The Magical Coconut Mission: Part Two
Also by chivo
Phobic felt his heart stop for a moment. His breath caught in his throat and when he later told the story he would exaggerate and claim his life had flashed before his eyes. The paw gripping his shoulder held firm, despite his weak attempt to pull away. He was parting his jaws and preparing to scream when a soft voice interrupted his panic.
"Phobic! It's me, Spectra!"
Relief flooded through the Draik's slender form and he allowed himself to breathe again. Turning, he allowed his gaze to take in the worried expression on his old friend's face. Spectra had been a cheery companion on several of Phobic's ventures and wanderings through the Haunted Woods and her loyalty and friendship were above reproach. A dainty Royal Kyrii, Spectra's long tumbling curls and wide violet eyes gave no hint of her determined spirit. Good natured and much calmer than Phobic, she was now studying him with a look of utter confusion.
"Pho?" she questioned softly.
He relaxed, managing to find his voice again.
"I thought you were a Chia clown!" he croaked, still waiting for his knees to stop trembling.
The delicate Kyrii looked bewildered, and noticed the satchel her friend was clutching.
"Phobic? What are you hiding?"
He bit his lip. He wanted to confide in his friend, however he knew once he did Spectra would insist on accompanying him on what was a journey with a rather uncertain future. Wandering together through the Haunted Woods as they had so many times in the past was on thing, but to venture into the unknown wider world of Neopia was a dangerous trip and Pho had no desire to risk his friend's safety. As if she sensed the reason for his hesitation, Spectra smiled.
"Even if you don't tell me what the problem is, Pho, I'm staying nearby."
He couldn't help feeling grateful. It was a rare friend who was willing to dive into something they had no understanding of. Slowly, he withdrew the magical coconut from the satchel. It blinked golden eyes and studied the Kyrii, before that rumbling voice echoed forth.
"M'lady... Are you to assist this fine Draik in returning me to Mystery Island?"
Spectra looked rather stunned; it was evident she wasn't any more accustomed to chatting with coconuts than Phobic himself. The Draik glanced around nervously before explaining.
"He's a magical coconut. Guardian of the JubJubs on Mystery Island. He keeps the island thriving and alive, without him, that land is in danger."
Spectra took a moment to digest this story before squaring her shoulders in a resolute way.
"Then we have to return him to Mystery Island. No question."
Pho looked eternally grateful at the idea of having company beyond a talking fruit on the journey ahead. He slipped the coconut back into the bag, about to launch into a long speech on the benefits of true friends, when something flew past, missing his head by inches. Spectra screamed and dragged them both to the ground as another object flew by and exploded against a nearby tree, showering the two friends in whipped cream.
"Chia Clowns!" screamed Phobic. "Those are the pies they throw!"
As Phobic lay and considered the horrors of being at the mercy of the wicked mechanical Chias, Spectra grabbed his shirt.
"Start crawling!" she hissed urgently.
Together the two elbowed their way through the dust, cream pies flying past accompanied by screeches of hysterical laughter and loud, clomping footsteps as the Chias made a slow, steady pursuit. Pho used one paw to claw his way forward, clutching the satchel with the coconut in it with the other, determined that this wasn't going to be the way their journey would end. Spectra moved rapidly through the dirt beside him, finding a rock here and there in the dust and hurling it over her shoulder at their foes. Each one that met its target resulted in a loud clanking noise and a barrage of insane giggles.
Pho felt the whirring footsteps were almost upon them when he finally sighted the exit. Trying not to choke on the dust being lifted by their crawling, he called to his friend.
"Spectra! The gate! Run, now!"
The two jumped to their feet and bolted toward the gate. Pies exploded all around them, one striking Spectra's back as they finally dived out of the exit, safe. The Chia Clowns couldn't leave the fairground, so the myths of the place claimed.
Slowly the giggles of their hunters faded, the defeated clowns wandering back into the depths of the carnival, seeking new victims. Pho wiped the dust from his cloak and glanced over at Spectra, who was busy clearing the cream from one of the pies from long azure tresses. Despite the terror they had just endured, Pho couldn't help but grin.
"I've seen you look cleaner, you know!"
The two friends shared a moments laughter before the severity of the situation sank in. The Royal Kyrii took stock of the situation and weighed their options.
"I think we should head toward the border near the Lost Desert, Pho. It's the quickest way to a coastline. We can find a boat and hire someone to sail us to Mystery Island."
Phobic looked unsure. To travel across the Lost Desert would be no small feat. Pets had vanished into the golden sand dunes and been lost for years at a time. The sun would be unforgiving and the dangerous numerous.
"We don't have many other choices, Pho." Spectra spoke softly, eyes full of concern.
The small Draik nodded, considering the layout of the Haunted Woods.
"Okay. We'll head to the border."
The two walked quickly through the woods, both finding their nerves rather frayed. As they passed the Gypsy camp, the extravagantly dressed Elephante who resided there glanced up from his fire.
