Sanity is forbidden Circulation: 118,491,560 Issue: 238 | 5th day of Hunting, Y8
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A Gift From the Doomed


by xxnekoninjaxx

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"Lark…"

      "What is it, ZuBuxu?" the raven-haired Neopian inquired, ceasing her packing upon the sound of her Kougra's mournful voice.

      "It's going to start storming out," ZuBuxuTheSilent informed her, his paws resting on the windowsill of their Mystery Island Neohome.

      Lark set the shirt she had been folding down onto the bed she was sitting on, and then slowly made her way to the window ZuBuxuTheSilent was looking out. The sky was growing increasingly gloomy, and the ominous clouds in the horizon certainly weren't wasting any time as they raced towards their Island home.

      "Are we still going to the Harbor today?" questioned the feline of his owner.

      "We really don't have too much of a choice, ZuBuxu. The Ferryman's last boat ride of the week is tonight; there won't be a way to get off of the Island for another two days if we miss this boat," responded the youth.

      "Is the medicine THAT important?" ZuBuxuTheSilent asked, ducking down to avoid the playful slap from his owner that followed.

      "Of course it is! Neji is very sick, ZuBuxu, you know that. I hate seeing him like this."

      ZuBuxuTheSilent turned his attentions back to the ever darkening sky as his owner ranted on about how if the Mad Scientist was more hygienic and kept his Secret Laboratory cleaned up, NejiTheNoble wouldn't have gotten sick in the first place. In the distance he could make out the shoreline, and the choppy water, which he dreaded would only get worse as the storm continued to venture near.

      "Lark!"

      The teen looked up from the packing she had resumed as KadajTheWicked and SasukeTheStrange burst into the room as if they were being chased. "What is it?" she asked, unsure of whether to panic or chastise her beloved Lenny and Peophin.

      "You'd better hurry up! The Ferryman is starting to let people onboard," Kadaj informed her. "You know once the boat is full he'll set sail."

      A look of alarm settled upon the young girl's face as she rocketed onto her feet and rushed towards the window once more. Kadaj was right, people were congregating near the docks, a few of them pointing to the clouds in the distance.

      "Oh no," she cried, running back to the bedside and throwing the rest of the clothing into the suitcase in a rushed manner, not bothering to conserve any space by folding.

      "Why don't you two start down to the harbor? I'll be right there as soon as I make sure poor Neji is all set," the girl said, handing off her suitcase to Kadaj, who took it in his talons and flew off in the direction of the docks, Sasuke close behind.

      Lark swiftly made her way to NejiTheNoble's room, finding him fast asleep. The temporary medicine must have took its effect on him sooner than she had thought it would. Lark wrote a quick note, reassuring Neji that they would be back in two days, three at the very most, and was then rushing out of the front door, ZuBuxuTheSilent close at her heels.

      The Neopian and Neopet wove in and out through the bustling crowd of the Mystery Island market place, trying to block out the flashes of distracting colors of the Neopian women's bright island skirts and outrageously flashy male swimming trunks. Not only were all of the colors distracting enough, but there was also all the noise of everyone trying to be heard above everyone else as the Island inhabitants attempted to get some last minute shopping done before they were stuck inside due to the threatening storm in the distance.

      To their dismay, the loud, deep sound of a disembarking ferry sounded, temporarily drowning out the bustling of the Islanders. Lark and ZuBuxu exchanged horrified glances and began to run towards the harbor, apologizing here and there to the people they had to shove past.

      "Lark! What took you so long?" Kadaj inquired, perched on the support at the end of the dock.

      "I…" it was all she could manage say as she watched the ferry chug steadily away from Mystery Island.

      "There'll be more boats," SasukeTheStrange tried to reassure the sulking Neopian.

      "I don't want to wait any longer… NejiTheNoble is suffering right now, and will have to wait even LONGER now before he can recover…" Lark cried, feeling responsible for her Neopet's illness.

