The Travels of Mijjol Lightwielder: Part One
Part One: Ascendance
The morning that the old Ruki came, grey strands of rain drizzled from the sky, layering the Neopian Pound in mist. Mijjol the red Mynci sat silently, shivering and staring through the veil at the passers-by. He had been abandoned just seven days after his creation. By now he had given up asking why. All he wanted was for someone, some glimmer of hope, to come through the veil and take him home.
And the old Ruki came.
The old Ruki came, from out of the blurry world. His eyes were large amber orbs, gleaming like golden discs under his cloudy eyebrows. His delicate feelers were held up by rounds of white cloth, and he had a fair, flowing beard. A silky veil poured down his back, and folds of white robes encased his body. Wherever he went, the fragrance of herbs floated lightly around him.
He made his way steadily to the adoption desk. “My name is Anshu and I am looking for a healthy, willing apprentice,” he told the pink Uni in his exotic Shenkuu accent.
Mijjol sat up straighter. This Ruki had come all the way from Shenkuu! How cool was that?!
The adoptions officer was clearly pleased. “This way, sir,” she said, leading him toward the rows of abandoned Neopets.
Anshu looked intently at each and every Neopet, moving slowly and deliberately along the aisle. Mijjol felt his breath come faster and tighter as the old Ruki approached. “Pick me! Pick me!” he thought desperately. “Please pick me!”
The old Ruki came closer and closer, his pace never wavering. For one terrible moment it seemed as if he were about to pass. But Mijjol looked straight into the amber eyes, pleading silently.
Anshu halted. “What is your name?”
“Mijjol,” the Mynci almost shouted.
The old Ruki regarded him quietly for a while. “You have light in your eyes,” he remarked at last. “Are you willing to work hard for a living?”
Work? Mijjol was only eight days old. What did he know about work? But “Yes!” he exclaimed, “yes,” if it meant going somewhere as faraway and exciting as Shenkuu.
Anshu straightened up, satisfied. The other Neopets sagged perceptibly.
“I’ll take this Mynci.”
The adoptions officer scooped Mijjol up and placed him next to his new master. Mijjol did a little leap of joy. He waved at the other Neopets as he left. Perhaps they would get lucky someday and be adopted too.
Anshu signed some paperwork at the counter, and then they were off. The pink Uni gave Mijjol a farewell smile. “Lucky, lucky boy,” she said. “Have fun!”
Mijjol was in a daze as he followed his master to the dock. Just moments ago the world had been so dark, so dreary. Now he was off on a new voyage, sailing off into the blue, blue future.
Mijjol had been living in Shenkuu for quite some time now. The tall, green mountains laced with sun and fog, the ribbons of clear water, the intricate heavy-roofed houses dotting the landscape, the deep red banners stirring in the breeze, the merchant ships coming to harbour... they were all familiar and dear to him.
It was a peaceful, delicate town.
Early each morning, Mijjol and his master climbed the mountains in search of medicinal herbs. Mijjol carried the great bamboo basket while Master Anshu bent amongst the wild grasses, picking out the special mushrooms and leaves.
“These prampet leaves,” he would tell Mijjol, “are good for soothing various skin ailments.” Or: “These red beans, when ground into powder, can improve a patient’s eyesight.”
Mijjol would nod to show that he was listening.
When the sun rose higher in the sky and the basket was full, they would return to their dark-roofed abode. Mijjol would assist his master in preparing medicines, grinding beans to powder, mashing clay and leaves in a mortar, pressing out herbs to dry. Before long it would be time to put up the banner “Remarkable Restoratives” and open the shop.
Time passed lazily behind the shop counter. Mijjol dusted the shelves and checked the brews, but otherwise there was not much else to do. Sometimes he played little games by himself, arranging dried herbs in patterns or drawing pictures in ground beans. The old Ruki stayed in the backroom, writing up recipes for new medicines.
When a customer came in, the little iron bell would tinkle, and the old Ruki would emerge from the backroom. Usually the customer was a distraught Usul lady who had a very weak child.
