Of Weewoos and Potatoes
Inspiration had deserted me completely. I was supposed to be writing, but for the last five minutes I had just been absent-mindedly tapping on my desk with a pencil, staring at a blank page. This story for the 850th issue of the Neopian Times wasn't going to write itself, but at this rate, it seemed that I wasn't going to write it, either.
“It was a dark and stormy night” I wrote down, then immediately crossed it out. Unoriginal. I really needed to stop beginning all my stories with “It was”.
What if I started with a title? “Attack of the Giant Mutant Tchea Fruits!” Sounds cool, but I had no idea where I would go with it. “850 ways to celebrate the 850th issue!” No, I’d never be able to come up with nearly enough.
I was halfway through thinking of a third title when a startling crashing sound came from a room down the hall. “Sorry!” called the voice of my Bori, Patches. “Wrong spell! I don't think I broke anything too important...”
Deciding I would worry about that later, I returned to my blank paper. Before I could even continue doing nothing, there was a shout from downstairs. “I think I set the couch on fire again!”
“Don't worry, I'll handle it!” Patches yelled, stomping down the stairs to put out yet another fire accidentally caused by my Magma Xweetok.
Distractions! Maybe that was my problem. I needed to make sure that my pets wouldn't bother me. “Family meeting, right now!” I ordered.
My four pets and I gathered in the living room, around a slightly charred couch. Max decided to stand on the floor, where he was slightly less likely to set something on fire.
“I'm running out of time to write this story,” I began. “And it's not going to get written at all if you guys keep causing chaos like this, unintentionally or not. You've got to get out of the house for the rest of the day. Preferably, as far away as possible.”
“Winter and I didn't even do anything,” Six protested.
“True. But you two are the sensible ones, so I need you to go along with your siblings and make sure they don't get up to anything too terrible. Besides, it'll be a fun vacation!”
I herded them all outside before they could protest. “Have fun! Be safe! Don't destroy anything too important!”
The door closed behind them. Finally, some peace.
Outside in the snow of Terror Mountain, four pets stared at the closed door. “Guess we’d better get going!” Max announced, not bothered by the situation.
“Where, though?” Winter asked. “I don't think we'll all be able to agree. And I know Christy wants us to stay together…”
“I don't know why she couldn't have left and found a nice quiet place to write her story instead,” Patches muttered.
“Oh, where's your sense of adventure?” Six said. The Camouflage Lupe gestured dramatically. “We can go anywhere! Do anything! I suggest a trip to Brightvale, though.”
“Brightvale is for nerds!” Max countered.
“You're only saying that because you're sad about being banned from Brightvale Castle.”
“I didn't mean to set their carpet on fire!”
“You also insulted King Hagan by saying “never trust the intelligence of a green Skeith!””
“It was a joke!”
“Save your jokes for King Skarl.”
Max rolled his eyes. “Well, let's go to Meridell, then. I'm not banned from their castle.”
Six looked unimpressed. “Meridell is a dull and brutish place.”
“No, they have some pretty cool stuff!” Winter piped up. “Like Illusen’s Glade!” The Faerie Xweetok tried to think of what other delights Meridell might offer. “And, um, potatoes. Cheese. And... free garbage.”
“And a shop selling magic potions!” Patches added, warming up to the idea.
“I suppose I’m outnumbered,” Six sighed. “Let's go, then.”
Upon their arrival in Meridell, Patches dragged them immediately to the castle in search of potions. Having no use for such things, the others filed into the throne room to attempt to amuse the king with nonsensical combinations of words.
Max stepped forward. “How will you recognize a shopkeeping Ultra Mega Bot 2000 who thinks they know a beef rouladen?” He paused dramatically. “When it's eating a big book of The Big Book of what what what on a sticks!”
King Skarl was not impressed. “That was the worst joke ever!” he bellowed. “I only give it 288 out of 1000!”
“If it really is the worst joke you’ve ever heard, shouldn't you give it a zero?” Six pointed out.
“GET OUT! ALL OF YOU!”
