The (Un)lucky Blumaroo
The fragments of the plate that were in Ufra’s paws a mere few seconds ago--a precious few seconds too late--streamed across the floor, leaving the poor Blumaroo no choice but to dance this way and that to avoid them.
“I knew you weren’t worthy!” Jhudora hissed. “Same as always, only just too late--you don’t ever learn, do you?”
The Blumaroo swallowed, bracing himself for the oncoming assault and slowly backing away from her. “Jhudora, miss, it was only by a couple seconds,” he mumbled. “Maybe I could--”
Ice ran through Ufra’s veins as he felt rather than saw the pedestal behind him wobble, the flask on top of it crashing and mingling with the plate he had brought. This time, however, the crashing sound was accompanied by a slow hiss and an acrid smell as the potion ate away at the precious flooring.
Without another word, Ufra scrambled out of the room, nicking his foot on one of the glass shards. The sharp pain was nothing compared to the curses of the dark faerie currently lobbing green and purple flames in his direction.
Ufra raced down a corridor and yelped as one purple fireball singed the thin, peachy hair on his ear, but this spurred him on. He had never angered her like that before--always been screamed at, been given a pointed finger towards the exit, but now? He couldn’t hear or see any sign of her, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t still hunting him down.
The Blumaroo continued to race through Faerieland, screaming through the Healing Springs, not even noticing how the Neopets and faeries stared at him. Ufra didn’t care. He knew just one place that Jhudora would never think to come looking for him...
Ufra’s ears popped out of a berry bush, followed by the rest of his head. He squinted. Illusen’s Glade was not too far from where he stood. If only luck would rest in his favor for once, he would be able to make it there without anything else happening--
“Oi! What’d ye think yer doing, making off with meh plants? That’s 400 Neopoints to Pick Your Own, and no less!”
The imposing figure of a yellow Gelert toting a pitchfork towered over Ufra, his expression determined not to let yet another kid get away with berry-picking for free. With surprising strength for a berry farmer, the Gelert lifted Ufra by the ear and held out an expectant paw.
Ufra swallowed. “Right, uh...let me see what I’ve got.” He rummaged through his small sack, finding little else but potatoes--a former quest item for Jhudora herself. Meridellians must like potatoes. he thought.
Trembling slightly, Ufra held out the tubers. “Would this work?”
The Gelert narrowed his eyes. “Not all Meridellians have an affinity for potatoes, you know. Why’d you think I’m farming berries instead? Kid, you’ve got to leave,” he demanded, dropping the Blumaroo.
Ufra rubbed his still-smarting ear and turned to leave the field, trudging as if he were moving through thick snow.
Not even the brightness of the sky or the different colors of nature’s bounty could cheer him up, not when his life was a complete mess. Even from birth, Ufra seemed to have a sort of magnetism for sheer bad luck, and today was no different.
The Blumaroo stared half-heartedly at the berries. It would have been a decent experience to pick them, but perhaps it was for the best to only have potatoes on hand. Maybe one of them would have a grackle bug in them, or he’d get stuck by thorns.
Ufra stared at the ground. Perhaps, in a way, it had terrible luck, too. What choice did it have in what to grow or who stepped on it?
Suddenly, the Blumaroo saw a bright flash of green among the plants--not very much like a coin, but a pulsating glow filled with life, and nothing like the rage of Jhudora’s fireballs.
This was different.
Bending down to get a better look, Ufra gasped once he saw what it was. Layer upon layer of heart-shaped sorrel leaves arranged in such a way that the plant itself must have been feeling absolutely miraculous, for the leaves did indeed number--
“Ten, eleven--twelve.” Ufra stared in awe at the precious clover, before checking over his shoulder to see if the Gelert was nearby.
The farmer was nowhere to be seen.
Without another moment’s hesitation--for such was the stuff of failures, Ufra’d learned that by now--he scooped up the clover and fled the field, racing behind a shack to inspect his treasure more closely.
He held the clover high and felt the balance of the universe tip in his favour. This was it. Something had happened.
No more would he be Ufra the Clumsy. No more would he be laughed at and ridiculed. No more would he be The Unlucky Blumaroo.
Ufra had to go someplace. He had to test his newfound luck.
