Jane dreamingly gazed at the sea’s foamy waves crashing on the rocky shoreline as she stood by her open window. The salty wind tousled the blue Aisha’s long blonde hair and billowed her white, lacy curtains. A heavy sigh escaped from her lips as she continued to daydream in the hot afternoon on Mystery Island.
“Jane! Jane! Jane!” her owner’s frantic voice exclaimed as footsteps shuffled up the stairs. Slashed from her thoughts, the Aisha let out an annoyed groan and turned to find Abigail, her owner, at her doorway.
Long ago, Jane’s relationship with her owner, a pretty teenage girl with short brown hair, was formerly a happy and close bond, but that was when Jane was very young and innocent. As Jane grew older and wiser, she learned that Abigail was afraid of the sea, and, despite the ironic fact that her Neohome was planted directly on the beach, she never set foot on the sand. However, Jane was the exact opposite, and loved the sea, devoting every waking moment by the ocean. She collected seashells and explored Mystery Island’s waters and reefs. Her entire room was decorated in everything nautical, from small sailboats to seashell trinkets to fish netting hanging on her ceiling. But, more than anything Jane desired, she had the soaring dream of receiving fins, enabling her to roam the seas of Neopia freely in search of adventure, and never have to surface for air. Jane begged Abigail for a Maraquan Paint Brush, the magical item for acquiring fins, but every time Abigail refused, saying the sea was much too dangerous. The agony of longing for her wish only made Jane more determined and headstrong, no matter how many shells she collected or what Abigail gave her.
“There you are, little missy! I’ve been worried sick looking for you all morning! Just where have you been?”
“Where I always am,” Jane replied simply. “On the beach.”
“I should’ve known it,” she mumbled with a hopeless sigh. “Jane, sometimes I don’t understand you these days. You seem utterly obsessed with the ocean! I-I know you love the sea; I understand that despite my fear of it. It’s just so big and eerie to me. But you are quite distant and I don’t see you as much as I would like. Because you’re always—”
“I love the sea, Abbie! I want fins more than anything! If you would just come to the beach for once you would understand! But you never will because you’re afraid of one grain of sand!”
“Don’t you dare use such a disrespectful tone with me, Jane!” Abigail raised her voice. “If I wasn’t such a good owner to you, I would send you to bed without a bite to eat!”
Abigail whirled around sharply and stomped to Jane’s door, tightly gripping the knob. “Come down from the clouds and stay in Neopia, Jane. A taste of reality would do you some good.”
And with that, Abigail slammed her door shut, making Jane wince, feeling her owner’s aggravation tainting the air. Jane’s eyes welled with angry tears; she never cried unless she was really upset. The Aisha folded her arms and slowly crawled into bed as she stared up at the netting garland adorned with starfish, seashells, and buoys. She blinked away the tears in her eyes as they rolled down her face. Why didn’t her owner understand? Abigail couldn’t, and neither could Jane understand why Abigail was afraid of the sea. Her owner’s unusually harsh words echoed in her mind, recalling “a taste of reality would do you some good” very well. Being as stubborn as she was, Jane wouldn’t taste reality if Abigail spoon fed it to her! Then, she had to wonder, would she ever have fins?
Jane looked out the window at the blue sea and saw the sun sinking to the horizon as her stomach growled. Ignoring her hunger, she closed her eyes and dreamed of the sea.
There was a gentle knock on Jane’s door followed by a soft voice. “Jane?”
Jane, fingering the seashells she gathered earlier, did not look up when her door opened and Abigail poked her head into the room lit by a mermaid lamp. She was holding something in her hands, but Jane didn’t bother to notice.
“Jane, I thought you’d be hungry. I brought you some pizza,” Abigail said cheerfully.
Jane gazed up at her owner when she smelt the pizza’s delicious scent and her stomach roared, but her heart ached. A sad look was in her dark eyes as she remained silent. Abigail’s shoulders slumped in failure as she set the plate of steaming pizza on Jane’s nightstand.
