Messenger: The Journey North - Part Six
It was still early morning when we reached Tyrannia. After about fifteen minutes of trekking through hot, humid jungle, we abandoned our parkas and tied them around our waists. There were Tyrannian petpets of every kind roaming the jungle, plus the petpets that had been originally native to this desolate woodland. Still, none of them were actually proving to be dangerous... that is, we hadn’t met any natives yet.
“I-I see a light,” gasped Bluecloud, shielding her eyes with her hand and gazing ahead disconcertedly.
I rolled my eyes. “Don’t be ridiculous,” I snapped. “We’ve only been in this desolate wasteland for about half an hour.”
“That’s thirty minutes too many,” muttered Clark, “and, technically, this isn’t a wasteland. There are trees, and ferns, and-”
“The light... it’s coming closer...” Bluecloud whispered, holding her hands out in front of her body and squinting.
“Wait a second,” said Midnight slowly, “I see it too. Over there.” Hefting Star into one arm, Midnight pointed at the horizon where there was, indeed, a light. I jogged toward it quickly, knocking twigs and leaves every which way. Finally there was a large crash, and then we were out of the jungle.
“Hooray!” Bluecloud yelled.
“Yes,” breathed Midnight, bringing both hands up to her mouth in astonishment.
“Uggg,” said Clark. At least, I thought it was Clark. I whipped around and beheld... a Uni. A Tyrannian Uni, to be exact. The strange, hairy person was crouched warily by the edge of the jungle, a stone flint in one hoof and a clump of berries in the other. The Uni waved the sharp flint menacingly and advanced toward us. “Ugggg.”
“Do something!” I whispered, elbowing Clark.
“What?” he snapped, looking just as terrified as I was. That Uni could be dangerous. The flint, the horn, the hooves... not to mention the berries. I don’t know, maybe they were bomberries or something like that. But still, they could be dangerous.
“Shoo! Shoo!” shrieked Midnight, flapping her arms wildly. The Uni bared its teeth and raised a hoof.
“Um... ” I stared around wildly, looking for something, anything. What I found was Pecan. I poked him hard and gestured toward the Uni. “Sic him!” I whispered loudly, not really knowing what else to say. Pecan looked confused for a moment, then began carefully licking his paw, working on a bit of dirt wedged between his toes. I sighed loudly and grabbed him, ignoring squeals of protest, and walked right up to the Uni, who snorted and flung the flint at Pecan. Pecan squealed his loudest squeal yet, and, though unhurt, began torpedoing randomly around the landscape, zooming in circles at times, before landing, exhausted, on the grass. He looked up at us beseechingly and began grooming himself.
“You’re no help,” I sighed. Grabbing Clark by the hand, I began to march away in a dignified manner. Bluecloud and Midnight followed my lead as we departed from the wild Uni, although they moved their legs much faster and exercised their vocal cords in a gesture known as screaming your head off. Pecan started at the noise and hared away across the ground, leaping for my shoulder. He missed, of course, and immediately became tangled in my extremely large and useless wings, screeching all the while. I sighed again, for the third time that day, and disentangled him from my wings, clutching him to my chest endearingly while hissing angrily in his ear.
“Midnight! Bluecloud! Shut it all ready! The Uni’s gone, all right?!” I screeched, having to raise my voice greatly to be heard above the screaming.
“It’s not that!” screamed Bluecloud. “Star’s gone!”
“What, again?” I snapped. “All right, I have an idea. We’ll split up, all right? Midnight and Bluecloud, you go on ahead. Pecan, Clark and I’ll search this area.”
Midnight nodded tearfully. “Thank you,” she breathed. I nodded at her and shooed her away, retracing our steps in the search for Star.
There was no way we would find her based on footprints, that was for sure. The ground was covered with a mass of overlapping, layered footsteps.
And there was food on the ground, too. Berry pulp, Grackle Bug legs, crushed leaves, strips of dried meat, pumpkin cookie crumbs, shards of crushed Orange and Lime Rock Stick... wait... “That’s it!” I cried, straightening. “I remember seeing pumpkin cookies and this particular flavor of Rock Stick in Star’s bag back at Kiko Lake... we’re on her trail!”
