The Travels of Mijjol Lightwielder: Part Four
Part Four: Circumstance
A fresh morning arrived, vivid as the clearest ice. The red Mynci yawned in this moment of bleary bliss. He thought he could hear Master Anshu calling, “Mijjol! It’s morning! Time to go herb-gathering!”
Then reality slammed down upon him and he found himself sitting on a hard rock floor, inside a draughty ice cave.
He rolled over, rubbing his stiff limbs, and sat up. His black leather helmet rested on a rock in front of him, contemplating him quietly. His gold handled katana, so beautiful and so lethal, leaned delicately against the rock. They reminded him that he was an adventurer now, out in the world and alone.
Mijjol opened his medicine bag, took out his bitten green apple and began to munch. Rays of white-gold slid into the cave, illuminating the feathery winter outside.
For a while the world was peaceful.
Then a shrill cry speared the air.
A baby Kacheek stamped past the cave, bawling, “WAAAAAHH! My super toy sail boat is broken! WAAAHH!”
A brown Kyrii trudged wearily after her. “I told you not to sail it on the pond! There was ice floating in it, for Neopia’s sake! It’s your own fault, really.”
“Please fix it for me, pleeeaaaase!! WAAAAAAAAH!”
“Oh all right, but this is the last time, okay? Last time!”
Mijjol looked out of the cave curiously. The two Neopets were climbing up toward the peak of Terror Mountain. What would he find up there? It was worth investigating. The Mynci tossed the apple core into his bag and stood up.
The peak of Terror Mountain was swarming with chaos. Children clutching broken toys wailed in agony, the baby Kacheek sobbing the loudest of all. Their guardians stood around shaking their heads in despair. A few other Neopets, holding various broken articles, grumbled along with the crowd.
“What’s the matter?” Mijjol asked a nearby Lenny.
“Donny the repairbori has gone missing!” the Lenny replied mournfully.
“We have no idea where he’s gone,” added a Bruce carrying a broken pinata. “He just disappeared from his repair shop.”
“Isn’t anyone going to do anything?” Mijjol inquired in disbelief, looking around at the distraught crowd.
The Bruce shrugged. “He’s a ruddy Bori... they’re all quite wild, Bori. He might come back anytime. How would we know? In the meantime, I wouldn’t want to lose my position in the queue.”
“Same here,” said the Lenny, nodding toward her little brother, who was sitting on the snow screaming at the top of his lungs.
Mijjol frowned. “I’m going to find out what happened.”
“Try to get Donny to come back, okay?”
“No promises,” Mijjol called over his shoulder as he pushed forward. Sheesh, these people expected everything from adventurers.
Walking through the crowd was like wading through tangible noise. Beyond the crying children, there was a bunch of Igloo Garage Sale customers holding their newly-bought second-hand furniture, groaning about how irksome it would be to lug it home and then bring it back after Donny reappeared, if he was ever going to reappear. How they regretted taking Donny’s repair shop for granted!
It had always been there, that little triangular-roofed house, coated in soft white brilliance. Donny had always waited patiently behind his stout wooden worktable, hammer in paw, ready to fix practically anything. Now the beautiful little shop was gaping empty.
“How did this happen?” Mijjol exclaimed.
“At dawn I saw him go that way,” a Zafara volunteered, pointing south toward the harbour. “I thought he was just going to the merchant ships to buy his supplies, as usual. But he didn’t come back—”
“—and afterward,” her friend added, “when we came to his shop at opening time, it was already in ruins.”
The circle of bright, hopeful eyes shone at Mijjol.
“I will try to find out what happened,” Mijjol said again, “but no promises.” He thought for a moment. “South, to the harbour, did you say?”
“Yes,” the Zafara replied.
“See you, then,” said Mijjol, shouldering his medicine bag. “I’m going to the harbour.”
The bright, hopeful eyes followed the red Mynci as he went.
The Skeith captain leaned casually against a large crate, watching his sailors load the goods onto his merchant vessel. A tall brown Lupe stood next to him, idly rubbing his hoof against the ground.
“Yes, I understand what you mean,” he said. “That Mijjol Lightwielder is a crafty one, all right. I have no idea how he beat me – I’m the best fighter around here! – if I may say so.”
“At least you didn’t lose anything,” the Skeith growled. “He sneaked onto my vessel, weighed the whole thing down, and dumped out my goods to save himself! Two whole crates of precious china and jewels, emptied out into the sea!”
“Well, he stained my reputation,” the Lupe snarled, “defeating me like that in front of an entire crowd!”
Both Neopets groaned heavily.
“Cheer up,” said the Skeith, after a time, “we’re going to have our revenge today.”
“Have you tied Donny up properly?”
