The Travels of Mijjol Lightwielder: Part Two
Part Two: Perseverance
Kentari the weapons master was tidying up his Shenkuu shop, preparing for another day of business. The first rays of morning were slicing through the window, illuminating the rows of weapons that lay waiting in their glass cases.
The Shoyru hummed as he dusted the framed words that hung above his counter: The strength of a warrior does not depend on his weapon, yet a warrior is not strongest without a weapon of quality. It was a good motto.
A customer came through the door.
Kentari turned. “My, you’re early!” he cried.
“I am here to purchase my first weapon,” said the red Mynci, with knotted calmness. “Will you recommend one?”
The shopkeeper frowned at him critically. “Your name is... Mijjol, right? Aren’t you the apprentice of Anshu the medicine-Ruki?”
The young Mynci softened his gaze. “Yes, I was,” he answered quietly, “but I had to leave him. It is my dream to become an adventurer, Sword-master! Won’t you recommend a good weapon for me?”
Kentari looked into Mijjol’s keen dark eyes and saw that he was earnest, just as the old Ruki had been when he first decided to adopt the Mynci.
“Ah... all right.” The shopkeeper sighed. “Come this way.”
His many weapons jangled against his armour as he moved to the back of the shop, where there was a beautiful display of slender, sharp blades. Mijjol picked one up and admired the flash that flowed down its edge.
“That’s a silver sai,” Kentari told him. “It isn’t easily wielded, but when it is used with skill, it can be quite invincible. Go on – give it a try; see how you like it.”
Mijjol swung it. The blade coursed awkwardly through the air. The large handle encumbered his fingers. He put it down and took up another sword. This one was significantly lighter and had a much narrower handle. It gleamed in the early sun like a sliver of platinum.
“That’s a gold handled katana,” said Kentari, “light but lethal. Excellent when paired with a nimble warrior.”
Mijjol gave it a swish. The result was lightning; he found himself jumping, spinning, whirling. He could have faced anything and defeated it with ease. The feeling of power suffused his entire being...
Clang. A spear rose up to meet his katana.
There was a short, quivering silence.
Kentari let out his breath with a whoosh and lowered his spear. “That was spectacular!” he exclaimed.
“Yes,” said the Mynci absently, staring at the gold handled katana.
“You have power with that blade, for sure,” remarked the Shoyru, “but if you’re going to use it, I must warn you: what you have in your hand is a double-edged sword. You can accomplish great virtue with it, but you can also fall into the darkest evil.”
“I’m buying this katana,” Mijjol breathed.
The shopkeeper was solemn as he wrote out the receipt. “Is there anything else you require?”
Mijjol chose a black leather helmet. It was always good to have some protection.
Master Anshu stretched and pulled himself out of bed. It was a lovely, bright morning. He took a sip of tea to clear his head and slipped into his white robes.
“Mijjol!” he called. “Are you up yet? It’s time to go herb-gathering!”
There was no answer. Puzzled, the old Ruki entered the main shop. The door leading to the young Mynci’s room was ajar. He pushed on it gently, and an empty room met his eyes.
Anshu turned away. A dim panic was stirring within him, but hope forced it down. His gaze darted fleetly around the shop, paused at dark corners, moved on... and alighted on the shop counter.
His aged body sprang forward with a surprising speed. He stood very still as he read the letter.
I must follow my dream. The words were written with a firm, swift passion.
“My dear boy.” The old Ruki sighed and sank into a chair.
The Shenkuu port was bustling with merchant ships. Mijjol watched the sailors busy at work around the ships, loading and unloading crates of goods. One of the smaller vessels was almost ready. Only a few crates remained to be loaded.
Mijjol saw his chance. He walked up to the captain, who was leaning against a crate observing the skies.
“What d’ya want, lad?” the grey Skeith demanded gruffly as the Mynci approached.
“I’m heading west,” Mijjol explained, “and I was wondering if you would be so kind as to take me. For a fee, of course.”
“This vessel is bound for Terror Mountain, actually,” said the captain.
“Just take me there,” Mijjol shrugged. “It doesn’t really matter.”
“Now that’s interesting!” The Skeith leaned down to look closely at this young Mynci. “What d’ya want to go there for?”
