Searching for the Isle
Lilyfern was born on one of the neighboring islands of Moltara, the enormous volcano that Neopians had just discovered very recently. She did not know a mother or a father, and no one took care of her. She was extremely adept at taking care of herself, having lived all her life alone. It was a short life so far, for she was only five months old, and it was dangerous. On a daily basis she was forced to escape from a temporary den and seek refuge elsewhere, hiding from the many hunters of the tropical jungle that spent hours a day looking for a flash of her lustrous fur.
Her kind was known for their soft, turquoise pelts, often the target of greedy poachers. Their collars of fur were fluffy and high-prized among tribes in heavily forested jungles. Lilyfern was certain to not have such a horrible fate, but running around in circles on an ocean-locked land mass was no help at all. It seemed that because she was a Lutra, she was bent on being captured.
But Lilyfern had heard talk of an isle in the southeast that was home to marine mammals such as herself. She dreamed of one day reaching this place, and so she prepared for her journey with a “paw-made” raft.
Jasmine poked a leaf in a thin, babbling brook with a stick, obviously bored. She longed to dive in, but feared that it would overflow its banks and cause turmoil outside the main walls of Altador. It was her birth home, the outskirts of the monumental city, and she didn’t intend to be an outcast the rest of her life for swamping the main gates.
Her thirst for water that was suited for swimming was like an Altadorian’s need for a shaded shelter; it was so hot outside, even though it was just barely spring. The month of Eating wasn’t being especially kind to anyone as of late. Jasmine sighed, and continued to prod at the leaf. The refreshing spray of the water was too much for a freedom-yearning Lutari such as herself, so she headed back to her home.
It wasn’t much of a home at all, just a teepee of blankets and traveling sacks held together with a few poles and ropes. Having lived there as long as she could remember, Jasmine wasn’t too proud of it. She definitely couldn’t afford a house inside Altador; it was a wonder that she could actually purchase decent food from the markets, earning money by scrambling around and performing odd tasks. A small shelter was enough for the young Lutari, but often she felt that she needed something more.
“I’ll leave this place,” Jasmine decided. “I’ll be rid of the feeling that something is missing from my life, and I’ll go find a better home on some other island.” Taking down the cloth cover of her old refuge, she packed all the blankets into a fairly large haversack. She had no idea she had so many! Over time, they had all piled up over each other, giving the abode a thick atmosphere.
When they were all bundled, Jasmine took the ropes and poles and laid them outside the gates of Altador, where she had borrowed them so many weeks ago. She entered the crowded markets, seeking an empty stall near the main pathway. Once the Lutari had found one, she stacked up the majority of her quilts and quilts and called out random prices. Soon, Neopets were approaching her sales booth.
“These are beautiful!” an elderly Shoyru exclaimed, holding up a precious artifact with a floral design. “Wherever did you find these?”
“I’m not sure,” Jasmine admitted. “I’ve had them as long as I could remember.”
“So they’re not new,” a Meerca concluded. “I had planned on buying one.”
The Lutari frowned. “They might not be new, but I’ll assure you that they’re in very good condition.”
“How much are they selling for?” the female Shoyru asked, piling up quilts in her arms. “I would think at least five thousand Neopoints for a beauty such as this.”
“Five thousand it is!” Jasmine agreed, receiving money for every quilt that the elder had purchased.
Lilyfern had worked all afternoon on her escape vessel. Thankfully, hunters were warded away by the hot temperatures of the Moltaran beaches. She was safe for those few moments, and hoped to be done with the raft by the prime twilight hour. Using large palm leaves as a sail, the Lutra put the finishing touches on her get-away project. It was the perfect size for her, and any supplies that she hoped to bring with her. Fortunately, Moltara’s jungles did not lack them, and so she strode off to prepare for her leave.
Business went well for the next few hours; Jasmine really didn’t expect to sell so many old blankets up until nightfall! She had made good business, but not even half as enough to rent an Altadorian home. That was not her original plan, thankfully, or else she would have had no luck in re-making her old teepee. She instead had decided to sail out in the sea, to a fabled place known as Lutari Island.
The island not only shared half of her name, but the adventurous atmosphere that Jasmine’s life had been lacking thus far. It had been comfortable with no strife, but it was bland and boring. Jasmine really didn’t like anything about it; often she had pondered if she should travel over the mountain range east of Altador and live in Neopia Central. The daily products might have been cheaper, but the island atmosphere that the homesick Lutari was hoping for wasn’t likely to be there.
