A Storytellers' Journey Through Legends and Folklore:Part Two
The Storyteller, Maria, and the Pant Devil followed the faerie.
“Anyway,” began Sorri in her deep gravelly voice, “my faerie ancestors and fellow miserable cousins have been present, wailing, at every major disaster, tragedy, and downfall in the history of Neopia.” She started counting them off on her fingers. “The enclosure of Altador in the time bubble, the earthquake that buried Tyrannia, the start of the everlasting storm pummeling Lutari Island, Maraqua being swallowed into the ocean, the collapse of the volcano that led to Kiko Lake…”
The Storyteller gave Maria a knowing glance.
“The breakdown of the relationship between Jhudora and Illusen, Journey to the Lost Isle, Destruct-o-Match II becoming Destruct-o-Match III, the departure of Adam and Donna, every Altador Cup after the fifth one…”
Maria raised her eyebrow. “The aftermath and external decisions of Storytelling Competition Week 800?”
“Maybe… But heck,” she finished with wide eyes, “I started wailing when I reached the Faerie Festival because I missed out on the ready pie and had to wait for more to be cooled – and then everything went to stone. And we all know the events that transpired after that.”
“Indeed,” said the Aisha. And then she inquired, “So what other sorts of bad luck can you do?”
“Oh, er…” Sorri scratched the back of her head. “It’s not really that I do it. It just finds me. But when I, or my cousins, or my mother's before us, feel or felt inclined to wail, you know something really bad is going to happen.” She shrugged. “Usually, for me at least, the things are small, so wailing is unnecessary – a stubbed toe, a papercut, a tree falling on me and those next to me…” she trailed matter-of-factly. “Er, I do advise you to stay back a good few arms lengths when we travel through heavily treed areas.”
Maria, The Storyteller, and the Pant Devil nodded slowly, understandingly, at this apparent display of foreshadowing.
The faerie smiled at them just before they reached the gates of Faerie City; Sorri went on ahead and threw the gates open while the others watched. “But it’s not that bad, I swear. I’m used to the bad luck – not used to it enough that I can avoid it – but it’s made me incredibly resilient.” She smiled. “And if I had a day of nothing but good luck, I’m sure I’d hate that even more.”
Immediately, one of the trees growing from low on the Faerie City towers fell and landed on Sorri.
“Ow,” she muffled, pinned beneath the trunk. “See, resilient. But, er, a little help guys?”
The other three hurriedly rolled the tree off her, and she smiled up at them. “Thanks.”
“Don’t mention it!” replied Maria as she held out a hand to help the faerie. “Saving people from evil trees is something we Haunted Woods gypsies are trained to do from an early age.”
“Well, I wouldn’t really call the trees here evil,” Sorri said with a shrug. “Just misunderstood.”
The four walked into Faerie City, “As the first sunrays of twilight started to break from the dim skies,” Maria added for exposition’s sake.
Sorri, meanwhile, started pointing to shops. “That’s where I got food poisoning, that’s where I got bit by a Cirrus, and that’s where I got my personality type as Light Faerie.” She scrunched her face. “Bleh.”
“That’s all very good – or, bad – and I do admit the comic nature of your character is certainly appreciated here at the mid-story slump, but,” inquired The Storyteller, “are you still leading us to the closest seaport out of Faerieland?”
Sorri nodded quickly. “Oh yes, of course. We’re almost there. I know someone who will ferry us to Mystery Island, for a small price.” The faerie gave an apologetic smile. “And I don’t mean making you hear a legend, this time.”
Maria frowned and raised an eyebrow. “Still, ‘us’? Are you suggesting that you are coming with us?”
“Of course I’m going with you all, sillies,” said the faerie with a lopsided grin. “As the green guy said, I provide comic relief. Also, as I foreshadowed, I have trees to fell.”
The Storyteller cast an uneasy glance at his protégé, before looking again at the bad luck attractor. “Sorry, Sorri, but we would prefer if you did not join our party – although it’s nothing against you, just against your bad luck.”
