Cerena's Song 2: The Amulet's Curse - Part Two
King Kelpbeard settled back in his throne, enjoying a nice relaxing day in Maraqua. No matters of particular interest had come up in the past few weeks, and he was getting used to the calming solitude. From the windows he could hear the gentle sounds of underwater life. His stomach, however, was making bothersome noises. “Cayn, can you come in here please?” Kelpbeard’s mighty voice bellowed throughout the main court and all its surrounding rooms.
Cayn Clearwater, a rather youthful and dashing Maraquan Draik, came hurriedly into the room to stand before the massive Koi. He wore the usual armor that any Maraquan warrior would wear and held in his hand a magnificent Maractite spear. He arrived in front of the throne and stood in an upright position awaiting his orders. “What is it, sir?”
King Kelpbeard glanced down at his assistant with an urgent look on his face. “I need you to get me something.”
Cayn sensed the urgency in his voice and stiffened even more. “Yes sir, anything you want.”
“I need you to get me a sandwich.”
Cayn groaned and started for the kitchen. Just then, the huge doors to the court swung open and another guard of the kingdom came rushing in. “Sir, we have a young girl from above water who wishes to speak with you. She states that it is important.”
King Kelpbeard tilted his chin up and pondered for a moment. “Cayn, go fetch one of the magic seaweed necklaces so this girl can breathe underwater. And hurry to it!” Cayn nodded and hurried off into one of the corridors. He returned shortly with the necklace requested and handed it over to the guard.
“Thank you, sir, I will send her down as soon as possible.” The guard nodded and left the court.
A silence fell over the court. Cayn shuffled nervously. King Kelpbeard finally broke the silence. “We haven’t had a visitor from above water since the battle against the pirates. This must be something important.” His stomach began to rumble again. “Cayn, didn’t I tell you to get me a sandwich?”
The young Draik groaned once more and headed again for the kitchen. He dreamed one day of escaping from this boring city and becoming King of his own land. In Maraqua, the most urgent news that comes up is a customer getting trampled at the Kelp restaurant. Cayn felt that he was much too good to be sent on missions to retrieve sandwiches.
The guard who went to fetch the girl returned and was followed by a beautiful young yellow Aisha. She wore a bright blue dress that stretched down just above her feet with a yellow sash around her waist. On the upper part of the dress was unmistakably the symbol of Altador. Also, of course, the seaweed necklace was around her neck to help her breathe. The Aisha glanced around at the pillars and banners in wonder as they approached King Kelpbeard.
King Kelpbeard studied her as they moved closer. He had never before been visited by a Neopet from Altador. The Koi cleared his throat to speak. “Hello, young one. What is your name, and what business has brought you here today?”
“My name is Amelia. Four years and two months ago today, my beloved set sail from my homeland of Altador. I waited two years and received no news from him, so I knew that something must be wrong. I used some of my money- not all of it of course I have shopping to do- to buy a boat. I learned to sail from one of the locals and made my way to each of Neopia’s lands. It was not easy, I assure you! I had many troubles as I traversed but I persevered and bought many cute items along the way.”
King Kelpbeard gawked down at her waiting for her to get to the point. Cayn came back into the room holding a gourmet sandwich and joined the conversation.
Amelia noticed the Draik and twirled her blonde hair in her fingers. “Well, hello there! Oh, where was I... Ah, yes! At each new location, nobody there had seen him! I did talk to some locals in Tyrannia who said they had remembered seeing him, but they mentioned that it had been over two years ago. Imagine my dismay! I then went to Mystery Island and they showed me a boat they found, the S.S. Amelia. Isn’t that just wonderful?”
Cayn stared at her uncomfortably. “That they found his boat?”
Amelia sighed and directed her attention at him. “No, he named his boat after me! “
Cayn and King Kelpbeard glanced around at each other. “So why exactly have you come here today?” King Kelpbeard asked.
Amelia paused for a moment as if confused by the question. “Oh, yes! I figured that if they found his boat empty, perhaps he jumped overboard to visit Maraqua! I don’t know why he would do such an insane thing; I mean, this city is full of rocks and plants, what’s the draw?” She pulled a picture of a young blue Lupe out of her pocket and handed it over to the King. “But I am running out of options here. So... have you seen him?”
He looked over the picture for a minute and then shook his head. “He doesn’t look familiar to me. Have you seen him around, Cayn? If anyone has seen Neopians come and go in Maraqua, it’s you.”
Cayn grabbed the photo and looked it over as well. “Nope, I have never seen any blue Lupe down in Maraqua.” He handed the photo back to Amelia, who sighed heavily at the news.
“I’m sorry we couldn’t be more help to you, Amelia.”
“It’s not your fault,” she whispered and turned to leave. “I should just accept that he is gone.”
King Kelpbeard stood from his throne and descended the steps to her. “You should never give up. Can I see that picture again?” She looked up, puzzled, and handed it to him. “Cayn, I want you to take this picture around Maraqua and see if there is anyone who knows this Lupe.” Cayn nodded and took the picture, and then he left the court.