The Skeith chuckled. “Mijjol Lightwielder should be here at any minute now.”
Mijjol stood among the teeming crowd near the harbour, trying his best to think. Donny had come here just hours before, at dawn... but that was all he knew. Where could the repairbori have gone, with all these ships coming in and out of the harbour?
The red Mynci went up to a sailor Peophin. “Excuse me,” he said, “but have you seen Donny the repairbori?”
“Why, o’ course,” the Peophin replied. “He comes ’ere every mornin’, to pick up his supplies.”
“He didn’t return today,” Mijjol explained. “His customers are all waiting for him.”
“Arrr... well, I wouldn’t know about that.” The Peophin went on heaving crates. “You’d best talk to that cap’n over there.”
Mijjol looked in the direction that the Peophin indicated... and a cold tremor cascaded down his back. Cap’n was the very same Skeith whose vessel he had hidden upon. Worse, the brown Lupe that he had conquered so quickly yesterday was standing right next to Cap’n Skeith.
Talk about bad luck!
“Adventurers definitely ought to be paid more,” Mijjol grumbled under his breath as he marched up to the dreaded pair.
“Yes?” the grey Skeith greeted him with a lazy leer.
“I am looking for Donny the repairbori.”
“Ah.” The Skeith seemed mildly surprised. Turning to the Lupe, he said casually, “Have ya seen Donny today?”
The Lupe looked equally nonchalant. “Oh, yeah. I think we tied him up on the vessel, if I remember rightly.”
“Right, right.” Cap’n Skeith winked at Mijjol, in an almost friendly manner. “Ya hear that, laddie? Now run along to the vessel, there’s a good boy.”
“There just might be guards and traps,” the Lupe added, nodding smilingly.
“Well, thanks,” said Mijjol, returning a fake grin, but he didn’t feel good at all. A heroic rescue mission shouldn’t be like this! The kidnappers shouldn’t be daring him to rescue their captive. They should be hiding somewhere, demanding ransom!
Apparently the kidnappers wanted him, not Neopoints...
But... those people up there on Terror Mountain, waiting for their repairbori to come back...
Well, even if it was a trap, Mijjol was going to outsmart that Skeith and that Lupe. He would go in, evade all their traps and guards and whatever, grab Donny, and come out a hero. There was nothing else exciting to do, anyway.
The Mynci nodded politely at the kidnappers, put his hand on his sword hilt, and stalked onto the vessel.
Inside the dark, stuffy room, Donny stared at the locked door. The vessel rocked slightly... and he knew that someone else had come aboard.
Who could it be?
There was nothing for it but to wait.
Mijjol stood on the deck. The vessel wasn’t very large; it had maybe two floors, and Mijjol could see to the edges of it. There didn’t seem to be any guards anywhere.
Emboldened, Mijjol proceeded to the ladder leading downstairs. In stories that he’d heard, victims were usually kept in cabins under the deck. He peered cautiously down the ladder and saw no danger. Still, to play safe, he fished out the apple core from his bag, shook the ladder gently, and dropped the apple core into the darkness.
There was a clang as a booby trap snapped into place. The apple core was squashed under a board. Only now did Mijjol shin down the ladder into the cabin.
Footsteps came pattering... Mijjol flashed behind a pile of sacks.
“The booby trap’s been activated!” a voice called.
The board was lifted. “Hey, that doesn’t look like a Mynci to me!”
“That rascal has got brains!”
“He must still be up there.”
“Well, yeah! We came immediately!”
The two guards squabbled for a while before finally ascending the ladder.
Deep in his hiding place, Mijjol let out a breath. He slipped quickly out into the cabin and looked around. There were crates and sacks everywhere. How was he supposed to find Donny in this mess?! And wasn’t Donny supposed to call out for help or something? That was what victims usually did, anyway...
Mijjol poked the sacks half-heartedly, and felt something hard. Something suspiciously long and hard.
“He’s not here!” a distant guard’s voice was yelling.
Mijjol tried to drag the sacks apart. They were very heavy. He wedged his foot under one and heaved it with all his might.
“Where’s that blasted Mynci?!”
“We mustn’t let him get away! Cap’n Skeith would kill us!”
Mijjol pushed aside the last sack. A small door appeared.
“Damn it! You continue searching, I’m going back down there!”
“We ought to go together! He’s a really good fighter, from what I heard!”
Mijjol tugged at the handle. The door was locked.
“Come on then! What are you waiting for?”
“Oh all right, I’m coming, I’m coming!”
Footsteps were pattering down the ladder. Mijjol sliced his blade through the crack, and pushed. Something gave way.
“THERE HE IS!”
The door swung obediently inward.
To be continued...