“He said he was from Neverland and- I know that sounds crazy.”
“But he said a Capitan was going to kill him and I want to help. Does that make me crazy too, that I believe him?"
Looking for a literate mature Peter Pan inspired story.
You can be any character as long as you're literate and can bring drama and story to the roleplay. Conflict grows character. This will have fantasy violence and some horror elements. I want to make this Neverland a bit dark and twisted.
Please don't join if you like to roleplay quiet and indecisive characters. My character will show interest in yours and I expect the same from you. I will NOT continuously be the only initiator to drive plot, romance or conflict. It takes two.
That out of the way, I am looking to portray Peter Pan in this story and I'm happy to provide more information about the world to those interested.
Thank you! Please message me if you are interested!
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He... couldn’t remember the last time he saw a true bright fairy. In fact, he couldn’t remember the taste of dragonfruit or even the last rainbow in Neverland’s blue sky. It hadn’t been blue for years now and Peter had nearly given up hope on multiple occasions.
This journey would be the last. If he could not find someone pure of heart then the island could not be saved... and the Captain would rein.
But when he lived in a world outside time, he often forgot how it felt to be like everybody else. Weak, tired, aimless. How long had he been in London now? Four days? A week? Society had changed so much, he hardly recognized it.
Gone were the days where he could fly into someone's window. Everyone was looking down at the small devices in their hands, hardly glancing up at one another as they passed on the streets. Hateful words spilled from radios and televisions. Even the ‘safe’ places for the poor were brimming with ungrateful remarks and depressing notions.
Peter could hardly feel the cold in his fingers anymore and the white clouds above gave the indication of a heavy snowfall. If he stayed here on Earth for another day, he was sure he wouldn’t survive through the night. There was nowhere to go, nowhere to stay. No one trusted the homeless and he supposed that was the new normal. Eyes rarely met his and for once, he truly felt invisible. Like he was one of them. Like he was nothing.
There was a pull on his jacket that made him look up, glancing at the brick wall to see his shadow pointing. Wearily, he followed the finger to the back of a woman waiting to cross the road at a crosswalk. “Is she?” The shadow nodded frantically. “But will she?” It waved in frustration, urging him to get off his ass before the signal changed.
Peter sighed heavily and pushed himself off the alley floor, rubbing his hands together to produce some sort of warmth should the maiden allow him to shake or kiss her hand. Though he had a feeling neither were appropriate in this modern age.
“Excuse me,” he called, his voice a tad hoarse. “Excuse me, can I have a minute of your time? I have a proposition I would like to offer if you’d do me the great honor of hearing me out.”
Peter expected the worst. The last few individuals he’d spoken to promptly brushed him off or gave him a colorful set of words. The shadow could sense the potential in a person but rarely could it tell if it was on the side of good or evil but again, things were no longer as black and white as they used to be. “Please.”
It was a cold day in London. A biting breeze brought in white clouds overhead to indicate an imminent snowfall. But Amelia didn't feel the chill. She was bundled from head to toe in as many layers as anyone else, but it wasn't her clothes that provided comfort. Instead, it was a flame that burned bright within her to keep her warm and she all but radiated with its glow. Today was a very big day.
After innumerous emails, phone calls, Zoom meetings, mock ups, and portfolio examinations, Amelia had finally landed the interview of a lifetime. Meeting with critically acclaimed children's author Samantha Reed had been something that Amelia dreamt about since she'd been first introduced to her work as a child herself. Stories of far off places, magic, and adventure were the only things that filled her mind in those formative years, and she'd never been able to let them go since.
From the moment she could hold a pencil properly, Amelia was always doodling trying to bring the images from her head out into the real world. As time went on, she grew to have quite the knack for it. But it was one thing to do it as a side hobby for a couple hundred followers on Instagram, and another thing entirely to meet with the author who inspired them in order to interview as an illustrator for her next series.
Anxiety pumped through her veins at the thought, but she tried to steel her nerves. She raised the volume of the calming lo-fi beats already blaring through her Airpods as she waited for the light at the crosswalk to change. And almost missed him entirely.
