A Roo-yal Expedition: Part Seven
“Who’s that?” Ilna said.
The king, Ilna, and Jaraiya had followed Julia into the small room; they’d left Mr. Jones outside to rest.
Caleb walked into the hut, with Mr. Jones in a tight grip. The Blumaroo looked imploringly at Julia.
“Give him back,” Julia said. Caleb obliged, eyeing the documents in the Acara’s hand. Mr. Jones let himself down slowly onto a chair in the corner of the room. The chair creaked loudly, revealing its age.
Seeing Caleb’s gaze, Julia tucked the documents behind her back.
“We have all the proof we need right here,” King Roo said to Caleb. The king appeared out of the shadows, and Caleb jumped back. He obviously hadn’t been expecting the king’s appearance; the Kacheek’s expression immediately changed to one of fear.
“These documents mean nothing,” he said. “They’re old. Useless.” But his eyes darted quickly from one side of the room to the other.
“They are old,” Mr. Jones added suddenly. “But they’re not useless. They are probably the most important documents signed on this island.”
King Roo and Ilna both nodded at him to continue. Julia and Jaraiya took a seat on the floor as they heard Mr. Jones’ recollection once more.
“When Roo Island was first founded, the first king - your father,” he said, glancing at King Roo, “had a meeting with King Skarl. Skarl had heard of the small island, and he came to judge its legitimacy. After days of meetings, the two sovereigns met on this beach, on a night much like tonight.”
As the old Blumaroo said this, Julia heard wind whistle through the cracks in the door.
“These documents were compiled by witnesses to the hearings. They wrote down each word of the contract. The most important one is in your hands,” he said, pointing his finger at Julia.
At those words, Julia clutched the papers tighter.
“Wait a second,” Caleb said. “How did you know to come here?”
“It was Julia’s idea,” Jaraiya said. “She remembered Ilna telling you that if you wanted to know the history of the island, you’d have to talk to the people who lived there. So she found the oldest Blumaroo on the island, and he led us here.”
Caleb immediately looked uncomfortable. Julia noticed this.
“Wait,” she said, “how did you come to find the cottage? Did you see it on your walk along the beach?”
“Yes and no,” he said warily. “I was told of the cottage’s existence before. Skarl told me about the events that happened years ago, and warned me of the documents. I meant to destroy them, and – and I think I will.”
With those words, he lunged at Julia. The Acara was thrown against the back wall, which rattled. The shelves fastened to the wall gave way, and Caleb reached around the Acara for the papers in her hand. She twisted out of his reach and ran out the door, the Kacheek following close behind.
Once they were outside, Julia and Caleb tumbled on the ground together. Julia kept the documents raised into the air, trying to keep them from falling. As Caleb almost had her in his grip, Julia felt a shape fly at her. A third pet had joined the fight. The pet managed to separate Julia from Caleb, and wrestled the Kacheek to the ground.
When they all stood up, Julia saw who the pet was.
“Diabbalo!” she and Jaraiya said together. The Aisha stood up, holding Caleb in his grip.
“I realized that my loyalty lay with you,” he said. “I am sorry for my earlier transgressions.”
“I don’t even know what that means,” Jaraiya said, “but I’ll take it!” He smiled at his friend.
Everyone laughed, and turned to look at the cottage. The group watched the shaking structure for a moment; it wobbled and tipped, but eventually stopped rocking. Through the crack in the door, the pets could see that most of the documents were soiled from landing on the dirt ground.
“Those don’t matter,” King Roo said. “But this does.” He reached forward and took the documents from Julia, who didn’t protest. He unrolled the scroll and began to read.
“I, King Skarl, hereby authorize the existence of this kingdom as its own entity. I am proud to cooperate with the King of the Island on such amiable terms, and I look forward to our continued negotiations.”
King Roo thrust the scroll at Caleb.
“Look,” he said, “it’s even signed.”
It wasn’t hard to mistake King Skarl’s thin, tall signature. Julia could see it from where she stood. Caleb’s face turned red with anger. He didn’t respond, and after staring at the group for a moment, turned on his heel. The rest of the group watched him walk to the ocean and climb into a small boat.
