Still thwarting Sloth's mind control... Circulation: 125,893,067 Issue: 254 | 25th day of Hiding, Y8
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The Master and the Manual


by kemppotatoe

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Zephyr mopped her sweaty brow and glanced back at the Brightvale Castle. After much excitement and anticipation, the visit to King Hagan had been a bit of a letdown. When the cloud Shoyru had stepped up and said her words of wisdom, which she had practiced for the past month, King Hagan had said, "Well, it could have been worse. I'm not dense, youngin'. I already knew that!"

      Now Zephyr plodded along behind her class through Brightvale and towards the fruit shop for their final stop in the city. Weeks of preparation had gone into this school trip across Neopia, but Zephyr felt as if she accomplished nothing. Tomorrow her class would be headed back to Neopia Central, and each student was expected to have a paper written by or about a shopkeeper in any of the worlds of Neopia.

      They had toured the Haunted Woods, the Lost Desert, Faerieland, Mystery Island, Krawk Island, Tyrannia, Terror Mountain, Meridell, and had even taken a submarine to Maraqua and a spaceship to Kreludor. All the students selected to experience the trip had enjoyed themselves; every single student had picked out a different shopkeeper and some had gotten papers or essays written by them.

      But not Zephyr.

      She had modestly hoped that King Hagan would have appreciated her wise statement, and given her some of his writings. But sadly, the king had given her an irritated look before stating just how un-dense he was. She had waited the entire trip for the concluding visit to Brightvale with hopes of success - but now her wishes were simply spent.

      Zephyr wondered what Miss Truffle was going to say when she presented nothing for her shopkeeper assignment. Miss Truffle had always respected Zephyr's shyness and aspiration for perfection and knowledge... but what would she say to this? Zephyr couldn't stand to even imagine the disappointment on her compassionate teacher's face.

      These many thoughts whirled around in Zephyr's head as she trudged slowly behind her classmates. These classmates she had never really called best friends, or even good friends... just casual friends who only needed to be seen at school. She had never invited one of them to her house, and none of them had ever invited her.

      Zephyr had hoped that this trip would create stronger friendship between these 'just plain friends.' After all, these were her kind of people! Only the smartest and most well behaved pets at her school had been chosen for the trip and Zephyr was lucky enough to be one of them.

      "Fancy a King Hagan stained glass window?"

      Zephyr jumped in alarm and found herself looking into the eyes of a cheery and rather plump purple Draik. She had a frilly apron tied around her waist and was holding a quite lovely window with the king's face made of colorful glass. She seemed to be trying to attract business to the Glaziers store.

      Zephyr was preparing to say no, when a thought struck her. It was perfect! "Ma'am," Zephyr said, "could I maybe go and speak to the head shopkeeper at the Glaziers shop?"

      The chubby Draik looked confused but nodded. "Why, certainly, dearest. Are you interested in a different style of window? We have a rather large assortment to choose from."

      "Not exactly..." Zephyr replied. Seeing the frown on the Draik's face, she quickly added, "But I must say, it's an exquisite window."

      The Draik smiled, very pleased, and began to lead Zephyr down the path to the Glaziers. "What exactly is it you need with Lee?"

      Assuming that Lee was the shopkeeper, Zephyr responded, "It's for my school. I need to have a paper about a shopkeeper or written by a shopkeeper. I'd really like to get a good essay by... uh, Mr. Lee to present to my class, since it's so much more interesting when the writing is actually by the shopkeeper. Think he would have anything of the sort?"

      The female Draik looked as though she still did not understand. "Well, he may, dearest. We'll just have to see."

      Zephyr smiled to herself as the Draik opened the Glaziers front door and stood back to allow the Shoyru entrance.

      The shop was small but had a homey sort of feeling to it. The ceiling was low and some windows on display were hidden with dust and grime. Light shone through all sorts of stained glass windows on the wall, creating colorful pools every few inches on the ground. A loud hammering could be heard from an unseen room, along with indistinct muttering every few seconds.

      The female Draik laid the window she had been attracting customers with on a display case and waddled to an open door behind the counter.

      "Lee?" She poked her head in the room and exclaimed in delight, "Oh, good! You've almost finished all the Hissi windows! We can ship them off to Neopia Central tomorrow to sell. How many were there again? Thirty or forty at the least, right?"

