The jelly Shoyru flew, lightning fast, from her Neohome in the Haunted Woods to Neopia Central. She did this often. She was going to meet her best friend for lunch. At eleven forty-five, she let herself into her BF's Neohome. At once, she slowed.
Sweet exchanged a glance with G.G. Bear, her Jelly Ona, "Something isn't right, here, G.G. I can sense it! You hear that? That's right, silence! Someone is always here, its never silent. Lets check things out, shall we?"
The Shoyru walked down the hallway, her Ona at her side, to Lofty's bedroom. She opened the door and found nothing amiss, besides the fact that Lofty wasn't there.
"Odd, Lofty is always prompt. He wouldn't break off an engagement with me unless... something were terribly wrong! That's why no one is here," Sweet exclaimed.
The sixteen year old Shoyru liked to think out loud. It helped, especially when she was puzzled. She wished that G.G. were more intelligent; that way, it wouldn't seem like she was only talking to herself most of the time.
Sweet continued down the hallway, racing to the kitchen door, hoping that someone, anyone would be there. Her heart sank as she took in the empty kitchen, save for one thing that was out of place. It was a piece of paper... with writing on it! She scooped up the note quickly and scanned its contents, furrowing her brow as she did so.
"This note doesn't make any sense," Sweet exclaimed, waving the note in G.G.'s direction, who was perched on the counter, where the note had been.
Predictably, there was no response from G.G., since Sweet never counted the blank look that he always wore as a response. Her purple eyes went back to the note, which was full of misspellings and grammar mistakes.
"This isn't right! Lofty is an ultimate genius for Fyora's sake! This is his handwriting alright but still...," Sweet trailed off as something caught her eye.
Quickly, the Shoyru grabbed a pen and another scrap of paper. She looked at the note, one finger trailing the lines. Slowly, she began to write something down on the new sheet of paper. Her tongue stuck out in her concentration and a short time later, she finished.
"There! I knew there was something wrong! I think Lofty must have been taken against his will or something 'cause just look at this! He hid a note within his note. All of those misspelled words created the real message," Sweet tapped the paper she had written on.
This is what it said:
I am in the land of hidden treasure and lots of blue.
I love you,
"Lofty must have been taken by pirates! We have to go and rescue him, G.G. Come on!"
The Jelly Ona sighed and then zoomed after his owner, who was already out the door and flying high, gaining speed as she set off in the direction of Krawk Island.
~ ~ ~
The baby Yurble scratched an ear in confusion. His belly rumbled with hunger. Where is Sweet? His brother and sister were on vacation on Mystery Island and he had left the note in a place where Sweet couldn't miss it. The note hadn't been hard to decipher and Lofty began to worry that something had happened to his best friend.
There was nothing that Lofty could do to remedy the situation. He flopped on the ground and closed his eyes, letting out a deep sigh. How long will I wait?
~ ~ ~
It had been a very warm and breezy in Neopia Central. However, as Sweet and G.G. flew ever closer to Krawk Island the weather became warmer but there was very thick cloud cover. Flying over the water with such strong winds and humidity to boot, took all of Sweet's skill. She wasn't about to give up, though. This being the case, the ocean was in absolute turmoil.
Sweet happened to be flying low, trying to avoid a gust of wind that kept trying to blow her off course. She didn't see the massive wave slam into her, knocking her unconscious. G.G., however, was able to keep his wits about him. He and his helpless owner were swept onto the deck of a large ship, that seemed to appear out of nowhere. He managed to land on his paws but he had been dumped into chaos.
The ship rocked wildly, at the mercy of the waves. The floor was wet and Sweet's limp body slid about with each toss. G.G. hovered above her to take in what he could of the rest of the scene. He didn't have to look up at the black flag with the white skull and crossbones to know that he was on a pirate ship. There was a flurry of activity as the pirates scurried to keep the ship on course.
