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Lost Desert Chronicles: The Friendship


by catsrcool41

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The sun was beating hard on him as he paddled his rowboat furiously. The yellow Wocky in the boat, Cloud, was constantly on a mission. A mission for treasure, adventure, excitement, and anything that would make him feel alive and young.

      It was a hot day in August and Cloud was exploring the sea near Faerieland when he saw a speck of light in the distance. Thinking of the stories of treasure in the Lost Desert, a land he had heard of but never seen, he steered his boat toward it. As he paddled his small rowboat, he sang an old pirate's tune from Krawk Island.

      "If I can sing and I can sing and I can steer," he belted, hitting many wrong notes as he was doing so, "I'll be rich throughout the year!"

      However, after an hour of paddling and singing, Cloud began to worry. He still could not see land, or that flash of golden light.

      "What if I'm on a wild goose chase?" he began to think. He couldn't go back now. He couldn't admit that he had made a mistake to everyone in Neopia!

      Growing up in Neopia Central, Cloud had always been right. He'd always been the smart one. From Neoschool to inventing some Battledome items, Cloud had always known the answers.

      Then had come the day he had decided to become a pirate. He had a pirate paintbrush, and before he set off to Krawk Island, he painted himself pirate. But the sea had been rough, and on the way to Krawk Island, some particularly nasty pirates robbed him of not only his colour, but also all of his money. When he had arrived on Krawk Island, no pirate crews would allow him because he was not painted pirate and he had no money for a new paintbrush. So he had decided to be an independent pirate, which leads us back to his voyage.

      He took a canteen out of his pack, and took a long drink. Then he continued on his mission. Cloud heard a thump in the distance behind him, but he decided it was thunder and began to sing again.

      "If I can sing and I ca-"

      He was caught in the middle of an off-key note by a tremendous wave that sent him pummeling into the deep, dark sea. His arms desperately thrashed for something to hang on to.

     ***

      Panting as she walked, Sahara barely had time to think. She was late, very late. Sahara was a desert Aisha who inhabited the Lost Desert. She worked as an attendant of Coltzan's Shrine, and today there was to be a ceremony in honor King Coltzan III. To miss it would be to loose her job, so she didn't want to be late.

      Sand blew in her face as the Aisha dashed to the shrine to get to the ceremony on time. She made it just as the ceremony began, and she was panting as the King started to speak.

      "In honor of the late King Coltzan III," he began, "I would like to say a few words…"

      The ceremony lasted a few hours, and when it was finally finished, the employer of Coltzan's Shrine staff, Sahara's boss, clambered over to her. His name was Mr. Billobie, and he had a thick mustache, beady eyes, and no neck. No one could tell what species he was, but they didn't dare to ask, for he had a very quick temper. Sahara felt uneasy as he came up to her. As he approached, his face grew purple, and as he shouted, it was like and explosion had shaken all of Neopia.

      "Why haven't you been working?" He shouted so loud that no one in a 50-mile radius would be able to hear themselves think. "You've been standing around here like a tourist while there's a line on the other side of the shrine of pets and their owners waiting for you, the attendant, to let them go to the shrine! This is the last straw, Sahara! You're fired!"

      The words hit her like a bullet.

      "Fired?" She still couldn't believe it. "But sir, you-"

      "Silence!"

      She slowly walked away. She remembered the day she had gotten the job. She had been very young, and her family had lived in the Lost Desert her whole life. They had been very poor, and they rarely had anything to eat besides scorched food that they found on the ground. On that day, she had been searching for things like scorched pyramibread when she had heard a voice in the shadow of a dark old stall. As she had come closer, she had discovered an old desert Grarrl. The Grarrl had had a raspy voice that made him hard to understand as he spoke.

      "I have been contacted by the spirit of King Coltzan III, and he wants to make a deal with the citizens of the Lost Desert." Sahara had said nothing, so the Grarrl had continued. "He wants a shrine in his honor, and in return, he will give blessings to all that come to the shrine, and to the one who builds the shrine he will reward them with riches untold. Now run and tell the king what I told you! Run!"

      Sahara had done exactly what the old Grarrl had told her to do. She had run strait to the king of the Lost Desert, and had told him her story about the Grarrl. He had sent his most trusted constructors to build the shrine, and he had promised Sahara a job as the attendant, with which she would be paid with some of the untold riches that Coltzan had promised. She had accepted, and from then on had had enough money to support her family, until they had moved away. So much had changed since then, like the addition of Mr. Billobie, and now her being fired. That had finally sunk in.

      She went straight to her house and made herself some tea. Then she walked the shoreline, contemplating the day's events and trying to decide what to do with her life. She drifted off into a world where there were no troubles about money and it was easy to relax. She was jolted back to reality when she tripping and stumbling flat on her face in a pile of seaweed.

      "That's funny," she thought. "I've never seen seaweed here before!"