      The wind began to increasingly pick up speed, causing Lark's long, dark hair to whirl about her as if it were dancing, as well as making her bright purple, ankle length tropical skirt billow about her legs in a hypnotizing manner. Kadaj let loose a strangled noise as a particularly strong gust nearly knocked him from his perch.

      ZuBuxu and Sasuke looked to the sky as they started to feel cold rain land on their heads. ZuBuxu, worried, ventured near his silent owner and brushed his body against her leg in attempts to console her, only to be surprised by falling water that wasn't rain at all; Lark was crying. SasukeTheStrange seemed to notice this as well, and pressed his nose silently into her hand for support as Kadaj hung his head, taking his owner's sorrow into his self as well.

      "Looks like you need to get out of here as badly as I do."

      "Huh?" Lark was surprised, she hadn't realized that someone else was there on the docks as well. She turned around and met the eyes of the speaker, a boy about her age with shockingly white hair. He had a Grundo at his side, radiating the same shocking white as did his owner.

      "I was upset when the Ferryman told me that the ferry was full, and sulked off to the shoreline," the boy started, realizing that the girl wasn't going to say anything else until he offered more. "What I guess I'm trying to say is that there is another way off of the Island today."

      "What?!" Lark and her Neopets said in unison.

      "I was shocked too," the white-haired youth continued. "A man came up to me and my Grundo here, and said that he could get us off of the Island on his boat. He said to meet him behind the Rock Pool. I was on my way there when I saw you and your Neopets. It looked like you guys could use some good news…"

      Without another word, Kadaj was airborne and flying in the direction of the Rock Pool, ignoring the pleas of his owner to come back, and that he could get struck by lightning at any second if he wasn't careful.

      Lark sighed, and turned her attention back to the boy in front of her, she wasn't too sure if she trusted him or not. "How can I be sure you're not lying to me?" she finally ventured, not daring to put herself or her Neopets into danger.

      "I can understand your distrust, but I am not lying to you," the boy tried to reassure her, his shoulder length white hair playing in front of his eyes as he spoke. "Either way, I'm not going to force you, I just thought you might want to know about this opportunity."

      Lark watched as the boy walked away in the direction of the Rock Pool, and as KadajTheWicked flew past and over the youth's head and back to the dock.

      "He's right, Lark, there really is a boat over there."

      After a brief silence, and a consensual nod from her Neopets, the group ran to catch up with the white-haired boy and his Grundo. Without a word, he nodded at Lark, and they made their way together to the Rock Pool.

      "I thought it was just going to be you and your Grundo," complained a weathered man who was wearing a raincoat. "You never said anything about a girl and three more Neopets… Oh well, no use complaining. Get on, get on!"

      Lark shot the boy an uncertain glance but followed him all the same onto the deck of the more than questionable ship. After a quick tour of the ship, mainly consisting of where they would be sleeping, the "captain" left the two Neopians and their Neopets to their own devices as he made his way slowly to his own chambers.

      Lark cracked the door open to the room that the captain had dubbed "hers" and closed it almost instantaneously, her face growing pale; there was no WAY she was going to sleep in the filth of that room. It had been covered with dust and cobwebs, and she was certain that she had heard something scurrying about in there as well.

      She turned to look at the boy, and smiled when she saw the same disturbed look upon his face as well. "What's your name?"

      "My name is Rein," the boy said, and then motioned to his Grundo, "And this is Demon_Sereph."

      Lark introduced herself and her Neopets in return and followed the boy to the deck of the boat; although rainy, windy, and potentially hazardous, it was a vast improvement from the dingy and grungy corridor.

      KadajTheWicked had found a place in the rafters and was determined to stay there until every last one of his feathers were preened and perfect again, while ZuBuxuTheSilent was content hunting down the mice in the room Lark had forsaken. SasukeTheStrange, however loved the rain, and followed the two Neopians up to the deck where he then found himself bonding with the white Grundo, fascinated by the tales he wove about how Rein had rescued him from the evil Dr. Sloth.

