Lustra the Peacekeeper
The sun was just barely beginning to rise in Neopia on that spring morning, its subtle orange and pink hues lending a certain softness to the harsh, jagged edges of Terror Mountain. The only movement for miles around was the gentle rippling of the water, but as the sun rose higher and began to warm the land, birds could be heard chirping for the first time in months.
Suddenly, a joyful squealing, accompanied by a flash of green! Some creature had torpedoed itself into the water, causing a great splash.
Hobbs the Green Bruce popped his tiny head up, spluttering for air and laughing. He was still quite a young Bruce and not supposed to be up this early or by himself in the ocean. His mother always stressed the dangers of going out into deep waters without having an older member of the family watching him. He figured it was far too early and cold for any other sea creatures to be stirring. Besides, as long as he made it back home before his parents and siblings woke up, he was in the clear.
Just then, he felt something brush against his leg. He didn't panic; he knew exactly who it was. Slowly, a black mane rose above the water, followed by light golden ears. The creature stopped at that point, not moving another inch.
Hobbs wasn't sure what sort of game this was. He reached forward in an effort to pat the the soft mane, when suddenly the rest of the Peophin's head popped up and sprayed him directly in the face with a jet-like stream from its nostrils.
"UGH, GROSS!" He couldn't help but smile, though.
Revelle the Spotted Peophin smirked proudly at his bewildered face. She usually surprised him with a hard smack of her tail when he was least expecting it, but she thought this would be something new to try.
"Hobbs, you know you shouldn't be out right now. Your mother nearly caught you last week. Besides, I can feel the waters warming. The Jetsams could be here any day now."
Jetsams spent the winter months in the seas further south by Maraqua, where the water stayed warm year round. This way, they were still able to find plenty of food. Sometime during spring, they would begin to make their way towards Terror Mountain. The Maraquan sea would warm up more than they could handle, while the run-off from the melting snow always kept the northern waters at a much more manageable temperature, even during the most brutal parts of summer.
"It's way too soon for the Jetsams to start migrating, Revelle. The snow's barely melting. And have you seen what that cliff face is doing over there?"
Hobbs gestured excitedly toward an area on the side of the mountain. Revelled cocked her hide to the side, considering the unusual shape of the cliff.
"Hmmm. That looks like--"
"A slide! Only the smoothest, fastest ice slide I've ever been on before. Watch this!"
Revelle watched in amusement as Hobbs expertly scaled the side of the mountain. It was around thirty feet off the ground that he arrived at the top of his favorite new ice slide. He flapped his wings from side to side.
"Ready?" He shouted at her. She nodded, and Hobbs began his dramatic countdown, leaping high into the air and thudding down onto the ice after each number.
"Two!" An even higher jump.
"One!" And then the highest jump of them all, but as his feet met with the ice this time--
The ice slide completely disconnected from the rest of the mountain, plummeting quickly towards the water.
Revelle watched in horror as other large chunks of the cliff began to fall after Hobbs. There was no way he would make it out alive if those fell on top of him, but she doubted she could swim to him in time.
High in the skies over Terror Mountain, a streak of gold swished through a cloud. Lustra the Golden Peophin was making her usual morning rounds, patrolling the waters for any sign of predators. The sea was typically a safe place during winter, but the great Jetsam migration was right around the corner. Complacency was a Peophin's greatest downfall; they had to remain vigilant.
As Lustra flew closer to the shore, she heard a multitude of loud cracking noises below her. She dove quickly towards the source of the sound, whisking through the clouds. She had no idea what awaited her, but her duty was to protect all the creatures in her territory by whatever means necessary.
"Lustra, hurry! Please help him!"
Lustra could see Revelle swimming as fast as her tail would allow. She moved her gaze over until she could see the Green Bruce in midair, surrounded on all sides by dangerously large pieces of falling snow and ice. The other Peophin would never make it to him in time. Lustra whispered a quick thank you to the Faerie Queen for blessing her with these wings that always came in handy at times like this.
Revelle stared in awe as the Golden Peophin darted in between Hobbs and the falling ice and snow. She used her powerful tail to fling all of it to the side, and in another second she had positioned herself under Hobbs to break his fall. He now sat upright on her back as she glided to the base of the mountain to set him down safely. Revelle was shocked to see that Hobbs didn't seem perturbed by these events at all; in fact, he looked positively gleeful as he dismounted from the beautiful Peophin. It wasn't often that you got to be the subject of a Lustra rescue mission.
