Permanence: Part Three
"These are what you want?" the Uni asked, looking shocked.
"Of course." I nodded, handing her the 170 NP fee.
She shook her head slowly and unlocked the cell door. Ruce and Colourstory stood frozen for a few moments before slowly inching their way forward.
"You might want to hurry. We don't have all day," Arie said impatiently.
"Because of the blurry vision," I added, noticing the Uni's puzzled gaze.
"What else?" Arie grinned.
Ruce and Colourstory increased their pace, following us as we left the Pound.
"What's goin' on?" Colourstory asked once we were a safe distance away.
Arie and I exchanged a look.
"We need your help," I informed them.
As Arie explained our situation to them, their eyes widened.
"That's terrible!" Ruce exclaimed.
"Sounds exciting." Colourstory grinned sneakily.
"How exactly are two Pound pets going to help us?" Arie whispered in my ear.
"Just wait and see," I responded. I had confidence in these two.
"So, what's your plan of action?" Ruce asked nervously.
"We... don't have one," Arie muttered.
"No big deal," Colourstory assured us. "I've got a plan."
"All aboard! The ferry will be leaving now!"
Arie, Colourstory, Ruce, and I rushed aboard the ferry just as it began to pull away from the Neopia Central dock.
Stage one of Colourstory's plan (board the ferry) was complete.
"Are you sure fleeing to Roo Island is a good idea?" Arie asked for the millionth time.
"It's the only ferry available this late," Ruce explained. "Plus, it's free."
"And I know someone who can help us there," Colourstory added.
We all sat in silence, luckily the only passengers on the ferry. I guessed that it was because most Neopians didn't like to travel so late.
"I still think we should fly," Arie suddenly said, breaking the silence.
"In case you haven' noticed, Ruce 'n me don' have wings," Colourstory shot back.
"Ruce and I," I corrected him automatically.
"No," he said, confused. "You have wings. Ruce 'n me don'."
"Never mind," I muttered, unzipping my duffel bag and pulling out the clock. A full hour had passed since Arie and I had left Katie's neohome.
"We will be arriving at Roo Island in five minutes," the conductor informed us over the loudspeaker.
"That was quick," Ruce said, surprised.
"Not as quick as flying," Arie grumbled.
"Be nice," I mouthed at her, glaring.
Minutes later, the ferry docked at Roo Island and we hurried off, heading left. To Count Von Roo's castle.
As we arrived, the air seemed to get considerably thicker and the noise quieter. This was one part of Roo Island that wasn't so cheery as the rest.
We stood at the door to the castle for a few moments, peering into the darkness within. Finally, Colourstory entered the castle first, followed by Ruce, then me, and then Arie.
"Who dares enter?" a voice screeched from farther inside, as if sensing our presence.
"Me, Colourstory," our Ogrin friend spoke up.
The voice fell silent, and we emerged from the entry into an area filled with a dull light. In the center sat a coffin. And on top of the coffin sat Count Von Roo.
"Colourstory!" he exclaimed. "It really is you!"
Ruce, Arie, and I exchanged glances. How on Neopia did Colourstory know Count Von Roo so well?
"In the fur." Colourstory grinned.
"Who are these others with you?" Count Von Roo frowned.
"These are Ruce, Jenna, and Arie," Colourstory introduced, pointing at each one of us respectively. I waved nervously at the count.
"Why are they here?" he asked suspiciously.
"We would like to borrow your teleporter, Von," Colourstory explained.
"My teleporter? Why, of course! Where would you like to go?"
Stage two of Colourstory's plan (borrow Count Von Roo's teleporter) was complete.
"The Lost City of Geraptiku."
"What?" Arie hissed. "I thought we were going to Shenkuu!"
Colourstory held up a paw, silencing her. "The Lost City of Geraptiku is our destination now."
"Colour, I think you owe us an explanation," Ruce said, moving in front of him.
Colourstory sighed. "We have less of a chance of getting caught at Geraptiku. It's an abandoned city with abandoned houses that we can stay in."
"Why didn't you just say so from the beginning?" Arie growled, baring her teeth at Colourstory.
"That's enough!" Count Von Roo boomed. "I don't have time for useless arguments!"
We all fell silent and followed Count Von Roo to his teleporter- a simple purple orb on a pedestal. He muttered a few words to it under his breath and it flared to life, a wide array of colors swirling around inside.
"All you have to do is join hands around the teleporter and one of you say the name of the place you would like to go," Count Von Roo explained, backing away slightly.
Nervously, we all grabbed hold of one another around the teleporter.
"Geraptiku," Colourstory whispered.
"No, Shenkuu!" Arie suddenly cried out.
"What in Neopia Central do you think you're doing!?" Count Von Roo roared, moving forward to turn the teleporter off.
But no sooner had he taken a step forward then the teleporter let out a blinding white light. I let out a yelp of surprise as I felt my feet being lifted off of the ground. I could hear my friends scream as the same happened to them. Faster and faster, I began to spin around and around and around...
Red. Orange. Yellow. Green. Blue. Purple.
The bright colors stabbed at my closed eyelids, forcing me to open them. I sat up straight, my sore body moaning in protest, and took a look at my surroundings.
I was sitting in front of the Rainbow Pool.
"Arie! Ruce! Colourstory!" I cried out, scrambling to my feet.