He thought of his home back in Neopia Central, and the shops there. The Book Shop, with tomes he couldn't read due to his propensity to paper cuts. The Petpet Shop, with the critters that would bite him whenever he tried to hold them. The Music Shop, where he was constantly reminded of the time he got stuck in a tuba. The Chocolate Factory, filled with delectable treats of which he was deathly allergic. The Neolodge, with the front desk lady who always told him she didn't like his face...
Yeah, Neopia Central. That would be the perfect place to start.
"FREE COOKIES!" came a voice as Ufra wandered through the Bazaar.
Free cookies? Why, he had never gotten anything for free before--except those clothes at the Second Hand Shoppe that made him ill because the last person who'd owned them had Lumps. It seemed like his luck really was changing!
"Hi sir," the Blumaroo started as he approached The Bakery. "I'd like a cookie!"
"Yo, you're inda right place," the Kacheek said with a smile. "I got free samplesa cookies right here."
"What kind of cookies are there?" Ufra inquired.
The Breadmaster grinned. "I got Chokato, Stramberry, raisin--"
"Ooh I'll take raisin," Ufra interjected. Yummy, excrutiatingly plain raisin. Things couldn't get less wild than raisin; that was why it was Ufra's favorite.
The Kacheek handed him a cookie and... Ufra started to feel his hand itch.
The Blumaroo frowned with rising anxiety, "Er... are you sure these are raisins?"
"Yo, as sure as I forgot my contact lenses this morning, eh!" The Breadmaster replied with a grin, slapping his knee.
"That was chocolate, wasn't it?" Ufra said as he involuntarily teared up. Then, all at once, Ufra's skin exploded with small red lumps.
"You don't look so good there," the Kacheek said to Ufra.
"Pleath," the Blumaroo stuttered with his cheeks wide and his tongue sticking out, in between violently scratching himself, "tek me to theth hothpital."
Well, his second experience getting free stuff turned out to be just as bad as his first.
But, this time, he only had to wait in the waiting room for twenty minutes! His luck had changed! Obviously. Right?
"Yeah, obviously," he said as he sucked the lollipop the Gelert Doctor had given him after his treatment for Itchy Scratchies. That was a pleasant surprise.
But where to next? Where was he to test his luck now?
Maraqua? No, he couldn't swim. Shenkuu? Not after his bad experience getting sucked into the clockwork negg. Tyrannia? Last time he was there the Monoceraptor decided to leave his lair. Terror Mountain? Well--
"Ow!" he exclaimed as he crashed to the ground. "What was that!?" He looked up while rubbing the new bump on his head. Nothing was there.
He looked down to see the blunt object with which he was attacked--and promptly realized it was just a sack of Neopoints.
Ufra frowned and picked them up. "Darn random events," he said just a touch spitefully as he picked up the roughly 600 newfound NP.
And then he paused and realized... "I just got a good random event!" He couldn't remember the last time that had happened. Usually he just got that bad dream where his stuff had been stolen, or the swamp ghoul telling him how delicious he looked, or one of many ridiculous ghosts or monsters or Kadoadies or whatever taking his money.
He grinned and realized the last place he had thought of was Terror Mountain. It had to be a sign!
I mean, I don't really like the cold, Ufra thought, but maybe with my luck something will happen and it'll become my favorite place in Neopia.
He barely stepped into Happy Valley when he suddenly found himself slipping. Somehow, Ufra had been so distracted he had walked right onto the frozen lake rink! But while he probably looked foolish as he slid and spun and yelped... he did not actually fall down!
"My luck really has changed!" the Blumaroo said with a smile as he took another step and tripped over a piece of torn paper. "Ow ow ow," he wailed between deep breaths as he squeezed his tail, which had received the extent of the bruising.
Ufra reached to crumple that which had caused him to trip. "You cursed--" But then he stopped as he realized it was a torn scratchard.
A scratchcard. A losing scratchcard.
The Blumaroo began to chuckle as an odd sense of bemused irony washed over him. Taken down by a game of luck.
Well, with his twelve leaf clover, his perfect revenge would be right in front of him.
He gazed up to see the Wocky's Scratchcard Kiosk just ahead. Soon, he would win a prize! He could feel it! That would show the scratchcard once and for all. Take that, scratchard.
Ufra walked up to the stand.
