Another Hero's Journey: Decisions - Part Four
“You’re leaving,” Devin repeated, managing to choke out a nervous laugh. “For the Lost Desert... leaving?”
“I thought about it for a while,” Reuben replied calmly. “At first, I didn’t want to, but now that I think about it, it’s possible, and it’ll be for the best.”
Andrea blinked several times and stared at the white Blumaroo as though he had grown an extra head. “For the best? How?” The red Kyrii paused, twirling a lock of her mane, before figuring it out. “Oh, now I get it. You’re going to the Lost Desert to see your brother; am I right?”
“You’re finally going to drag him home?” asked Omar.
“Rohane won’t want to be dragged home just yet, knowing him,” said Reuben matter-of-factly. “He’ll insist on finishing whatever he has to do there. No, I’ll just surprise him and say hi. And meet his friends in person too.”
“Wait. I still haven’t gotten over you leaving... leaving us, leaving your shop... oh, sweet Fyora...” The green Kacheek shook his head. “Were you only happy to see us because you could have us take over for you?”
The Blumaroo rolled his eyes. “Of course not! It’s just that... I only thought of this last night. It’ll probably make me feel better if I can see Rohane truly alive. I guess letters and the Neopian Times weren’t enough after all. I don’t know why. But that’s all I wanted to tell you. I’m going to pack up after lunch and leave tomorrow morning – there might still be a ship bound for the Lost Desert. I promise I’ll say goodbye to everyone first.”
“Good.” His mother sighed. Everyone in the dining room remembered the last time Reuben left home. “Just remember to come back in a month like you said, all right? A month, or less...”
“Is that all you’ll be doing down there?” Devin asked, arching an eyebrow. “Hang out with your brother? Not that I’m telling you to stay here or anything, but can’t you wait till – “
“I can’t wait anymore!” It was only then that Reuben realized that he had shouted. He hung his head in apology. “I mean... I want to see my little brother again, even for just a day or two. I understand that we both have a lot of things to do – I have to run a shop, and he has to save the Lost Desert. Now that I think about it, it’s what I really want right now – to relive the old days when we were together.”
Melissa sighed, running a paw through her light blond curls, some of which were turning gray. “If that’s what it takes to make you happy again and if that is what you want... I cannot object. You don’t have to worry about me; I’ll be fine here. Besides, I have to stay to keep the house in order, and I’m sure you are more than capable of traveling on your own.”
“He won’t be on his own.”
Everyone, most especially the two white Blumaroos, stared at Andrea, who said, “I’ll go with Reuben.”
“Mother, did you expect this?” asked Omar, turning to the purple Lupe who had been quiet all this time, meditating in her chair and obviously trying to make contact with nature again as best as she could while within four walls.
“I did say change was coming, didn’t I, my son?” Olivia answered in a faraway tone. “Of course, I wasn’t too sure at first; the future is never set in stone.” The brown Lupe said nothing more.
“A – Andrea, are you serious?” said Reuben. “I’m going alone... I didn’t say I would...”
The red Kyrii gave him a no-nonsense look that quieted him. “You’ll be on a ship for days with almost nobody to talk to; won’t you get lonely? And when you return home, it’ll be the same thing. Besides, I’ve always wanted to see more of Neopia, and someone will have to keep you out of trouble, Reuben.”
“Well, we can’t argue with that,” said Ruben, shrugging and getting cuffed by the younger Blumaroo. “Ow, hey, watch it!”
“Are you sure you want to come with me, Andrea? We’ll be gone for a bit... there are sandstorms, remember? But I’ll find a way around them; if my brother can, so can I. What about you?”
“If you find a way, then I’ll find a way too,” she answered quickly. “You don’t have to worry about me. I’m not a damsel in distress who always needs to be saved.” Andrea frowned in thought, and added, “And how do you know he’s still in the Lost Desert?”
Reuben bit his lip. “He’s become a household name by now. I can always ask around. I’ll hunt him down if I have to, just to see that he’s alive.”
