Meow Circulation: 105,225,448 Issue: 209 | 23rd day of Gathering, Y7
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The Faerie Pet: Part Four

by nut862


Outside the palace, I turned and gazed up at the magnificent towering structure. The pale blue walls were faintly glowing as before. The palace might be empty, but it was still beautiful. I would love to restore the queen to her throne. But how was I going to do that? The Acara had said to find a Jetsam…

     That part was easy. The blue Jetsam that had asked me to enter the palace to begin with was waiting outside. He swam up to me, eyes flashing sharply at me. "Where is the Sea Sapphire?" he hissed through crooked, pointy teeth.

     I didn't know how to answer. My first thought was of releasing Naiyania. The Acara had said, "You must find a Jetsam…you will have the power to release her then…" Well, I had a Jetsam right in front of me, but I hadn't any idea how to release Naiyania. I certainly didn't feel any more powerful.

     I just floated there in the water, unsure what to do. A flicker of anger seemed to rise in the Jetsam, and his glare bored into me uncomfortably. I thought to myself in disgust, this is the Jetsam that I was going to steal the Sea Sapphire for? What was I thinking? He was so clearly evil. I couldn't believe I'd ever thought of helping him.

     "Why didn't you bring the Sea Sapphire?" the Jetsam asked harshly, eyes snapping at me with anger.

     "I…" I couldn't avoid the truth. I might as well not seem scared about it. I said boldly, "I met someone in the palace who told me not to take the gem, so I didn't."

     The Jetsam looked at me sharply. For a moment he looked worried, almost afraid…perhaps because I'd turned against him? A moment later, though, the look was gone, and the Jetsam's face hardened as he looked at me. "Not all of the queen's subjects supported her," he said curtly. "The pet you encountered in the palace must be one of the rebels. Doubtless, the pet told you not to take the Sea Sapphire in an attempt to make sure that the palace was never restored. Don't believe such foolish lies. You must go back into the palace and bring the Sea Sapphire to me so that I can release its magic and restore the palace."

     I frowned. Did this Jetsam really think I'd believe his story? It sounded even more false to me when I heard it in his rasping voice as his eyes darted around shiftily. Now the Acara in the palace was someone I could believe. This Jetsam was not, and after hearing the Acara's story about the evil Jetsams who were in league with the Dark Faeries, I was hardly going to agree to help him again.

     I had to release Naiyania. How? Where was she being held captive? I had no idea how I was going to pull this thing off, or even if I could do it at all. The Jetsam was staring at me coldly, seeming expectant. He wanted me to say that I would get the Sea Sapphire for him. I wasn't going to do anything of the kind, but what was I supposed to do?

     "Tell me more about the palace. What happened to the subjects?" I asked, hoping to elicit a clue to their location.

     "I believe I told you before," the Jetsam said coldly. He looked a little nervous, and seemed to distrust me now, as if he thought I was going to betray him if he wasn't careful. "The subjects of the kingdom had no place to go after their queen fell, so I graciously gave them a place to stay for the rest of their lives."

     "Oh, right," I said, feeling no small amount of disgust with the Jetsam. Graciously…ha! He had taken them captive! "I'd like to meet some of the subjects. Could you take me to meet them?" I asked politely.

     Now seeming more than a little disturbed, the Jetsam's eyes darted over me, as if searching out my motives. "I'm sorry," he rasped. "The palace subjects are the best of the best, you understand, and they don't like to associate with common, ordinary pets. You have heard of royal ranks, have you not?" he asked almost accusingly, as if he thought I hadn't. "They would be very uncomfortable in the presence of a commoner."

     As if the Jetsam was any sort of royalty! "Are you the only Jetsam around here?" I questioned.

     "No," the Jetsam answered readily, suddenly looking more confident. He smiled widely, revealing rows of sharp, crooked teeth, almost as if he did it on purpose. "There are many of us," he said, his teeth flashing at me. Now I was sure he was showing his teeth intentionally. Was he trying to intimidate me? Trying to make me think that I had better back down and do what he wanted, or I'd have to face the other Jetsams?

     I wanted to be courageous in the face of this manipulative Jetsam, brave and faithful to my duty, but the truth was that his attempt at intimidation was working. I had never even met that Acara before, and now she was expecting me to save her queen? Now that I wasn't in her glowing, caring presence anymore, I was starting to wonder why I was trying to help her. This was just crazy. Nut and my siblings were waiting for me on the surface. Forget about this palace; I had to meet them for lunch before they sent search parties after me.

     "You know what?" I asked, turning and starting to swim towards the tunnel through which I had entered the area. "I've got to go. Bye."

     "Do not go!" The Jetsam's commanding voice stopped me in my tracks. He swam past me and blocked the entrance to the tunnel, eyes flashing. "You wish to see this kingdom restored? Get the Sea Sapphire!" he ordered. He seemed to have changed his mind about making me take the jewel willingly, and was resorting to forcing me into it.

     I shuddered at his ugly voice. Bravely swimming towards him, I said, "I really can't stay here any longer. My owner and my siblings are waiting!"

     The Jetsam frowned, his face clearly reflecting his anger. "Are you aware of what the Sea Sapphire would be worth in the surface world?" he asked sharply. "It could be worth hundreds of thousands, even millions, of Neopoints! If you retrieved it from the palace, I would even let you keep it. You could do anything you wanted with it. Show it off, and you'd be the envy of every pet in Neopia. Sell it, and you'd be able to buy anything you could possibly want."

