Our intrepid hero and his shivering sidekick said their
goodbyes to Edna, and bravely sallied forth once more into the Haunted Forest.
Digger looked around constantly, and jumped at every shift of a leaf. Jubby did
his best to steady his petrified petpet, but he wasn't sure what to expect either,
having never dealt with the Esophagor before.
It wasn't very long, fortunately for Digger's pounding heart, before they
reached the great slimy… something that is the Esophagor. A great groan issued
from the very ground, or so it seemed. But a great gaping mouth, and two small
hollow eyes emerged from the ooze.
"IIIII AMMMM HUNNGRRYY!!!!!" the Esophagor moaned. "Feeeeed Meee aannndd IIII
willl reeewwaaarrrd yoooouuuuu!!!"
Digger jumped into the air in fright, probably setting a world record for
the Doglefox standing leap. He landed on Jubby's Kaudora hat, and held on, quivering.
Jubby sighed, wishing as usual that he had an arm to pry Digger off his head
with. That Doglefox ruined more perfectly good Kaudoras than a hundred treasure
hunts! But Jubby knew he had no time for irritation, and so turned his attention
to the Esophagor.
"Okay, I'll feed you. What do you want?" Jubby asked, hoping his voice sounded
braver than he felt.
"Doooooggggleeefoooxxx oooonnn Ryyyyyeeee." The Esophagor groaned.
Digger yipped and hid under Jubby's Kaudora. "I TOLD you! I told you I'm bite-sized!!!"
"Shh… don't worry little buddy," Jubby assured. "I won't let him eat you."
To the Esophagor he said "Sorry, fresh out of rye, and you can't have Digger.
What else do you want?"
The Esophagor looked crestfallen. It gave a huge earth-rumbling sigh, and
said "Chocolate Jack-O-Lantern Chip Cookie," in a reluctant voice.
Jubby rolled his eyes. "You would ask for one of the rarest spooky foods to
crawl into Neopia!" he groaned. "But okay, if that's what you want. Come on
Digger, we're going shopping."
Digger, however, didn't say a word until they were well away. In fact, he
didn't show his face from under the Kaudora hat until they were standing in
the Spooky Marketplace, and Jubby was ready to hash things out with the local
"So what are you looking for today Sir?" it asked. Jubby wasn't comfortable
being "sirred" by a fellow JubJub… especially one who dressed better than he
did. But he knew this was no time to fiddle with formalities.
"Um…Chocolate Jack-O-Lantern Chip Cookie," he said instead.
The Shop Wizard did something indescribably fuzzy and complicated, and from
nowhere appeared a long list of shops, arranged by price. The Wizard took the
list in his prehensile JubJub toes, and handed them to Jubby. "There you go
Sir. Have a nice day!"
Jubby wasn't about to correct the Shop Wizard, but it was NEVER day in the
Haunted Woods, no matter how hard the sun tried to shine. With a sigh and a
Doglefox still on his head, Indiana Jub did the most heroic thing he had done
the entire adventure; he went shopping in the Haunted Woods.
The first shop he stopped in was a small out of the way little stall, run
by a Mutant Chia. Digger, who had never seen one before, was slightly taken
"I didn't know they made Artichoke Chia Pops," he said.
"They don't," the shopkeeper replied grumpily. "Now what do you want?"
"But if they don't make Artichoke Chia Pops, how come-" Digger continued.
Before he could finish his sentence, Jubby arranged a large ball of fuzz over
his sidekick's mouth. Having three people get angry with you in one day is bad
luck, and our hero knew it well. So, he gave another gleaming smile, and kept
his fluff arranged so that Digger couldn't be heard.
"I'd like a Chocolate Jack-O-Lantern Cookie," he said politely.
"Huh. Too bad for you. Just sold the last one," the shopkeeper replied.
With a sigh and yet another roll of his eyes, Jubby headed back out into the
market. He repeated the process several times with several different shopkeepers,
before coming to a shop that was really no more than a dirty blanket on the
floor of the Marketplace. And there he saw it: his prize, the Chocolate Jack-o-Lantern
Cookie! He rushed forward to the shopkeeper, a withered old green Kacheek who
was taking a peaceful nap on his blanket/shop.
"Excuse me sir?" Jubby asked. He was reluctant to wake the sleeping elder,
but he knew that with his current luck, every Chocolate Jack-O-Lantern Chip
cookie in the Woods would be gone if he didn't get this one. The old Kacheek
snorted, but didn't stir. "EXCUSE ME SIR!" Jubby said again. This time he used
the same emphasis he usually put on the WOODEN SPOON… and hoped that the music
didn't trigger by default.
Fortunately, the only thing that happened was the old Kacheek started, blinked
a few times and woke up. "Eh, no need to shout Sonny! I ain't deaf yet." The
old Kacheek told him sternly. "What can I do ya for?"
"We'd like to buy your Chocolate Jack-O-Lantern Chip cookie," Jubby told him
with a gleaming smile.
