Elaine's Expedition:Part Three
Elaine and Jaycin had spent most of her first day trekking down the Western side of Mystery Island, exploring the novelties to be found at the Island Market and Trading Post. They had passed the Island Arena, where they had glimpsed a peek at the Tiki Tack Man preparing for a duel. They had even detoured to walk past the famous Mystery Island Training School, where Techo Moutain loomed just beyond.
Jaycin had noticed Elaine staring at the rocky climb of the volcano. "I figured we’d come back and have a look at this tomorrow," he winked, leading her away. Elaine had nodded; she definitely wanted another look up close – the volcano was even more massive than she had ever expected it to be.
As the pair walked down the beach together, Elaine took in the view of the sunset before her. It was a particularly magnificent one this evening; pinks and purples mixed together in a yellow background.
But as beautiful as it was, viewing the sight was not the same as watching every night from her dock at home.
She pushed the thought from her mind.
All of a sudden, Jaycin stopped. Elaine quickly halted her progress, too. "Here we are," he announced, spreading his arms wide before him.
Elaine had not even realized they had arrived at a destination. Across a narrow strip of water was a small wooden hut with a roof made of thatched palm trees. "What is this place?" she asked, examining the stretch of water between them and the hut. "And how do we get there? There aren’t any boats over here…"
"Trust me," Jaycin said, holding out his hand. "And follow me."
Elaine allowed him to take her hand in his.
Slowly, Jaycin began leading them right into the water. While Elaine knew how to swim, she found it rather odd that Jaycin had not even bothered to ask her about that.
But in a few moments, she realized why.
Jaycin was leading them across a sandbar, conveniently right to the entrance of the hut. As she approached, she could smell incense in the air. Upon reaching the entrance, she realized the hut seemed to be emitting slight warmth.
"Shall we venture inside?" Jaycin asked, half-grinning.
"Why not?" asked Elaine. She followed right behind him through a faded curtain.
Once inside the hut, Elaine realized how intimate it was; a rounded table covered in a luxurious purple cloth, with two chairs seated beside it. Candles lit the room, burning lavender and orange scents. As she tried to take in every decorative pattern in the elaborate room, it was only then that she noticed that they were being watched by a figure in the back of the hut, which was conveniently the only darkened portion of the one-room abode.
The figure noticed Elaine’s gaze. "Welcome," a male voice greeted; its tone seemed to have a bit of sneaky laughter behind it. "Feel free to sit down."
Elaine and Jaycin took the seats behind the table. Once comfortable, the figure fidgeted around in the dark for a moment and lit a candle beside him, illuminating his features.
Elaine inspected him closely…
…and a wave of realization washed over her.
She could not believe she was sitting before the legendary Island Mystic.
The Mystic was an older-looking Kyrii, understandable for the amount of wisdom he was said to possess. He had corn-yellow hair and bushy eyebrows of the same color. Both his eyes and skin were a golden-brown color, embellished with white paint. He was decorated with a golden hoop earring in each air, and a bone threaded through his nostrils.
Based on the stories, he looked exactly how Elaine had imagined him in her head.
Elaine really did not know what to expect from this; she had heard varying tales of the Mystery Island Mystic back home. Some said his fortunes were wise and truthful; others said they were complete and utter nonsense.
"Ahh, I guess you came here to have your fortune told, eh?" he asked the pair.
Elaine nodded, still in awe. Jaycin said, "Yep, how’d you know?"
The Mystic gave him a sly grin. "Well, here is yours…" He turned to face Jaycin and looked him square in the eyes, pausing for a moment. Then, he announced, "you will discover a valuable artifact in a strange way." Then went silent. Awaiting a reaction.
"That’s it? Oh, well, uh, that sounds pretty good to me!" Jaycin said awkwardly. "Hopefully it’s worth a lot of Neopoints?"
The Mystic smiled and turned to Elaine next, looking straight into her eyes. "And are you ready for your own?"
Why am I so afraid? Elaine thought to herself. Jaycin’s fortune was fine; and besides, these fortunes can’t be real, anyway. Preparing herself, Elaine returned the Island Mystic’s stare and declared with confidence, "I’m ready."
"Here is yours…" he began, never allowing his gaze to falter. He just kept staring. And staring. And staring some more.
And suddenly, his sly grin wavered a little.
Only a little, though. Quickly recomposing his secretive facial expression, he finally announced, "You will defend yourself against demonic fortune repeatedly."
