I was really raw and green back then. It's hard to look
back now and remember a time when I didn't even know who the ghosts were or what
a Pant Devil was, and walked blissfully around Neopia with all my Neopoints and
valuable items with me, never giving a second thought to the chance I could be
robbed. Not that I had a whole lot to be robbed. I had just enough Neopoints to
buy a piece of land in Tyrannia. I was so poor that the idea of living close to
free omelette every day appealed to me.
So, there I was, a clueless newbie who owned
a postage stamp-sized chunk of Chomby trampled dirt in Tyrannia. But I wasn't
living in Tyrannia at the time. I was living on Terror Mountain. I wasn't crazy
about living on a Polar ice cap. I couldn't wait to start building my NeoHome
in Tyrannia where it was always volcano warm -- just the way I like it. But
I had to raise some Neopoints first. And that's why I wound up living on the
frostbitten nose of Neopia.
I had checked into the Ski Lodge because rooms
there were ridiculously cheap. Not as ridiculously cheap at the Fleapit Motel
or the Cockroach Towers, of course. But even a guy living on a budget of 25
Neopoints a day was willing to pay a little extra for a place where you didn't
have to fight a swarm of Mootix for the pillow on the bed. And at the time,
I was able to get a room at the Ski Lodge for half-price at 15 Neopoints a night.
I was a little suspicious about getting such
a good deal on a room there, so I actually asked around about it. It seems a
couple of involuntary assisted suicides occurred in a short period of time at
the Lodge. At least that's what the guy at the front desk called them. All of
the shopkeepers on the mountain called them murders. So I guess that's why everyone
was a tiny tad bit nervous about staying at the place. Usually I would have
pretty much followed the gut instincts of everyone else in Neopia, but my empty
wallet won out over common sense. It was all that I could afford and still have
Neopoints left over to buy a couple of boxes of Wheat Flakes to eat.
Then came that fateful day when my life got
permanently interesting. The Igloo Garage Sale was just a few steps away from
the Ski Lodge so I liked to go in as often as I could. Mika and Carassa, the
Chias who run the Igloo Garage, were always friendly to me. Sometimes I would
even help them drag stuff down from their attic to sell. I liked their shop
because I could get good bargains on stuff-- especially wildly extravagant luxury
items like soap and toothbrushes.
That day, as I approached the Igloo Garage,
I spotted an enormous blue Lupe sitting just outside the entrance.
Whoa! This is NOT good! I thought with
I may have been totally clueless about how Neopia
worked, but I had heard about Lupes. Lupes were notorious for having big barbecue
picnics and grilling up shish kebabs. CHIA shish kebabs. Since Mika and Carassa
were Chias, I was suddenly worried about their safety. I approached the Lupe
cautiously, trying to look as casual as possible. After all, if he really was
waiting to snatch the unwary Chias, all I had to defend them was a plastic butter
"Hi there," I nodded to him with the friendliest
smile I could manage to make. His eyes shifted in my direction but his head
didn't turn. He made no reply, but I could hear a faint growling sound coming
from him. I swallowed hard and tried again.
"Waiting for someone?" I asked.
He snorted slightly and looked away from me.
My first reaction was to rush inside and tell Mika to bolt the doors and hide
Carassa in the attic until the Lupe left. I paused for a moment, not sure what
to say or do. Finally, I thought I might try giving him a hint to leave.
"You know, this isn't a very good place to sit.
Pets come in and out of here all the time. Big pets. Grarrly pets. You could
get stepped on sitting here," I said with what I hoped was a sincere, helpful
His eyes widened for a moment but he quickly
caught himself and shrugged nonchalantly. So I decided that maybe my first reaction
-- to tell Mika and Carassa about the Lupe parked on their doorstep was a good
idea after all. Just as I reached for the doorknob, a husky voice spoke.
I turned and looked at the big blue Lupe in
confusion for a moment.
"No?" I asked. "No what?"
He swiveled his eyes and stared at me for a
second with an exasperated look.
"No. Not waiting for anybody."
His large, piercing eyes narrowed on me intensely.
He really was looking hard at me and it made me uneasy. I liked it better when
he was ignoring me and pretending I wasn't even there.
"Oh," I replied.
I had forgotten the question I had only asked
a moment ago, and I felt like an idiot. I stood with my hand on the doorknob
for what felt like ages, desperately trying to think of what to add to "oh".
