|It was a beautiful day in Neopia Central. A young Camouflage Kacheek clothed in a Queen of the Forest dress was enjoying a picnic with her four brothers.
"Isn't it a wonderful day?" the Kacheek asked. "What a perfect day for a picnic."
"You can say that again, Nina." her oldest brother Jarrett, a royal Skeith said as he took a bite out of a hotdog.
Her second oldest brother, a mutant Grundo named Flarogor chuckled as he held up an apple. "Don't forget, father put us in charge of the house while he was on vacation. He should be back sometime today."
Nina smiled as she picked up a peanut butter and jelly sandwhich. "I wonder what new things father found on his vacation. He always discovers something new on his travels. Yet..."
"You wish that he would take us with him," a Halloween Lupe interjected.
"Rory, do you always have to do that?" a Poogle asked.
"Relax Alex, I noticed that Nina was looking sad. She always misses father when he's away."
Nina began to well up with tears and ran off towards her home.
"Nina, wait!" Jarrett called out. But he was too late for Nina had already left.
Date: Jul 2nd
As soon as Nina turned the corner out of sight from her four brothers, she sat down and leaned against a large tree. The weather in Neopia Central was sunny and cheery, yet here she was feeling like it was Grey Day.
Her teardrops fell and dampened her Queen of the Forest dress- the dress that her father had brought back to her from his last holiday. “Father… why is it that you’re gone so often and don’t take us?” she sniffled aloud.
Nina felt the tree behind her rumble and as she looked up, leaves danced their way down upon her as a a large branch seemed to hand her a handkerchief.
“What bothers you, my child?” a wise voice spoke from behind. Nina rose to turn and saw that the tree she had leaned against was actually the Money Tree! She accepted the handkerchief and dabbed her the tears from her eyes.
“Oh, Money Tree, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize it was you I leaned against… you see, I’m just upset that my father is gone on another holiday and I wish he’d just take me and my brothers once…”
The Money Tree pondered for a while and then responded, “Well, is there anything that’s holding you up from going and meeting him yourself, wherever he’s at?”
Nina looked down at the ground and answered, “Well, the one thing that’s preventing me from doing that is…
Date: Jul 5th
"I've never left Neopia Central before." Nina finished quietly. "I want to go out into the world and travel with Father, but truthfully... I'm scared."
"Hmm." The Money Tree thoughtfully hummed for a minute. "Do you know why you might be scared?" He finally asked.
"Well, Father tells us about his adventures during his travels. He talks about pirates and monsters and dark forests and icy caves." Nina shivered. "Whenever we express interest in going, he always says that it's too dangerous for us. Especially me, since I'm so small."
The Money Tree seemed to smile kindly. "Well, child, let me tell you this. I get many visitors, all times of the year. I also hear stories about dangerous trips, like you. But I also hear wonderful stories: traveling on beautiful oceans, tasting the foods of different lands, meeting all kinds of different and interesting Neopets..." His look got more bittersweet, "I long to experience these wonderful things, but alas, my roots are here."
Nina stared up at the Money Tree with wide eyes, as she realized she had the ability to travel, while he couldn't. "Oh... That's..."
"Shh, dear, it's okay. I've made my peace with it." The wind picked up and the Money Trees leaves danced around playfully. "You don't have roots, but you could have wings... Don't let fear stop you from experiencing all the good things Neopia has to offer. When you return, I would love to hear your stories."
Nina continued to stare in awe at the Tree, but her mind was running wild. Money Tree was right! She shouldn't let fear stop her! She hugged the Money Tree, before running off to make preparations to join her father in...
Date: Jul 6th
...the peaks of Shenkuu. Nina's father traveled to the misty mountains on business, but was staying until the weekend for its summertime fireworks display. Nina had just enough time to get there if she left now, yet she wondered how she'd do it.
"You don't have roots, but you could have wings..." echoed the Money Tree's advice in her head. She fumbled with the knapsack that the Money Tree had given her as a parting gift. "Why, I could have wings, but that would only happen if..."
Her paws opened the gift to find a handwritten note in large, scribbled letters:
The most important part of traveling is knowing
Where you came from and where you are going.
Beneath the note lay a silver compass attached to a necklace and... a Faerie Paint Brush.
Awestruck, Nina paused in the middle of her stride. She delicately placed the necklace on and held up the paint brush with utmost respect. "How could...? How did the Money Tree have this on him? He must have been keeping this donation for a very long time... This is why he said I could have wings to travel!"
