March of the Fire: Part Eight
Art by blizard131
I stepped away from the ship, my heart and head held high, pride forming inside of me. Pride. It was something that I had never felt before that day. And I shall never forget it.
“I did it!” I shouted to the crowd, and Moht, Clara, Roxton, Kerlie, Gaviella, Lillian, well, everybody except the captain ran over to me, some hugging, some crying, and some just a bit startled. The average Neopians cheered, the ones who had ignored me, scorned me, and despised me. And now I had saved them all.
“And you’re still alive!” Clara sobbed. “Even though the prophecy said that you were going to die!”
“I don’t know how,” I said, shrugging a bit.
“Maybe it was more symbolic?” suggested Lillian hopefully. We all nodded in agreement.
It was the final crackling of magic that really startled me. Out of a beautiful purple glowing circle came Fyora herself. Behind her came many others, from the Tooth Faerie to a brooding dark faerie to a glowing beautiful earth faerie. I felt like I’d seen her before. We all kneeled, even the other people in the crowd, bowing our heads before them.
She smiled at us. “Rise, you nine adventurers,” she said to us, and I raised my head. Despite the fact that we had just discovered something that could ruin the fate of Neopia, an almost tearful smile was upon her face. “You have saved us all from a terrible prophecy, and have managed to come out alive.
“Gaviella,” the queen said, addressing the pink Gelert, “Would you like to keep your Allsight?”
Gaviella shook her head vigorously. “I need to figure out who I am. No thank you, I am glad to be rid of it once and for all.”
“Moht,” she said, turning to my best friend, “I already know what you want.”
Moht bobbed his head up and down. The queen spoke again. “You will always be able to find a story.” Moht smiled that small, almost sad, smile of his.
“Kerlie,” Fyora said, looking at the purple Meerca with glasses over his nose. He adjusted them nervously; it was a habit of his. “You shall never change again.” I looked at Kerlie, maybe a bit confused as to why he might want to stay a purple Meerca for the rest of his life, but he very politely said, “Thank you.”
“Jordan,” she said, “after this, I am certain that you will be unable to go back to being a librarian. You just need to be sure to let nothing get in your way.
“Lillian, I cannot make people believe you about the island, but I have a feeling that they will once we have to send an army of our own there.”
Lillian looked like she almost might start crying. “After so much, they will finally believe us!” she shouted, tears running down her face. “I promise to spend the rest of my years studying the botany that inhabits the Lost Isle!”
“Captain Rourke, I will insure that your ship shall be repaired by some of the best artisans in Neopia.
“Clara and Roxton,” Queen Fyora said, turning to the two of them. “You are forgiven of all charges.”
“That’s it?” exclaimed Roxton, but he was cut off from saying any more by a sharp elbow in the stomach from Clara. “Thank you, your Highness,” Clara said, bowing yet again.
“May,” she said, staring straight at me, and I bit my lip nervously, “I am as unsure as many others are as to how you are still alive. The month of March is not over, but neither are you. I believe that perhaps May is over, but you are not, Art.” I stared at her in confusion. “I will let Illisiy explain this to you. But for now, you have a choice to make. You could settle down and live a normal life, or you could continue to eliminate the final strands of the organization called the Fyr. I will not force your decision.”
I guess that I could have said that I wanted to go back to my old life, but I knew that almost anything would be better than living in the dreary loneliness of the pound. “I would like to keep adventuring,” I told her, my mind and my future made up.
She smiled even bigger, but not a crazy grin like my own, more graceful and majestic. Kinda like Moht. “I would not have expected anything different from you,” she said, and I grinned hugely, turning to the crowd. They cheered, though I guessed that nobody really knew what they were cheering for. I didn’t care. I just felt my pride growing bigger and bigger inside of me, fearful that I might explode like a balloon.
“I cannot tell you how much gratitude I have for you,” she told us, “though I feel that Illisiy has some explaining to do for three of you,” she glanced over her shoulder at the earth faerie, the one who I had felt like I had known before. “For the rest of you, I congratulate you on your victory.” With these last words, she disappeared with a beautiful puff of purple smoke that left a sweet smell of peaches in the air.