      "So what were you in such a hurry to get off the Island for?" Rein asked, leaning against the railing, the rain causing his hair to become stringy. "You're a Mystery Island native, aren't you? I would imagine you would be tucked away, nice and safe in your Neohome, not trying to brave the ocean in a bad storm."

      Lark was a little taken aback at the boy's judgment of her, but answered politely all the same. "My Neopet, NejiTheNoble, fell ill after we returned from the Secret Laboratory. I can't stop blaming myself for him getting sick…" She could feel Rein's gaze fall upon her when her voice trailed off.

      "I see, so you're going for medicine?" Demon_Sereph said, once again at his master's side.

      "Right," Lark said, running her hand idly through SasukeTheStrange's crimson hued mane. She couldn't tell if night was starting to fall, or if the storm was just getting worse.

      Rein didn't say too much after that, and Lark wasn't exactly sure of when he had left her side. She found herself sitting on the deck, her slender legs dangling over the edge of the boat, her tropical skirt and swimsuit top completely drenched from the rain, however she paid no attention to anything else aside from her sick Neopet back at home, hoping that he would be alright without her there to take care of him.

      SasukeTheStrange was the one to finally pull her from her thoughts when he mentioned that night was approaching and that he had seen lightning in the distance. The young Neopian and her Neopet stood and went below deck where ZuBuxuTheSilent sat proudly next to the largest pile of dead rodents she had ever seen.

      "I think the room is a little more inhabitable now," KadajTheWicked said from his perch on the rafter.

      Lark gave ZuBuxu a small pat on the head and opened the door to the room once again and was amazed at the condition of the room. It was still far from perfect, but it was free of mice, cobwebs, and most of the dust. "Did you two do this?" Lark asked, amazed.

      "I caught all the mice, and Kadaj blew all the spider webs and dust away," ZuBuxu said as he pranced into the room and jumped upon the bed.

      Lark let out a agonized gasp, she had been thinking about drying off with one of the towels she had packed, but then realized that they must have left her suitcase back at the harbor. What was worse, was that her suitcase contained the money for the medicine she needed!

      This was all too much for her to handle; she found herself sobbing atop the filthy bed, her Neopets all trying to comfort the inconsolable girl. None of them were aware of the white-haired youth leaning against the doorway, and by the time any of them felt his presence, he had already vanished into his own room.

      "Lark, wake up!"

      Lark's eyes flew open as she was roughly shaken awake. She had originally thought it was one of her Neopets, but was alarmed to find Rein standing above her, urging her out of sleep.

      "What's going on?" ZuBuxu asked, lifting his head lazily from the bedside next to his owner. Kadaj was shifting uneasily high up in the rafters, and Lark could sense his distress. Violent flashes of lightning lit the room as bright as daylight, allowing Lark to see the panicked look upon the boy's face.

      "It's the storm; it's taken us off course, and we're heading straight into some rocks," Rein informed her. Seeing the horror on her face, he decided to add, "The captain says if we all work together we can turn the ship just in time. But we have to hurry!"

      Lark and her Neopets followed the boy and his Grundo without protest up to the slippery deck. Neither Lark or her Neopets had expected the condition to be this bad, nor sure footing to be rather nonexistent. Rein had caught Lark when the wind had caught her skirt like a sail and blew her legs out from underneath her. Embarrassed, she managed to make the rest of the distance to the wheelhouse without another mishap.

      "What took you so long!?" growled the irate captain, and then turned to give orders to his Pirate painted Jetsam. "You two get your rears out onto that deck and pull that rope as tight as you can," he ordered, indicating a rope that had come unattached from the secondary sail.

      Rein had taken Lark by the hand and led her outside before the young girl had a chance to preach safety, followed by the four Neopets. He had safely guided her to the rope in question and grasped it as it swung about wildly in the crazed wind.