By chance or design, Nina was in the heart of Neopia Central and coming up to the Rainbow Pool. With the solemnity of an upcoming life event, she stepped into the swirling colors of the pool and held the paint brush up to herself. Moments later, she emerged with her Camouflage fur replaced with a glistening yellow color and two luminescent, ruby wings gracing behind her. Nina instinctively fluttered midair and looked at her compass. With a newfound confidence, she decided that...
Date: Jul 9th
she must get going right away, without even taking the time to say goodbye to her brothers. after all, they may try and stop her.
Nina began to fly high above Neopia Central, her wings gave her a newfound confidence that she liked very much. She swooped and soared, with a beaming smile on her face. This was amazing!
After several hours Nina could finally see the peaks of Shenkuu up in the distance.
"I am so close," she said aloud to no one in particular as she smiled to herself.
Nina was so close she could taste it, she could not believe in a few short minutes she would be reunited with her father.
Nina was suddenly jolted out of her thoughts as she heard a booming voice behind her. Nina turned around and saw...
Date: Jul 10th
Nina did a double take, almost losing control and plummeting down, but managed to right herself. The Skeith quickened the pace of his wings, which blended nicely with his cyan color.
"Huh? Sorry, what did you say?" Nina inquired, as soon as the Skeith caught up to her. The rushing of the wind picked up.
"I just wanted to warn... See... Shenkuu..."
Nina had trouble making out the words, only catching snippets of it. The confusion must have shown on her face, because the Skeith began to repeat his sentence.
Once again, the wind drowned out any comprehensible parts, turning it into nonsense.
"A little louder?" Nina asked, frustrated, even though the Skeith's booming voice couldn't possibly get any louder.
"I... warning you! Look... Turn back..."
Nina whipped her head around, feeling the rush of shock run through her at the sight.
Date: Jul 11th
A swarm of Cyodrakes, as dense as a thundercloud emerged screeching from the mist. Their glowing red eyes rushed past her and the currents from their powerful wingbeats knocked Nina’s delicate faerie wings off balance and before she knew it she was hurtling towards the leafy peaks of Shenkuu!
She tried desperately fluttering her new wings, managing to delay her fall slightly but not enough to stop her crashing through the roof of the large temple at the top of the tallest peak.
"Ow!" Nina groaned, rubbing her head and gazing up at the rather large hole she had left in the parchment screen above her.
"What in Neopia is that racket!" A croaky voice yelled from behind her.
A wise looking, rather disgruntled Elderly Gnorbu clutching a twisted cane shuffled into sight.
"Who are you and exactly what do you think you’re doing flying through the roof of my Lunar Temple! You need only knock on the door child!" He scorned.
"I - I’m terribly sorry," Stuttered Nina, still in shock. "I was flying overhead and suddenly - the Cyodrakes! I - "
The Wise Gnorbu stopped her with an open palm and sighed. "It’s quite alright child. Those Cyodrakes have been plaguing Shenkuu for weeks now. It is true that our humble city has befallen a rather terrible fate"
Gazing up at the lunar phasing charts that lined the walls, he continued. "It started on the eve of the last New Moon. It was the Cyodrakes that came first. Descending in hordes large enough to block the moonlight from the sky, they decimated every crop in sight. But that’s not the only thing..."
Date: Jul 12th
"The Cyodrakes were a nuisance, but we didn't panic at first. Bad-tempered little things, and obviously the farmers were not best pleased, but Shenkuu is a prosperous land and we would not allow any of our own to go without food.
But it wasn't like previous infestations. There are so many, for a start, and it's not even their breeding season! It is forbidden to harm them; they have become a symbol of good fortune since trade was so boosted by the arrival of the Cyodrake's Gaze. But if this keeps up, there won't be enough supplies left to sustain the nation!
Apart from the overwhelming number of them and unusual levels of aggression, the moon has been..."
Here, the wise Gnorbu paused, sighed, and fixed Nina with an intense stare. She stared at him with wide eyes, worried about her father but also just a little excited to be here. A real life adventure! A mystery! A quest! Fantasies of her single-handedly saving Shenkuu from a deadly swarm of beasts swam through her mind.
"The people haven't been told this yet. They'd only panic. But me and the elders have been desperately trying to work out what is wrong with the moon."
"What?!" Nina asked incredulously. The moon had seemed fine to her back home.
A visible shiver passed through the Gnorbu and he buried his face in his hands.
"The moon is..."
How will this story end...
Date: Jul 13th