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Lao and the Legend of the Sun: Part Two


by reggieman721

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The busy atmosphere on the Destiny was absolutely nothing compared to the hectic nature of the Mystery Island harbour. Ships were being loaded and emptied constantly; workers were bustling on every inch of the docks. Merchants carried their crates full of exotic goods back and forth, and young ones watched in awe as the business of the day was carried out. Lao would have been among them if he hadn't been working so hard. As soon as they had docked in the harbour, Captain Eran had wasted no time in doling out tasks. The bigger Neopets were occupied with carrying the crates of goods from Shenkuu to the market, which was a short distance from the docks. Some of the officers went off to conduct business with other merchants. Other pets were assigned to remain on the ship. To his dismay, the captain informed Lao that he was one of these pets.

      "But please, sir," said Lao meekly, "Isn't there something I can do on the island? I'd really like to help, and we're only here for a day."

      Captain Eran gave Lao a stern look and was about to reply when the first mate tapped him on the shoulder and whispered something in his ear. The Eyrie raised an eyebrow and turned to leave. Over his shoulder, he called, "I have some business to attend to. You may gather some fruit on the island, but you must be back before sunrise tomorrow morning."

      That was all Lao needed to hear. With an excited whoop, he leapt over the side of the ship and landed on the dock. Grinning from ear to ear, the yellow Shoyru made his way through the crowd of Neopets that were bustling about. Lao was fascinated by all that was going on just before his eyes. He saw an Elephante carrying an enormous crate of glass bowls filled with water that contained exotic Maraquan petpets. There was a Faerie Wocky shouting angrily at a confused pirate Lupe, waving a broken glass bottle in his face. An Aisha nearly knocked Lao over as he ran past with mounds of bread stacked high on a broad platter. Lao was overwhelmed by the sheer amount of goods being transported from the ships to the market and back, and he could have spent all day watching these exchanges, if he hadn't been so intent on visiting the island itself.

      By the time Lao at last reached the end of the busy dock, midmorning had already passed. The crowds rapidly thinned as he walked slowly away from the busy marketplace and toward the looming jungle. Although Lao had heard many stories about the Mystery Island jungle, he could never have imagined how extraordinarily large it was. The trees were so tall that they seemed to brush against the clouds, and they were very thick, making an almost impenetrable wall of green. As he walked deeper into the jungle, he could hear exotic birdcalls over an undertone of buzzing insects. Occasionally, the bushes would rustle and Lao would freeze where he stood, but not once did he see any sign of life.

      Once he calmed himself down a bit, the Shoyru began to search for fruits. He had brought along a burlap sack to carry them in, but so far he hadn't spotted anything that looked appetizing. As he ventured further, however, Lao began to find many strange fruits. Smiling, he began to fill his sack, hoping that the cook aboard the Destiny would be able to prepare something delicious out of them. Once his bag was almost full, however, Lao spotted one fruit high in the trees that was too irresistible not to pick. It was in the shape of a large orb, swirling with sharp hues of red and orange, which greatly contrasted the deep jungle green. It was dangling in one of the highest branches, but Lao knew that this delicacy would certainly be a great prize to return with. Carefully, Lao put down his sack and began to ascend the tree. With the occasional flap of his small Shoyru wings, Lao was able to slowly make his way up to the tantalizing object. He reached up to grab it, but it remained just a bit too far away to snatch.

      Lao jumped up and grabbed a higher branch, then, holding on with all his might, he reached out with one hand to grab the stem of the fiery fruit. It was firmly connected to the tree, but with one final yank he managed to snap it off. Still holding the fruit carefully out in front of him, Lao descended the tree, eager to reach the ground and examine his prize. When he at last landed, he turned the orb around, examining it from every angle. When he turned it, however, Lao was shocked to find that an arrow was protruding from the other side.

      His initial reaction was disappointment. Since the arrow had been on the other side of the fruit, he hadn't noticed it before, but now he realized that his perfect fruit was no longer perfect. When he slowly drew the arrow out, however, he thought that perhaps he had found a new prize.

      The arrow looked ancient, but it was stiff, straight, and strong. Its shaft was carved from a dark wood, and it was flighted with long feathers in bright shades of orange and yellow. The arrowhead was still very sharp and perfectly fashioned. Lao immediately knew that this souvenir was worth far more than any fruit.

      The Shoyru carefully rested the wounded red fruit in the sack with the others, but clutched the arrow in his other hand, ready to make his way back to the ship. When he turned to leave, however, Lao found that he did not remember the way back to the dock.

      His heart began to pound. Willing himself to remain calm, Lao tried to retrace his steps. "Let's see," he said to himself. "If I climbed that tree from that side, I probably walked from this direction." He looked around the forest floor for any sign of footprints, but Lao was not trained as a tracker, and had to end up taking his best guess. He began to walk quickly through the forest, hoping to find some familiar landmark, when he saw something that immediately told him he had gone the wrong way.

      Nestled thick in the trees was an old hut. It was made of dark brown wood that matched the nearby jungle almost perfectly, making it nearly invisible. There was a wisp of smoke coming out of a small hole in the roof, and Lao watched it float away on the air. He felt a terrible mix of hope and fear, because he knew that whoever lived in the hut might know the way back to the beach, but they also might want to eat him.

