Learn to Fly: Part Two
“That is possibly the most absurd thing I’ve heard in my life.”
It seemed simple enough, refusing the insane treatment offered by the apothecary. But when his proposition had such miraculous implications, it was hard to turn down.
The interior of Kyrugg’s shop was dark and moist. Light filtered in through cracks running along the dilapidated walls and ceiling. A long counter extended from one wall to the other, and it was covered with herbs and substances that I had never seen before. On the opposite wall, a cauldron sizzled and spat steam into the air.
Kyrugg’s eyebrows shot straight up. “I offer you a medicine of seemingly magical properties – a miracle potion, if you will – and you reject it?”
I rolled my eyes. “I’m not going to take...” I squinted to read the bottle he proffered to me “...sphinx links cured in sardine vinegar! What on earth would lead you to believe that would even help in the slightest?”
Furrowing his brow, Kyrugg withdrew the bottle and placed it back on the shelf. “I suppose you’re right... it is still untested on Scorchios. Again, your situation is quite unique, to say the least.”
Not for the first time that day, the lifeless wings attached to my back became even more embarrassing.
The old witch doctor scuttled over to the opposite end of the counter. He opened a jar of spices and sprinkled its contents over a small cauldron. Curious, I followed him and peered inside. Quickly, I sprang back in shock and disgust. The image of one thousand Scarabugs cooking over a low flame was forever burned into my retinas.
Disapprovingly, Kyurgg put the lid back on the cauldron. “If you do not wish to accept my first treatment, you have no choice but to live with your wings.” He held up a hand as he noticed the expression of dismay in my features. “There is another option,” he admitted. I could sense the reluctance in his voice. “You could go see the Island Mystic.”
Immediately I recalled my first visit to the Island Mystic when I was just a young boy. Most of the tribe had attended Mystery Island for a fantastical festival, and the activities were concentrated around the beach. Dozens of colorful tents spotted the sand. I entered one with Rob, and we were struck unexpectedly by the sheer emptiness of the display. Only a few other Neopians were in the tent, but no one was expecting much to happen. All grew quiet, however, when a short Kyrii emerged from the entrance to the tent. With a few muttered incantations, he produced a single rose out of thin air. After that, he produced a single Grarrl out of thin air. His magic act only escalated from there. To this day, I am still in awe of his grasp for trickery – or, maybe, real magic. I have heard miraculous stories of the Mystic healing sicknesses and ills with barely any effort.
Despite the Island Mystic’s stellar reputation among members of my tribe, I was still apprehensive. “What could he do to cure me?” I wondered aloud.
“The Island Mystic knows his way around medicines,” Kyrugg admitted grudgingly. “Even if I do possess far superior talent, he has greater access to herbs and remedies in Mystery Island.”
I tried to keep the elation that swelled inside my heart to myself to no avail. Even the elderly apothecary noticed a sudden brightness in my eyes, spring in my step. My hopes soared so high that I only caught the last few words from his mouth.
“...so you’ll only have to worry about expenses for travel and the treatment!”
Any optimism I gathered from the meeting immediately vanished. “How much should I expect to pay?” I stuttered.
When he told me the figure, my heart bottomed out. That amount of Neopoints would be all that I saved up over my life – I would have no money left. But then I considered the potential benefits of growing broke... My wings would work! I would be able to fly!
At once I became resolute in my decision. “I am going to go to Mystery Island,” I affirmed, “to see the Mystic.”
It took me a while, but I gathered enough money to fund my trip. I never knew how many Neopoints I had stuffed under my mattress and hidden under floorboards. As I carried my life’s worth in my pockets, I felt strangely detached from my existence. Would I really waste all of my savings just for the slim chance that the Island Mystic might help me?
Walking away from my house, I decided I would. Just ahead, I saw Rob playing tag with a few of our friends. All of them had developed their wings, and they flew through the air with apparent ease. Without a second thought, I took another route to avoid them.
I met up with Kyrugg at his apothecary shop. Before I had gone to get the money, I had agreed to travel with him to the Mystery Island. Despite his reputation of untrustworthiness, I thought that he would be a worthy guide to accompany me. With only a gruff nod to acknowledge me, Kyrugg led me south, into the Tyrannian Jungle. We walked for a few kilometers until we reached the sea. For the duration of our trek, I noticed how uneasy Kyrugg seemed on land. It was obvious he yearned to take to the skies. Not for the first time that day, I felt like a hindrance and a bother.
Standing on the shore, I felt more at home than I did back in the Plateau. The salty sea air swept across my body, whisking away sweat and cooling me down. Never before in my life had I felt so at peace. The serenity was so overwhelming that I didn’t even notice the massive rolling storm clouds closing in from the east.
“All right,” Kyrugg said gruffly. “We should set off now if you want to get back by tomorrow.”
Confused, I looked around for a boat that would take us south to Mystery Island. Noting my bewilderment, Kyrugg laughed unkindly. “You’ll be flying with me today.”
The implications of his statement struck me. “What... you’re going to carry me across the ocean?” I cried, shocked.
“Don’t be silly,” the crazed apothecary chuckled grimly, “I have a harness!” He produced a rope from his knapsack and offered it to me.
I pushed the rope away from me. “Or we could rent a boat from that shop,” I replied, exasperated, pointing to a rental location.
Soon, Kyrugg and I sailed away from Tyrannia, buffered by an eerily strong wind and high hopes. We didn’t talk much during the journey; the old Scorchio sat in the corner of the sailboat and muttered incantations over a small vial of spices he had brought along. I inspected the ship as we sailed; it was indeed a sturdy vessel, but it seemed too small to last the entire journey. Almost morbidly, I remember thinking how even the slightest wave could topple it.
Only an hour passed before we arrived at the shores of Mystery Island. It was noticeably warmer here than in Tyrannia. Humidity bore down on me from all sides. Kyrugg docked us between two other sailboats, and we exited the vessel.
“I’d forgotten how much I loved this place,” chuckled Kyrugg, looking at the marketplace clustered with hundreds of tourists and natives.
Mystery Island was, indeed, beautiful. Vegetation grew nearly everywhere, covering the island in a blanket of bright colors. A behemoth of a mountain sprouted out of the center, and, almost forebodingly, a twisting plume of smoke snaked from the mouth of the volcano. Even though the distant beach was dense with tourists, I could tell that the water was clear and fresh.
“Where’s the Mystic?” I asked Kyrugg. I eyed a few luxurious-looking houses lining the coasts.
He pointed north, towards a small hut sitting on a miniature island. “He’s up there, just offshore.”
I turned, frustrated, to him. “If his hut is offshore,” I said slowly, “why did we dock on the mainland?”
He opened his mouth, closed it, then turned back to the boat. “Get back in,” he muttered, embarrassed.
Even though it was only a hundred meters off shore, the Mystic’s island was completely separated from the mainland. Instead of having a bustling, alive atmosphere, it seemed serene and (appropriately) mystical. The sun was beginning to dip below the horizon, and I could swear that the torches outside the Mystic’s hut lit themselves right at nightfall.
We docked again. My tension escalated until I could barely stand without shaking. “I guess I’m ready for this,” I whispered, mostly too myself. Kyrugg cackled, unnecessarily, beside me.
With a sudden rush of courage, I stepped off the boat onto dry land. Hope swelled in my chest, and I surveyed the structure in front of me. Determined to become something more than I was, I took the first steps towards the door.
To be continued...