A Locket: Part Three
The Black Pteri gathered speed. He would be there in three minutes flat. He hoped the thunder would scare the brat to death, scare the pathetic Transparent. It was all planned. She could not escape this time. The brat on the run would finally be his. He’d get his revenge. After all these years of failure, fourteen years of failing, he would finally, finally, catch her.
The safety of the mountain top was too far. The safety of any faeries were too far. Now he had trapped her where she couldn’t retreat. He did not even wonder why she had ventured so far from the faeries, but she had, and there wasn’t any turning back.
Melanie did not speak a word. Carrie was about to say something important, and she must listen. She must not question, for once.
“All those tales, all those stories of the Lost Desert, all that I have told you in the past day that seems like a lifetime ago...” Melanie noticed Carrie’s necklace was much more faded than it had seemed, and much more rusted. “I knew them all with such great detail. They were all true. But the one fact I left out makes all the difference, and would have repelled you from me. Would have turned you against me, when you have been the most open to what I have had to say. You would have been upset at how many Morphing Potions I have used.” Another pause of uncertainty. “I’m Sankara.”
Melanie felt dizzy but gathered herself. Memories of what she had imagined swarmed her head, words Carrie had spoken traveled through her mind, stories and realizations... It was a shock, but not that stunning, for it all made sense now. It all made sense now...
“It’s far too late to hate you now, Sankara.”
Sankara-Carrie sighed deeply, and then took a step into the clearing. There was only one step’s difference between her and Melanie, only one step between hiding and being in the open, and she took that step. “I left Earth when I had mere seconds before opening the door to my aunt’s house. Mere seconds before I’d find out who my new guardians were to be. One second before I met them for the first time, and I truly had to deal with the fact my parents were gone.
“I wanted to go to Neopia so badly. I wanted to go to a place where I could forget, rather then deal with it, and not need total strangers to help me through life in place of my parents. But it seems that after I accidentally harmed someone, someone who was going to get rid of me, I resorted to helping total strangers through their life in Neopia. And none of them really helped the little kid who was trapped as pixels. The kid trying to convince herself it was better here, when it would have been, if it wasn’t for the Black Pteri. They were all so terrified or determined, depending on the person. You had a mix of the two, so you had room to think other thoughts.
“Fourteen years. Fourteen years. I almost forgot about my past. But I eventually remembered it, because I never dealt with it. The first bunch of years here weren’t that difficult, for I was accepted as royalty with the story I told. The story I told about coming from a place where my parents had been killed, and needing a home. Nice life. But the last...” Sankara trailed off, and Melanie could picture a Desert Aisha telling this story, a child who was forced to act like a much older Neopian...
“But you could still go home peacefully. Go home with me at the top of the mountain...”
“No. I can’t.” Sankara looked up at the sky while she spoke, as if awaiting the Pteri. “He knows I am here. He is close. I have dug my own trap. He doesn’t know about you, though. If I go now, you can go to the top in peace. Otherwise, we both go. If we put up a fight, he will find you. Hide in the Fir trees, and you may be able to escape...”
“Why can’t I just go with you?”
Sankara’s eyes shimmered in fear.
“The Black Pteri prefers to torture, rather then send people home with a warm goodbye.”
The thunder cackled once more, and Sankara took another step out into the clearing.
“Please... don’t go...” Melanie whined, trying desperately to find a way to save the one who somehow had taught her so much the past day. Trying to find a way for her to help her once more get to the top of the mountain. The Ixi who had saved Melanie herself.
Sankara did not respond to this plea. Rather, she took a step back. “You have taught me one thing in this whole journey. The one thing worse than losing someone is separating yourself, and therefore losing them all.”
Another step backwards. Sankara’s voice seemed quieter now. “Thanks for your story. Thanks for trusting me. And thanks for being so accepting, even if we had far too little time knowing each other. I have been thinking. It’s time I see how everyone back home has been without me all these years.”
Melanie did not speak another word.
A rustle of feathers and leaves as a bird emerged from darkness, and a Zafara hid in the darkness...
“You can’t run now.” The Black Pteri said these words with such superiority and determination. “You are in a clearing, alone, with no faeries to protect you. No magic. Nothing but your pathetic disguise, a Desert Aisha who is now an Ixi.”
“You are absolutely correct.” The tears had dried from her eyes, and now they shone of certainty. “I am cornered.”
The Black Pteri looked confused for a second, and then shrugged. “Glad you agree. I don’t know your opinion on revenge, but I’m certain there is no place for your approval or disapproval.”
