Part 1: Tyrannia
You call that food?
“Uggh-Ugga-Ugg! Ugga here a-ugga Tyrannia!”
That is not food! I gestured towards the item I was trying to buy. It’s a piece of meat stuck on a twig!
“Uggh-Ugga-Ugg! Ugga here a-ugga Tyrannia!”
A monosyllabic vocabulary isn’t generally associated with good customer relations!
“Uggh-Ugga-Ugg! Ugga here a-ugga Tyrannia!”
I buried my face in my claws. Oh, for Adam’s sake! It’d be easier trying to haggle with the food! I glanced around the shop. Actually, it probably would. I eyed a Primordial Thing. Those tentacles just moved.
“Uggh-Ugga-Ugg! Ugga here a-ugga Tyrannia!”
I looked at the Meat a La Twig. Would you consider a discount? I put on my cutest expression and widened my eyes.
The shopkeeper’s eyes narrowed suspiciously, and he brandished the flaming brand he held in his stubby hand. I grinned toothily and carefully inched my claws towards the food, leveling my formidable gaze at the shopkeeper. My cornflower-blue eyes have been known to make hardened criminals whimper for mercy. The Chia was oblivious, swinging his torch at me.
Now that isn’t fair! How am I supposed to win a staring match when my opponent doesn’t even have eyes? I snatched the twig and lifted off the ground, wings beating madly as I made my exit.
The day had started off badly. I had slept in, and Ace had dumped a bucket of swamp water over my head to wake me. And then he had gone on to give me a handful of snowberries and say, “Happy birthday.”
This told me that my owner had a sadistic sense of humour, and also that I was going to be in big trouble if I couldn’t think of a birthday present for my best friend, as we shared our birth date. I had never seen the point of birthdays, but I knew they were important to Shard, and I hadn’t seen her for months. I wanted to find her the perfect gift, but I couldn’t think of anything to do. And then I hit upon the bright idea of getting her something from every corner of Neopia. What could be better than that?
Just about anything, but I was desperate, so I hitched the first Uni carriage to Tyrannia. And here I was, a bag gripped in my teeth containing nothing but a chunk of raw meat on a stick. I perched on a rock and surveyed the land.
If I were being uncharacteristically nice, I would classify it as drab. Normally I would just give a little snort of disdain and turn away; it was that bad. Not a trace of purple or blue graced the landscape; it was brown, green, and brown again. Even the sky was red! Thick humidity made sweat drip down my snout, and the bugs were bigger than I was. I fanned my wings and drifted over the thick jungle, scanning for anything that looked interesting, but if there was, I couldn’t see it. Miles below me the landscape switched from mainly green to mainly brown, and I stooped, losing altitude. Maybe there was something worthy of interest on the Plateau.
My ears picked up a slight ticking sound and I followed the noise, cocking my head to one side to find its direction. It seemed to emanate from a giant wheel a few miles distant, but before I could take to the air to investigate, two Tyrannian Nimmos ran past, swinging forwards on their knuckles and grunting urgently in fear. I looked behind them and saw nothing giving pursuit.
Is there a problem? I asked, but they kept on running, not looking back. Evidently there is.
The faint ticking still sounded in my ears, but it was overlaid by more screams as a Tyrannian Acara rushed past.
Can’t a gallion get any peace? I complained to myself, heading in the opposite direction from the Acara and the nimmos.
A Tyrannian Meerca was sitting by a large rock, mumbling, “Beware, the Beast is coming!” Instead of a spear, he held a sign that read, ‘BE WAR!’
War? I said, puzzled.
“Beware!” the Meerca said irritably. “Ware, I say!”
My claws clacked against the rocky landscape. From somewhere there was coming a strong smell of rotten eggs. I screwed up my nose in distaste and banged into the cliff wall. I shook my head to clear it, and then looked at the wall more closely. There was a huge gaping chasm in it. I looked at it curiously and then walked inside. Now why didn’t I notice this before?
It was quite dark, so I counted myself fortunate for my huge eyes. A single torch burned low, flickering in inexplicable wind. It was damp and cold, and for once I was grateful for my thick coat. I walked a few metres and found myself shrouded in thick cobwebs. The floor seemed like sand, but on closer examination was rock, coated with a thick layer of gritty dust. I stepped carefully to avoid the sharp protrusions growing out of the wall. They seemed like fangs. I could hear the slow, methodical drip, drip, drip of water.
I felt more cobwebs brush against my face, and I shivered at their icy touch. The slight wind caressed my fur and whispered strange secrets in my ear. I came to a vertical shaft and looked up. A frayed rope hung down.