“You just had to act all smart around him, didn't you?” Max muttered to his brother. “You know he hates anything that reminds him of Brightvale.” Caught up in his disappointment, the Magma Xweetok wasn't paying attention to his body temperature. As he walked along the carpet, it burst into flames.
“Oh no, not again!” Winter cried, looking around for something to douse the blaze.
Skarl didn’t give her a chance to do anything about it. “GET OUT OF MY CASTLE! DON’T EVER COME BACK!”
Patches looked up from the potion shop to see her siblings being marched out by the guards. She sighed and followed along.
“You should have let me tell the joke. I had a really good one about fierce Peophins.” Six was not impressed. “And congratulations, Max. You're probably the only person to ever be banned from both Meridell and Brightvale.”
“I think you just got banned from here, too!” Max retorted.
“I doubt it. Being smart is hardly a greater crime than setting a castle on fire.”
“It is in Meridell!”
A passing Meridellian, overhearing this, gave them an angry look.
“Maybe we should leave,” Winter said nervously. She raised her voice. “And I think Meridell is a lovely place full of lovely people! Let's go get some potatoes from that lovely food shop before we go.”
“Nice one, Winter,” Patches said approvingly. “You're almost making up for your brothers insulting the king and burning down the castle. At least two of us have some common sense.”
“I didn't burn down the whole castle! I only burned it a little bit!”
“Speaking of “only burned a little bit”, let’s go see what quality cuisine Meridell has to offer!” Six declared, quickly going along with Winter’s subject change.
While they all stocked up on potatoes at the food shop, Winter had an idea. “Christy’s probably going to be mad at us for continuing to cause chaos after leaving the house. I mean, I'm sure she wasn’t really mad at us before, just stressed about the deadline. Maybe we should bring back something to cheer her up! ”
“How about a potato?” suggested the shopkeeper. “Everyone loves potatoes.”
“Good point!” Patches agreed, handing over more neopoints in exchange for another potato.
“We should get her something more awesome than that!” Max insisted. “Maybe something to help her out with the writing. Like… a Weewoo!”
Six was skeptical. “You think that just because it's the official petpet of the Neopian Times, it’s going to be any kind of help? Having another petpet in the house is only going to add to the chaos.”
“Well, she might like it,” Winter said diplomatically. “But we’d have to go all the way to Krawk Island. I don't think she'll be happy if we get robbed by pirates.”
“Oh, Krawk Island’s not all that bad,” Six dismissed. “I go there all the time for training at the Swashbuckling Academy.”
“And you’ve never been attacked by pirates?” Winter was hopeful.
“Oh, I've been attacked by pirates all the time. They've just never managed to steal anything! That's the benefit of Academy training.” Six flexed his muscles.
Max rolled his eyes. “If only we could all be as smart and strong and brave as you! We could get kicked out of places through sheer obnoxiousness without ever having to set anything on fire.”
“Obnoxious! You're one to talk-”
“That's enough!” Patches slammed her hands together, and the air turned chilly. “We’re all going to get a nice present for Christy, and we're going to get along while we do it, even if that means I have to put a silencing spell on one of you!”
The boys at least had the common sense to look ashamed.
“One problem, though,” Six frowned. “Weewoos cost a lot of dubloons, much more than what we have. And on top of that, we’d have to buy a white Petpet paint brush to make it look authentic.”
“We could go to the marketplace in Neopia Central instead!” Winter suggested. “We might be able to get a good deal on both, and we could pay in neopoints.” She really, really didn't want to encounter any pirates.
Unable to argue with this, the others agreed to go to the marketplace. Even if there weren't any reasonably priced Weewoos, they would probably find something interesting. And the ‘something interesting’ was not likely to be pirates.
“It shouldn't be this hard to find a Weewoo,” Max complained after they had searched through quite a few shops.
“Looking for a Weewoo, are you?” They all jumped at the sudden question. Winter, having wings, managed to jump about ten feet in the air.
“My apologies, I didn't mean to startle you,” the voice continued. A smiling Lenny stepped out of a shop entrance. “It's just that I have a lovely Weewoo right here! Already been painted white and everything.”
