What Came Before the Number Five
Nothing ever happened. An old argument to be sure, made
by youngsters all throughout history, and thought of as a terrible cliché
for any writer to so much as jot down on a piece of paper. But nevertheless,
an argument not without grounding. That's exactly what a young yellow Lupe,
whose name was Arous, was thinking as he set off in search of something interesting.
All he wanted was a place with adventure. He was tired of all the peace in his
kingdom, and all the boring day-to-day things life presented. All he really
wanted was something adventurous, and so he set out to find it. He didn't know
what he wanted, nor did that matter to him, because he would know when he had
found it. With his trusty staff between his jaws he left his fair kingdom and
ran as fast as he could over the seemingly endless grassland.
He ran until the sun passed far beyond his view,
and darkness was everywhere. He made a small bed and slept. The next morning
he ran; the next night he slept. He did this for two weeks straight, hardly
growing tired, and never longing for home. But it was still three more days
before he made his discovery. The plains were changing to soft rolling hills,
and it was scarcely an hour before sunset when he saw it. Just over one of the
hills was a massive mound of translucent orange. He was unsure of what it was,
and almost afraid of the strange sight, but he crept ever closer. On top of
the hill he could see down into the city, the city of Jelly. Huge buildings
loomed overhead, despite him being on top of the hill. Orange sights were everywhere,
a mound of Jelly, and Jelly shop, and a Jelly statue, among many other things.
He walked down into the city, wondering if it was some kind of grassland mirage.
He poked a Jelly building. He could feel its texture, and he watched as it jiggled
from base to roof. I can feel it, he thought, it must not be a dream.
He scraped off a small piece of Jelly and ate it, and sure enough, he could
taste it. It was almost too much for his mind to comprehend, but things only
While pondering how all of this could be real,
he heard a voice call out behind him.
"Who are you, Still-Stander?" asked the voice.
He spun around to see a blue Jelly Blumaroo.
It jiggled as it bounced up and down, its Jelly body fluctuating with every
bounce it took.
"Me-e?" Arous asked, almost in shock.
"Who else would I call a Still-Stander?" the
bizarre creature mused.
He was utterly confused, and the events that
followed didn't help much. Many different Jelly pets came bounding in from different
places. All of them were different colors (or was it flavors?), and all of them
were 100% Jelly. The crowd murmured things about a Still-Stander from a distant
land, and a horrible apocalypse about to ensue.
It was all too much for Arous.
"WHO ARE YOU? WHAT DO YOU WANT? WHAT DO YOU
WANT?" Arous wailed, his eyes darting from one whimsical pet to the next.
The Blumaroo just looked at him as if he had
just asked where the Hidden Tower was.
"What do you mean? We're just humble pets, and
we don't want anything from you," he said, jiggling as he bounced up and down.
Arous nervously glanced at each approaching
pet, just sure they would turn him into Jelly, too.
"Well, well I," he stammered, "I'm from far
away and I, I... Um, I'm not used to this sort of thing with the, eh, ya' know,
Jelly and all. Um, so, ya' know, it's kind of a shock to um...."
"See a Non-Still-Stander?" the Blumaroo cut
"Why do you keep calling me that?" Arous demanded,
but felt rather foolish as he watched all the pets jiggle and wobble. "Oh...
that's why," he corrected himself.
"Yes, that is why," laughed a red jelly Wocky.
"Well, are we going to leave him standing there,
or shall we show him the hospitality of our fair kingdom?" called the food shopkeeper,
a green Jelly Kacheek.
The crowd agreed and lifted Arous, the Still-Stander
from a distant land, upon their shoulders. They carried him into the main part
of town, and the festivities began. They ate with him, held a toast with him,
raced, danced, and did all kinds of other festive activities. Arous was in a
sort of bliss-like state, surrounded by new friends that could only have come
from an untamed imagination.
A week passed by, and the festival of the Still-Stander
was finally settling down. From what Arous had observed, the inhabitants of
this Jelly world were completely carefree. They lived a simple life, and would
begin a festival at any chance they could think of. Arous loved it there. Everyday
was exciting. They always had something planned. He had found what he was looking
for, and he was ready to go home. Not forever - oh no - he'd be back to Jelly
land soon. But first he had to tell everyone about it, he had to gather all
his things and make plans to move.