      She dug through the pile and discovered a yellow Wocky, unconscious but hopefully still alive, lying underneath all of the seaweed. She knew just the place for him- Coltzan's Shrine.

      She carried him to the shrine and asked Coltzan, "Please, keep him alive!" She saw the shadow of Coltzan's face, and he said, "I will help you, young Neopet!" And at that moment, the Wocky stirred, and then began to snore softly in his sleep. Sahara smiled as she carried him to her house.

     ***

      Cloud awoke with a start, and let out a high-pitched scream as he realized he didn't recognize the place he had been so comfortably sleeping. He was in a brick room with a low ceiling, and only a small bed and a basic wooden table kept it from being completely empty. As he continued to scream, a desert Aisha came into the room, panting with exhaustion.

      "Who are you? Where am I?"

      He was speaking at the top of his voice, and the desert Aisha covered her ears and, as quietly as possible, she said, "Could you be a little more quiet? The Lost Desert is supposed to be peaceful!"

      Cloud couldn't believe his ears! He had made it to the Lost Desert! But how had it happened?

      Sahara's patient, the yellow Wocky, had just come round, and he was questioning.

      "What is your name?" she asked meekly.

      "Cloud," he replied, panting as he did, "You?"

      "Sahara."

      And so it was that Cloud and Sahara met. It was a friendship that would last a lifetime, and it would become the truest friendship Neopia had ever seen.

     ***

      And so the day came when they were off to Krawk Island. Sahara had enough neopoints to paint them both pirate, and they were hoping to find a ship and a good crew there. They entered The Golden Dubloon, and sat down near some pirates, all talking and laughing. Cloud had a little bit of experience as a pirate, so he began to join the conversation.

      "And then he said..." One of the pirates must have been telling some sort of joke, and the punch line was coming up. "And them he says to me, he says-" Then he stopped, fear rushing into his eyes.

      The door creaked open, a pirate Kyrii stepped in, and a hush fell over the room. He was tall, and unlike most pirate Kyrii, had a beard, which appeared to have once been long, but had then been chopped off in a crooked shape that slightly resembled a large Grundo's toe. The only clues that Sahara had as to what was happening was the silence, and she had heard a hushed whisper. A whisper of, "Captain Blade!" Otherwise, all was quiet.

      Cloud was mortified. In his days of learning to be a pirate, he had learned a lot about this Captain Blade. He had learned to stay far away from him. Now he was seeing him, right in the middle of The Golden Dubloon.

      Captain Blade broke the silence.

      "I ain't feelin' so happy today, and I need somethin' to cheer me up. I want every last dubloon you varmints possess by the count of ten!" His voice was gruff, cutting the silence like a chain saw. "1, 2, 3, 4..." The Lupe at the counter took the bags from the back and thrust them at Captain Blade. "And from now on, you better be ready every day. Same time, same place. All the money." Then he added, "And there won't be no countdown, neither." And with that, he left. The room was still full of silence.

      Finally, a scruffy old Bruce spoke.

      "What will we eat if the Golden closes?"

      A pirate Lenny spoke next. "We need us a pirate crew brave enough to stop 'im."

      Cloud, not thinking, spoke. "We'll do it! All we need is a ship and a crew."

      Sahara was mortified at these words. She pulled Cloud aside.

      "What are you doing?" Cloud seemed just as afraid as she was.

      "I don't know," he replied meekly. But it was too late to back out now.

      The pirate Lenny picked some of the best pirates to be in Cloud and Sahara's crew. He also gave them a fine ship to sail, named The Digging Kacheek. It was said that it was lucky, and had been used on some of the most successful raids in all of pirate history.

      Their mission was so difficult that it was sure to fail, but they showed no fear. It was to rob Captain Blade's ship, sink it, and return to The Golden Dubloon with the money. In return, they would keep the crew, the ship, and a generous amount of Captain Blade's treasure. And so they set off from Krawk Harbor, ready for the tough battle ahead.

     ***

      The sea was rough and stormy, and their faces were salty from the raging water. They all knew what was ahead, and that kept them quiet as they approached their destination. Scurvy Island was supposed to be home to the most terrible pirates imaginable. And that was where The Rocky Bottom, Captain Blade's ship, was docked.

      That night was when the storm hit. It was a raging water storm of rain and of sea, crashing down in foaming waves reaching so high that they seemed to brush the sky, but then crashing down so hard it would easily sink them if they were close enough. Then the thunder and lightning began, breaking the sky with the abrupt light and sound and frightening Sahara, for there was no rain in the Lost Desert, and therefore no lightning or thunder.

      And in one split second, the fate of Cloud, Sahara, and their crew was decided. That one strike of lightning hit The Digging Kacheek, setting fire to it. Distracted by the fire, the crew of the burning ship could not steer away from the wave coming towards them. When they finally realized what was happening, there was nothing they could do.

