A Pirate's Life For Me... Or Is It?
Also by __horses_forever__
“Keep workin’, scalawags!” bellowed a young pirate Gnorbu as he paced the decks of his new ship, peg leg silencing the groans of his crew with each confident step.
It was a beautiful day, and as Captain Jaroq’s ship left the Krawk Island docking area, he could feel the gold beneath his paws already. His gaze became fixed on the horizon as he took in a deep breath of salty sea air. A contented sigh emitted from his somber lips and he closed his eyes, only to further imagine the journey that was in store for him. He could feel the salt water knotting his mane, mighty wind pushing against his handsome face. All was peaceful until suddenly...
*WHACK*! A ruler came slamming down on a wooden school desk, and the sleepy Gnorbu leaped from his seat in alarm.
Jaroq's angry school teacher, Ms. Salamone, quirked a brow and crossed her arms.
"If you have ten thousand neopoints and would like to convert them to dubloons, how many could you buy?"
Jaroq began to count on his paws, unsure.
"How many times do I have to tell you?" the teacher interrupted his counting. "If you paid attention instead of dreaming all class period long, maybe you would know."
Suddenly, there was an eruption of laughter from other classmates.
"Arrrg, mateys!" one of the Unis imitated, nearly bursting with amusement.
The other Neopets chimed in instantaneously, giving their fair share of pirate talk.
"That is very unnecessary, Niythe. I do not appreciate you encouraging that kind of behavior among your classmates! Didn’t your parents ever tell you about setting good examples? Would you like to also get a poor class participation grade for today?"
The Uni shook her head, silencing quickly. Ms. Salamone continued on with her boring lecture and Jaroq put his head down to hide his burning cheeks. He tried to concentrate on the lesson, but he just couldn’t stand math! His mind began to wander again, and this time he thought of how things would be different, once he became a pirate. "I'll show them," he mumbled. "I'll show them not to mess with a pirate."
However, Jaroq was not a pirate at all. In fact, he was a rather boring shade of powder blue.
Jaroq always had a strange fascination with pirates. Growing up, he quickly found out that most of the children his age were terrified of them. He continued on wondering why this was but didn't let it bother him too much. Every day he would sit atop the trees of Neopia and stare through his Zafara kaleidoscope, searching for buried treasure. Because he had never found anything, the other kids would make fun of him. They did not understand how such an awkward looking Gnorbu would ever think of becoming a feared, respected pirate.
He hurried straight for the door after school, only to be stopped by his teacher halfway.
"Jaroq," Ms. Salamone said sternly, "I think it might be best for you to do some extra studying this week. You seem to be falling behind a little."
Jaroq's face fell and he slowly nodded his head.
"I know you have the potential to be a great math student, but you're just going to have to stop daydreaming during my class! Do I make myself clear?"
Jaroq wanted to argue and say that he was doing perfectly fine in math, but he knew that it would only get him into trouble. He thought of how he could explain his growing pirate desires to his antiquated teacher. He opened his mouth and closed it again a second later, deciding that not mentioning pirates might be a better choice. After all, he wouldn’t want to get in trouble for talking back to a teacher.
“I’ll try and study some more this week,” he said quietly. “But right now I have to go to the library!”
He ran swiftly out the door and into the hallway.
“Jaroq?” his teacher called, stepping outside of the door frame.
Jaroq halted in his tracks and turned around, annoyed. “Yes?” he replied, wondering what Ms. Salamone could want now.
“Perhaps you could pick up a few math books at the library? The library has a glorious math section and the nice librarians can help you pick a book or two out on what we’re learning right now. It would give you some good practice.”
Jaroq tried not to laugh and smiled politely as he agreed to do what she had asked. He ran the rest of the way down the hallway and out the door, wondering if his teacher had possibly gone insane.
Jaroq hurried straight for the Faerieland library. It was a long trek, but eventually he reached two very large, wooden doors. Hanging from one of them was a humongous knocker which he could barely reach. Jaroq began jumping, each time a little higher until he grabbed the knocker and attempted to lift it.
