The Adventures of Trina: The Two Islands - Part One
Author's Note: This is the sequel to the series, The Adventures of Trina: The Return of the Staff, published in issue 277. There is also a four-part prequel series.
A small hut resided on the edge of a clearing, where rotting foliage and overgrown grasses toothed at the walls, serving as yet another opponent in the battle against time.
But it was clear that the hut was no match for nature: after countless storms and biting winds, the wooden siding had caved in. The paint job was left speckled and in flakes, clinging to the hut like fragile, autumn leaves. Layers of dust made it impossible for the fragments in the shattered windows to carry the colors of the sky, and its framework was no more depressing; all shine had corroded away, barely sparing the jagged contours of a once intricate design. At some point in time, the roof's shingles had been thrown askew—now hidden beneath the dry undergrowth that surrounded the lonely refuge.
No matter what damage the hut endured, it remained in a shadow where no trees grew. Hikers and passersby, occasionally straying from their paths, were determined to return to everyday life through the forest green than seek a moments rest in a barren wasteland.
Today, however, was a different day. Two travelers, shrouded in flowing black robes, gazed deeply at this run down mess before them. With fervent eyes, they saw wonder in ruin, they saw treasure in debris, and profoundly, saw themselves resonating from the chaos. From this wasteland, the rejection and hopelessness that had been weighing them down echoed across the emptiness and gathered into their souls.
But rather than let their dreams end in decay, this hut could revive them, could heal them, and could empower them to reach heights none have ever dared to explore—and they wanted it all.
The power, they agreed, was all theirs.
* * * * *
The wind drifted across the entire city. Gently, it moved everything in its path. It whistled over the roofs of neohomes and the trunks of tall trees. The fresh green grass in the open fields moved like waves in the ocean. A group of Neopets nearby shivered from its passing as they relished the placid summer weather. Among them was a small Wocky. She stood on the peak of a hill, swamped in the waves of grass, overlooking the busy marketplaces far below. Her camouflage-painted fur, made up of many shades of green along with thin patches of soft yellow, gracefully swayed with the rhythm of the breeze.
To Trinandra Willicks, summer vacation was great. Finally, she was free from the noisy halls of metal slamming lockers, the endless chatting of crowds, and studying for countless tests. But as free as she felt, there was one small, wee little problem with summer vacation—she was bored.
Here was a huge, amazing, fantastic world out there to explore, and here she was, stuck watching clouds! The Wocky grimaced and sunk her nails into the dirt. She stood on the road to fame and fun, yet there was nothing she could do to step beyond the starting line!
With that thought, the Wocky realized it had been only a few months since she had written an essay about the weekend that had changed her life. Of course, due the promise to a faerie named Brightstar, she claimed it was entirely fictional. As a result to her liking, she was awarded a camouflage paint brush.
But after she had saved the world from Malkus Vile, where was the fame, the respect? In all the books she had read, doing one great thing found the hero inside them. But did doing just one great deed for the world make her a hero? Was she even considered a hero? None besides her friends have called her a hero. Trina wondered to herself blankly until she was interrupted by a familiar screeching voice from the distance.
"Trina! Come over here! We have to show you something! You'll love it!" She turned to see a tiny figure on the bottom of the hill, sailing through the grass.
"I'll be right down, Cassie!"
One last glace at the colorful roofs of the marketplace and the marshmallow white clouds, and then she scurried off after the green Usul. Wherever her best friend was leading her, it surely would be better than staring at the clouds.
She was led up and down various landscapes she did not recognize: a few shallow hilltops, a few fields, and into to a dark forest. The forest appeared to be the size of about a few large shops put together—the kind she had seen in the heart of a marketplace which countless pets often swarmed in and out—but once they passed its exterior, she realized the appearance deceived her. The forest was so dense that she could barely see any light beyond the lines of trees in front of them. The only dark cloud in the sky happened to shadow the forest, along with a few weary trees above them.
After treading past the last row of pines, they came across a hut, no bigger than a tiny neohome. The Usul pointed to a rotting sign nailed to a tree. Large black letters were painted on it, appearing to have been scratched out by something sharp.