It was the shift in the people around her rather than the person behind her that caught her attention. Tension stilled the air as the small crowd stiffened at an unwelcome presence. Noses turned up and eyes darted away. It was almost as if any acknowledgement of the homeless doomed one to suffer the same fate. While others made a hasty escape as soon as the light changed, however, Amelia swiveled around and met his eyes with her own. She took out one of her earbuds and her music paused immediately.
“Sorry?” she said.
All she caught was a meager, “Please.”
Making an assumption based on the state of the stranger, Amelia quickly muttered an “Oh, of course,” before digging a gloved hand into her coat pocket. She pulled out a wallet and from its contents produced a single bill. “Sorry, twenty quid's all I've got, but it's yours.” She paused before fully handing the money over. She took in the whole of him, noted that he was hardly dressed appropriately for the winter weather on a clear day, let alone one that promised heavy snow later on.
“Poor thing, you must be freezing,” she whispered in shocked dismay. Then, holding the money under her chin for a moment, she also took off her gloves and swiped the hat from her head. “Here, go on, take these too. Hopefully they should help until you get something proper to wear.” She offered him the garments, the bill, and a polite but genuine smile.
The woman turned, pulling a small white device from her ear. Slightly confused, Peter’s brows met briefly as he watched her take out a single bill from within her wallet. Oh, she must not have heard him. Thinking it was more polite to take her offerings instead of correcting the young lady, he slipped on the gloves and threw on the knit hat. His ears immediately thanked him.
Peter studied her smile, realizing quickly that the burnette’s actions were genuine unlike those from before. Had the shadow finally found who he was looking for? He couldn’t keep the smile from his own face as he leaned in eagerly. “Do you have a minute to hear a proposition? I would really like to offer it if you could spare me the time.” He lifted the quid as if he’d had it the whole time. “I can buy you a coffee for your generosity.”
The young man turned in a circle, a little too excited for an offer that could be turned down in seconds. “How ‘bout there?” Peter gestured to a small parlor labeled The Vintage Grind. “Five minutes,” he promised, hoping that was enough to entice the stranger.
“Or I can speak here if you choose.” Despite the cold. “My name is Peter, by the way.” He held out his gloved hand instinctively as his parents taught him centuries ago. He must have looked like a rambling idiot. He could feel the embarrassment rising in his cheeks as he waited for her answer. Wishing this whole interaction could be over just so he’d know the outcome of either relief or despair.
Amelia was slightly taken aback by the young man's sudden smile and eagerness. However, she couldn't help but smile herself when he offered to buy her a coffee with the money she'd given him. What proposition could he possibly have to offer her? Perhaps this was the newest trend in TikTok pickup lines or something. She looked around at the same time he did almost half expecting to see someone with a camera or phone pointed in their direction. Self-consciously, she fixed her hair.
She looked from his outstretched hand to the coffee shop back to his hand again. Cautiously, she shook it. “Amelia,” she said pleasantly although doubt still crept into her voice. “Five minutes? Truly?” She released his hand and dug hers into her coat pocket to check the time on her phone. There were twenty minutes before her meeting and she still had about a ten minute walk to go. “Because I do have someplace I'm supposed to be soon, so I can't really spare more than that.”
When he confirmed it with a nod, she sighed exasperatedly. At the risk of getting cancelled online for shooing the man away so she could go about her business - which would not be the best public image before joining a notable publishing house - she agreed to give him some of her time. She sidestepped past him and led the way across the street into the coffeehouse.
The scent of fresh grounds and pastries filled the air as they entered. It was also significantly warmer in the shop than the street. No doubt that was due as much in part to the many bodies that filled the store as it was to the heat blasting through the vents. From the corner of her eye Amelia saw Peter gravitate towards the back of the ordering line to make good on his offer, but she grabbed his upper arm and gently tugged him away from it. “Please, that money really was meant for you, not me. In any case, like I said, I haven't really got the time to wait around for them to make an order here.”
Instead she led him to one of the lush velvet loungers by a window. Since the shop was so busy, there weren't any more individual tables or chairs, so they were forced to squeeze onto the small sofa together. It wasn't ideal in Amelia's mind, but the other options were limited. She once again mussed with her front bangs and tucked the rest of her hair behind both her ears. Then she fixed her hazel eyes onto him with an expression that was expectant, if not slightly anxious and impatient.
