Venn's Return from the Isolated Island
For Venn, an Orange Lutari left stranded on Lutari Island, that year’s Lutari Day could not have come soon enough. This was the one day of the year on which the storm around the island weakened just enough for magical teleportation through it to be possible. Venn himself was not capable of this magic, but he knew that Steph, an 8-Bit Flotsam with powerful magical abilities, would come at the end of the day to take him home. This was a time of excitement, but also of sadness, as he had become like family to the closely knit inhabitants of the island. Everyone there knew that Venn would be leaving that day.
Venn had spent the previous year helping out the islanders and learning about their culture. He helped grow food-bearing plants, helped with the quests that the island’s guardian Faerie gave to the islanders to keep the island protected from the storm surrounding it, and joined in the islanders’ rituals. On top of all that, Venn took swimming lessons from one of the natives, as Venn previously could not swim despite being a Lutari. In fact, he had gotten moderately good; good enough to not embarrass himself at least.
Thus, Venn waited for Steph on this last day of his being there. He knew that Steph would not arrive for him until near the end of the day, so he had some last time to spend with the natives. He played some games with the ones he knew best and had a few long chats. While he would dearly miss them (he had even memorized the names of every single individual on the island,) he did find it much more important that he be reunited with his family: his owner and his brother, a Green Acara named Hans. As midnight neared, he waited for Steph to arrive while many of the islanders stood around him to see him off. They waited. Steph did not come. Midnight passed; it was too late. Venn was simultaneously devastated and slightly relieved. Some of the islanders were happy to see Venn stay, while others were bummed out that they did not see the 8-Bit Flotsam that Venn promised would appear.
Many miles away, in Shenkuu, Steph had been grounded for a week by her caretaker and brilliant scientist, Coco the Skunk Kyrii, as Steph had accidentally broken one of the machines that Coco had been working on. Coco was not usually quite that strict, but her anger was hard to control at that point as she had been working on that particular machine for quite a while.
At the same time, in front of a Neohome in Neopia Central, Venn’s owner, Hans, and one brother and two sisters that Venn’s owner had adopted in the time Venn had been absent, had waited all day on their doorstep waiting for Venn to magically show up. The newly adopted brother and sisters had no idea why their owner and Hans were so intent on waiting for Venn, as they had never met him before, but they waited regardless. The owner and Hans were, naturally, quite sad to not see Venn show up again as midnight NST passed. Venn’s owner decided to Neomail Steph and Coco’s owner; that owner would be receiving some pretty harsh words for sure…
What would Venn be doing with his life, now? Perhaps it was fate that he would remain there forever. Yet, that seemed just too mean to owner and Hans. He got sort of depressed as a result and refused to leave his hut. Occasionally natives would try to cheer him up; on this particular day, a Yellow Lutari, in this case being the one who was giving Venn swimming lessons, came in to see him.
“Venn, are you going to come out and see us? We’re your family, too, you know.”
Venn gave no response.
“No, really, I understand, if I were yanked away from here to another island, I’d want to go back, too. But you have to face reality; you live here now.”
Venn decided to speak up. “Are you sure there’s no way out?”
“I mean, you could come back in the same way you got here, but, to completely honest, you’re still not that good of a swimmer, and the currents are extreme…”
“Well, I did make a new inner tube collar. If I just inflate it as soon as I go deep enough, I should be swept out far enough to be safe, right?”
“That’s theoretically possible, but…”
“I think I’m going to do it! No point in waiting another year, or even possibly an eternity!”
“Venn, this isn’t like you! Why are you suddenly so bold? Isn’t a lifetime here with us better than you, well, maybe being dead?”
“Aren’t we also running low on food? I do eat more than most of you do…”
“That’s an absurd reason! Although, I admit, you do, haha…”
Venn rounded up some gear, such as a backpack, some food items that hopefully would be sufficiently waterproof, and a compass that travelers had left on the island years back, in addition to his usual yellow scarf and brown shorts. The Yellow Lutari attempted to get Venn’s attention as he left the hut, but he ignored him. Everyone was surprised to see Venn marching out with so much gear, with the Yellow Lutari chasing after him and shouting before getting tired and giving up. Venn headed for a particular spot where there was a deep hole in the ground leading directly to the underside of the island, which was covered by a grate. Venn lifted up the grate and dropped into the water before anyone could approach him. The natives then stood speechless around the hole; had Venn gone mad? They could do nothing but put the grate back in its position and speculate about Venn’s fate.
