For Mystery Island and Mira
Kinae looked out the window. She couldn't remember the last time she saw the sky such an ominous green. Would she make it on time? Are they out there? Questions were spinning in her mind, but this time she felt different. Fear didn't grip her as jarringly as it once had, but then again, fear had become a constant in the days since Jaroo had taken over Mystery Island and created an enchantment surrounding the island barring any Islander from leaving and any outsider from entering.
Wearily, Kinae looked over her shoulder at the bag lying on her bed. The black mass had a stitched rip along the side from the last time they tried to make the journey. No matter how much she tried, she still couldn't suppress the memory of what happened on the cliff that day. Her sister, Mira, in front of her, and Jaroo's Secret Guard closing in.
"No!," Kinae shouted. She buried her face in her hands. So much could go wrong this time, Kinae thought. "I'm not ready for this.," she said softly.
It wouldn't be long now before Trin was knocking on her door, signaling that it was time to leave. Kinae got up slowly and walked over to where the bag lay, closed tightly on her bed. She knew that the amulet was safe inside, it's low hum vibrating throughout her body.
The humming had always made Kinae feel uneasy, but ever since Jaroo had taken control of the island, the humming made her feel sick.
Mira, on the other hand, had felt empowered by the humming.
"It's our ancestors calling for us to help! Isn't it incredible Kinae!?," Mira said excitedly that fateful afternoon.
"No Mira. I don't want anything to do with it. Why should we be the ones who have to hide it?," Kinae retorted.
Mira shook her head at Kinae, "It has to be us. Don't you understand? We are the only ones on the island who can make it to Maraqua and pass through Jaroo's enchantments."
Of course, Kinae knew this. Their parents had told them long ago of the magic that lie in their bloodline. She and her sister were Paint Shifters, a fantastical abnormality that allowed them to shift from their original color of Island to another at whim.
Mira and Kinae were not the only Gelerts who had the Paint Shifter magic in them, at least that's what their parents had told them.
A soft rapping at the front door snapped Kinae out of the past. That has to be Trin, she thought.
She walked swiftly to the door and opened it to a short figure. Trin, an Island Kyrii and Mira's best friend, entered swiftly and locked the door behind him.
"Kinae, where is it?," Trin asked quietly.
"Upstairs, in Mira's bag."
Trin hurried up the stairs and returned with the black, ripped bag in tow.
"You know better than to leave this out of your sight. The guard could come at any time.," Trin said exasperatedly.
Kinae looked at him, annoyed. "The humming would have gotten stronger. I would have felt it."
"It's pure luck at this point that Jaroo and his Secret Guard haven't found this place yet.," Trin said softly. "Mira did a great job of hiding you both." His voice broke a bit when he said her name.
Kinae looked at Trin. He and Mira had been inseparable since they first moved here when they were kids. She knew that Mira's disappearance had been as hard on him as it had been on her.
"How are the conditions inland?," asked Kinae, knowing she had to turn the conversation.
Trin sighed deeply, "They are worse from my last visit."
During Trin's last visit, he told her of the food restrictions Jaroo had put on the people of Mystery Island. Food shortages and curfews had made the Islanders lives unbearable, and even though a few letters had reached King Jeran in Altador, Jaroo's enchantments surrounding the Island made it impossible for anyone not of Islander decent to enter. However, Jaroo's power was rumored to be weakening without the fourth amulet of Old Magic. This had led Jaroo and his Secret Guard to search endlessly and ruthlessly for the fourth and final amulet. Getting the amulet to safety in Maraqua, the closest kingdom, would make it impossible for Jaroo's power to grip the island for much longer.
Trin looked up at her, "Kinae, you have to make it past the enchantment tonight. We all need you to make it."
Kinae looked at the black bag in Trin's hands. The amulet had been given to her sister by their mother right before the disappearance of her and their father. "It was found in the ruins of the great Mystery War by your great grandfather.," she had said when she gave it to Mira. "It's Old Magic, and you must guard it with your life. Get it out of the Island and to Maraqua before Jaroo finds it.," their mother had said firmly.
The four pieces of Old Magic, when together, gave off a power so incredible that when harnessed, gave one otherworldly powers. Their mother and father had known how dangerous all of that power would be in the hands of Jaroo, and that their daughters were the only ones who had the power to shift from Islander and into Maraquan and make it through Jaroo's enchantment surrounding the island.
Kinae met Trin's eyes, "I know. I can do this."
A small smile crept on Trin's mouth and he turned to look out the window, "The weather is on our side tonight. It looks like a harsh storm is coming through. The Secret Guard will have a hard time tracking us in that weather."
Kinae looked with Trin and nodded. I have to make it tonight, she thought to herself, for Mira.
Trin turned and handed Kinae the black bag. She hesitated for a moment, then grabbed It and slung it firmly around her back. Her eyes locked with Trin's, "I'm ready."
Nodding, Trin went over their route again. They were to go east, heading the opposite way from their last journey. "They'll be expecting us to try for the cliffs again, like we did with Mira last time.," Trin said hurriedly, "It's imperative that we take the eastern route. That way you can enter the water directly from the shore of the beach. From there, Maraqua should only be a half a day's swim."
