The Travels of Mijjol Lightwielder: Part Eight
Part Eight: Acceptance
Mist... there was always mist. It hung around the mountains, obscuring the future from view. It made the clearest mountains seem illusory. It glittered.
The red Mynci felt his breath catch as the vessel slowly sailed into harbour. Everything was just as he had remembered... the polished, ornate little roofs, the red flags flapping in the breeze. It was as though the entire little world of Shenkuu had been working quietly in his absence, waiting patiently for his arrival.
The small merchant vessel bumped gently against the dock. Water sloshed gently against the wood.
“Here you go, lad,” said Cap’n Skeith, as the gangway was lowered.
“I guess it’s goodbye, then,” said Mijjol.
Mijjol hesitated, and then gave the Skeith a huge hug. “Thank you. For... everything.”
“Hah, you’re welcome, laddie.”
Next moment Mijjol was standing on the shores of his beloved home, with the sun and the sea and all his adventures behind him. He had made it back home. For some reason he didn’t feel particularly happy. Only tired.
“Hey there, Mijjol,” a familiar voice called.
The Mynci glanced up. It was Kentari the weapons master.
“Back from your travels, are you?” The Shoyru winked. “So how did you find it?”
“It was... very different from what I expected,” said Mijjol.
Kentari nodded. “Ah, well, adventures are never quite what you expect. What’s important is that you came back safe and sound, right?”
“I guess so.”
The Shoyru thrust open his wings. “It’s good to have you back.”
Mijjol’s heart fluttered as he climbed the green hills. Nothing had changed in his absence, and yet, when he saw the familiar banner “Remarkable Restoratives”, something stirred in him. This little shop had been his home, and still was his home... but it would no longer mean the same to him now.
The iron bell tinkled cheerfully as he stepped in. He noticed that his farewell letter had been framed and hung up on the wall. And there was the old Ruki, standing behind the shop counter, just as serene and stately as he ever was.
“I’m back, master!” cried Mijjol.
Master Anshu looked up, and a smile tinged his face. “I’m so glad you made it back, my boy. I was afraid... not that I doubted your ability... but...”
They walked towards each other, and were laced in bittersweet silence for a while. Finally, Anshu said, “It hasn’t been easy without you.”
“It hasn’t been easy for me, either,” said Mijjol. “I wanted adventure, bought myself some weapons, sailed to Terror Mountain and got into a lot of trouble... and met some enemies who turned out to be friends... I guess it was an adventure, just not the kind I expected.” He sighed. “I missed home.”
He wandered among the dusty shelves, looking at the many delicate herbs. Their familiar scents reached into his soul and dissolved in him, leaving a light aftertaste. The shelves needed dusting. A large pile of freshly gathered herbs waited to be sorted, processed and packaged. Anshu had managed as best he could without his assistant, but the need was still there. The old Ruki had travelled all the way to the Neopian Pound just to find an assistant, after all...
Master Anshu, watching, asked gently, “Will you be working for me again, then?”
Mijjol turned the thought over in his mind. “I don’t think I could go back to the same routine, master,” he said. “Gathering herbs, making medicines, cleaning the shop, sitting behind the counter... it’s a simple, peaceful life to lead after going through so many adventures, but there’s something... missing, somehow. I’m young, master. I need peace, but I also need adventure.”
Master Anshu appeared disappointed, but he nodded graciously. “I’m glad you’re honest with me, Mijjol. I’ve been reflecting, too, after you left. You are right... tending a small medicine shop isn’t suitable for a young, free spirit. So I thought, how would you like to take care of the imports and exports? I’ve saved up some Neopoints over the years; we could buy you a vessel and start trading Shenkuu medicine overseas. I would need another assistant, but you could easily bring me one when you’re travelling to Neopia Central, couldn’t you?” He winked.
The red Mynci’s face lit up. “Why, that’s perfect!” he exclaimed. “A steady, routine job, with a bit of adventure to it. That’s just what I need! When do I start work, master?”
