As Luck Would Have It
Luck is a particularly sensitive subject with my owner. It generally seems to be offended by her presence. In fact, she always says that if luck and fate exist, then she absolutely doesn’t.
My name’s Arilema Grey, journalist of odd or supernatural events. This is the story of the time my owner nearly got herself killed (again) by following her instincts.
The facts: It was pretty cold for the Month of Swimming. Dark, blustery, almost hurricane weather gathered around the small group of islands south of Meridell, referred to as the Erosion Islands. The islands were steadily growing smaller as monsoons swept away beaches and soil into the ocean semi-annually. Waves pounded against the pebbly grey beaches, and a small group of Neopets plus who appeared to be their owner took shelter at the base of the single, bald hill that nearly the entire island consisted of.
They, of course, were my family, and any appearances of insanity were probably more correct than a careful psycho-evaluation. We were an eclectic bunch back then, I suppose. Seven pets, each there for a different reason. Meditation, scenery, vacation, sketching, and a host of other things. I was there because they were, after all, my family, and as such I felt the need to protect them from whatever trouble they would get themselves into. Our owner was there because she had found a lead in a case that involved some big, sparkly jewel or other.
At the camp we had set up on the hill, the morale was beginning to run low, as it always tends to do when our owner’s inevitable bad luck caught up with us again. Supposedly it was our fault this time. We had arrived in the middle of monsoon season, after all. But we had grown used to having something to blame for every bad occurrence, and the habit wouldn’t die easily.
Our owner, Kendra, was trying to lighten the mood rather unsuccessfully.
“Come on guys, it’s not that bad.” Several people snorted rather loudly at our grey eyed, blonde haired owner.
My youngest brother, Mothbug, was a lot more mature than the rest of us, surprise surprise, and it was he who answered Kendra, “It’s actually much worse than any of you think, Ken.”
“I know, I know, monsoon season blah blah blah. As soon as we find the Colchester family jewel we can leave. It won’t be long now!”
More groaning ensued at our owner’s attempt at cheering us up.
The events that brought us here starting at last Saturday:
It was a pretty average work day for my family’s detective agency. Few missing Kadoaties, stolen purses, the usual. Until, of course, the moment pseudo-celebrity Roxton A. Colchester walked in. I knew the moment he walked in that it would be better for some other agency to resolve this case, but as luck would have it, my owner was at the welcome desk. Everyone in Neopia knows how addicted to detective work she is, and if she turned down an actual case, there might be questions.
Kendra hates questions. Thinks there’s always something better to do.
Really, though, now that I think about it, she might be right on that one.
Anyway, the ersatz celebrity swaggered through the double doors and proclaimed, “Roxton A. Colchester, sole finder of Moltara, requires help from the Grey detective agency immediately!”
My owner, looking thoroughly unimpressed at his third person self introduction, replied in her own good time, “Wonderful. If you would please have a seat, I have work to do.” This may sound like bad manners, but Kendra is very skilled at judging the lengths to which people will go.
Sure enough, Roxton frowned and walked up to her. “This is your work, ma’am. I need you to find something for me within next week.”
“And what do you need me to find within such strict time limits, Mr. Colchester?”
“Well, er...” He looked sheepish as he answered, “Um, the Colchester Emerald. I seem to have misplaced it, you see, and I need it for the family reunion next Sunday.”
At this my owner smiled. “Of course you have. Where was the last place you saw it?”
“That’s the problem. I’m an adventurer, of course you must have heard of me, and the places where I last had it were rather... inaccessible... to civilians. Even I had trouble reaching them. If you must know where I last had it, I will of course tell you everything I can.”
“I’m sure we can handle it, Mr. Colchester. What was the place called?”
Roxton looked nervous as he answered, “The Erosion Islands.”
Back in the present: Kendra was starting to comb the last tiny island, Silt, with a magnifying glass. I was sharpening my good old Sturdy Blue Sword, my green Elephante sister was sketching the sea as it boiled and crashed, and my green Aisha brother was brooding angrily in the corner of the tent, almost in the rain. The rest of us were bored, most of our family consisting of various colors of hyperactive Unis. It had been like this for days. I assumed that the deadline was drawing near, or had passed already. Over and over we repeated the same routine: Wake up, realize that you’re not at home, sleep a little longer, cook and eat sorry, unhealthy breakfast, argue, play board games that aren’t waterlogged yet, eat super nutritional lunch of neocrackers and a can of Achyfi, argue, argue, argue, eat something that tastes like ocean water for dinner, sleep, and repeat.
Until a day which I only assumed to be a Friday, my internal clock having exploded of boredom long ago, when my owner found on the isle of Silt a small mahogany box lined with pearl colored silk, half buried in the sand and pebbles of the beach.
I saw her pick it up from the beach, looking excited, and rush towards the cliff at the east end of the island where the water had washed away the beach. No one made anything of it until, after setting the small box carefully on the ledge, she oh-so-gracefully swan dived into the water.
Not believing our eyes, all seven of us sprinted across the length of the island, which of course didn’t take long. All of us peering over the cliff face, at the bottom of which the great seething sea roiled and boiled and frothed, did nothing to assuage our fears that our owner had gone insane and killed herself in doing it.
And so Friday passed. There was only one day left before the deadline.
“Perhaps we should go home?” suggested Spritewind, a ghost Uni.
The rest of us glared so evilly at him that he visibly recoiled. No one asked to go home again.
No matter how many times we searched the beach or screamed into the mist and spray, Kendra did not come back to us by Saturday. Forgetting food and personal care, such as bathing, we cried out her name over and over and over until we couldn’t speak at all. The rain tried to beat us down, back into the tent, but did not succeed as we searched frenziedly for her.
Then Sunday came. I decided to call the whole family together for breakfast.
“Guys, we can’t stay here forever. We should just go ahead and fly home, tell Roxton that the Emerald’s gone for good,” I said, sighing as I passed the bucket of fish pops around.
“So you think we should just give up then? Let her drown?” a harsh voice ground through the air, sounding surprisingly bitter. It belonged to who appeared to be a green Uni, except she was missing both her horn and her wings. She wore a black kimono with grey trim, and her hair was a dark forest green.
“I’m sure Kendra would live, if she survived the ocean. Much more resilient than the average human.”
“Do you even know what it’s like to be alone and dying? Knowing there’s no one to save you?” she snarled.
Everyone looked at her funny. She was adopted from the pound, but would never tell us the story. I whispered, “Do you?”
Her eyes met mine across the tent, and I caught a glimpse of some internal battle. It scared me.
“Fine. You win. Let’s go.”
We grabbed our backpacks and packed up our camping gear, then went to comb the beach one last time. I picked up the mahogany box that had cost us so much, and prepared to throw it into to ocean.
“I wouldn’t do that, if I were you. Colchester might want it back,” said a familiar voice near my shoulder.
I turned around and saw Kendra. Maybe I should have been more surprised, but I just felt sort of numb. “Where’ve you been?”
“Long story short, the Drenched are some very easily angered water faeries. Huh, guess luck was on my side for once. Look what I found.” She pulled a bright, blue-green emerald out of her soaked backpack.
“Cool. Let’s go tell the others and go home. If we hurry, we can still make the deadline.”
She laughed, and I felt like everything was okay again. My oldest friend was alive, we found an old family heirloom, and we drank a ton of Achyfi (which is supposed to be good for you).
Not such a bad week after all.