“Okay. Five minutes. So, what is this proposition then?”
Amelia. The name of a savior if he ever heard one. Her handshake was a cautious one, however, reminding Peter that he was walking a fine line between believable and insanity. She made it clear that her time was precious and took his invitation to meet in the warmth of the cafe rather than speak outside. So he nodded and followed her lead across the street. He figured a black coffee would do but before he could stay a minute longer in the line, he felt her gentle grasp pull him out.
No time. Right. Peter should have guessed that the coffee offer was more of an inconvenience if she was truly in a hurry. He took the hint, stuffing the bill into his pants pocket as they squeezed into a small sofa. Funny enough, it reminded him of the couch they had in Neverland which he often shared with the six lost boys... Though there were no longer six.
When Amelia finally met his gaze again, it was one of expectancy. She gave him her trust. So he took a deep breath to calm his nerves and began with: “I am from a place called Neverland. An island settled in the stars that was once a safe haven for those looking to live without worry. I have come here looking for a human pure of heart.”
Human. Peter scolded himself. How dare he separate himself from the rest of humanity as if he wasn’t one of them. He had been lucky. He had the good graces of a fairy choosing him one awful night that could have been anyone else. He was saved and he was hoping to return that favor.
“And you,” he continued, tapping her hand lightly. “You are pure of heart. I am being pursued by a devious dark entity known as the Captain. He’s sucked the life out of Neverland and you are my last hope in restoring what once was a land of new beginnings for the Captain would stop at nothing to get rid of me.”
His shadow lingered behind her, praying as he was that Amelia would believe him. “Please, consider joining me back to Neverland to help revive the hope and life of my home.” He paused, knowing she’d never drop her life for a proposition like that in a moment’s notice. She could have a family- a lover. “If... you do believe me, meet me on this very street tonight at ten for I cannot linger here in London much longer.”
Peter stood, very aware of the stares they were receiving from every direction. He felt the elation taper off, dragged back into the cold reality that Amelia would most likely not show up tonight despite his sincerity. The trip was always considered a long shot. So he smiled knowingly. “Thank you for your time,” he said, stepping away slowly and back out towards the streets for the small chance of any other ‘pure of heart’ contender.
The deep breath that Peter took in order to calm his nerves before speaking calmed Amelia's as well. That was still not enough to prepare her for what he had to say. He spoke of some island in the stars, about how it was dying at the hands of a Captain, and how she was supposedly someone - a human specifically? - who had a pure heart and therefore the only person that could put a stop to it. It didn't make any sense. It was an enticing story, that much was true, but surely it was only just that: a story. Like the ones she used to read in her youth.
Briefly she wondered whether the young man was on some kind of mind altering drug. What else would compel him to spin such a tale? Yet his eyes seemed clear and his plea seemed sincere. Amelia was wont to believe him.
Even if she did take his word that what he said was true - and the jury was still out on that - how could Peter expect her to leave her home in order to save his? She had her own issues, her own life that she was responsible for. She couldn't don the mantle of savior for someone else when she'd yet to make good on the promises she made to herself. It was just too much to ask.
Peter stood and thanked her for her time. He began to leave the shop on the hope that she'd consider his proposition and come to a decision later. But Amelia already knew her answer. She stood as well and followed him out the door back into the cold. “Listen, Peter,” she said on a sigh of regret. “I wish I could help, honestly, I do. But… I can't. I'm sorry.” She touched a hand to his shoulder good naturedly and offered him an encouraging smile. “Good luck, though. I hope you can save your home.”
Amelia felt terrible as she left him to walk towards her meeting. She supposed that he'd been wrong after all. She wasn't really pure of heart; she was just as selfish as the next person - only looking out for herself.
While slightly perturbed by the interaction, Amelia still made it to her meeting with seven minutes to spare. It wasn't long before she was beckoned into Samantha Reed's office. It was magnificent. She had prime real estate in a corner of the building with floor to ceiling windows casting the bright natural morning light throughout the room, illuminating the walls that were adorned with enlarged covers of her works. She stood as Amelia entered, greeting her with a warm smile and motioning for her to take a seat.