Jasmine left the Altador market that evening with packs of food for the trip. While gathering information about Lutari Island, she heard that it was only about two days’ journeys away from the nearest coast, if proper transportation was found.
Where am I going to find a boat? the Lutari wondered. Though it seemed close, Altador was much farther from the ocean than many thought, unless they had been there before, which Jasmine surely hadn’t. Who knows? Maybe there’ll be some sailors that can help me get to the island from the beaches.
Content with her plan, Jasmine set off through the woodlands of Altador’s exterior to the coast.
Lilyfern had been searching well over an hour for supplies. Although she had collected just about all she needed, the Lutra wanted to be prepared for anything that might faze her, including a possible bargaining with sea folk to travel faster. The sun had dipped well below the tall canopies of trees that she would soon depart from. She knew and feared that poachers would be out soon, but something held her back, tugging at her fur like a fly stuck in a web.
She tried to resist the feeling, so Lilyfern picked up a burlap haversack crafted of twine, and made off through the forest. Approaching the abrupt stop of palm trees, she mustered all her strength to drag the heavy sack. This might not float, the Lutra realized. But it’s worth a shot.
The raft submerged a bit into the water when Lilyfern placed the supplies on the edge of it. She slid it into the center, next to the mast, and she smiled successfully when the weight was balanced. Looks like there’s nothing much left to do except leave. A pang of sadness hit the young Lutra. Even though she had lived in fear on the island, she was born there, and felt a slight kinship. And she was leaving, likely to never return again, but she would journey to a better place.
Still, Lilyfern felt that she had to say good-bye, to all the trees in the jungle if it were possible. But it was just a waste of time, and she was eager to leave. With a faint glance at her old home, the Lutra shoved her webbed feet against the rocky coastline. The raft dipped a little at the opposite end, but it soon bobbed back up. Lilyfern let out a sigh of relief, paddling the creation with her hind legs.
An odd noise in the far jungle made the Lutra avert her attention. A tribal-painted Mynci with an odd bone nose ring looked on in surprise at the sailing Petpet. Lilyfern badly wanted to jump for joy and tease the poacher right then and there, but a fear of capsizing the raft told her otherwise. A scowl was on the Mynci’s face; the Lutra thought she could almost hear his growls of anger from such a distance. Glad to have steered the raft that far, Lilyfern went back to her duty, to find a new home.
Jasmine had traveled quite a while through the darkened plains surrounding Altador. She held a brightly lit lantern on a long branch, waving it around to get a better grasp of the area around her. The Lutari had never ventured this far west before, and wanted to cover as much land as she could before dawn; the afternoon heat would just make it harder to travel.
She got tired quickly, and sometimes woke to find herself having dozed off. The Lutari snapped awake suddenly when she thought she heard waves. Sure enough, she walked a bit farther and saw the sandy banks of the shore.
But that wasn’t all that caught Jasmine’s attention. Laughter and the odd clinking of glass attracted her to a dim fire on the beach. Two figures were seated around it, chuckling like they were old pals, or traveling companions in this case.
Hesitant to approach complete strangers, Jasmine’s curiosity got the better of her and she started walking towards the light. Though it was small, the fire illuminated a large ship docked off the shore. That’s just what I need! the Lutari gasped. But her thoughts were interrupted by the two folk sitting by the dying embers.
“Ho, there!” one called, a seemingly jolly fellow. “Wot are you doing here? Aren’t ye afraid the monster’ll getcha?”
Stepping closer, Jasmine noticed the one that noticed her was a Bori, fashioned with trinkets and a striped shirt. They looked harmless enough, so she shouted back. “What monster?”
Laughing at himself, the sailor answered, “Ne’er mind! I thought you were a young ‘un. Should be at bed this hour. Now wot can we do for you, missie?”
Seating herself around the nearly dead fire, Jasmine answered, “Oh, maybe just a warm bed for the night and a trip to Lutari Island.”
The other beast pointed and chuckled. “That, we can give you. If ol’ Frumby here can spare an extra blanket. That extra bed’s not been used yet.”
Snorting, the one nicknamed Frumby kicked sand into the flickering flames, obviously trying to rely on the newcomer’s lantern light. “That’s Frumulous, for the last time.” He held his paw out to Jasmine. “But you can call me Cap’n Frummers! Now ye need to go to Lutari Island? We’re your crew! We c’n get ye there in a day’s time!”
