The Lost Fuzzle: Part One
"Where is it?"
Frowning, I looked up. The high, normally obnoxious squeal of my younger sister, Ally, seemed even more prominent today, especially in the silence of midafternoon. But right now, it was worried. Very worried.
I shrugged it off and began to read again, but several loud crashes made me look up again. CRASH. BOOM. SHAKE. It sounded like Scarblade had invaded my sister's room and was throwing stuff around. After a particularly nasty crash, I decided I'd better get up there before she broke something valuable.
Putting my book aside, I flew upstairs with my tiny little wings, turning the corner into my sister's room. Not only did it sound like Scarblade had invaded, it looked like it too. The curtains were ripped, smashed pots lay broken everywhere, and several dolls lay on the carpeted floor, headless and sad.
Sighing impatiently, I looked over to see my little sister searching furiously through her wooden toy box for something. Concluding that she'd simply lost one of her toys again, I shrugged and turned to leave. My sister saw me.
"CHILI CHII, NO! COME BACK!" she yelled, sobbing uncontrollably.
My soft side gave in as I saw her big brown eyes wide with desperation and I flew over to her, giving her a soft hug. "What's wrong, Ally?" I asked gently, stroking her cheek to try and provide extra comfort.
"He's missing!" she cried, pushing my hand away. I forgot she didn’t like “Public Displays of Affection.” If you call the privacy of our Neohome “public.”
"Who's missing?" I asked, perplexed.
"Mr. Fuzzles!" She began to cry even more now, the mere thought of her little toy's name bringing back painful memories.
I tried very hard not to laugh. Mr. Fuzzles was the name of my sister's Orange Fuzzle. She was practically in love with that thing; she worshipped it. She'd gotten it at a garage sale for 10 Neopoints, and since then they were nearly inseparable. Despite my amusement, I adopted a sympathetic expression.
"Don't worry Ally, we'll find Mr. Fuzzie, promise..." I began.
"HIS NAME'S FUZZLES!" she yelled, suddenly outraged. I tried not to drop her in shock.
"Alright dear, sorry. We'll look for him, come on..."
Indeed, we did look for him. We looked everywhere. We practically tore her room apart.
As you may have guessed, we didn’t find the wretched ball of fluff. I was ready to give up and go back to my book; I had better things to do. But Ally wouldn’t stop there. She forced me to help her search the entire house. Yet we still didn’t find it.
“Call Garin!” Ally insisted. “He’ll know what to do!”
This time I couldn’t hold back my laughter. Garin? GARIN?! Garin was a pirate. He stole ships and killed other pirates and didn’t lose any sleep over it. He could care less about some little orange ball of fluff. But I decided to humor my sister.
“Alright Ally, we’ll go see Garin,” I said, my tone amused.
We went to the Rusty Anchor, since that was practically the only place Garin ever went. The atmosphere was warm and welcoming, and smells of delicious foods drifted around. A female Green Wocky looked up from her dusting to look at me, then looked back down at her work.
I jerked my head toward the sound of my name. I relaxed when I saw it was Garin. He hadn’t changed one bit. His blue eyes were full of joy, but also secrecy and hidden, unwanted sarcasm. He was sitting down at a table with another familiar face, Jacques. Jacques was a pirate friend of Garin’s, with amber eyes and a friendly smile.
Garin waved me over, expecting me to sit with them. I gripped Ally’s paw tighter and walked over, sitting down next to Jacques.
“Ah, Chili! It’s been a while! What brings you here?” Garin asked, taking another sip of whatever was in his drink.
My heart sank. I’d have to tell him why I was here. And I’d look like a fool.
“My sister lost her fuzzle. I need your advice,” I said with a sigh, waiting for him to laugh.
He laughed. He laughed for over ten seconds and finally stopped, his eyes tearful. “And I thought you came because you liked me! Well, buy the twerp a new one!” he said, convinced that would help.
Ally wailed. “NO! There’s none like my Mr. Fuzzles!” Ally whined, beating her little fists against the table. I grabbed her arm to make her stop. She was embarrassing me; Neopets were starting to stare.
“Garin, come on. You know how much that thing means to her. Can’t you help?” I said, desperation in my voice.
“I dunno....” Garin mused, stroking his chin in an annoyingly superior fashion. “What’s in it for me?”
“GARIN!” I prompted, aggravated. “Can’t you do SOMETHING for someone else without expecting something in return?”
“No,” Garin said with a stupid, amused grin.
“Why not?” I asked, gnashing my teeth together.
“I’m a pirate,” he said simply, taking another sip of his grog with a shrug.
The simplicity in his tone infuriated me to no end.
“Alright, Mr. Big Shot. Once you decide to care about someone other than yourself, give me a call,” I snapped, getting up and turning to leave.
Rolling my eyes, I turned around. But it wasn’t Garin that had jumped up to help. It was Jacques. “I’ll help you,” Jacques said, running over to me. While I smiled, Garin looked like he’d been betrayed.
“Jacques, what is the meaning of-” he began. Jacques’s look silenced him.
“I’m helping Chili, duh,” he responded. To me he said more softly, “Come on, let’s go.”
“Fine, I’ll go too,” Garin said, jumping up and following us. I knew he’d follow us; if Jacques was going, he’d go. Once we’d left, Garin was first to speak. As I expected, it was sarcastic.
“Maybe Sloth took it to plan for the next invasion.”
Ally wailed, and I elbowed Garin hard, annoyed. He looked surprised by my force. Can’t imagine why.
