The Legend of Merriwillo
Staring up at the menacing woods, Konrad and Rollo, his
shadow Kougra, both began having second thoughts about actually entering it. The
trees all stood extremely tall with sharp branches protruding from the trunk all
the way up to the think bushy part at the top. Various weeds, small and large,
smooth and prickly, dotted the forest floor. Frightening bugs and wild petpets
could be heard making noises or, from the rustling leaves, simply just creeping
around. No light was seen illuminating the dark space, except for a few treeless
spaces where natural skylights were created. The forest boundary looked as to
go on forever for no ending could be sighted. It was almost as if they were looking
in at a ghost-town. But the worst things from Rollo's point of view were the foot
prints with sharp looking claws that entered the forest from the same place as
Konrad and Rollo.
Konrad must have not seen the prints or perhaps
he overlooked them for he loved his job so much. Konrad worked as a photographer,
and loved his job almost as much as he did his Kougra, Rollo. Almost, that is.
And maybe it was for Rollo's sake that he led the way into the forest. More
than anything, Konrad wanted his pet to feel safe and secure so he conjured
up a brave face and marched on in to meet whatever awaited them.
Konrad's latest assignment was to photograph
a serene beach scene, untouched by the human hand. Of course, every beach for
500 miles on Mystery Island, where they lived when not traveling for shots,
was mobbed by tourists, so Konrad knew that their search would lead them far,
far away from their home sweet home.
He tried to soothe the uneasiness, "This isn't
so bad, is it? I mean, just check out those cool flowers over there."
"Konrad?" Rollo questioned.
"Did you happen to notice that it's too dark
to see anything, including flowers?" Rollo's voice rose.
"No, no, over there," Konrad pointed to a slivery
looking flower which hung mid air. "See it? I've never seen anything like it
"Konrad?" Rollo repeated calmly.
"THAT'S A SPIDER-WEB!" Rollo's voice rose again.
"Oh yeah, heh… imagine that?" he offered, glad
that is was so dark because his face turned a dark shade of red in embarrassment.
"Okay, okay… I'm sorry," Rollo apologized while
taking a deep breath. "I shouldn't be getting mad. I mean, I did volunteer to
go, and I guess when and if we find the beach, it will be worth it."
"That's the spirit," chuckled Konrad.
"If you say so," Rollo rolled his eyes and sighed
quietly so only he himself could hear. Rollo tried to put on a new attitude
as the two tramped deeper into the heart of the forest, unaware of what awaited
them. Konrad fished for a lantern from his knapsack to light up the forest and
their pathway. The nervous Kougra definitely appreciated this and warmed up
afterwards. Rollo began humming a familiar tune, in which Konrad joined in later,
that he had learned when he was only a tiny Kougra cub.
"15 men on a dead man's chest,
Yo ho ho and a bottle of…"
"I don't know how much more of this I can take, Konrad," Rollo whimpered five
days later while they still lingered in the forest. Actually, a better word
would have been lost.
"I'm tired to the bone, I'm filthy, I'm scratched
and scraped, I'm wet, and I'm starving. We've got to get out of here." The two
had wandered in circles for days, or so it seemed. The food supply was scanty,
and all belongings were soaked. Frequent rainstorms had hailed them unwelcome
about every five hours. Mud soaked Rollo's paws and Konrad's boots with every
sloshy step. The sharp tree branches had become more frequent, and the natural
skylights had long since run out. Konrad's face was paling for the lack of the
"I know, I know," Konrad whined, "If I only
could get us out of here, I'd forget this job altogether!" He beat his fists
on a nearby tree scratching them up even worse. "I don't know how much more
I can take either. I'm almost ready to sit down and quit."
Rollo gasped in shock. Konrad never gave up on
anything. He couldn't let him do this, but really, what else was there to do.
Just as Rollo was about to join Konrad in defeat, a glimmer of gold caught his
eye. Fixing his gaze upon it, a large creature motioned to him through the trees
to follow him. Even though Rollo knew naught what would happen, his paws traced
the strangers footsteps. Konrad rose and followed in desperation. The figure
never allowed the two to catch up with him, yet he never allowed the two to
loose sight of him. The faint humming of the tune helped Rollo keep up, the
tune he had hummed only a few days earlier. Konrad kept badgering Rollo about
where he was leading them, as if he could see or hear the burly stranger. Rollo
just swatted away his comments.
As the creature's pace began to increase, so
did Rollo's. Soon he and Konrad both were sprinting to keep the figure in sight.
Before they knew it, a ray of light emerging from behind a tree caught even
Konrad's attention. They turned their attention to the glimmer of light, but
as they did so the figure vanished. Rollo slowed to a trot, Konrad bubbling
with anger for not knowing what had come over Rollo. Soon he forgave him though,
for the ray of light led out of the forest.
