Barry, a Baby Grarrl, was just getting into bed. He was
quite sleepy, and all too happy for the opportunity to snuggle down into his
soft, warm bed and toddle off to dreamland. However, when he closed his eyes,
Barry realized that he couldn't go to sleep. Why? Simple. Barry needed
a bedtime story, or else he wouldn't be able to sleep at all, even if a herd
of Tonus came in and bludgeoned him silly with their horns.
Barry sighed. He was just about to go downstairs
and fetch himself a glass of warm Kau Kau milk when a racking cough rang throughout
his room. Feeling slightly frightened; Barry gave a yelp of fright and leapt
back into his bed, pulling the covers up to his nervously chattering teeth.
He watched with mounting terror as the intruder's shadow was cast upon his bedroom
wall, and grew even larger as the stranger came closer and closer. Barry whimpered
fearfully. He was just about to pull the covers completely over his face when
the intruder popped his head in through the door, giving Barry a warm smile.
The stranger certainly was an odd one. He was
a Zafara, red in color, wearing a tattered gray cloak and a pair of rugged boots.
His mouth was full of cracked and yellowed teeth and his eyes were hooded and
crinkly round the edges. Barry sighed in relief.
"Grandpa!" The young Grarrl cried, smiling as
he threw his claws around the Zafara's middle. The Zafara chuckled, giving Barry
a pat on the head.
"How's my favorite Grandgrarrl?" he asked, sitting
down on a chair opposite to Barry's bed. Barry yawned.
"Fine," he replied, reaching for his Fuzzie Bear
and cradling it under on arm. "Grandpa, can you tell me a story?"
The Zafara laughed, his grizzled body shaking.
"Sure, Barry! I'd be honored to."
The elderly old Zafara leaned back in his chair,
folding his dull crimson paws and staring at the ceiling. "Let's see," He murmured,
furrowing his already wrinkled brow, as though in deep thought. "I know!" He
said, shoving his paw into his cloak pocket and drawing out an ancient looking
"I'll tell you a story from my youth, way back
when I was a young, strapping Zaffy." He sighed happily, reminiscing his younger
"It was a fine day for a hike, so I decided to
head out into the Haunted Woods for a nice, long hike. I had brought along a
large stock of canned foods, canned beans, peas, prune juice... I even had my
Pet Doglefox stored up in a can!" he coughed slightly, raising a brow at Barry.
"Don't ever do that, laddy. It doesn't work very well." He straightened back
up, regaining his composure.
"Anyway, I had prepared well for my trip... Except
for one, little problem..."
A young and well muscled red Zafara (Whose name was Erick, by the way) threw
his vermilion paws up into the air, stamping his feet against the ground as
though in a great state of anger.
"I don't believe it!" he roared, his great racket
sending clouds of Crokabeks up into the air. "I spent three hours this morning
packing all those blasted cans, and now, after I'm ten miles into the Haunted
Hoods, I realize that I've lost my can opener." Erick slumped down onto the
ground, his head in his paws. "And to raise the already sky high stakes, it
was my magical, golden can opener, the one that can open up any can of any size!"
he sniffled sadly, wiping a tear from his face.
"That can opener's been in my family for generations..."
Erick spat bitterly on the ground. "And now I've lost it! What would dad say?"
He sighed sadly, and stood back up, brushing dirt and leaves from his crimson
"Well, I'm not going to find it by just sitting
here and moping." He grinned, a thought suddenly striking his mind. "I know!
I'll go and see the magical hermit of the Haunted Woods, he'll tell me where
to find it!"
So, with new resolution burning in his heart,
Erick strode off towards the magical hermit's cabin; where he would hopefully
solve the mystery of his missing can opener.
The magical hermit of the Haunted Woods was a
mad old Shoyru, incredibly bad tempered; though very powerful in the magical
arts. Erick hurried up to his to the door of his wooden cabin and knocked three
times, with enough force to knock a few shingles loose from the already weather-beaten
The Shoyru, anxious to see what had made all
the noise, scrambled out of his house and inspected the damage done on his roof.
Eyes blazing, he turned on Erick, pointing a gnarled paw right at the Zafara's
"You!" he cried, waving his feather decked staff
around in the air. "You ruined my house, you clumsy oaf!"
"Oops," Erick said sheepishly, his already bright
red fur getting a little redder as he blushed. "My bad."
If looks could kill, then Erick would have been
sprawled on the ground, dead as a stone. But, fortunately for the Zafara, looks
could not kill, and he was as alive as the daisy that poked out of the ground.
Erick, who wasn't exactly the sharpest butter knife in the drawer, stupidly
asked the already miffed Shoyru a very inconsiderate question.
"Excuse me, old ugly Shoyru, but could you tell
me how to find my magical can opener? I've heard that you have some weird powers,
and therefore, I think that it's your duty to help me out." Erick grinned toothily
and nodded, as though that sealed the deal.
The Shoyru bristled angrily, and, in a demonstration
of his rage, smartly clipped the head off the daisy with his staff. No, the
Shoyru's looks couldn't kill a Zafara, but his staff sure could snuff the life
out of a daisy. Erick raised a brow at the Shoyru, who growled, and then spat,
"Go see the enchanted garden gnomes; they will tell you what you desire to know."
Erick smiled in a jaunty sort of manner, and
stuck out his paw for a handshake. The Shoyru looked daggers at the Zafara,
then turned on his heel and stormed back into his cabin, slamming the door behind
him. (Which caused yet another shingle to fall off the very bare looking roof).