The petpet fluttered out on graceful wings, cooing happily. “Oh, it's so cute!” Winter exclaimed. “We’ll take it!”
She wasted no time in holding out a bag of neopoints, and the shopkeeper wasted even less time in taking it. “Have a nice day!” he said cheerfully, vanishing back into the shadows as quickly as he had appeared.
“Do you think we can go home now?” Patches asked hopefully.
Six shrugged. “We bought her a Weewoo. I think she'll be happy.”
“Until she finds out about the castle!”
“We’ll tell her about that first!” Max grinned. “And then we’ll give her the Weewoo, and she’ll forget all about Six’s mistakes.”
“Let's just go home,” Winter said quickly. The Weewoo chirped in agreement.
They managed to make it most of the way back home to Terror Mountain without any more incidents. This changed, however, when the Weewoo’s wings started to beat sluggishly. It soon landed in a snowdrift, exhausted.
Max peered at the petpet with concern. “What's wrong with it?”
“It's probably not accustomed to such a harsh climate.” Six examined it closely. “It might be best to carry it the rest of the way.” As he reached for the Weewoo, it suddenly lunged forward, snagged a large bag of neopoints from his pocket, and took off remarkably fast in the opposite direction.
Everyone just stood there for a moment, frozen with shock rather than cold (although both are quite common in Terror Mountain, hence the name).
Six shook his head sadly. “I believe that Lenny duped us.”
“I bet he wasn't even a real shopkeeper,” Max added, agreeing with his brother for the first time that day.
“It was a pirate petpet, after all.” Winter shook her head. “We should have seen that coming.”
Patches was furious. “Why are we all standing here? Winter, you can fly! Go after it!”
“It's up in the clouds now,” Winter lamented. “I'd never be able to see it. Why didn't you cast a spell?”
“I didn't want to hurt it! Why didn’t you fly after it before it was in the clouds?”
“I didn’t want to hurt it either!”
Max glared at his sisters. “You both panicked, more like. Now all we have left to give her is a couple of feathers!” He pointed to the snowbank, where several plumes remained.
Six sighed deeply. “So much for not making Christy mad.”
I had come to regret kicking my pets out of the house. Not only was it a rather rude thing to do, but I didn't even have any words to show for it. If anything, I felt even less inspired. So when the front door finally opened, I welcomed the distraction for once, and ran down to meet my pets.
Max and Six both started talking frantically.
“I didn't mean to set another castle on fire, honestly!”
“If only we had gone to Brightvale...”
“We meant to bring you something to make up for it, but...”
“There’s still the potato.”
“Actually, I ate the potato.”
“I was hungry!”
Patches looked pointedly at me “You know, I can't believe you said I wasn't one of the sensible ones. Mr. “Sensible” over there insulted a king, and what did I do wrong the whole time we were gone? Nothing!”
“I was merely pointing out a flaw in his ranking system!”
“We brought you some Weewoo feathers!” Winter tried to smile brightly as she handed them to me. “We thought they might bring you luck with your writing!”
“The actual Weewoo only stole some of our money, at least!”
“It's time for you to stop talking, Max.”
Against my better judgement, I started laughing. “No, keep going. This sounds like exactly the kind of story I can work with! I'm sorry I was rude earlier. I should have realized that no one inspires me more than all of you.” And they had even tried to bring me back something nice despite the way I acted... I think I could forgive some unintentional disasters.
My pets looked at each other in disbelief. “So you're saying we actually brought you the best gift of all by getting up to some nonsense?” Max asked hopefully.
“I suppose so.”
He grinned. “Awesome!”
“That doesn't mean I want you to go out and get up to more nonsense!”
I still couldn't help but smile. Yes, my pets could be a handful sometimes, but they meant well. The Weewoo feathers would make lovely quill pens, I finally had a story idea, and it sounds like things could have been worse.
Well, I hoped things could have been worse, at least. I was a little afraid to get the full story.
“So, what was that about setting another castle on fire and stealing my money?”