“Amelia, it's great to finally meet you. You all right?”
“Oh, the pleasure's all mine, Ms. Reed. I've been a big fan of your work for as long as I can remember,” she said with a nervous chuckle. And before she started fangirling too much, she quickly hurried on to add, “But yes, I'm well, thank you. Perhaps a bit… erm, flustered, I suppose. It's been an odd sort of morning."
“Really?” Samantha sat on the edge of her enormous desk in front of Amelia. “Why's that?”
“Well, on the way over here, I was accosted by a gentleman claiming to be from a place called Neverland - an island settled in the stars, supposedly a land of new beginnings. Only, he said that there was this Captain who was destroying the land, and was constantly coming after him. So, he came here in search of someone who was pure of heart to try to stop him and save it all. And he claims that someone is me.” There was a long pause as Samantha considered her. Amelia could feel a bright red flush slowly rising to her cheeks. She hadn't meant to let the whole interaction tumble out like that, but her nerves got the better of her.
“Hm,” Samantha mused. “What an interesting story. I didn't realize you'd intended to pitch today.”
Amelia blinked. “I… I didn't?”
“No, of course not, but when you have a good story sometimes it begs to be heard.” Samantha laughed. “I've been there plenty of times before too, so I completely understand. But, yeah, it is sounds really good. Do you have a full story or just the rough idea?”
Amelia was confused, but decided it was best to play along for the time being. “Just the rough idea.”
“Well, mull it over for a bit more and see what you come up with next, and we can talk about writer and creator credits. Let's give it a month or so, yeah? Don't worry if you don't have the thing fully fleshed out by then - we can fine tune whatever you have.”
“But I… I'm not a writer, I'm an artist.”
Samantha shrugged. “Storyboard it then. Whatever you like. You're already off to a strong start, so just keep going.” She laned forward to shake Amelia's hand. “Really looking forward to hearing what happens next. Between you and me, I've had a bit of a block lately, so honestly you'd be doing me a huge favor here.”
“Yeah. Right. Happy to help.”
Amelia strained a smile through her confusion before rising and leaving the office. Once outside she exhaled one long, slow breath. Running her fingers through her hair she couldn't help but wonder what had she'd done?
Later that night, about half past nine, Amelia was sitting on her couch staring at the clock across the room while gnawing on her thumbnail. Her right leg was bouncing incessantly, shaking the knapsack that was leaning against it. What did one pack if they intended to save some strange land? The essentials, she supposed. A change of clothes, a toothbrush, some hair products, a journal. And still she felt extremely underprepared. Added to that, there was no promise that Peter would even be there. She had told him that she wouldn't be able to help, after all. But, for the sake of figuring out some sort of story to impress Samantha Reed, she hoped he'd be waiting for her.
Unable to continue waiting around with her excess energy, Amelia stood up and shrugged her knapsack onto her shoulders. She took one last look around her apartment, hoping that this story wouldn't actually take a month. On a shaky sigh, she headed out into the freezing night air.
There was a heavy snowfall that evening. A couple of inches had already piled up on the ground. She pulled her coat in tight around her face and continued walking into the wind. Amelia arrived on the street not too long before ten. It looked vastly different from the way it had that morning. Empty, dark. It struck her suddenly that she should've thought to bring some sort of protection for herself in case things went south. For it felt incredibly foolish to take some strange man's word on a an even stranger situation and meet him alone in the middle of the night. She swallowed hard, keeping her head on a swivel so nothing could sneak up on her. But with the billowing snow and the darkness surrounding her, it made seeing rather tricky. “Peter?” she whispered tentatively. “Are you here?”
Within minutes of leaving the cafe, Amelia confirmed her decision. Whether she believed his story or not, she didn’t say but in the end it didn’t matter to Peter. What was done, was done. He tried his best and if the boys decided to jump ship, he couldn’t blame them.
Cold fingers pulled down the hat she’d given him, twisting it between his palms as he felt the anger build in his chest. Why did he even bother? Because he was the leader? He didn’t ask to be a savior. He didn’t ask to be the ‘Elder’ and the one who might have just pushed his enemy Hook to the brink. He had been a child and one day he had to grow up.
