Kazeriu Wind: Part One
“I found you; I thought we said it was cheating to hide under water,” Seana grumbled and yanked on her friend’s paw. The Usul was tired of telling Fion the rules of the game.
“But if I don’t hide in the creek, then you’ll always beat me,” the Lutari replied, shaking water out of his fur.
“I’m beating you fair and square. It’s not my fault you’re so bad at hide and seek.” Seana dried her paws off on the grass; she hated being wet. Fion was always taking advantage of her fear of water by pushing her in the stream whenever they were near it. It was early summer and the two pets were eager to be out of school so they would have all day to play. Now, though, they only had the late afternoons.
Grabbing their school bags from the rock where they had set them, the two pets began making their way home from Brightvale to their house in Neopia Central. As they were nearing Seana’s house, Fion turned around suddenly, almost bumping into Seana. “I almost forgot to ask you. I’m going to the Haunted Woods, you want to come too?”
“Sure, I’ll just ask for my allowance early so we can go to the fairground,” Seana replied and reached for Fion’s bag. “Unless I just take some of your money,” she laughed and started riffling through the Lutari’s bag.
“Hey! Don’t touch that!” Fion yelled and tried to grab his bag, but Seana dashed up the street.
“What’s this pamphlet? ‘Journey across Neopian seas, join the Shenkuu merchants,’” Seana read aloud. “I never knew you wanted to be a sailor.”
“I don’t plan on staying here forever, especially once school’s over,” Fion said gruffly and turned his back on Seana.
“Sounds fun, can I come too?” the Usul asked and handed the bag back.
“I’m taking this seriously; don’t make it sound like such a joke,” Fion yelled and snatched the bag back. Seana was about to apologize, but Fion had already run off and disappeared around the corner. It would be useless to follow him, so Seana just sighed and shambled up the stairs to her house.
Meanwhile, Fion had already gotten home and put the pamphlet in the fireplace. It was silly, wasn’t it? Leaving home? Seana thought it was ridiculous that he wanted to sail around the world and sell goods. It was probably too exciting for a young Lutari anyway.
The next day, Seana brushed her fur and tied a green bow in her bushy yellow tail. She had debated over going to Fion’s house but decided it would be easier to apologize now rather than waiting. She made the short walk up the street and knocked on the front door. After a few moments Fion opened the door, his shoulders hunched over dejectedly.
“Are we still going to the Haunted Woods?” Seana asked while shuffling her feet awkwardly.
“Yeah, I guess,” Fion replied and stepped out onto the doorstep.
“Uh, about yesterday-”
“We should go,” Fion interrupted Seana and ambled down the steps. “Are you coming or not?” Fion grinned and Seana forgot that she was going to apologize. Fion had been her best friend for years anyway; he must have understood she hadn’t meant any offense. They made the short walk to the Haunted Woods and went directly to the fairgrounds. Their eyes lit up at the sight of the party decorations and bright lights. Ignoring the dark, foreboding trees, the two pets darted around to play scratch cards and coconut shy.
“Step right up, step up and take a shot.”
“Welcome to the cork gun gallery, so easy a meowclops could do it.”
“Fancy a game of Bagatelle?”
“Stop! Thief! Stop that girl!” Above the hubbub of the fair, Fion and Seana heard the cry for thief as a rust colored Aisha ran clutching something against her. She had a scarf tied around her bushy brown hair but it did little to keep it out of her face.
“Darned gypsies, always stealing whatever they please,” a store keeper muttered. The gypsy Aisha whirled around. “I heard that. You store keepers do no better, taking innocent pets’ money to play unfair games. Just look at this table propped up on books, is that fair?”
“Get lost, girl,” a store keeper growled and threw some rotten vegetables at her.
“It’s your money they’re taking!” the Aisha yelled and stalked off, wiping vegetables from her face as she walked.
“Hey, wait up!” Seana called and ran after the older pet.
“First you tell me to go; now you say ‘wait up.’ What is it with you guys?” the Aisha grumbled.