The Black Pteri lunged for Carrie, lunged to finally complete the job.
In a split second, Carrie had ripped her locket off of her neck. The locket of Sankara, the locket of Carrie, the locket of who she was, the locket of who she had been... it flew through the air, catching the light, and spinning with triumph. It would not be defeated. It landed in the Fir trees, right before Melanie.
Melanie instinctively clung to the locket, the necklace that had meant so much to Carrie.
“Is that all you can do to defend yourself?”
He took his magnificent claws, and ripped open a hole in the air. A portal to Earth. A dangerous looking portal, a opening in Neopia that smelled of pain, but a portal nonetheless.
“Any last words?”
Carrie nodded and spoke two final words. “Good luck.”
And with that, the valley was covered in screams, screams of a kid traveling through a portal that was the Pteri’s intended revenge...
The Pteri closed the portal with a swipe of his tail, and flew away.
Melanie, unsure of what to do now, looked down at the locket in her hands. It would be so easy to sit here in shock and terror, in desperation, in lonely abandonment... but that wasn’t what Carrie would have wanted Melanie to do.
Inside of the locket was a picture of two smiling adults, and a tiny child that had Carrie’s eyes.
The Ice Caves.
Melanie had no room left in her mind to think about tears, what happened to Melanie, or the locket. She barely had enough warmth and strength left to think about finishing her goal here, completing the journey. She now planned to complete it alone.
However, that was clearly not the way the real plan was supposed to go.
A tiny Gelert was curled up into a ball on the ice floor, breathing slowly as if he was asleep, but yet Melanie feared it was not a peaceful sleep. He was cold here. He was not going to make it to safety on his own. The only person who could give him a warm place to stay was on top of the mountain, exactly where Melanie was going...
Melanie scooped up the unresponsive Baby Gelert into her arms. She began walking, walking, crawling to where she could help both her and the Gelert.
Melanie felt as if the necklace had helped her. But Melanie could no longer feel her paws, or her face. Her arms were made of jelly after having taken the Gelert all this way. She was almost there. The portal was about fifteen feet away. A warm place for the Gelert was to her left. A few more steps, and she could knock on the Snow Faerie’s door...
A few more steps, and she would have been safe. But thunder struck, and an enraged shadow of a bird appeared once more.
Melanie did not have the strength, and now the Gelert was in danger as well...
Thinking as quickly as she could, she placed the Gelert behind her onto the snow, and stepped forward. She clung to the necklace that Carrie had given her, the necklace in her pocket now. Melanie had reason to suspect it was magical, and now was the time to test it.
“So, this is why Sankara left so willingly? I knew I could tell there was another Transparent, or at least that she was stronger than usual, but I had guessed the second!” The Pteri spat angrily. “You disgust me. You thought you could trick me. Today is not your day.”
He lunged forward, and this time someone else reached to meet him.
Melanie was prepared to hit him, to strike him in the same way Sankara had hit him long ago.
The Baby Gelert, who had barely awoken by the body heat Melanie had given him on the way up the mountain, reached out with a feeble paw and touched the Pteri.
Both touched the darkened feathers at the same moment. The Pteri howled a final time, and Melanie could feel the power that Sankara had given him leave his body, and entering the Gelert’s. Melanie’s Transparent pet status drew the sparkles out from him, took whatever was different, and filled the Gelert with it...
The Black Pteri stumbled backwards, and flew away, the magic lost in his eyes. He was just an average creature now, no remembrance of the Transparents or the magic. His eyes shown dumbly. All he remembered was the pain.
In fear of what he could no longer understand, he flew away...
Melanie turned to the Gelert, concerned. What effect could such magic have on a creature that was not a Transparent?
The Gelert still was on the floor, but now his eyes glittered rather than being dull and hopeless. He looked at his paws in confusion, but somehow showed signs he understood.
“Thank you.” Melanie could not find better words to speak. “That Pteri had been haunting Neopia for many years. And because you had so little energy left in you, and you never started out with magic, the magic went straight to you. He now has no magic left in him. He’ll never haunt us again.” She breathed with a sigh of wonder and relief, and wished that this defeat could have only come earlier.
The Gelert listened to her every word. Melanie knew there were parts and bits he did not get, parts and bits he would not get. But he did not care. He lifted his paw, and sparkles radiated from it.
“There is a portal over there. Maybe you can see it, now that you’ve gotten what he once had. But that is my way to get home. I have to go now.” Melanie spoke the words, surprised as the Gelert was at what she was saying. “But Neopia still needs a superhero.”