Anshu laughed. “Not so fast. You wouldn’t want to be out of town while the big celebrations are going on, would you?”
“Big celebrations?” Mijjol stared out at the fresh green hills, and suddenly remembered. “Right! How could I have forgotten? Soon it’s going to be the Shenkuu Lunar Festival!”
The sounds of cymbals, laughter and crackling merriness filled the hills. Neopets dressed in auspicious red danced through the greenness like so many blooming flowers, bowing courteously, exchanging beautiful gifts. Children chased each other round and round in breathless excitement, their mouths sticky with sweets, their hands clutching red packets. Everywhere the scent of festive delicacies floated.
Even the solitary old Gnorbu from the Lunar Temple shuffled out to join in the fun. “The moon is full today!” he kept croaking, a wide grin illuminating his aged face. “The night will bring a full moon!” He appeared mildly confused when someone thrust a cracker at him, then laughed and grabbed it. “The moon is full!” he continued, waving the cracker enthusiastically.
Mijjol watched all this from the doorway of his master’s shop. He had just got dressed and was thinking about nothing in particular when somebody pushed a sticky rice cake into his hands. “Happy Lunar Festival!”
It was the Usul lady who often sought remedy for her child from Remarkable Restoratives. Beside her the pale little kid bowed awkwardly.
“Thanks to your work he’s up and about again!” cried the Usul, holding out a red packet full of Neopoints. “Happy Lunar Festival, I say, and may the heavens bless you.”
The Mynci accepted the gifts, rather abashed. “Thank you,” he said, giving a juicy orange to the child in return. “I was away for a while, actually...”
“But you’re back, and that’s what’s important, right?” And without waiting for an answer the Usul grabbed him by the arm and hauled him into the celebrations.
And Mijjol rejoiced. He rejoiced with the folks of Shenkuu until the sky turned rosy, until his feet ached with the dancing. When night came, fireworks leaped up towards the sky, scattering light and cheers all across the valleys. Lanterns lit up on the ground, swinging in the grips of children, dangling on the edges of roofs.
The adults sat in rings, drinking steaming mugs of tea under the bright moonlight. Mijjol was surrounded by eager Neopets waiting to hear his stories.
“Well,” said Mijjol, pleased with the attention, “it started out just as all adventure stories start, with a young Neopet looking for adventure...”
They were a perfect audience, ooh-ing and aah-ing at all the right parts. When Mijjol described his fights, the youngest children squealed in delight.
“Boy, that sounds cool!” cried a small Kyrii, when Mijjol had finished. “I want to go away on an adventure too!”
“I was very lucky,” Mijjol told him. “Lots of dangerous things could have happened to me. An adventure is not something to be taken lightly.”
The small Kyrii thought about this. “You get to fight bad guys, though,” he said.
“I also get to freeze and sleep on cold floors and miss home and have my life threatened,” said Mijjol, smiling thinly. “It’s a wonder I survived – it was a foolish thing, really, to run away. But then, if I had not done so, I wouldn’t have learned...” He gazed at the shining moon, at the lovely faces of the folks. “...that home is such a valuable thing.”
The Kyrii lost interest in Mijjol, and started chasing one of his friends, brandishing a toy sword. Mijjol watched them go with a sigh. Children were so innocent, so precious. He wished they would never have to go through the trials that he did.
The old Ruki touched a gentle feeler to his forehead and gave him a fresh mug of tea. Mijjol sipped it quietly, staring out to sea. The waves glistened with rims of silver in the dark, mysterious night.
Soon he would be sailing out again, on a new journey, seeking out his destiny. Somewhere in the future there was another Neopet sitting in the Pound, waiting, just as he had done a long time ago... he would search for that lonely soul, bring it back here to the loving warmth of Shenkuu, and lessen Master Anshu’s workload. And in doing so, the cycle would be complete.
For now, as he sipped his tea, he took comfort in the knowledge that he had come through a journey stronger and more mature than before. The path ahead was uncertain, but that was just the way he liked it.