The Start of a Bigger Story
The tempest tossed the sea mercilessly. The waves thrashed, the wind howled, the rain beat the ocean, the lightning crazily struck through the clouds, the thunder boomed and roared...
Amidst the storm a little voice cried, confused and terrified. The little creature was thrown with the waves, up and down, down and up, side to side, everywhere. The pet was a blue Flotsam, no more than ten years old, and he was alone. He could breathe underwater, of course, but the out-of-control waves blurred his thinking, and he cried for his family.
“Mama! Pa! Susan!” he sobbed as he was launched into the air. “Help me!”
But his family was long gone. The storm had separated them from each other hours before. The little Flotsam was tired, desperate, and hysterical. When would the sea become calm again?
The Flotsam shrieked as he was again tossed into the air by a wave, “I want to go home!”
He hit the water and remembered no more of that traumatic night.
“Ugg, ugga ugg-ugg!”
“...Who are you?”
The world slowly came into focus. The water was clear blue, and wet sand was under the Flotsam’s fins once more. The ocean was silent - no more thrashing, no more lightning, no more clouds. On the shore, only a foot in front him, a Kyrii was bent over the Flotsam and worriedly speaking in a different language.
“Ugg, ugg-ugg-ugga!” the Kyrii persisted, frustrated.
“I... I don’t understand you,” the Flotsam stammered. His eyes were fixed on the tiger-like petpet at the Kyrii’s side. It had two big, sharp tusks, and growled at the lost little pet. They had something alike to this petpet in Maraqua, where the Flotsam lived. Was this a variation of Gruslen?
“Ugga... oh, are you not from around here?” the Kyrii said suddenly.
The Flotsam was startled.
“You speak my language?” He wrinkled his brow.
“Evidently.” The Kyrii nodded. “Thank goodness you’re not from Mystery Island. Island-Native is such a complicated dialect.”
“Uh-huh.” The Flotsam looked uneasily at the creature. She was dressed strangely, wearing a spotted red cloth over her rough yellow fur. Like her petpet, she had two long fangs and claws on her hind legs. Her ears were pointy and her mane was tangled. One could simply describe the Kyrii as “scruffy”.
“I’ve never met a land-dweller,” the young Maraquan continued. “Who are you? Are you going to... hurt me?”
“Heavens, no! What good would hurting you do? Anyway, I’m Kyruggi Speartooth, at your service.” The Kyrii bowed deeply. “And you, little one?”
“Plesio,” the Flotsam replied. “My name’s Plesio Arkmite. Where am I, Mrs. Kyruggi?”
“Just Kyruggi is fine,” Kyruggi informed him. “And you, Plesio Arkmite, are in Tyrannia!”
“Ty-what?” Plesio repeated. “How far is that from Maraqua?”
“Mar-what?” It was Kyruggi’s turn to be puzzled. “I’ve never heard of a mmm-Aqua. Say, there was a pretty big storm last night. Is that how you ended up over here?”
“Yeah,” Plesio said sadly. “The waves took me away from my family.”
“Well, Plesio, until we locate this Miniaqua place you live in, you can stay with us,” offered Kyruggi. “There’s a pond not far from my hut that you could sleep in.”
“‘Us’?” Plesio remarked. “There are more of you?”
“Lots!” said Kyruggi happily. “Our tribe is the biggest, and I am the elder. We live mainly on the plateau over there.” She pointed to the outline of a raised platform of land on the horizon. “It’s just past that small jungle.”
Plesio followed Kyruggi’s finger and frowned at the distance.
“I’m not sure I can make it that far.” There was uncertainty in Plesio’s voice. “I’ve never been out of the water before.”
“I can help with that!” Kyruggi said with enthusiasm. “A friend of mine would be glad to carry you to the plateau. He even lives close - at the edge of the jungle, actually. You stay here, alright, Plesio? I’ll go fetch him.”
Plesio hesitantly nodded and Kyruggi turned to leave. As he waited, the Flotsam nibbled on some underwater reeds and seagrasses. Then he did something he’d never done before: he poked his head above the water and attempted a breath.
It was quite a struggle to suck air into his lungs, but Plesio found, to his surprise, that it was possible. He took another deep breath, and another. The air was warm and humid, not very pleasant to inhale.
