First Day at the Swashbuckling Academy
“But I don’t want to go to training school,” Blippita the green Shoyru moaned piteously.
“Trust me, it’ll be fun,” said Yinna, her older sister. “I was nervous too, on my first day, but it’s really nothing to worry about at all...”
Blippita sighed as the Wocky went on blabbing. It was tiresome, being a recent addition to a family that already had an accomplished Battledomer. All the paths before Blippita were explored. Well, all except for flying. That was something.
“Come on, Blippita,” called Yoyote. “You wouldn’t want to be late for your first lesson, would you?”
Blippita accepted her fate grudgingly and made for the door. She tried to ignore Yinna, who was grinning knowledgeably.
Yoyote put her head around the door. “When I come back,” she said to Yinna, “I expect to see everything clean and undamaged, and that includes yourself, Yinna. If you would also read the books I’ve bought, that would be a nice bonus.”
“Yes, yes, I’m not that young anymore, you know,” Yinna replied, with a casual wink at her sister.
Blippita felt even worse.
The journey to Krawk Island was quite an enjoyable one, Blippita had to admit. First there was the thrill of the ship. It had big white sails that flowed gracefully in the wind, and a sunny-faced captain that cried, “All aboaaaaaard!” Under the deck, there were interesting wooden cabins, each containing a different surprise. Blippita had hopped inquisitively into five cabins before Yoyote told her it was rude.
After everyone had boarded the ship, the great whistle went “Wheeeeeeee!” and they were off! The harbour of Neopia Central swished swiftly away, and soon they were surrounded by dancing blue waves.
Blippita gazed in wonder at the horizon. “Is that an island, Yoyote?” she asked.
“Yes, that’s Roo Island.”
“Can I fly up to see?”
“Just don’t stray too far from the ship.”
Blippita was already up in the wind, yelling excitedly.
“Wow, it’s such a pretty island! There’s blumaroos and little houses and everything! And look! There’s even a merry-go-round! Can we go play sometime?”
Yoyote laughed. “Sure we can, on our way back. Quiet down a little, now... you’ll need your energy for later.”
Presently they left Roo Island behind and approached Meridell. Blippita had grown tired of flying by now, and merely watched as a few passengers got off the ship and went towards the farms and tents. A great castle rose up in the distance.
After that, there was nothing but water, water, and more water. Blippita dozed off for a while and woke to the gloop-gloop of strange bubbles. She leaned over the edge of the ship and saw a few blades of seaweed protruding from the water.
“There’s an aquatic city down there called Maraqua,” Yoyote explained.
Blippita looked curiously at the dark shapes that moved mysteriously as the ship passed. Then she settled down in her seat, murmuring wearily, “Won’t we ever get to Krawk Island?”
“It won’t be long now,” said Yoyote. “Do you want something to eat?”
They had a quiet meal and Blippita went to sleep again.
At long last, they sailed into the harbour of Krawk Island. The land was cluttered with little dark-roofed houses, and great black ships lined the shore. Cap’n Threelegs’ Swashbuckling Academy was the largest of the houses, with smooth white walls and gleaming square windows. A salty expectation filled the air.
The passengers poured out of the ship. Blippita held on to Yoyote’s hand. This was it.
“Be a good student, now,” said Yoyote, as they went up to the big white building. Blippita nodded. She seemed to have lost her voice.
Ol’ Cap’n Threelegs was a majestic Eyrie with sharply angled wings, a long sword and a wooden leg. Blippita couldn’t help looking at it.
“What ya starin’ at now?” he demanded, and the Shoyru glanced hurriedly away.
Yoyote cleared her throat. “I’ve brought my pet to your Academy for a lesson in strength.”
“Are those dubloons I hear clinkin’ in yer pocket?”
Yoyote smiled. She knew Cap’n Threelegs’ ways. Easily, she drew out a bronze dubloon and handed it over. Cap’n Threelegs peered suspiciously at it, then nodded and accepted it. He gave Blippita a critical glare. “Ye look a bit green around the gills...”
“I am green,” said Blippita doubtfully, “and I don’t have gills.”
“Just go on in,” Yoyote whispered. “That’s the way he is. Have fun!”
Blippita watched her owner walk away. For the first time she felt utterly alone. She tore her eyes away, folded her wings as confidently as she could, and turned and entered the wide doorway.
There were two other young Neopets in there, an orange Mynci and a purple Aisha. They, too, were fidgeting uncomfortably with eyes downcast. Outside, ol’ Cap’n Threelegs was squawking noisily at new students.
“I’ll wager ye have never climbed the mast in a storm!”
“As a matter of fact, I never had to,” came the cool reply; and presently a yellow Kiko came sauntering in.
A few minutes later... “YOU wanna be a pirate?”
“Not really.” The answer was tentative. “I’m here because... well, because my owner took me here.”
And a white Peophin trotted in shyly.
The five Neopets looked at one another out of the corners of their eyes, but none of them said anything. The yellow Kiko had a disdainful glint in his eye, while the white Peophin looked ready to cry. The Mynci shifted about restlessly, and then suddenly his hands shot out and tied the Aisha’s feelers together. The Aisha began to wail.
A clicking sound issued from the doorway, and the Aisha was startled into silence. Cap’n Threelegs came lurching in on his wooden leg. He swept a glance at his students, and crowed, “Greetings to ya one and all. I’ll whip yer into shape in no time at all! I be the finest swordsman in this whole island!”
Blippita and the rest gawped at him.
“Well? Stand there any longer and you’ll get barnacles!”
Uncertainly, the students moved forward from the wall. The Aisha struggled to untie her feelers with dignity. Cap’n Threelegs strode forward and with a single swift movement released her feelers.
“Arrrr! I’ll teach yer all me old tricks!”
They stared at him wonderingly.
And so the afternoon wore on, with the students bashing dummies, dodging rubber swords and generally being screeched at. Blippita found she was having quite a lot of fun. She even managed to bonk the Mynci properly on the head for being such a meanie. When he charged at her, she simply launched herself into the air, and he crashed into the wall, grumbling. The Kiko roared helplessly with laughter, and was soon squawked at.
By the end of an hour, even the white Peophin found herself kicking her hooves with vigorous strength. The purple Aisha had also regained her confidence and was swinging a wooden stick, shouting happily.
Soon the room was full of splintered wood, bits of straw, torn rubber swords, and flushed, energetic students. Cap’n Threelegs screeched for attention.
“Ahhh, fish for tea, like always!” he announced, to their surprise. Then he limped towards the door and they understood. “Yer wouldn’t fetch me a nice cool smoothie now would yer?” He winked as he flung open the door.
There were five owners waiting outside. At the very front was...
“Yoyote!” exclaimed Blippita in delight, zooming towards her. “I had so much fun!”
“You’re probably sick of hearing this,” said Yoyote laughingly, “but I knew you would.”
And even the ship seemed to become a wide, wide, smile.