My mind was racing so fast that when he spoke again I almost jumped.
"You like to eat Chias," the Lupe said matter-of-factly.
I was flabbergasted. Why would he say that to
"No I don't!" I sputtered defensively.
The Lupe cocked his head and looked at me in
"You have a half-eaten one in your pocket, though."
I stared at him in disbelief for a second and
then it dawned on me. He was absolutely right. I DID have a half-eaten Chia
in my pocket. A half-eaten CHOCOLATE Chia.
"If you don't like to eat Chias," he sniffed
coolly, "Then why don't you just toss it away?"
I quickly dug into my pocket and pulled the
chocolate Chia out. The only good thing about the cold is that you can carry
chocolate around in your pocket and not worry about it melting. I had been eating
the chocolate Chia a little at a time. They cost a lot so I was savoring it
slowly. The Lupe eyed the Chia in my hand. It was at that moment that I realized
that the slight growling sound coming from the Lupe was his stomach growling.
He was HUNGRY! Without thinking, I thrust the blob of chocolate towards him.
"Here," I blurted out, "You can have it if you
He hesitated for a moment. I could tell he really
"Well..." he drawled with an air of indifference
I knew was fake, "If you don't like Chias, I'll take it off your hands for you."
He lunged forward and the chocolate Chia vanished
instantly. I hadn't even seen him swallow. The only way I could be certain he
ate it was that he licked his lips and rolled his eyes with satisfaction. I
stood there frozen for a moment. I had really wanted that chocolate Chia but
it made me feel good to give it to someone who was really hungry. I waited for
him to say "thank you" or anything else at all. But he just sat staring off
into the distance again.
"I guess I'd better get inside before all the
good stuff gets sold," I said.
I paused, waiting for an answer. None came so
turned went into the Igloo Garage. Despite the fact that it wasn't very crowded,
the Chias looked quite busy. I navigated around a maze of junk-filled tables
to the bookshelf. I managed to snatch a book before a snarling Skeith could
take a bite out of it.
I walked up to the table where Carassa sat collecting
Neopoints and chatting with the buyers. Mika, on the other hand, was rushing
madly around trying to keep stuff stocked on the shelves. It was a losing battle.
Everything except a bottle of green sand and a Wheelie was quickly sold. I waited
until everyone else was gone to take the book I had up to Carassa. I wanted
to talk to her when no one else was around.
"Inside the Mind of a Lupe," she said
and smiled broadly. "I learned a lot of helpful things from that book!"
I looked at the cover of the book in amazement.
Of all the books to grab, it seemed too much of a coincidence that I had managed
to get that one. I had planned to tell her about the Lupe outside the Igloo
Garage and now that the subject was on Lupes, the timing seemed perfect.
"Ummm... Carassa... there's something I think
you should know..." I began hesitantly.
"Yes?" she said, only half listening because
she was scribbling something down in her sales ledger.
"Well... there's a really large and extremely
hungry Lupe outside your shop door..." I said slowly.
The yellow Chia turned a greenish shade of yellow.
"Oh?" Carassa replied, her eyes darting towards
the door. "Mika?" she called out with a slight squeak in her voice. "Stoneman3x
says there's a really large and extremely hungry Lupe outside our shop door..."
Mika responded by falling off of the ladder
he was on. Several items followed him down and clattered on the floor around
him. But he leapt up quickly and began running in circles around the shop.
"A Lupe? A Lupe? What do we do? What do we do?"
he screeched in terror as he rounded the used clothing rack for the third time.
"Mika, don't you think we should verify this
information before we panic?" Carassa said calmly but firmly.
The blue Chia stopped galloping and nodded.
"Yes... yes... verify this information..." he muttered and crept uneasily towards
the shopfront window.
"Well?" Carassa asked.
"Yes, there does seem to be a gigantic blue
Lupe sitting on our doorstep," Mika replied.
He crossed over to the door and pulled it open
a small crack.
"Excuse me sir," Mika called out hoarsely. "Would
you happen to be hungry?"
"Yes, as a matter of fact I am," a deep voice
"Thank you," Mika said politely and closed the
door again. He looked over at Carassa with wide eyes.
"Is it okay to panic now?" he asked.
"Yes," the yellow Chia replied. "Now would be
an excellent time to panic."
