Coronation: Part Two
Also by bookworm7
"Excuse me!" I called as I pushed my way through the crowd of faeries. "Miss Soup Faerie? May I speak with you?"
The Soup Faerie stopped and looked back. Her long, brown hair twirled gracefully and fell gently into place against her pink blouse as she turned to face me. She looked classy in casual wear and not her work clothes. "Yes, how can I help you?"
I approached her, but had to catch my breath from the chase before addressing her. "I need a favor. You will be returning to Neopia Central, correct?"
"Yes. I am expecting an afternoon rush of those who need help securing a Christmas meal."
"Good! I was hoping you could briefly stop by 131 Soup Alley while you're there? The Ghost Lupe has been spotted there frequently, and I need you to ask him to meet with me on Mystery Island tomorrow. Tell him Queen Fyora warrants it."
"Sure, I will do it."
"Thank you!" I responded as she followed the crowd out of the main doors of Faerie Palace. Soon the doors slammed shut, and I was left standing in the empty entryway. Yuruyuki walked up to me from behind, hesitantly followed by Saskia.
"Don't expect me to buy you lunch or anything," Saskia mumbled. "I'm not here to babysit you, lass."
I shrugged. "I know, I know. And don't worry; I'll compensate you for your time by paying for your expenses while you are with us."
After a brief moment of silently putting on coats, we exited the palace into the gentle snowstorm awaiting outside. Snow-covered trees lined the empty streets. We marched through the uneven snow, following the footprints of those who had roamed the streets before us. I faintly heard the sound of caroling being carried through the crisp air as wind blew the falling snow sideways onto the ground. Since the main celebrations were elsewhere in Neopia, there were not many decorations put up in Faerieland.
Yuruyuki strayed far behind me and Saskia. Ever since I had discovered that I (and I alone) could hear the Masks of Dread, Yuruyuki was obligated to carry the bag of masks while we journeyed and keep a distance between the me and the masks. I knew that this was a huge burden on her since we normally spent everyday side by side.
Fortunately, I knew that the rest of our Christmas would bring her joy. A couple hours later, after having eaten our fill of Faerieland Gourmet Burgers at the Faerie Foods Shop, I decided to reveal my plans over dessert.
"After sending some neomails around the office last week, my good friend, Book, was able to secure us a spot on a cruise ship for this evening! We had originally planned on disembarking at Maraqua later tonight for a Christmas feast at Kelp, but we'll have to miss out on that in order to continue on the cruise to Mystery Island."
Yuruyuki chirped excitedly. "We're going to get together with Book? What a great Christmas! I can't wait to hear about her latest adventures."
"Yea, I'm pretty excited about it too. I've been needing a break from this investigation."
Saskia sipped on her Dark Faerie Gelato glumly. "I'd call it more of an interrogation than investigation. Is this Book fella going to ask me as many questions as you?"
"No, she is not—"
"And whaddya mean by taking a break? I'm not here to supervise you while you go on a date with your laddie."
I dropped my spoon into my half-eaten Light Faerie Sundae. "She just wanted to meet up for a bit. Besides, the cruise ship is taking us exactly where I want to go next to look into these masks."
"What does Mystery Island have to do with neohome break-ins and bank robberies? Shouldn't we be heading to Neopia Central?" Saskia put her elbow against the table and rested her chin on her hand.
"Saskia, I'm going to let you in on a 'wee little' secret," I said mockingly. "Your masks are a lot more trouble to me than you know. In fact, I'm not interested in criminals at all. The real problem is that your masks are alive."
She stared blankly at me through half-closed, apathetic eyes with her palm still against her face. Her lips protruded and wrapped snugly around the straw as if she were trying to kiss a Mortog.
I continued, "As in, I can hear them talking. And they're not interested in talking about the weather."
Saskia did not move; she moved her eyes back and forth between me and Yuruyuki while continuing to sip gelato through her straw. Then she cracked a smile. "Ha! You two really have gone bonkers. Look, Fyora wanted me to see if criminals were misusing my masks. Take me to Neopia Central for one of your crazy, midnight-stalking surveillance sprees, and I won't turn you two in to the Defenders of Sanity."
"Saskia, I'm serious." I slumped back in my chair.
Saskia gave me a disapproving look. Then she stood up and began collecting her belongings from the back of her chair. "We're going to Neopia Central. Y'know, where there is actual civilization and actual crime. Could help clear your pretty little head."