Venn himself descended down the vertical tunnel leading to the underside of the island, with a claw on the cord of his makeshift inner tube collar, ready to inflate it when he deemed necessary. He felt himself beginning to be swept around by the currents and so he did his best to keep himself upright. When he decided that he would pull the cord, the inner tube popped. Perhaps it would have been wiser to have tested it before descending into the depths, but it was too late now. He felt himself being pulled further and further down…
Perhaps it was the end; he had come to his senses, and perhaps he really should have listened to the Yellow Lutari. Yet, he saw a glimmer of hope shining brightly below him. It was actual glimmer, from something he could not make out, yet he reached for it. He started swimming towards it as hard as he could, and he soon could see it more clearly; it was a pool of rainbow-colored water, sort of like the kind flowing into the Rainbow Fountain, but even brighter and more beautiful. It was kind of weird to see a pool of water under the water of course, and he had no real idea what point there would be in trying to touch it, but he knew it was his only option. The currents started pulling on his tail, trying to yank him away from it. He was almost there… he stuck his finger into it before he was pulled away. He passed out.
He regained consciousness with a really bizarre, indescribabe feeling. He was not sure what this feeling was, so he instead took a second to look around. He was in some kind of short underwater trench, apparently very deep underwater as there was no ambient light, yet the trench was lit by bioluminescent undersea life lining its walls. His perspective of this trench was at first at an extremely low angle, as if he were a Petpetpet, but he pulled himself up to his normal height. He was still wearing his yellow scarf and his brown pants, but he had lost everything else he was carrying. Venn could breathe easily despite being underwater, yet he was not really breathing, but rather seemed to be adequately satisfied for oxygen without having to make any attempt at breathing. He also felt extremely cold, but at the same time did not feel uncomfortable because of it. He started walking, only to find the water to be unreasonably hard to shove his way through, as if he were walking through thick syrup. He still felt weird, so he held up his hand in front of his face, to find that he could see right through it. Perhaps he died and became a ghost? Then again, ghosts were known to glow in the dark. He approached the wall and tried to touch it, only to find his pressure going right through it. However, actually, his hand did not go through it, but instead it flattened against it. He came to only one conclusion: he had been painted Water from touching the underwater pool of rainbow water. He always considered this an interesting color, and it turned out to be the one to save his life; why should he be the one to receive such luck?
He had the intuition to assume that there were currents overhead that were dangerously strong, so he instead continued through the trench to find, of all things, a cluster of underwater huts. Who would build in a place like this? The huts were made out of wood, with panels of metal to ensure that they stay put; despite their generally rough design, intricate designs had been carved into the panels. He also noticed that the huts had handles on the sides, as if they were designed to be moved around. He was then startled by the sound of a voice behind him; it was a Maraquan Kyrii, wearing a fairly warm-looking coat designed for working in.
“Well, how did you get here?”
Venn took a long time to articulate his response, as he had no practice with talking using a melted mouth. “Oh, is this your land? Erm… just show me the way out and I’ll leave.”
“Ahh, haha, what’s the matter?”
Venn clearly had his boldness from earlier knocked out of him from his crazy experiences. “I just, well… I was stuck on Lutari Island, tried to escape… got swept down… I think I stuck my finger in some pool of rainbow water and got liquefied…”
“Well, isn’t that quite a crazy trip you’ve had? Hahaha!”
“So… why is there a pool of rainbow water down here anyway? Why is there a little village down here?”
The Kyrii replied, “Our job is to harvest that rainbow water and send it to the surface; they send us down really nice snacks and stuff for our efforts. The Fountain Faerie up there, the only power she really has over this stuff is to make it give a specific color; we’re the ones unearthing the real magic. We put the water in flasks and then send it up when the currents are just perfectly right. Not all of them actually make it, some are lost and get fished up later, but that’s just life.”
