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Venuquin


by phsycoticdancer

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Thirst. That is the first thing you feel upon waking. A light mist hits your face, and as you gain consciousness, you start to feel sick. Your head is spinning, and you cannot seem to lift yourself from your lying position because all of Neopia seems to be... rocking? It takes you a few minutes to realize that the world is at peace, and it is whatever you are lying on that is moving. Steadily, you prop yourself up and take in your surroundings. Where are you? You are surrounded by wood... a rowboat. The word pops into your head as you slowly begin to understand. You grope the edge of the boat... you have paws! What are these strange markings on them? As you look over the edge of the boat, the face of an island Kougra looks back at you from the water. For a minute, you are puzzled by its familiarity, but then realize that it is your own reflection. What is your name? You have no recollection. You have no memories of yourself. You take a long look around. Nothing, but blue, above you, below you, and around you. You are an Island Kougra without a memory in a wooden rowboat surrounded by unending water... your stomach grumbles. And you are hungry.

     In your peripheral vision you see something appear and disappear into the ocean. Are you hallucinating? Again! There it is! It happens so quickly, without so much as a splash, sound or ripple in the water. Carefully, you look into the water again. The sun shines brightly overhead but you cannot see more than a foot below the surface. There is nothing there. You must be seeing things. You splash water on your face and splutter as you accidentally inhale some of it. There is salt in the water, and some innate intuition tells you that this water is unfit to drink. As soon as you think that, your thirst comes back with new vengeance. Just your luck. Where are you? How did you get here? How do you get out of here? Will anyone think to look for you? An unpleasant feeling grows from the very center of your chest. Despair starts to settle in but before it places a firm grip on you, the glaring sun and exhausting midday heat takes your consciousness. Heavily, you slump over a wooden oar.

     An indefinite amount of time passes before you wake again. The air is now frigid, and you are wetter than ever. You shake off your blanket of dew. It is dark; night has fallen. You shiver, but the skin beneath your fur feels as if it were on fire, particularly on one side of your face. Lightly, you touch your cheek with your paw. It is extremely tender. Perhaps it was the sun's doing while you were unconscious. You splash water on your burns, hoping to soothe them. Ow! You let out a yelp. It stings! You are sore in many places, including the side that had rested on the oar. An oar! You quickly look around you. Your surroundings look no different than before; there is no sign of anything but water, unending water. An oar cannot help you, and you do not want to take the chance of rowing further into the aqueous wasteland. It seems the water you are in is there simply to torture you: too deep to swim in, too vast to navigate, too salty to use...

     Woefully, you look up to the heavens. Not even the stars are there to bring any consolation, you mourn, as dark, billowing clouds cover up the moon and the sky around it. You are so hungry and so thirsty. A cold, wet gust of air hits you, and a gentle rumble comes from over the horizon. Light raindrops fall from the sky, slowly at first but faster and faster they fall. You cringe, but the water does not burn. You feel the water making puddles where you sit, and greedily you fall on your paws to drink it up. As suddenly as it came, the storm stops, and the clouds dissipate. You hardly notice the light from the moon as you scramble around your boat to find where any rain might have accumulated.

     Dark forms appear and slip back into the water. Did you see them? No, you must still be imagining things, you think. You touch your head. It is hard and still in one piece, you darkly humor yourself. Your ears suddenly twitch. A faint sound is heard, but you cannot see signs of anything beside yourself drifting on these forsaken waters. What is that noise? It gradually becomes louder. Rich, dark and mellow, and oddly musical, though no melody can be discriminated from it. It circles around you, weaving through the air yet it seems to be coming from the water itself. Humming? It sounds like an echo... do ghosts haunt these waters? The idea strikes fear in your mind. Something in your memory tells you that a ghost is not a good thing to encounter on your own.

     Something bumps your boat and you nearly jump out of it in fright. Again! And again! Whatever it is pushes your boat in one direction. You realize that it cannot possibly be a ghost Neopet, but you are not comforted. Somehow, you feel safer staying in one place and knowing that you are in the middle of nowhere than moving towards somewhere and not knowing where.

     Through your fear comes a new boldness - you are going to do whatever it takes to stay alive. Your paws grab the splintering oar and you crawl over to the side of the boat from where the thumps come. You plunge the oar down into the water, but without avail. It takes more effort than you thought to move the oar through the water. Your energy is running low and you resign yourself to stabbing the water with your heavy piece of wood. You begin to think that it really is a ghost Neopet below these waters when all of your stabbing produces no target. With renewed frustration, you stab harder than before.