He bade the whimsical race of jelly pets a fond
farewell, and immediately started back for home. He ran as fast as he could
for as long as he could every day, his staff clenched between his jaws like
it always was when he ran. Instead of two weeks, it only took him a week and
a half, which was amazing time over the grasslands. He had been gone a little
over a month, and it just so happened that this had been the most change filled
month for his kingdom. Ever.
As he drew closer to the city, he could hear
a collective moan flowing out of the barred gates. A wailing, crying sound poured
fourth from inside the walls. He approached it with great caution, since his
kingdom had always been peaceful and without great pain. He came to the gates
and called to the guard, who was looking pale and distraught. The watchmen hardly
nodded, and opened the gate slowly. Arous walked through the gate and saw what
everyone was ailing about: The Orb was gone. He was shocked, beyond description.
And that wasn't the only reason everyone was so upset. Boils, diseases, and
all other sorts of blemishes were appearing on everyone. Even though the Orb
was stolen a mere two weeks before, crops were already showing slight symptoms
of blight. Everything about their kingdom was ailed with some new trouble, and
no one thing or one pet escaped it. No pets accept Arous, that is. They looked
at him curiously as he walked in to the center part of the city. He looked at
him even more curiously, for they were the ones who had changed.
"Arous?" asked Initor the Nimmo, one of his
Arous looked at him closely. The Nimmo's skin
wasn't its usual green. Although it still had some green, most of it was covered
with a darker, blacker green. It was like thick black crust all over his body,
but some of his normal skin still shone through. His eyes didn't look like they
should've, either. They were beginning to have a slight red tint to their hue,
something that made him look rather devious.
"Initor?" gasped Arous, his jaw literally hanging
"Yes, it's me..." his good friend sighed, "We've
begun to change, ever since they stole the Orb."
Arous was really starting to wonder who they
were. When he asked Initor, his friend simply opened up his right hand. In it
was a seal that Arous had never seen before. Initor handed it to him and gave
him a moment to analyze it. On it was a large shield and a crown, with the words
"MERIDELL" inscribed across the wax.
"Meridell? Where in Neopia is that?" Arous asked,
still holding the wax seal in his paw.
"I don't know," whined Initor, "but they came
and took our Orb. They were mighty knights, and we had no idea they were coming,
but somehow they knew we had the Orb. They were gone as soon as they came, and
they took our fair Orb with them. One of them dropped this, and I found it in
the grass. I'll always keep it, just to remember this horrible day." "Yes, always
keep it," agreed Arous, handing back the seal to Initor, "why is everyone so
Initor frowned. "I don't know, Arous, merely
days after it was gone this began to happen. One by one we began deforming.
Some of us to a lesser degree than others, and some were merely sick, but one
by one it happened. And then it got worse. We began to darken, our eyes turning
redder and our skin to strange hues. I don't know why, I don't know how, but
Arous looked at his own fur. Totally normal,
no change at all.
"But, I, I'm totally normal. Nothings happening
to me, and I feel fine." Arous said, actually sounding worried.
"You were the only one gone," the Nimmo muttered,
jealous of the Lupe's good fortune.
Gone? Oh yes, gone! Thought Arous, remembering
the trip he had only just arrived home from.
"I must tell you of my journey!" he shouted,
his old self rushing back, "it was incredible! I found a land made of Jelly,
pure Jelly! Orange Jelly, too! And there was a wonderful festival, oh the festival!
It was called the festival of the Still-stander, in my honor! My honor! Not
bad, eh? And all the pets were made from Jelly, a-"
"What?" Initor interrupted, "what are you talking
about? Look, I know it's a shock, but please keep your sanity. What did you
REALLY do on your excursion?"
"But, but that is what I did. I found a Jelly
World-- a Jelly City!" Arous exclaimed.
Initor stared at him in awe, trying to figure
out what had snapped in his friend's mind. Arous could see he was looking at
him with a look that said "Psycho!", and tried to make the Nimmo understand.
"Initor, hear me! I can take you there, we can
go together! Then you'll see the Jelly too, y-"
"Let's get you inside, I think it's getting
too cold for you. And, eh, maybe long distance running shouldn't be tried alone
next time, 'kay, Arous?" his friend cut him off again, honestly trying to help.
"But, I di-" Arous started.
"Listen to me, Arous. Do you want to be locked
up, do you want to be declared a lunatic? I didn't think so. Maybe it is real,
maybe you did see it all, but try explaining that to everyone else. Just calm
down and settle in to normal life, forget about Jelly Central." Initor interrupted
the final time.
Arous nodded. He would have to keep these things
To be continued...