“Jane,” Abigail spoke quietly and set down beside her on the plush bed, crossing her legs. “I’m so sorry if I hurt you awhile ago. I didn’t mean to intentionally crush your feelings. I’m so sorry, my little Janie.”
The blue Aisha glanced into Abigail’s sorrowful eyes. “You mean it?”
“Of course I do. I’m your owner. I love you.”
“Do you really think I live in a fantasy all the time? You said I need a dose of reality,” Jane said.
“Oh, Jane,” Abigail said and wrapped her Aisha into her arms. “Of course I don’t. All neopets are like you at this age. Your imagination is so big and bright. But sometimes... wild things must stay in your imagination.”
“Like fins?” Jane mumbled.
Abigail paused with a hint of hesitation. “Yes... like fins. But Jane, just think of it. You live by the sea; you’re always near it. It doesn’t matter if you have fins or feet, does it?”
Jane shrugged. “Maybe.”
Abigail smiled slightly at her pet’s stubbornness. “When you’re older, you’ll understand.” She kissed Jane’s forehead, stood up, and walked quietly to the door. “Now I know you’re hungry, Jane. Your tummy couldn’t lie.”
Jane smirked with a chuckle and gazed up at Abigail.
She waited until she heard the door click shut and Abigail’s footsteps tread downstairs when she reached underneath her bed and grabbed a small knapsack. The beige sack jingled with neopoints she had diligently saved over the past few months. Secretly, Jane had made plans to run away tonight and find means out to sea, where she would find Nereid the Water Faerie, who could help her in her dilemma. Jane reached over to her dresser and started to gobble down the pizza, pondering long and hard in the silence. Should she dare go on such a dangerous mission? Fins were her greatest desire. Her strong will held no regrets, but the love for her owner, her caretaker, her friend, caused her to stop and think. She swallowed a bite of her pizza when she looked at a picture frame of her and Abigail in thick parkas. They were on vacation at Terror Mountain, which Jane hated because of the snow and cold.
The moon was full and glowing through her still open window as the lazy night breeze moved her curtains. Narrowing her eyes at the black sky with bright stars, Jane made her final decision. She quickly began filling her bag with more essentials and wrote a note to Abigail, telling her that she would run away. Once again, Jane’s eyes fell on the picture frame, knowing deep inside her that she did not want to leave it behind. She took it off the nightstand and put it in the bag. The clock on her wall read 9:30 p.m. All that was left to do for Jane now was to wait.
The clock struck midnight as Jane carefully opened her door to a crack as she peered out at the dark hall. Abigail’s bedroom door was wide open as Jane quietly made her way across the hall. Jane gently tiptoed on the wooden floors, wary of the creaky boards that moan when stepped on. She was finally at Abigail’s bedside where her owners slept peacefully. Jane held the goodbye letter in her paw and placed the note on her nightstand. Hastening, Jane turned and silently crept down the stairs, stopping only to grab food from the cupboards, and reached the front door. For a second, she paused and took one last look at her home and the moonlight that highlighted everything. Gripping the doorknob, she took a deep breath and opened her doorway to her dream, slipping away into the night.
The golden sun rose out to sea and the beach was quiet and empty with only few Neopets walking along the shore. Jane walked up the beach with her knapsack on her shoulder as she inhaled the salty sea air. However, though Jane planned her running away, she had not planned how to reach Nereid. She did not have the money to rent a boat or the ability to breathe underwater like Maraquans do. Her stomach dropped. Jane stared up at the sky feeling rather stuck. But then, she noticed a little oceanfront hut with unique items in its windows. Considering her situation, she jumped to the chance and entered the shop.
A bell rang as she opened the door and stepped inside, staring at all the strange objects that seemed to cover the walls. Surely someone could help her here.
“Hello, little Aisha,” a voice said behind the counter. Jane looked up to see a red Gelert in an island shirt had addressed her. “How can I help you?”
Jane paused, knowing she couldn’t reveal the secret of her running away.
“Um... I need to reach Maraqua, but I don’t have the means to breathe underwater.”
“Ah!” the shopkeeper said aloud. “I see how that can be troublesome, but I have the solution.”