Melissa turned to Olivia. “I’m willing to let Reuben travel; we’ve already talked about it, as you know. But are you going to allow your niece to travel with him?”
“She is more than able to.” The purple Lupe’s expression softened and she took the red Kyrii’s paw. “I must admit, I am anxious, but I believe in her. I do not need to decipher the stars’ positions tonight to have faith in Andrea.”
“Then it’s settled?” asked the female Blumaroo. “Is it time to serve lunch now?”
Everyone gawked at her with pleading eyes, which was Melissa, Olivia and Andrea’s signal to bring in the food.
* * *
Several shirts, pairs of breeches and vests, not to mention two cloaks, were already spread out on Reuben’s bed, along with other items, such as a small bag of Neopoints, a whittling knife and rolls of parchment paper. With some curiosity, Andrea watched through the crack in the door as the white Blumaroo lined up about ten knives and daggers on the desk, probably choosing which ones to bring on his trip.
“Shouldn’t you start packing too?”
The Kyrii nearly jumped, and opened the door all the way. “How did you know it was me?”
Reuben glanced over his shoulder, clutching the smallest, flattest blade. “I just do.”
“Anyway, I’m done packing,” she said. “Devin volunteered to take over my job, but twenty Neopoints says he’ll regret it later. We’re on a bet.”
“That’s more Neopoints for us,” answered the Blumaroo, grinning. Andrea stepped into the room, sat down on his bed, and picked up the whittling knife. Gently sliding it out from its sheath, she held it up to the afternoon light streaming in from the window.
“Isn’t this the knife he gave you for your birthday?”
As he placed six blades on his right and the other four on his left, Reuben nodded and said with a smirk, “I thought I’d show off what I can do with it.”
“Well, someone’s starting to look better after months of moping and hoping nobody would notice,” the red Kyrii noted. “Is packing really that much of an adventure for you?”
“You know as well as I do that it’s not the packing. It’s why I’m packing.” Reuben stood up and headed for his closet. “It’s been ages, and now I’m actually going to see my little brother.”
“But you have to admit, the Lost Desert is... big,” Andrea pointed out. “How will you find them? Then there are the sandstorms...”
“Like I said, I’ll just ask around. ‘Hey, have you seen a yellow Blumaroo waving a sword, with a blue Acara and a green Eyrie? I know it’s hard to believe, but I’m his big brother.’ They should have some idea.” He pulled out a large brown bag and peeked inside. “Hey, so this is where I put my silver pocket watch.” Lugging both bag and timepiece with him, he sat down beside the red Kyrii, moving the two cloaks aside.
She turned to look at him. “Taking a break from packing?”
Reuben shook his head and reached out for one of the cloaks – forest green bordered with goldenrod – and stuffed it into the bag. The silver watch went into a pocket on one side of the bag.
“Yes?” The Kyrii glanced up from where she was examining a compass.
“I’m... I’m really glad you’re coming with me. I was sort of thinking of taking someone along. I can’t take Mother; as much as she wants to see Rohane again, she said that her place is here...”
Andrea held up a paw, and Reuben’s voice trailed off.
“It’s all right. I really do want to come. Now go finish packing already. Miss Melissa will be calling you for dinner by the time you’re done.” She stood up from the bed and smiled before leaving the white Blumaroo to accomplish the most daunting task of taking inventory of everything he would need on his journey.
Still, despite that, he couldn’t help smiling while he dug into his pockets for his checklist. He was going to see more of Neopia, or at least, the Lost Desert. More importantly, he would be reunited – albeit for a short time – with his younger brother. Plus, he would finally be able to meet the Acara wizard and the Eyrie archer who had stuck with Rohane even after all this time.
And Andrea’s smiles were just contagious.
Despite the fact that there would be sandstorms waiting to greet him, and that he had absolutely no idea where Rohane was right now, Reuben knew that he would be too excited to sleep tonight.
Excited... and possibly also nervous.
To be continued...