A Hero's Journey: Part Two
Rupert stumbled on the shaky bridge that stretched the gap between firm, sturdy land and the rocking boat. The boat sported a rainbow sail that Rupert could only hope would last the full journey, it seemed a bit lackluster compared to the grand warships he had read about in his books about seafarers. This seemed like a rickity replacement and again his nerves set in. But he knew he had to press on if he was going to make it to Mystery Island. And so he found a nice seat in the shade of the sail, and tucked his backpack underneath his seat and pulled out a book to read on the long journey.
What Rupert did not realize is that the boat would rock so much. You see, when you are on an unstable piece of wood out in the wavy ocean, reading could cause you to feel quite nauseous. In fact, just about everything would cause you to feel quite nauseous. Rupert's head began to feel light and his stomach started to turn and turn as the boat pressed forward through the waves and further into the horizon. He looked back and saw the sight of land was dwindling and he started to become horrified. What have I done, he thought in panic. He realized there is no turning back now, no matter how much he wanted to. This boat is going to keep going and I have to keep going too. I have to keep it together...I have to keep it together...I have to keep my lunch in my stomach. But he continued to feel more and more queasy.
"Ay boy, you're lookin' quite ill there," Rupert heard a voice ring out. He tried to fix his eyes on the source but couldn't quite steady his head enough. "Hey, are you okay??" This time when the voice spoke, Rupert saw the speaker. The glistening purple fur, a pair of extravagant wings like nothing the little Draik had seen before..it was a Faerie Kougra.
"I'm Nate," said the Faerie Kougra. "Look, I ride this boat a few times a week. I've seen that look before. You've got a case of sea sickness! Let me help. If you focus your eyes on one spot, look straight down the horizon and concentrate as hard as you can on it. Don't look around, don't look down. Steady your eyes and you'll feel better. As soon as you look away, the sickness will come back. Heard me?"
Rupert attempted to lift his head and look out at the stretch of blue. His eyes began to fixate on the spot where the deep, royal blue ocean met with the light blue of the sky. He pressed his eyes to focus on the line stretching between the two. "Th-Thank you," Rupert spoke shyly, but with gratitude. "I'm Rupert."
"Anytime! This can be a tough journey if you've never made it before! Is this your first time?" Nate had a smile on his face, but Rupert was too afraid to look over and lose his focus on the horizon.
"Y-yes. I've never been on a boat before...Actually, I've never left Neopia Central."
"What!?" Nate exclaimed, shock on his face. His Faerie wings came down gently, a sign of concern. "What are you doing making this long journey to Mystery Island then?? I would've thought you might have visited historic Altador or the fields of Meridell on your first vacation."
"Well," Rupert began. "I want to be a hero."
"A hero? A hero of what? Is someone in trouble over on Mystery Island? You know they have an Island Mystic and a group of leaders to handle such a thing, right? You don't have to get involved!"
"No, no. Nothing like that. At least I don't think there is any trouble there. But I read in one of my books about a Red Nimmo who is capable of teaching me strength and agility." Rupert's nerves began to subside as he re-focused on the reasons he was on this terrifying quest in the first place. "I spend most of my time in the library, reading. I read about these amazing heroes like Lisha, who helped to break the spell over King Skarl during the Kass War. And I recently read about Armin, a tiny little Bori who assisted Hannah in taking out the Bringer Of Night. I'm small like Armin, I can be strong like him too. I..." his voice started to quiver. "I want to be strong."
While Rupert was telling his story, Nate watched the expression on this Draik's face. He watched the way Rupert's eyes grew with hope behind his thick-framed glasses, and when he started talking about his wishes to be strong, he saw a look of sadness take over. "Ay, you have to believe in yourself," Nate comforted Rupert. "You are strong, just look at you! You're out here, a lot of people are too afraid of pirates and the currents of the ocean to even board this boat!"
"PIRATES!?" Rupert exclaimed, horrified. "There are PIRATES?!"
Realizing his terrible choice of words, Nate placed a comforting hand on Rupert's shoulder. "No, no, don't worry about that. Pirates rarely come for our boat, we don't carry many treasures aboard and it's a waste of their time. The biggest problem out here is what you're facing now: sea sickness. Just relax or it'll get worse. Eyes on the horizon."
Rupert looked back out at the endless stretch of blue. Allowing himself to get lost in his thoughts, in the stories that he had read back home. He began to think about pirates, and to think of his favorite pirate, Garin.
Garin is a pirate captain, most famous for his ship, The Black Pawkeet. He would spend most of his days sailing around Krawk Island, looting for Dubloons and other expensive items from unsuspecting ships passing through on the way to the island. What always drew Rupert to his story was how Garin almost had a turn of heart. During the Curse of Maraqua, he had assisted Isca in defending the Kingdom Of Maraqua. He fought mercilessly against the terrible Captain Scarblade and the crew of the Revenge, the ship attempting to seize the underwater kingdom. This act earned him a place in the Gallery Of Heroes, the place Rupert dreamed of being, but Garin was still a pirate. He had assisted to save Maraqua, but after all was said and done, he went in and stole a maractite dagger from the kingdom. Isca attempted to convince the Usul to give up his life of piracy, to live peacefully in Maraqua, but Garin could not give up his passion for looting. He and The Black Pawkeet returned to Krawk Island's waters to continue to steal from weaker ships. The reason Garin remains in the Gallery Of Heroes is because, although he is a thief, he doesn't practice violence when getting the goods. He tries to use peaceful means to steal, which hasn't warranted a removal of his status as a hero. His good deeds still outweigh the bad.
Rupert didn't aspire to be like Garin though. He doesn't want to do a mix of good and bad, he doesn't want to hurt anyone, not even a Mootix. He wants to take on the evils of this world and not contribute any negativity. Hurting someone is out of Rupert's realm of possibilities. But he does wonder, somewhere deep down, if you can only become a hero by stepping on those around you like Garin does. But he quickly dismisses that thought, not every hero has a bad side.
His mind has wandered for what seems like hours and the sea sickness has relaxed since he has been staring at the horizon. But he is still too nervous to turn his gaze elsewhere. He hears other members of the ship chatting along, laughing and enjoying themselves. People make this commute many times, some as part of business, exporting fruits or other goods, while others are here as a leisure activity. He's read in a few guidebooks and brochures that Mystery Island is a very popular vacation destination and many Neopians go there to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life to experience something new. And while he has a different idea for how he'll spend his time, he does want to try to enjoy the atmosphere and a little bit of beach time. He wants to have fun where he's going.
A smile crosses his face as he dreams of the fun in the sun. He's attitude is beginning to relax and the nerves are waning, his spirit has been lifted. He thinks of ways to thank Nate, the kind Kougra, before they dock on shore and go their separate ways. His eyes still focused sharply on the horizon, he sees a big jolly roger flag approaching and thinks to himself about how they are almost at land!
Ah! A Jolly Roger flag! That must mean we are close. I swear that flag looks familiar, maybe I've seen it in one of the pamphlets for a Mystery Island vacation. Then reality sets in. A jolly roger flag...I know where I've seen that before... Horror washes over him like a bucket of cold water dumped on his head.
A jolly roger flag is the international symbol of a pirate ship on the verge of an attack. And it's coming straight for them.
To Be Continued...