The Meerca continued to bounce happily on the seat next
to me. I awed by the fact that he was so pleased with having a name, even if it
was a ridiculous one. Wolf had done a lot of Lupey things since he had come to
live with me. He had done things that irritated me. Even so, I had always admired
him for the lordly way he cruised through life. But looking across the table at
him now, I was beginning to see him as nothing more than a big bushy-tailed snob.
"Ummm..." I said, snatching the springing Meerca
in mid-sproing and setting him back down on the seat next to me. I held my hand
firmly on the top on his head to restrain his upward momentum, but he was still
vibrating from sheer joy. "Now that we have been introduced... Reallyconfused..."
I began slowly, "Maybe you could answer a couple of questions..."
The Meerca squirmed out from under my hand and
crawled into my lap. He settled himself down comfortably again and resumed his
excruciatingly Slorg-paced nibbling on his pizza. He was so fluffy and cute
and didn't mind the fact he was using me for a booster seat.
"So, RC, it's not like it hasn't been fun having
you here for dinner and all," my Lupe drawled, "But shouldn't you be getting
back to the ol' Meerca Chase game?"
The Meerca froze in mid-chew and shuddered slightly.
"Nope," he stated matter-of-factly.
We all exchanged glances. There was a long pause
before I said, "Won't they be worried about you? It's going to get dark soon.
You shouldn't be out after dark. I mean, a little guy like you really shouldn't
be out all alone. You could get into trouble."
"But I'm not alone," he chirped. "I'm with you."
I coughed and shifted uncomfortably. I didn't
want to hurt his feelings, but he was obviously even more confused than his
new name implied.
"But you don't belong to me, RC. You belong
to the... ummm... Meerca Chase officials... I guess..."
Reallyconfused shook his head emphatically.
"No! I don't like that game anymore. I like you better."
"I'm really flattered, RC, but..."
"You promised!" he declared, cutting me off.
My head began to spin as I tried to recall what
had happened earlier in the Meerca Chase arena. A dozen images in my head slammed
into each other like bumper cars. I wracked my brain trying to remember promising
him he could be my pet, but I was pretty sure I hadn't done anything like that.
"Promised you what?" Wolf interjected with a
look of confusion that rivaled my own.
"You said you won't let anyone hurt me," the
yellow fuzz ball replied. "If I go back to the pit, I'll get hurt." He cocked
his head upwards and his tiny black eyes connected to mine. "You promised."
My stomach dropped down to my ankles. It was
a good thing I hadn't eaten any of that greasy pizza after all.
"But," I said uneasily, "That wasn't technically
a promise. It was more of a reassurance."
"You don't want me?" he asked with crestfallen
look and a heart-rending tone.
"It's not that..." I replied, shifting in my
seat as if I were suddenly sitting on a flaming hot burrito. "But I already
have two Neopets and..."
The Meerca suddenly burst into a wail that actually
rattled the salt and pepper shakers on the table.
"Waaaaaaaaaah! Uh-uh-uh waaaaaaaaaah!"
The Crokabek on StoneKrawk3x's shoulder was
so startled that it let out a rapid volley of squawks that added to the already
eardrum shattering screech of the extremely not-very-happy Meerca.
I started stroking the Meerca's fur furiously,
hoping to calm him down, but all that happened was that he sobbed even louder.
"You hate me and you wanna see my nose get all
crunched up on a big fat wall!" he bellowed as his agitated tail whacked me
repeatedly on my left temple.
"I don't hate you. And I don't want to see your
nose get crunchied..." I said as a hint of hysteria began rising in my own voice.
I desperately tried to catch the face-thwacking
tail, but it was like trying to nab a dive-bombing Flightning bug with your
bare hands. I glimpsed the others as I tried to repel the unintentional attack.
Krawk was occupied trying to calm down Stonecrow by soothing his feathers and
hurling phrases like "Arr, belay that matey" at him. Wolf sat in stunned silence
as a wide-eyed Doglefox wobbled in terror on top of the Lupe's head. I suddenly
had a sneaking suspicion that no one within a hundred yards of me was at all
"It's okay, it's okay, don't cry... please don't
cry..." I said pleadingly, wishing that some miracle would suddenly happen to
make the high-pitched anguish stop. They say you should be careful about what
you wish for. I wish I hadn't made that wish.
A regal-looking desert Kyrii wearing Egyptian-style
robes approached. He smiled pleasantly at me.
"Excuse me, sir, but I happened to hear everything
that has transpired here, and if I may, I think I can offer some words that
will calm down the poor little distraught fellow." The Kyrii motioned towards
the Meerca. "With your permission, of course," he added.
"Sure, if you think you can help," I replied,
nodding in hopeful relief.
He tapped Reallyconfused on the shoulder. The
thunderous wailing subsided to merely deafening sobbing as RC turned and focused
on the desert Kyrii.
"My name is Advisor Wessle," he said, handing
the Meerca a card that seemed to appear out of nowhere. "I know a lot about
Neopian law and you don't have to leave this human if you don't want to. You
can stay with him as long as you like."
At least six jaws dropped simultaneously.
"What?!" Wolf growled in a mix of horror and
"I c-c-can?" asked Reallyconfused as his active
crying suddenly slowed to gasping ahu-ahu-ahus instead of screeching wah-wah-wahs.
"Now wait a second..." I said, jumping in.
The Kyrii cut me off by continuing to speak
to the Meerca.