     Thunk.

     Your oar hits something, and your paws reverberate from the force. Your anger and frustration is immediately replaced with panic. What if you made it angry? A few moments pass, and there are no more thumps, and your boat does not move. Your breathing is shallow, your senses heightened. Your eyes scan the darkness blindly; your ears are deafened by the silence. Suddenly, something explodes out of the water, drenching you to the bone. You let out a cry and cover your eyes with your paws. The boat tilts to the side and in vain you try not to slide, but with your paws over your eyes there is little you can do. Your back paws hit the side of the boat, and the boat almost tips. You sit there, shivering and not willing to confront whatever it is that is now leaning on the side of your vessel. You hear a snort, and you feel a warm spray on your face. Slowly you remove your paws. Your eyes widen, as you look straight into the eyes of...

     A great, big Peophin.

     Your eyes feel as if they could pop from your skull as you fail to comprehend the situation. You are too shocked to notice, but the Peophin regards you with an air of curiosity. The great blue Neopet moves its muzzle closer to your frozen visage, and the boat wobbles precariously. It seems like an eternity passes before the Peophin snorts again and disappears silently into the water. The air is silent. Your boat is still. You are all alone again.

     Another moment passes and the realization hits you. You stifle a sob as your eyes scan wildly for the dark form, your ears straining to hear any hint of that mournful melody. Come back! you cry. Don't leave me here! Again and again you call until your voice breaks and you dissolve into bitter tears. Miserably, you cry yourself to sleep. Hours pass and you toss and turn wildly in a feverish torpor. You dream of a beautiful, golden-crowned, blue Peophin who tells you to follow her, but as hard and as fast as you row, she moves on and your boat stays where it is. You dream of the bright sun but the light is cold, and you dream of an oasis in the salty sea but it dissolves into nothingness before you reach it. You dream of a splintering old wooden boat that sinks below your feet, leaving you to stand on nothing but meters and meters of water. You are losing hope, fast, and in your dream you feel yourself grow tired... your paws ache, and every limb struggles to keep your head above the waves. You are so tired... so tired... and at last your head sinks below the surreal surface. You are about to take your first lungful of liquid when-

     Thump.

     You wake immediately. It is still night, and your eyes are puffy and sore. Your heart is pumping fast and the scenes from your dream still wander in front of your eyes. You sniffle some, but you are hopeful of what you have heard... but no more thumps come. You believe it was another figment of your imagination; perhaps you have been hallucinating all this time.

     Thump. This time it is unmistakable. You could almost shout for joy. Has the Peophin returned?

     Thump. Thump. ThumpThumpThump. THUMP! THUMP!

     Your boat is moving faster, the air blows all around you, but the thumps come so fast and so forcefully that you fear something is attacking your boat. With every impact you are painfully thrown to another side of the boat. Finally, you throw your arms around the bench of your rowboat, dig your claws into the wood, and clench your eyes shut. You take a deep breath and hold it in, waiting to hear that fatal splintering sound... but it never comes. Your breathing eases slowly but still you keep your eyes tightly shut.

     Moments later, drops of water hit your face. Rain is a silent predator, you think. Hesitantly, you look up, and you see the dark form of a Peophin obscure the moon as it sails over you. From the other side, yet another Peophin leaps above you. You hear their echoes, you hear them humming and snorting and splashing all around you. You sit up and take a look around. There must be a whole herd there! The blues, greens, golds, browns, purples - each one dancing through the waters. The colors light up the ocean around you. Like a current, they steer your boat towards the rising moon.

     A familiar pair of eyes peers at you from above the water. The look of relief on your face is the only thanks the Peophin needs.

     ***

     Dawn breaks over the horizon. You hear splashing and the dull rumble of the surf. Your boat is gently rocking, and your eyes open to see the sun break over the peaks of a distant mountain. Mountain? You scramble to your paws to view your surroundings. There are no signs of the Peophins. You see sandy beaches and rocks; you see huts built along the shore. You see Neopets running from those huts towards you. These Neopets have markings on their fur similar to yours. They are getting closer. You recognize some of their faces, and you realize-

     You are home.

The End

Venuquin the Guide: Often called the mother of all Peophins; legend has it she swam the southern seas of Neopia rescuing sailors and leading ships out of danger.

 
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