Venn’s curiosity overtook him and he asked, “Why would you do it in a place like this?”
“Because, of course, the rainbow water is always right under Lutari Island! It’s never anywhere else, even though the island itself moves, so we have to move too, to keep up with the water.”
“But what about the storm?”
“That’s our work. Keeps us and the rainbow water safe from intruders.”
The pair heard another voice, this time from a Maraquan Uni wearing a fine robe. The Uni said, “Do you really need to tell every single random person who somehow winds up down here everything? I know you just love to talk to people you don’t know, but you’re putting us all in danger. How do you know that one’s intentions are pure?”
Venn guessed that the Uni was the one maintaining the storm and said somewhat cautiously, “You are the one who created the storm, right? Are you aware of what it is doing to the villagers up above?”
“I admit, the storm did get a bit out of hand, compared to when I started it, but it is necessary. Do you have any tiny idea of what could possibly happen if the pool were to fall into the wrong hands? The limits could be taken off and… yeah, just let your imagination fly, to the most ridiculously dystopian thing you can imagine… since really, one could be turned into anything with this stuff.”
The Kyrii snarkily pointed out, “Haha, well, now you’re the one telling him everything!”
Venn backed off, not wanting to be involved with whatever argument they might get into, but they instead stared at each other silently. Venn then said, “Well, I should be going, people are waiting, which way is the way out?”
The Uni gestured for the Kyrii to show Venn the way out, so Venn followed. The way out was essentially a tunnel surrounded by harsh currents. It was still extremely hard for Venn to move through the water, but he eventually made it to the tunnel, where the Kyrii stopped and let Venn continue onwards by himself. After leaving the tunnel Venn used a piece of bioluminescent undersea life, which he had taken from the side of the trench, to illuminate his compass that was in his pocket, after which he began to slowly trudge west.
The abyssal plains of the deep ocean were aptly named, as they were almost devoid of life aside from an occasional deep-sea Petpet swimming past. Venn soon got hungry. Clearly, he would not be catching any of the Petpets; in fact, sometimes one would swim right through him as if he were not there. He had read that the sludge covering the ground of the abyssal plains was made out of dead living matter such as plankton, which would probably be better than nothing in terms of comestibles. He could not really pick up the sludge, so he just lied down on it and allowed it to soak into his body; at least he would not have to taste it. A lonely road this was for sure, but the image in his mind of his family waiting for him kept him motivated.
Venn had no idea how long he kept on this path as he had no view of the sun and therefore had no measure of time other than his natural circadian rhythm. He attempted to swim, but in his new body, attempts at swimming in his previous methods proved impossible, although he found himself able to travel above the ground without any more effort than walking did. Sometime afterward he realized that he could travel more quickly by stretching himself out like an eel to reduce his surface area in the direction of travel. He had no risk of losing his outfit as it, being a magically enchanted “one size fits all” outfit designed for any species, changed shape to match however he stretched or contorted his body.
The abyssal plains seemed to stretch onwards for an eternity before they ended, transitioning to a more rocky area that steadily slanted upwards in the direction Venn was traveling. As he traveled upwards, he could finally see sunlight again for the first time in many weeks. Real sunlight! He eventually reached an area filled with undersea plants, coral, and Petpets; this was the sort of place he had always wanted to be able to visit. He did not want to linger too long, however, but he did enjoy running his hands through the sea grass and allowing the Petpets to swim through him. He was not sure how he would find food here, but it turned out that there was enough particulate in the water that he stayed relatively satiated without having to search for food.
Soon enough, he saw a beach ahead of him. Chances were, from the plants he could see at the surface, this was Mystery Island. He could see Neopets and their owners playing in the water; he longed to be in contact with other sentient beings again. Yet, he would rather find the fastest way back to Neopia Central, and this turned out to be by grabbing onto the bottom of one of the rafts heading back to Central. He could not merely hold onto the bottom as water resistance would make him lose his grip, though, so he had to compress himself in between the raft’s logs.
