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Midnight over Meridell: Part One


by ratling_guardian

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Special Thanks To: hot_pink_lizard, christinetran and charmedhorses, whose stories encouraged me to write!

Another bleary morning dawns on Neopia Central, just like the one before that, and the one before that. The sun slowly rises, sending orange streaks against the pink skies. Owners groan as they wake, their Neopets nagging them for their breakfasts. Sure, it's always the same, but getting up always seems impossible, no matter how many times you do it.

      At Mystery Island, however, things are a bit different. The sun shines brightly in the sky, a clear periwinkle blue. Fluffy white clouds float dreamily above, and everyone cheerfully gets up, greeting each other happily, gossiping about the latest Volleyball Tournament, or wondering what they're going to wear to the next Gadsgadsbogen. However, the happy and chatty environment was rather disturbed as a small Christmas Ixi came charging out of one of the huts, unsheathing her Sinsi's Sword and taking aim with a Florbix Blaster.

      "Darn all of you!" she screamed, "You lousy sons of churches, this happens every morning! LET ME SLEEP!"

      I came charging out of the hut after her and, grabbing her by the collar and nearly asphyxiating her, dragged her in with her shrieking insults at the villagers. Inside, I dropped her and she lay gasping on the rug.

      "Every morning," I said, "every single morning. Can't you leave them alone?"

      "Can't they leave me alone?" she retorted.

      "Don't answer back," I snapped, "I am seriously considering moving to Neopia Central."

      "Will it be quieter?" she asked hopefully.

      "No, it'll be a lot louder, and you'll be in what appears to be in a cramped apartment, and-"

      "Okay, I'll be good!" she squeaked. At that point, a blue Ixi staggered in, half blind from sleep.

      "Eralta been abusing the villagers again?" he yawned.

      "Shut up, Opessenc, or I'll start abusing you, too. Physically," she growled, waving the hoof with the Florbix Blaster in a threatening manner. He slipped away. I turned on her a second time.

      "Must you threaten your brother?" I asked exasperatedly, "You know he's terrified of you."

      "Duh, that's why I do it!" she said, as if this was the most obvious thing in the world, and it technically was one of them.

      "Yes, well, you might enjoy it, but I certainly don't, and I can't count how many times I've told you not to boss him around," I said angrily. She merely smirked and ignored my remark as my Uni strode in.

      "Eralta abusing Opessenc again? What else isn't new?" he said casually.

      "Eralta abusing the villagers again," I replied, glaring at her.

      "Ah, well, that's democracy for ya," he said, flopping himself down on the couch.

      "…Uh, what?" I said.

      "Don't ask," he said, stretching his legs.

      "I won't," I said as my Ice Bori, Alkarasydes, slid into the room.

      "Geeze, Eralta, there must have been someone on the other side of the Island at least who didn't hear you!" she said sarcastically. Eralta glared at her.

      "Does the whole family have to go on about me yelling?" she snapped. "All I did was shout a bit, but-"

      "A bit," Alkarasydes interrupted, "is a large understatement."

      "Yeah, well, sleep is more important to me than anything else between ten o'clock at night and nine o'clock the next morning," Eralta said angrily.

      "That's no reason to lose it completely," Alkarasydes continued.

      "Of course it is!" Eralta said, her eyes widening, "What, are you nuts or something?"

      I sighed and left them to their arguing. It was generally the same each morning - Eralta could not stand the villagers waking her up, and it always, time and again, inevitably, lead to another argument between my four pets. Another owner would usually have gone insane, but I, already being insane, managed.

      I entered our kitchen to-be, as we had finally started buying items for our Neohome. My pets' rooms were slightly completed, at least, they all had beds and a beanbag each. Our loungeroom had loungeroom objects in it - a couch, table and four chairs for each of my pets. The kitchen merely had a table, upon which the most recent edition of the Neopian Times rested. I unfurled it and attempted to sit down, realizing too late that we hadn't bought any kitchen chairs. After picking myself off the floor, I strode (or rather, hobbled, as my backside was very sore after my fall) into the loungeroom and sat on the couch. Evidently, my pets had moved their argument upstairs (God knows how as we still hadn't bought a stairway yet) because that was the direction their shouts were coming from.