“Pshaw,” said the gray faerie as she waved her hand dismissively. “Trust me – you guys are the protagonists in this story, right?”
“Er, arguably,” replied The Storyteller.
“It’s out of character for me, but yeah, I would say so,” agreed the Pant Devil with a nod.
Sorri grinned widely. “Then even my bad lack won’t stop you from your eventual win and satisfactory closure! If anything, it will undoubtedly help you, either in the most unexpected or predictable ways.”
The Eyrie frowned. “Well, alright, your logic is sound on that… It would be a poor plot point to have you cause us to fail, especially considering you are not sided with the main antagonist, could not possibly become sided with the main antagonist until the climax, and the introduction of a new antagonist at the midpoint of the story doesn’t make good storytelling sense.”
Maria nodded and smiled. “Alright, Sorri, welcome to our group!”
“Excellent,” drawled Sorri, drawing out the syllables in the word, her voice low but excited. “I won’t let you down. And speaking of which, we just have to climb up this cliff.”
Maria groaned inwardly as she gazed up the cliff they found themselves standing before, just past the outskirts of Faerie City, a waterfall rushing over its rocky edge. “Alright, oh Storyteller, you are an Eyrie and can fly. And Pant Devil, you can float and fly around. But the gray faerie and I are unable to.”
“Easy,” said the Pant Devil, “I’ll steal – er, take – Sorri, and your friend can take you.”
He lifted up Sorri effortlessly, causing the faerie to give a little low yelp of surprise and her eyes to widen even wider than before, and he quickly flew her up the cliff. “See,” the Gallery of Evil One shouted down at them, “I had to provide some use to the story eventually!”
His protégé turned to The Storyteller. “Shall we?” she asked excitedly.
“Er…” fumbled the Eyrie.
Before he could respond, she had already taken his hand and jumped onto his back. “Away, Storyteller, up and away!”
With a small frown, he hesitantly – while Maria howled with delight – flew up to the top of the cliff, and they reconvened with Sorri and the Pant Devil.
The waterfall opened to a delta, which opened to the ocean. At the edge of the delta was a Peophin. “Greetings, friends of the Unlucky One,” she called to them as they approached. “It is I – Venuquin – saviour of ships, and destroyer of fish pops.”
Maria gaped. “You know Venuquin?” she asked Sorri, surprised.
“Oh yes,” piped the Peophin in her almost annoyingly high-pitched voice. “The Unlucky One and I are the best of the best of the friends!”
Sorri gave a wan grin. “Er, yeah, total BFFs,” she said in her low gravel, and the storytellers were not sure whether she was being sarcastic. “Woo.”
Venuquin cheerfully clapped her hands together. “We have met the many of times—”
“Mostly during the totally not relaxing Month of Relaxing a few years back when I tried to learn to sail…” interrupted the faerie.
The Peophin sighed almost wistfully. “Never before have I saved the same sailor so frequently in such a short stint of the time!”
“Er, yeah,” Sorri said sheepishly. “I’m sorry.”
“Yes you are!” agreed the Peophin.
The characteristic “ba dum tiss” of a rimshot was heard, and all turned toward the source of the sound – the Pant Devil. “What do you expect,” he said casually, “that joke was bound to be made eventually, and I steal the odd Drum Kit from time to time.”
The Storyteller sighed. “Yes, I suppose the joke was inevitable. When characters have punny names, the joke has to be made – the dramatic irony on that can only go so far.” He turned to the Peophin. “So, Venuquin, Sorri tells us you can take us across the ocean to Mystery Island—”
“That,” interrupted the saviour of ships, “I CANNOT the do.”
The Aisha looked taken aback, and switched her gaze between the faerie and the Peophin. “What? Why not?”
“Because,” started Venuquin, “the Island of the Mysteries is outside of my jurisdiction. HOWEVER, I can take you as far as the Island of the Bitey ‘Pets.”