Elaine had no immediate reaction. She just kept staring, wondering if she had heard the Mystic correctly. Demonic fortune? Her hands suddenly felt clammy; she wiped them on her lap.
"That’s what came to me…I’m…I’m sorry…" comforted the Mystic. "I would advise caution in your near future, because something is coming soon…"
Jaycin stood up. "We’ll keep an eye out. Come on, Elaine," he said, heading out of the hut.
Elaine followed, dazed.
Together they splashed across the sandbar, not speaking a word. Once on solid land again, Jaycin turned to Elaine. "I’m sorry about that. I thought it would be entertaining. It’s all in fun, anyway; it’s not like those fortunes come true."
Elaine wanted to believe him, but the whole experience had left her a bit shaken.
"Like I said, Elaine," Jaycin tried, "trust me. Nothing will happen to you while you’re here." He pointed to the left. "Let’s start heading home, shall we? I’m ready to sleep, and I’m sure you’re tired, too."
Elaine certainly felt drained, but she was not sure if it was from exhaustion or her mind reeling after the fortunetelling.
Jaycin led them around bends in the palm trees, past wooden hut after wooden hut, until they stopped before a particularly colorful one. He led them inside, watching Elaine observe the hut. "Mom likes to paint," he said simply.
When they entered the hut, Elaine’s senses were heightened as smells of meat and vegetables rushed through her nostrils. Stomach growling, she coughed to hide the rumble. It was then that she noticed a Kougra standing in the corner of the hut, paintbrush in paw, swiping at a canvas.
"Mom, I’m home," Jaycin announced. "Dinner smells good."
The Kougra looked away from her canvas. "Jaycin, how was your day?" she asked. Then she noticed Elaine. "Hi, have we met?"
"It was good, Mom," Jaycin replied. "And this is Elaine, a friend I met today. She’s from Krawk Island."
"Krawk Island," Jaycin’s mother repeated. "I’ve never actually been there."
"Well, I can tell you anything you want to know about it. I’ve been there all my life," Elaine said, "until now, I guess."
"I’d love to hear all about it," Jaycin’s mother smiled. "Please, sit down, I’ve made plenty of food."
The trio sat at a rough-hewn wooden table, eating and talking and laughing the night away. Elaine discussed the differences in culture and food between Krawk and Mystery Island; Jaycin cracked jokes, as Elaine had noticed was a normal thing; and Jaycin’s mother listened intently, asked questions about her curiosities of Krawk Island, laughing along with the children. It was a relaxing night after a long day of exploration.
After dinner, Jaycin allowed Elaine to sleep in his bed while he took the couch in the main area of the hut. Elaine had rejected the sentiment at first, but eventually gave in; soon she was very glad that she had, because almost immediately after her head touched the pillow, she had fallen into a deep sleep…
It was only daybreak, but Elaine had decided to make an early start to explore more of Mystery Island. She had left Jaycin behind, allowing him to continue sleeping. She had a clear goal in mind for the morning: climbing the Volcano.
She approached the Techo face carved into its side, and discovered a staircase carved into the rock on its right side. Elaine hopped the steps, two at a time, almost effortlessly reaching the top. Expecting to see an empty, dormant hole, Elaine peeked into the volcano’s crater.
However, it was not empty, nor was it dormant. Lava bubbled at its surface, threatening to topple out of the crater. Elaine screamed, running as fast as she could down the staircase.
But the lava began to follow her.
Reeling, she tripped down the steps and made her way as quickly as she could past wooden hut after wooden hut, not daring to look behind her. It felt like she had run forever when she saw two Neopets in the distance. Elaine ran towards them, ready to warn them of the impending danger.
When she skidded to a stop in front of them, she was shocked to find a pair of two green Krawks.
"Elaine, we’ve been worried sick, where have you been?" her mother asked, looking relieved. "We’ve been looking everywhere for you!"
"We’re so happy we finally found you," her father said, smiling.
Elaine wanted so badly to feel relief, but she knew the lava was just behind her. "We have to run! The volcano is erupting! Run, Mother! Run, Father! Run!" she screamed, bolting past them.
Elaine ran and ran, crying now, trying to wipe the tears away as they threatened to cloud her vision. She had no idea where she was going, and no idea how her progress was in comparison to the speed of the lava flow.
And when she thought she couldn’t possibly run anymore…
She woke up.
To be continued…