"Fancy trying your luck at winning a fortune?" asked the Wocky. " It costs 600 Neopoints to buy a Scratchcard, and some are rarer than others. It's Lucky Dip so I can't guarantee which one you are going to get!
"Haha, luck," the Blumaroo replied, folding his arms confidently across his chest before handing her the Neopoints. "No problem for me! Give me one!"
She closed her eyes and grabbed one from the sack, then she opened her eyes and placed the card in his hands. "You now have a Icetravaganza Scratchcard," she finished. "Good Luck!”
Ufra grinned as he scratched off a circle. Jackpot.
He scratched another. Jackpot.
The Blumaroo scratched one more...
"Oh," he commented to himself as he scratched off another.
"JACKPOT!" he squealed as he handed her back the card.
"WOW!" she exclaimed with him. "You win one million Neopoints!" She grinned widely and handed over the sack of coins.
He took the Neopoints and stuffed all he could into his pockets, and what didn't fit he put in his boot. "I won! I WON!" Ufra beamed. Never before had anything like this happened to him. Until earlier today, he had never dreamed something like this could happen to him.
"I won the jackpot!" he exclaimed to some Bruces nearby, who promptly cheered for him.
"I won the jackpot!" he exclaimed to some Neopets and a faerie having a snowball fight, who promptly cheered for him.
"I won the jackpot!" he exclaimed as he ran into the Ice Caves, where the random Neopets, Kari, and Hannah promptly cheered for him.
"I won the jackpot!" he exclaimed as he ran into a particular cave, where he woke up a great worm who promptly froze him solid with a beam of pure ice.
"Ugh, my head," Ufra started as consciousness returned to him. What had happened? Where was he?
He spun around and realized he was just outside a cave. A cave made of ice. Ah, yes, the Ice Caves! He had just won the jackpot--yes, the Scratchcard Kiosk Jackpot! That was it! And then he went and told everyone he had won the jackpot before being blasted by the Snowager.
Ufra ran his fingers through his pockets... to find them empty. He gaped as the realization that he went and told everyone he had won the jackpot. Clearly he had been pick-pocketed while he was out.
With a heavy sigh, the Blumaroo stood up. "That's odd," he said as he felt something in his boot. And then he remembered, there he had put the Neopoints that could not fit into his pockets! He dumped them out, counted the sum and then gave five thousand to a mewing mutant Kadoadie owner.
Ufra realized he had 100001 NP left.
What could he do with what earnings remained? Fix his Neohome? Get a little closer to completing the lab map?
No, those were both far too dangerous.
He had another idea.
And with his newfound Neopoints and the twelve-leaf-clover in his possession, there was no way this new idea could backfire. Ufra grinned and made his way toward Qasala.
“You?” the Tonu bedecked in gold stared in disbelief, before shaking himself and announcing, “it’s the Wheel of Extravagance, 100,000 Neopoints a spin! See what riches you can win!”
The Blumaroo gripped the sack of Neopoints tight and looked the Tonu straight in the eye before handing it over.
The Tonu raised an eyebrow but gave no further comment, counting the coins with a practiced rapidity. “Perfect, you go on ahead and spin.”
Ufra swallowed back a squeal as he leaped to the wheel and gave it a good yank, watching the runes blur with his strength before coming into view again, the clicking ceasing once the wheel came to a full stop.
“Unbelievable!” the Tonu gasped, dropping his composure of regality. “You’ve won the most elusive and sought-after prize yet!”
Ufra squinted at the runes, noting that the one the arrow had pointed to was an empty photograph of sorts, right between a sack of neopoints and a rough landscape--it all somehow seemed familiar. “What did I win?” he asked, hardly able to keep from bouncing on his tail.
“This,” the Tonu’s voice boomed with pride as he handed the Blumaroo a moving sticker in the shape of a wheel--a very familiar sticker indeed. “It’s what everyone’s after when they spin this wheel.”
“Um....thanks,” Ufra mumbled, sticking it onto the exact spot where another avatar representing the Wheel of Extravagance lay on his passport. He walked away from the wheel with all the grace he could muster, but still his ears drooped from the crushing disappointment. How was he to remember obtaining something he’d already gotten years ago, when at that time he’d wanted something more material too?
