Orlitz and the Search for the Emerald Crown: Part One
"When do you think we’ll arrive?”
“I’m not sure, soon hopefully.” Orlitz peered at the water from the rail of the ferry. Next to her, Iskeen shivered.
“It’s cold out here,” she said between clenched teeth, “I’m going back inside.” Orlitz nodded, noting the chill in the air. They were approaching Neopia Central, and compared to the sunny-all-year-round disposition of Mystery Island, Winter around the rest of Neopia was surprisingly cold.
The duo was taking a much needed week-long vacation for the holidays. After their visit to Neopia Central, they would take another ferry to Terror Mountain, where they would meet two of Orlitz’s friends from Brightvale, her homeland. Orlitz was excited to experience a change of pace. Iskeen, the island native, wasn’t as eager to experience the chilly weather.
It was early evening when the ferry finally docked at Neopia Central. In the fading light of dusk, the blanket of snow covering the city was a soft hue of pink. From the ferry, one could already see the bustling, busy streets, filled with neopets completing their holiday shopping. Each building was decorated with pretty twinkling lights, giving the entire layout a charming and festive aura. Iskeen and Orlitz disembarked the ship, along with all the other passengers. Everyone shoved and pushed each other to reach dry land. After two days on a crowded ship, Orlitz was just as anxious as everyone else to get off the ferry. The short walk to the hotel where they would be staying for a few days was exhausting. Hulling heavy suitcases through dense crowds would have made anyone impatient to reach their destination. Still, Orlitz was delighted by the festive environment and couldn’t help but press her face against the display windows of the small shops that littered the streets. Meanwhile, Iskeen, who was not so used to the sudden cold, pulled her friend along to get them out of the chilliness.
The two checked in at the Hotel Opera, a massive establishment at the heart of Neopia Central. A doorman helped them drag their luggage to the fourth floor. Upon entering their room, Orlitz exclaimed a delighted gasp and ran to the window, from which she had a wonderful view of the Money Tree decorated with tiny lights. Their room was quaint, with two twin sized beds and minimal commodities. Iskeen plopped down on a bed and was pleased to find a complimentary chocolate placed on her pillow.
Orlitz opened her suitcase and its contents exploded out, throwing clothes everywhere. She stuffed her things into the dresser, and grabbed a few garments to change into. The Cloud cybunny emerged from the bathroom a few moments later, pinning a piece of her blue hair into a victorian roll above her forehead. She was surprised to find her roommate practically asleep on the bed.
“Get changed, Iskeen, we wanted to head out and explore Neopia Central, remember?” she whined, smacking her friend with a pillow. Iskeen grudgingly rolled off the bed and dragged her feet to her suitcase. While the ixi was freshening up in the bathroom, Orlitz threw on her coat and studied a map of the land left in her pocket. Above all, she wanted to eat at Pizzaroo tonight. She had read many reviews of the acclaimed pizzeria in the newspapers she wrote for, and was eager to try the pizza out for herself.
The cybunny had reported for many papers since her move to Mystery Island, including the Neopian Times. Typically, she did not pursue stories. Rather, she accidentally came across them, which is why she was known for exposing secrets and solving mysteries. Orlitz had earned quite a reputation as a journalist. Many admired her sharp observation skills. Many still, resented her incessant snooping. The cybunny folded the map and placed it back in her pocket. Her hand brushed against a notepad.
“That’s funny, I don’t recall taking that with me,” she thought, flipping through the pages. She wasn’t all that surprised, actually. The reporter always carried around a notepad on which she scribbled down interviews and information. “Force of habit,” she grinned, shoving the journal back into her coat.
In that instant, Iskeen stepped out of the bathroom, dressed in a truly impressive amount of layers. The ixi moved stiffly across the room and lurched toward the piece of chocolate on the pillow. Orlitz couldn’t help but laugh. She herself originated from Brightvale, so the cold and snow were nothing new to her. Meanwhile, Iskeen had lived her entire life under the sun. Even the slightest chill in the air sent the poor ixi in a frenzy to find a scarf. The cybunny reassured her friend that it wouldn’t get that cold outside, and that they would spend most of the evening indoors anyway. After some time, she even convinced her to remove one of the three winter coats constricted around her body. * * * * *
Pizzaroo exceeded Orlitz’s expectations. With the help of Iskeen, the two managed to scarf down an entire Tiggerbuggle Pizza and still have room for dessert. Afterwards, the duo spent the rest of their evening visiting shops. They spent the next few days similarly. On Sunday morning, they walked through the snow in the Marketplace. Monday featured a day trip to Roo Island, where they sampled the island’s famous coffee and toured the Art Gallery. Tuesday was their last day at Neopia Central before they had to board a second ferry destined for Terror Mountain. The friends spent their morning touring the Chocolate Factory. The large amount of chocolates they sampled left them so stuffed, they opted to skip lunch and head straight to their hotel to pack up.
