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A New Breed of Heroine


by sylviau

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Hannah found herself floating, inches below a row of spikes that would spear her through, should she make any attempt to move away from them.

     As her oxygen levels began receding drastically, the young Usul contemplated the reason she was here. She still had a chance to back out, but once she was deeper in, there would be no turning back.

     But she was here to prove something. To herself. The rest of Neopia may judge her, but she wasn’t doing this for them. It wasn’t them that mattered.

     Taking one last look at the deadly spikes above her, she sank lower, until she had enough space to push herself forward.

     There was never an option of turning back.

     Hannah swam deeper in the cavern, her eyes searching frantically for the pocket of air that she knew must have collected somewhere between the narrow, rocky cave walls that surrounded her. Making a 180 degree turn, she came across a narrow passage so small that she might possibly have missed it. Grabbing the rough stone she pushed herself through it, and her head broke the surface of the water on the other side.

     As the stale cavern air filled her lungs, she took in her surroundings. She was in a small cavern deep inside a cave underneath the waters that surrounded Krawk Island. It wasn’t very big, but it was easily three times the width of the passage she had just escaped. Yet it was nothing more than an air bubble, and the only means of escape would be to swim back to the other side. Still, it had saved her.

     She slumped against the wall and sat in the thigh deep water, determined to rest before she set out again. What had she gotten herself into this time?

     ~*~

     Her job as a serving girl at the Golden Dubloon had really not been that bad, but it was not the life for her. It was a life better suited for a Pirate Lass, or one of the Aishas she had met, that wore large quantities of only the finest makeup on her face, and who pranced around with her hair piled on top of her head with half a bottle of hairspray.

     It was the life of adventure that called her. Crawling through cramped dirty caves, swimming through harsh currents, running away from ever present villains after her... This was the life she had chosen. She’d admit it, that she had no regrets.

     Standing up, she braced herself for a moment against the wall, before diving into the narrow passage that she had come from. At the last possible moment, she caught her breath and entered the freezing water once more.

     ~*~

     She swam. It was now or never, and if she didn’t get out to the other side in time, it would be all over. But she had something that many don’t; confidence. She had to trust herself, and believe she had it in her to make it.

     Hannah was a fighter. As she broke the surface of the other side, she began to climb the ladder that had been hastily positioned against the wall. Someone had been here before, but their tracks indicated that they stopped soon after.

     Perhaps they had a change of heart. Perhaps they had realized the danger of moving forward, and sought a way out. Or perhaps they had perished in the deep cold waters that surrounded the Island.

     But it didn’t matter to Hannah. She had only one goal in mind. Her hand drawn maps would serve her well; she had only a short distance left to travel. She had to prove something, not to the rest of Neopia, but to herself.

     “Neopia needs a new breed of heroine,” she whispered to herself. “And I’m going to give it to them.”

     For who else was there? Which other Usul was brave enough to do the things she had done? Surely not Sally? Too busy with her usuki sets. And the grooming parlour shopkeeper wouldn’t venture so far as Kiko Lake, let alone crawl in muddy caves, miles under the vicious waters of the Pirate’s Land.

     No, it was time for someone to lift up their skirts and take a dive for it. And that was going to be Hannah.

     Reaching the end of the passage she saw that it opened up, to a labyrinth of chambers. Frowning slightly, she consulted her map, and sought out the one where the treasure was hidden.

     This could possibly take a while.

     She knew her way around the dangers of these caves. She had explored them countless of times. She did, however, make mistakes. Not the greatest possibility when you’re dealing with dynamite. That’s why she always carried a flint stick and tinder in her waterproof pouch, hidden in the folds of her skirt. Her grandfather had always told her to...

     Pushing an unpleasant memory from her mind, she lost her balance.

     “Careful now, Hannah,” she mumbled as the arrow she set off sent another flying in her direction. “Don’t get reckless.”

     Dodging some boulders that had come loose from the cliffs, she ducked into a small fissure in the rock.

     And spotted the treasure.

     It was just a few chests filled with gleaming gold coins, surely a small fortune. But that wasn’t what she was after. Her prize was worth a little more.

     She scooped up the dozens of gold coins that had fallen out. “Hey,” she smirked to herself. “There’s no harm in taking these along.” And she was right. Surely, if she didn’t obtain what she had come for, this would be a small consolation prize.

     But Hannah was confident in her abilities. And she wasn’t going back until she had the Mermaid’s Tear.

     Crouching on the edge of a cliff, she looked down. It was a long drop. She peered into the darkness, hoping to see the glittering gem below its murky surface. That was what she was after. But the darkness betrayed nothing of what rested below, so she would have to make a dive for it.

     She stood up, and took a deep breath. “You only live once,” and with that, she jumped off the edge and plunged into the deep waters below.

     It was quite calm below the surface. Every now and then, bubbles of air floated up from somewhere below its depths. As Hannah swam, she felt a sense of ease. This was the life she had chosen.

     Kicking frantically as she swam deeper, she realized that the water level had begun to rise.

     “Oh darn it,” she thought to herself. The rocks that had come loose must have started a leak.

     She ducked into a small air pocket to catch her breath. It was rapidly filling up. On her way back up, she would have to make it in one trip. But no matter; she knew that she was close now.

     This was it, the moment of truth. She swam down to the very bottom, until she could feel the rough stone of the bottom scrape her hands. She squinted and made out the faint shine of the gem.

     Grasping it safely in both hands, she pushed off and headed upwards. This would be a close one, but she had come too far to lose now. It was now or never. She shot up the last stretch of the cavern, and felt the cool air against her flushed cheeks.

     Fresh air and rays of light were pouring through small holes in the rock.

     Hannah held the gem up to the sunlight. Even in the faint light it sparkled brilliantly.

     “How many men have lost you?” she asked. “And how many a man has found you, only to lose you again?”

     This was the life Hannah had chosen. The life of action and adventure. Of risk and reward. She held all the cards; the dice were hers to roll. In her mind, it was all worth it.

     After all, it was time; Neopia needed a new breed of heroine.

The End

Author’s Note: Hope you enjoyed the story. Just an interesting fact, this story is 1337 words long. =p

 
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