Erick shrugged, and headed off in the direction
of the enchanted Garden Gnomes Glade, his thoughts occupied with the strange
"What an odd fellow," he said to himself. "Seems
quite unbalanced, he ought to book himself into the Neolodge for a few weeks.
That's smooth out his crinkles."
Erick trotted along, whistling a merry tune as
he admired the scenery. Suddenly, the semi silence was shattered by a high pitched
giggle that seemed to come from all directions and echo a thousand times. Erick
spun around, his paw reaching for his black frost cannon lest it be required.
The Zafara lashed his spade shaped flipper at the end of his tail against the
dead, dry leaves, making them crunch and scatter. Erick whirled all around,
searching frantically for his stalker. Quite suddenly, his gaze came to rest
on a plump Scorchio garden gnome, who was soon joined by a Techo garden gnome.
Erick grinned; obviously, these were the enchanted garden gnomes that the crazy
Shoyru had been speaking of. The Zafara held out his paws as a sort of peace
offering, and spoke very slowly, as though he was addressing a pet from Tyrannia.
"Hellloooo," he began. "My... name... isss Errrrick.
Can... you... help... meee?" He dropped his paws and sighed, hopefully, he had
been able to communicate with the strange Gnomes. The Scorchio pointed at Erick
and then nudged his friend in the ribs, who whispered something in his ear.
Both of them chuckled, and nodded at Erick.
"Certainly, Mister Erick. What do you require
assistance with?" The Techo had bent over to prevent himself from cracking a
rib by laughing, while the Scorchio smirked at the Zafara, who chuckled weakly
before clearing his throat importantly.
"Alright, enchanted garden gnomes. Here's the
deal; I lost an extremely valuable family heirloom somewhere in this forest,
and I need you magical powers to help me locate it, okay?"
The Scorchio gnome nodded, seating himself on
a nearby stump. "Okay, Zaffy. Sounds like a worthy cause. What, praytell, is
it that you are missing?"
Erick sighed sadly, as though the thought of
his lost can opener was too much for him to bear. "It's a can opener." He said,
though when he noticed the Scorchio gnome's puzzled expression, he quickly added,
"It's a magical can opener, it can open any can in Neopia, no matter
how tough or rusty it may be."
"Ahhhh! I see now!" the Scorchio gnome said,
winking mischievously at his Techo accomplice. "Sure. Zaffy. We'll help you
He turned to his companion, and the two of them
engaged in a frantic, whispered conversation, which was interrupted every now
and then by an outburst of giggling, usually from the Techo Gnome. Finally,
the two of them finished their conference and turned back to Erick. The Scorchio
stepped forward, his face grave and serious.
"You must see the Singing Bush!" he declared,
delivering the Techo a hard kick in the shins to stop his giggling, which had
started up again at this recent announcement. Erick groaned, slapping his forehead
with his paw.
"Great! Just great! First that nutty Shoyru,
then you two, and now a singing bush?!" He slumped his shoulders, and looked
pleadingly at the two Gnomes, "How come you can't just tell me?"
The Scorchio gnome shook his vigorously, crossing
his porcelain arms. "No, no no. Only the singing bush can divulge this information!"
Erick made an exasperated sort of noise, and
then turned back to the gnomes. "Alright. Well, can you at least tell me where
the bush is?"
The Scorchio gnome nodded happily. "Why of course,
friend! Just go around that tree yonder, turn around three times, and walk twenty
paces forward. Then, close your eyes for twenty seconds, and the Singing Bush
Erick shrugged, hardly surprised by anything
anymore. "Alright. I just hope that this bush can tell me where my can opener
is and call a halt to this wild Mallard chase!"
And with that, Erick whirled around on his heel
and strode over to the tree, while, behind his back, the two Garden gnomes collapsed
from sheer ecstasy, rolling around on the ground and howling with laughter as
they watched the Zafara continue with his hopeless wild Mallard chase.
Erick followed the gnome's directions carefully;
he didn't want to have to go another crazy side quest. He walked around the
tree, turned around three times, and, feeling rather dizzy, walked forward a
full twenty paces. Then, he covered his eyes with his paws and slowly counted
to ten. By the time that he had reached nine, a tirade of rather off key singing
hit his ears. He quickly snapped his eyes open and grinned when he saw the majestic,
the wonderful Singing Bush!
The bush didn't loom very extraordinary; it was
just a regular old bush, the kind that you can find in any old forest. And it
wasn't really singing, either. It sounded more like howling, with a tiny hint
of a melody. Even so, Erick was sure that this strange specimen of shrubbery
would be able to help him locate his lost can opener. He respectfully tipped
his hat to the bush, and said, somewhat awkwardly,
"Oh great and mighty Singing Bush! Please tell
me where I can find my lost magical can opener!" He threw his paws up into the
air, held up his chin, and stood perfectly still, awaiting the bush's answer.
But still, no words of wisdom descended upon him, and no advice was given. Instead,
the bush just continued its singing, just one long continuos note. Erick groaned
and slammed his face against a nearby tree.
"Darn, darn, darn!" he roared, banging his head
with such force that the topmost branches of the tree began to shake and sway.
"How is a singing bush supposed to help me, anyway?" Suddenly, something dawned
on him. He stopped slamming his head against the tree and approached the bush;
his faced screwed up as though he was thinking very hard.
"Hey... Wait a second... Bushes can't sing!"
In one smooth movement, Erick stripped the bush
of its leaves, to reveal...
To be continued...