In the room, Orlitz observed her bed in dismay. It was covered in dozens of bags from the three-day shopping excursion; filled with clothes, baked goods, shoes, makeup, brand new notebooks, plushies, an adorable petpet squeaky toy (for her gruslen back home), a cute Prom Queen Usuki doll (she absolutely had a have it), and enough chocolate to feed an army of skeiths with. She was able to stuff her clothes back into her suitcase, but Iskeen had to help her find a big enough bag to carry the rest of her things. The ixi wound up generously lending the cybunny some of her own suitcase space. With great difficulty, the two managed to stuff everything into portable bags. Finally, at two in the afternoon, they checked out of the hotel and slowly lumbered toward the docks.
While they waited for their boat at the pier, Orlitz decided to purchase some snacks to take on the ferry in case the duo got hungry during the trip. She entrusted Iskeen with her many pieces of luggage and approached the small food stand nearby. She walked to the end of the line, behind a Blue aisha with large, curly red hair. The two cooks managing the stand were trying their best to keep the line moving along quickly, but the cybunny knew it would be some time before she could place her order.
“Excuse me, do you know when the ferry for Terror Mountain is leaving?” a quiet voice asked suddenly. Orlitz looked up from the two boarding tickets in her hands, which she had been thoroughly inspecting. The aisha had turned around and was addressing her.
“I think in about twenty minutes,” she responded. Orlitz noticed that the aisha looked extremely nervous and was anxiously glancing through the crowds populating the dock.
Now at the front of the line, the aisha ordered a sandwich and placed her red purse on the counter to reach for her neopoints. She was about to accept her tray of food when a sudden movement in the crowds captured her attention. Orlitz followed her alarmed gaze, and spotted two intimidating lutaris pointing at the aisha with agitation and walking briskly towards her. Panicking, the aisha attempted to grab her bag, but dropped it. Too intent on escaping the lutaris, she shoved past Orlitz and vanished into the masses.
The cybunny grabbed the purse, calling after the mysterious aisha, but was brutally shoved by the lutaris in pursuit of her. Unsure what to do with the bag, the cybunny ordered a pair of sandwiches to-go and hurried back to Iskeen to tell her what she had witnessed, concluding that she might be able to return the purse to its mysterious owner once at Terror Mountain. * * * * *
The trip to Terror Mountain was uneventful. The most excitement the journey endured happened when a passenger dumped his slushie all over himself and Orlitz nearly slipped on the spillage, much to Iskeen’s amusement. Other than that, the pair spend the majority of the four-hour trip snoozing on the seats below-deck, where most passengers were behaving similarly. At one point, Orlitz awoke, plainly aware of how cold it had become. She reached under her seat to pull out a complementary blanket, but her hand brushed up against the Aisha’s purse instead. The cybunny picked it up and placed it on her lap. She observed it until curiosity overwhelmed her and she opened its clasp. The purse held nothing unusual. She pulled out a small black notebook, wondering if she would at least manage to learn the aisha’s name.
Orlitz opened the booklet, and two loose papers to fluttered out. The first page of the notebook read: “Property of Emilia”. Orlitz picked up both pieces of paper that had fallen and noticed that one was a tab to “Roberta’s”, which she recognized to be a Brightvalian restaurant that she herself had visited many times when she still lived there. The second piece of paper was an address to a house in Happy Valley. The cybunny pocketed the address and placed the purse back underneath her seat. She assumed Emilia was likely from Brightvale and that she might have a chance of returning the bag to her at the Happy Valley residency.
As the ferry approached the looming snowy land of Terror Mountain, Orlitz decided that, with the first chance she got, she would visit the address and hopefully ask Emilia who those two menacing lutaris they had encountered back in Neopia Central were.
To be continued…