      Lao had heard horrible tales of the Mystery Island natives. They were rumored to be fierce savages, cannibals, and wild beasts. Any Neopet who could survive in the vast jungle alone had to be, Lao supposed. Images of bubbling cauldrons and tribal sacrifices swirled in Lao's mind, making his stomach turn. However, in the end, the Shoyru decided that he had to at least give it a try. He could always run if the pet gave him a hungry look.

      Brandishing the arrow, which he was very glad to have at this point, Lao slowly approached the flap that served as a door to the hut. When at last he came close enough, it was all Lao could do to call out, "Hello? Is anyone there?"

      At first, there was no answer, and Lao was prepared to leave, but then the flap slowly opened and a wizened old Kyrii stepped out. Lao remained still, sweating, gazing at this frightening creature in front of him. The Kyrii was adorned with many hideous earrings, beads, and other jewelry, and almost every inch of its fur was covered in frightening patterns of body paint. It wore a necklace of many different sized teeth, and there was a horrible bone that poked through its nose. Its hair was tossed and dirty, and it was fairly small, even smaller than Lao. The Shoyru would have turned and fled immediately if it wasn't for something in the Kyrii's eyes.

      The Neopet's body may have been fierce, but its eyes were calm and friendly. It possessed an air of great wisdom and understanding, and even though Lao was still a bit nervous, he knew that this creature would not harm him.

      "Welcome," said the Kyrii. "I am the Island Mystic. Have you come to hear your fortune?"

      "Um, no," said Lao quickly. "I just got lost and need to get back to the beach." He lowered the arrow.

      The motion caught the Kyrii's eye, and it gasped. "Where did you find that arrow," it asked in a nearly inaudible whisper.

      "It was stuck in the side of a fruit," said Lao, wondering why the Kyrii was so interested. "I was gathering provisions for the crew of my ship, but I need to get back to the harbour as soon as possible."

      "Do you have the fruit?" asked the Kyrii. Lao paused, still confused, but produced the red-orange fruit from the sack. The Mystic's eyes widened. "I believe," it said, "that you have just discovered the Morning Arrow."

      "The what?" asked Lao. He didn't know whether to be worried or excited.

      "I think you'd better come inside," the Mystic opened the door flap and walked into the hut. Lao paused, but decided that the only way he could get back to the docks was to do what the Kyrii said, so he stepped inside. The hut was fairly small, with a bed on one side, a shelf full of strange herbs and bones, and two stumps on opposite sides of a small burning fire. The air was a bit smoky, and Lao's eyes began to water as he took a seat on one of the stumps.

      "There is a legend," began the Island Mystic, "that once every generation, the sun will be in danger of dying."

      Although this was not the information that Lao was looking for, he could not help but be interested. His mother and father had always told him of the many legends of Shenkuu when he was young, and he was eager to hear a bit about Mystery Island. "The arrow is found buried in the heart of the sun fruit," the Mystic continued. "Whoever draws the arrow from the fruit must then deliver the arrow to the Great Archer, who will fire it into the rising sun and reignite the flame."

      Lao was stunned. "But, then that would mean-"

      "You are the courier," said the Mystic, looking deep into Lao's eyes. "You must deliver the Morning Arrow to the Great Archer before the sun rises tomorrow."

      "But I have to be back on the ship at sunrise tomorrow!" cried Lao. "How am I supposed to deliver the Morning Arrow overnight?"

      "You will not be alone," said the Mystic. "There are forces both good and evil at work here. Legend says that when a mission of great importance arises, the balance of good and evil will be on its brink. The twin Draiks, Ying and Yang, will appear before you."

      The Mystic's tale was beginning to get a little too wild for Lao to handle. However, it didn't even cross his mind to disbelieve it. The Kyrii looked so sincere that Lao could not help but believe his every word. "So you're saying that I'm going to be followed by two magical Draiks?" he asked.

      "Ying is the essence of good, and his twin brother Yang is the essence of evil," the Mystic said. "Ying is pure, clean white, and Yang is as dark as night, so they are usually easy to tell apart. However, in dark times such as these, they can often be confused."

      The Mystic paused, and Lao waited for him to continue. The small fire in the center of the hut crackled. "So how will I tell them apart? Will they still be light and dark?" asked Lao finally.

      The Island Mystic gave no answer. Instead, he merely whispered, "Just remember this: you are not alone. Good luck, young one. It is all in your hands now."

      Lao was stunned. He still had so many questions. How did he get the Morning Arrow to the Great Archer? What would make it impossible for him to tell which Draik brother was which? Why had he been chosen for this mission? But before he could open his mouth, the Mystic stood up and walked out of the hut. Lao paused for a moment, gazing at the orange flames flickering dimly. He had never felt so confused.

      When at last he stepped out of the hut, the Island Mystic was nowhere to be found. "Hello?" called Lao, still clutching the arrow in his hand. "Hello?" The jungle was quiet. The sun had set, and the growing darkness seemed to envelope the small yellow Shoyru. He glanced around, expecting Ying or Yang to appear and tell him what to do next. But no one came. As the fire faded in the hut behind him, Lao only felt more and more alone in a world that was growing darker by the second.

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


» Lao and the Legend of the Sun: Part One
» Lao and the Legend of the Sun: Part Three
» Lao and the Legend of the Sun: Part Four



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