Lustra prodded Hobbs quite forcefully with her hoof. "What did you think you were doing, kid?"
"Hey, I'm not a kid. And my name is Hobbs," he pouted.
"That's funny, because you look like a kid to me. A Bruce your size definitely shouldn't be playing on the ice all by himself, not this close to melting time."
Hobbs blushed. He couldn't believe he was being chided by the great Lustra. He stared down at the ground in embarrassment.
"I'm really sorry, Lustra. The snow usually doesn't start melting for another few weeks. I thought I was being safe. I promise I won't do it again."
"Oh, I'll make sure you never do this again, Hobbs. Take me to your igloo, please. I'm going to have a little chat with your parents before I go back to my patrol."
Hobbs gulped, terrified. If there was one thing he feared in life, it was the wrath of his mother.
Revelle cleared her throat. "Um, are we sure that's absolutely necessary? I have no problem making sure Hobbs stays away from the water from now on."
Lustra glared at her. "And you've done such a great job so far, haven't you, dear?"
"She's right. It's really not necessary," Hobbs squeaked.
"I agree with both of them. It won't be necessary at all," whispered a low, sinister voice from the edge of the water.
Lustra, Hobbs, and Revelle all whipped around at the sound of the stranger's menacing voice.
It was the Jetsam King!
"May we be of service, Jord?" Lustra queried.
"That's KING Jord to you, Goldie," the Red Jetsam guffawed.
"The name is Lustra, as you well know. You and your men seem to be a bit ahead of schedule this season. Any particular reason for that? And why would the king come this far north when he could just send his scouts out first? If I recall, you have a son waiting for you at home. From what I've heard, he's been having a rough go of it."
King Jord grimaced. His young son, Bormund, had been a sickly specimen ever since birth. However, things had taken a turn for the worse in recent months. Bormund was slowly losing sensation in his fins. By the end of the season, they expected him to be unable to swim on his own. The heir to the underwater throne would be incapable of doing the most basic thing required of a Jetsam to survive. The King could not accept this fate for his only son.
"I shouldn't have to explain myself to you, Lustra. I've heard the kelp that grows in Neopia's northernmost waters contains certain minerals, said to treat the kind of ailment my son suffers from. He will require a constant supply of it, and I plan on harvesting all that I need to bring back to Maraqua."
"You can't do that! That kelp is the Peophins main source of food in the summer," Revelle chimed in defensively.
"Ha! I am the King of this ocean. I will do what I please. If you had any children of your own, you would understand me. I would stop at nothing to make sure Bormund is saved."
Lustra sighed heavily. "I had a daughter once. Not many know this. She was quite young when she died."
"What happened, Lustra?" Hobbs asked.
"She somehow managed to get caught up in some kelp. She wasn't able to free herself, and I was too far away to notice what was happening because I was so focused on all the Jetsams swimming near us. I was always trying so hard to make sure all the Peophins stayed safe. It's why the Faerie Queen blessed me with these wings. She said I deserved them after the great personal sacrifice I made. They would make it easier for me to protect my own kind."
"That was a touching tale, but explain to me how any of this matters?" King Jord was nonplussed.
"My wings weren't the only thing the Faerie Queen bequeathed to me. She also granted me the ability to heal one single creature of any illness or injury. She didn't specify what kind of creature it could be, only that healing it must somehow help the greater good."
"And why would a Peophin protector want to help a Jetsam king? What's in it for you?"
"Personally? Nothing. My aim is to help the Peophin species. If I use my power to heal Bormund, this means you will have no use for our kelp. The kelp doesn't grow back until the winter. If you were to harvest all of it now, we would have nothing to eat for months."
King Jord considered this. "It seems too good to be true. What do you expect from me?"
"I expect you and the rest of the Jetsams to return to the waters of Maraqua. You will not come anywhere near Terror Mountain until next summer. That way, the Peophins have a full year without your kind preying on us. Our populations have been dwindling. We need this now more than ever," Lustra finished gravely.
King Jord wasn't sure how his kingdom would last a year away from Terror Mountain. On top of that, he didn't know if they could survive the rising temperatures further south. However, Bormund's life was on the line. He could find a solution for everything else as long as his son had the chance to live. This was the only chance he would ever get.
"I accept your terms, Lustra." He gave a curt nod. He was trying hard to remain completely businesslike, but everyone present could see his eyes brimming with tears. He was saving his son!
And that is how the Peophins and the Jetsams lived in peace for an entire year.