"No, I'm in charge, and we need to go to Mystery Island to have Jhuidah undo her indestructibility potion!"
Yuruyuki put her wings to her forehead. "Please stop fighting. I really want to get together with Book!"
"Yes, she's right," I added. "Today's a holiday, plus the reservations for the cruise have already been made and paid for. Even if you think I'm crazy, you can't deny Yuruyuki her get-together."
Saskia put her paw on her hip. "I'm feeling generous," she exasperated. "What an icky feeling."
Soon we collected our coats and bags and headed back into the snow. It was still early afternoon, but we did not have much time left to catch the ship. To get to the port, we would have to hike our way out of the Faerieland crater.
Within the hour, having walked in silence, we had at last boarded the ship. I bought a ticket for Saskia, and since we had changed our plans and decided to stay the night on the cruise ship, I had to buy a room for the night. Unfortunately, the only room we could affordably find was meant for two. With Saskia accompanying the two of us on our trip, I had to prepare a makeshift bed on the floor for me to sleep in later. After the ship had left port, we met up with Book near the ship's outdoor snack bar over slushies.
"Isn't that just the wildest thing?" Book said while laughing calmly. "Then Galaxy walks in, sees the Pirate Draik Egg wearing two eyepatches and says, 'It's too bad. If you're going to hatch him, the name "Samuel No Eyes" is already taken!'"
Yuruyuki started choking on her Wormy Slushie from laughing hysterically.
"Aw, that's mean," I said while smiling. I couldn't hold back my laughter.
"Wait, who's Galaxy?" Saskia asked with a straight face.
Book replied, "Oh, Galaxy is my Faerie Grundo."
The laughter slowly dissipated and the momentum of the conversation awkwardly stopped. Saskia's lack of social enthusiasm was starting to put a damper on our spirits.
"Speaking of which," I quickly spoke to keep the conversation alive, "why couldn't Galaxy make it here tonight?"
Book sipped on her Mystery Berry Slushie and replied, "He's been really busy lately. Haven't you heard? The Space Faerie discovered a large black hole that appeared in our galaxy very near to Neopia; she's been recruiting Neopets left and right to help her search through space for the missing Space Faerie Token, assuming that Sloth is somehow the cause of it."
"Whoa, a black hole? Do you think Neopia is in any sort of danger?"
"As of yet, no, but the thing is that a black hole doesn't just appear. There is definitely something strange happening."
Suddenly, I remembered something. It came to me as though I had seen it in a dream, though I certainly had never dreamed of it in my lifetime. Why had this sudden thought struck me? The conversation continued, but I withdrew myself mentally.
I closed my eyes and imagined I was in space. I played the memory forward in my mind. The specks of distant stars began to fly past me as I proceeded through the empty air toward a black hole. At first I was pulled around it a few times like a ride on the Roo Island Merry Go Round. The velocity I gained from orbiting it thrust me far away from the black hole, but I could not escape its influence. I was then pulled directly into it.
The stars disappeared and I was accelerating forward into nothingness. A combination of adrenaline and gravity made my arms and legs feel heavy. My mind began questioning if I were going to survive traveling through space at impossible speed.
Wait... this was not real! I was sitting at a table eating slushies. All I had to do was open my eyes and calm down.
But I could not. My nose was clogged, so I started gasping for air through my mouth, but there was no oxygen in the depths of space.
Finally my eyes sprang open. I sat up and looked around; I could not see for it was dark in the room. Where was I? The unnerving vision I had had left me bewildered.
I was sitting in my pile of blankets on the floor next to a bed where Saskia was sleeping. She groaned miserably about something and then turned in her sleep. I laid back down and tried to remember how I had gotten there.
My brain was slow to remember the events of the day. After slushies, we had played a few games of Kou-Jong. When the sun went down, we had gone to the formal dining deck for an onboard Christmas feast. Book had then disembarked in Maraqua, and we retired to our room. Not soon after, I had fallen asleep and dreamed about the black hole that Book had mentioned.
Was this the first time I had dreamed of it? It was such a vivid dream, but maybe that from repetition of the same dream. I could not decide whether I had experienced the dream before or not. Either way, I hoped never to relive it again.
One last terrifying thought then crossed my mind. I curled up and rested on one side trying to forget it:
Maybe Book was right that there was something yet to come and this was it...
To be continued...