"You have a dangerous journey ahead! Beware leaving the land you know!"
Pho glanced over at him, feeling a shudder of fear running through him.
"How did you know? Sir?"
The gypsy however let out a snide laugh, and turned back to his fire, giving the passing pets no further attention. Phobic again implored him to explain, but his pleading went without a response. Evidently the dire warning would just have to hang over them like a curse.
They quickly hurried past Eliv Thade's castle, and tiptoed around the outskirts of the Game Graveyard, from where shrieks and eerie moans drifted. Pho slowly realised that the journey would be his first venture out of the Haunted Woods, the only home he had ever known. He got so wrapped up in the thought that he wandered a little to the right, and smacked into the Brain Tree, dropping the satchel and jumping as the ancient plant's eyes flashed in rage.
"Do my quest!" bellowed the terrifying tree, its eyes flashing like raging infernos.
Pho squeaked in fear, glancing around for the dropped satchel and noticing in horror that it had rolled towards the dank pit where the Esophagor lived. The revolting beast was roaring with hunger, sniffing at the satchel, great globs of drool drizzling from his gaping jaws.
"My quest!" insisted the Brain Tree angrily, roaring in outrage as the two pets dodged his wildly flailing boughs. Spectra dove forward, grabbing the satchel containing the coconut seconds before the Esophagor's jaws snapped at it, throwing it towards her friend. Phobic caught it neatly and grabbed her hand, running past the two outraged Haunted Woods entities and into the sinister woods.
The mist was thick and entwined their legs as they walked, both still panting in fear. In the distance the angry screeches of the Brain Tree could still be heard, leaving Phobic to reflect that if he survived the journey and made it back to his home in the Haunted Woods, he would be best to write a lengthy apology to the tree before venturing out too much. Spectra glanced around, studying the sky.
"It must be near midnight, Pho. We'll have to hurry, it's several hours walk to reach the desert realm and sooner or later, that horrid Quiggle is going to work out that you and one of his coconuts are missing."
The Draik smiled wryly.
"I guess I'll be in the market for a new job. Maybe I could become a Gypsy; they seemed like a friendly sort."
Spectra laughed softly, shaking her head in amusement. Together the two trudged through the winding, ominous paths. The smallest noise made them jump and the fog was so thick that often it was hard to tell which direction they were headed in. Both merely hoped they weren't wandering in circles, or even worse, back towards the cranky Brain Tree.
After many hours of walking, both were exhausted. However, the trees seemed fewer and farther apart, the mist had thinned, and now and then the dank, dark grass of the woods was replaced by stretches of sand. Finally they stepped from the dark tree line, eyes trying to adjust from the shadowy darkness to the sudden sunlight which beat overhead.
Before them were endless stretches of golden sand. Hills, mountains of the stuff piled high, and nothing else could be seen. They had reached the Lost Desert. Pho gazed out at the eternal golden sheen rising off the sand.
"We don't even have much water..."
Spectra nodded, ready to admit that they were ill prepared for the trek ahead.
"We've got your water bottle. If we ration it out, we should be able to reach Sakhmet and replenish the bottle."
Pho nodded slowly. What other choice did they have?
Shedding his cloak and wrapping it around his head as protection from the relentless sun, the Draik stepped onto the sand, followed closely by his friend. The golden grains were simmering and warm and Pho found himself almost envying Spectra's dainty slippers. At least they offered some relief from the hot surface they were going to be wandering aimlessly over.
Time seemed to have little meaning in the desert. The sun never lowered, no matter how far they walked. The day grew no cooler and the sand hills didn't seem to decrease in size as they wandered. The water bottle was quickly used up and both pets were sweaty and exhausted. Pho's feet were so heavy he wasn't even sure he was still walking, the desert's angry sun playing tricks on his mind.
Spectra blinked. Several times she had thought she had seen water in the distance, lakes or ponds which never seemed to materialise, mirages within the heat. She wiped the back of her hand over her forehead and felt dizziness overcome her. Stumbling, she tripped, falling into the sand, Pho dropping to his knees beside her, looking defeated.
"We're done, Spectra! We can't go on without water!"
The Kyrii looked faint, her throat parched.
"I know, Pho," she whispered, closing her eyes in exhaustion.
The Draik looked out to the distance helplessly, then squinted. Far away, the sand seemed to be stirring, clouds of it blowing into the air wildly as a dark speck raced across the golden terrain. He blinked slowly, uncertain that this wasn't just another trick of the heat. The speck grew closer, approaching them at an alarming rate. As it neared, Phobic found himself able to make out thundering ebony hooves and vicious burning flames along with the crooked, glinting horn of what seemed to be a Halloween Uni. Gasping in fright, he shook Spectra's shoulder.
"Spectra! Wake up! It's the Nightsteed!"
To be continued...