There are ants in my Lucky Green Boots Circulation: 197,798,779 Issue: 1005 | 5th day of Eating, Y26
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A Strange Day in Magmaqua


by tatyanne

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The sizzling sounds from the bonfire were a rather comforting noise to Rufus. He stretched out his hands and felt the heat radiating from the fire. A Magma Magtile floated by, carried by a gentle stream. Apart from the fire, it was pitch black this far down in the depths of the sea.

     There was a cold current passing by Magmaqua, and the cool temperatures were not sitting well with the Magma Scorchio. Rufus shivered. No matter how close he got to the flames, he could still feel an uncomfortable chill deep within his bones. With a disgruntled sigh, Rufus took a large step forward. He heaved a sigh of relief and relaxed. This spot was much better.

     Never mind that the spot in question was right within the flames.

     Rufus reached out and felt about for his little pile of marshmallows. A squeal of delight escaped his lips as his fingers brushed against a soft, pillowy marshmallow. Gently cupping his prized possession in his fiery palms, Rufus brought his hands close to his face. The confection was melting into a gooey treat. The Scorchio’s mouth watered. He would wait five seconds more, to be sure that the outside of the marshmallow was perfectly crispy with a slight char, but without being burnt.

     A lick, a bite, a chomp — Rufus devoured it with gleeful satisfaction. The flavours and textures exploded in his mouth. The marshmallows had soaked up just enough seawater to give them a slight saltiness that complemented the sweetness perfectly.

     “Ahhhh,” Rufus exhaled happily, and two accidental fireballs shot out from his nostrils. It had been a perfect day so far.

     Underwater fishing at Ye Olde Fishing Vortex had gone splendidly. Rufus had caught plenty of fish to eat, and he was especially pleased with the Doomfish and Inferno Mollusk. Hot food was the best food.

     The Bombfish had been a fun catch as well, although it had blown up, albeit completely by accident, when the Scorchio’s tail had ignited the wick just as Rufus was turning around to fish some more. On a positive note, the cavern was now a little bigger, giving more room to more hopeful anglers… Well, maybe after the pier and fishing rental store had been rebuilt. That should really not be so difficult.

     Rufus pushed his doubts into the deepest recesses of his mind and continued daydreaming about his fantastic loot: a Lesser Spotted Fish, three Old Rotten Left Boots, a Dull Grey Pearl and the most adorable Nupie he had ever seen. His Frozen Mechafish had unfortunately melted when he tried to pick it up to place in his basket. You win some, you lose some. He shrugged.

     Apparently, it was possible to fish out Paint Brushes, but Rufus had not ever come across any. Not that he minded–he would not know what to do with them anyway. They could not be eaten. What else would he do with them? Paint himself a different colour? Rufus snorted. No, he would rather eat Inferno Mollusks all day, every day, while sitting in his cosy bonfire.

     Slowly, Rufus started to drift off into slumberland.

     ***

     Rufus woke up with a start.

     The fire had gone out and Rufus had started shivering again in the cold current. That was not the main reason Rufus had been jolted back to reality. There was something strange in the waters; the Scorchio could sense it. Rufus looked around. There was nothing but blackness. He craned his neck.

     Then, Rufus saw it.

     It seemed harmless at first–a nondescript, and rather faint blue light. That was, until Rufus realised the blue light was fast approaching him at terrifying speed.

     Rufus’s little heart leapt into his mouth. He swallowed. Was it really? Could it be? It was. The luminous blue spots lining this creature’s body were unmistakable.

     A Maraquan Jetsam.

     How could this be? How could this fabled being be right here in front of Rufus’s eyes?

     There was no time to think.

     Screaming, Rufus turned around and desperately flapped his tiny wings. They propelled him forward, but not fast enough. His muffled screams furiously bubbled up towards the surface of the sea. Rufus wanted to cry. He would not escape. He would become a tasty snack for a creature that did not, or at least should not, exist.

     As his salty tears mixed with the seawater, Rufus ruefully thought about the loss of his wonderful pile of marshmallows that he had left behind in his haste to escape. Perhaps, he shouldn’t have had quite so many. Perhaps then he would be able to swim just a little bit faster.

     Rufus peeked behind him. He gasped. The Jetsam was so close. Sobbing, Rufus flailed his limbs harder.

     Then—a rumble.

