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- Today's Pet Spotlight -

Pet Name: Jess
Owner: contagious
Breed: Draik

About Jess:
Hey, you. You can keep a secret, right?

I probably shouldn't tell you. I mean, it's not much of a secret if I traipse around telling everybody, and I really have no idea how trustworthy you are. But I'm beginning to feel like if I don't tell anyone, I'll explode. Musing about it to my Gallion really isn't the same as discussing it with someone who can actually talk back.

So, here it goes: I'm a criminal.

I know, I know. I don't really look the type. Just a dainty, young, exotic flower of a Draik, that's me. But I'm not the sort of criminal you're probably thinking of. The truth is, I'm a runaway.

I was born in an affluent kingdom in a remote part of the Lost Desert, built around a massive oasis. Our ways are very steeped in tradition-- well, I suppose I should say their ways, now that I'm not one of them anymore. There's always been a lot of ceremony in our day-to-day life, and a lot of doing things simply because that's the way they've always been done.

When I was little, I was chosen to be the kingdom's Oblatier-- a position of great honour, the officials assured me. I didn't know what it entailed, exactly, but it sure sounded grand, so even though it meant leaving behind my family, the fact that I was moving to a palace was more than enough to make me follow obligingly.

And what a palace it was! Sprawling and beautiful, with every luxury imaginable. My life consisted mainly of lounging about on silken pillows, having my every whim attended to by a bevy of attentive servants, with even more guards assigned to the duty of my protection. True, it was a bit restrictive; I was rarely allowed to leave my palace, and when I was it was with a massive escort.

I did have an occasional tendency to question things, something that the officials never liked, but I have to admit I was easy enough to ply with presents and words. They assured me that I was sacred and marked for greatness, that I held one of the most crucial positions in the kingdom, and when I reached the right age, I would ascend to fulfill my true destiny. So I was more than happy to accept that, waiting for the day I would gain the throne.

One thing that always captured my imagination, though, was wondering what it would be like to stroll the streets of my kingdom freely, not carried on a palanquin surrounded by guards. It wasn't easy-- in fact, there were a few failed attempts that made the officials very unhappy with me indeed-- but one day, with help from my Gallion, Nebu, who managed to successfully distract some of the guards, I made it out.

It was a liberating feeling, let me tell you. Free and alone, for the first time I could remember since I was very young, walking the streets of the city, feeling the pulse of the common people. Only one topic seemed to be on anyone's tongues: the Ceremony of Oblation that was to take place next week, on my birthday. I'd never heard anything about this beforehand, but now I knew. The time was drawing near that I would 'fulfill my true destiny'-- I would become the ruler of our kingdom.

Or so I thought. It took eavesdropping on a few more conversations to bring me crashing back to earth with the realization that I wasn't going to be ruling anything. My true destiny? I was going to be sacrificed to one of our many deities.

Suffice it to say, I had no idea how to react or what to do. As I've mentioned, everyone was very inclined to follow the established order, to obey the officials and not make waves. But every fiber of my being was screaming out that this was wrong, that I could never willingly walk to my own demise.

I decided to turn to the family I hadn't seen in years, who barely recognized the daughter they had given up to play such a vital role in assuring the well-being of our kingdom. Big mistake. As you might have guessed, their first instinct was to hand me right back over to the guards who, I realized, had always been my captors as well as my protectors.

Luckily enough, I managed to slip through their fingers. I sneaked from the kingdom with Nebu in tow. It took days of fleeing, barely managing to survive in the ruthless desert, before I finally began to feel somewhat safe. And now-- now I'm out in the wide world, trying to disguise my true identity in case word of my whereabouts finds its way back home. So remember: my name is Jess, okay? Not the Exalted Oblatier Jesorei.

Wow, it felt good to get all that off my chest. Now, maybe you could help me understand a bit more about this world of yours. There are so many things I don't understand! How does bank interest work? How come I can't order exactly the food I want at any restaurant? Why do so many Neopets stare at me-- is there something wrong with the way I'm dressed? I know I wear a bit more jewelry than the average-- oh, hey, where are you going? Urgent business? Well, okay. Thanks for sticking around long enough to listen to my story, at least.

Just don't ever tell anyone.

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