The earth faerie came over to me, her face blank but her eyes smiling. I just grinned my heart out. “May, I must have a word with you,” she told me. “I cannot tell you how proud I am of you. Though you have never met me before, I have been watching over you since the day you were left alone. I was that unseen being that tugged at your shirtsleeve to read the paper last month, the one that made you notice the rope, the one that always made sure that Veer never used your toothbrush to scrub the toilet.” She shivered at this last one. “But I know who you are, and that is what matters.”
“What do you mean?” I asked her. At the time, I felt almost certain that I knew that my name was Mayella Chester. But I was wrong.
“I know who your parents are,” was all she said, and my eyes grew to twice the size of a cantaloupe.
“Who?” I breathed.
“You have already met them,” she said, looking over my shoulder. I turned around, and saw a familiar blue Wocky and yellow Lutari looking at me lovingly. I ran straight into their arms, tears running down my face.
As I came away from them, I said, “You know, I kinda expected my parents to be a whole lot older. And a whole lot less argumentative. But that’s a time warp for you.”
Clara and Roxton both laughed. “Glad you don’t have her temper,” my dad--I’ll say that’s hard to get used to--said, and my mom rolled her eyes. “As long as you don’t prove to be as conceited as him,” and we all laughed again.
Illisiy cleared her throat. “Artemis Colchester,” she said, and my dreams began to make a lot more sense, “I will make sure to continue to watching over you,” and with that she disappeared. I turned back to my parents, tears in my eyes, anticipating my wonderful future.
As I turned back to my friends, Gaviella ran over and hugged me. I guess I can say that it was just a little bit alarming, having somebody who you always thought of as some kind of mindless zombie type run over and give you a huge hug that felt more like a tackle.
She broke away from me, and squealed happily, “Thank you, thank you, thank you! This is all your doing, even if you don’t realize it! Maybe one day you will! And maybe you’ll also realize that Mayella Chester never even existed, but now she’s gone, and now all we’re left with is the no longer shy Art, and maybe that you actually- Um, I should probably shut up now.” She was beaming the whole time, and spoke quickly, as if she had had so much that she had wanted to say, but just never could.
I grinned at her, and finally realized that I had the same grin as a certain Lutari. “Thanks for the explanation. I really needed that, and I really hope that you actually figure out who you are now!” We laughed together, and I discovered that there had been a wonderful friend behind those haunted eyes.
I guess that nowadays the two of us are great friends, and we still hang out with Moht and Kerlie. They were my first real friends, giving me the ability to make even more. Kerlie’s still a purple Meerca, and proud of it. A bunch of Moht’s articles were published, and Gaviella’s come to be a normal Gelert. Me? I’m off adventuring with my parents, exploring the world, and becoming my dreams.
You know, there was something that I learned from all this. You’re thinking about some kind of fluffy “the values of family and friends” but in truth, this is so much more important and strong to me.
Really, what I learned is that you have to seize the day. No matter how many Lupes wearing pink sweaters stand in your way, no matter how much homework weighs you down, no matter how many sideways glances you get. Even if you feel like you just don’t have any opportunities, they’re always there. You just have to reach out and grab them before they flicker out your window.
Maybe it’ll be in the form of following up on an ad, telling people what you really believe in, or maybe something as simple as submitting your series to the newspaper. I don’t know. But who knows what can come from it. Maybe you’ll be a world famous adventurer. And you know, just maybe I will.
Jessalia sighed sadly. After all she had been working for, she had failed. But she would get her revenge. One day, this Art girl would meet her true end. One day, the Ayshes will rise to kindle a flame.
I must thank you for reading my 50 page story, whether or not it makes it into the NT. Maybe there’ll be a sequel, but maybe not. Maybe Art will follow the footsteps of her parents, or maybe she’ll spend her life running from giant Meepits. I just hope that you bring away the importance of following your dreams, no matter what or who stands in your way. And don’t get distracted, no matter--OMG LOOKIE, A SQUIRREL!