Messenger: The Journey North - Part Three
Clark already had an Eyrie cab waiting by his shop when I arrived. I loaded Thunder and Pecan’s crate onto the seat and sat down, tightly wedged between Clark and the two petpets. I slipped a Noil Treat into the crate and, unsurprisingly, heard Pecan snatch it and gobble it up. I sighed and turned to Clark. “Where are we going first?”
“We’re going to take the cab to Roo Island,” he explained. “We might stay there a night or two, depending on what time we get there, then we’ll take a ship to Terror Mountain. After we deliver Thunder to Martha, we’ll walk to Tyrannia to deliver Pecan.”
“Okay,” I said, nodding. Just then the Eyrie cab started to lift off. Thunder squealed and Pecan made an odd noise that I suspected to be a laugh. I lifted Thunder out of the crate and cradled him in my arms until he quieted. I stroked his soft fur as the cab rocketed into the air... and promptly collided with another cab.
“Sorry, folks!” said our Eyrie shrilly, swerving to the right and nearly dumping us upside-down. “This is my first ride!” he added proudly as the cab swerved again.
I gritted my teeth and squeezed Thunder, who yelped and dove back into the crate, shaking. Pecan rolled his eyes and yawned, licking the last crumbs from the Noil Treat away from his mouth.
I glanced out the window and raised my eyebrows in shock. We were flying over a large body of water, not the pretty rainbow path that bridged Neopia Central to Roo Island. The Eyrie driver began to dive-right towards the water.
“STOP!” I yelled. Clark covered his face, bracing himself for the impact. It came, but we didn’t land in the water. We landed on top of a large, cloth-like material that ripped in two when we landed. The cab tipped over and landed on its side. Clark banged open the door. “I’m going to see what’s going on,” he said. “Stay here.”
Stay here. Yeah, right. I grabbed the crate and clutched it tight against my chest before stepping outside.
We were on one of those glass-bottomed boats that run across Kiko Lake every hour. Oh! So we were on Kiko Lake! We must have run off course when our cab collided with the other one.
There were only four Neopets on the boat, shocked at the sudden collision but thankfully not hurt. One of them, a scared-looking blue Jetsam, shrieked and dove into the lake the moment I stepped out of the cab. The other three, a family of Acaras, leaned away from me and stared as if I were some kind of monster.
I turned my head to see Clark conversing angrily with our cab driver. The boat driver, a smooth-looking disco Kiko, put his hands on his hips (do Kikos have hips?) and went over to talk to Clark and the driver.
“Sorry about this,” I apologized to the three Acaras. “This is our driver’s first ride.” They just stared at me. I rolled my eyes and sat down. Clark and the two drivers didn’t look like they were going anywhere soon, so I decided to study the small family.
The first Neopet looked to be the only adult and most likely the mother of the family. She was a dark smoky color with jet black ears and stomach. Her eyes were a deep midnight blue and her nose was a bright bubblegum pink. She was clutching a small female Acara with sky-blue fur and pretty lilac colored eyes. Her nose was a lighter pink than her mother’s, and she had a dark purple bib around her neck.
The third and last Acara looked to be about my age. She was huddled close to the shadow Acara, so I guessed that she was her daughter. Her ears, nose, and paws were the same pink as the baby’s nose, but her fur was shaggy grey. I expected her eyes to be bloodshot and red like most grey Acaras, but to my surprise her eyes were pure white with dark blue irises, the same shade as her mother’s.
There was a scratching noise from inside the crate. I popped open the top and Pecan hopped out, followed closely by Thunder. The baby gave a squeal of delight and lunged for Thunder.
“No, Star!” said the shadow Acara sternly, grabbing the baby’s paws and pulling them away from Thunder. Thunder cocked his head and Pecan began sniffing at the Acaras’ feet. The grey Acara reached out toward Pecan. “Can I pet him?” she asked timidly. The shadow Acara stiffened, but I nodded. The grey Acara smiled and began cuddling Pecan. He looked extremely miffed at first, but after a while cooled down and allowed her to pet him.
“What’s your name?” I asked politely. “I’m Emma.”
“I’m Bluecloud,” said the Acara, pointing to her blue eyes and cloud-grey fur. “This is Star, my baby sister. We named her that because of the star on her forehead.” Bluecloud pointed to a pale blue star on Star’s forehead, a much lighter blue than the rest of her body, which explained why I had missed it before.
“And I’m Midnight,” said the shadow Acara. “In our family we’re named for what we look like. I was named for my midnight-blue eyes, and, of course, my black fur. Two for one. Clever, aye?”
“Yeah. Clever.” I cast a quick glance at Clark. Still arguing. I turned back to Midnight. “So, where do you guys live?”