“Ouch, that’s my nose!” the knocker scowled.
The dirty bronze bent into what appeared to be a frown. Jaroq fell backward upon landing, dumbfounded.
“You can talk?”
“Of course I can talk!” the knocker boomed.
Jaroq’s stubby tail sank between his legs.
“D-do you think you could let me into the library? I’m on a very important mission.”
The knocker chuckled, and the doors began to shake violently.
“Need to get some homework done, eh?”
The Gnorbu shook his head, thick mane shifting from one side to another.
“No, sir. Actually, I’m here to find out how I can become a pirate.”
“Is that so?” cried the knocker as he laughed some more, lustrous eyes gleaming in the Faerieland sun.
“Well, I wouldn’t want to keep you away for much longer. You may pass.”
The large doors rattled until they were wide enough for Jaroq to go through. He scampered inside and the doors slammed behind him. The chuckling of the knocker could be heard in the distance.
A melodic voice filled his ears upon entering the castle-like building, and a beautiful faerie dressed in purple stood in the distance with a welcoming smile.
“Is there something I could help you with, young neopet?”
Jaroq shuffled his hind legs. “Uh,” he murmured, blushing a little. “Actually, there is. You see, I want to be a pirate.”
The library faerie tilted her glasses and took a better look at Jaroq. He was a dorky looking Gnorbu with innocent eyes and awkward posture. She stifled a giggle.
“You? A pirate? Why would a nice little Gnorbu like you want to become something so... barbaric?”
Jaroq jumped up onto his hind legs, angry. “I am NOT a nice little Gnorbu! First the knocker, now you! In fact, I’m ferocious and big, and I... want to be a pirate!”
“Shh!” snapped the other guests harmoniously.
... Right. It’s a library.
The faerie once again offered a warm smile, and patted the Gnorbu on the head.
“Don’t take what that old hunk of metal has to say to heart. I believe you. It’s just that you don’t look the part, is all.”
Jaroq returned to all fours and hushed himself.
“...Do you know how I could look the part?” he said quietly.
The library faerie motioned for Jaroq to follow her, and at rapid speed, she started pulling books from random shelves. Some books flew, some had teeth, and some even looked as if they were alive and breathing. It was rather odd, and Jaroq hid behind the library faerie the entire time.
“Aha!” she finally exclaimed, holding a very pretty, very thick book between her perfectly manicured fingers.
“I know the perfect way but I hope you know it won’t be easy..”
Jaroq nodded and listened very carefully.
“Have you ever heard of the Rainbow Fountain?”
“No, I don’t think I have. What does it do?”
“It does many wondrous things...”
The Library Faerie motioned to a nearby window and pointed to what looked like a pond. It didn’t look special in the slightest.
“Doesn’t look like it,” Jaroq replied, tilting his head as he stared at the nearby ‘fountain’.
“Haha, that is why it is so special. If everyone knew of the magic within that water, no neopet would ever be basic again.”
“Wh-what?” Jaroq exclaimed, his eyes growing wide.
The library faerie laughed and went on explaining.
“Oh, yes. This fountain has the power to change a basic neopet like you into almost anything.. But, it isn’t open for just anyone to use. Because of the magical water being in such high demand, the fountain often does not work.”
“How can I get it to work?”
“Well, there is a faerie who watches over the fountain. If you can get her to give you a quest, she will let you bathe in her magical water. However, she very rarely gives out these special quests, and when she does, they are extremely difficult.”
Jaroq threw his paws around the library faerie and embraced her.
“Thank you so much for all of your help! The next time you see me, I will be a pirate!”
With that, Jaroq pranced out of the library with newfound hope and a very large smile.
As the sun began to go down, a yawn escaped from Jaroq’s lips. There was a peculiar breeze in the air that night, and in the distance, the Rainbow Fountain could be seen beneath the fresh blanket of stars. Jaroq’s eyes grew wide in wonder. He drew closer to the fountain as it tumbled like a gorgeous waterfall in a dream.