      Zephyr, standing quietly by the door, raised her eyebrows in astonishment. Any pet that could craft over forty windows just had to be smart enough to have a self-written document or two. She decided she had made a good choice to come here.

      "What about those Soup Faerie windows, Lee?" The Draik had almost completely entered the back room. "She's the kindest faerie in Neopia! We can't send an arrangement of windows without a couple hundred of them!"

      Zephyr could now hear indistinguishable replies. By the tone of voice, whoever it was didn't seem too pleased with being rushed in making any more windows. Zephyr understood the feeling, and started already to like the mystery pet behind the door.

      "Oh, I almost forgot about you, dear!" The female Draik smiled at Zephyr and looked back in the room. "Lee, there's a lovely little Shoyru out here. Yes, I've shown her some windows, but she'd like to speak to you. Something for school... I think." She stepped back and allowed the pet to come out.

      Zephyr was slightly surprised at the figure in front of her. She had expected a large and muscular Eyrie or Lupe. Instead, she was staring at an incredibly short bright blue male Draik. He was half the size of the purple Draik, and even a few inches shorter than Zephyr. He didn't seem strong at all; his arms gave the impression of being small and thin, barely able to hold a mallet, let alone repeatedly strike it.

      Zephyr sensed she needed to say something first. "Hello, Mr. Lee. I'm Zephyr. I was wondering if you..."

      "Could show you how to make windows?" Lee incorrectly finished, seeming to want that very much. "Why, sure, little Shoyru! I'd love to!"

      "It's Zephyr, but no... you see, I want..."

      "This way, little Shoyru, through this door into the workshop!" Lee began to walk to the back room. Zephyr sighed but felt no better choice than to follow him.

      The workshop seemed the perfect size for Lee. It was like a very large closet, with a table in the center, materials in buckets against one wall, and finished windows against the other.

      Lee picked up a rectangular frame and some glass and walked over to the table. "Now, I have a special secret to making my windows, so I can't explain everything. Just observe what I do. Now, I'm making a Soup Faerie window. This is the glass for her hair..."

      "Mr. Lee!" Zephyr interrupted loudly, "Your windows are magnificent, making them seems interesting, and I'm sure, for you, there's hope for another inch or two. But, please, listen to me, okay?"

      As Lee frowned, trying to figure what she meant by 'another inch or two', Zephyr told him what she was here for. "I need something you've written. Anything! It really doesn't matter what."

      Lee laughed loudly. "Something I've written? I make windows... this isn't the bookstore, you know!"

      Zephyr stared at him. "Nothing? You've never even written down instructions to make the windows?"

      Lee replied, "I told you before, I have a little secret to my process. No one makes the windows but me, and I don't trust anyone else with my glass."

      Zephyr hung her head. "Oh. I'm sorry to bother you, Mr. Lee. I'll go now."

      Lee looked at her for a second. "I know what we can do, little Shoyru! I'll write you something right now! I'll write about my life as a glazier!"

      Zephyr's head popped up, a smile on her face. "Really? That'd be perfect!" As Lee got out a pen and some paper from the table drawer, Zephyr made some suggestions. "Don't make it any more than a few pages. I know there's lots of stuff you'll want to say, but try to limit it if you can."

      Lee chuckled. "No need to worry about it being too long, little Shoyru."

      Zephyr bounced on her heels excitedly. This was absolutely perfect! A view of what is was like to be an accomplished glazier! A look behind the glass of the ups and downs of the business! An exploration of life as a professional in Brightvale!

      Zephyr popped out of her daydream (she had the best paper in class), when Lee said, "All finished!"

      Zephyr paused for a moment and giggled. "You can't be that fast! I said short, but not too short!"

      The Shoyru accepted the paper as Lee handed it to her, surprised at the lack of many pages. In untidy scrawl with black pen, Lee had written the sentence 'Making windows is hard work but I love it. By Lee, the glazier.'

      "Good, huh? Won't your teacher like that?"

      Zephyr hoped Lee was joking around with her, but looking at his face, she saw that he was completely serious. "Thanks, Mr. Lee," Zephyr managed to say, "I guess I should catch up with my class."

      "Come back and buy windows, little Shoyru!"