      Lark had taken hold of the rope as well as her Neopets, and began to pull with all her might to keep the sail taut, and was dismayed when she saw Rein let go, his face unreadable.

      "What are you doing?" Lark yelled, barley being heard over the screaming wind and the torrential rain. Unbeknownst to Lark and her Neopets, the ship wouldn't be able to be saved.

      "Lark," the boy started to say, his white hair was dripping water onto his face, "I… I deceived you."

      "What?" Lark asked, letting go of the rope herself.

      Rein looked away from her inquisitive amethyst eyes for a brief moment and then said "This boat was doomed from the second it set sail."

      "What in Neopia are you talking about!?" SasukeTheStrange asked, baffled by the meaning of his words.

      "Rein and I are 'tied' to this boat," the white Grundo said, "That captain made us a deal a long long time ago, and we accepted… unfortunately we learned later that our souls would be bound to this boat until the day it sank."

      "So we cut the rope to the sail, and fated this boat to the depths of the ocean," Rein said quietly, his voice just spanning the distance to Lark's ears.

      "The only way the captain would set sail today was if he had a different set of souls to take, so we tricked you into coming onboard," the Grundo said, ashamed of himself.

      Lark turned to her pets who were staring back at her with the same unbelieving stare. This couldn't be true, they were all thinking, yet… now, they just weren't too sure.

      "Why are you telling us this?" KadajTheWicked asked, breaking the silence.

      "Because," Rein started, moving closer to Lark and her Neopets, "I don't want your fate to be the same as ours. I just wanted us to be freed from this nightmare, and at the time replacing our souls with yours didn't seem so bad… but back then I didn't realize how much love you have for your Neopets, how much you cared about life in general; I just couldn't do that to you."

      "It's a little too late now, don't you think?" SasukeTheStrange said, catching ZuBuxu with his tail as he lost his footing and began to slide near the edge of the boat as it leaned dangerously to its side.

      "No, it's not," replied the Grundo, a sly smile creeping across his face. "When we were on Mystery Island, the Island Mystic gave us this. It's a teleportation potion… he meant well, but he looked past the fact that our souls are bound to this boat, and we can't simply teleport away from it."

      Rein stepped forward and took Lark's hand in his and placed the potion into it. "Take it, use it now. The Mystic said all you have to do is take a swallow and think of your destination."

      Lark squinted into the rain, she could make out the shapes of the ominous rocks that were the fate sealer of the ship. They had no choice but to believe the boy and his Grundo, otherwise they would die here and now.

      Lark looked at the drenched boy for a moment and then turned to her Neopets, helping them with the potion, and reminding them to think of home. Soon all that remained on the ship deck was Lark herself. As she lifted the remaining amount of potion to her lips, she was stopped by the calling of her name.

      "Take this as well," Rein said, placing a second veil into her hand. "It'll help your Neopet back home."

      Lark looked at the new potion, and then back up to the cursed boy and his Neopet. "Isn't there anything I can do to help you two?" she asked, wanting nothing more than to be able to save the boy and Grundo,

      "No, there is no saving us," Demon_Sereph answered.

      "Once this ship goes down, not only will the two of us be freed, but the captain will also lose his ship, and with that, the ability to capture anyone else's souls," Rein reassured her. "Now drink that and go home to your sick Neopet."

      Tears started to burn Lark's eyes, and she found her body moving on her own as she embraced the doomed boy, "Thank you," she said and swallowed the bitter drink.

      She cringed from the taste, and opened her eyes to find herself outside of her Neohome in Mystery Island!

      "Amazing!" she whispered, looking down at the vial in her hand.

      "Lark!" came the triplet cries of her Neopets.

      "We thought you must have gotten lost!" cried ZuBuxuTheSilent, bounding to his master.

      "No, I'm fine," Lark said, rubbing ZuBuxu's Plushie coat. "She gripped the bottle in her hand and started towards their front door. "Let's go see Neji!"

The End

 
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