"Whoever lives here obviously doesn't like visitors," said Trina. "Cassie, let's go back."
"But Linny and Pat are already in the house," said Cassie, pointing a furry finger at the sullied hut. "What?!"
At once, Trina dashed to the hut and yanked the door open. The hinges on the door were so weak that the door fell clean off. Inside, a green Chia and a purple Shoyru were pulling old books off the shelves and flipping through them, their pages falling to the floor. She cringed at their lack of respect for the delicate pages.
"Trina! Look at all these books! Some of them are written in another language!" the purple Shoyru said enthusiastically, at the same time throwing large books onto the floor.
"Who said you were allowed in here, Pat?"
"Well... I... It was Linny's idea!" Pat pointed to a green Chia across the room. "Hey, I didn't do anything!" Linny told Trina. "It was Pat's idea!
"This isn't our house! LET'S GO NOW!"
"No Trina, this place has been abandoned for years!" Pat told the steamed-faced Wocky, which caused her to stop in place.
"Wait—how do you know that? We've never been over here before!"
"Well... I don't know how to explain this, but I saw it in my dream. It was like it told me to come here..." Pat then stopped sorting and dived onto a maroon couch at her left. The dust flew into the air.
"What? How could you see unknown places in a dream?" Trina sat beside her and the green Chia, Linny, watched from leaning on a bookshelf.
"I'm really not sure, Trina. I've been getting them for like a week now and I don't know why... or how. I can't really remember what they were like either. All I remember seeing was some dark forests with black trees, a palm tree, an ocean, and this place."
"Where's Cassie?" Linny asked abruptly, looking to see the green Usul somewhere. "She said she was bringing you here and would be back."
"She's outside," Trina answered.
The three pets left their mess of books behind and scurried outside, only to be stopped suddenly by a mysterious, unfamiliar voice.
"You mean she was outside."
In unison, they turned their heads to face a tree where the voice was coming from. A strong, large figure then stepped out of the shade. A Draik, wearing a long, hooded black cloak covered in ropes and rusted, golden jewelry. About six feet tall, he glared at them with a face filled with malice and a smug grin. On his waist was a small, brown sack that hung from his shoulder and a long sword. Without a doubt, he was a pirate. His bright green eyes were fixed on Pat. The grin on his face widened.
"What do you mean she 'was'?" Trina asked bravely. The Draik pirate ignored Trina, his focus remaining solely on the Shoyru.
"You've taken the potion, haven't you?" he asked, emotionless. "What?" Pat glared up at him with a puzzled face. "Potion? What is this nonsense?"
"You know what I'm talking about," he fumed. "Now hand over the book!"
"We aren't giving you anything!" Trina spat.
"Not even for this one?"
The pirate stepped aside to reveal a lump of yellow fur behind him. The lump rose up-and-down rhythmically.
"Cassie!" Linny screamed.
"Don't make me repeat myself again. Hand over—"
"I said we aren't giving you ANYTHING!" Trina roared, looking directly into the pirate's eyes.
Linny nudged Trina's arm. "Uh Trina, I think we should—"
"Leave us alone!" Trina finished.
"Very well then," the Draik replied in a spiteful, depraving voice. "You should know that messing with the best pirate of Arugahi Island gets you nowhere but dead... I thought you would be smarter than that, Shoyru."
Linny stumbled behind Trina, puzzled. "What are you talking about? There's no Arugahi Island—there's no such thing!"
The pirate bent down to meet Linny's eyes. "That's what they all say, just before they..." he said, leaving his words drifting off into the quiet distance.
Then, he pulled out a wooden whistle covered in carved designs and exhaled powerfully into it. After its long, high-pitched sound traveled the forest, the pirate smirked. "Weaklings like you always know nothing. It's rather entertaining."
Trina looked around frantically in every direction. Pirates of many sizes sprang forward from behind the surrounding trees. The unconscious Cassie was now in the arms of a Krawk pirate who was preparing to flee from the scene. What in Neopia was going on?