          ***

      Back on the path, Zephyr crumpled up the paper Mr. Lee had written. She knew she couldn't use it... she'd rather take the zero than present that to the class.

      Traipsing slowly, Zephyr passed The Royal Potionery. Was it worth the chance? Surely a potions expert had written down how to make a specific concoction somewhere... right? The sign on the door said CLOSED, but Zephyr was desperate.

      Luckily, the door was unlocked, so Zephyr entered the potionery, determined to get something to show the class.

      "We're closed, read the sign."

      Zephyr spotted the body of the voice in the shadowy corner of the shop. It was a male red Cybunny with a long blue cape. Zephyr took a step forward. "I know, and I'm so sorry to bother you, but I was wondering if you could help me."

      "Check the shop wizard," the Cybunny said.

      Zephyr could tell that this shopkeeper wasn't one to cross, but she persisted. "You don't understand, sir. I need a paper for school."

      "Well, you're not going to find one here."

      "I think I will, sir," Zephyr stated clearly, taking another step, "if you could just help me for a moment."

      The Cybunny eyed her for a moment. 'What's your name?"

      "Zephyr, and you, sir?"

      "You can just call me 'sir'... I like the sound of that."

      Zephyr very much wanted to roll her eyes, but she refrained. "Okay... sir. For school, I need a paper written by a shopkeeper."

      The Cybunny gave Zephyr a look. "Okay. What am I going to do about it?"

      Zephyr didn't like this guy very much... wasn't what she said clear enough?

      "I was wondering if you have any documents that you've written. Maybe some instructions on how to concoct something?"

      The Cybunny finally walked out of the shadows, revealing what he had been leaning on. It was a bookcase with diamond-shaped shelves. The holes were filled to the top with scrolls of all sizes... and all subjects.

      Zephyr gasped quietly. "Perfect!" she whispered to herself.

      "What was that?" the Cybunny asked with a false face of confusion, "Do you think I'm going to give you one of these?"

      "Uh... I just thought..." Zephyr frowned at the shopkeeper. "Could you? I'd appreciate it."

      "Many pets would appreciate much more than they have." The Cybunny was obviously reluctant to give anything to anyone, and Zephyr was no exception.

      "But, sir! Couldn't I just have small one? My class would be very interested in the work of a potions master."

      The Cybunny looked unconvinced. "Many people would be. Many people are. And there are ways to study the work of brilliant masters... specifically, me."

      Zephyr sighed in exhaustion. "Yes, there are ways! And they're on the shelves behind you! Please, sir?"

      The Cybunny folded his arms. "Like I said earlier... go check the shop wizard."

      "But I can't buy this sort of thing!"

      "Oh yes, you can."

      "I... what?" Zephyr stopped and stared at the potions master. "I can?"

      The Cybunny gave an exasperated sigh and muttered to himself, "No one knows it's me. I get no appreciation."

      "Huh?" Zephyr was confused.

      "Go to the Brightvale Bookstore. You'll figure it out when you get there." The Cybunny seemed to have no intention of revealing anything else.

      Zephyr turned to go, still befuddled, when the Cybunny said his last words of wisdom.

      "My name's Monty Vial. That'll help you when you get to the bookstore."

     ***

      Among the shelves of bound stories and history, Zephyr wandered around, contemplating what the Cybunny meant. She had arrived at the bookstore feeling determined to figure it out, but found that no answers came to her.

      "Can I help you with anything?" the orange Ixi shopkeeper asked.

      Zephyr smiled politely. "Do you know who Monty Vial is?"

      "Why yes," the shopkeeper responded, "he's the potions master. He works down the street."

      "Can you tell me why he would direct me here when I asked for one of his potion scrolls?"

      The shopkeeper looked confused for a moment, but then she smiled. "Go to that shelf over there," she pointed to the shelf, "and get that big, red book. See the spine? Go look at it."

      Zephyr wondered what was going on. Why couldn't people just state clearly what they meant? All the same, she walked to the bookshelf and pulled off the big, red book.

      It was the Brightvale Potions Manual. Zephyr frowned and opened the cover, scanning the title page.

      It was written by Monty Vial.

      Zephyr stared at the page a moment. A smile crept across her face as she realized that she finally had the ideal piece of writing from a Neopian shopkeeper.

      "Perfect!" she said to herself.

The End

 
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