The Blumaroo frowned as he clutched his last Neopoint. Brucey B had followed a lucky coin and found the desert, maybe his coin could bring him some luck, too. Or, rather, get rid of some luck. He took out his twelve leaf clover and, using a bit of remaining Itchy Scratchy Cream as a glue, placed it on the Neopoint.
“Forget luck!” he yelled to no one in particular as he chucked the coin as far as he could away from him.
Ufra stopped and thought about what he had just done... And then breathed a sigh of relief. Finally, he was back to being Ufra the Clumsy, laughed and ridiculed, The Unlucky Blumaroo.
It almost felt good--
But then Ufra realized there was an Anubis in front of him on the Qasalan streetway, wagging its stubby little tail.
And clutched in its jaw was his coin and clover.
The Blumaroo started to hyperventilate. He was not comfortable around petpets. "No no no, Anubis," he started, "I wasn't playing fetch."
The Petpet yipped and ran toward him.
Ufra yelped and took off the other way. Why oh why did this of all things have to happen today?
After some number of steps--he was out in open desert, now--he turned back to see his assailant leading a whole pack of Anubis. "Ahhh!" he yelled as he kept running. He could see Sakhmet up ahead, and he knew just where to go.
"Peopatra, Peopatra!" Ufra called as he neared the city's main shopping district.
"Oh my," she said as the Blumaroo neared her stall.
"Help me!" he called as the huge pack of Anubis gained on him.
Her face went stern and she gave a loud BARK, prompting all the Anubis to stop their chase and run to her instead.
Ufra just panted heavily and collapsed outside the shop.
"You had nothing to fear, dear," the Peophin said as she hovered over him. "Anubis are very playful. But thank you for bringing me all these new creatures to take care of and sell!" And then she walked away.
Suddenly, the first Anubis jumped on him and dropped the coin beside him before nipping his face and dashing off.
"OK," the Peophin started, this should be enough to pay for all the Petpets wholesale." She dropped a bag of Neopoints on his chest. "It's 50000. I mean, it's negotiable, but I think it's fair." She shot him a lopsided smile and started to walk away.
"Yeah... yeah it's fine," he replied as he sat up and put the money in his pockets. And then he picked up his “lucky coin,” peeling the clover off it.
Standing determined, Ufra decided he would get rid of the clover once and for all. He plucked off one of its leaves--but it grew back! “Darn lucky clover,” the Blumaroo grumbled.
This was uncanny.
Somehow, good luck was even worse than bad luck. Ufra couldn’t even expect anything anymore! He curled up in an unhappy ball and took deep breaths, looking around him for signs of fortune he had no idea how to avoid. Something had to be done about this. Someone had to help him.
And then it struck him. Not lightning or a loose bucket full of slops, but an idea.
There was one faerie he knew that would definitely be happy to ruin his good luck once and for all.
“You have got some nerve coming back after destroying my marble floor.” Pure hatred oozed out of every syllable as the dark faerie fought to stay in her chair. “Do you know how much that cost to fix? Why, I oughta--”
“Jhudora, miss, please take this.”
The faerie started, and stopped her speech. Such a rare occurrence was it that someone fulfilled a quest on time; how much more of a rarity that someone actually gave her something of their own will!
“What have you got there?” she demanded, unable to keep the pleased curiosity out of her voice.
“It’s a twelve leaf clover, ma’am,” Ufra replied with a grin as he held the sorrel to her.
She cocked an eyebrow. “And this is yours?”
The faerie scowled. “Why are you just giving it to me, Neopet? Is it cursed? Did Fyora send you?”
The Blumaroo shook his head. “No. I just can’t handle all the luck it’s giving me.” He smiled widely and twitched his eye.
“Faeries are not supposed to accept items that were not asked for.” She stood up and snatched the clover out of his hands. “But since you insist…”
Ufra grinned and leaned back happily against one of Jhudora’s stone bookshelves lined with spell tomes. That was it. Finally, his ordeal of unlucky luck was over. Again and forevermore he would be The Unlucky Blumaroo!
Meanwhile, Jhudora stared at the clover and began to stroke it. Oh, the things she could do with this. She could feel its raw power, she could feel the universe tipping in her favor…
And Ufra felt something tipping, too. He yelped as he looked up in time to see the bookshelf violently wobble.
This time, he knew to run before Jhudora could lob fireballs at him. As Ufra panted and tore out of her place, he sighed with relief.
Finally, life was back to normal.