Scarblade's Pearl: Part Four
A cry of alarm echoing through the ocean made her turn. A Maraquan Kyrii was swimming toward the ruins of the once beautiful town, crying out as she did. Nira watched her as she darted around frantically, calling loudly every one in a while. She lifted pieces of rubble, looked underneath, then darted elsewhere. After a few minutes, the cries became quieter. Her rubble moving became less frantic and more halfhearted. Her voice continued to descend in volume until she sank onto a larger piece of rubble and put her head in her hands. Her sobs echoed through the sea. Nira floated in place, petrified. There weren't supposed to be any survivors! She was supposed to have eliminated everyone!
A cold fear seeped into Nira's heart as realization dawned on her. The poor Kyrii was alone now. Alone. No family, no friends. No one. Just like Nira had been oh so long ago. Back on Krawk Island. With Rai. Tears. Nira knew she was shedding them, but they were invisible in the underwater world. They fell from her eyes and merged with the water too quickly to be seen. She did this! She destroyed that town and left that innocent Kyrii alone. Why? Why had she done it!? For a few words of praise? From someone like Scarblade?!
Suddenly Nira realized it all. Everything she had done wrong over the years came swimming back to haunt her. Her heart filled with pain and regret. She put a hand to her chest, trying to relieve some of the pain, but the crushing feeling would not let up. It only continued to grow, pressing harder and harder against her chest. Just a bit more, and Nira was sure she would fall apart.
Swallowing and shaking her head vigorously, Nira zoomed for the surface, forbidding herself to let the Maraquan girl get to her.
She's just some stupid Maraquan! Nira told herself. But even as she thought it, she couldn't help thinking otherwise. That “stupid Maraquan” was a neopet like any other. Why did it matter what color she was and where she came from? She would feel just as lonely as Nira had. In fact, seeing as everyone she'd know was no longer around, the poor Kyrii would probably suffer more than Nira ever had. She sped even faster for the surface, trying to banish the echoing thoughts.
Scarblade greeted Nira warmly when she stepped out of a pillar of seawater and back onto the ship. Nira turned her head so he couldn't see her face, grimaced, then put on the best fake smile she could muster.
“It's done. The town is no more,” she said, forcing cheer into her words.
The whole crew erupted into cheers and cries of triumph. Scarblade grinned and chuckled, patting Nira on the shoulder.
“No survivors?” he asked.
Nira forced herself to match his grin.
“Just one. A stupid little Kyrii. Only a kid, by the looks of it,” she replied, letting a bit of triumph to creep into her voice.
She was my age! Nira thought silently, pain stabbing her heart. It didn't show on the outside, thankfully.
“Poor little Kyrii. I hope it suffers!” he cried. The crew gave cheers of support. Nira halfheartedly added her own voice to the cheers. Scarblade raised his hand into the air and the ship fell silent.
“Well, men, since she has been so successful in ridding us of that pesky town, why don't we go one to destroy their stronghold? Today, we destroy Maraqua!”
The crew's cheers were so loud this time, that even if she'd joined them, Nira wouldn't have been definable. But Nira did not join their cries. Instead, time seemed to stop a moment as she was frozen by cold dread. Scarblade wanted her to destroy Maraqua, and all the innocent pets within. Images of the Kyrii flashed in Nira's mind, her sobs echoing forever in her memory. She couldn't do it! There was no way! Not after seeing that. Nira shut her eyes against more tears. Never again. Never again would she make another pet suffer.
Scarblade suddenly seemed to notice something was wrong and raised his hand for silence. His gaze was locked on Nira.
“What's the matter, Lass? Why aren't ya celebratin' with us?” he asked, anger creeping into his voice.
Nira's eyes opened as she turned, fixing Scarblade with a glare.
“No,” she whispered darkly.
A gasp went through the crew. Scarblade's eyes blazed.
“No? No what?!” he demanded.