Shaking his paw in greeting, Jasmine asked, “A day’s time? How’s that?”
“Frummers has been a bit impatient all his life,” the other sailor joked. With the lantern, Jasmine could make him out to be a Gelert of the same attire.
“Aw, clam it, Murphy!” Cap’n Frumulous ordered. “See, at least I call ye by yer real name!”
Annoyed by the sailors’ bickering, Jasmine quickly interrupted. “So what about this bed?”
Cap’n Frummers sat silently, thinking. “Tell yer wot, missie. Our ship back here’s got a nice cabin and some good journeys behind ‘er. How about you bunk down, and we leave for Lutari Island straightaway!”
Becoming immediately fond of the odd pair, the Lutari trusted them to take her to her dream home. “What shall I pay you?”
“Any vittles you got in that sack would be nice,” Murphy said aloud.
“Murph!” the Captain shouted. “Wot ‘ave I told ye about manners? Wot ever ye remembered, ye apparently got none!” Directing his attention back to Jasmine, he answered, “That would be nice, but we’re more humble than that! Ye can sail with us for free.”
“Sure thing,” Jasmine agreed. “I can even cook us some breakfast once we’re at sea.”
“Deal!” Cap’n Frummers announced. “C’mon, lazybones, let’s go mark our course!”
Lilyfern had been drifting at sea through the night. Though it seemed as if it were floating aimlessly, the wind was in her favor and helped the raft speed up the journey. The Lutra had been bored the first while, just sitting and maybe propelling the oversized plank of wood. She wasn’t touching the food that she had brought at all yet; she didn’t want the scarce supplies to go to waste.
She dozed off ever once in awhile, being sure to have grabbed a moss cover if she planned on going to sleep. It wasn’t exactly the trip that she had expected, but the end of her journey would be fruitful, or so she told herself. Not able to keep her heavy eyelids open any longer, Lilyfern drifted off to sleep.
Jasmine was in a comfortable situation. She was granted a warm bed, using her own blankets, and being sailed to Lutari Island for merely a task as ship “provision manager”. Not having relied on restaurants in Altador before, the Lutari was quite the cook, considering that she never really baked anything over an open fire. She hoped that a “stove” was as easy to use as it seemed.
Jasmine was jolted awake when she heard Murphy enter the small cabin. Having dreamt of something unimportant the night before, she had no desire to recollect what had crossed her mind. The Lutari yawned and stretched.
“You ready with that spatula hand?” the Gelert called. “Cap’n has decided to have you make us some pancakes. He wasn’t sure if you would have had dry flour or not, so he already poured some in a bowl and left it in the kitchens. Hope you get started soon!” And with that, he left the room.
Getting up out of the comfy bed, Jasmine walked towards the door, sniffing the fresh morning air. It feels nice here, she concluded, straying into a small hallway, into an even smaller room. This must be the kitchen. The Lutari grabbed the bowl of dry powder that sat on a counter, next to a simple sink. Her sack of food was nestled in a cupboard. Taking it down, Jasmine pulled out a canteen of fresh Kau Farms milk.
She was in that little room awhile, mixing ingredients and figuring out how to work a stove, when Murphy popped back in again. “How ye doing here?” The Gelert smelled the aroma, graciously. “Seems well, isn’t it?”
“Yep,” Jasmine agreed, still groggy from the many events last night. “I’m sure it’ll be ready soon. Do you have a sort of dining room here?”
“Yes, we do!” Murphy answered, happy to have been made a decent meal. “I can take the stuff there now.” He eyed a plate full of savory looking pancakes.
“Okay.” Jasmine was fully awake by then, putting the finishing touches of the last batch, and laying out bowls of fresh fruit for toppings. Moments later, the crew of three was in the breakfast room, sharing a few words now and then.
“These are good pancakes,” Cap’n Frummers complimented. “Ne’er tasted anything like it.”
“That’s good,” Jasmine noted. “This’ my first time making ‘em.”
“I used to be a good cook once,” Murphy recalled, pointing to the captain. “You said it yourself.”
“Arrr, by Meuka’s standards!”
“Cap’n,” Jasmine said, wanting to change the subject. “How is it that we’re still sailing? Wouldn’t you drop anchor when you’re away from the wheel?”
“A good cap’n can rely on his ship to go straight for a little while,” Cap’n Frummers informed her.
