Cerena's Song: Part Two
I made my way up the big cement steps in front of Cerena’s house and knocked on the large, wooden door. There was a brief silence as I stood there studying the outside of the house. I noticed her home was a bit smaller than most of the buildings in our town. It was a lighter shade of green with kelp growing all around the base of the structure. Finally the door opened to reveal a tall Cybunny in a long pink dress. She looked a bit distraught, but when she saw me a sign of relief came over her face.
“Hello, Mrs. Silva, I was wondering if Cerena were home?” I glanced into the open area beside her to see if anyone else were standing there. When my eyes came back up to her I noticed that her expression had gone from relief to panic.
“Isn’t she with you, Jeanine?” She searched my eyes as if expecting me to tell her that Cerena was indeed with me and that it were all a joke. After not receiving the answer she hoped for, she said to me, “Please, come in,” and stood aside waiting for me to enter. I didn’t know the family too well, but there was something about the Cybunny that was warm and inviting, so I walked inside and let her lead the way.
The walk was short but the hallway seemed to get longer as we went. I was confused as to what was going on and my mind was racing with so many scenarios. I knew that Mrs. Silva was going through the same thing. I looked to the wall beside me where a row of family pictures sat, each new one showing Cerena gradually getting older, always with a blank expression on her face. Ahead of us I saw a small, dimly lit room with a couch and a few decorations lining the room. Sitting on the couch was Cerena’s father. He was also a Gelert but much larger and was considerably muscular. Both of Cerena’s parents had dark brown hair and hazel eyes, with calm facial features. When he heard us coming, he looked up from his issue of the Neopian Times and stood up to greet me with an extended hand.
“Hello, Jeanine. It’s been a while.” I nodded and reached out to shake his hand.
Mrs. Silva crossed over to her husband and took his arm. “Mark, Jeanine says that Cerena isn’t with her.”
The large Gelert looked at me quickly in disbelief. I felt as though this family thought I did something to Cerena with the way they looked at me. “What do you mean? Wasn’t she at your birthday party?”
I took a step back nervously, trying to escape their worried stares. “Well, yes, but when I was opening presents I noticed she was gone. I haven’t seen her since then.”
Mrs. Silva instantly broke down in tears on the couch. My eyes were wide with so many questions as Mr. Silva tried to comfort her. Have you ever been in a room with two people you don’t really know much about, standing their awkwardly as they have a break down on the couch? It’s not as much fun as it sounds.
“Excuse me.” The Silvas looked up at me and Mrs. Silva had mascara running down her face. “I’m sure she couldn’t have gone far. I can ask my father to get a search team together. She must be in the hills or something! We will find her, I promise.”
Before long we were out searching. My father had taken a group of the adults to go search the cliffs below, which were much more dangerous than the ones I usually travel in. The sea down there can get extremely cold and titanic squids lurk around every corner. We all hoped that Cerena hadn’t taken that path for it was only asking for trouble. The Silvas and some of the remaining adults went to the hills leading toward Mystery Island, which, much like the path to Maraqua, was a clear straight walkway. The rest of us, including the kids, headed toward Maraqua. Only a few stayed behind in case Cerena were to come back to town.
The messenger of our town was an extremely handsome Maraquan Uni named Rikely. He was only a child when Roseate was built and at a young age took an interest in running. Rikely ran though the hills by our town so often that he formed his own pathways. These were the pathways I traveled on when I went off searching for shells. Being that Rikely was such a magnificent runner and enjoyed it so much, whenever a message was needed to be delivered to another land, he was the one to ask. His latest mission from my father was to go to Maraqua and inform them of the disappearance of Cerena, and to watch out for her. A picture was given to them as reference.
Nothing like this had ever happened before. Everyone in Roseate was so in tune with each other that a disappearance like this was almost impossible, especially someone like Cerena, who rarely even left her home. Everybody knew something was wrong but would never say it, as to spare the Silvas’ feelings. Cerena couldn’t have gone far. She had to be out there somewhere.
I lead my group toward Maraqua, seeing as how I had traveled the paths so many times before. I searched all of my usual hiding places when I just wanted to get away; the overgrown kelp field, the coral reef, and the large boulder that when you turn your head slightly to the left, resembles a negg. Needless to say, she wasn’t at any of those locations.
We searched every place we could between Roseate and Maraqua. Once we saw the bubbling pit and the large building in the center of Maraqua, we knew it was time to turn back. Perhaps the other search teams had better luck than we did. It was getting dark, so we had to hurry back before it was impossible to see anymore. It was far too dangerous to be out in the hills when it was night. Loads of spectral shrimp and giant squids have been reported swimming around late at night. They come up from the bottom of the cliffs near our town and have even gone as far as smashing the roof in on one of the buildings in Roseate. Luckily, nobody was injured, but we have taken extra precautions since then by reinforcing the buildings with the toughest coral we could find.
Halfway back to Roseate, I noticed a small pathway branching off to the right that I had never seen before. It was hidden beside the overgrown kelp forest and was between two cliffs. I stopped to investigate and noticed that none of my group had stopped with me, or even noticed that I had left. It didn’t matter; I figured I wouldn’t be gone long.
I had come by this area so often that it made me wonder why I had never seen this pathway before. It wasn’t that large, only about three feet of an opening in the cliffs. The deeper in I got, the darker it had become. At the end of the path was a small cave that was pitch black inside. There was no way anyone could go through there without a light source, so I figured that it was impossible for Cerena to have gone into there.
When I caught back up to the group, Jewell glared at me. “Where did you go? You made me think you had gone missing too. Don’t worry me like that.”
“I’m sorry,” I whispered. “I noticed a cave within the cliffs. It was too dark for anyone to go inside, though, unless they had a death wish.”
“With Cerena, that just might be a possibility. I think we should check it out, but it will have to be another day; it’s too dark now.” I nodded in agreement and headed back into the town. Just ahead of me I saw my father entering the Silvas’ home, so I hurried over and followed him inside.
Mrs. Silva was still a wreck. My father looked down at me and I shook my head letting him know that we didn’t find anything. He didn’t need to say anything for Mr. and Mrs. Silva to know that the search was fruitless.
My father put one of his large hands on her shoulder. “Don’t worry about it, Sara, we will find your daughter.”
She gazed up at us and her eyes widened when she noticed the jewelry draped around my neck. “Jeanine, where did you find that necklace?”
I looked down at the jewelry draped around my neck. I had forgotten all about it. “Oh, that was the reason I came here today. Your daughter gave it to me for my birthday and I wanted to thank her.”
Mrs. Silva shook her head. “No, that’s impossible. That was Cerena’s most beloved possession. She wouldn’t let any of us touch it, let alone give it away to someone.” She stopped, realizing what she was saying. “I’m sorry; I just don’t understand why she would have given it away.” She got up from the couch and grabbed the first family portrait in the sequence from the hallway. She showed it to me and pointed to the old Acara standing beside the family. Cerena was only a baby in her mother’s arms. The Acara had a wicked smile across her wrinkled face and gray, curly hair. Upon her neck was the necklace that was now around mine. “Her grandmother gave that necklace to her when she was just a child.”
I looked down at the amethyst and was shocked to find that it was slowly emitting a light from deep within. It grew stronger until it was bright enough to illuminate the entire room. The other three standing around me stared in wonder at the glowing gem. “That’s not normal,” Mr. Silva said.
To be continued...