Finally, Sweet's body was tumbled into the midst of two cannons. Putting his body in front of hers, it took all of G.G.'s strength to keep her there. His berry bright eyes kept watch over his owner for hours. The pirates were too busy running the ship to notice the splashes of purple that had joined their ranks. At long last, the ocean seemed to be through with its tantrum and G.G. breathed a sigh of relief.
Then, it began to rain. The cold woke Sweet. She blinked open her eyes and slowly sat up, alarm coming off of her in waves.
"Where am I," Sweet squeaked, hugging her Ona to her tightly.
The last thing that the Shoyru remembered had been the angry wave that had engulfed her. She had no time to do much more than that when she heard a growl and was dragged out into the open.
"What do we have here," the pirate JubJub sneered.
Sweet gulped, frozen with shock. One large foot was planted firmly on her tail and she was stuck in lace. G.G. shivered in her arms. The JubJub hefted Sweet to her feet with one firm pull on her arm.
"Come with me," the JubJub growled.
Sweet had no choice. A few more pirates had stopped their work to look at the stowaways. Sweet felt miserable. Is this what happened to Lofty?
~ ~ ~
Lofty walked the edge of the maze of caves that he had stayed in for the entire day. He hadn't wanted to eat until Sweet arrived but finally he knew he couldn't miss his second meal in a row. Reluctantly, he had eaten his dinner but it had tasted like sawdust and it felt like a rock had replaced his stomach. He couldn't see anything outside due to the darkness and the bad weather. He felt restless but couldn't leave, like anyone would let him!
The baby Yurble slowly made his way back to the cave he had been in originally. The piles of treasure were off-putting, since he couldn't share it with his best friend. He pricked his ears at the telltale slither that announced the arrival of the true owner of the cave.
"Get some sleep," the deep voice rumbled and the very air shook with its power.
Lofty felt a flash of irritation, "How can I sleep when Sweet is out there somewhere? What if she's hurt or afraid? It'll be all my fault for leaving that note!"
"You can try to leave but you won't make it very far, not in this weather and not with so many who reside here who will do everything in their power to stop you."
Lofty turned away and he listened as the other creature settled for sleep. Lofty followed suit, knowing it was the only available option at the moment.
~ ~ ~
The pirate JubJub opened the door with a creak, pushing Sweet before her into the room. The room was lavishly furnished and a stark contrast from the cold outside. A pirate Meerca sat in a plush chair, writing in a ledger with a smoke gray quill. She paused in her writing as the door banged open, narrowing chilling green eyes. She stood up abruptly and walked around her desk to stand in front of Sweet and the pirate JubJub.
"What is this, Pip," the pirate Meerca queried, voice icy cold.
"Found this stowaway amongst the cannons, Captain," Pip explained.
"Is that so?"
Sweet did her best to meet the captain's gaze but there was no warmth to be had there. There was silence for some moments and Sweet shifted uneasily as she felt many pairs of eyes on her.
"Very well. What is your name," Captain asked at long last.
"Sweet," Sweet replied.
A derisive snort could be heard from Pip. There was an amused twinkle in the Captain's green eyes but she kept her amusement in check.
"Do you have any experience with ships, Sweet," Captain asked.
"Captain will do! I don't hold with that ma'am business."
"Do you have any skills that will prove useful to me and my ship?"
"Navigating, cooking, weather prediction... No, huh? Pip, send Sweet to the galley. She'll work with Cook until we reach Tyrannia. I'll decide what to do with our stowaway after that."
"Yes, Captain," Pip said, not looking at all pleased by the Captain's orders.
Sweet followed Pip out of the Captain's quarters and the JubJub herded her below deck. The hall was well lighted and Sweet was practically shoved into a stuffy room that smelled quite welcoming. The door was slammed shut behind her and she stepped forward, shuffling forward, unsure where to move because it was so crowded. A sudden movement caught her eye. A pirate Flotsam was walking towards her, a large butcher knife in one scarred fist.