“Poor land-dwellers,” thought Plesio. “They breathe this all the time? How can they stand it?” After about a half-hour of waiting, Kyruggi and her petpet came back into view, another creature with her this time. The new pet had red scales, sharp eyes, and menacing wings. However, he offered a smile (a foreign-looking thing on the face of such an intimidating pet) as they approached.
“Plesio, this is my friend Darrugg,” Kyruggi introduced. “He’s a Tyrannian Draik and he’s going to fly you to the plateau. I’m sorry, but he only speaks Tyrannian.”
The Kyrii turned to Darrugg and began speaking in the strange dialect she had used with Plesio earlier.
“Ugga ugg Plesio, ugg-ugga, ugg,” Kyruggi said quickly. “Ugga-ugga?”
“Ugg,” Darrugg agreed with a nod. Kyruggi smiled at Plesio.
“He says he’s ready to go,” he explained. “I'll walk back to the village. And Plesio, remember not to flail about while you’re in the air, okay?”
“N-No problem...” Plesio said shakily. In the air? Flying? Above the ground? Plesio contemplated telling Kyruggi he’d just try to find Maraqua on his own. He definitely did NOT want to be flown anywhere.
Before Plesio could tell Kyruggi he’d changed his mind, Darrugg shot into the air and grabbed Plesio with his claws. With a cry the Flotsam came out of the water, gasping for air. Settle down! he thought frantically. Breathe! In, out, in, out, in...
Plesio tried to calm himself, but his stomach did a flip as he saw how high Darrugg had brought him into the air. The Draik was moving quickly out over the jungle, and looking back Plesio could see Kyruggi walking from the shore in the direction of the plateau. The Flotsam gulped and squeezed his eyes shut.
It seemed like an eternity until Darrugg touched down on the tan rocks of the Tyrannian Plateau. Daringly Plesio opened one eye, and then the other as he realized they were no longer moving. A small crowd of Tyrannian villagers formed around Darrugg and a petrified Plesio in interest. They murmured in their native language and pointed.
One Techo, a fellow with green scales who wore a rough brown coat and carried a staff, stepped forward.
“Ugg! Darrugg ugg-ugg!” he demanded. “Ugga ugg!”
“Plesio ugg, Kyruggi ugg-ugg,” the Draik insisted. The crowd began to talk excitedly amongst themselves, and Plesio caught his and Kyruggi’s names many times. The Techo did not back away.
“Kyruggi, ugg?” he asked.
“Ugg, ugga!” Darrugg pointed to the jungle. The Techo nodded.
“Ugga? Do... you... speak... Tyrannian?” the Techo said slowly to Plesio, who shook his head.
“Kkkk-aaa? Mystery... Island... Native?” the Techo tried, to which Plesio also shook his head. “Neopian, then?”
“Yes,” Plesio said. “Who are you?”
“Tekel.” The Techo bowed. “Official master of spells and potions. I sit on the council of elders, along with Kyruggi the grand elder, Grarrg the battle master, and Myncha the reconnaissance. Darrugg says you are called Plesio?”
“That’s right.” Plesio nodded. “The storm separated me from my family in Maraqua.”
“Maraqua?” Tekel cocked his head to one side. “I have never heard of this Maraqua.”
“I was afraid you might say that,” sighed Plesio, his heart sinking. “I’ll never find my family.”
“It’s always too early to give up hope, Plesio,” Tekel told him. “But in the meantime, Darrugg will help me get you to Kyruggi’s pond. He says that’s where the elder wanted you to stay.”
"It's always too early to give up hope," thought Plesio. "I like that."
The elder’s pond was a snug yet roomy thing, with many reeds and grasses growing in it that were good to eat. Plesio slept for most of the first two days he was there, the exhaustion of the storm at sea at last catching up with him. When he was not sleeping, he was worrying about his family, and how he would get back to Maraqua. His mind drew a blank. Where was Tyrannia? Where was he?
Kyruggi did take good care of the little Flotsam. All of the members of the council of elders did. They visited him several times a day, trying to make him comfortable, and Plesio appreciated the effort.
After five days, Plesio was feeling very sorry for himself. He sighed and drifted around the pond, nibbling unenthusiastically on a reed. Then Plesio had the sense that he was being... watched? Worriedly, suspiciously, he looked up at the glassy surface of the pond and was startled to find a face staring down at him.