The others sort of stared, confusedly, until Sorri whispered to them, “That’s her name for Krawk Island.”
“Ohhhh,” they said in unison, their voices also hardly above a whisper.
The Eyrie turned to face Venuquin. “Yes, that’s more than fine.”
“I concur,” concurred the gypsy. “That just means that we’ll get to encounter one more legendary character who will subsequently take us to Mystery Island!”
The Peophin cheerfully clapped her hands. “Joy! However, because it will the detract from my usual line of work – the saving of the stranded sailors – I will require the payment for my services.”
“Yes, Sorri warned us,” replied The Storyteller. “And you don’t accept us listening to you talk?”
She shook her head. “No.”
“How about a Drum Kit?” asked the Pant Devil.
“A rare stamp?” asked The Storyteller.
“All the riches bad luck can buy?” asked Sorri.
“The no to alllll the that!” responded Venuquin, her raw excitement rising. “I want the something truly the special, the something that is for the me as saviour of the seas, the something…” she trailed, her voice hardly above a whisper, “truly the legendary.”
Maria figured it out. “How about this?” she pulled and handed the coral from the Kiko Lake Monster to Venuquin. “One Chekhov’s Gun, at your service!”
Venuquin’s eyes widened. “Joy! A piece of coral—”
“Coral,” interjected the gypsy, “from the Kiko Lake Monster.” She grinned.
“Oooh,” said the saviour of ships, mystified. “A piece of the coral from the legendary bandage monster of the wailing faerie water!” She reached out and grabbed it. “Yes yes yes, for this I will take you to the Island of the Bitey ‘Pets!”
Maria grinned at the others as the Peophin led them to a small raft. “You get on the this,” Venuquin started, “and I’ll pull you to the Island.”
“Er, is this safe?” asked the gypsy.
“Pshaw,” said the aquatic Neopet as she waved her hoof dismissively. “Of course it is the safe… but please do your best not to fall into the water.”
The Aisha glanced at Sorri, who said, “Venuquin pulled me to shore multiple times before with this – never with three others, of course – but I’m sure it’ll be just fine. Provided nothing disturbs us along the way.”
Venuquin nodded slowly, understandingly, at this apparent display of foreshadowing.
“Of course!” exclaimed the Peophin. “And if you fall in, I will the save you.”
“Well that’s reassuring,” said The Storyteller with a hint of sarcasm.
Nevertheless, the four climbed onto the raft, attached by rope to Venuquin’s muscular neck, and she swam and pulled them behind her.
The ride was relatively uneventful for a long stretch of time, “as twilight turned into morning,” moaned Sorri, for exposition’s sake. The five discussed everything from current events, to the weather, to politics, whether they were Angelpuss of Puppyblew Neopians, changing Neopian story practices and cultural paradigm shifts – standard conversational fare.
“Until,” said The Storyteller, “something happens to disturb this otherwise calm and rather vague and nondescript paragraph on our seafaring journey!”
Maria gasped. “Something like what?” Her eyes narrowed. “Surely you don’t mean the potato…”
“Thankfully this isn’t Storytelling Competition Week 538,” replied The Storyteller matter-of-factly. “I meant, something like—”
“Something like that!” fearfully shouted Venuquin as she gestured ahead with her horn. “The Drenched! I should have known!”
The three water faerie sisters swarmed Venuqin and the little raft. “Ah, dear Venuquin,” one of them started, “cartelling more wayward adventurers?”
“Yes,” said the next sister as she swam to face the others, and looked right at Sorri. “It would be awfully bad luck if something were to disturb your little voyage.” She giggled menacingly.
“You are the mistaken,” countered the Peophin. “I am not rescuing them, but sailing them.”
The third sister grinned. “Oh, but that’s your biggest mistake—”
Maria folded her arms. “OK, enough of this ‘one of them’ and ‘the next one’ and the ‘the third one’ descriptors,” she interrupted with a huff. “I am just going to name the darkest blue one Tilly, the medium blue one Milly, and the lightest blue one Filly. Is that clear?”
