The Jewel of Maraqua: Part Three
The snow faerie cackled. “I see you’re quite surprised. You know, dark faeries aren’t the only villains in Neopia. I’ll admit it was a bit tough casting a spell to let my crokabek travel all the way down to Maraqua, and it cost him one of his wings. It was worth it, though, to get a hold of this,” she said, flaunting the Jewel. The faerie sighed. “But now that you’ve found me, I wonder what your half-baked plan is to retrieve it,” she said, laughing and stroking the tip of her staff.
Gem growled. This devious snow faerie was the real thief. How dare she steal the Jewel of Maraqua! “Why did you take it, huh?! Do you have any idea what you’ve brought upon Neopia?!”
“Do I? Of course. The temperatures are dropping everywhere. The waters of the sea have turned to ice at the polar extremes of Neopia. Soon the icy grip of the poles will conquer the entire world!” The faerie laughed. “And the ruler of that icy new world,” she continued, “will be none other than Sicea, the snow faerie!”
“We’ll see about that!” Vhaso cried. He turned his sharp horn to the faerie and charged.
“Oh, please,” scoffed Sicea. She raised her magical staff to the charging Uni and lifted him right off his feet! She then tossed the Uni carelessly into a cave wall. “The power of this Jewel is incredible! It augments my spells ten-fold, and nothing will stop me from ruling this giant snowball.” Sicea laughed, and spread her sparkling feather wings in a triumphant arch. Ridley the crokabek joined in and cackled along with her.
Vhaso struggled to his feet. Gem couldn’t stand this egotistical faerie. Moreover, she was taking advantage of the Jewel. That beautiful, sparkling jewel...
Gem growled and sprang onto the snow faerie. Her legs may have been new to her, but Gem found the strength and agility to leap forward right onto Sicea. She bit down on the snow faerie’s arm and held on tight.
“ARRGHHH!” Sicea scowled. Gem pawed futilely at the staff, which glowed with Sicea’s efforts to use it. But with the distraction of Gem gnawing down on her, Sicea could not muster the focus to use a spell.
“Vhaso, help!” Gem said through a mouth gargled with the snow faerie’s sleeve.
“On my way!” he replied. The fire Uni charged the snow faerie once more and hit the staff right out of her hands.
“No!” Sicea finally cast Gem off with a heavy blow from her now free hand. Gem was thrown harshly into the cave wall.
The staff clattered to the ground, where the crokabek frantically waddled over to retrieve it. Sicea sprang for the staff as well, but Vhaso was quick, and he got to it first. Holding the magical artifact in his hooves, he channeled the power of the staff and zapped the faerie. Instantly the beautiful snow faerie was transformed. Her long white hair turned black and sparse. Her beautiful wings turned black as well, and her icy-blue eyes turned harsh and red. She shrank and grew a beak from her flawless face. She had been turned into a crokabek!
Gem laughed, wincing with the pain of the blow she had received from the crokabek-turned faerie. “Ha, now your appearance matches your black heart,” she said triumphantly.
The two crokabeks cawed in dismay. Her plan foiled, and her beautiful looks destroyed, Sicea flapped her disheveled black wings and fled from the cave, followed by her own crokabek, who waddled awkwardly after her.
Vhaso picked up the staff in his mouth and rushed over to Gem. “Are you alright?” he asked.
“Yeah... I think so.” Gem replied. She tried to get up, but found that one of her hind legs was broken. She fell back to the ground and whimpered.
“Don’t worry, I’ll get you to help!” Vhaso said worriedly.
“No, worry about me later,” Gem replied. “Right now we have to return this Jewel to its rightful place, before it’s too late!”
“Right!” Vhaso said, still a bit unsure about leaving Gem in such a state. He could see that his friend was in pain, but she was right, the Jewel had to be returned immediately.
Vhaso lifted the broken Gelert onto his back and held the staff in his mouth. He then flew off as fast as he could back down to the Mystery Island shore, which had receded quite far by this time.
“Hurry!” Gem said.