Trina planted herself in front of him, refusing to move the slightest inch. "PUT HER DOWN!"
Before Trina could do anything more, seven hooded pirates had surrounded her. Fierce gazes were visible in their faces, despite being shadowed by their hoods.
"They're not what we want—to the hut!" The Draik pirate pointed at the small hut yards away from them. All pirates followed his command, scuttling toward it in mere seconds. "Retrieve the book!"
The Krawk dropped Cassie onto a dry shrub and joined the other pirates in the hut. Instantly, Linny rushed to the Usul's side and watched for any incoming pirates. Pat ascended a few feet above ground and flew after Trina and the large crowd of mysterious pirates.
Inside, the pirates were throwing books across the room in every direction, carelessly and quickly. In addition to the mess they were making, a Lenny had toppled over the bookshelves and other antique furniture. Trina hid behind a pile of broken wooden planks from what seemed to have been a desk. Suddenly, she felt something brush against her fur. Behind her was s small stack of red, green, and brown books. Curiously, she snatched up the red book. A gold colored string was wrapped tightly around it, and the cover was thin and floppy. The pages didn't seem to be glued or sewed together securely.
Before she could take note of more observations, a pirate had caught sight of her. "There it is! Get her!"
Trina dived to the right just before the pirates leaped in her direction, and chaos ensued.
A Lenny had jumped right next to Trina and reached for the book. She hung on to the book with an extremely tight grip. Then the Draik pirate ran up, yanked the book over her head, and swung Trina by the doorway as if she was a piece of trash. She quickly got up on her feet and stumbled on top of a pile of fleeing pirates who had tripped over each other. The book fell by her feet. She reached for it, but the Draik had gotten there first. Effortlessly, he pushed her against a bookshelf. After a sharp sting in her back, Trina grabbed handfuls of books that had fallen to the ground and chucked them at the pirates, one by one. While they were distracted, she raced through the crowd and snatched the red book from the Draik's hand.
The Draik pirate frenetically spun around several times before picking up a small, dark red book below him. "I've got the book! Let's move!"
Smirking, Trina fled through the doorway and out into the darker part of the forest. From behind a tree she watched the pirates ditch the scene. Minutes passed, and only one was left. A pirate Tonu halted in his tracks and faced the rummaged hut. His wicked yellow smile widened as he pulled his hood back. Before she could make a move, the pirate revealed a brown wrapped ball from his cloak, about the size of his palm, and threw it at the hut. A small explosion followed and the library started to burn in bright, orange flames.
The green Usul rushed to the Wocky after she heard the explosion. "Trina!"
Trina tossed the book into Cassie's arms and headed toward the flaming hut, determined to save as many books as possible.
"Trina, come back!" Cassie screamed in horror, but it was too late. The flames flickered inches and inches higher every moment.
The tiny library was nearly consumed by the orange enemy by the time Trina entered. She scurried through the destroyed shelves, grabbing every book she could attain that was safe to grab. The flames were spreading quickly and the rising clouds of grey smoke told her she had to flee. The exit was within her reach until she noticed a green book on the other side of the room that wasn't already in flames. The larger flames weren't heading in that direction at the moment so she decided to take the risk.
Dumping the book atop of the stack of books she had in her arms, she rushed to the doorway, her heart racing. She did not look behind her, but she could hear the crackling of the flames creeping up to her, longing to take licks at her fur. Once outside, she heard the cackling of the flames from the bookshelf.
Trina leaned against the nearest tree and sighed in relief, clutching her heart. Amid a fit of coughing, she gasped for air as her three friends rushed to her assistance.
"Are you okay?!" they screamed.
"Yeah, I hope so," she responded, nodding slightly as if she was in too much pain to move.
"I'm... never doing that ever again... and that's for sure..."
In unison, they all shifted their eyes to the fire. Strangely, the flames had completely ceased. What was once a library was merely a pile of black rubble. No books were spared and no walls stood. A burnt, unpleasant odor loomed around their noses as they stared in silence. The way the fire started and ended was so mysterious, it couldn't be real. A normal person would think that there was some logical explanation for it, but Trina was darn sure she didn't fit under that "normal" category. So for some reason that she couldn't make sense of, Trina felt that it was magic.