You have got to be kidding me, I groaned, flaring my wings and rising upwards. How dramatic is it possible to be?
I emerged into a small cavern. The only other way out was a hole, much larger than I was. It was ringed with spikes, giving it the appearance of a hungry mouth.
Honestly, my life is a badly written screenplay. I snorted and walked into the hole.
A miasma of hot breath hit me in the face. There was a slight growling sound, and then a long red head lunged at me, its teeth snapping and a rope of saliva hanging from its mouth.
I looked at it quizzically. Oh, please. I’m so scared.
It roared again and knocked me back with a flick of its wing. I fell through the hole, just avoiding tearing my wing on the spiked entrance, and tumbled straight down the vertical shaft, landing in a heap at the bottom.
Beware the Beast! I snorted and left.
As far as I could tell, there was nothing left for me in Tyrannia. I tracked down the annoying clicking sound and jammed the wheel with a stone. The next person to use it would get a surprise. Then I hitched a ride in a Uni carriage to the Lost Desert.
Part 2: The Lost Desert
Heat. There aren’t words to describe the heat, so I won’t try. At least it was dry heat; I was tired of the humid Tyrannia.
The Lost Desert spread out below me. A blazing yellow sun hung in the blindingly yellow sky. Sharp yellow light reflected from the dazzling yellow sand. Small green trees dotted the overwhelmingly yellow landscape. It hurt my eyes with its yellowness.
I lifted my bag in my teeth and took off from the pyramid I was perched on. Below me came the sound of desert music, and frustrated cries from Neopians as they struggled with coloured tiles. I headed to Sakhmet.
This was more like it. Brightly coloured tents detracted from the dull monotony of yellow. To my left a giant aisha statue stood, holding a card depicting a baggus. Suddenly, without any warning, there was a loud buzzing sound and a swarm of scarabugs swooped upon the city. I ran for the nearest tent and dived into it.
There was a loud clang and I sat back, holding my head gingerly. Shards of blue ceramic littered the floor.
“What have you DONE?” A beautiful Aisha stormed. “You idiotic little dragon! I’ll tan your hide for that!”
I grabbed a Strange Glazed Bowl in both hands, stuck out my tongue at the Aisha, and ran for the door. Before I got there I tripped over and bumped a shelf. It teetered. I backed away, eyeing it nervously. One single Pyramid Pot fell from the edge. I sighed in relief, then watched in horror as the pot smashed through the display case where Osiri kept her ‘special’ pottery. Osiri screamed in rage and I made a break for it.
There were a few scarabugs still lurking around, so I treaded warily. Directly in front of me was a huge palace, complete with a thick red rug. I looked at the entrance and turned away. I don’t think I’ll risk it.
I skirted Peopatra’s, being naturally wary of petpet shops, and entered the Food Stall, stowing the Strange Glazed Bowl in my bag for safety.
“Delicious Lost Desert fruit!” the yellow Grarrl bellowed.
... It’s made of sand ...
“Fresh and juicy!”
... It’s made of SAND ...
“Get it while it’s refreshing!”
... You actually expect me to buy something made of sand?
The Grarrl snorted. “I bet you don’t even have any money.”
Well, uh ...
“So let me practice my sales pitch! Honestly ...” He shook his head and bellowed again. “Lovely foods from the Lost Desert!”
I rolled my eyes and examined the merchandise. Apart from the sand fruit, there were a few scorched actual fruit, some sausages, and some unidentifiable foods wrapped in bandages. I poked a pile of sand tentatively.
“Sand Sandwich,” the shopkeeper informed me. “Just like a sandwich, only this time we use sand, rather than bread!”
Naturally. What is it with you lot and sand?
The Grarrl shrugged. “It’s the cheapest thing in the Lost Desert, so food is made inexpensive!”
Yes, but doesn’t it taste ... sandy?
“Oh, you stop noticing it after a while.”
I sat in silence for a while as the shopkeeper continued yelling out how great his food was. Finally I asked if the shop had any freebies. The sheer size of the shopkeeper warned me from stealing anything.
He shook his head and then paused. “Well, actually we do. They’re ... it's sort of ...” He bit his lip. “The most fantastic, delicious mouthwatering fruit you can ask for! Taste the sweet juice! Just the thing for a hot day!”
I sighed and rolled my eyes. Look, I’m not a customer; I’m just looking for a something for a friend, so give me whatever you’ve got, okay?