Clark hurried over and we quickly followed the trail of crumbs. Sure enough, the trail led us for about ten feet... then stopped. All that was left was a small comb... an Illusen’s Comb. Brightening, I grabbed the comb and we followed the trail, Pecan with his nose to the ground like a fitful Anubis, but instead of a scent all he got was a nose full of dust. I, however, found a Roast Gargapple Coin, a ball from a Darigan Carmariller Paddleball, and... a blue felt pouch! We were definitely on Star’s trail. The trail of souvenirs from each of Neopia’s worlds led us to a large rock next to a foul-smelling cave. Hoping fiercely that Star wasn’t in the cave, I searched behind the rock... and Star was there, curled up with her hand holding tightly onto the last pumpkin cookie, her bib and mouth covered with frosting. Sighing with relief, I scooped up the naughty baby and alerted Clark, who smiled weakly and began to walk away. Pecan leaped up onto my shoulder and began dozing, snoring softly, his nose stuffed in Star’s wispy blue fur. Smiling at the cute sight, we began to once again trek through Tyrannia, toward the city and toward Pecan’s owner.
Midnight was nearly exploding with anxiety when we got back. Bluecloud simply rolled her eyes, though later I caught her cuddling with her baby sister.
The city was within sight by noon. After about ten minutes we were in the city and at the Concert Hall, which was empty save for a security guard. We explained the situation. He said that he had never heard of Henry, but he would give us a stage crew list. We thanked him and looked over the list:
Yes Boy Ice Cream Backstage Crew
Manager: Henry-4975 Concert Hall Court
Assistant Manager: Katie-4974 Concert Hall Court
Lighting: Mario-8621 Tekkal Street
Billy-547 Bobjoe Street
Larry-7555 Lupe Tusk Lane
“Okay,” I said, handing the list back to the guard, “what we need now is a street map of Tyrannia. Do you know where we could find one?” The guard shook his head. I sighed loudly. I really, really, really hoped this wouldn’t turn out to be another Martha Catastrophe.
It wasn’t, thankfully. A kind shopkeeper had an uncle living on Concert Hall Court; she was able to politely point out that Concert Hall Court was, in fact, right behind Concert Hall. I felt my already bright pink cheeks go red as I turned toward a large, flashing marquee that advertised Concert Hall Court being right behind Concert Hall. Shamefully we trudged away and quickly found 4975 Concert Hall Court.
My mouth dry, I slowly reached toward the intricately carved bronze knocker on Henry’s wrought-iron door. A peephole the size of a bowling ball sat in the middle of the door, ringed by sickly-looking pink lace curtains.
“Pink lace curtains?” hissed Bluecloud from behind me. “Is this guy nutso? This is Tyrannia!” Still blunt as ever, I thought wryly. I loved Bluecloud dearly; after all, we had been through so much together, and I considered her to be my best friend. But there were a few qualities that Bluecloud had unfortunately received, and those were bluntness and complaining.
What was the matter with me? Why was I thinking so poorly of my friend? My cheerful mood had suddenly turned downright rotten. I puckered up my lips angrily and pounded on the door.
“You’re going to break the door down,” chattered Bluecloud noisily. “Can’t you...”
“Why can’t you be quiet,” I hissed through clenched teeth. I hugged Pecan tightly as I turned to face Bluecloud. “Can’t you see I’m busy-”
“Hello,” a voice said from somewhere behind me. I swung around, dread pounding in my heart. Sure enough, a tall Tyrannian Blumaroo stood in the doorway, dressed in a smart black suit and tie and carrying a slim grey umbrella. He was surprisingly handsome for a Tyrannian pet, with short tan fur and long, polished, curving horns, stretching out of the side of his head. His fur was well-trimmed and his wings were swathed in velvet. His small, round black eyes peered at me questioningly as he swung the umbrella back and forth absentmindedly. He looked and was nice enough, but at the moment he was my worst enemy.