"What'ya do that for!?" Cassie barked, twitching and unable to stand in one place. "That was way too dangerous!"
"I... I needed to save... the books..."
Cassie opened her mouth to protest, but Linny beat her to it. "It wasn't worth it, Trina! They're just books!"
"They're... not... JUST BOOKS!" Trina barked back at the Chia. She threw her fist into the dirt. It would be impossible for them to fathom the truth. They can never know. "YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND! THEY—"
Cassie slammed her paw onto the Wocky's sweaty shoulder, forcing her to the ground. "Whoa! Calm down! You need to get some rest!"
* * * * *
Loud words between her friends were muffled as Pat ogled at the books Trina had saved. She brought the book on top of the stack to meet her wide, lavender eyes. It was green with a thick, tattered cover—similar to the rest of the books Trina saved. It was too old to read the title printed on it. Carefully, she opened the book, scanned through the table of contents, flipped through the first few pages, and gasped.
"'A vision potion," she read aloud, "is a powerful concoction that can only be made only by someone with prime expertise. Such a potion allows the drinker to experience visions of a person, place, or thing, often while in a dreaming state. It is almost always used as a form of communication for vital pieces of information. Though a vision potion remains the best way to carry secret information to another, the ingredients are extremely hard to locate; however, most magicians agree that the results can be enormously effective.'"
"So that's why my dreams have been so weird these past few days!" Pat said in awe.
"But when—and why—in the world did you drink the potion?" Linny asked, seating herself on a patch of grass beside her friend.
"It might've happened when Cassie and I went to a restaurant a few ago."
"The Pizzaroo?" Cassie asked with wide eyes.
"Yeah," Pat said, half-grinning. "It sounds crazy, but that's the only place I've been to since we've gotten out of neoschool..."
Pat noticed Trina's bewildered expression and went on, "Well, we were in Neopia Central, looking for something to eat. Cassie got these coupons for this new pizza in the mail, so we figured 'why not?'"
"They were half off!" Cassie interrupted, excitement breathed into every syllable.
"Not only did it take them forever to make, but it tasted—I'm not even sure how to describe it—it was just plain weird. I don't remember that much anymore, but I know that Cassie went up to the counter and asked about the recipe, if it had anything spoiled or something she was allergic to in it. I had doubts about eating the whole slice, but Cassie paid for it, and I was hungry..."
"But if the pizza contained the potion," Trina asked, scratching her head, "why hasn't Cassie been affected?"
"It wasn't the pizza!" Pat snapped. "It was...It was the dessert!"
"Cassie went to the cashier to pay the tip—they were really passionate their new pizza—and that's when it came..."
"It..?" Trina wasn't sold on the potion being in the drink, not after what she'd heard about the pizza. She'd eaten at the Pizzaroo occasionally, and never had she been served a bad pizza, even their questionable selections like Squid Delight pizza proved acceptable. But she was afraid to doubt her friend, so she kept listening.
"Someone in a cloak. They never said anything to me, and I didn't see their face. And a cloak on a hot day, doesn't that seem odd? He had a tiny Ice Cream Sundae in his hand, and he offered it to us—he looked like he was full. You see? It was them, one of the pirates!"
"I don't remember hearing anything about this shady person, but I sure do remember that sundae," Cassie said, her confused face mirroring Trina's. "I took one bite and spit it out! It was disgusting! I thought, 'how does anyone mess up making a sundae?' It was ridiculous! And you ate the whole thing!"
"I was hungry," Pat replied.
"Do you remember anything else?" Linny said. "What did they look like? Tall? Short?"
"I don't remember," Pat said, shaking her head. "I didn't think too much about it at the time. There was no reason to, but now I know it was that stranger's fault. I just know it!"
Trina tilted her head. "It just seems a little—"
"Farfetched? I'd expect that from you, Trina. But what else could it have been? There aren't any other explanations! You saw his face; that pirate was not mistaken. He was sure that it was me!"
