The White Weewoo's Song
Merritt heaved the sodden mop head out of the bucket and let it slap against the plank wood flooring before laboriously dragging it across the galley floor, just as he’d done a thousand times before. The young Eyrie gazed dreamily out of a porthole while he worked. He must be getting close now; the Weewoo was nearly within his grasp. Maybe after he was done working on the ship he would go back to Little Nippers to say hello...
“Weeee... Wooo...” he hummed to himself to keep his mind occupied as he continued with his monotonous task. For the past several months Merritt had been doing odd jobs on the Rotten Pegleg when it was docked at Krawk Island. Captain Crossblades paid him well for the work he did, and Merritt saved every dubloon he got so that one day he would be able to buy a Weewoo of his very own.
“Arr! Boy! Get up here, I want ter talk to yer!” The Captain’s voice boomed from the main deck and woke Merritt from his daydream. He replaced the mop in the bucket and scampered up the steps.
The Eyrie snapped to attention before the stout Pirate Bruce, balanced on his tippy-toes and back straight as a board. “Yes, sir.” He wobbled slightly, but didn’t break his pose.
Captain Crossblades rolled his eyes. “At ease, soldier. The Maraquan war’s over. Don’ hurt yerself.”
Merritt relaxed. “Sorry, sir. You wanted something?”
“Aye. Yeh’ve been workin’ on me ship fer a while now, and an able seaman ye be, arr. Yeh’re not like t’ other scurvy scoundrels I’ve had the misfortune o’ employin’ in me career at sea, yeh’re a hard worker, an’ I appreciate tha’.”
“Thank you, sir.” Merritt shifted uneasily, wondering what his point was.
“Anyway, I’ve been watchin’ yer. And yeh must have quite a treasure saved up by now, maybe enough ter buy somethin’ yeh’ve been covetin’,” the Captain leaned in and winked with his one good eye before continuing on. “I’m leavin’ shortly on a voyage, so yeh won’ be able ter work on the Pegleg fer a few months. Maybe I’m gettin’ soft in me old age, but here yeh go.” The Bruce dropped two dubloons into Merritt’s paw. “And ye can go home early today. I’ll finish up the rest o’ the moppin’ meself.”
Merritt looked down at the coins in his hand, and then up at his boss. It wasn’t common to receive such generosity from pirates. “Th-thank you, sir! Thank you!”
The Captain patted his shoulder. “There’s a good lad. Now run along before I change me mind. Yarr!”
“One-hundred sixty-two, one-hundred sixty-three...” Merritt sat on his bedroom floor with the entire contents of his Snorkle bank strewn across the rug, counting out loud. Anxiously, he fished around in his pocket for his day’s pay. “Sixty-four and sixty-five! Finally, one-hundred and sixty-five dubloons!”
The Eyrie scooped his savings into a bag and sprang to his paws and out the door. He passed his mother just as he was leaving. “Merritt, where are you going? It’s nearly dinnertime.”
Dinnertime?! He didn’t have a moment to lose; the shop would surely be closing soon. “Sorry, ma, I’m on a mission! I’ll be back soon!” He shouted his reply over his shoulder as he sprinted down the street. Up ahead he could see Ned, the Little Nippers shopkeeper, locking up for the night.
“Wait!!” he cried, and the Blue Kyrii looked up and waved. Merritt closed the last few yards before the petpet store, and paused before the shopkeeper to catch his breath.
“Well, if it isn’t my favorite loiterer!” the boisterous Kyrii said genially. He had always been accommodating when Merritt dropped by just to look at the petpets. “I’m sorry, kid, but I’m closing up for the evening. Come back tomorrow and you can help me clean out the cages.” He turned back to lock the door.
Merritt lifted his money bag and shook it to make the dubloons clank together merrily. “I’m a paying customer today!” he said, beaming.
Ned flashed a yellow grin. “In that case, I suppose I can delay my supper a little longer. After you, monsieur.” He opened the door and ushered Merritt inside with a mock bow. “What’ll it be?” the Kyrii asked once they were inside.
“One Wee-“ Merritt began to say, but then stopped abruptly. His eyes swept the shop: there were the Pirakets and Kateils snoozing in their cages, and the Octornas in their tanks... But where were the Weewoos? He turned to the Weewoo cage and his heart fell when he found that it was empty; just a few stray feathers littering the bottom, nothing else. “Where are the Weewoos?”
“Sorry, son, sold the last one earlier today.”
“The last one? Will you get more?” Merritt was trying to stay positive. He clung to this last, small hope.
Only to have it shot down. “Hard to say. It could be months before we get another shipment. They’re tricky little buggers, Weewoos. Expensive, too.”