“That was really cool how you stood up for yourself back there,” Seana said, fawning over her new idol.
“Beat it, kid, I have to wash my clothes again because of this whole mess,” the Aisha said without turning around. Feeling snubbed, Seana turned back to find Fion.
“Hey, why won’t you talk to her?” the Lutari yelled from behind. The Aisha only waved her hand in dismissal and turned away. “Well, she sure was rude.”
“She was probably just mad because her clothes got dirty,” Seana sniffed.
“Why are you defending that dirty, rotten thief?” Fion asked.
“How do you know she actually stole something? What if they were trying to swindle her out of her money?” Seana scowled.
Fion took a step back. “No reason to lose your temper over it.”
“I am NOT losing my temper!” Seana yelled and stomped off in the opposite direction of home. She refused to walk with a dumb boy who didn’t realize when pets were facing adversity proudly. He just didn’t understand.
The next day they forgot about the whole issue and went into town to buy new toys. While browsing through cheap key rings while avoiding the suspiciously pink and placid store keeper, they heard a shout from outside.
“The traders have come in from Shenkuu!” a loud voice could be heard shouting throughout the square. The two pets eagerly left behind the plastic goodies for the much more exciting ones outside. They dashed from the center to where a small port was just north of them, west of Roo Island. Pets rushed from the counters and the marketplace was left deserted in favor of the ship that had sailed in. Fion spotted the sails first above the scrubby trees. They weren’t as large as those on the fabled Cyodrake’s Gaze, but they were more ornate and fancy. The canvas was just a hint off white with strips of red and gold and a moon shaped crest emblazoned on the main sail.
The crew could be seen unloading crates of cargo while the captain bargained furiously with local merchants. The first day of trading had the fiercest competition for goods and prices. Seana and Fion just looked on in wonder at the scene that was laid out before them. Seana even felt, for the first time, Fion’s passionate urge to go to sea.
“Come on, I want to take a look around!” Fion shouted and grabbed Seana’s paw.
“Hey, if you two aren’t doing any business around here then why don’t you scram?” A burly Gnorbu grumbled and nudged them aside. Fion’s red fur bristled at the rude gesture, but Seana kept him from making any rash comments to the much larger Gnorbu.
“They might get mad at us if we keep sneaking around like that,” Seana whispered, though it was hardly necessary considering the surrounding noise.
“Not if they don’t see us,” Fion replied and darted underneath a crate. “Come on, follow me.” Seana followed reluctantly has Fion scurried through tight spaces and climbed over haphazard stacks of barrels.
“Fion! Where are we going?” Seana asked nervously while pausing for a moment to catch her breath.
“I want to get a closer look at the ship,” Fion said and slid a lumpy sack out of the way. They were definitely getting closer; the wooden sides of the ship rose up steeply and the large letters of Kazeriu Wind could be seen painted clearly near the back.
“You two! I thought I told you to scram!” A familiar Gnorbu could be seen moving heavy crates to try to get closet to them.
“Come on, run!” Fion yelped and practically dragged Seana through the mess of cargo to a clearing from which they could easily see the stunned Gnorbu searching for them angrily.
“Phew, I think that’s enough excitement for one day. I think I’m going to head home,” Seana sighed, but secretly she had a plot to surprise Fion soon.
That night, Seana crawled carefully out her bedroom window and scurried across the street to hide in the shadows. It seemed that all but a few pets had gone to bed so she was safe from being noticed by anyone. Quickly and silently, she darted to the edge of town and to the port where the Kazeriu Wind bobbed slightly in the water. All of the goods were packed up so that they could set sail early next morning.
Seana snuck past the dozing guard and climbed up the rope to an open porthole. She poked her head and paws inside first and then slipped the rest of her body through. Fion would surely be surprised when she returned from having her own adventure aboard the merchant ship. She could only imagine the look on his face when she got back. Now aboard the ship, she nestled into an empty crate and waited.
To be continued...