Jack and the Seven Curses of Renee: Part Two
“How are we supposed to even get down there?” I was sitting on a boat overlooking the ruins of Maraqua, surrounded by a lot of mutant Aishas. No, this isn’t the beginning of a cheesy movie; this is actually a true story. By the ‘true story,’ I mean that of how I utterly wasted a good two months of my life hunting down antidotes for a certain Dark Faerie’s curse. (Whom I would very much like to push off the edge of Faerieland.) But enough about me.
“Once in Neovision, I saw someone dive down there with a fishbowl taped over their head!” There was Charles again, plaguing us with ridiculous things that really didn’t ever pertain to our situation. Just a few minutes earlier he had reminded us that it was raining.
One of the other Aishas had clearly had enough. “If I had a dime for every stupid thing you’ve ever-”
“Alright, enough comments from the peanut gallery,” Cyrus called towards us and stuck a paw in the water. “It’s freezing too. Well, this is just lovely. Anyone else have any ideas?”
“Paint ourselves Maraquan?” Charles somehow managed to dodge me as I reached backwards to wallop him. Next time, I was going to bite him. Oh yes.
Apparently Cyrus had managed to ignore him this time. “Alright, here’s the plan. That fancy-schmancy restaurant Kelp caters to all sorts of customers. The entire building is glassed in; I can see it from here. If we can all swim there... Charles, you should just be able to stick a fishing pole out the door.”
“I can’t swim...” One of the Aishas moaned near the front of the boat. She’d been retching the entire way. Which was lovely for the rest of us, mind you.
“Can you at least sink?” There was the good old Cyrus I knew and loved. He winked at me, and I chuckled. His mischievous winks were much more amusing now that he only had one eye.
“Cannonballlllll!” Charles yelled before performing the loudest-smacking belly flop I’ve ever heard in my life. I was beginning to wonder whether being painted mutant might affect intelligence levels as well. We all watched him swim swiftly towards the bottom and disappear into the Kelp restaurant. Good, one down and seven more of us to go.
“Well, sally forth. And what not.” I watched Cyrus roll off the side of the boat, and I followed suit. The shock of the cold water slipping past my fur to make contact with my skin was brutal, and I began to swim as fast as possible towards Kelp. Through the density of the water, I heard two others splash behind me. I was sure the rest would follow.
“Apparently, the entry hall is a vacuum that sucks out all the water before you come inside,” Cyrus told me as soon as I stepped inside behind him. A long fishing pole stuck out suspiciously from behind his back, pretending to be sneaky but failing horribly.
“Where is Charles?” I looked around for the no-brain, slightly alarmed when I couldn’t find him. Imagine my surprise when I saw his ugly mug magnified to three times its normal size! He was staring at us through a fish tank. (The presence of which I considered a bit much. We were in the middle of Maraqua for crying out loud!)
“The whole place is full of kelp! I wasn’t sure which one you meant. So I stopped in here for directions,” Charles explained to us as if he’d just done something wonderfully brilliant.
“Good man, Charles,” I lied and patted him on the head while his antennae attempted to bite me. While we were speaking, the others managed to fight their way into the crowded entryway. I was beginning to get nervous. The waiters were eying us rather suspiciously. “We need to hurry, before they kick us out.”
Cyrus handed the fishing pole to Charles, who immediately went to work. Three buckets of sludge and four shimmery seagrasses later, someone finally had the nerve to ask Cyrus how high his skill in fishing was.
“Fifteen!” he told us eagerly, before sticking his pole out the door once again. The majority of us groaned loudly. (The others were sleeping.)
“I beg your pardon, but you cannot fish ‘ere, Monsieur.” One of the waiters had finally alerted the boss to our presence in Kelp’s entry hall, and the Maraquan Skeith didn’t look very pleased. I wasn’t pleased either. He wasn’t exactly a fluffy Usul.
“Isn’t this the fishing pier?” Cyrus asked while hissing at me out of the corner of his mouth to speed things up.
“Alright, troops,” I began, rallying the mutant Aishas, “Renee didn’t say how exactly Charles had to catch the waterlogged books... so here’s the deal...”
“...And that’s how I became a mutant!” Cyrus had successfully wasted a good ten minutes telling the manager our story while the other Aishas and I had ‘gone fishing.’ Together, we’d hunted down two waterlogged books and attached them to Charles’ hook so he could ‘catch’ them. It was slow going, but better than nothing. Three more to go.
“Get out!” the manager yelled angrily. “It is terrible what ‘appened, but you must leave. The customers... they are getting nervous.”
“You know, I had customers once. Nasty little things, aren’t they?” Cyrus launched into another one of his stories filled with dry humor and intelligent, yet facetious remarks that only someone who’d won the Neopian Book Award like him would have understood. I chuckled at his antics and dove back outside.