     The Jetsam was changing his plan now, and making it even more obvious that he was trying to trick me. Now, instead of trying to make me want to restore the palace, he was appealing to what he hoped would be my own selfishness. It was too bad for him that I'm not the kind of pet to be greedy. Well, not usually, anyway. At any rate, he wasn't convincing me. I knew that all he cared about was having the Sea Sapphire removed from its pedestal, not the jewel itself, so that the power would be cut off and the palace made vulnerable to his evil. I wouldn't let that happen.

     However, I wasn't sure what to do. I wanted to return to the surface and forget this whole thing, but the Jetsam wasn't going to let me until I did what he wanted. And I didn't want to hang around the Jetsam for much longer; he was creepy and weird, not to mention that I knew he was evil.

     "All right, I'll get the Sea Sapphire, but on one condition," I said. "I want to see the rest of this area of the sea before I go into the palace again. I know there's more ocean area behind the palace. I'm a bit of a sightseer," I said, not sure whether that was true or not.

     The Jetsam seemed to consider this for a few seconds. Then he said, "I will show you the surrounding ocean."

     The Jetsam seized my fin roughly in his. I wanted to pull away, but he wouldn't let me go. He began pulling me through the water, and I followed. I kept my eyes out for anything that looked like a prison where Naiyania might be held.

     The Jetsam dragged me through the sea, leading me past coral and rocks and seaweed, much the same things that I would see in the normal part of the ocean. However, even the rocks and seaweed had an empty feel, and there were no Petpets swimming around in these areas. Not a living thing was to be seen except for the Jetsam and I, and I shivered to think what would happen if I got into trouble. I've never been strong, and I doubted I could defend myself should the Jetsam turn nasty.

     After we had been swimming for a while, I spotted another Jetsam, a red one, hanging out in the shadows of an underwater rock. The blue Jetsam dragged me by him without calling attention to him, but I noticed that the red Jetsam began following us after we'd gotten a sufficient distance away. It made me nervous, but I had to find that prison and release Naiyania.

     As we swam, we passed other Jetsams. They always watched us as we swam by, but didn't say a word until we were gone. Then they began following. I grew increasingly worried every time another Jetsam joined the large pack that was trailing us. The blue Jetsam that was leading me around didn't seem to notice, but I knew that he did.

     I was relieved when at last the ocean palace loomed again into view, and the Jetsam and I returned to the undersea courtyard. The other Jetsams hung back in the shadows, watching us in a way that made me uncomfortable. We had made a complete circle of the ocean area.

     I decided to just come out and ask. "Where are the pets you imprisoned? Where is Naiyania?"

     The Jetsam's eyes flared with anger, and I was suddenly afraid. What had I said? Had I just doomed myself by tipping my hand too early? I couldn't possibly hold my own against this Jetsam and all the reinforcements that were watching us. What was I thinking?

     "So! You know!" the Jetsam hissed loudly. "The brat in the palace told you all, I suppose! I suppose you also know that you are the faerie pet!"

     In seconds, I was surrounded by Jetsams. They all glared at me, showing their crooked teeth as if they wanted to eat me up that moment. I was scared. I couldn't escape, and for all I knew, they were going to kill me here and now. What about Nut? And Quiggler, and Lulu, and Sparkler? Was this the last they were to see of me? I had long since lost my bravado, and was now just trying to keep myself under control.

     "You could have helped us," the dark blue Jetsam hissed. "It would have been easy for you! All you have to do is take the Sea Sapphire off the pedestal. We will let you go free if you do. Otherwise, you will be doomed to a life in the dark chamber!"

     Dark chamber? What was he talking about? I didn't know what to say. I couldn't agree. I couldn't betray the Acara, a stranger though she was. I believed her. And I wanted to see the Water Faerie queen restored to her throne.

     The cruel Jetsams surrounding me were all glaring balefully. The blue Jetsam looked expectantly at me, with malice in his eyes. "Well? Will you help us? Or spend the rest of your life in prison?"

     In prison! I couldn't let them put me in prison. The Acara told me not to let them, until I had released Naiyania. But I couldn't help them, either. I didn't know what to do. I've never been good at making decisions.

     "You are taking too long to answer," the Jetsam rasped. "Does that mean you are unwilling to help us?"

     "Yeah," I whispered. I hadn't meant to whisper, but it came out that way anyway.

     The Jetsam's eyes blazed. "Then be confined in the dark chamber!"

     He touched my fin, and in that moment, everything around me went black. Complete darkness surrounded me. I couldn't see anything at all. The Jetsams were gone, the palace was gone…everything was gone. There was only the darkness and me.

     I was frightened. Where was I? Where was the light? My eyes were wide open, and I couldn't see anything. It was just pitch darkness, everywhere I turned. I was scared. I couldn't feel the water anymore. I didn't feel anything anymore, not land, not water, not air. What was I breathing, then? Was I alive?

     Scared, I began to race away. I didn't know where I was going, only that I had to escape from the darkness. At first I swam, and was moving at a good pace, but that seemed strange when there was no water. So I got up and walked, as I would on land, but there wasn't any land either. Nothing was there. It was only me. And the darkness was endless. I walked on and on without bumping into a wall. I couldn't escape from this darkness.

     A harsh laugh reached my ears, seeming to come from right inside my head. It was the blue Jetsam's laugh.

     "You can never escape," he rasped. "You have been imprisoned in the dark chamber, and you cannot get out. Meet the fate of Naiyania and her subjects!"

To be continued…

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Other Episodes

» The Faerie Pet: Part One
» The Faerie Pet: Part Two
» The Faerie Pet: Part Three

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