“We’reheretogivePecanback,” I muttered, allowing my words to roll together into a heap so that my sentence was nothing more than a jumble of meaningless words.
“Sorry?” asked Henry politely in a refined, accented voice. His posture was perfectly straight, his clothes were spotless and pressed neatly, and I could see my reflection in his polished black shoes. The aura of comfortable living oozed from his presence.
“We’re here to give Pecan back,” said Clark, enunciating each word and handling them with care. He smiled at Henry and straightened his own posture. Even when Clark was standing like this, perfectly straight, he only came up to Henry’s nose. Henry was an abnormally tall man, and we were very short. Gallions like short people better. Hey, I should know! I’m a petpet doctor!
“Ah,” said Henry, coughing, “I should have explained this to you. You see,” Henry coughed again, “I already have a petpet.”
“What?” squawked Bluecloud.
“Yes,” sighed Henry. “Frankly, I’m afraid that Pecan and I--well, our personalities clash to much for my liking. Plus he knocks over everything in sight. He’s too clumsy.
“So... I bought a new petpet. Believe me, he’s very tame. Allow me to introduce-“ Henry stepped back with a flourish-“Rock.”
I stared. On the richly carpeted floor behind Henry, there sat a Rock. Pecan sniffed it curiously and nudged it with his tail. It didn’t move.
“So you can keep Pecan,” Henry said. “Believe me, I’m very, very very sorry... ”
“Thank you!” I shouted, slamming the door in his face. I bent down and grabbed Pecan, hugging him so tightly I thought he would burst. His warm, shaggy mane tickled my nose as I clutched him. I couldn’t believe it.
Turning to face my traveling companions, I sighed, but my sigh was dripping with happiness. More like a happy sigh, really.
“Shall we go home, then?” asked Clark uncertainly. I nodded, and the five--no, six, counting Pecan--turned to face the horizon and head for home.
The journey home passed with a blur. Midnight hailed an Eyrie cab (this driver was quite experienced, thankfully) and we quickly headed back south, toward Neopia Central. My mind seemed blank until we arrived at home. I remember very clearly the conversation that took place there:
“So we’re home.” That was Bluecloud.
“Do you have to always state the obvious?” Midnight sighed. “And besides, we don’t even live here. This isn’t our home. This is Clark and Emma’s home.”
“Can’t you stay here, at least for a little while?” I cried.
“Of course.” That, too, was Bluecloud.
I slowly creaked open the door. I was exhausted, I really hoped that Mom hadn’t planned a big “Welcome Home” party or something. All I really wanted was a nice nap.
Of course, with my luck, I got a Welcome Home party.
“WELCOME HOME!” everyone screeched as we walked in the door. Auntie Lila, Rooli, Dad, Mom, and Lucy were all there, by the front desk, waiting for us to come in. Balloons and confetti covered the front room.
So we had a great time. There was cake, fruit punch, cookies, and even Aunt Lila’s famous peanut butter brownies. I actually got to relax for a little bit, playing with Pecan and dancing with Rooli. Clark realized that I was tired and explained to Mom and Dad about Midnight, Star, and Bluecloud, and of course Mom let them stay. Dad really didn’t care; in fact for most of the party he stood in a corner muttering something about paint. Poor thing. He works way too much.
About an hour and a half into the party, Mom cornered me. She looked flustered; she kept tugging on the edge of her doctor’s coat and chewing on her perfectly manicured nails. Before she could say something, I said:
“Mom, I know what you’re going to say, but I don’t care. I want to keep Pecan. Henry wouldn’t take him.”
Mom nodded. “I knew that, honey... Clark told me. You do realize, though, that you alone will care for him and you alone will clean up after him.”
I nodded, envisioning a trail of broken furniture following Pecan wherever he went and me cleaning up after him. It didn’t matter, really. It was worth it.
“But that’s not what I want to talk to you about,” Mom continued. “You see, I have a client who needs a Weewoo delivered to them in Krawk Island...”
I smiled. It looked like my messenger days were far from over.