Dancing in the Rain
You squint as you try to make out the figures drifting through the clouds. It soon becomes apparent that they are part of the clouds themselves. The water droplets are shifting to form two tall warriors. The taller of the two carries a small bundle. Straining your ears, you can faintly hear their conversation.
"I don't know, Nimbus," rumbles the first. "Do you think this is best for Cirrus?"
"Cumulo," he says gently. "You know that the skies have become too dangerous for the boy to remain here. He must find a loving owner in Neopia."
Nimbus dips his head. "Where are we sending him?"
"To Faerieland. A gentle faerie there may take him in."
They unwrap the bundle to reveal a small puff of a cloud. Gently, they lower him through a hole in the clouds, whispering their blessings. The cirrus begins to spiral downward, only to be whipped off course by a strong wind. He descends rapidly to a much different location than the brothers had in mind.
Elevya kicked up pillars of sand as she trod along Warf Wharf. She had moved to Krawk Island a month ago, but she still hadn't been able to settle in.
"I wish I was still living in Shenkuu," she muttered to herself. She loved her owner, but Quill liked to experience the life of different cultures.
As if they even have any culture here! Elevya had learned to love books and knowledge, but here they valued different skills. She was too clumsy to be good at sword fighting, and got seasick every time she stepped on a boat. She felt so out of place among the coarse, loud pirates that roamed every inch of the island. There were hardly any plain pets like her.
She recalled the time when she had been complaining to Quill about the island.
"You know, there's a saying that you might want to think about," her owner had said. "It goes, 'Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning to dance in the rain.' You'd feel a lot better if you tried to be happy here, even if it isn't your ideal home."
That's so stupid! she thought. Besides, it never rains here. The skies are always disgustingly cheerful and sunny.
The green Eyrie was interrupted from her reverie when three young pirates stepped up to block her path.
"Arr, me hearties, it looks like we caught ourselves an Eyrie." The largest of the trio, a Kougra, sneered down at her.
"What do you want?" she snapped. This was just what she needed—to be cornered by a group of bullies.
The group ignored her and snickered among themselves.
"She's not a pirate!" A female Flotsam smirked. "Bet you ten dubloons she can't even lift a sword."
A Gnorbu tapped his fake leg on the dock. "Speaking of dubloons, how much does the lass have with her?"
In a flash the Kougra had the entire contents of her pocket in his paw. "A one dubloon coin? Seriously?" He snorted and shook his head. "Whatever. It'll have to do." Slipping the copper piece into his own pocket, he slapped his friends on the back and chuckled. As the pirates turned to leave, he turned around and shoved Elevya. "See ya later, landlubber!" Laughing, he turned and left with his friends.
"Oof!" The Eyrie stumbled from the push and fell off the side of the dock into the sand. Spluttering, she gingerly got to her feet. Anger clouded her vision, only to quickly be replaced by utter loneliness. She collapsed back onto the sand and choked back sobs.
Just as she started to sit up, a little cloud swirled down from the sky and landed beside her. She blinked and stared at the baby cloud. He had two big eyes and a confused sort of smile.
"Who are you?" she asked, picking up the cloud. He didn't say anything, but floated happily toward her face. He gently blew out cool water onto her face, washing away all the sand.
"Thanks, little guy!" she said, her moods lifting. "Do you want to come home with me?"
He bounced up and down, his smile getting bigger.
Elevya smiled herself. "I'll take that as a yes."
"Quill!" cried Elevya as she stepped into their Neohome.
"Hmm?" The girl looked up from the paper she was scribbling on. "Oh, hey, El. What's up?"
"I got a petpet! He's a Cirrus, I think. I named him Puff."
Quill frowned. "How much did he cost?"
"Cost? I didn't buy him. He just... fell out of the sky! I'm going to take him to the beach, okay?"
"Sure." Quill smiled with relief as the Eyrie left the house. She had worried about her pet lately. She knew Elevya didn't like Krawk Island, but there was nothing she could do about it. With a petpet of her own, Elevya would hopefully be much happier.
As the days passed, Elevya spent more and more time with Puff. They explored the beaches, caves, and forests on the island. Even though the cloud couldn't talk, Elevya knew that he was her best friend.