“Hey,” Tilly protested. “That’s not my name! It’s something much edgier than that—”
“Well it’s your name now,” interjected The Storyteller with a shrug. “My apologies, but this isn’t your story.”
The three Drenched sisters folded their arms in a huff.
“Pshaw, fine” said Milly with a dismissive hand wave. “But that doesn’t mean we’re going to take our new names without a fight.”
Sorri shrugged. “Neopians have fought over more trivial things, I suppose.”
“Stop, the The Drenched,” uttered Venuquin with high-pitched bravado. “If you shipwreck them, I’ll just save them anyway… so it’s time to the stop.”
“How cute,” crooned Filly. “But you forget, you’re not a saviour right now – you’re part of the crew, and liable to get wrecked too.”
Venuquin gasped. “The rigid confines of logic dictate that that might be the true!”
“Don’t listen to them, Venuquin,” urged The Storyteller. “They are simply trying to disturb your thought process with ill-founded arguments!”
Tilly laughed a throaty, high-pitched, doom-signalling laugh. “We are The Drenched – destroyer of ships, and saviour of fish pops,” she said.
“We attract all sorts of sailors to their doom with our sweet voices and sweeter charms,” continued Filly with a cute demeanor.
“And if they don’t fall for us…” trailed Milly ominously.
“Or, when they give us stupid girly names,” Tilly grumbled.
“We ATTACK!” they said in unison as they jumped out of the sea and lunged for everyone.
At that moment, a tree fell from the sky and sent The Drenched and Sorri tumbling down into the ocean.
“Ow,” Sorri gurgled before her comrades quickly pulled her up and out of the water, back onto the raft.
Just as quickly, Venuquin swam away from The Drenched, the raft pulled hastily behind her. “Hold on the tight!” she shouted to them as water sprayed all up and around them.
“Well, that was VERY Deus Ex Machina!” yelled Maria over the loud crashing displacement of water.
“Do you mean that literally?” replied the Pant Devil as he looked upward.
Above them was The Coincidence.
The Storyteller had to laugh.
Sorri did too, even if her laughter sounded like bitter weeping. “Bad luck works in mysterious ways.”
“Now that we’ve had some sense of seafaring plot,” said The Storyteller, “and have touched on the legend of The Drenched, we can advance the story and arrive safely at Krawk Island.”
“Alright!” squealed Venuquin. “Fair enough!” She focused her gaze ahead. “Look up ahead, it’s the Island of the Bitey ‘Pets!”
Maria pointed to it. “We’ll be there in a sentence!” she exclaimed.
Everyone applauded as Venuquin pulled them to shore.
“So,” said The Storyteller as they climbed to shore, “what is our next move in this little rising action legendary anthology we find ourselves in?”
“I say,” conjectured Maria, “that our next move is to find the next legendary character from whom to obtain a legend.”
“Duh,” said the Gallery of Evil One.
“There should be a legendary the Neopian who runs a ferry between the Island of the Bitey ‘Pets and the Island of the Mysteries,” elaborated the Peophin. “And as the supposedly the ‘good’ storytelling goes, he is the right over the there.”
The others glanced at where Venuquin was pointing, and indeed, saw a pirate.
“Who’s theeerree,” drawled a voice from the other side of the beach.
“It is us,” replied Maria, “the protagonists.”
“Ah, well in that case – ahoy there!” the Gelert greeted as he approached them. “It is I, Goober Thriftshoppe, at your service. Where be ye headed?”
“They want a trip to the Island of the Mysteries,” answered Venuquin.
“Ah, that’s easy sailin’!” the Gelert confirmed as he inspected his potential crew. “But it’ll cost ye.”
The Pant Devil sighed. “Ah, you’re gonna want to tell us about your life-story legend as payment, aren’t you?”
The pirate gave them all a sheepish grin. “Is it that obvious?”
“Well, that is the nature of this contrived tale,” declared The Storyteller un-emphatically.
