The Thornberry Debate
This is the obligatory note from the author. Yes, it’s silly. Yes, it’s childish. But it’s tea. And it’s Neopia. What do you expect?
“It’s too pink.”
“Ahem, look at the pink.”
“You mean the pink in the tea?”
“No, the pink on your nose. YES, the pink in the tea, genius. The pink that is the color of the tea. What are we going to do about the pink?”
“What’s wrong with pink?”
“I don’t like pink. Pink is not my kind of color. I am not putting this on market until you get rid of the pink. You got to pick the last color, now I’m picking this one. Throw me a bone here, Dune.”
Jahira Dune glared at the green kyrii sitting across the desk from him, who in his turn was glaring at the mug of rosy-pink tea that sat before him, its surface, mottled with dark maroon cones, rippling insouciantly. Jahira wasn’t herself one to argue; she was more of the meek type normally, but when it came to questioning her work, she managed to bring up a rivulet from the little golden sunlit pool of burning intensity hidden deep inside her.
Jahira fumed furiously. “Do you really think,” she began, “that a color is going to affect a customer’s choice of buying something like—”
“Come to think of it, it’s really not the color at all,” the kyrii, Tura, interrupted. “Do you think anyone’s going to buy a drink called—” here he seized the mug of tea and brandished it in the air—“Thornberry Tea?”
“It’ll attract the people with harder mouths who want something diff—”
“If you say different, I will throw you out the window.”
“Something new. People who want something new.”
Tura sighed and set the mug down with a clank. “People will want? Dune, Thornberry Tea sounds like something that Adam would come up with on a bad day. Do we really want people running around telling everyone else that we’re crazy just because of your strange, pointy-object-obsessed whims? Wouldn’t making tea out of berries with thorns, and leaving the thorns in there, be rather... erm... presumptuous?”
Jahira glowered at him. “I’m looking that word up.”
“Don’t change the subject. My point is, I don’t need this on the market. Nobody does. Start over. Get going.”
The Desert Ruki rose from her chair, unclenching her fists. “Fine! Or maybe I’ll make a new company, and start manufacturing my own goods, and start hiring my own workers! I am not resting until those with different tastes are satisfied!”
Tura glanced up, a look both amused and puzzled on his face. “Dune, not only are you overreacting needlessly to the rejection of a useless product, but you’ll be thrown out of the market with three limbs missing.”
Jahira set her jaw and didn’t peel away the glue that seemed to be fixing her eyes to Tura’s. “I won’t.”
“You’ll be reduced to selling lemonade in a streetside stand made of cardboard.”
At this point Jahira Dune cracked. She turned and fled—or rather, stormed swiftly from the room in a tempest of raging frustration, which was her general mood anyway. Having done so, she left the building, slamming the door rather rudely behind her. That said and done, she stomped over the sidewalk and sat down hard on the curb, in front of a brown Uni who was apparently simply standing in the gutter.
“It’s not fair,” Jahira complained to the Uni. “They won’t listen. They won’t consider that some people might be looking for something different. What in Neopia am I supposed to do? This was a good idea. I want it up there.”
Tura poked his head out the door. “Dune, stop talking to the Uni. You’re making him twitch.”
Jahira stared at her dark tan hands, which she had subconsciously arranged into a formidable pair of fists. The sunlight glinted off of the golden plates that adorned her body. Her ruby-encrusted collar was framed by a pale piece of cloth that hung down her neck from a small red-gold band on her head. Altogether, she created a blinding image, and after a moment of staring at the plates on her wrists she gave up with spots swirling in her eyes from the glare, and glanced over at the green Kyrii. Remnants of the reflection still hung in her eyes, blotting Tura a brilliant purple. “Why are you still hanging out the door?” Jahira demanded in a bad temper.
Tura held up a pale orange mug. “You forgot your tea.”
“Well, you don’t care about it, do you?! YOU keep it!”
Shocked by Jahira’s vehemence, Tura was swift to heed her. As he retracted back into the coffee and tea manufacturing building, he called out, “You may want to see where you can find another mug after this, ‘cause I’m sure as Fyora not giving it back.”
And then, with that hurt, offended statement, he withdrew to his work.
Jahira sighed and turned back to the Uni, but before she opened her mouth he held up a hoof. “Don’t talk to me, please? I don’t appreciate being ranted on to about something when I have no idea what’s going on.”
Jahira scowled, kicked a stone into the middle of the street, and stood up suddenly. “I don’t care!” she snapped hotly at no one in particular. “I’m going to get that tea on the market, and—”
The Uni raised his eyebrows. “You really don’t know the meaning of ‘shut up’, do you?”
“NO!” Jahira exclaimed, not thinking about what she was saying. “No, I’ve got to go into there and argue a good case. I must contradict his arguments.”
The Uni’s eyebrows threatened to disappear into his forelock. “I think it’s called ‘debating.’”
“Of course it is,” snapped Jahira impatiently as she turned on her heel and walked back towards her work office. “And by Fyora, that’s what I’ll DO....”
The Uni snorted. “Good luck. By the way, who are you taking this debate to? I believe we’ve established that Tura isn’t going to accept it.”
Jahira shrugged. “I dunno. Um... is there an overall ruler of the Coffee Shop?”
