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The Keeper of Maraqua: Fugitive

by jedimaster891


This is a sequel to the story The Keeper of Maraqua: Genesis found in the 160th Issue of the Neopian Times.

The sky high above was clear and the sun beat down harshly on everything below it. The water of Neopia's seas seemed very clear today and sunlight danced on the water's surface.

      But Melleia did not have time to stop and admire how beautiful the day was. She just kept on swimming, occasionally surfacing to make sure that she was headed in the right direction.

      Finally, she swam up to the beach and dragged herself out of the water. The hot summer sun beat down hard upon her back. Melleia shook the water from her small faerie wings and used them to fly up and hover inches off of the ground. She shook the excess water off of herself and pulled on a long dark cloak. It hid her face, Water Faerie tail and let her wings out through a hole in the back.

      She was on the west beach of Mystery Island, near to the Marketplace. She needed some supplies from the market and her pursuers wouldn't think to look for her on land.

      Melleia sighed and touched a hand to the charm on her necklace. Life had become very complicated for her, the former Princess of Maraqua, a week ago, when her sister, the queen, as her dying wish gave Melleia a huge responsibility. Now, Melleia was on the run from enemies she had never met, hiding in the sea's darkest, coldest hideouts.

      She shook off her memories and started flying to the market. It wasn't far and she reached it in under a minute.

      Many, many people were at the market today, making it a very colorful place. Melleia flew right in and no one gave her a second look.

      She flew around, the many shop signs beckoning to her, pleading with her to visit their particular shop. She ignored most of the signs, knowing that there was probably almost no truth in what they said.

      Then she came to a small hut with a stand that was set up out front. On the stand were many berries and foods of all kinds. Even faerie foods.

      Melleia stopped at that stand, eyeing the foods that reminded her of home.

      "How much?" she asked the stand-keeper. She gestured to a few kinds of berries with one sweep of her hand.

      The stand-keeper was a blue Lupe who was reclining in the shade of a sun shelter, lazily watching the people who stopped at his stand. When she spoke, he turned to Melleia.

      "Super Juicys, 30 Neopoints a berry," he said, gesturing with a paw. "Fishberries, 10 Neopoints. Brightvale berries, 20 Neopoints. Faerie Pastries, 700. Blueberry Faerie Bubble, 350."

      Melleia nodded. As far as she could tell, the prices were fair. She took a pouch from her waist and took out a few coins. She purchased a super juicy berry and a faerie pastry. Placing them in a sack, she wandered away from the stand.

      As she left the stand and was moving on, Melleia spotted a few other Faeries just coming out of another shop farther down the path.

      There were three, a water faerie and two dark faeries. They looked as though they were searching for something and Melleia had every reason to think that it might be her.

      She quickly flew into an alley between two shops, trying to hide in what little bit of shadow was in the alley. But since it was almost noon, there were no shadows to hide in.

      "Oh, no," Melleia muttered as she saw the three faeries pass by the mouth of the alley. She tucked herself into a small ball and desperately hoped that she wouldn't be spotted.

      The three Faeries passed by the mouth of Micella's alley, absorbed in a conversation. As they passed the alley, Micella breathed out a sigh of relief and stood up.

      Then one of the faeries came back and peered down the alley. She spotted Melleia instantly.

      Melleia's heart leaped into her throat and she flew up and over one of the shops whose wall made the alley. She heard the shouts from below as she flew over the roof off the small hut.

      "Get her!" one of the faeries, probably the water faerie, yelled to the other two.

      I guess that settles any questions, Melleia thought, struggling to keep up her fast pace. Her water faerie wings were small and not accustomed to this much activity and strain. Being a water faerie, she spent most of her time in water, not air.

      But she managed to keep her pace quick.

      Melleia chanced a look over her shoulder. She saw both dark faeries, wings furiously flapping, and the Water Faerie, trailing the other two.

      Melleia began to slow, breathing hard and knowing that she couldn't keep this up. She had to get into her own element, in which she'd have the advantage.

      I need to reach the sea, she thought, looking both ways quickly.

      She was near the edge of the market, headed east. She couldn't reach the eastern shore of the Island, it was too far. She couldn't turn completely around and head back to the western shore, she'd have to go through the Faeries that were chasing her.

      That leaves north and south, she thought. And the south shore is much closer.

      So Melleia took a sharp, 90 degree turn and headed for the south end of the Island.

      Unfortunately, that made the dark faeries a bit closer than they had been.

      "Come on, you can do it," Melleia kept muttering to herself, straining and trying as hard as she could to keep going and escape capture.

      Now, if you didn't read the first story (The Keeper of Maraqua: Genesis) you don't understand that there were reasons that she wanted to avoid capture other than to save herself. But if Melleia was captured, her beloved home, Maraqua, would die.

      And she had vowed to her sister on her deathbed that she would not let that happen.

      So Melleia pushed herself to her limit, and beyond. But the dark faeries pushed themselves to their limits too, and there limits were above Melleia's.

      They steadily gained as they grew nearer and nearer to the beach, hoping to catch Melleia before she dove beneath the ocean's surface. And Melleia steadily slowed as they got closer to the beach, fatigue in her wings overcoming her.

      "Come on, you can do it," she muttered again.

      The beach came in to sight.

      As soon as she was over water that was deep enough, Melleia stopped flying and turned to dive into the water, a smile on her face as she realized that she was probably safe.