Fumbling under the counter, the Gelert produced an unusual item Jane never seen before: a leafy seaweed necklace. She raised an eyebrow curiously and cocked her head.
“This is exactly what you need. A seaweed necklace. It provides the magic of temporary underwater breathing ability, so the power is not eternal. You must find a way back to the surface before the power fades.”
“I’ll take it,” Jane accepted.
In mere moments, after a hefty neopoints payment, Jane was dashing out of the door in glee, waving at the Gelert in thanks.
After running across the hot sand that burnt her feet, she arrived to the dock where the sea awaited her below. She slipped the seaweed necklace over her head and dove headlong into the water. When she dove under, she was a little uncertain at first, but she breathed and was amazed. She already felt that she was Maraquan, but she was reminded of the Gelert’s words about the vanishing power of the necklace. Jane had to find Nereid soon!
After long hours of swimming, Jane soon realized she made a mistake. Though the necklace gave her strength, the magic was weakening, and so it weakened Jane. No one knew exactly where Nereid resided, but the legends say she was hard, sometimes impossible, to find. Once again, Jane was tangled up in a devastating problem, but now it was serious. She was running out of air supply, which was not a good thing being lost in the middle of the sea. Every inch of her body pleaded for rest as Jane collapsed to the sea floor in exhaustion. She breathed heavily, not sure which breath would be her last. Colors danced in her eyes and before she could think, she fell into darkness just as a shadow appeared.
Her eyes blinked as she tried to see beyond the blurriness of her vision. What had happened? For some strange reason, she could not remember. All she could recollect was how exhausted she was and that was it. Suddenly her sight cleared and Jane discovered a fair, blonde-haired lady hovering over her with concern in her crystal blue eyes.
“Come on, you can do it. That’s it,” a soft voice said.
Jane slowly sat up and rubbed her head with a light moan. “Where am I?”
“I found you unconscious in the middle of the sea and brought you to my grotto,” she replied. “You would’ve died if I had not found you.”
Jane’s ears perked up in shock and surprise. She looked up, and, combing some stray hairs away, saw Nereid’s face.
“Nereid! It’s you! Oh! What a relief! I’ve come from the surface to ask a very important favor from you,” Jane exclaimed excitedly.
“And what would that be?” Nereid inquired.
“I wish for fins. I wish for fins so I can stay in the sea forever,” replied Jane and caught Nereid’s curious expression. “I-Is it possible, Nereid?”
“Indeed it is, young one. But I must ask how did you reach here all alone?” the Water Faerie questioned.
Jane froze and twiddled her thumbs quietly.
“I... I ran away from home,” she answered honestly. “My owner, you see, she is afraid of the ocean and wouldn’t let me have fins. But I love the sea more than anything and so I came to you, Nereid.”
Nereid tapped her chin thoughtfully. “That was quite a brave undertaking, to leave your owner and your home. But if it’s fins you want, I can give them to you.”
The Water Faerie swam across the small grotto where potion bottles lay on narrow shelves. Nereid selected one with ocean blue liquid and a tattered label with a picture of a mermaid’s tail. Jane eyed the mysterious bottle in awe.
“Wow,” she whispered with big eyes. A gentle smile was on Nereid’s face as she nodded.
Jane looked up at her. “What is your price, Nereid?”
“No amount of neopoints can buy this, Jane,” she replied. “A single drop on your tongue is enough to give you what you wish for, but the change will be permanent. Can you afford the price?”
Jane stared at the potion longingly, knowing it was her greatest desire. With no hesitation and no looking back, she took a deep breath. “Yes. I accept.”
“Very well,” Nereid answered. “Open your mouth.”
Jane obeyed the Water Faerie as she watched her tip an aqua drop of the potion to her tongue with bubbling excitement. The blue Aisha closed her eyes tight as her body underwent a glorious transformation. A bright light swallowed her and morphed her short legs into a long tail and her soft fur into scales. Soon the magic died down and Jane opened her eyes with a delighted gasp. Her wish had been fulfilled as she stared at her new, beautiful Maraquan tail she always dreamed of. Nereid smiled at Jane’s happiness as the Aisha swam about her cave in euphoria.
