teh 1337est n00zpaper Circulation: 103,901,843 Issue: 205 | 26th day of Hiding, Y7
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Mysterious Patchwork: Part One


by dark_goddess_rising

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Plushie Neopets are all the rage this season. As evidenced by the high prices of Plushie Paint Brushes and Morphing Potions, every owner in Neopia wants their pet to look like its favorite toy. It's amazing how no one confused the plushie pets with the plushies. Well, almost no oneā€¦.

     The royal Aisha bounded into Neopia's most famous toy shop. Wooden shelves lined all but one wall. The knotted floor planks that creaked as they were walked over happened to be made of the same wood as the polished shelves. The silver bell on the counter clanged unrelentingly, filling the shop with the ding! of metal clashing against metal. Crowded and impatient customers clung to balls and skateboards, afraid of having them snatched away by someone else.

     A scurry of feet across the creaky floorboards announced the shop's mystical restock. A guild from the Soup Kitchen Neighbourhood brought pets from the pound to buy them each a toy, a companion in troubled times. The shop was crowded with ownerless pets and the guild members that volunteered for the project. In the scuttle, glass shattered and anguished sounds erupted from the glass's owner: it was expensive. Hurried apologies were muttered, but the Shopkeeper watched the shrinking potion take effect with an amused eye.

     Plushies of every imaginable color and species appeared on the shelves behind those common few that were still stocked. Perfect. Just as the Aisha planned, she walked in from the summer heat at the exact moment of the restock. She reached for one of the shelves near the door and grabbed a soft, stuffed pet. A Plushie Kau Plushie: those were only supposed to be available from the Advent Calendar!

     The Aisha knew she had been lucky. Slipping quickly through the commotion to the register, she glanced at the plushie to discover it had no price tag. Hopefully, it wouldn't be too expensive.

     After a bit of haggling with the shopkeeper, a feminine red Lupe who insisted that there was something special about this particular plushie, the Aisha paid for the new toy and dropped it in her blue velvet backpack. Coming to rest along with the stamps she recently bought from the Post Office, Aurora could have sworn that the plushie squirmed, wanting to get out as it hit the bottom of the bag. Glad to be done with the crowded shop, Aurora hurried to meet her sister at the Rainbow Pool.

     Back at her family's cool stone mansion in Brightvale where she could escape the blistering sun, the royal Aisha rearranged her plushie collection. Hundreds were spread around the room. From Blue Ixis to Valentine Hasees, they were scattered over the handmade quilt that covered the bed in the corner. Others were stuffed in shadows, resting on bookshelves that lined one wall, or stowed away in boxes shoved in the closet. The place of honor was on the windowsill bordering the Soup Faerie Stained Glass Window. No matter where they sat, all the plushies were loved. They were wonderful companions in the long, cold days of Brightvale's winters and provided for lovely conversation. The Plushie Kau took a place right in the middle of the bunch that lined the windowsill, between a Mutant Buzz and a Rainbow Aisha.

     "Aurora! Twilight! Dinner! Hurry before it gets cold!" Surreal called from downstairs in the faerie-themed kitchen.

     Aurora and Twilight, the twin Aishas, raced down two different flights of spiral stairs on different sides of the house, heading for the same goal: the food in the dining room. Twilight was a vivid rainbow Aisha. Aurora preferred the royal look. Both were spoiled by Surreal-who lavished gifts on them and their older brother Midnight-and they got to choose their own colors.

     Their brother, a shadow Shoyru, was already downstairs. He came in late from his day at the shops and didn't have time to go up to his room to put his shopping. He was older than the twins by a little more than a year.

     As the four sat down for a hearty meal of pizza and Diet Neocola, the conversation turned to what they bought from the shops in Neopia Central. Surreal questioned each in turn, wondering what her hard-earned neopoints bought them.

     Midnight was the first to answer, responding that he purchased a Maraquan Petpet Paint Brush and an Anubis, Stargazer, at auction for a little more than 120,000 neopoints. He pulled it out of the bag for all to see as he spoke. The 120k had come from the sale of his Island Alkenore at the Auction House. Midnight went through a petpet a month, always finding some fault with each new one. He was already trying to make his Anubis work out. The petpets that he abandoned went to the Auction House where they were sold to whoever would buy them at whatever price, and the twins felt sorry for the poor things.

     Twilight was the second to answer. She replied that she picked up a White Petpet Paint Brush in a quaint little shop on the edge of the Marketplace for 55,000. "Surreal, I want a White Weewoo. Can I please have the Weewoo now that I have the paint brush?" Twilight asked. She aspired to be a Neopian Times reporter. What better petpet to have than one that doesn't exist for the writer-to-be?

     "Do you have enough saved up to buy one?" Surreal questioned, raising an eyebrow.

      "No. After the paint brush, I only have about 250k left in the bank. But, I do have some items I can sell," she pleaded. She was, after all, only 100,000 neopoints short.

      "If you can save 25,000 more neopoints before your birthday in two months, I'll give you the rest of the money you need. What are you going to do with DuskRunner?" Surreal inquired after the Fire Noil.