“I’m getting a little thirsty,” Jaroq admitted to himself, resting on his hind legs in front of the pool.
Oh, how he longed to be a pirate. His eyes shifted from one side to the other in search of someone who may be watching him. Fortunately, there was nobody around. Cupping his paws together, he cautiously leaned down and felt the cool liquid gather into his palms. Closing his eyes, he brought the water to his lips, parting them to take a drink.
“What do you think you’re doing?!” cried the Fountain Faerie, splashing the water from Jaroq’s hand with a hard swipe.
Jaroq squealed, nearly falling backward in surprise.
“I-I was thirsty!” he only half-told the truth.
“Oh, really? Is that all you came here for?”
The Fountain Faerie brushed her long, shimmering blond hair over one shoulder, squeezing the water out.
“Well, ma’am, I was sort of also hoping to...”
She cut him off immediately. “Hoping to change your dorky exterior, am I right?”
Jaroq’s cheeks became hot yet again. “I am NOT dorky! But yes, I would really like to become a.. Well, a pirate.”
The Fountain Faerie cocked her head to one side. “Why would you want to become a pirate? Why not something more fitting, like a faerie?”
The Gnorbu became angry. “A faerie?! A faerie isn’t fitting for me at all! I am a sword wielding, treasure hunting, Bilge Dice playing pirate!”
The Fountain Faerie raised her eyebrows and laughed a little. “You’re honestly telling me that you would rather be a pirate?”
Jaroq nodded fiercely. “Yes!” he cried, with a serious expression on his face.
“Okay then,” the Fountain Faerie said, nodding.
“Why don’t we take a look at what things would be like if you were to become a pirate?”
With a wave of her delicate hands, the water in front of her created a multicolored whirlpool.
“What am I supposed to be looking at?” asked Jaroq suspiciously.
“Just wait,” said the faerie.
And then, everything came into focus...
Jaroq stared at the now calm water in front of him, which was now taking the form of colors and objects. He saw friends that he recognized from his school. Jaroq looked up at the faerie.
“What are they-” He was interrupted.
“Shh,” she said quietly, gesturing with her hands towards the pictures in the water.
Jaroq gazed intently at the water again, still unsure of what he was supposed to be watching for. He heard faint murmurs amongst his friends coming from the picture that had formed in the water, and then at once, they were loud and clear. His friends all looked much older, and he could hardly recognize most of them.
They were gathered in the corner of a colorful classroom, and were all talking to each other in hushed tones. He couldn’t quite understand what they were saying, but as the picture moved closer, he was able to understand them better. He saw Niythe in the middle of the circle, and everyone was watching and listening to her, as many words came out of her mouth.
“I still can’t believe he actually became a pirate! He must think he’s so much better than us, because he certainly acts like it,” she said with a sneer.
She rolled her eyes, blew a few pieces of stray hair from her face, and continued talking.
“He’s been so mean to everyone lately. It’s no wonder he doesn’t have any friends now!”
The jumble of students all nodded in agreement with what she was saying.
Jaroq frowned, and looked up at the faerie.
“They’re talking about me?” he squeaked, trying not to believe that being a pirate would change his personality so drastically.
The Fountain Faerie nodded her head.
“Unfortunately, yes,” she murmured.
Jaroq tried to forget about the students talking about him. They were probably just jealous, anyway. The faerie waved her hands over the water once more, and color after color, the picture in the water began to fade out. Jaroq could eventually make out another image, and this time, his mouth dropped open.
He saw himself, as a pirate! He looked even cooler than he had dreamed. Not an inch of him looked awkward at all! In fact, he was kind of handsome. The beads in his hair matched perfectly with his red and white polka-dotted bandanna, and he longed to be wearing the shiny gold jewelry attached at the top of his ears.
As he looked closer, he realized just where he was. He saw himself sitting on the concrete ground outdoors, leaning up against a cold, red brick wall during recess. He was alienated from the other students, who were talking to each other and running around in the grass. He squinted his eyes. Was that a tear he saw, running down his cheek? What could possibly be so bad about being a pirate? He tilted his head to the side, excitement draining from his expression.