By now the whole of Maraqua was exposed. The tips of the spires were caked with frost from the dropping temperatures. “Where are Qwixa and the others?!” Gem thought. But there was no time to worry. It was a bit confusing to locate the Jewel’s cave above water, but Gem managed to direct Vhaso to the spot. Vhaso galloped down into the cave with Gem on his back. Finally they reached the statue’s cavern.
“Wow, it’s beautiful,” Vhaso said as he stared at the statue. A shallow pool of water surrounded the aquamarine statue.
“Okay, quickly!” Gem said.
Vhaso held the staff down with his hoof and pulled out the jewel with his teeth. “Where do I put this?”
“Here, give it to me,” Gem replied.
Vhaso gingerly lifted the Jewel up to the Gelert. Gem took it in her paws and stretched to reach the statue’s hands.
The Uni flapped his wings and rose into the air, nearly hitting the ceiling of the cavern. Finally, Gem was able to place the Jewel in its rightful place.
It glowed brightly with the color and complexity of seafoam. The light filled the statue and the cave as the two neopets stared in awe.
Though the two could not see it, the waters of Neopia were returning. The poles had grown almost ten times in size, and all at once the excess ice broke off and melted into the sea. The water returned, though not in a destructive wave, but in a smooth and orderly fashion, as if someone were directed it.But the manner in which it returned was nonetheless far from the gradual flow in which it had receded. The returning water soon flooded the cavern, and Gem and Vhaso took a huge breath of air in anticipation of drowning. “Oh Fyora, we’re going to drown!” Gem thought.
Suddenly, as if in response to Gem’s plea, the Gelert statue’s eyes began to glow, and two huge air bubbles formed right around Vhaso and Gem. The bubbles stayed together and maintained their shape and position, despite being far underwater! The two took relieved breaths from the magic bubbles, and they looked at one another, baffled, yet grateful.
And with the return of the sea came the return of the neopets that lived in it. Soon Gem heard a familiar voice calling from the cavern entrance. “Gem? Gem, it is you!” Qwixa entered the room, followed by King Kelpbeard and a menagerie of other Maraquans.
“You’ve done it!” King Kelpbeard cried giddily. The Maraquans burst into cheers.
Qwixa took a breath of seawater and gave Gem a big fat hug inside her air bubble. “You saved Neopia,” she said with a huge smile. Her smile disappeared when she looked down at Gem’s leg and saw how mangled it was. “Oh, oh my. What happened?”
“She broke her leg, and I was going to find her help on shore after we returned the Jewel,” Vhaso interjected. Qwixa looked a bit surprised to see a fire Uni inside an air bubble, but she heeded his words and looking piteously at Gem.
To everyone’s surprise, the Gelert statue in the center of the cave began to move. It glowed all over, and it spread its great arms into an arch. The Jewel stood still in the center, and glowed even brighter. The magical glow shot across the room and onto Gem. The befuddled Gelert grew calm. As the glow spread throughout her entire body, she closed her eyes and smiled with a feeling of tranquility. Gem felt the same tingle she had had a few days ago when she painted herself blue, but this time was different. Her body shimmered, and turned purple and shiny. A green fin spread from her head to her tail. Her hind legs disappeared, and the pain of the broken one went with it. Her eyes turned back into a beautiful shade of aquamarine. Gem was Maraquan again!
The statue then seemed to emanate a voice. Its eyes glowed the same shade as Gem’s, and the statue spoke. “Gem the Gelert, you’re the real Jewel of Maraqua. Thank you for your bravery. Your selflessness has saved Neopia!”
And with that the statue grew dull once more. Its arms came back together around the Jewel. Gem’s bubble popped, as she no longer needed it, and a score of Maraquans came to praise her.
The city celebrated that night for the glorious return of the sea and the Jewel. Vhaso returned to the surface, after being greatly thanked by the people of Maraqua for aiding their hero in her quest.
Exhausted from her travels, Gem returned home, escorted by her Ixi friend. She vowed to return to Maraqua some days, though her newfound celebrity deterred her from visiting too often. Gem still preferred seclusion. The tired Gelert settled down in her watery kelp bed, content. For she had discovered the most precious jewel of all.