“I’m going on an adventure,” said Mijjol. “Please, will you take me?”
The Skeith rumbled. “Hmm... you look a little young to be going out alone, eh?”
“I’ll pay you 1000 Neopoints.”
The captain chortled. “Hardly the amount of profit I earn from shipping a crate o’ silk.”
“Aah... just shove off to your master like a good laddie, will ya?” The Skeith got up lazily and went to inspect his vessel.
Mijjol clenched his fist around his katana handle, but he remembered Kentari’s words. He sighed and sat down on a crate.
The other ships were taking forever to get ready. At this rate Master Anshu would discover him before he had time to get away.
The last crate was being loaded onto the grey Skeith’s vessel. Mijjol made up his mind. He seized a moment when no one was looking, and skimmed across the gangway onto the vessel.
“We must move faster!” the Skeith was growling. “The customers are expecting their goods in four hours! D’ya hear? Four hours! And we aren’t even halfway there!”
“We’re doing the best we can, cap’n,” a timid voice replied, “but the winds aren’t cooperating!”
The red Mynci hid behind the crates on deck, listening to the raging argument. Occasionally a spray of seawater dampened his fur. He sat back, trying to be comfortable against the hard, rocking crates.
“Arrrr! At this rate we’ll have to throw out some cargo! Better to lose some customers than all of ’em!”
Mijjol didn’t wait for them to find him. He selected the smallest crate, cut a hole in the side with his katana, and revealed the china ornaments nestled inside. Swiftly, he lifted them out one by one and cast them out to the churning waves. They sank quickly without complaint, dissolving into the froth that trailed behind the vessel.
“Only three hours and forty-five minutes left!” the Skeith howled from up front.
Mijjol sliced open another crate, but it was full of silk. The smooth fabric would float on the waves and betray him easily. Besides, they weren’t of significant weight. Not wasting time, Mijjol pushed his katana into a third crate and worked out a chunk of wood. This crate was packed with heavy gemstones. Sorry, captain, he thought, as he grabbed them by the handfuls and scattered them into the sea.
By the time that crate was emptied, the small merchant vessel was surging forward at a reasonably faster pace.
“The wind seems to have picked up a bit, cap’n!”
“Well, good! Keep your eye out for pirates!”
Mijjol relaxed. He gazed thoughtfully at the folds of silk and selected a golden piece. Twisting it in his deft hands, he fashioned it into a belt and fastened his katana on it. It was light and quite secure.
The rest of the voyage passed by peacefully. Occasionally a pirate ship was sighted in the distance, but the small vessel was quick and no harm came to pass.
Finally, when Mijjol was feeling a little dizzy from all the rocking, the great peaks of Terror Mountain came into view. He tightened his belt, adjusted his helmet, and watched the horizon keenly. As the vessel drew towards land, Mijjol emerged from the crates with a flash and jumped. His belt of golden silk fluttered as he arced through the air.
“Hey! Who’s that?” a Tonu sailor shouted, but the Mynci had already disappeared into the snow.
From the deck came an anguished roar. The grey Skeith was standing beside three damaged crates, two of which were yawning empty.
Mijjol stood, rather unsteadily it must be admitted, in a crystalline world. Nearby a crazy vendor was selling ice-cream. A group of little Aishas stood wailing around the closed Advent Calendar. A little way beyond, a Cybunny with a beautiful pink scarf came out of a shop carrying her new wintry petpet.
Mijjol shivered in his thin clothing. It had never occurred to him that an exciting winter wonderland could be soooooo... colddddd...
There was a chrome-coloured house right in front of him touting “Merry Outfits”. He rushed in, but there were no winter clothes for sale. Instead, there were many Christmas-themed Neopets on parade. Mijjol stayed for a while, warming his fur, and scanned the platinum landscape.
Snow-capped houses and well-wrapped Neopets scattered across the valley. Voices and snowflakes twirled through the air. There didn’t seem to be any place for a poor, shivering Mynci.
Beyond the cheerful villagers, a path led up into the ice caves.
Mijjol looked back at the glistening sea, at the busy valley, and at the path. He took a deep, long breath. And so, emerging from the warmth of “Merry Outfits”, he ran up towards the Ice Caves.
To be continued...