“Noted,” replied Goober. “Well, ye’ve get all yerselves a deal.”
“Joy! And that is my the cue to exit the story,” said the saviour of ships. “The so long, and thanks for all the fish pops!” Venuquin concluded before swimming away to help others.
“So,” began Goober, “me smallest ship is right over there. It should fit all ye easily.”
He took them over to a small pirate vessel – a ship that could easily fit a crew of a dozen or more.
“Well this is exciting,” said Maria excitedly.
“Certainly,” replied The Storyteller. “We are very close to the climax of this tale.”
“Indeed! Only one more legend to sit through,” affirmed the pirate as he boarded the ship, followed by the others. “Speakin’ a’ which… I’ve sailed these open seas tons a’ times with me first mate, Gavril McGill’s niece.”
At once stepped out a new character. “Hello there,” she commented. “I am Ella McGill.”
The Storyteller frowned. “Wait, where did she come from?”
“Aye, I was in the Captain’s Quarters of this here vessel,” the Acara replied.
“Pshaw,” said Goober. “This is my tale, and I’m bringin’ in me first mate.”
Maria frowned. “And she was just on this ship the whole time?”
“Aye,” confirmed Goober. “Come on now, don’t worry about characterization at this point – just let me tell me legend.” He signalled for Ella to get the preparations underway to sail, and she did, and they started moving toward Mystery Island.
“Now then,” the Gelert began, “I’ve wanted to be a pirate for as long as I can remember. But I had to overcome significant adversity – everyone from Captain Scarblade, to the fierce undead ghost pirate, LeShrugs.”
The Eyrie cast an uneasy glance at his protégé. “I’m sorry,” he said, looking back at Goober, “– and perhaps it is the weak allusion – but this legend seems even more forced than the others, somehow.”
The pirate frowned. “What? I even consult the island voodoo faerie from time to time about what I should do with him!”
The Storyteller raised his eyebrow, interrogatingly. “What is her name?”
“Er…” Goober trailed, and then scowled. “Alright, fine. There really is no big legend about me – I’m just a pirate who sails the seven seas, lookin’ fer everything from gold to Hannah.”
“Why Hannah?” inquired Maria with a frown.
“Because every time I’ve remembered to participate in the War of the Obelisk – ‘there’s always money in the Obelisk,’ they say – I always take the Thieves’ Guild, and they never win,” he replied, exasperated. “You’d think I’d deserve SOME sort of recompense by now.’
“That sounds like terrible luck,” said Sorri un-ironically. “I’m here if you’d like to talk about it.”
The Gelert shrugged. “Ella is just fine for that, but thanks.”
“So then,” asked Maria, “if your legend – or lack thereof, concise as it was – is o’er, does that mean we will be arriving at Mystery Island soon?”
The Gelert frowned. “Aye… I suppose so,” he said with a touch of defeat.
“Thank goodness for the author running out of ideas,” The Storyteller whispered to Maria, prompting a small giggle from the Aisha.
“At least the author is honest,” the gypsy replied with a shrug.
“Anyway,” said Goober with a nod, “I hope ye all find whate’er mysteries ye seek on Mystery Island.”
“Indeed!” shouted Ella as she steered the ship into Mystery Island’s harbor. “May you reach a swift climax and some great falling action!”
“The tale’s not o’er yet,” the Gelert said ominously. “Just because me legend was not fully fleshed does not mean you’ve seen the last of ‘em.”
“OK, that’s not even foreshadowing,” opined Maria to the others before turning back to the pirate. “You’re explicitly voicing the continuation of legendary adversaries.”
The Acara smiled at them with a gleam in her eye, “Make great haste and dodge ‘em faster than an inappropriate simile.”
The Storyteller waved the pirates farewell. “We will do our best.”
“We can only hope!” replied Maria, a twinkle in her eyes, too, as she skipped off the ship and onto Mystery Island’s shores, followed by her companions.
To be continued…