This is a story about adventure. Like all good
adventure stories, it has lots of action, puzzle solving and monster fighting.
And like all good adventure stories, it has a hero, and a villain. The trick
is finding out WHO is the hero, and WHO is the villain. It's harder than you
This is not just a story where the good
guys storm in, kill the evil monsters and rescue the damsel in distress. This
story is a little bit more complicated. It has love and hate, loyalty and betrayal,
compassion and cruelty, trust and suspicion. It's about how far people will
go to achieve their aims. It's about how powerful emotions really are. It's
about doing the right thing, no matter what. It's about the values we place
on the lives of those we love, and those we don't. And, in a small way, it's
about a slightly eccentric owner and her pets. But there's more than just that.
So without further ado, let us introduce
our first character. Sensitive, kind hearted, generous, sensible, tactful, intelligent,
thoughtful, calm and well mannered. All these words exactly did NOT describe
the small Ixi currently climbing out of her window in a small, downtown suburb
of Faerieland. Interested yet? It gets worse…
* * * * *
Black Waterlily swung over the windowsill,
dropping to the grass below. With a loud meow, her Meowclops leapt onto her
"Shh, Spooks!" she whispered, stuffing
the petpet back inside. "You've got to stay here!"
Waterlily was an Ixi. Her ruffled fur was
blue, plastered to her forehead by the rain; her bright eyes a clear green.
She wore a black T-shirt, a dark purple shirt with little Korbat shaped black
buttons, black leather boots with thick laces over her back hooves and a black
velvet cloak with a thick fringe. A patched backpack held what few possessions
she'd decided to bring along. Every item of clothing was soaked, and the little
Ixi was already shivering. She'd picked a dismal night to try and run away.
As long ago as she could remember, her
owner had sat down with her before bed and opened up a big book all about Neopia.
As soon as she had learnt to read, she had devoted hours to pouring over the
stories of heroic pets that had saved Neopia from terrible evils. At a very
early age, she had decided she wanted to be one of them.
Once she had grown a bit older, she had
visited the actual places she had read so much about. They were quite tame now.
Waterlily had eventually come to the conclusion that to find adventure, you
had to look for it.
And that was why she was crawling over
the ground in the pouring rain, carrying only a packet of Ghost Marshmallows,
a Snazzy Moon Comb, her Bouncy Spiky Ball and a spare change of socks, leaving
behind two little sisters, a little brother and her owner.
All in all, it perhaps wasn't the smartest
decision in the world.
* * * * *
Anuina rested her head in one hand. A small Shadowed Shoyru hovered
at her shoulder, watching dimly as a Fire Uni, panting and heaving, pushed a
large mirror into the centre of the room.
"Enough!" The Faerie, stripped of her
golden glory but still fair of hair and eyes, stood up. "Come on then, Nightwing,
lets see what you can find me with my new toy."
The Shoyru floated down in front of the
mirror, touching its surface and whispering a word found in no modern dictionary.
The silver circle clouded, and began to swirl with strange and complicated images.
Anuina began pacing back and forth, her tattered grey wings rustling uneasily.
The Fire Uni shuffled to a corner and watched, concern etched all over her childish
"Well?" Anuina snapped, after a moment.
The Shoyru sighed, returning the mirror to its silvery state. He turned to look
at her with an expressionless face. His eyes were dull grey, and seemed to absorb
light rather than reflect it, giving him a slightly unreal look.
"I have found one. Left the protection
of her owner by her own free will."
The fallen Faerie gave a shriek of triumph,
her sullen mouth breaking into a savage laugh. "Yes! Finally! NEOPIA WILL BE
* * * * *
"Mrphl-graff… snurk yubb… lemme sleep… grurffl… yunk… alarm dinna
go off… BLAHHHH!"
I jerked upright in bed, hair dripping,
as someone poured a glass of water over my head. I wheeled around to come face
to face with a very, very unhappy looking Christmas Uni, who by the state of
her mane, had also just only got up.