Peter took quick steps back to the little alley shielded from the wind. He ran his fingers through his hair, pulling out the loose pale strands that grieved him. He missed his red color. A movement from his peripherals caught his attention back to the shadow on the wall. Clearly it was frustrated, knowing all too well that if they failed, the shadow might die as away as the fairies did. Its existence was still a mystery to him and only a puzzle meant for someone smarter than himself.
Despite the creeping depression, Peter waited, trying one or two new faces before completely ignoring other potentials. Pointless, he mused as he watched the first bit of snowflakes drift from the clouds. He took a moment to admire the phenomenon waging that it must have been over sixty years since he’d seen real snow... the last time he came to Earth to see Wendy. It was a different world then.
He held out his hand, catching the ice that immediately melted into his gloves. Peter pulled his knees up closer atop the large garbage bin, holding out some kind of hope that one of the people he spoke to today would change their minds. He glanced up, finding it difficult to locate the second star to the right of the north star with all the street lights. He wanted to go home...
“Peter, are you here?”
Peter shook, startled at the small voice easily heard in the silence of the snow fall. He shook off the snow piling on his clothes, leaning forward over the bin to peer around the alley corner. The shadow jumped in surprise, gesturing wildly as the woman from this morning, Amelia, stepped into view, cautiously whipping her head about as if some pirate was about to ambush her. Peter smirked, aware that her technique would need some work if she were to survive a Neverland attack.
The young man hopped off, shivering violently as he was buried ankle deep into the soft snow. He rubbed his arms, hurrying to the mouth of the alley and giving her an awkward smile. “Amelia,” he breathed, suddenly realizing how dry his voice sounded. “I am overjoyed that you changed your mind.”
He nodded to the alley, the shadow leaping off the wall and across the snow buried ground to the spots where his feet would be. “Can’t imagine you’re not freezing,” Peter shivered, reaching into his thin sweater for a small burlap sack. “I’ll explain everything when we get some place warm until then-” He whipped a pinch of the pouch’s contents over her head, a glittering sand landing over her hair and shoulders. “Think about things that make you happy.”
Peter returned the sack to his pocket, waiting a moment more for his companion to gather her thoughts before gently taking hold of Amelia’s arm and slowly lifting her off the ground. He felt a grin adorn his face as they steadily rose above the street lamps and buildings and over the snow clouds into the star congested sky. Finally. Hope.
There was a loud metallic rustling in one of the alleyways nearby that almost made Amelia jump clean out of her skin. She whipped around to find only Peter standing nearby and shivering. She relaxed a bit, returning his smile, but the air on her arms still stood on end. The brunette opened her mouth the clarify that she hadn’t exactly changed her mind, more that she was forced by circumstance to follow a lead, but words escaped her as she saw the man’s shadow run out from the alley to reattach itself to his feet.
She blinked, her brow furrowed, wondering if the snow was playing tricks on her eyes.
“Me? You’re the one wearing hardly anything at all. Really, you should’ve gotten yourself a warmer coat or something, Peter,” she said, watching him reach into his sorry excuse for a sweater. He piqued her curiosity with the little pouch he pulled out. Her eyes followed his hand as it extended overhead and dusted her with a peculiar glittery substance. Some of it fell straight into her face, causing her to sneeze. She sniffled, wiping her face of remnants of the stuff. It’d be difficult to conjure happy thoughts now that the young man had irked her a bit. What was he playing at, trying to suffocate her with dust anyways?
Still, she begrudgingly took in a breath, held it, and closed her eyes. Things that make me happy, she repeated in her mind. It started slow at first, but the longer she thought, the more things she could envision. The smell of pencil shavings. The rich colors of a sunset. The coolness of a freshly flipped pillow. The sound of running water. The possibilities residing in a blank canvas. The delirious lightness of uncontrollable laughter. The rainbow after a spring storm. The excitement of going upside down on a roller coaster. The hold of a good – no, really good story.
And so began hers.