The Uni rolled his eyes. “No-oo, unless you want to try arguing with that overly made-up yellow Shoyru who serves the customers.”
Jahira frowned. “Nope, not that one. Any general Neopian rulers around here? Does Skarl count? Or Fyora? Maybe Sloth....”
“Sloth might work. He’s wicked enough.”
Jahira rolled her head back, trying to get the kinks out of her neck. “He might. What if we got together all the Neopian rulers and tried to—”
The Uni took a nervous step back. “All the politicians? In the same room at the same time, talking about the same subject? Oh, great faeries. Spare me.”
Jahira glanced at him, and suddenly she let herself smile. “What’s your name?”
“Rokitu,” the Uni replied warily.
Jahira stood. “Jahira Dune. What say we tackle this together?”
Rokitu flicked his tail furiously. “Look, Jahira, I am NOT going to—”
“Well, if you want to leave at any time, go ‘head! Just... try, please?” Jahira pleaded.
“Erm, okay. But I’m warning you, it won’t last long.”
It didn’t take long for Jahira to get messages to all the major leaders, via the wings of poor Rokitu, but they had yet to actually meet. Jahira tracked down a decent place, which happened to be a cloud north of Faerieland. She set a date for the next day, since patience, to add to her all-too-long-already list of flaws, was not one of her virtues, and arrived about half an hour early, via, once again, the wings of poor Rokitu.
“Where IS everybody?”
“It’s not MY fault you wanted to come here so early!” Rokitu complained, kicking a stray piece of cloud petulantly.
“Oh, shut up,” Jahira groused, kicking the cloud back at him. “It’s worth it to win this.”
Jhudora showed up just then, cackling evilly in a (very, very, very cliché) puff of violet-and-poisonous-green smoke.
“What are YOU doing here?!” Jahira demanded.
Jhudora just laughed demonically, and Rokitu took the bit in his teeth. “You said you wanted the important people here.”
“Oh yes, and Jhudora’s going to do so much to help us.” Jahira glared balefully at the faerie, who was still giggling evilly to herself, as was her general manner. “If no one has any other ‘important’ leaders to chuck up here....”
“What about me?” asked a quiet voice as a second puff of purple smoke appeared on the cloud.
“Oh, lovely, it’s Fyora,” Jahira said huffily. “About time. Is anyone else coming?”
Fyora looked hurt. “What, I’m not good enough?”
“Not by yourself, no.” The Ruki stared blankly into space, waiting for something else to come along. Eventually, it did, riding a blue Uni.
“Tura?” Jahira asked, glaring at the green Kyrii. “So you decided to come along?”
“Yes. I’d just like to say, before we get anything started, that this really wasn’t necessary, Dune. In the name of King Altador....” Tura turned around, looking at the cloud. “I thought everyone was coming. How do you expect to get them up here?”
“I thought they could take Unis or something. Like you.”
“Ahem. Skarl? I’m sorry, but I don’t think Skarl is generally accustomed to riding Unis. And have you ever seen Nightsteed fly? Nope. I don’t think his wings are up for that either, since the feathers are practically gone, and the ones that aren’t are broken. He is, after all, basically decaying matter, and I don’t think Jazan or whoever’s ruling the Desert currently can fly, and Jazan really doesn’t trust any other Unis. So the Lost Desert’s out. Tyrannia has no monarchs we can speak of. Illusen could come, surely enough, but as long as Jhudora’s here, they’re both out. Kelpbeard? Not a chance. He’s not make for being out of the water, much less flying up to Faerieland. Taelia might well come; we can wait for that. The Haunted Woods really have no monarchs either, unless you count the demonic mutant mayor from Neovia, and we don’t really want him here, do we? So Haunted Woods are also out. Fyora’s here. That is good. Anyone else? No. Face it, Dune, this isn’t working. And I don’t see why a cup of tea merits the attention of the entire world.” Tura turned away to go back to his Uni. “It might’ve worked, but the location was awful. Need I say more?”
“Just give it a chance,” Jahira begged.
Tura narrowed his eyes at her, plainly remembering the heated dispute over the thornberry tea.
“Tura,” Rokitu murmured in warning, eyes jumping nervously to a Jahira who was getting increasingly impatient with each passing second.
Jahira Sarandry Dune, female Desert Ruki, age something-or-other, Spokeswoman for Neopian tea companies, and immensely successful idealist, could hardly contain her glee.
“So you admit I was right!”
The green Kyrii sighed. “You don’t have to rub it in.”
“I WAS right, though! Sales skyrocketed in less than a week, and you didn’t even like the coloring!”
Tura couldn’t help it. He grinned at her. “We still don’t know exactly what you put in there.”
“It’s a secret.”
“Let’s not tell that to the public, hmm? It may cause... shall we say... an increase in the number of suspicion of this company in misanthropic people.”
Jahira glared at him. “I’m looking that word up, too.”
“You still haven’t looked up ‘presumptuous’, and you said you would. I’ll take my chances with this one.” Tura sat down behind his desk and grinned at the Ruki. “We do get good feedback for that tea, though. I must say, congratulations.”
Jahira blushed, a something rarely seen on her face. “Think nothing of it.” She removed a kettle from the shelf beside his desk. “Tea?”
The Kyrii grinned. “I’ll pass.”