A brief silence followed as the friends looked at each other. It was a lot to take in. The shock eventually subsided, but the lingering fear remained.
"I'm sorry," Pat said in a slow, hushed voice. "It's all because of me that we were caught in that mess..."
"That's okay," Trina said, "nothing went horribly wrong. And besides, whatever those pirates were looking for—well, let's just say I'm sure they didn't get what they wanted..."
Linny whirled to face her friend with her mouth open, thumbs twiddling. "You didn't..."
"I did," Trina admitted as she pointed at a book that was beside Cassie. "I kinda took the book they were after..."
Together, the four friends carefully turned the pages of the old book. The ink wasn't very dark and it was written in symbols and weird shapes. Some of the pages were almost ripped in two.
At the sight of the book, Linny scowled at the Wocky, waving her arms violently. "Why'd you do that, Trina? Now we're all in danger!"
"I'm sorry. I thought we could be in more danger if they got that book, that's all. I mean, really, they're pirates! And I know they're up to something..."
Pat looked away, murmuring something under her breath. Trina couldn't hear exactly what she said, but she was certain she heard her name, the phase "play the part," followed by "hero," but her head was bubbling with too many questions to care.
"What's so special about this book?" Cassie asked, picking up the book and flipping through the pages repetitively, watching countless symbols fly past her blue eyes each second.
"Everything!" Trina said with a wide grin. "This book's been around for centuries, maybe more! And that Arugahi Island? As far as we know, it doesn't exist—but it must, right? Those pirates—they all have some sort of connection with this; so I'll hold onto the book until we can get it translated. Maybe there is something about Arugahi in the other books, Lin!"
Linny delicately reached for a light blue book and read the title page. "Great Cooking with Lemons—definitely not what we're looking for, though it may help us make a nice meal."
Cassie snatched up a few other books lying by her feet. "None of these books are going to be useful for us if we want to find out about Arugahi."
"Why don't we stop by the Neopian Library?" requested Trina, still smiling. "Those pirates weren't from around here, so we need to find out what they wanted the book for and why."
"I agree," Linny nodded, "but how would we get to this... 'Arugahi' once we know about it?"
"That's a question for the future. Right now, we should only worry about this book and finding out more about this unknown island." Trina stood up and scooped up most of the books in her arms. "To the library!"
* * * * *
Once inside the library, they divided their searching into different areas of the building. Trina made her way to the history section and started to look under different letters. She could not find anything under Arugahi so she moved on to look in books about Neopia's islands. She turned many pages of many books about islands in general until she spotted something that caught her eye.
"'Even though it seems that Neopia is an established world,'" Trina read to herself silently, "'there may be many more lands to yet be discovered. Today's explores believe that, far beyond Neopia's recently discovered lands, is a small island. Unfortunately, whether or not these rumors are true cannot be determined due to a substantial lack of evidence of such a place.'"
Obviously, it wasn't what she was looking for, but it was something—for a start, at least. What an intense summer vacation she was in for! It would undeniably be a huge step away from the ever-typical hanging out at the beach or shopping 'til you drop clichés. Whatever was in store for her next, it would prove to be a summer vacation she would never forget.
"How can we know more about the pirates?" Trina asked as they were leaving. "Will the pirates realize their mistake and find us? And how can we get to this island?" Trina's head was filled with endless, exciting questions, far too many to remember to ask. But she had to get some answer. If she didn't, her head was sure to implode. There was no turning back now.
* * * * *
As the four friends separated and headed onto different paths, each of them felt a slight, eerie feeling. Unknown to all four of them, just under their nose, was an enemy. This enemy wore a loose, black cloak and had dark, red eyes. He watched where each of them had walked off to, while briefly listening to their conversation. Once they were out of his sight, a pirate Bartamus stepped down from his small, yet brawny shoulder. The figure scribbled a message onto a parchment and gave it to his petpet.
"Take this to him," he said in a deep voice. "Be sure he gets it."
Without hesitation, the winged petpet pounced into the open air and disappeared into the cloudy sky.
To be continued...