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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 18th day of Awakening, Yr 22
The Neopian Times Week 106 > Short Stories > Cursed Shores...

Cursed Shores...

by caliginousluna

Simple, delicate raindrops caress the ground before you. Your one plan of shopping for a while, and then returning home, had backfired. Your trip stretched from the awakening of morning, to the settling of noon. And, over the course of a few hours, the weather changed from bright and sunny, to a rainy haze.

     Your shoes slosh in the puddles that had collected over the past hour. You make the risk of staring at the sky, blinking when the occasional drop splashes into your eyes. With a sigh, you continue on your way home with a weighed heart. Today seemed to be unlike any other, but you were set in oblivion as to why.

     “Would you care to hear?” A raspy voice rose above the downpour. You jerk your head to the right, and you find yourself staring at an elderly Lupe. “Come child…” Her voice is kind, but filled with utmost sadness. She makes an effort to stand, and show you inside a small cottage. Each gray hair seems to strain along with her muscles as she leads you through the doorway.

     “Why am I here?” You question while setting down your bags and removing your sopping shoes.

     “My child, you are here for a tale. As you passed, I could sense your vibes of confused troubles. You do not know why you are in sorrow, and I have brought you here to reveal the reason.” The Lupess progresses slowly to a miniature sofa, and motions you to a chair opposite of her. “Throughout your stay here, may I ask that you call me Anili?” A smile spreads across her silver maw when you nod in response. “I am about to tell you a tale of a brave Lupe knight by the name of Phortis. My story is set during my childhood and around the area you call Mystery Island. It had started out as a magnificent day...”

***

It had started out as a magnificent day; the sun was shining over all of Neopia, and very few clouds crowded the sky. In fact, today was such a nice one, that Phortis decided to surprise his dear spouse, Libithia.

     “My sweet, please come! I have something for you!” His tongue lolled out of the side of his mouth, his eyes bright with excitement. When his white Lupess entered the room, he revealed a toothy grin. With a leap, the blue Lupe bounded forward. “Libby, I reserved a ship for the two of us; a cruise for the day!”

     Libithia came forward at once, her icy optics glimmering more with each step. She, too, grinned at her beloved. “You did this, for me? You shouldn’t have!” She took a step towards Phortis, and licked the tip of his muzzle in an affectionate sort of way. “When do we need to leave? This is, indeed, very sweet of you! After all, you are a knight, and the King needs you!”

     “Knights do have their days off, despite what the people think. But we have to leave immediately! You won’t need much; there is food and such on the ship already, so you won’t need much more than a sun bonnet!” His whiskers and ears perked up when she grabbed her hat and headed towards the door. With the smile plastered to his face, he turned to follow close behind...

     The water thrashed against the sides of the ship, and the sails were blown this way and that. The day was still early, and the sun was as bright as ever. Phortis lead his companion aboard the ship, nuzzling her cheek every so often. He could do nothing more but sigh in content while staring at his loved one. His heart was light, and his mind was filled with nothing but the day ahead of him.

     “Libby... Libithia... I want you to know that I care for you, more than anything. I don’t know how I could live without you.” He breathed deeply and dared to stare into her eyes.

     She returned the glance, her diamonds boring into his ambers. “And I, you, Phortis.” A small smile played across her muzzle, flickering in her shyness. “I do hope that today lasts like no other, one to remember and treasure forever.” She blinked slowly before pressing her nose to his neck and stepping towards the bow.

     The ocean wind blew through the silky fur of the Lupess, and even more-so when she neared the front of the ship. The boat bobbed atop the water’s surface, sending whitened splashes along the sides, as well as a mist onto the deck. Her paws brought her to the rails, where she raised her chest high and proud, and smelled the crisp breeze. Her mate snuck up behind her and let his head rest upon her shoulders.

     “It is peaceful out here, isn’t it? Nobody else around... just you, me, and the great oceanic winds. And, do you hear that?” Phortis’ auricles swiveled to the front, where he listened intently to the sounds of the water. “It’s the call of the Flotsam... their music, it’s so soothing and full of emotion, it makes you feel as though you are one with the sea.”

     “It’s beautiful! All of it is...” Libithia thought to herself, How can this be possible? I thought perfection was impossible, yet this day is just that: Perfect.

     Her spouse left her side for a second, just to check with the captain. “Is everything in order?” He entered the wheelhouse, where the captain steered the large wheel in order to control the ship. The Eyrie looked to him with a deepened, and wise look to his eyes.

     “Aye. The ship is sailing smoothly.” The gray Eyrie bowed its long neck, and continued to steer.

     It wasn’t long before midday came around. Clouds were starting to roll in, darkening the once bright sky. But the happy couple was too busy feasting together in the cabin to notice.

     “It has all gone by so quickly, Phortis. I wish it would never end...” Libithia stared down at her empty plate, letting her eyes wander occasionally to her husband. A lone tear escaped each of her eyes, but she hastily wiped them away. “I fear that I will long for one more day such as this. I fear that it will overcome my entire being...”