"Put yer shiny teeth away boy, you're blindin' me!" the old shopkeeper said
as he covered his aged eyes. "I'm charging 16,000 Neopoints for it, and if you
think you can do better anywhere else, I tells ya it just ain't so!"
"Uh…" Jubby paused, wondering where in the world he was going to GET 16,000
Neopoints Fyora didn't pay in advance for these capers, and he'd spent most
of his money on the ill-fated Lost Desert "beach" vacation. Suddenly, he remembered…his
ace in the hole! With his skilful toes, he pulled a plastic card out of his
bag. It was emblazoned with Fyora's picture, and the words "Faerieland Express
Card". "Do you take plastic?"
The Kacheek took the card and squinted at it. He flipped it over, and saw
the words "in case of difficulty, smack card on counter three times." With a
puzzled look and a shrug, he leaned over to the post holding up the awning of
another stall. With all his strength, the aging Kacheek struck the card against
the post once, twice, three times. Each time the card struck the wood, a sound
like a huge silver bell issued from the card. Three times the bell rang, and
after the third time, there was a puff of purple smoke.
The old Kacheek fell to the ground in amazement. Digger started hopping around
and barking like mad. And Jubby? Jubby just sat back and smiled. Fyora looked
down at the shopkeeper and scowled.
"Isn't my credit card good enough for you?" she asked in her melodious voice.
"Ummm… eek… sorry your Faerie Queenness. I didn't… umm…" the Shopkeeper stammered.
"You didn't realize that I personally endorse every Faerieland Express card,
and that I check the references and credit of everyone who holds one," she said,
completing the Shopkeepers ill-conceived sentence. She then turned her eyes
on Jubby, who couldn't help but gulp. "And that I personally track down and
heinously punish anyone who doesn't pay their credit card bill?"
Both Jubby and the shopkeeper were speechless, one with amazement, the other
with fear. Fyora shook her head and sighed, and reached down to pet the Doglefox
who was trying so hard to be adorable at her feet. "Give the JubJub what he
wants," she said quietly. "I know he pays his bills on time."
With that simple phrase, and another cloud of purple smoke, Fyora was gone
"Why… didn't you warn me Sonny?" the old Shopkeeper said shakily.
"Would you have believed me?"
"Not a chance."
Jubby nodded and the Shopkeeper's eyes opened and a grin spread across his
face as he had an "Aha" moment. With a smile and a pat on the back, the old
shopkeeper packaged up the cookie, and handed it to Jubby. The shopkeeper wrote
down the information from our hero's credit card, and handed it back. Digger
despondently followed our Hero off the blanket, and towards the exit of the
marketplace. As they were walking away, they heard the old Kacheek exclaim "Wait
till the guys at NeoPoker night hear this one!"
It was a short and uneventful trip from the Spooky Marketplace back to the
Esophagor's oozing presence. It looked up as they approached, and said "Tooook
yoouu loooonnng eennoouuughh."
"Well if you'd asked for a more common item, it would've been a lot easier."
Jubby replied. For once, Digger was keeping his mouth shut. In fact, he was
back hiding under Jubby's Kaudora. Apparently, the "Doglefox on Rye" comment
had left a lasting impression!
"Wheeerrree's Myyy Ffooodd?" is all the Esophagor had to say.
Jubby sighed, and tossed the Chocolate Jack-O-Lantern chip cookie into the
monster's gaping maw. There was a hideous crunching and slurping noise… then
the Esophagor pulled a napkin out of parts unknown, and dabbed his lips daintily.
"Taaasstttyy," it said with satisfaction. "Whaaaat Doo Youu Neeed too Knooww?"
"Where is..." Jubby paused for dramatic effect, and to give the background
music fair warning "THE WOODEN SPOON?"
The Esophagor shook like a Jelly Muffin as the dramatic music blared. He didn't
seem to mind, and in fact took the chance to dine on a few passing tree branches
that flew off in the blast. "Theee Wwoooddenn Sppooonn offf Esssmmerrreeddnnaa."
The Esophagor said when the music was over. Jubby listened carefully, and somehow
managed to translate the extended language of the Esophagor into a language
he could actually understand. The Esophagor continued. "Thhe Wwoooddenn Sspppooon
iiisss…" he paused, showing a sense of dramatic timing that Jubby had never
suspected, "wwiittthh ttthhe Kkrraawwkkss."
"Great! Thanks a bunch!" Jubby said. He took off like a shot towards the Redline
express… not so much out of fear, but because Digger was trying to make a temporary
den in the fuzz under his hat.
He had to forcibly pry the determined Doglefox from his fur when they were
safely aboard the redline. "I'm going to have a bald spot there. I just know
it!" He muttered as Digger settled down into his basket. If he intended for
Digger to hear him, he failed miserably. Digger was fast asleep, exhausted from
the sheer terror of someone wanting to eat him.
To be continued...