      The wave crashed over them like a thousand hammers, crushing their ship and pummeling them down into the stormy depths of the ocean. The water's salt made them sick to their stomachs as they fell victim to the ocean's power. The current brought them down even farther. But slowly, Cloud could feel himself rushing to the surface. At the same instant that he gasped for air, he heard a gasp next to him. It was Sahara. His friend was safe. His crew also returned to the surface, each gasping for breath, and taking hold of floating pieces of their wrecked ship. Sahara and Cloud followed suit.

      They didn't know where they were going, but they did know that they had to find land. The quickest way to do so would be to follow the current. But the two drifted far from their crew, and were soon going in the opposite direction. They were drifting to somewhere else completely. They didn't know where they were, and they didn't know where they were going. All they could do was wait.

      By the next morning, they found themselves in the middle of a small, uninhabited island. They didn't know where in Neopia they were, or how they could get back to a place they recognized.

      "I'm just not cut out for being a pirate! I just can't do this, Cloud!" Sahara's face was red, and cold tears were running down her face.

      "Yes, you can, Sahara. You can do this." Cloud tried to make his friend feel better, but without much luck.

      So he tried to change the subject. "So, how are we going to get off this island?"

      There was no answer but to swim, but in which direction they didn't know. So they made a guess and headed in that direction, swimming faster than they ever had in their lives.

     ***

      After an hour swimming, the two of them were tired and weak. There was no land to stop for a rest, and they knew they had to move forward, wherever they ended up. Gasping for air, they continued, dreaming for the moment when they reached land.

      After what seemed like days, the two finally reached an unfamiliar beach. There were a few palm trees with coconuts in them, and they looked ripe and perfect for eating. Sahara knocked one down, and Cloud cracked it open. Each took a half, drinking the sweet milk and then eating the fruit on the inside edges. They fell asleep with pieces of coconut skin askew.

      The next morning, the two great friends began to walk up the beach, trying to find out where they were. In only a few minutes, they realize they had been in a remote part of the beach on Mystery Island. Sahara had never been to Mystery Island, so her and Cloud spent the day doing all kinds of tourist things to do on the island.

      As the day neared its end, Sahara and Cloud headed for the harbour to get a boat to take them off the island. When the island Jubjub working the boat asked where they wanted to go, Cloud was about to say Krawk Island. But Sahara spoke first.

      "The Lost Desert, please."

      Cloud said nothing, so by the next morning they were back in the Lost Desert. They returned to Sahara's house, where much food was waiting for them. They ate graciously.

      The next day, Cloud and Sahara were eating breakfast when Cloud asked, "So when are we going to get back on the high seas?"

      There was a long pause. Finally, Sahara broke the silence.

      "I'm not going to."

      She said this very slowly and very delicately, as if trying to make it less painful. Cloud's face fell, his eyes were itchy, his head began to hurt, and his face was red. A single tear fell from his face, and soon a sea of tears was flooding down his face.

      "I'm sorry, this is my home." Sahara was crying too now.

      "I understand, Sahara! It's ok. I will stay here with you, and give up my life of pirating."

      This was such and emotional moment for both of them, and just one look at their faces would suggest it.

      "No, you spent your whole life trying to become a pirate; don't give it up just for me! I will go back to pirating with you!"

      Cloud spoke. "No, you stay here at home. We are just going to have to go our separate ways."

      The two cried for a very long time, and finally, Sahara got up.

      She walked over to a portrait on her wall and lifted it up to reveal a safe. She typed in a few numbers, opened the safe, and scraped tons of gold pieces into a small bag. Then she headed for the door. When she came back a while later, she was painted desert once again.

      She said goodbye to Cloud as he set off, and they were both soon crying again. Cloud had no crew, and only a tiny ship to sail on as tears poured down his face. Sahara cried at her kitchen table. Some say that all of Neopia rained for days and days after the two friends parted.

     ***

      Years later, Cloud was at the Golden Dubloon on Krawk Island when the Lupe at the counter walked up to him.

      "You're Cloud, right?"

      Cloud nodded, and the Lupe handed him an envelope. Cloud opened it and began to read.

     Dear Cloud,

      I have not seen you in many years, and I would just like to say a few things to you. My life has never been the same since the day you sailed away. You are the best friend I ever had, and I miss you all the time. I think of you always, and I hope you think about me too.

      I really hope you will come to the Lost Desert and visit me, for lately I have been missing you even more. If you would come, it would be the first time I was truly happy since you left.

     Your long lost friend,

     Sahara

      Cloud jumped up and ran for the door. He ran to the harbour where his boat was docked, and paddled as fast as he possibly could. After a very long time, he reached the beach of the Lost Desert. Though exhausted, he ran up to where Sahara's house was, tripping many times but not caring. He knocked on her door.

      The door creaked as it opened, and Sahara was behind it, standing in the doorway. The two long lost friends embraced, and all of Neopia smiled. Some say that smile lasted for a long time. They are probably right.

The End

 
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