This particular morning was bright and sunny, and the two felt like exploring.
"I've been scared to go to Smuggler's Cove before, but I think today is the day," she said to Puff. The cloud bounced in agreement. "C'mon."
They were just walking onto the beach when Elevya heard an all-too-familiar voice.
"Well, if it isn't our Eyrie friend again!"
She shivered as she turned to face the Kougra and his gang. "I don't have any money!" she snapped.
"Oh? Is that—" He was cut off as a huge pirate ship dropped its anchor right behind them. He frowned. "Who's that?" he asked his friends. "I don't recognize that ship."
The sun passed behind a cloud, causing the sky to darken. A strong wind whipped through the air as the ship halted.
Ten rowboats paddled up to the shore, bearing more than fifty pirates. Elevya gulped. They looked bigger and more vicious than any pirates she had ever seen. Puff twirled nervously.
"Wait—" the Kougra suddenly looked like he was about to faint. "Black sails—a green Lupe—this is the Revenge! And Captain Scarblade!"
Elevya paled. She had heard about Captain Scarblade and his ruthlessness even in Shenkuu. There was no way that they could face him.
"We should go now," hissed the Kougra. But it was too late. The first of the pirates stepped onto the beach, their wicked swords gleaming in the sunlight. The captain himself stepped forward, chuckling menacingly. "Greetings, young neopets. You will be the first to witness my conquest of Krawk Island!" He pointed the tip of his blade at the Kougra. "Hand over your weapons, and he doesn't get hurt. Yet." The young pirates exchanged nervous glances and gingerly gave their swords to Scarblade. He still kept the blade at the Kougra's neck. "And all yer coins with them!"
They emptied their pockets into the satisfied captain's hand. "All right, then," he said smugly. "It's time to raid Krawk Island, men!"
Raid Krawk Island?! Elevya's heart dropped into her stomach. It had taken some time, but she now felt proud to call the island her home. Puff had helped her to see that it was more than just a pile of sand. She couldn't lose her home—not again.
"You- you can't do that," spluttered the Kougra. Then he remembered who he was talking to and shrank back. "Er—I suppose you can."
"That's right," Scarblade chuckled. "Onward! Stay out of the way and you won't get hurt—badly, that is." The young pets quivered and started to step away.
I can't let this happen! But what could four weaponless pets do against the most feared pirate in Neopia?
Then she noticed that Puff was rising higher. He was turning a dark shade of gray and started growing larger and larger. He glared at the pirates and rumbled threateningly. Elevya stared at him in awe. This wasn't her little Cirrus. He was turning into a storm cloud!
At first the pirates stepped back nervously, but then they came to their senses and guffawed. "What're ye gonna do, rain on us?" snickered one tall Shoyru. Puff rumbled even louder. Suddenly, the air lit up with a flash. Lightning bolts shot from him, crackling toward the pirates.
"Eeeeeepppppppp!" they cried, racing back to their rowboats as they tried to avoid getting electrocuted. "We didn't mean it!"
"Retreat!" Captain Scarblade howled, his beard singed. "Head out to sea!" He cast a menacing glare at Puff and Elevya. "Don't think I'll forget this, ye rascals!"
The anchor on the Revenge was pulled up and the great ship started to move back into the vast ocean.
Elevya laughed shakily. "That was amazing, Puff!" The cloud burbled happily and slowly shrank until he was his normal size and color. The bullies were staring at her.
"You—you just saved Krawk Island!" cried the Kougra.
"I didn't. Puff did."
"You're braver than we thought. We're sorry," the Flotsam said sheepishly. "We shouldn't have been so mean to you."
"Yeah," the Gnorbu added. "We were only bullying you because we wanted to look tough."
"The truth is that we were trying to get money so that we could take lessons at Cap'n Threeleg's Swashbuckling Academy." The Kougra looked embarrassed. "We can't handle a sword any better than you can. We could learn together if we pooled our dubloons, though. Friends?"
"Friends," Elevya agreed, her smile growing even larger. Puff bounced through air and turned gray, sprinkling rain down on the sweaty pirates.
"C'mon, you guys." Elevya grinned. The sun came out from behind a dark cloud, smiling down on the young neopets as they danced in the rain.