascinating historical figures. Along with Lillian Fairweather, and Jordan Filishimer, today I have met Captain Rourke, Clara Chatham, and Roxton A. Colchester III, and plan to interview each of them. I do not expect to get much out of the captain, and I anticipate getting a slightly exaggerated response from Roxton, but I do expect a decent interview from Clara. For now, I will simply have to sit tight and see what comes next. The clouds in the sky seem to predict a storm, and I have heard quite the argument going on about it.

      “Uh, Moht?” I said, and he looked up. “There’s dinner down in the galley, if you want any. We got kinda worried about you.”

      “Oh, sure,” he said, “but I think I might wait, since everyone is still shouting about this storm that could come.”

      “Well, you could always threaten them with the fact that you could write everything they say down for the paper.”

      He smiled that small smile of his. “That’s a bit of an idle threat, seeing as no one would even want to read about a small argument about a storm that might not come. And besides, not all of my stories are going to be in the paper. But sure, if it’ll make them be quiet, I might as well.” And so we walked began walking back down.

      As we were about to go down below deck, the sky grew darker, and it began to rain a little bit. Of course, no one but Moht and I actually noticed, since everyone else was still in the middle of their heated dispute.

      “Oh, Moht, we were a bit worried about you,” said Lillian. “We were worried you had fallen overboard and were eaten by the chasm beast.”

      Moht smiled. “No, I’m fine, but it is starting to drizzle a little bit. Looks like we have a compromise.”

      Everyone stared at him blankly for a second, then jumped right into whether it would clear up or get a ton worse.

To be continued...

 
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