Cerena's Song 2: The Amulet's Curse - Part Six
Every part of me is fuming. I can’t believe any Neopian could do something so evil to someone they had never met before, knowing that it would ruin their life forever. It is selfish; she is selfish. I wonder if Cerena knows what had happened when she was only a baby, if she knows that this wicked old Acara is the cause of everything wrong in her life.
It seems like I am walking and walking for ages, not knowing exactly how I had gotten to the shack, and not knowing how to find my way back to the kelp forest I first ventured through. It feel like I am trekking through the desert, a vast nothingness all around me and the suns rays permeating through the water onto my back. If I weren’t so angry about the conversation I had just had I may have realized just how much my body aches from walking around so much.
A sigh of relief comes over me as I see the kelp forest in the distance. My legs pick up speed, just wanting to get back onto the pathway. The slimy kelp brushes once more against my skin, and I shut my mouth and eyes tight, holding my breath until I am completely out. My eyes adjust back to the sun and I look over at the mountains in the distance where Cerena is staying, but there is something I have to do before I go back. I then look off in the direction of Roseate... or where Roseate once was. I contemplate making the trip alone, but I know that it would be impossible. My stomach turns as I think about what I have to do.
I need help.
Quickly, I travel back to Maraqua; the city is full of tourists and Maraquans making their way through the streets. I push through the crowds at a Slorg’s pace dreading what I am about to do. The Kingdom is in clear view, towering above the rest of the buildings as the sun's rays glisten off the windows and shimmering banners. Though I have lived here for years now, I still marvel at the site each time I approach the magnificent building.
I walk past the guards, both of them nod at me, and cross toward the enormous doors before me. I am known well enough among the guards by now to not need any questioning before entering the Kingdom, though I hardly ever do. I push the heavy doors open and look ahead to see Cayn and King Kelpbeard discussing something. Their heads turn to meet my eyes as I take a step inside and let the doors shut behind me.
“Jeanine?” Cayn says my name, shocked, as though I have never come into this room before.
King Kelpbeard’s voice booms through the room, overpowering Cayn’s. “Nice to see you again, Jeanine. What brings you here today?”
“I need to speak with him.” I point at Cayn in an accusing fashion, and the stunned look on his face is priceless.
Cayn looks up to King Kelpbeard as though he needs approval before wearily making his way over to me. He puts on his usual tough guy façade before speaking. “What’s this about, Jeanine?” He holds his spear proudly and stands upright, as though trying to prove his position of authority.
I roll my eyes and grab him by the arm to drag him outside, away from anybody who can hear. “Hey where are you taking me?” he yells.
“Quiet,” I command, leading him to the coral garden beside the kingdom, “I have a favor to ask.”
He scoffs at me. “Oh and why would I do anything for you?”
“Look,” I start in the most sincere voice I can muster; he seems a bit shocked to hear any other tone from me besides sarcasm. “I know we have had our... differences, but I need your help. You’re the only person I trust enough to do it.”
His eyes narrow and I can see the curiosity in them. “I’m listening.”
“You have to understand that what I am about to tell you is a secret; you can’t tell anyone.”
“Fine,” he answers.
“I can’t explain it all now, but I promise I will give you the whole story on the way there.”
“Just tell me what you need me to do, Jeanine.”
I sigh and take a step closer to him, just in case anybody should be listening. The close proximity seemed to bother him a little. “I need you to take me to Roseate,” I whisper.
His eyes widen and he takes a step away from me. “Are you crazy? Nobody has been to Roseate since the landslide. They say the path is far too dangerous.”
“Lower your voice! There’s a reason I talked to you in privacy.” I check over my shoulder to make sure we are still alone. “If any of the other guards find out, they will go straight to Kelpbeard, and he would forbid it for sure.”
“With good reason,” he murmurs.
“Please, Cayn?” I beg, using my best helpless-girl look. “I never ask anything of you. Please, just do this one thing for me?”
He stares back at me, obviously debating it. His expression softens a little and I figure he must have seen something in my eyes. “This is really that important to you?”
“It’s more important than anything else.”
He thinks about it for a moment longer before finally reaching his decision. “Okay,” he says, “but you have to tell me everything on the way there. Don’t leave out a single detail.”
I nod; a smile shoots across my face.
“We’ll leave tomorrow morning; I’ll come to your door. Be ready.”
The knock on my door comes at 5:12 AM. I am already prepared; everything is packed for the day trip, and I ate a large breakfast. I open the door to find one of the most surprising sights I have ever seen: Cayn Clearwater is wearing normal clothing. I have never seen him without his guard armor on and have to blink a few times to make sure it is real. I actually didn’t believe he owned anything else in his wardrobe.
“You ready?” he asks, clearly excited about the trip. I suppose he is pretty ecstatic about leaving the Kingdom on an actual mission, since nothing ever really happens around here. He has on a typical hiking outfit with a large backpack, much like the one I put my supplies in.
“Yup,” I reply, hoisting my backpack up over my shoulder, “let’s hit the road.” I close my front door and turn back to him. “You look good, Cayn.”
“So do you,” he replies with a smile. I think this is the most pleasant conversation we have ever had, and the first compliment he has ever given me. It gives me hope for how the rest of the day is going to go; I was pretty worried up until now.
The streets are empty, except for an old Bruce setting up shop. She is shocked to see us walking together; there aren’t many secrets amongst the Maraquans except for my whole freaky town-disappearance-glowing-amethyst thing, and it is no secret that Cayn and I dislike each other. She waves to us as we leave the city gates.
The walk to Roseate is long, but my story kills a lot of time. I start from the very beginning: my birthday party. It seems so long ago and is a bit weird to think back to then. He listens intently the whole time, and though I know he has his doubts at times, he tries his best to keep an open mind. I tell him about the disappearance of my friends and family, the destruction of my town, the cave, and I tell him about Cerena.
He keeps his questions to a minimum, though I can see how badly he wants to ask them all. Luckily, because of my trip to visit Fay, I know most of the answers to the questions he does ask. And when I get to the part about Fay, I am glad to find that his anger just about matches the way I felt at the time.
Finally my story comes to an end, revealing the reason why I want to come to Roseate. He nods, but seems confused. “Why would you want the spell so badly? You’re not planning on...”
“I don’t know yet, Cayn,” I reply, staring down at my necklace. To be honest, I’m not really sure what I am going to do once I have the spell to free Cerena. “I have to do something, though.”
He goes silent for a while; the spot where Roseate used to be is now coming into view. “Well, Jeanine, I have to admit, you’re a lot less self-centered than I thought. And it would be awful lonely around Maraqua without you there to bug me constantly.”
We both laugh and I punch him in the arm, though I know I can hardly leave a bruise on him. We stand before the vast open land beside the cliff and look down into the dark abyss. The pathway that the guards tried to make down to the city so long ago seems fairly stable, but I still know we have to be extra careful.
“Are you sure about this?” he asks, getting his flashlight out of his pack.
“Positive,” I answer, also getting my light ready. Suddenly the amethyst I wear begins to emit the deep purple I have come to know all too well, and Cayn’s eyes shoot open in astonishment. Pretty soon the entire surrounding area is illuminated.
“Well, I guess that answers any doubt I had.” He scratches his head as though the whole thing is hard to come to terms with. “I guess we better get going, then.” He puts his backpack down, pulling out a Flask of Liquid Sunlight that he must have taken from the royal armory. It instantly illuminates the area, though we hardly need it with the mass of purple showing the way, then he takes my hand, leading me down the side of the cliff into the dark.
To be continued...