“You see, Jaroq... You may look spiffy as a pirate, but looks aren’t everything,” said the Fountain Faerie, sympathetically patting the Gnorbu between the ears.
“In fact, I think you look great the way that you are.”
Jaroq smiled weakly, and gazed into his reflection in the water. The moonlight made it sparkle.
“You shouldn’t long to be something that you aren’t just to impress other people.”
“I know,” said Jaroq, growing melancholy.
“It’s just, I’ve always dreamed of being a pirate. Not only to look neat, but to also go on adventures and stuff.”
He let out a deep sigh.
“You don’t have to be a pirate to go on adventures, Jaroq,” replied the Fountain Faerie, still patting him on the head fondly.
“But, if it is really what you wish for, I will allow you only one drink from my Rainbow Fountain.”
Jaroq’s eyes lit up, and he jumped from his seat excitedly.
“Really?! You would do that for me?”
The faerie nodded, forcing a smile.
“Yes, I believe I would, but is this really what you--”
Without being able to finish her sentence, Jaroq leaped into the water and landed with a loud splash.
“Yippee!” he shouted, greedily taking large gulps of water into his mouth.
As soon as the water graced Jaroq’s tongue, the Gnorbu began to change. His once silken fur became coarse, and his mane grew longer and as dark as the Black Pteri. Golden rings adorned each of his long ears, and as he continued to swim, his once frail build became thick and rugged. The Fountain Faerie watched with a hidden horror, but she masked it with a cheerful grin. He emerged from the pool, transformed.
“Avast ye, maiden! How do I look?”
The faerie giggled, blushing.
“You look very handsome. Why not take a look for yourself?”
She motioned for him to look into the water. His reflection showed a very handsome, nearly unrecognizable Gnorbu.
“Shiver me timbers!” he exclaimed, posing vainly into the reflection.
The Fountain Faerie’s smile faded as she watched his personality disintegrate with his new look. He had become someone else, and not the sweet Gnorbu that had originally visited the fountain. Turning away, Jaroq began his journey home from Faerieland.
“You’re welcome!” called the faerie far behind him, but Jaroq did not even bother to answer.
“I knew this was a bad idea,” she mourned.
The following day, Jaroq returned to school. As he entered the classroom, his teacher tapped him on the shoulder.
“Are you in the right place, sir?”
Jaroq raised a brow and shook his peg leg at her.
“Ye can be sure I’m in the right place, landlubber! ‘Tis I, Jaroq,” he said proudly.
“Jaroq?” the students chimed, looking at one another with puzzled expressions.
They exchanged shoulder shrugs, but Niythe stifled a giggle. The unrecognizable Jaroq swung his head towards the class, silencing them.
“’Tis CAPTAIN Jaroq to ye, bilge rats!” he bellowed.
“Jaroq! Take a seat immediately before I send you to the Principal’s office. Do not say another word.”
He sneered at his teacher and unwillingly took a seat, isolating himself from the other students for the entire day.
As Jaroq left school, he got to thinking about how his first day as a pirate went. As he thought, he grew heavyhearted. All that Jaroq had ever wanted was for others to respect and admire him, but it seemed as if he was better off as just a geeky, powder blue Gnorbu. Tired and disheartened, he made another journey to Faerieland to visit the Fountain Faerie again.
“Hello?” he called, his blackened eyes searching for the beautiful creature who bestowed this hidden curse on him.
After waiting several minutes without a reply, he seated himself on a bed of rocks and stared into the water.
“...Why would someone ever want to change who they really are?” he asked himself, shedding a tear.
As that tear hit the surface of the Rainbow Pool, Jaroq’s reflection began to mutate. His fur became soft and blue again, and his mane shortened and returned to its original color. Even his great muscles and his peg leg began to fade away into thin air. The real Jaroq had returned.
Behind the waterfall the Fountain Faerie was smiling, for the real purpose of the fountain was for one to find their true self.