Sanity is forbidden Circulation: 102,975,150 Issue: 203 | 12th day of Hiding, Y7
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The Rainbow Pearl: Part One


by charlotte203368

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The dim lantern hanging from a rafter in the Tombola Man's hut was all that illuminated the small space in which he lived. Most people would think he would have lived in grandeur-how else would he have been able to afford all of the trinkets at the Tombola?

     He didn't. Most of the Neopoints were from Jhuidah, anyway.

     The Tombola Man snored softly on his mat of rushes. Clutched in his hands was the only thing that was of great value to him.

     It was a pretty seashell on a silver chain. The seashell, however, was a lavender color flanked by something like molten gold. Inside was a large pearl.

     It was a rainbow one, honed by Maraqua's best pearl-makers. All of the colors shined on it, seeming to sparkle in itself. It was magic, nonetheless.

     A puff of purple-and-green smoke appeared outside of the Tombola Man's modest hut. No one noticed Jhudora appear with a beguiling smirk upon her face. She went inside of the Tombola Man's hut.

     Curling her lip disgustedly at his mix-match of clothes thrown along the floor, she grabbed the locket and hurried outside. Unfolding her wings, she jumped into the air and flew.

     The waves crashed against the rocks as she flew against the night air. The full moon was the only thing illuminating the sky, casting eerie shadows against the dark ocean. What lurks under there, reader, is a whole mystery in itself.

     Suddenly, an eclipse started. Jhudora cast a fleeting glance at the moon and shrieked in agony as the bright light flooded through her body. She dropped the locket.

     Into the foaming azure waves it went.

     *

     Life in Meridell was hard for Ariadne, a mere peasant Zafara under all of the of lords, ladies, dukes, duchesses, and especially-Morgras, son of Morguss, who was Temporary King. Ariadne hated him, for he had stripped her mother and father of their riches, and then tore her away from them, to live with her uncle, a lowly farmer living by the outskirts of Meridell.

     Ariadne had learned to stay out of his way and go hunt for "treasures" to sell. That was the only way the peasants were able to have extra Neopoints.

     She had never joined in group hunts, usually just sitting by the sea on some lone rock and gazing into the waters.

     This time, something sparked her eye, away from her usual resting place.

     Something shiny was hidden on the shore's edge, in the sand. Ariadne reached in, fumbling for something, hoping for some shiny jewel.

     What she pulled out was not what she wanted. Crestfallen, she wiped numerous amounts of dirt and grime off of the shell she had picked up. Ariadne brightened up a little when she saw it was on a silver chain. Hurriedly, she wiped off more dirt and grime. As she saw the hinges, and then the little clasp, she was sure it was a locket, though maybe not of great value.

     Soon all of the dirt had been shoved off, and Ariadne opened it.

     To her surprise, out fell a beautifully honed rainbow pearl.

     She hurriedly put it back and raced back home.

     "Well, come on in!" rasped her old uncle, a green Ixi by the name of Luceras. His fur, though dirty, contained an everlasting sheen to the tips of his graying hairs. He smiled a crooked smile.

     "What'd you get this time, girl?" he asked, stroking his fur thoughtfully.

     Ariadne pulled out the locket for him to see. He snatched it out of her hands like it was some sort of valuable object. He sat down on his bench and examined it, shell to hinges. Finally, he opened it.

     With breathless wonder Ariadne's uncle scrutinized the rainbow pearl. He at last put it back into the locket and leaned against his small bed.

     "Where did you get it?" he queried.

     "At the seashore-everyone goes there to find stuff, you know," answered Ariadne simply. "What am I to do with it?" she added.

     "Sell it, of course!" muttered her uncle, motioning for her to get out of the house. Dejectedly, Ariadne exited her small cottage and headed down the path.

     Sorvos the Shadow Kougra was the only person the traders knew who would trade with them. All of the other traders usually dealt with the lords and ladies, but Sorvos was tricky-he knew how to make an easy profit, and trading with the peasants would fit his ambition quite nicely. Ariadne had once uncovered a transmogrification potion and traded it for a Starry Paint Brush, though she was quite lucky to have struck an even bargain.

      The locket was hanging around her neck, making a crease in her midnight blue fur. She was proud of being painted-not everyone, even the lords and ladies of Meridell Castle, had been painted a beautiful color like Ariadne.

     As she knocked on Sorvos's door, she could hear a loud amount of muttering and grumbling inside.

     "Password?" a gruff voice muttered from Sorvos's hut. Ariadne rolled her eyes.

