Still thwarting Sloth's mind control... Circulation: 191,440,698 Issue: 544 | 11th day of Hunting, Y14
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Before the Thunder: Part One


by theloverpokemonqueen

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Author's Note: This story takes place BEFORE the re-shaping of Krawk Island, when the residents had to worry about the pirates littered everywhere.

"Nira..." Lightning cried feebly, watching as the Shoyru let herself be dragged away. She reached out a hand, as if somehow, she might be able to reach them. With a groan, she pushed herself to her knees, wincing as pain attacked her hip. She must have landed on it when the Draik dropped her. Holding her side, she struggled to her feet, intending to try going after them. To most neopets, this idea would sound crazy. But Lightning was in great distress, and the hopelessness of her plan could not penetrate her mind.

     She let out a cry of surprise as she tripped over a piece of furniture. She landed on her hands and knees, gritting her beak against the pain. Her head came up sharply when she caught a familiar scent. It was warm and suffocating.

     Smoke.

     Why did she smell smoke?

     She looked toward the front door. As soon as she turned her head, fire began licking at the doorway and crawling across the floor. Her eyes went wide as she saw the flames growing outside the nearby window. She coughed as more smoke began to fill the air. She had to get out! But with the size of those flames, she'd never make it through the front.

     She'd have to get out through the back.

     Moving as fast as she could, holding her side all the way, she made her way to the back of the house, the flames chasing her all the way. They were nearing her tail by the time she reach the back door. Hard as she could, she tugged at it.

     It wouldn't budge!

     She cried out in pain as the fire licked at the fur on her legs and the tip of her tail. Suddenly she realized the lock was in place! Quickly she unlocked it and pulled with all her might. The door came open easily. Stumbling forward, she fell to the sand, coughing as her lungs cleared of smoke.

     She was still too close to the house, but her legs burned so much she couldn't forced them to stand. So instead you crawled, pulling her body forward with her hands. She had pulled herself along ten feet before she collapsed.

     ***

     Lightning woke, bleary-eyed, with a groan. Her head was pounding, her feet burning, and her throat made of sandpaper. Putting a hand to her forehead, she forced herself into a sitting position.

     She froze.

     She was lying on a bed, not a sandy beach. A blanket lay over her, covering her body aside from her legs and tail, which she now noticed were bound in cloth. All the fur on her tail must be gone, for the bindings looked to be wrapped tightly around the end.

     Images of the house, the fire, the beach, all came to mind. They were nowhere in sight. The room was both familiar and foreign, confusing Lighting even further.

     Where am I?

     There was a door at the opposite side of the room. Lightning was planning on going through and investigating further, but as her feet touched the ground, fiery pain shot up her legs, causing her to cry out and fall on her hands. She grunted and gritted her beak, cursing herself for not remembering how the fire had burned her body. Footsteps sounded and the next thing she knew, another Island Eyrie was standing in the doorway, looking worried.

     "Lightning!" he cried worriedly, rushing to her side. Carefully, he helped her off the floor, flinching when she made a small sound of pain, and settled her back onto the bed.

     "Are you alright?" he asked quickly, eyes wide. Lightning swallowed and took a deep breath, waiting for the pain to fade a little.

     "I'm... fine...." she managed, not looking at him. The eyrie ran a hand through the feathers on his head, looking baffled.

     "What in the world were you thinking? That you could just walk out of the room with burns like that all the way up your legs?" he asked, seeming exasperated. Lightning giggled quietly, the softer edges of her beak turning up in a grin.

     "Sorry, Navric. Didn't think of that," she replied. The Eyrie still looked exasperated, but he let the subject drop.

     "How you feeling?"

     Lightning shrugged.

     "Aside from the fact that my legs burn when I try to walk, my throat feeling like I swallowed a bunch of sharp metal, and my head pounding like a drum?" she asked sarcastically, grinning some more. Navric rolled his eyes and shook his head.

     "Do you have to joke about everything?" he asked.

     "Do you have to be so serious about everything?" she countered.

     Navric opened his beak, but couldn't think of a good reply. With a sigh, he backed down.

