Learn to Fly: Part Three
The sign on the door said simply, “Come in,” so I took the initiative. Kyrugg hung back, looking at some of the herbs growing in the Mystic’s garden. At first, I was taken aback by the interior of the building. The only light in the hut came from candles lining the perimeter of the floor. They flickered in the slight draft brought by the open door. In the center of the room, a short Kyrii sat meditating, seemingly oblivious to the world around him.
I walked up to him uncertainly. The entire room was empty except for a circle of candles around the Mystic. “Excuse me...” I began. My voice came out surprisingly loud in the circular room. However, the short Kyrii didn’t respond to my presence. I awkwardly stepped forward, almost tripping on my own feet. “Excuse me, but...” I repeated a bit louder.
The Island Mystic smiled and bobbed his head slightly. I took that as permission to speak. “I’m sorry to bother you, but I’m in need of your help. My wings haven’t developed yet, and I do feel like you have something to offer that would cure my problem.”
At once, the Mystic’s eyes shot open, and he began to speak. “What problem?” he asked in a surprisingly tinny voice. “I see no problem!” He had a slight accent, and his voice carried wisdom.
Mortified, I gestured towards my lifeless wings. “Look at these and tell me that I don’t have a problem,” I challenged.
He shook his head. “Thinking selfishly, I see... Even when you do not have a problem, you care only for yourself!”
I was baffled by his behavior. “Why would you say that? I was told you could fix me, you could heal my wings!”
“Your wings should not be your concern!” The Mystic was in hysterics now. His shoulders trembled with mirth. “They are no problem for you! You have no problem, except for your attitude!”
Taken aback, I felt my throat dry out. “Wha... what?”
“You will find your supposed ‘detriment’ to assist you in your journey,” the Mystic cried. “You will only reap benefit from your wings!”
My heart grew hard in my chest. “I thought that you were respected... trustworthy... wise!” I struggled to come up with words to describe the situation. “You are an even bigger fraud than Kyrugg!”
The Island Mystic only shook his head. “You will understand... You are rash now, but your abilities will sink in! It will all make sense!”
This was too much for me to take. I leapt to my feet and sprinted from the room. Still examining the herbs in the garden, Kyrugg looked up when he heard me dash past. Distraught, I jumped into the air to try to fly, to attempt attaining my hopes. I flailed helplessly in the air for a moment before I splashed down to water.
My survival reflex sprang into action. The primary fear of Tyrannian Scorchios is water. Our bodies have no maneuverability when submerged; we become vulnerable underwater. Writhing uncontrollably, I fought to return to the surface. But for a moment when I was underwater, a great calm washed over me. I felt more graceful than I ever did on land or even in the air. My wings cut through the water perfectly, propelling me in any direction I wished.
Surfacing was painful. I accidentally breathed in some of the liquid when I came up, and I landed on the beach out of breath. Panting, I turned around in search of Kyrugg and the hut.
They weren’t there.
My heart skipped a beat as I realized what had happened. Instead of coming up on the island, I had emerged onto mainland Mystery Island. Kyrugg looked over at me in surprise and bafflement. Through a window on the Mystic’s hut, I could see a Kyrii’s face grinning knowingly at me.
The apothecary was silent when he picked me up in the boat. Even his normal mutterings had ceased. Without ado, we silently agreed to return to Tyrannia. Night had fallen, so neither of us noticed the black, mountainous clouds hanging overhead.
Sailing was going smoothly until we passed over Maraqua. As the final sight of the underwater metropolis faded away, the waves went through a gradual crescendo until the boat began to rock noticeably. Both Kyrugg and I were in denial about the oncoming storm before the first lightning bolt struck. That changed our minds for us.
“Bring down the sail!” I screamed to him over the intensifying wind. With alarming speed, Kyrugg hurtled himself at the sail to retract it to prevent another gust of wind from capsizing our boat.
I looked up to the inky black clouds hanging from the atmosphere. How had I not noticed them before? A jagged bolt of lightning split the sky, and it was followed almost immediately by a roll of thunder. The wind picked up speed rapidly. Not for the first time, I regretted journeying to Mystery Island – first the Mystic’s baffling message, now the fear of never returning to Tyrannia alive.
The boat reached speeds unattainable for normal weather. Rain fell in sheets; it felt like bullets at such a speed. I crawled under a tarpaulin to shield myself from further onslaught. Across the boat, I saw Kyrugg drinking from a canteen he kept in his knapsack. Whichever extreme remedy he was taking, I hoped it would help.
Amazed, I wondered how the boat held even in the dire conditions. These questions all vanished when I noticed the crack in the hull. Water gushed in through the chink. It might have happened when we hit a particularly wave or when a crate flew into the side, but it was no matter. Kyrugg and I were thrown into a completely different situation: a race against time.
Over the din of the storm, I yelled for my companion to get his attention. When I managed to catch his eye, I pointed out the hole in the boat. His already crazed eyes grew even wider. He stood up on the tossing ship and watched as the water flooded in through the crack. Already tense from the day’s events, Kyrugg looked beseechingly into the heavens and then back at the crack. I saw pure fear in his eyes. Suddenly, I knew what he was planning to do. I scrambled to stand, but I was too late. Kyrugg had been pushed past his limit. There was no recovering for him now.
He jumped out of the boat and started to fly. Tossed about by the wind in all directions and assailed by the rain, the elderly Scorchio flapped with the unrelenting power of fear. For one moment the storm seemed to be winning – then it was Kyrugg, then the storm. I leaned out of the boat to keep sight of him, but as I did so, a gargantuan wave struck the boat and flipped it over.
Much later, I woke up on an island in the middle of the sea. Waves of pain shot through my arm and neck muscles. With growing confusion, I puzzled how I had survived the capsizing. A recollection of flying through the water came back to me, but the memory was so murky, I washed it away. I could vaguely see mountains in the distance, but I didn’t know to which Neopian land they belonged. Somehow, it was midday. The sun streamed down, scorching the sand on which I stood. My only companion on this island was a towering palm tree sprouting out of a patch of dirt.
Thinking about companions brought back a surprisingly bitter memory... Kyrugg. I recalled, with some difficulty, his escape from the storm. And more importantly, his cowardice in leaving me behind.
Anger bubbled up inside of my body. It wasn’t only for Kyrugg’s betrayal or the Mystic’s letdown, but for my life! I had no wings; they were the way of life for all of the Scorchios in my tribe! Frustrated and depressed, I sat down under the palm tree. Perhaps the shade would improve my mood. It certainly couldn’t hurt.
I awakened three hours later, sunburned to a crisp. The sun had moved across the sky during the day, exposing me to pure, unrestrained light. Looking past my initial discomfort, I realized I was very, very hungry.
My temporary problems would soon fade to unrestrained anxiety as I took in the scale of my situation. I fell into a state of unfeeling. Somehow I managed to find Grackle bugs burrowing in the soil to eat and a puddle of rainwater to drink.
Before I fell asleep that night, I kept repeating the Island Mystic’s message in my head.
“You will only reap benefit from your wings!”
It seemed insane. Ignorant. Overly optimistic. Above all, it seemed impossible.
But for some reason I couldn’t get his words out of my head, no matter how hard I tried.
The Kyrii’s high pitched voice echoed in my ears until I drifted off into slumber.
To be continued...