"According to Neopian law, as soon as a human
gives a Neopet a name, he is responsible for that Neopet. The legal term is
'not born yet', although what that actually means is the Neopet in question
has not been officially registered to the claiming human's name yet."
"But I haven't named him! I haven't claimed
him!" I protested.
A crowd of curious onlookers began to cluster
around our crowded booth. Advisor Wessle leveled a stern gaze at me.
"Did the Meerca have a name before you met him?"
he asked crisply.
"Well... no..." I admitted.
"Does the Meerca have a name now?"
"Well, yes... but I didn't name him. It just...
sort... of... happened..." I could feel beads of nervous sweat begin to form
above my eyebrows.
"Did you ever, at any time, tell this Meerca
that you would protect him from harm?" the Kyrii asked cooly, folding his arms
across his chest.
"Ummm... sort of... but..."
Advisor Wessle cut me off with a wave of his
"Then according to Neopian law you have not
only named him but you have publicly accepted responsibility for him. He is
legally yours. If you wish to get rid of him, you first have to officially register
him to your name and then put him up for adoption. Until then, he stays with
A chorus of approving murmurs rose up from the
mob and a sea of heads bobbed in agreement.
"I can stay?" RC said in a hushed awed tone.
"Yes. You have the right to stay with this human,"
the Kyrii stated with firm conviction.
Reallyconfused clapped his paws together in
delirious joy and began hopping up and down in my lap. I was too dumbstruck
to stop him.
"Yay! I can stay! I can stay!" he whooped.
The crowd applauded and cheered in overwhelming
support. It was obvious that I wasn't going to have much of a say in this. I
was beginning to feel like I had just been scammed like a noob when RC did something
I really didn't anticipate. He threw his chubby little paws around my neck and
"Oh, Manny! Oh, Manny! I can stay with you!"
he squealed with delight. "I'm so happy! Now I can be like everyone else and
have a home and a family and everything! I always wanted a home and a family
and everything! You're the bestest person in the whole wide Neopia! I knew you
were the bestest person in the whole wide Neopia the first moment I saw you
because you waved to me! Nobody ever waved to me before! I am soooooo happy!"
I melted like a wet snowball tossed into the
"I'm happy you're happy," I whispered, hugging
I plucked the card out of RC's paw and wagged
it at Advisor Wessle.
"I take it you are some sort of a lawyer or
something, right?" I said with the half-smile of someone who has just been thoroughly
"Something like that," he replied and winked
slyly. He extended his paw and I shook it. "If you ever need any more legal
advice, you have my card," he added. Then he turned and disappeared into the
milling throng of pets.
I stuffed the card into my back pocket. RC released
his grip on my neck and slid back down into my lap. I looked over at Wolf and
Krawk. If the looks I was getting in return could have been made into Hidden
Tower weapons, they both would have been invincible in the Battledome. I smiled
weakly and shrugged.
"What can I say guys? The law is the law."
Wolf simply snorted in disgust.
"Well, I guess we had better be going home now,
right guys?" I said, trying to be as upbeat as possible. Part of me knew that
they weren't going to take too well to having another pet in our NeoHome. But
part of me really hoped that they would adjust to the idea given a little time.
Boy, was I wrong.
The trip back to our home in Tyrannia took twice as long as it normally would.
It slowly dawned on me that the yellow Meerca had spent his entire life cooped
up inside a dark dungeon-like holding cell at the Meerca Chase arena. He didn't
come right out and tell me that, but it soon became pretty obvious.
Every time we passed a tree, Reallyconfused
ran up to it. He would feel it and examine the leaves to see if it was different
from the LAST tree we had passed. If it was, he would go, "Ooooo! Cool!" He
performed this routine with just about everything we passed from fence posts
to rocks. Of course, once a Mortog spontaneously exploded out of fright when
RC grabbed him, RC pretty much steered clear of anything that even remotely
looked like a Mortog after that.
Even the ferry ride to Tyrannia followed the
same ritual. He sped back and forth between the port side of the ship to the
starboard side of the ship to see if the ocean waves were the same on both sides.
It was both amusing and exhausting to watch at the same time.
But my biggest concern was Stonewolf3x. I had
expected him to show his displeasure with our newest addition to the family
at every opportunity. But he simply sat by the railing with absolutely no expression
on his face whatsoever. It's weird, but I almost longed for a snide comment
or exasperated glare. But there was nothing. And that nothing was starting to
really worry me.
When the ferry docked at the port in Tyrannia,
Wolf and Krawk disappeared into the crowd of pets leaving the ship. I wandered
around the dock for awhile looking for them, but it was hard with RC zipping
off in so many directions, fascinated by so many things. I was afraid he was
going to get lost, so I gave up looking for the other two.
"Come on, RC," I said as cheerfully as I could.
"Let's go. They know the way home so I'm pretty sure they just went on ahead."
The Plateau was depressingly deserted as we
walked across it. The darkness of the starless night cast fingers of inky shadows
everywhere. I had never been out so late alone before. Well, without my Lupe
anyway. The bad feeling creeping up my spine turned out to be dead on the mark.
We hadn't even gotten halfway home when four figures in hooded cloaks stepped
out of the gloom and into our path. Even in the stark blackness I could see
they were Aishas. The long ears poking out of their hoods were pretty much a
"Hand over your Neopoints!" the tallest one
demanded. He pulled out a long poison tipped dagger and wiggled it at my stomach
To be continued...