     "I'll be right back," he said instead, leaving the room. While he was gone, Lightning turned to the window directly across from her. She could see a quiet dirt road outside, with hut-like houses nearby, and a great many palm trees. She half grinned as she took it all in, memories of her own beach-side home coming to mind.

     She turned suddenly when she heard Navric come in. He now carried a tray with multiple items on it. Lightning didn't get a good look at them, since he knelt at her bed and placed the tray in front of him.

     "So am I to assume you're my rescuer?" she asked, watching as the other Eyrie sorted through the things he'd brought. He answered with a nod. Lightning rolled her eyes, but decided it wasn't a good idea to distract him anyway.

     The first thing Navric picked up was a cup and a teapot. Carefully, he filled the cup, the put the teapot down. Next, he lifted up a spoon, filled with a golden substance of some sort, and stirred it into the cup. Finally, he handed it to Lightning.

     "Tea with honey. It'll make your throat feel better," he explained. Lightning nodded and took a generous sip. The somewhat-sweet liquid felt like heaven as it washed over her throat. As she drained the cup, Navric picked up a green jar with golden stars on it. When he unscrewed the top, a medicinal smell filled the air.

     "Lean over a bit. I need to put this on your forehead," he said. Lightning's face became uncertain.

     "It smells weird," she complained, putting her cut down on a nightstand sitting by the bed.

     "It'll help get rid of your headache," Navric persisted. Lightning sighed.

     "Oh, fine," she said, leaning closer to her friend. Navric stuck his hand into the jar, then carefully smeared the gooey substance over Lightning's forehead, avoiding the delicate feathers that made up what appeared to be hair to any other Neopian. When he finished, Lightning did her best to grimace.

     "Eww... it feels gross!" she complained again. Navric chuckled.

     "But it'll make you feel better," he reminded, wiping his hand with a paper towel.

     Lightning sighed her agreement, making the Eyrie grin. She never liked admitting to the truth.

     The last thing Navric picked up was a plate with some exotic-looking fruit cut into nice, even pieces

     "Mango. Your favorite," he said, with the closest thing to a smile that an Eyrie can make. Lightning smiled in return.

     "Thanks," she said, taking the plate. Navric got to his feet and put the teapot on the nightstand beside the cup, as well as a jar of honey.

     "Be sure to drink plenty of tea, and just holler if you'd like some water instead. And be sure to get lots of sleep. It's good for your body."

     Lightning laughed and shook her head.

     "You're like a mother hen, you know that?" she teased as he backed out of the room. Navric chuckled, closing the door behind him.

     Lightning picked up a piece of Mango, about to take a bite, when she suddenly remembered Nira. The mango fell from her hand and bounced off the bed, landing on the floor.

     "Navric!" Lightning called frantically. A few seconds later, the Eyrie was back, looking worried. Lightning's eyes filled with tears.

     "Nira! Navric, Nira-"

     Navric cut Lightning off, eyes sad.

     "I'm so sorry, Lightning. I couldn't find her! I-"

     Navric stopped himself when Lightning began frantically shaking her head.

     "You don't understand! She wasn't in the house with me!"

     "She wasn't?!" Navric looked both astonished and relieved.

     "No, she wasn't. At least, not during the fire."

     Lightning bowed her head, feeling a lump form in her throat as the tears rolled down her cheeks.

     "They took her away, Nav! They took her, and it's all my fault!" she sobbed.

     "What? Who took her, Lightning?" Now Navric looked worried again.

     "THEY took her!"

     "Who are 'they'?!" Navric exclaimed.

     Lightning lifted her head to gaze deeply into Navric's eyes.

     "Pirates," she said simply. Navric's jaw dropped and his breath left him.

     Pirates.

     ***

     "This is crazy!" Navric exclaimed, putting his hands on his hips. "You could be killed!"

     Lightning ignored him, purposefully packing things into the backpack Navric had (reluctantly) given to her.

     "Nothing you do or say can stop me," she replied in a clipped tone. Navric sighed in exasperation, looking at a loss. He had no more arguments to pit against her. She'd run him dry in the past week, insisting even when he came up with a valid point.

To be continued...

 
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