Amelia’s felt Peter’s hand encircle her arm and her feet…leaving the ground?! Her eyes shot open, and she let out a loud gasp as they rose into the air. Her limbs flailed around of their own accord trying to find purchase on a solid surface where none existed. Instead, she gripped Peter’s hand for dear life.
“What – ! H-how is this – ?! Wait, wait, wait!” she exclaimed as they climbed ever higher. Something between a scream and a laugh burst from her lips when they cleared the clouds and saw only stars. They took up the whole of her gaze. Shining constellations, painted galaxies, and even a wayward planet or two though they remained far out of reach. Amelia breathed out in awe. Tears welled in her eyes. Although, it was unclear whether that was from the overwhelming emotions overtaking her or simply the sting of the cold night air as they flew. Flew.
Tentatively, she relaxed her hold on Peter’s hand. She carefully outstretched her arm, feeling the wind rush past through her clothes. It was funny. Even though it was colder at the higher altitude, she could not feel the chill. Only the joy, the freedom. She looked to her mysterious aviation escort, an incredulous smile brightening her face.
“Who are you? What are you? Because this,” she gestured at the clear open air around them. “This shouldn’t be possible! It’s like…like a dream.” Amelia’s smile faltered only slightly. “Is it?” And found herself desperately wishing it wasn’t.
Amelia was rightfully startled but the longer they were in the air, the more relaxed she became. Her grip wasn’t as tight and a smile of child-like wonder dawned across her face. It tickled him, seeing that raw expression of first flight. He remembered his first as well, full of joy and happiness as one would feel thinking about that ‘happy’ thought. For Peter, thinking about fairies, pumpkin seeds and music came second nature to him that he hardly recognised he was doing it. Seeing Amelia, sparked a sense of nostalgia.
The young man chuckled at her questions. “Aha, this is no dream and I am just a boy or was a boy. The longer I think, the moments I stay out of Neverland, all of that at some point made me into a man.” He paused thoughtfully. “But all this,” he gestured to the sky, “Is all a gift from fairies. Without them none of this would be possible.”
They soared higher, reaching closer to the second star as it steadily brightened, transforming in a swirl of color before transporting them above the island of Neverland. Normally the island would be vibrant, full of color and sparking oceans. Now the skies were clouded, tinted with red by the once dormant volcano bubbling on the north side.
Peter pulled Amelia closer, keeping an eye out for anything devious as they lowered closer to the beach. Nowadays it was too risky to land within the jungles with the creatures that now lurked within.
They approached the southern isle without incident, Peter feeling instantly better in the tropical weather than the cold streets of London. As he landed, a slight shift in the air pulled his attention back to Amelia, her feet just touching the sand as the shift swept across the ground and further out across the beach. He held back any enthusiasm from his face and wondered if Tink felt it too. “Thankfully you came just in time,” he started carefully, cautious of the jungle at his back.
His shadow grew tall by his side, gesturing to move quickly. Pan held up an index finger. “I know,” he said to it, turning his gaze back to Amelia. “I can see it on your face. You can ask your dire questions now unless they can wait till we’re in the safety of my hideout because once we’re in that jungle, we cannot make a sound.” His brows met briefly, feeling the hairs raise on his arms. A feeling of being watched...
“Fairies…” she breathed incredulously. If humans had the ability to fly, it shouldn’t have come as a shock to learn that fairies were real as well, and yet she still couldn’t wrap her brain around the idea. She’d always had silly little superstitions that she liked to indulge in, of course. Like how small trinkets suddenly went missing or how cobwebs always had the perfect amount of dewdrops in the morning to reflect the sunrise – Amelia attributed such miniature miracles to the faefolk, but more so as an inside joke. It was something her mother would talk about during their nightly bedtime story rituals when she was younger, and she never really let it go. But never could she have predicted that it might actually exist.
Together the pair climbed ever upwards into the night sky. They soared into a bright star that engulfed them in a sickening swirl of lights, colors, and wind. Amelia felt her stomach lurching as the world seemed to spin around them. She gripped Peter’s arm for support, blindly trusting him to lead them through the cyclone. Just as suddenly as it had started, however, it stopped to spit them out over a spot of land surrounded by water.