Murphy helped clean up the kitchen once breakfast was over. He chatted idly with the Lutari, glad to have some new company. It wasn’t often that he and his captain picked up passengers to take somewhere else in Neopia. They were often thought of as pirates, even though they were mere sailors.
They were having a small debate about the best way to preserve jams when Cap’n Frummers entered the room, holding something. “I’m sure this is for ye,” he whispered, dropping it in Jasmine’s paw. “I think you’ll best be happy with some fresh air, ‘stead of spending all your seafaring days in the kitchens.”
Bidding farewell to Murphy, who continued to wash up, Jasmine took the stairs to the higher deck, curious about what the captain gave her. Seeing him at the wheel of the ship, the Lutari asked, before opening it, “Where did you find this?”
“I somehow managed to fish it up,” Cap’n Frumulous answered. “Something about it told me it was for you.”
Jasmine looked at it; a small scroll tied together with a thin, blue ribbon, covered in wax to keep from getting soaked. The Lutari unraveled it, taking care to preserve its current state. There was abstruse, spidery writing on it: Find my twin.
What does that mean? Jasmine wondered, noticing a rather large stone packed with the mysterious message. It was clear blue, and oval-like in shape, although it fit exactly into the palm of her hand.
“Nifty, isn’t it?” Cap’n Frummers asked.
“Yes...” Jasmine agreed. ‘Find my twin?’ Does that mean I need to look for another one of these?
“Anything you want to say about it?” the captain added.
“Um, just look out for any more of these.”
“Sure thing, missie.”
Lilyfern woke from her deep sleep late in the afternoon. Amazingly, the raft had been sailing the same way all night, keeping on course. Hungry, the Lutra pulled out some island fruit that she had stocked in her haversack the day before. As she ate, Lilyfern noticed the calm waters and the slight breeze. This is nice, but I won’t be going anywhere soon at this speed. The Lutra took to her position on the west side of the raft and propelled it forward with her webbed paws.
She grew bored after awhile, wondering if there was anything else to do at the moment except eat and sleep. Lilyfern had considered taking a nap, but an odd shimmer floated in front of her. It was right in the path, so she sped up and soon had it lying on the side of the raft.
The Lutra unfolded the odd scroll, reading what it said: Find my twin. A small bright blue gem was attached. She picked it up and gazed harmlessly at it. The trinket fit perfectly in the palm of her hand.
This is pretty, Lilyfern thought. I must find more of it!
“We’re here!” Cap’n Frummers announced the next day.
Jasmine had been practically bored on the ship, simply cooking and chatting in her free time. Although she made the majority of the meals for the crew, she still had a lot of supplies left to take with her. “Thank you for everything!” she told the captain. “I wouldn’t have made it here without you guys!”
“T’was our pleasure, missie.” Cap’n Frummers smiled. “And you do make a mighty fine cook.”
“We’ll miss you!” Murphy waved sadly.
As they arrived at the shore of the festive-looking island, the captain threw the anchor down, as well as a plank-like ladder. Saying a final farewell, Jasmine departed from the ship and admired the shops that lay scattered around. I could get used to this, she thought, exploring her new home.
Moltara not having been that far from Lutari Island, Lilyfern arrived there the next day. There were plenty of places for her to make a den, on the shore over there, or maybe in that tree! You know what? That abandoned shop looks nice, and she was eager to start.
All the while, she kept the ‘twin’ of her rare find out of her thoughts, until she saw a blue Lutari carrying something similar. That belongs to me! Lilyfern ran up to Jasmine, keeping her own blue stone in view.
“Um, hello,” Jasmine mumbled, confused as to why a Lutra was climbing all over her. Lilyfern tried to pry the large jewel from her paws. “What are you doing?” The Lutari pried the Petpet off her arm.
Squeaking angrily, Lilyfern showed Jasmine her small blue stone. “Wait, is this the ‘twin’?” The Lutari handed the large gem to the Lutra, hoping she would be satisfied.
Oddly enough, the same moment that the meaning of the writing clicked into their heads, they fell into each other’s arms, laughing at their own foolishness. “Can you believe it?” Jasmine asked, knowing that she wouldn’t get an exact response. “How did we find these? How did we even find each other?”
Lilyfern shrugged, rubbing her face into Jasmine’s thick fur. She purred happily, knowing that she had found what she was looking for all along.
The cheerful Lutari picked her up and placed her on her shoulder. “Come, friend! Let’s explore this isle together!”