He shrugged. “Suit yourself, but you might regret it!” Chuckling, he rummaged around and produced a bag of fruit, which he dumped on the sandy floor in front of me. I nosed it and then shoved it into the bag I was carrying. I now had a piece of raw meat on a twig, a rather strange piece of ceramics and some dubious fruit. I sighed. Shard was not going to like this.
“So why did you leave without any neopoints?”
It was lack of foresight, combined with the fact that petpets aren’t allowed neopoints in the first place.
I sighed again, gripped the bag in my teeth and headed back out. Once outside I looked around, shading my eyes with my claws. There didn’t seem to be much else worth visiting here, and the yellow was really beginning to fray my nerves. I had flared my wings in preparation of flight when I caught a glimpse of blue in the corner of my eye. Curiosity stayed my wings and caused me to open my mouth, foolishly impulsive as I am.
I dropped my bag to the sand. Are you an anubis? I mentioned earlier that I had kept away from Peopatra’s; that didn’t mean I wasn’t curious about what the local petpets were like.
“Arf?” The anubis cocked his head to one side. “Arf!” I had heard that the anubis was a noble creature, handsome and intelligent.
Whoever makes up rumors on the neoboards should be dragged up to Faerieland and dropped off the nearest cloud.
The anubis stared at me for a moment and then barked again. “Arf!” He lunged forwards and sunk his teeth into my arm.
Hey! I growled, taken by surprise. I tried to jerk away, but the anubis had evidently been training in the Petpet Arena, for he was stronger than I, and dragged me to the front of Peopatra’s. Here I managed to break free by huffing a flame that scorched both him and my bag. Before I could make my escape I was tackled by two khnum that pinned me to the sand. Hey, what’s the big idea? I snarled, spitting out grit. The khnum looked at each other and shrugged in unison. We’re just lazy fellows who will lie in the sand all day if left alone. We don’t actually KNOW anything.
I snorted and sneezed in the sand. They heaved me into the shop and I stumbled.
The Peophin looked at me closely. “What are you doing here?”
I shrugged, as in all honesty I had no idea.
She shook her head. “Honestly, that anubis, always bringing additions for my shop that aren’t Lost Desert petpets ...” She gestured broadly and started pouring birdseed into a djuti aviary. I cleared my throat and she turned. “What, you’re still here? Get out!”
I shrugged again. Lost Desert people confuse me.
I picked up my bag where I had dropped it and examined the contents. The fruit actually seemed all right, fresh and juicy. It would make quite a decent gift. I spotted the local travel service and went to hitch a ride.
Part 3: Neopia Central
Now this is more like it!
I surveyed the heart of Neopia with what approached delight. A tall tree in the centre grinned and shook its boughs, sending bags of neopoints tumbling to the ground. Brilliant colour shone and shifted in a rainbow that arced over the city. It wasn’t exactly utopia, but it wasn’t humid and it wasn’t yellow. I approved.
As most of the stuff I had gotten was food anyway, I decided not to break the pattern, so my first stop was the Food Shop. I raised my wings and glided over to it, but a stinging pain stopped me before I got halfway. I went in for an emergency landing and tumbled down next to a giant metal Chia statue.
What is it with Neopians and these ridiculous models? I growled, and then sat on my hind legs, holding my wings in front of me. I teased my claws through the soft white fur, frowning. Gotcha!
An adorable mootix stared at me, its tail twitching. I stared straight back. Don’t try that with me, bug. I know the game. A thought struck me and I checked the fruit in my bag. There were a few cores left, nothing else. I glared at the mootix. At least it explained why the Grarrl gave away the fruit so easily; bugs like this could easily eat your entire stock. All right, you. I might fry you later if I need a snack, so watch your back! I snorted smoke out my snout. Got it? The mootix nodded, appearing contrite. I knew better. With a sigh I dumped it in my bag, rubbing my wing where it had bitten me after it had run out of food. I HATE petpetpets.
I bit into the fabric of the bag again and lifted off, limping slightly in flight. My wing still stung.
I eyed the Food Shop.
It’s a hamburger? I shrugged. All right, it’s a hamburger. But ‘Food Shop’? Who thinks of these names, anyway?
I sniffed and poked the building. It really was a hamburger, hollowed out to allow room for the shop. I leaned forward and closed my jaws around the bun, rotating them furiously, but they just bounced off. It was as stale as anything. I shrugged and turned, only to find myself staring up at a huge Chia.
“Please click on an item you wish to buy!” he yelled. The ‘heart’ on his apron was three times as big as me.
Your conversation has a particularly nonsensical lend to it, I observed, backing away.
The Chia shook himself. “I mean ... what are you doing, trying to eat my shop?”