“Um, thank you, sir,” Amelia said, reaching out awkwardly to shake his hand.
King Kelpbeard stepped forward and gave her a big hug. She stood stiff and gaped at the Koi. “Do you have anything to eat or a place to stay?” he asked.
Amelia shook her head and looked down at her feet. “I have been living on my boat and eating whatever I can find. A beautiful girl such as me shouldn’t have to live like this.” She sighed, looking up at him in sadness for approval.
The Koi chuckled. “Well, that certainly is unacceptable.” He called for one of his guards and was joined quickly by a Maraquan Kougra dressed in armor. “Take this girl to get a proper meal, and give her a room for the night.” The Kougra nodded and took Amelia with him into one of the many doors. She glanced back at him and her face lit up with a smile. When the door closed King Kelpbeard settled back into his throne. “Wait a minute...” he muttered to himself, pondering what the Aisha had just told him. “That was around the time that entire town disappeared. That girl, what was her name...? Cerena! Cerena Silva. How interesting, surely the two cases couldn’t be related.”
I sit on the front steps of my home and look out over Maraqua. For the past four years this has been my home and over time I have grown to accept it. I still believe nothing will ever compare to my old town of Roseate, though. Every day as I walk through the streets of Maraqua I feel as though a part of me is dead. It’s funny; I began to feel the way Cerena did back in Roseate. Nobody in Maraqua talks to me and I don’t say much to them, either. None of them really remember what happened to me, and now they all just look at me as though I am an outcast. I used to be known as “that Maraquan Ixi from that one town”, but at this point I am mostly just known as “that girl”.
From up ahead I can see a group gathered around something. They all are shaking their heads and begin to scatter in different directions. The one figure that remains starts walking toward me. Turns out it is the bane of my existence, Cayn: the arrogant, pompous guard who assists King Kelpbeard. He transferred here two years ago and we instantly disliked each other. He’s just a know-it-all who has always been good at getting on my nerves.
Cayn marches over to me and a distasteful look sweeps across his face as he gets closer. “Nice to see you again, Jeanine,” he says.
“The pleasure is mine.” I scowl back, folding my arms as to suggest that I don’t wish to speak to him. “What do you want now, Cayn?”
He returns the scowl and holds a picture up for me to see. “I just need to know if you have seen this Lupe.” I sigh and look at the picture. My eyes widen and I swallow nervously as I grab at the photo. I know who that Lupe is instantly. My hand instinctively reaches back and holds onto my amethyst necklace. Cayn watches me with a bewildered look across his face. He tilts his head down to try and make eye contact with me, but my gaze doesn’t move from the photograph. “Do you know this Lupe?” he asks, slowly reaching out to obtain the picture once more.
“No!” I shout out quickly, thrusting the photo back into this grasp. “I mean, I thought he looked familiar, but no, I don’t know him.”
He watches me for a few more seconds waiting for me to speak again. “Well, alright then... bye.” Another moment passes before he turns and leaves. I take a deep breath and close my eyes. All the memories from years ago are coming back to me. That strange Lupe was the one who led me to Cerena’s cave. Why would his picture turn up four years later?
I go for a walk through the town, feeling everyone’s eyes on me as I pass by them. Even those Neopians in line at the famous Kelp restaurant are watching me as I pass. I feel as though all my secrets are worn on my sleeve. They all can see that something is different about me.
I come up near the palace and notice an Aisha sitting outside on a bench. She isn’t anyone I have seen in the town before. I figure she must be visiting here for Kelp or, judging by her fancy dress, on more official business. She is looking down at a picture which I determine to be the one Cayn showed me earlier. She has a miserable expression on her face. I tell myself to keep walking but just can’t resist the impulse to talk to her. “Are you okay?”
She glances up at me and gives me a weak smile. “Yeah, I’m fine.” Her gaze goes back to the picture. “At least I will be. I just lost my beloved and need to accept that I will never see him again. Not to mention I am stuck in this town with absolutely no clothing stores, how do you live?” She pauses and then quickly meets eyes with me again. She squints as she studies me. “I know you from somewhere.”
“Are you sure?” I ask, taken aback.
“Yeah, I know where!” She stands quickly from where she resided on the bench as her eyes light up with excitement from her epiphany. “You are that girl from Roseate! You were all over the news a few years ago. In fact, I think that whole thing happened around the time Wesley left me.”
“No, no, you must have me mistaken with someone else.” I slowly back away. It has been so long since this whole ordeal and I had finally gotten to the point of everyone forgetting what happened.
“I know it’s you.” She smiles and holds the picture up just as Cayn had done. “Please, I just need to know if you have seen this Lupe. Did he ever come to Roseate? You know, before...”
“Yes.” The word escapes from my lips without thinking. I clasp my hand over my mouth in surprise. It is too late now, I have to explain. “But he’s gone.”
To be continued...