Months! Merritt had been saving for months already, and he could finally afford a Weewoo of his own. It just wasn’t fair. He could feel the tears stinging his eyes, so he tried to think of an excuse to leave. “Oh. Th-thank you. I have to go. My... my mom is waiting for me.”
Ned looked at him with concern. Merritt had already turned to leave when the Kyrii finally spoke. “Have you heard the wild Weewoos’ song, boy?”
The young Eyrie paused at the door, but did not turn back around. He had no idea what the crazy old pirate was talking about. “What?” he asked flatly.
“The wild Weewoos,” Ned repeated, and his voice seemed to take on new life, as if it were infused with magic. “At dusk, they say, on this very island, their haunting melody fills the darkening sky. And these ain’t no petpet shop Weewoos, no, they were born in the wild, and their song flies as free as their hearts over the salty seas, arrr.”
Merritt snorted. His dream had been crushed, and he was in no mood to listen to some ridiculous story told by a crazy old pirate to save face after failing to serve a customer. “Good night,” he said simply, and stepped through the doorway.
As the door banged shut, Ned called after him, “The sun is settin’, kid! To the sea!”
Merritt ambled along the Krawk Island marina, kicking every stray pebble he came across into the water. He was in no rush to go home and face his mother after being denied his dream of owning a Weewoo. When he got to the place where the rickety dock ended and the bay widened into open ocean, he kept walking, tripping every so often on the overgrown weeds and reeds that littered the beach.
When he felt he had walked long enough, he plopped himself down on a large piece of driftwood right at the water's edge. The sun was just a beautiful reddish glow on the horizon now, but he was not interested in the view. He rested his head on his paws, though he would not permit himself to shed a tear. Instead, he turned his sadness into anger: he thought of Ned's story. "Wild Weewoos, give me a break. How is that supposed to help?" he mumbled into his fur, his tone sour.
The word help had barely left his beak when he heard it: a single, lonely note, drifting out of the twilight as if it were born of the wind itself. It seemed to twist and turn in the air, changing shape. The Eyrie pricked up his ears. It was unlike any music he had ever heard before; it sounded alive.
He slowly lifted his head, like a flower reaching toward the sun. The music grew stronger; an eerily beautiful chorus of "Weeeee... Wooooo..." Merritt sprang to his paws and looked up and down the beach, desperate to locate the source of the music.
Then he saw it: a lone Weewoo sitting upon a rock several yards down the beach. Its feathers were a brilliant white against the dusky blue of the evening sky, not brown like the Weewoos at Little Nippers. Merritt stared at it in awe; there was an intelligence in its returning gaze that was absent from the Weewoos he was familiar with. The Eyrie was filled with a desire to reach out and touch the strange White Weewoo. He took a step forward, and the petpet cocked its head to the side, but did not move from its perch. Merritt kept moving until it was within reach, and then extended a paw...
The Weewoo hopped backward onto the sand and glared at him indignantly. Instantly, Merritt withdrew his paw, ashamed. He strained to remember exactly what Ned had told him, as this bird must be one of the wild Weewoos he had been talking about. Their song flies as free as their hearts, he thought to himself. This petpet wasn't a petpet at all; it was free. It could not be owned by any Neopet.
"I'm sorry," Merritt mumbled. He wasn't sure if the Weewoo would even understand him, but it dipped its head to the sand in a sort of nod, and then hopped back onto the rock, so he supposed it did. Now it stared at him more curiously than ever. Merritt almost thought that the Weewoo was just as fascinated by him as he was by it.
He had been gazing so intently at the Weewoo that he was startled when he heard someone behind him. The Eyrie turned automatically to see who was there; it was his mother. "Mom, look-" he began to say, but when he turned back to where the Weewoo had been, it was gone. Merritt looked around in confusion, but saw no trace of it anywhere.
"Look at what? What are you doing out here all alone?"
Merritt sighed. "Nevermind. I'm ready to go home now."
As he was following his mother back up the beach, Merritt heard the song again. "Weee... Wooooooooo." Though the words were the same as ever, it felt more like a farewell this time.
The young Eyrie turned briefly and whispered one word into the darkness. "Goodbye."
After he had scarfed down dinner and evaded his mother's concerned questions, Merritt clunked up the steps to his bedroom. He just wanted to be alone, to think about the White Weewoo and all that had happened, but when he opened his door he found a surprise waiting for him.
On his bed sat a tiny Weewoo, obviously young, its feathers the same deep blue of the sky at dusk. It looked up at him innocently. "Weewoo?" It was more of a chirp than a haunting melody. Merritt gaped. At first he wondered where it could have come from, but then he knew. He couldn't explain how or why, but somehow he knew that the White Weewoo had made his wish come true. Anyway, he thought coyly to himself, magic can't be explained. It shouldn't be. That's why it's magic.
He crossed his room and opened his window, and just as he'd done earlier on the beach, spoke into the night. "Thank you."