"Waterlily's not in her bed!" she exclaimed,
clutching the empty glass desperately. "I've looked all over and I can't find
"Ehh?" I hadn't really heard a word. I
scraped wet hair off my face, rubbing sleep out of my eyes.
My name is Chrissy, and I'm an owner. Currently,
I have four pets, and I'm not that interesting, except for my job. Technically,
I'm a spy. I work for a secret organisation known as HQ to those who work there.
You know the type, I'm sure… there must be a dozen or more floating around Neopia,
which is a REALLY good thing. Neopia has bad mojo coming out the wazoo. It's
a dangerous place.
Physically, I'm not that interesting. I'm
female, and I'm a teenager. I have red hair, blue eyes, pale skin and freckles.
I'm not particularly pretty, but I'm of average height and probably weigh more
than I should, though I maintain it's all muscle. I'm fairly smart in the maths
and science department, I can hold a sword the right way round best out of two
chances, I have a mean aim with any kind of projectile weaponry and you DON'T
want to get on the wrong side of one of my punches. That said, I wouldn't know
a saucepan from a skillet, I have the musical aptitude of a herring, my handwriting
is appalling and as far as I'm concerned, only witches have brooms. I have a
major attitude problem, my brain works on a completely different tangent to
everyone else and I tend to be a complete and utter pain to anyone who hangs
around me too long.
"Slow down and tell me again, Elenna.
One point at a time."
The Uni took a deep breath, and then said,
very slowly. "Waterlily. Is. Gone."
"Gone?" I sat up straight. "What do you mean,
gone? Are we talking, walked down the shops, or are we talking, disappeared
off the face of Neopia?"
"Disappeared off the face of Neopia!"
Elenna wailed. "I can't find her ANYWHERE!" Elenna Lanta is my second oldest
pet. She's a Christmas Uni and has been so for about six months. She plays Fantasy
Role Playing Games FAR too much, and I think it's affected her brain. Currently
she was wearing a costume she'd copied from her last favourite Computer Game,
a red waistcoat, red leather anklets on all four legs, a red velvet cloak and
a red hat with long plumes. She's quite sweet, but absentminded and viciously
loyal. She used to live in Meridell, but you wouldn't think it to look at her.
She's lost all trace of Medieval Nobility.
"You're sure you've looked EVERYWHERE?
Bedroom? Bathroom? Library? Kitchen? Dojo?"
"Yes! There isn't even a note, Chrissy,
I'm really worried…"
"Alright!" I flung up both hands. "I'll
tell White and ask him to get Luna and Solar to put a tracer on her. If she's
wandered off, we'll go get her back. Are Immacolata and Hina awake yet?"
"Not yet. I'll go get them up. You gonna
I glanced at my soaking pyjamas. "Thanks
to you, yes. You want a cup of coffee? I'm making."
"Thornberry Tea would be nice." The Uni
glanced over her shoulder as she trotted out. "With a dollop of cream, if we've
I nodded, digging in a pile of clothing
to find a shirt that looked wearable. The laundry rarely happens in my house.
Fifteen minutes later, wearing a pair of
black trousers that brushed the ground even when I wore high heels, odd socks,
long black gloves that I insisted on wearing whenever possible and my favourite
T-shirt, that had miraculously survived living with me for over a year, I fixed
beverages for my three pets and myself. Three, because currently Waterlily was
nowhere to be found. The seriousness of my little Ixi going 'wandering' by herself
at half seven in the morning was beginning to work it's way through my sleep
"Ya know, I could just contact HQ." I
gave the Aisha a stern look, but my heart wasn't in it. Immacolata Magdalene,
my third oldest pet, accepted a cup of Earl Grey Tea without taking her eyes
off the laptop screen. Immacolata has blue fur and dark brown eyes, but her
fur is quite pale because she hardly ever goes out. She was currently wearing
a high necked khaki silk top, with her long ears swept back flat on her head
and her black hair scraped into a bun. Immacolata is a genius, and that is NOT
an idle compliment. She can reprogram anything without turning a hair, slip
through the most secure systems like a ghost and read my entire library in under
a day. THAT'S what I call impressive. Currently, she was hacking into HQ's database,
one of the most secure systems on Neopia. It's the quickest way to contact them,
but that doesn't make it legal. I had a feeling that Immacolata never did, never
had and never would care about legitimacy, if my suspicions about her shady
business contacts were anything to go by.