The moment they exited, Konrad fell to the ground,
praising the dewy grass and damp mud. Rollo however peered from left to right
for the stranger. Finding no other living creature, he plopped onto the ground
beside his owner, sighing is disappointment.
"What's the matter? Be happy for we are out
of the treacherous forest!" Konrad laughed heartily.
"Oh… it's just that…" But he faded off for a
large paw had planted itself in front of his face. Looking up, a large Pirate
Kougra stood tall and firm, grinning at the two.
Springing up, Rollo called, "It was you who
led us out! I knew it!"
"Aye, young one. It was I who saved ye from
your troubles. But come, follow me, and I will further save ye from your troubles."
The Kougra began to walk away, and Rollo followed at his heels.
Konrad called out from behind, "We've only just
gotten out, Rollo. Stay and rest for a moment, and by the way, who were you
Rollo gaped. Konrad could not see the strange
Kougra. He hadn't seen him running ahead, and he hadn't seen him just now. Who
or what was this? But he only answered, "Just follow us-me I mean."
Luckily, he nodded and followed, much to Rollo's
relief. After about 10 minutes of traveling through rolling hills, an ocean
came into view. An uninhabited ocean-perfect for Konrad's shot. "Oh!" he yelled
out. "How did you know where to go? This is simply wonderful!"
Rollo did not answer, but stared to the right
of the ocean where a small country town stood. "Arr, That is the town of Merriwillo."
The Kougra spoke for the first time since they'd left the edge of the forest.
"It is a quiet, peaceful town where I once lived. Go and find rest there, mates."
And with that, the pirate Kougra seemed to rush away as if taken by the wind.
Rollo watched him faint into the distance until he was no longer visible. How
mysterious, he thought.
"What are you waiting for? See, a town in the
distance. Let us make haste to arrive!" Konrad started off for the town as he
spoke, and Rollo had to run to catch up with the eager man. "I never knew you
had such a good sense of direction. Now I can get my shot, and we can relax
and find a way home without going through the forest again." Rollo only nodded
and remained silent the rest of their journey which took about 30 minutes.
A woman and her pet, which was a Gelert, greeted
them cheerfully as they entered the city through marble gates. "Greetings, travelers.
Welcome to our city of Merriwillo. We don't often receive strangers or travelers
here, but they are always most welcome. Feel free to look around, and there
is an Inn near the center of town where you can lodge for the night. Everyone
here is very friendly, so ask anyone anything you dare to." A twinkled glinted
in her eyes which sent chills down Rollo and Konrad's spine. Perhaps it was
the abundance of friendliness here. After all, it is a rare quality nowadays.
However, they all exchanged smile and proceeded into the town.
The woman and her Gelert were right. Everyone
they met introduced themselves and told them how glad they were to see some
new comers to the area. It was nothing like their regular Mystery Island or
even Neopia. After a week of lodging in the small town, Rollo and Konrad weren't
even sure if they wanted to return to their home. They might have even stayed-if
Konrad didn't love his job so much. He did however take many pictures of the
beach, which seemed worthy of praise and award.
But perhaps the most interesting event happened
on one of the last days of their long visit. A small park dwelled in the center
of the town where most inhabitants of Merriwillo spent their days. A sparkling
blue, yet clear, lake where you could see to the bottom sat in the middle of
the park while surrounded by weeping willow trees, tall, yet graceful. This
was where the name of the town came from. Anyway, near the front of the lake
stood a magnificent white marble statue in the form of a Pirate Kougra. Staring
at it, Rollo couldn't help but think it looked familiar.
After wondering about it for a while, Rollo
inquired a striped Shoyru about the story behind it.
"Oh, it's quite fascinating actually. That Pirate
Kougra there, Ezhno was his name, discovered this town we know as Merriwillo.
Of course, that was years and years ago, and since then he is long gone now.
He came from Mystery Island with his family, tired of it being so crowded. Built
himself a home and invited anyone who happened to pass by the chance to stay
and make a home here. Most were touched by his incredible kindness and love
for the ocean and couldn't resist the invitation."
"Anyway," she continued, "legend, well maybe
not so much legend, but rumor, says that Ezhno still appears to only those who
are worthy of living in this grand town of Merriwillo. I've never seen him myself,
so I'm not sure if the tales are true or not, but every town needs some fun
history, right?" She smiled at them fondly and told them, "I hope you decide
to join us here," and then flew off.
"Whoa, that was a pretty cool legend, eh Rollo?"
Konrad looked at Rollo.
"Yeah…" Rollo smirked, "pretty cool. But you
know, Konrad, I think you could still continue your career, and we could live
here, too. Besides, something tells me we're worthy of this paradise." Cocking
his head, Rollo once again heard a faint humming in the distance,
"15 men on a dead man's chest,
Yo ho ho and a bottle of…"