      I glanced at the front page ('Scarblade Retreats, Maraqua Saved'), wondering vaguely why it was suddenly Scarblade and not Dread who attacked Maraqua, along with just how old that copy of Neopian Times was, and flicked through the Editorial. After skimming over the questions that I could have answered myself, I had a look at the Articles. After ignoring those, because it was just junk that I had learned over the years and put into writing by newbs, I noticed that one of them was about holiday areas. Interested in this, I turned to the page of the Article, but stopped as I heard a shout and a distant *thud*, which seemed to come from outside. A second later, Opessenc stormed in, covered in dirt and a few flowers. Evidently, he had fallen outside from the first floor.

      "All right," he snarled, "who the heck made a door in my room that leads to nothingness?!"

      "I did," I said, raising my eyebrows, "there is a room there, you know, to be completed 22nd June 2006," I added quickly.

      "Oh, that's helpful," he snapped.

      "You could do with a holiday," I said. "Try looking here, see if there's anything you like."

      I tossed him the paper, and he caught it clumsily - it's hard to do so gracefully when you have hooves as opposed to hands. I watched his eyes flick down the different worlds until they rested on one.

      "How 'bout Meridell?" he said. I opened my mouth to reply but Eralta suddenly pocked her head into the room.

      "Did I hear the word Meridell?" she asked.

      "Yes, probably," I said. "Why?"

      "Just wondering," she said, and disappeared again. I turned back to Opessenc.

      "So, Meridell, is it-"

      "Did I hear Meridell again?" Eralta asked, her head re-appearing.

      "Yes," I said wearily.

      "Okay."

      I turned back to Opessenc.

      "Well, if you want to go to Meridell, then I'll-"

      "I think I just heard-"

      "Oh, shut up," I told her, snatching the newspaper and chucking it at her. She ducked and it hit the wall.

      "Well? Why are you saying Meridell so much?" she asked.

      "I told Opessenc to look for a holiday place of some sort, and he's chosen Meridell," I informed her.

      "Oh, goody," she said, smiling, "I could do with a holiday, I'm exhausted."

      "Exhausted?" I said, shocked, "From what?"

      "Hey, all this waking up early and screaming is a tough job," she said.

      "Okay, one, you don't wake up early, and two, it is not a tough job," I told her.

      "You try it five days a week!" she said indignantly.

      "I *do* do it five days a week," I said, "and I manage it without the screaming, too."

      She opened and closed her mouth several times, found that she had nothing to say, bent down, picked up the copy of The Neopian Times, ruffled through the pages and looked at the Article on the holidays.

      "Says here it's four thousand per pet plus owner for the trip there, all expenses paid," she read aloud.

      "Four thousand? That's twenty k!" I said.

      "Sixteen," she corrected, "it says four thousand per pet, *plus* owner. So it's twelve thousand for say, Alkarasydes, BUREUNIKONE and Opessenc, and you could do the owner/pet deal with me."

      "I guess so," I said, stroking my very short goatee. For being so young, it was coming along very well. "Well, even still, I find that too expensive…"

      So we packed our bags and left later that day.

     ~ * ~

     The boat to Meridell, although far from pretty, was also far from uncomfortable. Furnished neatly with leather chairs and comfortable beds below deck, it was certainly quality. As we settled down our luggage next to a bed, Eralta collapsed face-first on hers with an exhausted sigh.

      "Tired, are you?" I asked, pulling out a book titled 'Steal This Book' and placing it on my pillow.

      "Dead on my hooves," came the muffled reply.

      "Oh, yes, I'm guessing abusing the villagers is very exhausting," I said casually.

      "Goodness yes," she replied. I shook my head as Opessenc began tidying his blankets. BUREUNIKONE placed his Beauty Care Kit on the bedside table and Alkarasydes put some water into her ice-cube tray.

      "I thought you got rid of those," I said, frowning slightly at the two items.

