Stand behind yer sheriff Circulation: 98,096,637 Issue: 194 | 10th day of Relaxing, Y7
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Harquin's Day


by midnight_tango

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"Harquin! Harquin, wake up!"

     "Hmm?" Harquin the Peophin opened one eye and looked up at her mother, standing over the bed.

     "It's nine-thirty," her mother said, pointing to the clock on the wall of their home off the coast of Neopia Central. "Time to get up."

     "Ohh…" muttered the young blue Peophin, sliding out of her bed. "What are we going to do today?"

     "Nothing's planned," replied her mother briskly, bustling out towards the kitchen.

     Harquin sighed. Another normal day. Nothing ever happened around her house. Ever since her best friend Kayra had moved to Mystery Island, she never had anything to do anymore. Sure, she could play out on the beach. But it wasn't really fun when she had no one to play with.

     She trotted out of her room and into the kitchen, where she munched thoughtfully on a bowl of NeoCrunch cereal. After she was done, she ran out through the door, calling to her mother: "I'm going outside to play, be back later!"

     Once outside, she splashed into the cool, sparkling water only a few feet from their beachside Neohome, the sea breeze tousling her green mane. She gazed out into the expanse of the ocean, wishing something would happen. Something exciting.

     Impulsively, she swam forwards in the water, then veered off to the right, towards the rocky caves. When it was high tide, as it was now, water flooded the cave area, making it extremely dangerous. Harquin had never ventured into that area of the beach; her mother had forbidden her too.

     But today, she was bored. She needed adventure.

     Glancing back at her Neohome to make sure her mother didn't see her, she ducked beneath the water and swam towards the rock caves.

     When she reached the entrance, she peeked in around the corner, curious and a little nervous. She had never been in here before.

     Yet it didn't seem dangerous. Light flooded the area through a small hole in the cave roof, making dancing sparkles on the calm water. Tentatively she entered, then sighted two passageways that branched off the first cave into several directions. Which way should she go?

     Indecisive, she moved towards the left passage, but there was some strange, nagging feeling at the back of her head that was telling her 'no, no, take the right, take the right..'

     She shrugged. What harm could it do? The right passageway looked darker, but she didn't care…

     Harquin swam down the narrow opening of the right passage carefully, looking nervously down it - and then she was swept away in a current!

     Fighting the pull of the water, she struggled to swim upstream, but it was too much for her young body. The current pulled her down and down, water spraying into her eyes. As the young Peophin screamed, the water rounded a sharp bend, and Harquin was thrown into a prism of light - and suddenly everything was calm again..

     Harquin opened her eyes, and blinked. She was in a place she had never seen before in her life - in fact, it didn't even look like home. It was a sparkling chamber that was seemingly built entirely out of pale blue crystals that sparkled with their own light. The floor of the chamber was a deep pool of icy water that reflected the glitter of the crystals. There was no ceiling, just an expanse of dark-blue sky above, twinkling with stars. It was beautiful. But wait - it was night already? How much time had passed?

     Harquin glanced behind her, and gasped. There was no passage leading back to the current and the cave, only a quickly vanishing portal of colored, swirling light she vaguely remembered flying through on her way down the current. Had she really come through that?

     "Wait! Stop! Don't go!" she cried in alarm, swimming towards the portal. But it was too late; the thing vanished, leaving Harquin all alone in the crystal chamber, with no way out.

     "There's no way out," the young Peophin whispered, glancing around frantically. She swam to the edge of the crystal wall, peeked over, and nearly screamed. She was at the top of a mountain, a mountain that was topped with the crystal chamber. At the bottom of a sheer drop over the edge she could barely see the water. She was trapped.

     "How do I get out? Help! Can anyone hear me?" Hearing her voice echo around the empty chamber, she began to cry.

     Suddenly, another voice echoed throughout the chamber - one not her own. It was a quiet, soft voice, filled with kindness, and age, and a sense of responsibility.

     "Why are you crying, child?"

     Harquin looked up, and gasped again. On the other side of the crystal chamber was another Peophin. She was older than Harquin, much older, the oldest Peophin Harquin had ever seen. Her green mane was faded with age; her head-dress sparkled in the moonlight.

     "B-Because I'm stuck up here," sobbed Harquin, looking up at the old Peophin as she came closer. She was not afraid at all, she realized. Why? Normally Harquin was scared and shy of strangers. But somehow, this old Peophin seemed…different.

     "What is your name, child?"

     "H-Harquin," she whispered, drying her tears. "W-Who are you?"

     "I have had several names," the older Peophin replied, gazing off into the distance, "but…I am known to most as Peophey."

     "Peophey!" Harquin's eyes widened. Like all young Peophins, she'd been told tales of the mystical Peophin lady, guardian of the most precious treasures of the Peophin species. But she'd believed them just to be fables, bedtime stories… "I thought that was just a story - a fairy tale -"

     "No, it is true," the old Peophin said sadly, looking down at Harquin. "I am Peophey. Do you know why you are here?"

     Harquin looked up into the old Peophin's face, then at the moon shining above, the crystals around her. The top of the mountain.

     And then she knew.

     "Yes," she whispered.

     Peophey closed her eyes, and nodded. "Yes. This is the top of the mountain, home of the sacred crystals of the Peophin race. There is but one guardian of these treasures, appointed every two hundred years, known as Peophey.

     "My time on Neopia is ending. It is time for you, young Harquin, to take up the task of guarding the crystals, to take up the name of Peophey, legendary guardian of the Top of the Mountain."

     Harquin nodded solemnly.

     "The portal will now open for you, whenever, wherever you wish it to be," continued Peophey. "That is how you, and only you, can reach this place.

     "Guard the crystals with your life," she said, pointing a hoof at the gems surrounding them. "They are only to be given in rare circumstances…to those who are worthy of such a weapon. Only those pure of heart."

     "And now, I, who was once known as Sirela of Mystery Island, bequeath the title of Peophey, guardian of the Top of the Mountain, to Harquin."

     A flash of light exploded from the crystals, blinding Harquin, and a breeze ruffled her mane, a breeze that spoke of legends and mystery and long-ago Peophins that had all borne the name of Peophey…

     When she opened here eyes, the old Peophin was gone. Harquin was alone again on the top of the mountain.

     But this time, she wasn't afraid.

     "I am Peophey, guardian of the crystals," she said quietly, speaking to no one, watching the moonlight dance on the sharp gems and on the cold water. "Bearer of the ancient task of my people."

     And they still say, that those good and pure of heart, that if you are in desperate need, may someday be on the sand at midnight, watching the water lap against the shore, watching the moonlight shimmer off the waves, that Peophey might once again rise out of the waves, with a glittering crystal held carefully in her hooves…

The End

 
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