Julia squinted into the distance. She couldn’t believe that he’d given up so easily.
“D’you think it’s a trick?” she asked Jaraiya.
“No,” he said, shaking his head. “I think he’s serious. I don’t think he’ll bother this island again.”
Celebrations lasted long into the night. The castle was the first building that heard of the victory, and the news spread throughout the town as parents and children woke up to raucous shouts and calls.
“I can’t believe how happy these people are,” Julia said as she stood by the dining room table in the castle. The town had chosen to host the party there; the kitchen had gone into overdrive to prepare food other than the snacks they usually served.
“Why?” King Roo asked. Even the king looked tired, but he was happy; there was a certain vigor about him that Julia hadn’t noticed the previous afternoon.
“They’re celebrating over something that they haven’t been afforded in years,” he continued. “For the last few years, we’ve been living in fear. Discovery of these documents shows everyone that Roo Island IS a kingdom, and is not subject to others.”
“But didn’t you know about the documents before?” Julia said. “This can’t have been the first time you found them!”
“It is,” he said, nodding. “I should have taken my own advice. I should have explored the island more. In the last few years, I’ve rarely been out of the castle. I’ve participated in most town events, yes, but they’re all held in this room.”
Julia thought back to what she’d observed earlier that night. The town had become empty after dark, and the only entertainment was inside the castle. Now, the street lights were on and pets were celebrating down by the beach.
“I couldn’t have done it without Mr. Jones,” Julia said. She smiled at the Green Blumaroo, who was being coaxed to the dance floor by one of the smaller pets. “If it hadn’t been for him, maybe those documents would never have been found.”
“Maybe not,” King Roo said, and patted the Acara’s shoulder. “But they have, and that’s what counts.”
Jaraiya and Julia left the island with a heavy heart. The day after the celebrations ended, they’d sent a message to their family in Mystery Island. They stayed the rest of the week with a family who lived next to the one housing Diabbalo, Zeal, and Allie. Two of the three crew members would be leaving the next day to their respective homes. Zeal had decided to stay for an indefinite amount of time. He’d found a Tyrannian Blumaroo family that he’d be living with. Jaraiya and Diabbalo exchanged addresses; Diabbalo lived on Krawk Island, which Jaraiya had always wanted to visit.
“Come say hi to me and my pals,” Diabbalo said, patting Jaraiya on the back. “You’re always welcome.”
Jaraiya’s face lit up. “You can come visit us too, Di,” he said. “I mean, I know that Mystery Island isn’t very exciting, but I’m sure Mom would let us have you for a stay.”
The three pets spent most of their morning browsing items in the souvenir shop.
In the store, Jaraiya held up a fluffy green dice.
“Think Mom would like this?” he asked his sister.
“No, I already got her a lamp for her room,” Julia said. “Di pointed it out to me. But feel free to get that for Sen.”
Sendrii, a Plushie Cybunny, had a knack for board games; she usually beat the rest of her family at every single one.
After they left the shop - with Jaraiya carrying gifts for Sendrii and Amasaia, an Island Gelert - the three pets took a walk on the beach.
“I can’t believe we’re leaving already,” Julia said as she sunk her toes into the sand. “And that we won’t swim in this ocean again.”
They walked around the rest of the island, until they came to the spot where they’d first landed. Julia recognized the trees at the edge of the island.
“What d’you say we go for a last swim?” she said. “We have an hour before our ship comes.” King Roo had secured passage home for the three pets.
“I’m in,” Jaraiya said, and he removed the rest of his clothing.
Julia sighed in relief when she finally submerged herself in the water.
“This is so wonderful,” she said. “I could lie here forever.” She rose to the surface to float on top, feeling the cool water against her skin.
Jaraiya swam over to his sister and pushed her under.
“We just have to make sure a current doesn’t pull us away again,” he said. “Who knows where we’ll land next?”
Julia grinned at that, and splashed her brother back. Diabbalo watched from the shore as the two siblings wrestled in the water, and their shouts could be heard all the way inland.