The final pet sitting around the table
was not focussing at all. Nandor Hina is a Baby Kougra with baby blue eyes and
soft sand-coloured fur all but covered up by brightly coloured clothing. His
trousers, as always, nearly covered his high-tops and threatened to slide off
his hips, a loud Mystery Island shirt was open over a tie-dye T-shirt and he
wore a scuffed red baseball cap back-to-front. Hina rarely awoke before ten
o'clock and this was rather a shock to his system. The Kougra spent nearly all
of his time trying out almost impossible skateboarding tricks and the rest of
the time nursing bruises. He had been a present last Christmas, and I hadn't
regretted taking him in, although he did usually manage to raid the cookie jar
with disturbing frequency and could talk me into or out of ANYTHING.
"I'm in." Immacolata glanced at her younger
brother in disgust as he almost fell asleep in his Banana Cream Coffee. "I haven't
entirely deactivated the security measures, simply reprogrammed them to ignore
my presence. I believe someone is watching, though whether it is Luna or Solar
I have no idea."
Luna and Solar are twin Kougra, HQ's techno-geniuses.
If anyone could find Waterlily, it would be those two. Together, they were smarter
than anyone I knew; though I'm sure Immacolata could give them a run for their
"Tell them the situation and ask them
to run a quick search over Faerieland. After all, Waterlily doesn't have wings,
she can't get off."
There was a short pause while Immacolata's
claws flicked over the keyboard with alarming speed, and then a long pause while
she waited for the results of the search to come back.
"Strange…" Immacolata's eyebrows furrowed.
"They can't find her. There's something blocking their search… lots of residual
signals… they picked up her trail right up until about six o'clock this morning,
when she disappeared. They suggest that it may be a bug in the system, and that
we should try the old fashioned way of simply LOOKING for her. Last known position
is the Employment agency. I'll get my bag."
"Wha…?" Hina looked up sleepily. "What's
"Shut up and get your skateboard."
* * * * *
Waterlily glanced at the clock behind the Faerie's head. It said
twenty to six. In less than an hour, the rest of the house would be waking up…
and she had to be gone by then. Well, time to be brave.
"Excuse me?" noticing the Ixi for the
first time, the Faerie leant down to talk to her. "I want to apply for a job."
"What kind of job?" The Faerie was distracted,
shuffling a large number of important looking documents into the right order.
"An adventuring kind of job. Tomb raiding,
exploring the ruins of Maraqua, hunting down the legendary three-headed-fourteen-eyed-monster
of Ee… anything like that."
"I see," replied the Job Faerie, not really
paying attention. There weren't many of that kind of jobs around, but her eye
caught a piece of paper that had been brought in earlier on. She couldn't really
remember exactly when, but it looked sensible enough.
"Here you go." She passed the Ixi the
job description. It was an Anthropology group going to meet a little known tribe
of Ixi in the depths of Meridell, promising intrigue and possibly danger. "No
qualifications needed, I assume you're in fine health…" She glanced at the paper
a second time. "And they're looking specifically for an Ixi, too. Good wages.
You've got to meet them today at six o'clock, in Fire Faerie Square."
"Thanks!" Waterlily pocketed the paper.
"I'll take it!"
The Faerie pursed her lips in frustration
as the Ixi ran out the door. Something about that paper was vexing. She couldn't
remember when it had been given to her, or who had put it there. She must have
been very busy at the time, or on a coffee break. Maybe it had just been left
on her desk at some point when she hadn't been there. It was probably nothing.
If the Faerie had known that an hour or
so ago, a small, Shadowed Shoyru with dull eyes had left the job description
on her desk while she was organising an interview, it wouldn't have meant much
to her. To us, however, this was a very important detail.
To be continued...