      "Ah, well, even if Eralta and Opessenc did it as a joke, they're still gifts," BUREUNIKONE said, shrugging, "besides, this thing has some handy tips for getting rid of stubborn knots in my mane…"

      Alkarasydes and I glanced at eachother and looked away quickly.

      "So, what are you guys going to do?" I asked.

      "I'm gonna go up deck, watch stuff happen," Opessenc said.

      "Okay, but there isn't much stuff to watch, it's an overnight ride, too," I told him as his hooves disappeared up the stairs.

      "I'm probably gonna hang out in the dining area, you can see some pretty interesting stuff there," BUREUNIKONE said, shrugging again.

      "Have fun," I said, sitting down on my bed and opening the book.

      "I'm just going to wander around, see what's on here," Alkarasydes said, disappearing after BUREUNIKONE and Opessenc.

      "That's great…" I muttered, flipping to the first chapter. "'Chapter I - Tricks of the Trade…'" I read aloud quietly, "'The first thing about steal-'"

      I fell into a deep, snoring sleep. When I awoke, my pets were standing around me, staring at my face expectantly.

      "Great," I groaned, "what stupid things did I do now?"

      "Nothing, we just wanted something to eat - it's just hit ten o'clock," Alkarasydes said, shrugging. Sure enough, night had definitely fallen, but the boat was still ploughing its way through the sea, its sails out - which was odd because there wasn't even a light breeze.

      "Okay, let's see what we got here," I said, rummaging in my bag (sack) of Neopoints. My pets rolled their eyes. "What?"

      "It's all-expenses paid, Daddy," Alkarasydes sighed impatiently.

      "Oh," I said, putting the sack back in my pocket, "right."

      We strode up the stairs and onto the deck. We shivered, as it turned out there was a light breeze, and a very chilly one at that. A few pets were still there, some with their owners. We hurried to the dining hall.

      The dining hall was warmly lit, lanterns lining the walls. It was certainly nicer inside than out, as they were generating substantial heat. There were plenty of tables, and the noise outside was drowned out by talking and the scraping chairs or cutlery. Furthermore, while it smelt of seawater outside, it smelt of a variety of scents in here - fish soups and dishes, steaming hot chickens and hams, beef steaks up to the size of a stool, pork ribs swimming in barbeque sauce, and for vegetarians, a huge selection of salads.

      "Go nuts," I said, and my pets sprinted as fast as they could into the line. Shaking my head, I followed them. Their haste did them no good - nobody else was trying to get in line, and I was behind them after my slow and steady walk; I decided to annoy them by going slowly to show there was no hurry.

      "Oh, shut up," Alkarasydes snapped as I opened my mouth, so I contented myself with a grin. After waiting for a few minutes, we had our dishes and salads, and settled ourselves down at our own table.

      "So, what are we seeing first in Meridell?" Opessenc asked through a mouthful of lettuce.

      "Dunno, I reckon the first thing we should determine is where we should stay," I replied, shrugging. Eralta swallowed a chunk of chicken.

      "After we've settled in, can we visit the castle?" she asked hopefully.

      "Of course, what's the point of going to Meridell and not seeing one of its sights?" I said.

      "Half the interesting things in Meridell are the sights," BUREUNIKONE pointed out.

      "Name one thing that isn't a sight but is still interesting," I said, waving my fork so that it dangerously came close to getting barbeque sauce on him.

      "Um, uh, well there's the, er, yeah thing…"

      His voice trailed away to nothingness and left us staring.

      "Yes?" I asked kindly, but I couldn't stop a sneer. He flushed and looked away, mumbling something about the weather. We ate the rest of the meal in silence as not interesting topics of conversation cropped up, and finally, turned in for a proper, healthy-length rest. The next morning, my pets woke me by again staring expectantly at me. I knew the answer without the question.

      "The article said the trip to Meridell should take a few days," I said groggily.

      "No it didn't," interrupted Opessenc, "it didn't say anything about how long the trips would take-"

      No sooner were the words out of his mouth than the boat softly bumped into Meridell harbour.

To be continued…

 
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