No longer a plain, boring blue Aisha, Jane could swim with incredible speed and agility. Looking into one of Nereid’s mirrors, Jane saw herself beautiful and alive for the first time. She ran her fingers through her blonde hair and let every lock float freely; she was so happy. With a thrilled squeal, Jane approached Nereid and hugged her gratefully.
“Oh thank you, Nereid, thank you!”
The Water Faerie smiled sweetly. “You are very welcome, Jane. Enjoy those fins!”
“I will! Thank you, Nereid!” Jane’s overjoyed voice echoed as she swam out of Nereid’s grotto in bliss.
The Maraquan Aisha twirled and spun in the cool water as she laughed. She spread her arms out and embraced the sea. Suddenly, Jane jumped out of the water in a graceful arch, landing back with a loud splash and an exhilarated shout. The world around her was so grand and new as if she explored a fantasy. And for a long time, Jane loved her life under the sea with no worries and no responsibilities...
Her heart raced and pounded against her chest as she swam as fast as her fins could go. She desperately dodged deadly harpoons while her eyes frantically scanned for a hiding place. Jane made a mad dash around a coral reef and ducked into a small hole, sinking into the darkness. Minutes crept by and the fishermen’s fierce attacks diminished, and the ship’s shadow sailed away. Jane breathed a sigh of relief when suddenly a growl startled her. She burst out of the hole to see an angry aquatic petpet occupied it and wanted her gone. Sighing, Jane apologized and swam away.
It had been nearly a year since Jane left home and Abigail to receive her new life in the sea. In the beginning, it seemed as if Jane was promised an eternal paradise, but that all changed too soon. She had become a victim of the sea’s wrath; fishermen and pirates spotted her if she barely surfaced and tried to harpoon her or predators chased her to no end. But in peaceful periods, Jane found herself staring at the picture of her and Abigail more and more. Despite never dreaming she would wish for it, Jane wanted to go home. She actually wanted to go back! She loved the sea with all her heart and soul, but her life now had become much too dangerous. She had no more fun like she used to; she always had to look over her shoulder. It was too much to bear. So, Jane retraced her steps and sought for help once more...
Jane hovered near the entrance to Nereid’s cave and cautiously entered, wary of monsters that hid in the shadows.
“Nereid?” she called out and arrived to the faerie’s home.
Looking around, Jane thought Nereid was gone someplace, but the mysterious lady of the sea appeared.
“Hello, Jane. It’s been quite a while. What brings you here?”
Jane sighed reluctantly. “Nereid... I’ve come to ask you... to... to get my old life back.”
Nereid cocked her head. “I don’t understand.”
“I-I’m homesick. I miss my owner... my room... everything! I thought I could forfeit everything so I could stay here evermore, but, somehow, my fate has turned its back on me. I’ve faced death too many times to count! Nereid, I... I want my legs back...”
Nereid paused with a heartrending expression painted on her face. “Jane, I’m sorry. You must remember the deal we made. The potion’s effects are permanent. I do not have the power to return you home.”
Jane’s heart sank into despair, knowing she was trapped in her forevermore decision, her only wish. How foolish and rash she was to do this so quickly. She tried hard not to cry; crying never helped anything. Though she tried, a crystal tear rolled down her scaly face.
Nereid swam to the sad Aisha silently and placed a hand on her shoulder sympathetically. Suddenly, an idea came to her mind and reflected in her eyes.
“Jane,” she said abruptly. “There may be one way to go back. There is a water faerie out there in the sea with more power than I who can help you.”
Jane, sniffling, looked surprised. “There is?”
“Yes. But she is far away from here, and the journey there would take much strength and endurance, but it’s your chance to see Abigail again. Will you take this chance and proposition?” Nereid asked.
The Maraquan Aisha stopped for only a moment because she didn’t need time to think it over.
“Yes. Whatever it takes,” Jane replied, “for a second wish.”