     “You have a strong will, and you won’t be overwhelmed by it. Trust me.” Phortis brought his paw forward and gently placed it atop his beloved’s. “Yes, I agree entirely with you. We have enjoyed the vast sea together, the brisk winds, and the ocean mist. I will miss it, too, so do not fear being alone in thought.” He brought a smile to her face, which forced one onto his. “Do you notice that it is getting dark outside? It is, what, three after noon? It’s a bit early...”

     He brought her up the stairs and to the deck, where he let her go to scent the moist air. His nose hairs flared while bringing in the smells, pausing to let them sink in. He turned abruptly, so suddenly, in fact, that Libithia jumped. “If my nose tells me correctly, a storm is upon us... I must speak to the captain.” He left her, mouth agape and staring at his retreating back.

     “Captain! I believe that we are coming to a storm! Do you think we can steer clear of it?” The door slammed behind him from his anxiety, but was left as unimportant.

     “Aye, the clouds are straight ahead. It can’t be escaped, but from the looks of it, it won’t be more than a drizzle. Nothing to fear.” The Eyrie’s beak curled upward, but opposed itself once the Lupe had left. In silence, he continued to turn his wheel.

     Phortis padded back onto deck, sighing with relief more than necessary. His expression told everything to Libithia, from his relaxed eyes to his slouched shoulders. They sat together; tails curled within each other, and watched the water before them.

     All the while, the captain muttered to himself. The storm ahead of them looked to be more than worse; the clouds were of the deepest gray, and random flashes of lightning wove in-and-out of the masses. He could even begin to feel the wind’s effect on the waves beneath the ship. He debated with himself, whether to flee and leave the couple, or stay and try to save the ship. Every so often, he would growl to himself while sweat trickled down his feathers.

     The storm hit the ship faster than expected. At first, it was nothing more than a drizzle, and it left the lupines less wary than it should have. They simply enjoyed having the droplets seep through their fur, and then having to shake their pelt dry again. The canines were so involved with each other, that they didn’t pay the first strike of lightning any heed. But the crack of thunder, which burst through their sensitive ears, forced their attention upward.

     The rain poured down harder and harder with every moment that passed, adding more noise to the darkening sky. Another bolt flashed through the clouds, followed closely by a second earth-shattering smack.

     Phortis dragged Libithia under the shelter of an overhang, and watched the storm with a glimmer of fear in his eyes. “I’m positive that the captain said that this was going to be no more than a light rain!” he exclaimed, but the crashing waves and the storm itself drowned his voice out.

     The white Lupess glanced over to Phortis. In the light, her crystalline orbs shone more brightly than ever. And, despite the heavy rain, she couldn’t help but smile at how tall he stood even in a natural disaster. The thought brought her head over to his shoulder, where she let it rest in comfort.

     He turned to watch her, nuzzling the top of her pate once and then turning back out to the water. He murmured a bit to himself, and finally said, “This will pass soon, and then we can get home.” But that comment was ruined when a wave crashed aboard the deck, sending water across the wood the more the ship rocked.

     Libithia whimpered and lifted her paws as though the water was going to drag her in. She nudged his shoulder, and motioned her head towards the cabin. He walked behind her, watching over his shoulder all the while.

     Another terrible wave crashed against the side of the boat, using so much force as to tip the ship a ways. Libithia, having lost her footing, slammed into the side of the cabin. Her head flung against the window, smacking a yelp out of her throat. “Phortis!” She gradually opened her eyes to find that the glass had cracked from her impact. She whimpered again when the salt water invaded the fresh wound on the side of her head.

     A flash of blue streaked across the deck as Phortis rushed to his spouse’s aid. “Libby! Are you okay?” He licked her cut gingerly, and helped her up...

     ...Only to be slipped up again when the ship rocked ferociously back-and-forth. A bolt of lightning streaked across the sky, and collided with the Crow’s Nest atop the mast. A bursting flame broke out, and the barrel crumbled into ash. The fire was short-lived, however, as the water smothered it in a haste.

     The deck was becoming harder to stand on for it was slippery with sliding puddles. The two tried to stand again, stumbling every so often on the wet surface. Phortis looked out to sea and noticed a dark figure not too far from them. If they couldn’t stay on the ship, they could swim to the island. He tripped once more and fell flat upon his sopping face.

     When the Lupes least expected it, another round of water came up onto the deck, and wound up underfoot the canines. A wave bashed against the opposing side, sending such a force throughout the ship, that Libithia fell forward and towards the edge. She sent out a howl and scrambled in the direction of Phortis. But the angle of the boat was far too vertical for it. “PHORTIS!” She sent out a bark through the air, and fell from the side.

     He, too, was slipping nearer to the side of the deck. He heard her cries for help, and went voluntarily overboard.