Kinae nodded, she knew the eastern route well. She and Mira used to shift near the secluded beaches and swim deep into the ocean and explore the caves on the eastern side of Mystery Island.
"Once we reach the beach, you should have enough time to shift into Maraquan and make it past the enchantments before the Secret Guard is alerted.," Trin sighed deeply and looked up at Kinae.
Kinae smiled at her friend, "I can do this, Trin." But still, she couldn't suppress the suffocating feeling of dread at their impending journey.
Trin stood up slowly just as rain began to batter the roof above their heads, "Let's go then."
He climbed on top of Kinae's back and held on to her flowing ears. Kinae took one last look around her home and checked that the bad was still secured around her back. With a deep breath, she bounded out the door and turned East into the storm.
The wind and rain whipped against Kinae's face as she bounded towards the beach. She could barely hear anything over the roar of the wind. They were almost halfway there when she felt Trin pull down her ear, "They are behind us, and closing fast. They must have had scouts set up around all access points on the Island! For Mystery Island and Mira, you need to run faster!"
Kinae's legs were on fire, but she pushed herself faster. I have to make it, she thought. Then she felt it. The amulet's humming became stronger and stronger. Soon, it was humming so loud that it sent vibrations throughout Kinae's entire body. "Trin!," Kinae shouted, "They are closing in too fast, we aren't going to make it!"
She heard Trin say something, but she couldn't hear it over the roar of the wind.
I can't fail again....I can't, she thought.
She was no longer running from the Secret Guard and Jaroo. Instead, she was at the top of the cliff, with Mira.
"Okay, we have to jump!," Mira said looking over the edge.
"What!? We won't survive that jump!," Kinae yelled.
Mira whipped around to face her sister, "Kinae, we have to jump now. The amulet's humming is the most intense it's ever been. The Secret Guard will be here any minute."
"I can't do it Mira, I can't.," Kinae cried out.
"Kinae, yes you can! We'll jump togeth-,"
"The two of you have something that belongs to Lord Jaroo.," a barking voice came from the edge of the forest.
Mira turned to face the direction of the voice and snarled, "We have nothing of Jaroo's. The amulets and Old Magic belong to the people of Mystery Island!"
Out of the forest emerged Jaroo's Secret Guard. The four Blumaroos were fully armored and ready to attack, "We know what you and your sister are, Lord Jaroo would love for you to join him in his cause. Such powerful beings would prove to be such an asset for him."
Mira and Kinae looked at each other, eyes wide.
"Oh yes," a guardsman said slowly, "Lord Jaroo is very interested in having Paint Shifters in his ranks. It is an honor for Islanders to be extended his favor. All you need to do is hand us the amulet, and we will take you to Lord Jaroo. He will be most pleased and indebted to you both."
Mira and Kinae both snarled. "Never," barked Mira.
"Very well then," the guardsman said, "Dispose of them quickly, and then we will return the amulet to Lord Jaroo."
The Secret Guard charged for them. "Kinae, run!," Mira yelled.
Before Kinae could react, she saw Mira running towards the edge of the cliff. Frozen in fear, Kinae saw her sister charge off of the cliff, the Secret Guard right on her heels.
And in an instant, they all vanished. Kinae stared at the edge of the cliff, still for what seemed like hours. She finally snapped out of it and ran to the edge of the cliff, "Mira?," Kinae said quietly.
Kinae looked over the edge and down into the blue ocean waters below.
"MIRA!," she yelled.
Maybe she shifted in time!, Kinae thought to herself. She ran to the shores that bordered where cliff jutted out of the island. Once in the water, Kinae shifted into her Maraquan form and swam for what seemed like hours, but there was no sign of Mira.
Defeated, she emerged at the base of the cliff and looked up. Why didn't I just jump, she thought to herself with tears in her eyes.
A sharp glare hit her in the eyes just then. At first, she thought it was just the sun hitting off the tears that stung her eyes. But clearing her eyes, she looked up at the cliff only to have the glare hit her again. What is that?, she thought. Kinae looked harder at the object that caught her eye.
She gasped, No! It can't be. Yet, there it was. Hanging 20 feet above her off the side of the cliff was Mira's black bag, ripped along the center exposing it's single, invaluable item: the amulet.
"KINAE!" Trin's voice snapped her back to reality, "Kinae, we are almost there! You've outran them this long, we can still make it!"
The storm was raging at its full force now. The wind and rain kept battering Kinae, making it almost impossible for her to see what was in front of her. It wasn't until she felt the sand beneath her that she knew she had made it.
Only a few more bounds and I'll be at the water's edge, she thought to herself.
In an instant, she was there. The waves lapped at her knees as Trin jumped off her back.
Kinae could just make out Trin's form in the stormy darkness. "How are you going to make it back inland?," Kinae asked her friend.
"That's nothing for you to worry about," Trin looked quickly behind him, "you have to go now, it's our only chance. Deliver the amulet to Maraqua where it will be safe. Alert King Kelpbeard and the rest of Neopia's rulers. You are our only hope. Now go. They are almost here!"
Kinae knew Trin was right, she could feel the humming more intensely than ever.
She hugged her friend tightly and turned to the water.
For Mystery Island and Mira, she thought.