“Would it kill you to be serious for once and cut the sarcasm?” I asked with forced patience.
“Yes,” he said smugly. With that, he fell over and grabbed his throat as if he were choking, then twirled and fell on the floor, his tongue sticking out.
More sarcasm. Go figure. I fought the urge to break one of his ribs with my foot, instead gently prodding his side. “Get up,” I said. My voice was not nearly as gentle as my foot was.
Garin scrambled to his feet with a chuckle.
“We should check Krawk Island.”
Jacques’ deep voice behind me startled me. I had completely forgotten he was there. Funny how a loud mouth like Garin and a wallflower like Jacques can become best friends.
My face softened as I turned to him. “Why do you say that?” I asked gently.
Jacques looked almost uncomfortable, and he sort of scraped the ground with the heel of his boot. “I just have a feeling,” he said softly. “Plus, there’s You Know Who.”
I think my face turned white, because I felt like my stomach dropped, and my determination slipped several notches in a matter of seconds.
If you haven’t read my other stories, you’re probably confused. You’re probably thinking: Who is You Know Who? Well, I’ll tell you. You Know Who is a mad pirate captain that happens to be a green Lupe. He is out to get my blood, and the people of Maraqua’s blood too. And if that doesn’t completely give it away and you’re still scratching your head in bewilderment, here it is: Scarblade.
I opened my mouth to speak, and when I did, my voice sounded hollow. “How are we supposed to get there? I can only carry one person.”
Jacques looked like he expected this answer. “Close your eyes,” he said.
I eyed him suspiciously, but shrugged and closed my eyes. I felt him take my hand (which made my cheeks turn pink in embarrassment) and lead me somewhere. Once or twice I stumbled over a loose board and flinched, but Jacques had me well guarded. Finally we stopped.
“Okay, open your eyes,” he said.
I opened my eyes and gasped in amazement. There, floating in front of us, was Garin’s pirate ship! It was a gorgeous ship, with a terrifying yet stunning beauty. Its sails were as black as the ocean’s depths themselves, with a white skull that symbolized piracy painted on it.
“All aboard the Black Pawkeet,” Jacques said. He gestured to the ship, implying I should get on. Eagerly, I jumped aboard. It had always been my dream to get on that ship.
Garin talked to Jacques, and I could sense an air of tension and disagreement floating around them. At one point, Garin even threw his arms up in frustration, and had to struggle to keep his voice low.
This time I literally jumped. There was Ally again. She looked up at me with big, pleading eyes. I hated it when she did that, just popped out of nowhere and stared up at my like that.
“Chili, I want to find Mr. Fuzzles,” she said. I couldn’t help but think, Well, duh. Of course, that’s not what I said.
“It’s okay sweetie, we’re on our way to do that right now.”
Ally looked almost sad. Why was she sad? Didn’t I just promise that was where we were going. Looking oddly detached, she slid away like a Hissi, going to the opposite rail and leaning over it, looking down at the waves. A part of me wanted to run over there and hug here. But I stayed where I was.
Finally Garin and Jacques stopped talking, and Garin stomped over to the wheel, his face twisted in rage, and started off toward Krawk Island. I met Jacques eye and gave him a look. What’s his problem?
Jacques came over. “He doesn’t want you on the ship,” he said softly, sadness in his eyes. My mouth dropped, and I felt like I’d been smacked in the face. Why would Garin not want me on the ship? Did he think I was unworthy? Well, I’d show him!
“I’m going to give that arrogant Usul a piece of my mind,” I fumed, starting to stride over to him. But I was stopped. Jacques had grabbed my arm.
“Don’t,” he warned, his eyes serious. I tried to pull my arm free. I couldn’t.
“Why not?” I asked stubbornly.
“Because,” he said softly, “He didn’t want me to tell you to start with.”
With that he lowered my arm, and I fixed my gaze on him for a moment to scrutinize him. There was guilt and regret in his eyes, and his lips were quivering like he wanted to say something but didn’t know how to say it. With a sigh I looked away from him and turned to the ocean, watching the silvery waves splash against the side of the ship.
For a while we were both silent, letting the calmness of the open ocean wash over us.
My heart skipped a beat. Of course, it was just Ally, looking up at me with those big ole eyes. It made me smile.
“I’m scared,” she said in a meek little voice. Her paws were shaking.
“Oh, Ally,” I said softly, gathering her up in my arms. This time, she didn’t care about “Public Display of Affection.” And the one time we were in public. Ah, such irony.
I didn’t realize that Jacques was watching me. Our eyes met and I looked away quickly. It’s kind of like when you’re in a room full of strangers, you meet eyes with one of them, then look down, embarrassed. Sure, I knew Jacques. But not very well. Not nearly as well as I knew Garin. Jacques was almost a stranger to me.
After a while Ally finally let go. I was almost relieved. My back was hurting from bending down so long. It made me feel old.
We sailed for a very long time, yet nothing came into view. Curiosity was burning inside me, and finally got the better of me. I walked over to Garin.
“Garin, do you know where you’re going?” I asked politely.
Something flashed in his deep blue eyes. Maybe it was defiance. I couldn’t tell.
“Of course I do,” he said. But I could tell he was lying.
“You don’t know where you’re going, do you? We’re lost, aren’t we?” I fired accusingly at him.
He looked like he was going to deny it. But he admitted it. “Yeah, we’re lost,” he said hopelessly.
To be continued...