Scarblade's Pearl: Off To Altador - Part Two
“Goodbye! Have a nice trip!” shouted Lightning from the dock. Nira sighed and waved back, half grinning. She may have been ready to shove off last night, but all her uncertainties had arisen once again when they'd awoke early that morning. It didn't help that Lightning was so perkily eager to send her off. But, as she knew all too well, there was no turning back, whether or not she desired to do so. When the docks were far off in the distance, Nira turned her attention out to sea.
The waves, which on shore had always calmed and soothed her, now gave her a feeling of unease. She wasn't sure why. Perhaps, since she'd never been on a boat (as far as she could remember), she just didn't like the way the floor swayed beneath her? Yes, that had to be it. And one uneventful boat ride later, Nira found herself on the shores of Altador.
Altador looked magnificent, even from outside the city's walls. Nira stepped onto shore, suitcase in hand, feeling her strange unease fade. There was nothing to fear here. Altador prided itself on being one of the safest cities in all Neopia.
Taking the harbor entrance, Nira passed beneath the great wall surrounding the city, marveling at its beauty. The city ahead was even greater than she could have ever imagined. She would have marveled a bit longer if the memory of something Lightning had said hadn't begun poking into her mind.
“You should find an inn as soon as you enter the city. Make your reservations and leave your things in your room. THEN you can explore,” she had said. Nira had nodded eagerly before, but now exploration was first in her mind.
With a reluctant sigh, Nira wandered down the street until stumbling upon a nice looking inn. The name on the sign outside read “The Sunshine Inn.” Nira rolled her eyes, thinking the name a bit corny, but went inside anyway. There was a tinkling of bells as the door was opened. A gold Shoyru behind the counter ahead, seeming to have heard the bells, looked up and smiled.
“Greetings. How may I help you, miss?” he asked.
Nira approached the counter and set her suitcase on the ground beside her before answering.
“I need to rent a room for a week. Starting today,” she stated simply.
“I believe that can be arranged,” said the Shoyru with a nod. He pulled a large book with many tabs in it from beneath the counter. He scanned the tabs, selected one, opened to it, looked through the pages quickly, and closed it, turning back to Nira.
“Yes, we have a room available. Hold on.” The Shoyru took the book off the counter and bent down (presumably to replace it in its spot).
“And how much will this room cost?” Nira asked. Lightning had not only paid for the ferry, but she had given Nira another 1,000 neopoints for inn fees, meals, and other such necessities. Not to mention the 2,000 she'd given Nira to spend on whatever she wished. Nira felt guilt weighing on her just having all those neopoints with her. She'd silently vowed (when Lightning had handed the points to her) not to spend the 2,000 on anything, no matter how much Lightning complained when it was returned.
“200 neopoints will cover all our fees,” said the Shoyru, still crouched out of sight, the sounds of things being rummaged through coming to Nira's ears. A moment later he stood, a key with a numbered tag hanging off it in his hand.
“Here we are! Thought I might have lost it for a minute there,” he chuckled, obviously making a joke.
Nira couldn't help grinning a bit. Carefully, she pulled a small pouch from a pocket in her skirt. It contained the 1,000 neopoints, and Nira carefully counted out the 200 needed to pay for her room. The Shoyru nodded approvingly, handing the key over to Nira.
“Thank you, miss!” He swiftly collected up the coins and deposited them into the register on the counter to Nira's left.
Nira nodded in return and picked up her suitcase. She was about to head for the stairs when the Shoyru spoke again.
“All inn guests are free to participate in the daily meals. Breakfast is served at 8:00 in the morning, lunch at noon, and dinner at 7:00 in the evening.” The Shoyru spoke the list and times so smoothly, she had to wonder if he'd rehearsed them in front of a mirror.
Nira smiled and nodded, but the Shoyru wasn't finished. He was looking at Nira's suitcase.
“Would you like some help with that, miss?” he asked.
Nira quickly shook her head.
“No, no. I'm fine,” she replied, waving a hand in dismissal.
“Are you sure? It looks a bit heavy for a lady such as yourself,” he said.
Nira flushed a bit at the comment. No one had ever called her a lady before.
“I'm sure, thank you,” she said with a smile.
This seemed to finally satisfy the Shoyru, because he let her go up the stairs to the left of the counter without another word.
After leaving her things in her room, Nira ventured out of the inn, eager to do some exploring before the inn served dinner. The clock in her room had read 5:30 pm when she'd last checked. That left her roughly an hour and a half.
Naturally, Nira's first destination was to be the pastry shop of which her “friends” had spoken. Unfortunately, she didn't find the shop until after it had closed for the day. Unfazed, she made a mental note of the shop's location before heading back to the inn. After a short dinner, she was off to bed.
Nira woke early the next morning, as she usually did. Nira never minded waking early for some reason. In fact, she always had a strange energetic anticipation in the mornings, as if she was about to embark on an adventure. Sadly, when she checked the clock, she realized it was too early. The pastry shop wouldn't open for a while. The logical thing might have been to try getting some more sleep, but such a thing would never be possible for the little Shoyru. She wasn't getting anymore sleep, so she might as well get up. The inn wasn't even serving breakfast for another half-hour. Oh well, Nira didn't care. She wasn't going to be around anyway.
After waving a greeting to the Shoyru behind the counter, she headed outside. The morning air was crisp, but didn't manage to chill her. Only the coldest of air could chill Nira. Taking a deep breath, Nira looked up and down the street.
Where to now? she wondered silently.
After about an hour of aimless wandering, Nira found herself in front of the grand Altadorian Library. A library? Altador's library was supposed to be a good one, right? Nira liked books, and so a library would be a good destination. She wandered inside, not entirely sure what she was doing.
“Would you like some help, miss?” someone asked.
Nira turned in the direction of the sound, finding two pets standing in one of the doorways. One was a royal girl Kacheek, the other a royal girl Kougra. The thing that made Nira's jaw drop was not that they were royal, but that the Kougra had delicate, purply-pink wings. They had strange writing on them, some other language perhaps. And they looked real.
“Miss?” the voice repeated, and Nira realized it belonged to the Kougra. Nira's jaw snapped shut and she flushed.
“I-I'm sorry...” she stuttered. The royals glanced at each other, looking puzzled, before the Kougra shrugged and turned back to Nira.
“You look lost. Did you need help finding anything?” she asked.
Nira shook her head.
“No, I was just a bit overwhelmed... and a bit worried about getting lost in here,” she replied.
The Kougra and Kacheek shared a giggle.
“Oh, you won't have to worry about that. There are pets all over the place,” said the Kacheek.
“Yeah. It's hard to stay lost for long,” added the Kougra.
“Well, that's a relief,” she said with a sigh.
The royals grinned, before heading off down the entrance hall.
“Thanks for the concern, though,” Nira called back to them.
The Kougra grinned over her shoulder.
“Any time,” she called back.
Nira couldn't help grinning herself as she chose a hall and headed down it.
If only every pet was as kind...
Oh well, that's not how the world works. And so Nira wandered about until finally coming across the fantasy section. She browsed the shelves until coming across a book she liked. Then she took the book over to a table, sat down, and began to read. The story was quite interesting, and so kept Nira occupied for quite a long time. After a while, Nira looked up from her book to check the time. She was startled to find it had been nearly four hours. My how time could fly while you read! The pastry shop should be open by now. So, a bit reluctantly, Nira finished the chapter she was on and left the library.
To be continued...