It was a Lupe, or so it seemed. The Lupes Plesio knew in Maraqua had brown, smooth skin, fins, and could glide easily through water. The Lupe staring down at Plesio didn’t look as if he could hold his breath underwater for a second. He had scruffy green fur with a white chest, tusks (everything in Tyrannia seemed to have those), and small scales down his back. He seemed about the same age as Plesio.
“Hi!” the Lupe said brightly, making Plesio lurch back in surprise. “Kyruggi said your name is Pleaso.”
“Plesio,” corrected the Flotsam. “You speak Neopian?”
“Of course.” The Lupe rolled his eyes. “What did you think I was just speaking?”
“S-Sorry,” Plesio stammered. “What’s your name?”
“Sabre.” The Lupe smiled. “I’m the toughest Lupe in the whole village.”
“But you’re only my age, if not younger.” Plesio wrinkled his brow. Sabre blushed.
“Well... I WILL be the toughest Lupe,” he said sheepishly, but with determination lining his tone. “Anyway, Elder Tekel told me that you’re not from around here.”
“That’s right,” murmured Plesio, looking down at the bottom of the pond. “I’m from Maraqua.”
“Where’s that?” asked Sabre curiously. “Is it near here? What’s it look like?”
“It’s an amazing kingdom under the sea.” Plesio grinned slightly as he tried to describe his home. “All the buildings are made of shells and rocks and mother-of-pearl... there are chasms, castles, ruins, shops, gardens, and so many other things that I couldn’t list them all in a lifetime. And the seagrass is especially good toward the north end, where I live.”
“You eat seagrass?” Sabre asked, confused. “Salty, slimy, wriggly kelp?”
“And reeds.” Plesio nodded. “Oh, and sea sponges are my favorite.”
Sabre shuddered. “I can’t imagine letting one of those things slide down my throat.”
“Of course not!” Plesio said with a laugh. “You chew them first.”
“Ugh!” Sabre stuck his tongue out. “I don’t think I could manage the sponges. But are reeds good, hey? I’ve never thought to try one before.”
“Never?” Plesio gasped. “What do you eat, then?”
“Lots of different things,” Sabre began to run down a mental list. “Bargasaurus steak, Crabletts, Wartroot, Rockberries, Tentacle Sprouts, Bud Buds, you name it. Personally, I prefer big, juicy Archaesaurus tails.”
“I’m not sure what any of that is,” Plesio said. “But none of it involves cooked Flotsam, right?”
“Nope!” Sabre shook his head. “I think Flotsams would be much too squishy and rubbery.”
Shivering and unsure of how to answer, Plesio picked a reed from a crevice in the pond rocks and held it out of the water for Sabre to take. "Try this," he said.
“Thanks,” Sabre replied. “Maybe it’ll be my new favorite food.”
He grasped it with a furry, clawed paw and squeezed his eyes shut as he put it in his mouth. He chewed, and chewed, and chewed, and chewed for a very long, long time before swallowing. He suppressed a grimace.
“Now, why don’t you try a Tentacle Sprout?” offered Sabre for lack of something better to say, plucking a green-stemmed plant from the ground. He stuck it underwater, and Plesio accepted it.
“Looks... interesting,” Plesio remarked before popping it into his mouth. The plants sappy, tentacle-like leaves grabbed at his throat as he swallowed, and the pink center of the sprout was meaty and tasted of minerals. Brown Kelp aside, Plesio decided that Tentacle Sprouts were the worst thing he’d ever tasted. He could not hide his disgust as well as Sabre had.
“It’s okay if you don’t like it,” Sabre assured the Flotsam. “Because I really didn’t like that reed at all either.”
They both laughed and then were quiet for a time. Plesio noted that the sun was dipping low in the sky, throwing red rays of evening light over the plateau.
“I have to go now, Plesio,” Sabre said sadly. “But I’ll visit first thing tomorrow, okay? I can bring you some fresh omelette to try. It’s a Tyrannian tradition, you know.”
“I’m looking forward to it.” Plesio grinned. “And you can try some underwater moss!”
“Uh-huh...” Sabre uneasily eyed the pond’s rocks, coated in a vibrant green moss that waved in the water. “I’m sure it tastes great.”
“Hey, Sabre,” Plesio called as the Lupe began to walk away. “Are we going to be friends?”
“Absolutely!” Sabre nodded vigourously. “See you tomorrow, Plesio!”
“...Bye!” Plesio stuck a fin out of the pond and waved.
He was going to find Maraqua. He was going to go home. But maybe, until then, things wouldn’t be so bad.