Now it was Peter who gripped Amelia. She needn’t question why. There was a foreboding air surrounding the island, darkening the skies, and rumbling the nearby volcano. It almost felt dangerous just to breathe near it, let alone get any closer. But still they descended.
As the two touched down on the sandy beach, Amelia immediately shed her winter coat. In addition to the malignant atmosphere, there was a heavy humidity lingering as well. She could already feel beads of sweat glistening her forehead. She swiped the back of her hand across her brow, dislodging some of the stray strands of hair that had been trapped there by the moisture. Amelia was surprised to see that hand shaking ever so slightly.
When Peter spoke, she quickly shoved her hand into her pants pocket, keen not to let her anxiety show. She looked over to him just in time to see his shadow move of its own accord once again. So she wasn’t crazy.
He prompted her to ask her questions, but she felt as if she had a million to sort through in her mind. And it didn’t feel prudent to do so while they felt so…exposed. “No,” Amelia said, her voice already at a lower volume than normal. “No, they can wait. Let’s get to safety first.”
“Peter…?” The small voice came from the sea. Amelia turned to see a woman’s head bobbing just above the surface of the water. Her skin was a palish grey and she had inky black hair that seemed to extend well past her shoulders. It was difficult to tell since it splayed out once it hit the water again, but it looked like an expansive oil spill. Slowly, she treaded closer to the shore, her icy eyes flicking from the boy to the girl and back again. “Who’s this pretty little morsel you’ve brought back?”
Assuming this to be an acquaintance, Amelia responded, “My name’s Amelia.”
The woman hummed alluringly. “Amelia,” she repeated in a soft singsong voice. “What a delicious name. I’m Cerena.” She waded nearer. And although she didn’t realize she was doing it, Amelia took slow steps towards the woman as well. “You don’t look like you’re from here, Amelia. So, tell me, do they have mermaids in your world?” As if to emphasize the point, there was a splash just behind Cerena - right where a mermaid tail ought to be.
Amelia grinned. “They do not.”
What Amelia didn’t know was that no such creature existed in Neverland either. At least, not the kind she was imagining. Hook’s overbearing darkness saw to that. Where once were delicate fins decorated with colors of coral reefs instead were powerful shark tails driving ever forward in search of food. Their perfect glistening smiles were replaced with several rows of serrated teeth. Only their melodic voices remained unaffected, but rather than singing, the creatures used them now to lure others to certain death. And the water was almost touching the tip of Amelia’s boot.
“Pity,” Cerena pouted. “That must mean you’ve never had the opportunity to swim with one. It’s life changing. Come into the water, sweetness. Let me show you.” She extended a hand out towards the Neverland newcomer, mere inches away. Enhanced and entranced, Amelia reached back.
He was thankful she was willing to hold her questions until they were safe. There was a foreboding feeling building and Peter was anxious to get back to the hollow tree. He turned on his heel towards the jungle line-
His blood froze, recognizing the voice immediately. Cerena. She had once been his friend, potential lover even with her mesmerizing songs she would sing during sunsets. Cerena hadn’t been the mermaid she once was for months now, the darkness having swallowed the Lagoon in a terrifying wave of screams no matter how long Peter fought to protect it. A product of his failures.
Peter turned as she spoke, entrancing Amelia with words laced with the ‘song’. He patted his sides, finding the belt that would have had his short knife nestled in the sheath on his hip but he had traded that days ago in London for food when he was on the verge of starvation. He cursed, twisting around as the shadow jumped manically in its overdramatic panic. Reflection of the soul, his ass. The shadow was a caricature at most.
“Amelia!” he called to her, grabbing hold of her wrist to twist her around as the mermaid rose to smile a devilish grin. The creature dived, Peter pulling Amelia into a tight, panicked embrace as he stumbled back away from the shore, just barely out of reach of Cerena’s webbed fingers. As hungry as she was, he was positive it wouldn’t risk being beached.
He pulled the brunette to the grass border and watched as the twisted mermaid dipped back into the sea, her black hair soon disappearing beneath the surface. Then it was quiet.
Peter took a breath, gathering himself as he finally let her go. “I’m sorry but we must hurry. Please, stay close to me.”