     The water was tough to swim through; it pounded them with wave after wave, knocking the breath out of both of the Lupes. Libithia was not too far from Phortis, and was floating to the shadowed figure ahead. The current was so powerful that it swept them both beneath the surface, filling their lungs with saltwater. They sputtered, and swam for their lives. Another wave dragged them into the sea, leaving them coughing for oxygen.

     Who knows what happened to the captain, for he was never seen again...

     The storm finally passed before Phortis and Libithia could make it to shore. But it left them weary and exhausted from the struggle.

     The bright sunshine was inviting to Phortis. The sand was so soft, and the air smelled so fragrantly of saltwater. “Phortis...” The winds were calling him, begging him to race with them. “Phortis...” If only he could find where they were! “Phortis...”

     He snapped up, realising where he was. His body was floating limply in the water by the shore’s edge. “PHORTIS!” The raspy call belonged to Libby. His eyes darted around, searching every way for her. Was she okay? His eyes widened at a spot of white against the shore, surrounded by small brown specks. The growl that sounded from his throat brought him much pain, but he didn’t care.

     His legs kicked beneath him as best as they could. He egged every aching muscle on, forcing them to paddle him to shore. “LIBBY!” he called out with a scratchy voice, and swam faster when the natives began to close in on her.

     They were tying her with thick ropes, bounding her and shoving seaweed into her mouth. Her eyes were wide and sparkling with peril. She shook her head frantically, struggling against her bonds. She let out a loud, muffled howl. But they picked her up anyway and started carrying her away.

     Phortis felt the adrenaline begin to pump through his veins. The rage boiled so high that his muscles received their strength again. His legs kicked with more force than ever as he neared the already-close shore. His claws ripped through the water like a knife through butter. And finally, his paws touched the sandy bottom, and not too soon. With his teeth bared, he let out a menacing snarl to the natives. “Let... her... go!” He raced forward, claws outstretched and fangs ready to tear through them.

     The group that carried Libithia went the opposite way still, while another group separated the Lupe from his beloved. He emitted another growl, and pounced onto the nearest man. His teeth tore through the soft flesh of the native’s arm, rendering it useless. Another attacked Phortis, stabbing his tail with a spear. Luckily, his tail was more fur so it didn’t do anything. He turned to snarl over his shoulder, and jumped onto his opponent.

     But there were too many for one Lupe to take! Everywhere he turned... every time he tried to escape to save his beloved... hopeless! He attempted to jump above them again, but was caught in midair.

     He gasped and stumbled backwards onto the sand. He sputtered for oxygen. His eyes glazed over as he stared at the blue, cheery sky, and didn’t even notice when a few members of the group picked him up. The sky moved by slowly enough, and the clouds rolled lazily by. All he could do was stare at it, wondering what had happened. An image of his beloved appeared in the blank space of his mind. Her wonderfully silky fur... those beautiful aquamarine eyes... and her dazzling smile. A tear dripped from his eye as he watched her. She had just nosed his neck, and walked to the bow of the ship... A smile curled onto his maw as he watched her grace and beauty. His ears perked forward at the sound of her echoing voice... ‘And I, you, Phortis...’

     His body was hoisted onto a small canoe, being taken out to sea. But he didn ’t notice it at all...

     Not even the pain could knock him to his senses. All he could think about was her. Another lone tear escaped his amber eyes and rolled down the side of his face. And, suddenly, her yelling voice filled his head. She was calling to him, telling him she was in danger. He had failed her...

     A few natives picked his body up one last time before tossing it over the side. His mass splashed and interrupted the surface of the sea. And yet, he still paid it no heed. Bubbles rose from his gaped, smiling mouth, and came upon the surface while his body sank. His fur swam around his body, his eyes stayed as they were, no matter how much the salt hurt them. He feared that if he closed them, he would never see his beloved companion again. But he kept sinking farther and farther into darkness, with nothing on his frozen mind but Libithia...

---

The image disappears before your very eyes, and you find yourself staring at a crying Lupess. Her gray hairs clump together from the steady stream of tears coming from her bright amber eyes.

     “Anili?” You hesitantly question, wondering if you should break her trance. Her head jerks to watch you through her glazed eyes. She takes out a cloth and wipes her eyes clear of the water.

     “I’m sorry... but telling the tale often makes me down at heart.” She sniffles and turns the other way, as though ashamed at her tears.

     “No, it’s okay. I understand... but, I have one question for you before I go...” Your brows rise, and you place a gentle hand onto her furred paw. “How do you know this so close and personally?”

     “We were connected, Phortis and I. Every pain he felt, I did too... for he was my long lost brother...”

The End

Author’s Note: In case you couldn’t tell, this story is about the Ghost Lupe. I took a little fact about his life, and warped it into a story. Hope you’ve enjoyed it! And, so you know, I was inspired to write this story while listening to Enya’s ‘Cursum Perficio.’


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