Instantaneously and simultaneously they both
leapt up and began dashing around the Igloo Garage, screeching gibberish at
the top of their lungs. It could have been Chia-ese, but it sounded like Snorkle
squealing to me. Mika pulled down an grating of iron bars across the window
while Carassa flipped the sign on the door that said "OPEN" to "CLOSED".
Mika shoved me roughly towards the door, bellowing
I tripped over the doorjam and somersaulted
through the entrance, landing face-down in a snowdrift. I could hear the loud
click of the door being bolted and the snap of the shutters being closed.
"That wasn't a very smart thing to do," commented
a baritone voice next to me.
I pulled myself to my feet and dusted the snow
off of my pants.
"I didn't do it on purpose!" I grumbled.
"You didn't buy that book on purpose?" the Lupe
asked, one eyebrow arching.
"Book?" I echoed.
He nodded towards the volume sticking sideways
in the snowbank.
"Inside the Mind of a Lupe," he sneered.
"That's has to be the most boring book in Neopia. It wasn't even written by
a Lupe. You just wasted your Neopoints."
"Oh," I said, lifting the book out of the snow
and brushing it off. I suddenly felt like an idiot again. It was beginning to
become a weirdly normal feeling.
"Of course, you can sell it in your shop and
make a nice profit," he added.
"Shop?" I echoed.
"You don't have a shop?" he said more as an
incredulous statement than as an actual question. "I suppose you don't have
a NeoHome either," he said shaking his head.
"Not yet," I replied. "But I have a piece of
land in Tyrannia..."
"Tyrannia? Really?" he said with an actual spark
of interest. "I was born there. It's a great place. Of course, there are the
hazards, but they're not a problem to anyone who knows their way around."
"Hazards?" I echoed. I seemed to be echoing
more than Coral Canyon.
"Fissures mostly. Big cracks that open up in
the ground and swallow you up, hurtling you down into a chasm of fiery molten
lava where you writhe in agony for what seems like an eternity until you are
grateful for the relief that death brings. Hazards like that."
My eyes popped out of my head farther than a
"But I'm sure you know your way around Tyrannia,"
he said with a shrug.
"Ummm... not really..." I replied uneasily.
"Stone, right?" he asked, cocking his head slightly
as he looked at me.
My jaw dropped open. "Yeah," I said with amazement.
"How did you know my name?"
He shot me a perplexed look. "Your name? I was
talking about your NeoHome. You're planning on building it out of stone, right?
Because if you use anything else in Tyrannia, it pretty much melts."
"Oh," I said again. And still feeling like an
There was a long, uncomfortable pause. Finally,
the Lupe looked thoughtfully towards the horizon and said, "You know, I went
to the Island Mystic yesterday and he gave me an interesting fortune."
"Interesting fortune?" Dang echo.
"Yeah," the Lupe said with a slight smile. "He
said I if ever came across a golden meal ticket Noob, I should grab on with
"Huh? I don't understand what that means..."
I replied, trying to figure out what a noob was. I had the impression it was
something like a lottery ticket.
"Okay, here's the deal," the Lupe said, a mysterious
smile breaking across his lips. "I come and live with you. You give me three
decent meals a day and a solid roof over my head. In exchange for that, I keep
you from wandering into big cracks that open up in the ground and swallow you
up, hurtling you down into a chasm of fiery molten lava where you writhe in
agony for what seems like an eternity until you are grateful for the relief
that death brings."
I thought about that for a moment.
"Sounds good to me," I replied.
The huge blue Lupe turned and began walking
down the street. I didn't know where he was going, but I followed him anyway.
I didn't know his name, but it didn't seem to matter. We didn't say anything,
but for some strange reason it was an easy, comfortable silence. After a few
minutes, I felt compelled to say something that was on my mind.
"Ummm... I have a confession to make," I said
"Yeah. The truth is, when I first saw you sitting
in front of the Igloo Garage, I thought you were waiting for the Chias to come
out so you could eat them."
The Lupe burst out laughing. It was such a deep,
booming laugh that it was infectious. I started laughing, too. Pretty soon tears
of mirth were rolling down from our eyes. I finally managed to catch my breath.
"Yeah, that was kinda funny," I chuckled, wiping
away a bead of water from my eye.
"Here's something funnier," the Lupe said with
a broad grin.