With one last warning look, Peter pulled up the hood on his sweater and led her into the darkness of the jungle. He could no longer take the trails he and the lost boys used to travel but he could navigate this jungle with his eyes closed. Decades of immortal life made him familiar with every stone and tree. While the Captain's dark magic had nearly changed everything about Neverland, the roots remained the same, alive with the faith of fairies.
The route was tedious, ducking behind trees and foliage as large creatures with beaks passed and mutated wolves scavenged bones of the natives who didn’t escape. Peter constantly turned to check on Amelia, eyes full of fear as one should be with animals twice their size.
Within forty anxiety ridden minutes, Peter approached the base of a charred tree. Carefully, he rounded to the back side, shielded by wild bushes and brushed away dried leaves to reveal a wooden hatch. With a quiet lift, he gestured to Amelia to descend the long ladder down into the black. “Don’t worry,” he whispered. “There’s a door in the hall at the bottom.”
The shriek that escaped from Amelia’s lips was an involuntary one. Peter’s sudden panicked grip startled her enough to surprise it out of her. Thankfully, it also broke the web of enchantment that Cerena wove. The girl watched with wide eyes and labored breathing as the beauty that turned into a beast dove back into the water, swallowed up by the waves. Stillness settled once again. Save for Amelia’s continued shuddering breaths. It took everything in her not to beg Peter to keep his hold on her, to keep her safe. Clearly, this was a land that she was grossly unprepared to interact with – let alone save.
Regardless, Amelia steeled herself with a heavy gulp. She stood, dusted the excess sand from her clothes, and followed Peter into the deep, dark jungles of Neverland.
As instructed, she made a point to try to stick close to Peter. This proved to be a difficult task. Where he was as surefooted on the path as if he’d walked it for centuries, her legs were constantly tripped or tangled by protruding rocks and roots. She wanted to ask him to slow his pace but recalled what he’d said about refraining from making a sound in the jungle and decided that it wasn’t worth the risk. But again, this also proved to be a difficult task. Amelia had to fight with every ounce of her being to smother the scream that tried to crawl its way up her throat upon seeing some of the most horrific monstrosities ever (un)known to man. She could practically feel her elevated heartrate pounding behind her eyes and within her ears as she bore witness to the creatures from which they tried to hide. Not an insignificant number of times she held fast to Peter as she tried to maintain what little grip she felt she had left of her sanity.
After what seemed like an eternity, they reached a tree where Peter revealed a trapdoor at the back of its base. Amelia looked from him to the dark interior skeptically, hesitating to descend into the unknown. But it wasn’t like she had much of a choice either. If it came down to facing the creatures lurking in the underbrush versus climbing down a ladder without the aid of light, she’d take the latter.
On a shaky inhale, she adjusted her knapsack and entered the abyss. One foot after the other. Steady as it goes. The light from the trapdoor overhead quickly waned the further down she went, and soon she was moving based on tentative touch alone. She felt for each rung with the tip of her boot before putting her weight on it, and she all but white knuckled the sides of the ladder to keep her securely in place.
Yet another eternity passed, but soon enough her boot touched down on soft damp soil rather than another step. Her eyes adjusted to the dimness so she could just make out the hallway that Peter had mentioned. Rather than wait for him, she felt her away along its walls until she reached the door at the end. She opened it and stepped inside.
Amelia didn’t even pause a moment to fully take in the hideout. At sight of the makeshift couch, she immediately abandoned the knapsack from her shoulders and collapsed into it, exhausted. Not only was she worn from the wearying trek, but also from sheer whiplash. To go from experiencing the fantastical freedom of flight to the paralyzing fear of facing death no less than three times in the last hour was a harrowing thing to say the least. Amelia bent over with her head between her knees and rubbed her temples, groaning softly.
She looked up as Peter entered shortly after her. While she’d had a million questions on the beach before, they all seemed to escape her. Or, really, overwhelm her. “This is crazy,” she whispered, still wary of the volume of her voice. “I mean, what – what is this? What’s happening? What were those…those things out there, Peter?” She shook her head, wondering just how exactly anything could have transformed Neverland into the hellscape it had become. And, more importantly, just how exactly she was supposed to help transform it back.
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