     Oh no.

     Rufus gulped. It was his stomach.

     “AHHHHHHH!”

     A flurry of bubbles escaped the screaming mouth of Rufus. At the same time, a fiery stream of flames streamed out of the flabbergasted Magma Scorchio’s rear end. Rufus blasted off into the distance at lightning speed like a rocket, before splatting unceremoniously onto a large, flat rock outcrop stretching up from the seabed below. Those Inferno Mollusks sure must have been potent.

     Rufus heaved a sigh of relief. Surely there was no way the grotesque monster could catch up to him now. Just to be sure, Rufus peered over the edge of the rock. There it was–a faint blue light bobbing towards him. The Scorchio’s lips quivered, and his eyes brimmed with tears. He was spent. He could not muster any more energy to even make the feeblest of attempts to escape. He slumped down with resignation, awaiting his fate.

     “Who are you?” a deep voice bellowed. Rufus’s eyes sprung open. He had not realised he had squeezed them shut in fear. He drew in a sharp breath, nearly choking on the seaweed that had been floating by.

     The blue bulb was shining right into his face. Behind the bulb, Rufus could see the long-razor sharp Jetsam teeth, threatening to skewer him into small pieces. The luminous blue spots on the muscular body of the fearsome Jetsam seemed to taunt him.

     Seconds ticked by. Somehow, Rufus was still alive.

     Rufus took a deep breath and scrutinised the creature. He noticed that the Jetsam had singed fins and black soot marks on his face. He appeared somewhat dishevelled. Was it Rufus’s doing? Rufus felt a tinge of guilt. The Jetsam coughed, interrupting Rufus’s thoughts. He shook himself.

     “What are you doing here? You don’t exist!” Rufus cried.

     “What do you mean? Why are you underwater? You’re a Magma Scorchio in Maraqua!” The Jetsam replied incredulously.

     “Maraqua? This is Magmaqua!”

     Bewildered, the two Neopets stared at each other. Neither of them could quite believe their eyes. This could not be real.

     “Bu-buu…But ho-how?” Rufus stammered in confusion. He felt like his world had suddenly been turned upside down.

     They looked at each other helplessly.

     “I… I suppose you are right,” the Maraquan Jetsam sighed defeatedly. “I saw a Magma Babaa floating by, and a few other curiosities, and I thought I just had been hallucinating. Then I spotted what I thought was a fire, and was intrigued. Turns out the fire was you.”

     A sense of relief flooded through Rufus. At least it was not him who was lost. Rufus examined the Jetsam’s mien, and could not help but feel sorry for him.

     “It is the first day of the month of Eating, Year 26, in Magmaqua, Neopia,” Rufus said, deep in thought.

     “That sounds right, except I thought it was Maraqua…” the Jetsam’s sorrowful voice trailed off.

     Rufus felt for his new friend.

     “It is the first day of Eating?” Realisation dawned on the Jetsam. Strange things always seemed to happen on this day.

     “I was having such a good day swimming around too,” the Jetsam pouted. Until I swam by Ye Olde Fishing Vortex, that is. I heard a loud boom, like an explosion. The next thing I knew was that I was getting sucked in.”

     Rufus listened intently. His cheeks flushed when he remembered the Bombfish he had set off earlier in the day. He suddenly felt a little responsible for the Jetsam’s plight. The burnt Jetsam’s eyes were gazing mournfully at Rufus.

     “Let’s go back to the Vortex. I think we can get you back to your Maraqua,” Rufus tried to comfort the Jetsam.

     ***

     “And we are looking for what exactly?” The Jetsam asked, full of confusion.

     “A Bombfish,” Rufus responded, but did not give more details. He did not want to admit that he may have played a part in the Jetsam’s unfortunate misadventure.

     “Got one!” Rufus exclaimed excitedly.

     Before the Maraquan Neopet could ask any more questions, Rufus lit the wick with his tail and threw it as deep into the Vortex as he could.

     “SWIM NOW!” Rufus yelled, giving the Jetsam a mighty push. Panic filled the poor creature’s eyes, but the Jetsam did as he was told.

     A loud boom erupted for the second time that day. With a purple flash, the Maraquan Jetsam disappeared. Rufus clapped his hands with delight.

     The Jetsam should be back home in his version of Neopia right now.

     Well, hopefully.

     The End.

 
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