“No!” Nira growled, her voice becoming stronger. Her face sent into anger.
“No! I will not destroy Maraqua!” she nearly shouted.
The ship was deathly quiet.
“No?” Scarblade finally whispered. He fixed Nira with a hateful gaze.
“No?! How DARE you defy me!?” he shouted.
Nira winced slightly, but did not falter.
“I will not make any more pets suffer! I know all too well how it feels to be alone!” she shouted in return.
The ship was silent again as every eye turned to watch Scarblade's next moves. It was clear from the look on his face that Scarblade was filled with barley suppressed rage. He pointed one finger at Nira.
“Men! DISPOSE OF HER!” he commanded.
Had there been just a few more seconds, Nira would have been able to defend herself. She could have drawn her cutlass, or maybe used the water surrounding them. But the moment Scarblade spoke, something hit the back of Nira's head. Stars in her eyes, Nira fell unconscious.
“Hoist her overboard!” Scarblade shouted, pointing to the side of the ship and the ocean beyond.
A green Techo and blue Tuskaninny gladly obliged, lifting Nira from the deck. Kaezer watched, horror in his eyes, but could think of nothing he could do to help. Nira was thrown over the side of the boat like an unwanted sack. The ship moved quickly, the wind at its back, and soon left Nira's floating form far behind.
Nira opened her eyes to the sound of waves lapping gently on the shore. Vision blurry, she sat up, rubbing at her eyes. As most people do when they come back to consciousness, the first thing Nira wondered was where she was. As her vision cleared, she realized she was on a beach, half in and half out of the water, the waves lapping gently at her legs. How had she gotten here? And, more importantly, where was here? Nira closed her eyes, focusing, trying her hardest to remember. To her horror, there was nothing. She couldn't remember a single thing. All she found was her name and her age. Nothing else. What happened? Didn't she have any memories beyond her own name and age? She was sixteen! There had to be something before this! Nira tried and tried, but she just couldn't remember.
A worry began to burrow into her heart. If she couldn't remember anything, what would happen to her next? Where would she go? She couldn't remember anything, anyone! There was nowhere for her to turn, no one for her to go to, no for her to-
“Hey!” a voice called suddenly.
Nira nearly jumped into the air. She turned her head and body so that she could look behind her. An island Eyrie was jogging over, looking very worried. Worried? Did she know this Eyrie? Was that why she looked worried? Nira sure hope so.
“You okay?” she asked.
Nira put a hand to her head again, shaking it back and forth.
“I... I don't know....” she called back, her voice sounding hoarse. The Eyrie stopped beside her, kneeling in the sand and looking Nira over. Nira watched her, hoping deep inside that this Eyrie knew her.
“That's a pretty bad bruise you've got on your neck there. How'd it happen?” asked the Eyrie, dragging Nira from her thoughts.
Nira scrunched up her face, but the effort was pointless.
“I don't know... All I can remember is my name....” she said quietly.
The Eyrie looked confused now.
“What's your name?” she asked. Nira's heart sank. This Eyrie DIDN'T know her. Would she still help her? Was there still a chance? Nira decided to risk it. After all, what did she have to lose?
“My name's Nira,” she replied uncertainly, wondering how the Eyrie would respond.
The Eyrie grinned kindly.
“Well, Nira, my name's Lightning_2150. Friends call me Lightning,” she said in a warm voice.
Nira's heart lightened a little. Was this Eyrie calling her friend?
“You know, you could come back to my place with me,” the Eyrie went on. Nira snapped back to the present and listened.
“I could help you take care of that bruise and maybe help you find your friends. Your bruise looks like it's been there a while, but it's still pretty swollen.” The Eyrie grimaced as she looked back to the bruise, but smiled when she looked at Nira.
Nira felt overwhelmed with relief. She smiled back at the Eyrie.
“Yes, please. And thank you,” said the Shoyru, a ray of hope shining in her eyes.