The Flotsam stopped a short distance from her and scowled. He looked her up and down and waved his knife.
"Who are you and what do you want," the Flotsam spoke abruptly, with a low, gruff voice.
"My name is Sweet and Captain said that I was to assist you until we reached our destination."
"Describe what our Captain looks like."
"She's a pirate Meerca with green eyes."
The Flotsam grunted and turned away. Sweet relaxed slightly, at a loss as to what to do next.
"The stew is almost finished. All you'll have to do is serve it up to the others and clean up the dirty dishes," the Flotsam said, stirring a wooden spoon in a large cauldron, the contents of which actively boiled.
Sweet refrained from wrinkling her nose at the idea that she would have to do chores while she remained on the ship. Her purple eyes roved her new workspace. Something that glittered caught her attention and she made her way over to it. It was a small wooden chest with gold fixings. She reached out a hand to touch it when it suddenly came to life and lunged for her! She leapt back with a startled yelp, the breath knocked out of her as her back slammed into a full barrel.
In an instant, Cook was there, shielding the rabid treasure chest as it continued to snarl and snap at Sweet. To her surprise, the pirate Flotsam glared at Sweet, his one visible eye making him appear more menacing.
"What do you think you're doing? Did I order you to touch anything? NO! Unless you're ordered to do something all you need to do is stand there and breathe," Cook yelled before running a soothing hand down the chest's lid, quieting it.
Sweet was shocked into silence, her eyes wide. Cook turned away from her and back to the stew. The teenage jelly Shoyru let her gaze flick to the chest once more.
"This is ready to serve. Get over here and do as you're told," Cook barked.
Sweet moved as quick as she could, picking up the heavy bowls but the rabid chest was still bothering her, "What is that thing?"
"That's my Cofferling, Snap. He guards my treasure. Now move your tail! You aren't here to look pretty!"
Sweet hightailed it out of the galley and followed the sounds of rowdy pirates, complaining loudly of their hunger. She went through a doorway and found four pirates crowded at a table. Sweet quickly served their meals and turned to leave, uncomfortable as she felt their eyes on her. Cook came in, laden down with a large loaf of bread and two more bowls of stew. Cook set the loaf of bread on the table and got himself a seat.
"That bowl's for you," Cook grunted, gesturing to the extra he had brought in with him.
Sweet shuffled her feet, not really willing to join the pirates in their meal.
"Eat up! it's the only meal you'll get until morning," a pirate Bruce barked at her.
Sweet flinched but sat at the table, beginning to eat, sharing her meal with G.G. Bear. Both ate slowly, looking a little sick, listening to the pirates eat. She didn't raise her eyes from her bowl the entire meal. The pirates took their leave, dirty bowls and crumb laden table remaining. Cook was the last to leave.
The Flotsam paused at the door and turned to look back at Sweet, who had finally raised her eyes. "Hurry up! You've got dirty dishes to wash and a kitchen to clean."
The door slammed shut as Cook exited. Sweet jumped at the sound. For the first time, she felt like crying, despair hitting her harder than the giant wave had. She pushed her bowl away, it being still half full.
"I can't eat! What am I doing here, G.G.? We have to go save Lofty! Yet, we're headed to Tyrannia and they're treating me like a servant!"
G.G. squeaked in sympathy and nudged his owner's hand. The Shoyru rubbed her Petpet's ears for a moment and then reluctantly got up, gathering the dishes and heading back to the galley. She dumped them in the sink and grabbed a rag, knowing she had to clean off the table. After doing so, she rushed back and then stood at the sink, hands poised over the first dish. There she stood when Cook saw her.
"What are you waiting for? These dishes aren't going to clean themselves. Stowaways need to earn their keep," Cook growled.
"No gloves," Sweet asked.
"Gloves? Does this look like Faerie Castle to you? Its just food, not poison."