      "I'll take him," Aurora piped up, not wanting to see yet another petpet taken to the Auction House. "I don't have a petpet yet and I'm sure I can take care of him." Aurora never bothered to look for a petpet; her plushies were company enough for the Aisha.

      "You don't want him," Midnight commented, having first owned the Noil. "He's a handful. He never behaves, and he always needs to be taken out and played with. He's just too much work."

      "I want him," Aurora asserted, fearful for the Noil's fate. DuskRunner had been around for years and Aurora didn't want to see him go.

      "Midnight's right, darling," Surreal persuaded. "You're better off finding a more obedient petpet. I'll take you around tomorrow, but if you can't find another one, you can keep DuskRunner." Surreal had her own experiences with the strong-willed Noil and his tendency to break things. He wouldn't make a good first petpet. "What did you buy today?"

      Surreal gave each of her pets a 5,000-neopoint weekly allowance. Every year they went on vacation and every month the pets went to Neopia Central to shop while Surreal took care of groceries and other household necessities. They could spend their allowances anywhere and on anything they wanted. All three were excellent savers, capable of hoarding money for any reason. Their colors and first petpets, though, were presents from Surreal, and the pets didn't pay for those.

      "I picked up another plushie and some more stamps for our collection. This morning I found a codestone, Zei, I think, and put it in our Safety Deposit Box," Aurora answered, taking another bite of her Flaming Fire Faerie Pizza.

      "Very nice," Surreal commented. She understood her youngest's affection for stuffed toys, having once shared it. "How much did you spend?" They all urged Aurora to buy whatever she wanted-she didn't need to save all her money.

      "16k. The plushie was only 200 neopoints," she answered with a smile, glancing at Midnight and Twilight. She got the OK from them to reveal what the three of them bought Surreal for her birthday.

      Aurora reached under the table and revealed the box. Wrapped in silver paper with a faint balloon pattern, the package begged to be opened.

      "Happy Birthday Mom!" all three shouted in unison. "You thought we'd forgotten, didn't you?" they teased. "Go on, open it!"

      Surreal peeled the paper off the box, not concerned about saving it, and lifted the lid. A shiny collectable card spilled out and landed gently on the table. The Storyteller. The card Surreal wanted for so long but never bothered to buy.

      "Thanks guys!" she smiled. "How did you manage to find this one?"

      "The nice Buzz at the card shop told us the name of the guy who bought the last one he remembered having. We convinced said person to part with it for a large bag of gold coins we scrounged up from cracks in the sofas," Twilight responded, her eyes gleaming and her lips laughing.

      Aurora had put up most of the money for the card, but without the contributions of her brother and sister, they wouldn't have been able to meet the Eyrie's asking price.

      Dinner ended and the three pets went up to their rooms to get ready for bed. Aurora took one glance at her windowsill and fled back down the stairs, tears streaming from her pink eyes.

      "Mom! He's gone!" she wailed, her voice unsteady. "C-cuddles is g-gone."

      "Your new plushie?" Surreal responded instantly, turning to face Aurora from in front of the plain kitchen sink. "What kind was he, dear? We'll find him." Surreal soothed, trying to convince Aurora to stop crying.

      "A-a-a," she stammered, "P-plushie Kau."

      "Midnight! Twilight!" Surreal shouted up the stairs. "Come help your sister!" she commanded, taking to the search herself.

      The four of them tore the house apart, turning over sofas and flinging open Faerie Cupboards. The constant sniveling from Aurora was enough to motivate the other three to keep looking, but the Plushie Kau Plushie was no place to be found. After nearly an hour, they had to stop looking and begin cleaning up.

      "I'll take you back to the Toy Shop tomorrow," Midnight offered with a solemn voice. "We'll see if the shopkeeper has another one she can sell you."

      "I'll go with you," Surreal and Twilight both volunteered when their search yielded no results.

      "I need to visit the Furniture Shop and go talk to the Builders," Surreal finished. Midnight looked her straight in the eyes; his black ones piercing her brown gaze. He remembered what happened the last time Surreal visited the Furniture Shop and added new rooms to the house. She brought two young Aishas home a week later. The nod Surreal gave him was so slight that the twins didn't see it.

      "Thanks everybody," Aurora sounded depressed. "Mom, Can we get up early to go?"

      "Absolutely. The earlier the better." Surreal watched as Aurora stalked off, up the stairs leading to her room. Her eyes were filled with sorrow at seeing her dear Aisha upset. She turned a harsh eye on her other two pets, demanding if either of them hid the plushie from their little sister.

      "No," they both answered honestly.

      "All right. Go upstairs and get some sleep. It'll be a short night and a long day."

      When all three pets were asleep, Surreal sat down to think. Her hand absently traced a swirling pattern in the wood of the kitchen table. What species? She thought silently. What color to paint it? What name to give it? What would its first petpet be? What will the twins think? Her eyes roamed over the stone walls and the clock on the wall. What in Fyora's good name has possessed me to get another one?

To be continued...

 
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