The Gelert understood. He nodded, and stood up, his sparkles coming from his paws. He did not know what he could do yet, but he knew he was no longer ordinary. Melanie walked towards the portal she knew was there.
“Why did you carry me up a mountain, when you could barely carry yourself?”
“See this locket? It was given by a friend who carried me as well, in a way. I know she would have carried you too.” Melanie stepped towards the portal, one step away. “Good luck.”
And with the same final words, Melanie entered the portal, and began traveling home...
These two words bellowed by her mom were the first words she heard upon returning.
Confused, Melanie flinched, and hit her head on the desk she was sitting under.
Melanie opened her eyes. Dust swirled innocently in her library, as if she had never gone.
But she knew she had gone. She knew it was not all a dream. The notebook with her drawing of the Lost Desert sat on her lap, and the books around her were all in order. Yet the one real test, one way to find out, was by reaching into her pocket. Inside of her pocket, the old locket fell out, and tumbled onto the floor.
Melanie quickly tied the locket around her neck without thinking. It was once Carrie’s treasure, and now Melanie would treasure it as well. The locket had helped her in the end. Carrie must have left some of her magic behind in it or something.
Melanie leapt up from where she had been sitting. She stomped down the stairs, the pounding noises reminding her of thunder.
“Hey Mel! Nice necklace... who gave you that?!” Melanie’s mom stared at her in confusion for a second, staring at the locket that whispered so many stories.
“A good friend of mine. What did you call me down here for?”
Mel’s mom smiled. “Well, someone just moved in next door. I baked some cookies. Could you go over and deliver them for me?”
Melanie nodded, not even normally sighing as she would if she had previously been asked to meet someone new. She picked up the bag of cookies, and closed the front door.
Knock, knock, knock.
Melanie watched the birds chirping on a fence nearby. Everything looked so different when it wasn’t made of pixels. Yet somehow it didn’t look as strange as it once had seemed; the general area didn’t seem like it was out to get Melanie. Everything looked much more... ordinary. Welcoming. Home.
Just as she was drifting off into thought, the door creaked open.
“Hello, I heard that someone new moved in next door, and my mom...”
Her voice trailed off as she nearly dropped the cookies.
A girl about her age was staring back at her.
And she had Carrie’s eyes.
“Hello, Melanie. Or should I say, neighbor?”
Carrie acted as if this did not surprise her. Maybe Carrie had found out who her neighbor was, hours before Melanie had gotten here. But Melanie still could hardly breathe, for this had been the last thing she had expected.
Carrie’s face had one jagged scar running along it. Her arm had a few scratches. Her eyes seemed softer, and she overall seemed more exhausted. Maybe even older. Melanie did not know what had been in that portal, and would never ask. But she did know that Carrie took on a lot of Melanie’s pain by traveling that way, going home that way just to set Melanie home the easy way. She knew that the Pteri’s revenge had been well thought out, and that Carrie would never forget it.
“I... I... I...” Melanie could not even begin to speak.
“Welcome to my aunt’s house. She told me you were my neighbor.”
Carrie looked much like a normal kid Melanie’s age, with her faded jeans and her comfy t-shirt. But Melanie knew that a Brown Ixi was somewhere in that mind of hers.
Melanie found feeble words, and gently untied the locket. She placed it into Carrie’s hand. “Thanks for the locket. It really helped me towards the end.”
“How... how so?”
“When I was too tired to move, it helped me keep moving. When I couldn’t keep helping, it helped me find my way. It helped me help a baby Gelert, who is now defending Neopia for us. The locket helped me defeat the Black Pteri. The locket did so much. Thanks for the magic you left behind for me.”
Carrie took all these words in, shocked. But at the last sentence, she laughed.
“What’s so funny?”
“There was no magic in my necklace.” Carrie paused to take the cookies from Melanie, and motion for her to come inside. “There is only a photo. You did this all on your own.”
Talking a bit louder so her aunt would hear, and so that the long conversation at the door wouldn’t seem out of the ordinary, Carrie loudly stated, “One of the neighbors brought cookies. And she’s my age. Mind if she comes in to meet my dog?”
The aunt pondered the question as Carrie spoke much softer now, now that her aunt was near.
Melanie didn’t even know she had a dog, but when Carrie’s aunt yelled back a yes, Melanie stepped in. It was the first time she would come inside, and a first time Melanie would remember for the rest of her life.