Why yes! How did you guess? I smirked. It just looked so tantalizing, but then I discovered how tough it was! What kind of shopkeeper lets his food get stale?
The Chia appeared flustered. “You’re not supposed to eat the shop, idiot! You’re supposed to eat the food!”
Suppositions are ... annoying little things, I said, rather nervously. He was holding a heavy rolling pin, and right then it seemed a whole lot more threatening that the other Chia’s torch.
The Chia frowned. “What do you want, little dragon? I’m a busy man!”
A busy blob more like, I said with a laugh. He didn’t seem amused, so I hastily continued. I’m looking for something special for a friend, all right?
He stumped into the shop, me tagging behind. “We have Cheese, Real Cheese Cheesecake, Juppie Cheese –”
I held up a claw to stem the flow. Do you have anything that isn’t cheese?
He looked around and then walked behind the counter. He rummaged underneath it for a while before rising.
Well? I asked impatiently.
I groaned and slapped my claw to my forehead. That figures.
He shrugged. Then he narrowed his eyes. “You tried to eat my shop!”
Erm, yeah ...
“I can’t allow people to just go around eating shops left and right! It’s not right!”
You just said it was right. Left and right in fact. I snickered.
The Chia lifted his rolling pin and smashed it towards me. Caught by surprise, I barely had time to raise my bag in front of my face. The club-like rolling pin thumped it heavily, sending me sprawling backwards. There was a crash of breaking pottery in the bag.
Nice going, I snarled, baring my teeth. The Chia raised his rolling pin again and I left.
Why is it that every shopkeeper in Neopia is an idiot? I snorted, lifting the bag and peering inside. Small shards of broken pottery were stuck in the Meat a La twig, making it even more inedible. The mootix stirred and looked at me sleepily. I sighed and gripped the bag again. Now I needed to hitch a ride to the Darigan Citadel.
Part 4: Darigan Citadel
It was a dark and stormy night in the Citadel. Which was odd because it was day everywhere else, but I wasn’t complaining.
I followed the signposts until I found Kass Street. The number I wanted was 53799; they started off at 1. I sighed and wearily took to the air yet again.
It was a modest three-story house, with rooms made of Wood, Cloud and Jelly. I paused hungrily, as I hadn’t eaten anything all day, before remembering the Food Shop and deciding against snacking on the house.
A blur of flame shot past me, yelling, “Come back here, Rune!” A small raindorf looked at me curiously and shoved a climbing boot into my claws. The Pteri swooped back round for another pass, spotted me and stooped, losing altitude in a dive. I tossed the boot in the air and he caught, it pulling it back on to his talon. The raindorf giggled in nervous embarrassment and made a break for the house.
Now a Christmas Zafara wandered past, a white ona perched on her shoulder. She gave me a nod and a smile.
I shrugged and looked around for Shard. There; a grey Kyrii slouched on a Snorkle Bean Bag, playing with a yoyo; a black gallion perched on a Traditional Bone Throne nearby. This was it. I still wasn’t entirely sure why Shard had gotten herself adopted into this family, and after seeing a few of them I was even less sure, but it was her choice to make, and she didn’t have an Ace to hang around with. Now I had to figure out some way of giving the stuff to her ...
I looked into the bag. There was nothing worth giving! A splintered twig with a crockery-covered chunk of raw meat, some fruit cores, a smashed pot. Nothing worth giving. Nothing. I dropped the bag on the doorstep and made to fly away, but my wings were sore and I rested in a tree. Soon I slept.
I woke to a grinning black farce. Carr! Shard yelled in delight, hovering back a few feet. I shook my head to clear it and looked around. It was now early morning. A news-Chia cycled past, whistling cheerily until a gang of Darigan Lupes waylaid it. I turned in time to see Shard hurtling towards me.
She tackled me off the tree and onto the rough ground below. I sat up groggily, brushing off the dirt, and looked at Shard accusingly. What was that for?
It was a glomp, she explained. Glomping is when you tackle-hug someone as hard as you can. The more painful it is, the better it is! Rikku taught me how to do it.
Shard indicated. A human was busy berating the raindorf, gesturing with a frying pan at intervals.
Shard nodded in silent agreement, but she was still grinning.
You like it here? I said conversationally.
She nodded. I picked myself up and sighed. Look, about your birthday ...
Her face lit up. He’s got to be the best present I’ve ever gotten!
She flew over to the door and fished out the mootix from the bag. And you gave him food and stuff too! He’s really awesome. I’m calling him Giant. She grinned impishly. Well?
I blinked. Erm ... happy birthday?