"Right here," a voice groaned behind me.
I whirled around and saw Ruce lying in a bush, looking like she was in pain.
"Are you okay!?" I cried out, rushing forward to help her.
"Fine. I'm just a little sore from the teleporter," she responded, rolling out of the bush and to her feet.
"Jenna!" a voice yelled out.
I looked to see Colourstory and Arie rushing towards me, looking happy to see that Ruce and I were safe.
"So everyone's okay." I let out a relieved sigh.
"Wrong," Arie groaned. "It's three in the morning and we're back in Neopia Central. We haven't made any progress at all."
"And whose fault is that?" Colourstory snarled.
"Are you saying that I'm the one at fault here? If you wanted to go to Geraptiku, you should've said so in the first place! Changing your mind at the last second doesn't make you very trustworthy, you know!" Arie retorted, crossing her arms.
"Guys, stop fighting. We're just wasting the little time we have left," I said impatiently, moving in between Colourstory and Arie.
"So now what?" Ruce asked timidly.
I looked at her, suddenly feeling a huge wave of guilt. After all, I was the one who had dragged her and Colourstory on this crazy adventure. "Now we-"
I broke off as a yellow Chia in a uniform grabbed hold of my elbow. "Miss Jenna?"
"Er, that's me," I responded, confused.
The Chia blew his whistle, and three more yellow Chias in uniform came rushing in our direction. Each one grabbed hold of one my friends.
"We've been looking for you," the Chia holding me said darkly.
"I can't believe you would betray me like that!"
I watched as Katie paced back and forth in front of the couch Ruce, Colourstory, Arie, and I sat on.
"We were only gone for three hours," Arie huffed.
"Three hours I spent worrying!" Katie yelled. "You left the house, adopted two neopets without permission, and boarded a ferry!? To Roo Island!? To see Count Von Roo!?!?"
"Are you asking that like a question? Because, you know, we already explained the whole thing to you twice." Arie rolled her eyes, flicking a piece of lint on the couch.
"If you're that desperate for adventure," Katie said bitterly, "then I guess I'll just give you all away."
There was a moment of silence as we all stared at Katie, shocked.
"You would?" Arie asked in a small voice, and for the first time I saw how vulnerable she was.
Watching her, I was overcome with strong feelings of anger. Anger at the owners who filled our heads with fake promises about being together forever. "Of course she would, Arie. Permanence means nothing."
"I'm glad somebody understands," Katie spat. "Every single one of you will be going to my friend Katelyn tomorrow."
"I don't understand," Arie, Colourstory, and Ruce all said at once.
And looking at them, I was reminded of myself. Of my past. Of how trusting and weak I used to be. Along with that feeling came a strong desire to protect them.
Katelyn traded us as soon as she got us. The only good thing was that we all got to stay together. We were given to someone named Cait. She said we would all be permanent pets.
Cait pounded Ruce and gave Colourstory to a friend. As if that wasn't enough, she traded me and Arie to separate owners as well. I went to a girl named Katy. She promised permanence as well.
"You're being traded."
I had been expecting these words. It wasn't surprising in the slightest. After all, Katy was just another owner who had given me fake promises.
"There's some girl looking for a name swap for her plushie Draik," Katy explained. "That Draik's name seems to be better than yours."
"Great," I muttered.
"We're going now."
Slowly, I stood up and followed Katy through the streets of Neopia Central. After a few minutes of walking we arrived at our destination.
My mouth went dry as I looked up at the neohome my soon-to-be owner lived in. I knew this house. In fact, I knew this house better than the back of my own hand. Trembling, I followed Katy up the steps and into the house.
I listened as she talked with the voice I knew so well. And watched as she took her new plushie Draik, leaving me in the home I never thought I would come back to.
I closed my eyes.
"Jenna, it's me. Kate."
I opened my eyes.
There she was. Standing in front of me. The same owner who had given me my first fake promise about permanence. The same owner who had dropped me in the Pound. The same owner who had now traded back for me. Kate.
"I heard what you had to go through," Kate explained.
"So you felt sorry for me? Is that why you asked for me back?" I hissed.
"No," Kate said nervously. "I want you to give me a second chance. I know I've been horrible. I know what I did to you was wrong. And I know that you probably won't forgive me. I'm not going to promise you permanence because I know you probably won't believe me. But I'm going to try my best to gain your trust back."
"And how exactly do you plan to do that?"
"Starting with this." Kate smiled, throwing open the door to the living room.
I gasped as Arie, Colourstory, and Ruce came tumbling through the door, throwing themselves on me for a hug.
"How?" I gasped.
"I traded for Arie by chance. I ended up learning about you and what happened through her, so I went and traded for Colourstory and adopted Ruce. And then I went on my search for you." Kate grinned.
Tears brimmed in my eyes as I stared at all of the people I never thought I would see again. "Thank you."
"We should do something to celebrate!" Kate cheered. "We're all finally together again!"
"Perhaps Colour can tell us the story of how he met Count Von Roo," Ruce suggested, a twinkle in her eyes.
"Geraptiku is the perfect place for me to tell the story." Colourstory smiled.
"No, Shenkuu!" Arie protested.
I laughed, overwhelmed with happiness.
I had finally found my own definition of permanence.