     "C'mon Sorvos, you know it's me, Ariadne," she grumbled. She heard Sorvos unlocking bolts from his door, and then opening it to her.

     The Shadow Kougra nodded courteously to her, about the best he gave any of his customers.

     "What do you want to buy?" he inquired, giving Ariadne a gracious sweep of his long, black tail.

     "I'm not buying anything-I want to sell," Ariadne answered promptly, producing forth the locket. Sorvos seized it greedily, running his paws on it, caressing its smooth surface. Ariadne wrested it from him with some difficulty and opened it up. Out fell the beautiful rainbow pearl.

     "What do you offer me?" Ariadne asked, her black eyes penetrating Sorvos's shadowed grin.

     "It's very pretty…but I'm not so sure about what it's worth. That shell isn't just any shell. It's like pure diamond, wrought by magic, probably. I don't know about the pearl, either…" Sorvos droned off into a rather faintly conceived daze.

     Ariadne glared at him and walked out, swinging the locket around on her fingers.

     When she returned, her uncle looked up at her eagerly, and then sank down. He could not see any Neopoints.

     "Did you sell it?" he asked eagerly.

     "No. Sorvos sort of-fainted," answered Ariadne sourly, exiting her uncle's room to go into her own. She slung the locket onto her pallet of rushes and coarse blankets.

     Tossing aside a pile of books purchased from Sorvos, Ariadne yawned, and fell asleep.

     She awoke the next day to a Spyder hanging in front of her face. She, unlike other people, was used to them. Carefully, she pulled on the small string of web connecting the spider to the ceiling and threw it out of the window.

     Fingering the locket beside her, she put it on. Her cold fingers were suddenly filled with warmth as she exited the cottage to go hunt things by the seaside. Ariadne was rather alarmed at the height the waves were getting, but she went towards her rock to look for things.

     By the time she got there, the waves were already licking the top of it. The waves splashed onto her feet, and she knew something was wrong. She dived headfirst into the cold water and reached the shore just in time. The waves were sucking out the sand, and she had to get away.

     Ariadne ran, casting only a fleeting glance at the shadows trailing behind her. Dirt and sand spurted from under her as she ran off into the woods. She could hear the waves crashing against Meridell Castle, battering against the mold-laden rocks, presumed invincible.

     She scaled a tree like she was a Mynci and waited, breathless. Ariadne rubbed her sore back against the tree and slept on, unfeeling.

     Ariadne awoke to a strange sword lying by her side. A scroll had been attached to it. She opened it.

     Three shall go,

     Two to come back,

     But none shall adventures lack,

     The key to friendship forever lost,

     To find the hall at whatever cost.

     The peasant, the evil one, and magic shall go,

     To seal their fates one by one,

     Nothing can make it undone.

     Ariadne thought nothing of it and tossed it off of the tree and went over to examine the sword. It was rightfully hers, since she was the peasant, after all. She, unperturbed, thwacked the sword at a rather thick tree bough. To her surprise, it sliced cleanly through it and fell to the ground.

     Ariadne climbed down amongst the sodden mess of ground. Leaves crinkled underfoot as she made her way towards Meridell Castle.

     Fervently, she hoped to see that all of the peasants had made it to the castle, but when she pushed back a few annoying twigs from her face that were obscuring her vision, she did not like what she saw.

     There weren't any peasant cottages there. Only Meridell Castle, looming overhead, remained. But it wasn't even Meridell Castle anymore. The big black stones, malachite, Ariadne's uncle had called it, were laid everywhere on the ground. Meridell Castle, as invincible as it seemed, had fallen. Ariadne knew Morgras had probably fled somewhere else-he possessed a rather darkly humorous talent, for bad magic. After all, his mother was Morguss, anyway.

      But the only thing right then on Ariadne's mind was revenge. She knew Morgras had caused the typhoon, and killed nearly everyone.

     "Morgras, I'm going to get you!" Ariadne yelled to the wind.

     Nothing happened except for a faint rustling amongst the tall trees.

     Ariadne trudged reluctantly towards a small dock by the seashore. It was nighttime-and Ariadne was not seen. Her midnight blue-black coat could not have fit in more perfectly, except for her occasional yellow stars.

     A Batterfly flapped around near Ariadne, shrieking as a gust of wind battered it backwards. Ariadne untangled a rope from one of the wooden boats and hoisted the sail. One of the Mortogs supposedly guarding the boats awoke with a croak.

     One of the boatmen rushed out of his shack, intent on catching the thief. His loud curses rang in the air with a tone of harsh rage.

     But Ariadne did not hear them-she was far gone.

To be continued...

 
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