Sweet sighed and got to work as Cook turned away from her, scoffing at how soft she was. She shuddered as she touched the grimy bowls. The seemingly simple task took hours because of Sweet's reluctance and Cook's displeasure with her work. The Flotsam had the sixteen year old scrubbing until her hands were raw and her body ached. She was exhausted!
"Huh, that will have to do. You'd better shape up or you won't last," Cook grumbled.
"Cook, where do I sleep," Sweet asked.
"Anywhere you can find a place. You'll need to get up at seven tomorrow to help with breakfast. No lazing allowed on this ship!"
Sweet settled down at long last on the floor, using a lumpy sack for a pillow. The familiar and comforting scent of neggs flowed over her and she fell into a restless sleep with a sigh, for there wasn't room for her to stretch out completely and she had to settle in a tightly curled ball, G.G. right beside her.
~ ~ ~
Lofty narrowed his green eyes against the bright shine of the sun. He hadn't seen the sun since he had left Neopia Central twenty-four hours before. He had paced in the caves, restless. He had tried to leave but someone had always stopped him. I'll wait one more day.
If Sweet doesn't come by then, I'm getting out of here and I will find her! Determination burning in his spirit, he turned back into the maze of caves.
~ ~ ~
The teenage jelly Shoyru had been with the pirates for two days now. She had been worked harder than she had ever been before. Exhausted and anxious about Lofty, when she wasn't cooking or cleaning, she had stolen moments on deck, scanning the northern horizon as Hatter and Crook did, the navigators of the ship. So far, she had seen nothing. Like now.
Sweet sighed heavily, heading back to the galley, knowing that Cook would have another long, arduous task for her to complete.
"Land ho," Hatter's voice rang out clearly in the humid air.
A stampede of pirates joined Sweet at the rail. Sweet fluttered her wings in excitement as she spotted a speck of land in the distance. It was getting closer every second. She gazed hungrily at it, seeing it as her chance for freedom.
"What are you lot standing around for? There is still work to be done. The ship won't steer herself," Captain barked.
The pirates scattered and Sweet turned around to see Captain right in front of her. Sweet froze, not sure what to do.
"You! You have one chance to get off my ship and never come back! Understand," Captain glared at Sweet with her cool green eyes.
"Yes, Captain. I understand," Sweet said, nodding her head vigorously.
"Stop that! The last thing I need is to see a Shoyru head rolling along the floor."
"Captain, before I leave, have you heard news of a baby Yurble on Krawk Island?"
"No, none that I've 'eard. A baby pet amongst pirates would definitely be something."
"Yeah, something alright."
As Captain turned on her heel and walked away, Sweet's face fell. So, Lofty wasn't on Krawk Island after all. She pulled out Lofty's hidden message, to look at it once more. The Shoyru analyzed the note over and over and zoomed off of the deck as they docked in Tyrannia. She had had an idea and was actually grateful that she had been held captive by the pirates.
"I can't believe I didn't think of this before, G.G. Lofty isn't on Krawk Island at all. He's in Terror Mountain! Its our favorite place and all!"
Sweet didn't hesitate at the border but plunged right into a blizzard. She had done this before with Lofty but the conditions were slowing her down. Almost immediately, she dived straight for the snowy earth, G.G., as always, right with her. She entered a Bori tunnel, part of the vast system that ran beneath the whole of the mountain. She landed on the earthen floor and began to walk, having no clue where she was headed.
It was a short time later that she heard familiar pawsteps. She forced herself to a walk, for the Bori hated when someone ran through their tunnels. It seemed to take forever but it actually took only moments for their eyes to meet. They hugged tightly and they looked at each other, quite relieved.
"You're OK," they said at once.
"Yes, of course I'm fine, Sweet. What took you so long," Lofty asked.
"I thought you had been taken by pirates. I was so scared," Sweet said, eyes wide with distress.
"I guess I started this new game rather abruptly but I thought it would be more fun this way. Apparently not."
"Nope! Don't ever do that ever, again!"
"Fine. Hey, Sweet?"
"Let's go have lunch."