Finally, as the raft stopped at its destination, he was back at Neopia Central! Again, he was concerned about getting back ashore at a populated beach, so he headed north to a more secluded shore that he knew that he and his family used to visit. He waded up the beach, and reached through the water’s surface with as much force as he could. His arm went nowhere. He forced more of his body through the water’s surface, and it collapsed as soon as it hit the air. It now occurred to him that his fluid body had gotten completely used to the water and that he had no experience with holding it up in air. What a peculiar situation; back before he could swim, he was a resident only of land and not of the water, but he was now a resident of the water only. He would not resign himself to this fate, however. He kept pushing himself up the beach and into the air with all of the force he could muster, with thoughts of his family being his real driving force, until he finally crept up onto the beach far enough that gravity would not pull him back in. What was he now? He was not a Lutari, but merely a puddle with a scarf and pants.
Venn fortunately knew the way back home, but his current state certainly hampered his progress. He found strength as he progressed, however; he changed from a puddle, to a vaguely Hissi-like shape, to having his head be properly formed, to having his upper half be somewhat properly formed. It was then, at a time somewhat late at night, that his home was in sight. He waited and stared. Would his family recognize him like this? His scarf and pants might help at least. Would he even have the articulation needed to talk? He practiced talking for a while, an ability he never really thought he would need to practice in such a way, until his voice was at least somewhat intelligible. He flowed his way up to the door and then knocked. Nobody came; his watery fists were not making enough noise. He then smashed his arms against the door as hard as he could, making a splash and an appreciably louder sound. Eventually a Red Usul, whom Venn did not recognize, came to the door.
The Usul suddenly screamed, “Eek, a blob! Brother, come help!”
Venn thought about if he were at the right house. The lawn decorations were in order, just as he remembered them. Regardless, however, he backed away from the door, in case he needed to attempt to run. He then saw a Green Acara come out, holding a Virtupets blaster in one of his paws.
The Acara said, “A blob, here? What…?”
Venn realized that the Acara was his brother Hans and then slowly said in an extremely gurgly voice, “It’s me! Venn!”
“Venn? What happened to you?” Hans ran down to hug his brother. Hugging a liquefied pet was a bizarre experience indeed, but after such a long time, it did not matter.
The Usul said, “Seriously, you know the blob? What?!”
Hans excitedly woke up the other pets and their owner, and they all gathered around to hear the tale of Venn’s journey. Venn’s voice was a bit hard to listen to as he still was not used to talking, but the pets were all regardless quite interested in hearing about his experiences. After this, as Venn was completely exhausted, he went to bed, but in a wash basin as his body would soak into his bed if he were to sleep on it.
Thus, Venn returned to his normal everyday life, aside from the fact that he had become a fluid and still needed to adjust. Venn and Hans would occasionally go on diving trips together, finally fulfilling Venn’s dream. Yet, Venn was concerned about the natives back on Lutari Island, now that he knew of the reason for their fate.
“Hans, don’t you think we should do anything to help those islanders?”
“Venn, you know that’s not our business. Besides, the way you described that Uni, there’s no way either of us could do anything, plus the storm is important for everyone’s safety anyway.”
“I don’t know… you know how absurdly lucky I’ve been… do you think I’m being called by fate to do something?”
“Maybe, if you feel that strongly, you could find a way to help the islanders directly; no need to get involved in things way larger than ourselves.”
“Yeah, you’re right. Lana’s apparently still doing her meteorology thing, though. Maybe I could go help her out again…”
“You really think that’s a good idea?”
“I’m already made of water, so I can’t drown. I guess it’s kinda safe then, surprisingly, haha. I’d better bring some waterproof paper in case I need to send out an SOS, though.”
Despite Venn’s interest in another voyage with Lana, he, for the time being, would much rather stay home and enjoy his family’s presence. They meant so much to him, and despite his assurances that there was little risk involved if he were to undertake another voyage, he was not willing to take even a small risk if it were to mean being separated again so soon.