“My child is ill again,” she would wail. “What can I do?”
Anshu would offer her a cup of soothing herbal tea. “What are his symptoms?” he would ask patiently. “Is he feeling feverish again?”
“Yes. He can’t keep his food down...”
Together they would pick out a few medicines that the patient needed, and Mijjol would help weigh them out in packets. Then the customer would hand over the Neopoints, exclaiming, “I don’t know what I’d do without your shop!”
Master Anshu would smile for a long time after. He’d say to Mijjol, “That, my boy, is what you get for being a reputable medicine dealer.”
For some reason Mijjol was never very impressed.
In the evening, after they closed the shop, the old Ruki would sit down with his big wooden abacus and calculate the day’s earnings. That was Mijjol’s favourite time of day, because it meant he was free to do whatever he wanted.
Usually he crossed the hanging bridge and climbed the central mountain to reach the Lunar Temple. A wise old Gnorbu lived there, spending all his time poring over raggedy maps of the moon. He would nod slowly when Mijjol bounded in.
“Ah, welcome, young Mynci,” he’d croak. “Do you think you have what it takes to accurately track the movement of Kreludor?”
“Sure,” Mijjol would say. He didn’t care much for the position of the moon; he was drawn to the reward that the Gnorbu would give. After looking at the chart and guessing the appearance of the moon, he would leave happily with his reward.
From the central mountain he could see the great ship of Cyodrake’s Gaze in the distance. Legend had it that it was Cyodrake’s Gaze that discovered Shenkuu and unveiled it to the world. It sounded like a grand adventure. Mijjol secretly wished that he could go out and explore Neopia, too.
He stored his accumulated wealth carefully in an old medicine pouch. About half of the money came from Lunar Festival well-wishers; the other half came from his daily earnings. He hoped one day to buy some proper equipment from the “Wondrous Weaponry” armoury and set out into the world. He didn’t dare to tell his master of his ambition, but he wished for it in secret, all the same.
Every day that he stirred up brews and dusted shelves, he thought of the great, open sea and the lands beyond. Every time that he passed by the armoury, he imagined weighing the weapons in his hand.
He loved Shenkuu; and yet he longed to leave it behind.
Finally there came a day when Mijjol had enough money. He knelt in his little room at the back of the shop, counting his Neopoints with Master Anshu’s abacus. The numbers tallied... and they tugged at his heartstrings.
It was still early. The red Mynci could hear his master snoring softly in the adjourning room. For a moment Mijjol wondered if he should tell his master that he was leaving. It seemed fair; the old Ruki had rescued him from the Pound, after all. And yet, he couldn’t bear to see the worry in those golden, orb-like eyes...
Mijjol put his Neopoints carefully back into his bag and checked that he had enough food. A tomato, some fajita chips, an orange, a bitten green apple, and a can of Neocola. That should last him for a while. He had prepared a small amount of medicines, too, just in case.
Silently, he crept toward the shop counter and pulled a sheet of paper toward him. He prepared the ink, reached for a brush, and dipped it contemplatively in the black pool. The words gathered, rose and blossomed in him. He lowered the brush, and, in his best calligraphy, began to write.
I must thank you for adopting me from the Pound and giving me a chance at a good life. All these years as your apprentice, I have learned many things from you. The most important thing that you ever taught me was perseverance. But now I must admit that I never wanted to become a medicine-pet. I want to go out and see the world, and your value of perseverance will guide me on my path.
I hope that the work I have done here is to your satisfaction. I am sorry to leave you so suddenly, but I must follow my dream. After all, you were an adventurer too, once, with the Cyodrake’s Gaze.
I will be fine. I have saved up enough money and food for the trip. With the knowledge of medicines that you have kindly bestowed on me, I am confident that I will not fail.
Thank you again for your kindness and understanding. I promise to come back as soon as I can.
He spread the letter out on the table and read it several times. Then, taking a last glance back at the sleeping shop, he picked up his bag and left.
To be continued...