“Sakhmet,” answered Bluecloud promptly. “We’re traveling Neopia and seeing the main attractions of each world-the Deserted Fairground from the Haunted Woods, King Hagan from Brightvale, Illusen from Meridell, the Petpet Arena from Darigan Citadel, the Deep Catacombs from Neopia Central, and, of course, the glass-bottomed boat tours from Kiko Lake.”
“I dot dis fwum Neopia Centwal,” said Star happily, holding up a Roast Gargapple Coin and showing it to me.
I noticed that in her lap sat a small blue felt pouch. I pointed to it. “What’s in there?” I asked.
“Those are the souvenirs she got from each world,” Bluecloud explained. “You can see them if you want.” I nodded and emptied the contents of the pouch into my paw. Inside I found two pumpkin cookies wrapped in tin foil, an Illusens Comb, a Darigan Carmariller Paddleball, and an Orange and Lime Rock Stick. I smiled and handed the pouch, along with its contents, back to Star.
“Emma!” shouted Clark. I whipped around, startling Pecan. He jumped off my lap and growled. Bluecloud quickly recoiled and leaned back toward her mother.
“What?” I asked, slightly annoyed. Oh, well. At least they had finally resolved their argument.
“He’s paying for the damage on my boat,” the Kiko said angrily, pointing at the Eyrie driver. “I will not tolerate rogue vehicles zooming out of the sky and landing on my boat. I simply will not allow it. My boss will not allow it. My manager will not allow it. My-“
“Okay, okay, we get it,” said Clark dismissively. He turned to me. “Our driver, Paul, cannot afford to pay for the damages he caused on this... raft.”
“Boat!” said the Kiko angrily. “I would prefer Glass-Bottomed Boat 6.0, but boat is fine. Raft is unacceptable.”
“Yes, yes,” said Clark impatiently. “The problem is, none of us can figure out how Paul can repay Marty here.”
“Well,” I said carefully, “have you ever wanted to see the world, Marty?”
“Eh?” the disco Kiko asked. “Whatcha mean, see the world?”
“What do you,” Clark corrected, but Marty wasn’t listening.
“Well,” I said, “have you ever been outside of Kiko Lake?”
“Oh, sure,” said Marty. “I was born in Neopia Central. ‘Course, I moved ‘ere when I was about two ‘cause my pop was starting a new business here. Glass-bottomed boat driving, in fact. Didja know that on’y fifteen percent of Neopia’s population has been on a glass-bottomed boat tour? I think that’s outrageous. In my opinion-”
“That’s terrible,” I said quickly. “Anyways, do you want to see any other Neopian worlds?”
“I’ve always wanted to see them Maraquans,” said Marty, scratching his head thoughtfully. “I’d give ‘em a piece of my mind about what I think about their boats. The average shipwreck rate for Maraquan boats is 4.35793 times the rate of Kiko Lake boats! I might even be able to pick up a few sailorin’ techniques from ‘em. ‘Course,” he added, guilty, “I would never even dream of ridin’ a Maraquan boat. No sir. But I sure would like to go there.”
“You really want to go to Maraqua?”
“Yup,” he said. “I really do.”
“This is easy,” I said in relief. “Paul can take you to Maraqua in his cab as payment. A free ride, of course.”
“My mum is Maraquan,” said Paul. “I visit her sometimes down there. I know the place pretty well. I can give you a tour of the Maraquan ruins, Marty.”
“I’d love that,” said Marty happily. “Thank you, Paul.”
“You’re welcome,” said Paul, embarrassed.
“Now that that’s all settled,” I said, turning to Clark, “what about us? Obviously Paul can’t take us up north, so who will?”
“Are there any ships that depart from Kiko Lake?” Clark asked, turning to Marty.
“Ships?” Marty exclaimed, aghast. “Ships? Who needs ships when you can ‘ave a good, modern Glass-Bottomed Boat Version 6.0?”
“I guess we’ll have to swim, then,” said Clark, rolling his eyes.
“You can, actually,” said Marty.
“What?” Clark sputtered. “You’re joking, right? You really expect us to swim to Tyrannia?”
“Not to Tyrannia, ‘course,” chuckled Marty. “You can swim ‘cross Kiko Lake, then ‘cross the Kiko Channel, which’s the teeny tiny channel that separates Kiko Lake from Brightvale.”
“Okay, we’ll swim to Brightvale, then,” I said, daring Clark to contradict me. He didn’t.
“What about us, Mum?” Bluecloud asked, turning to Midnight. “Didn’t you say we could go to Tyrannia and Terror Mountain?”
“Yeah,” said Star. “I wanna go to Tewah Motint. An’ Tywannia. Pweese, Mummy?”
“Alright, alright,” said Midnight, sighing, “but how are we going to get there? I mean, Paul is taking Marty down to Maraqua, so we have no one to take us. And there are no ships that leave from Kiko Lake.”
“Well,” I said, glancing nervously at Clark, “you can come with us.” To my extreme relief, Clark nodded. After a moment’s thought, Midnight nodded too.
To be continued...