Thirty minutes later Charles had snagged three more books and we were being booted out the door by a very angry Maraquan Skeith manager, who banned us from ever even coming back to Maraqua. Apparently he also phoned his friend up at Krawk Island’s hot-spot restaurant and warned him about us. Nice guy.
After a hard time trying to pull our seasick companion back up to the surface and nearly all drowning, we lay in the bottom of our boat gazing up at the sky in thankfulness. The hard part of Charles’ curse was lifted...
Three hours later, Cyrus and I were both on break from rowing. It was nighttime, and the stars were gleaming brilliantly in the sky. But enough about the scenery. Cyrus and I were just as brilliant, and much more interesting.
“Jack... I’ve been thinking about this curse. Doesn’t it seem awful? To throw books at the unwanted pets of Neopia?” Cyrus was trailing a paw in the water behind the boat. Probably some far-fetched scheme of his to make it travel faster. Or I’m overthinking things again.
“Think of it as... intelligizing the masses.”
“You can’t make up lies and words in the same sentence, Jack.” Cyrus gave me a ‘be serious for once’ look.
“I thought it would make the lie sound more believable. I honestly don’t know about it either, Cyrus. I mean... it is rather awful. But wouldn’t you rather do something bad like that once, and then be changed back? Those pets won’t ever see us again. Odds are they’ll never even be adopted. I think they’d understand if they knew.”
Cyrus was completely silent at this, and I could tell he was thinking deeply, so I let the silence linger. However, it didn’t have the chance to linger long.
“Land sighted!” There was a great commotion coming from the downstairs cabins and rowing stations, and I ran to the prow of the ship to see what land we were coming to.
“Precarious Pass...” someone whispered from behind me in a very sinister sort of tone.
Cyrus was taking the matter into his own hands. “Steer to the left until you see the shore of Roo Island! Don’t go anywhere near the cliffs of Terror Mountain, or we’ll be in serious trouble!” He grabbed one of the ropes holding the anchor and began to pull its mass towards the left side of the boat. “Jack, help me toss this over. We can use it as a lever and make a sharp westward turn right into the Neopia Central bay.”
With the help of two more of our mutant companions, we managed to toss the anchor into the sea. Sure enough, by Cyrus’ reasoning we were docking in the bay in a little under two hours. Thank goodness, in my opinion. We all smelled like Kelp, and I had had it up to here with that silly seasick Aisha retching every five minutes.
It didn’t take us long to find the pound, but the lines were so long that we had to roast outside in the hot Neopian sun for an hour before they finally let us inside. I really don’t understand the mindset of these people, quite frankly. A Lupe and seven Mutant Aishas come walking into the pound (no, that’s not the start of a lame joke), and they ask us if we want to adopt another Neopet! Seriously, how dense can these folks be? I’m walking around with seven Mutant Aishas, and you think I’m looking for another pet?!
***Authorial Note*** Yes, I do realize how much I rant. I’m rather proud of it, and I feel that you should be appreciative as well. You know, most other authors wouldn’t insert their opinion into a series such as this one. And seeing as how my opinion matters twice as much as any normal Neopian’s, you should count yourself doubly blessed. ***End***
“Ah... just sneak around towards the back and go to the very last five cells, I guess. Just throw those books and then let’s run for it.” Cyrus had taken on a rather serious face and was silent for the time being, so I found myself giving out the directions.
Charles looked a little baffled. “You mean... I actually have to do this?”
“Do you want to be a mutant for the rest of your life? Just chunk the books at five pets and let’s go,” I hissed, looking back towards the entrance to the hall to make sure that the coast was clear.
Five minutes later, we’d taken the back way out of the pound and escaped out into the alleyway amid the shrieking of abandoned Neopets that had been hit by flying waterlogged books. One Flotsam in particular had been offended. Cyrus was nowhere in sight, and the rest of us were closely examining Charles to see how long the transformation would take.
“Well, I’ll be a Mynci’s uncle! It worked!” Charlie exclaimed eagerly and spun around in a circle for what I suppose he thought was our benefit. Appropriately enough, Charles was a rainbow Aisha. His colouring was nearly as obnoxious as his stupidity. Still, we were glad to see that Renee’s antidote had actually worked.
Hours later, we were all sitting outside Hubert’s Hot Dog Stand chowing down on empty buns because none of us had brought enough money for real food. Charles was just finishing his bun when Cyrus showed back up, looking a bit wearier than he had when I last saw him at the pound. “Well,” Charles began before looking around at all of us, “I think it’s time for me to say Konnichiwa, folks.”
“Shush, don’t stop him. If we don’t say anything, he might really just leave,” I hissed towards one of the Aishas who had nearly pointed out that konnichiwa is not how you say goodbye regardless of what language you’re speaking.
“Good luck to you all. I hope you turn back as well,” Charles finished and shook a few of our hands before bounding off towards the housing district of Neopia. Blast it all. Now I felt bad for making fun of him. He really was a decent fellow.
“Well, who’s next on this list?” Cyrus asked while looking around to see who had it.
To be continued...