      So she angled her body and gladly felt the warm ocean water wash over her . . .

      Her body was about halfway into the water when she felt a hand on her tail.

      "Oh, no!" she screamed. One of the dark faeries had gotten close enough to grab her before she made it all the way into the water.

      She was getting dragged back up, into the air.

      But she wasn't going without a fight.

      Melleia turned her body around, bringing her head and shoulders just out of the water. She saw the Dark Faerie who had her tail clearly.

      Melleia thrashed at the faerie with her tail, knocking her back and making her lose her grip.

      Melleia dropped back into the water again. This time, she wasn't hauled back up above the surface.

      She wasted no time in swimming away, diving deeper and farther away from the dark faeries and the beach of Mystery Island.

      Then she heard a splash on the surface behind her.

      Sound carries underwater, so she easily heard the splash and determined that it was made by someone about the same size of herself.

      The other water faerie.

      Melleia had forgotten about her through the course of the chase because she had fallen so far behind. She wouldn't stay far behind now.

      Melleia thrust herself forward with her powerful tail, diving down toward the ocean floor. She chanced a look over her shoulder at her pursuer.

      She was gaining.

      Melleia turned back around and continued to thrust herself onward. "Come on, you can do it," she said to herself again.

      "No, you can't!" the other water faerie exclaimed from behind her.

      Melleia's comment, which she had only meant to be heard by herself, had carried in the water, loud enough for the other Faerie to hear. But she ignored the other faerie and kept moving.

      Glancing around as she swam, Melleia tried to decide where she was. After a few moments, she thought that she knew. She searched her memory of this area, trying to remember a place that she could hide in . . .

      Then she thought of one. If she remembered correctly-and she hoped for her life and Maraqua's that she did-then there was a small hut nearby, hidden in the coral reef where she might be able to find shelter.

      But she couldn't let her pursuer see her enter the hut . . .

      I'll lose her in the reef, Melleia thought, already angling that way. She can't know it as well as I do.

      So, Melleia darted around all kinds of underwater plants, coral, seaweed and kelp, trying to elude her pursuer. After a moment, Melleia was almost certain that she'd lost the other faerie and she darted (if that term can be applied to swimming! ?) off in the direction of the small hut that she remembered.

      She hastily knocked on the door, continuously keeping an eye out for the water faerie that was after her.

      A small Maraquan Acara answered the door. "Yes?" he asked.

      Luck was on Melleia's side. A Maraquan pet would be likely to offer her hospitality.

      "I am being chased and I need to hide," Melleia quickly explained, glancing over her shoulder. "This is the only safe place I can think of."

      The Acara's eyebrows rose. "Why should I let you in? This would probably bring your pursuer here, yes?"

      "You should let me in because if I am caught, many lives will be on the line. And no, I don't think that my pursuer will come here."

      "The lives on the line, they concern me how?"

      Melleia grew impatient and got a little alarmed. That water faerie might come out and spot her at any second . . .

      "The lives concern you because yours is one of them!" she replied, not quite sure if that was wholly true.

      The Acara looked at her suspiciously. "How can I be sure?" he asked.

      "Because," Melleia said, deciding to take a gamble, "I am Melleia, former Princess of Maraqua and I give you my word as a royal, a Maraquan citizen and a water faerie."

      The Acara's eyes grew wide when she said that she was a Princess. He then bowed and motioned her inside. "Hurry, Your Highness," he said.

      She did.

      After she was inside, the Acara closed and locked the door. The hut had only a few rooms, maybe three, Melleia guessed. A kitchen/dining room, a sleeping room and bathroom. There were no windows.

      The front door opened right into the kitchen/dining room. Melleia pulled off her cloak as she entered, laying it on the dining table.

      "Now, Your Highness," the Acara said, swimming up beside her. "What brings you out this way?" He gestured to the chairs around the table and for Melleia to sit.

      She did. "Well, you know of the tragic death of my sister, Her Majesty Queen Aangeela." The Acara shook his head. "You haven't? Well, I must tell you, she had an enemy who came in and shot her, looking for something that she had. I am sorry, but I can't tell you what." He nodded that he understood.

      "Anyway, she gave to me that item which she had as she was dying, forcing me to leave Maraqua. Her enemies are now mine."

      The Acara nodded. "I understand, Your Highness."

      "You can call me Melleia," she said. "I am no longer a Princess." A hint of bitterness crept into her voice.

      "If it's alright with you, I prefer to call you Princess Melleia and Your Highness in hopes that you will one day return to Maraqua."

      Melleia smiled a sad smile. "I will if possible."

      "Meanwhile, you will be staying here and I will do all that I can to keep you safe and aid you, Your Highness."

      "Thank you. If I am to stay, I should probably know your name."

      "Wyneb," the Acara said. "My name is Wyneb."

      "Well, thank you very much Wyneb," Melleia said, another sad smile creeping across her face. "But you may have just offered more than you meant to."

      "No, I did not. I will help you even if it means the death of me."

      "It very well might be," Melleia replied.

      "Then so be it."

      Melleia knew that now, she had an ally in her quest to keep Maraqua alive. Even if it meant the death of both, they would keep Maraqua alive.

The End . . . for now

Author's Note: If you're reading this, I got my second story into the Neopian Times! This story is the second in what I plan to be 3 or 4 stories featuring Melleia, the Keeper of Maraqua. You can Neomail me with comments!

As always, wishing I had gills and a tail instead of legs, jedimaster891.

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