Gnorblaz and I decided to visit the marketplace. We had recently moved to Shenkuu and now we decided it was time to immerse ourselves in the culture of our new home. Our new neighbors had suggested we visit the stalls and shops that could be found around the center of Shenkuu.
We walked from our small home across swaying rope bridges and along dusty paths. We could smell the sweet mountain air and see the magnificent views that Shenkuu provided. The ground mist swirled around our feet as we descended to a quaint little shop nestled in the lush greenery.
"I wonder what they sell here," Gnorblaz said to me. He walked ahead of me to read the sign out front. "Shunan's Delicacies. Hmmm. That's not very specific."
My brown-haired Gnorbu friend waited for me to catch up with him and we went inside. It was quite dark in the shop and we waited for our eyes to adjust. Once we were able to see, we began to browse the shop. Along the left wall was a row of shelves containing various jars. Each jar was filled with colored powder and each had a label.
Most of the names on the labels were written in Shenkuuvian script, but we were able to read a few from our limited knowledge. The labels on the jars containing a yellow powder said 'Dried Ghow Root' and the greenish-blue powder was labeled as 'Dried Yunu Leaves'.
"Have you ever heard of Ghow Root or Yunu Leaves, Gnorblaz?" I asked him, but he did not answer. "Gnorblaz?" I turned around to look at him but he was on the other side of the shop.
I walked over to where he was standing. He was peering into tiny cages of Petpetpets. They were tiny little things and were dark brown. "I've never seen or heard of these before. Shenkuu has so many unique..."
Just then, the shopkeeper walked over. He was an old, white Kacheek with a long grey beard. I assumed this was the Shunan from the sign outside. He was wearing faded green clothing in the Shenkuuvian style, with a gold talisman around his neck.
"Those are a Shenkuuvian secret! Every year at the Lunar Festival, we celebrate the New Year with them. These little Petpetpets bring us luck. That is why we have such a grand, prosperous city." The Kacheek smiled. "I can see you would like one very much. You are new to Shenkuu. I shall let you have one as a gift."
The kindly Kacheek took a tiny cage off the shelf and handed it to me. "Thank you, thank you very much," I said. "We're going to look around some more if that's all right with you."
"Yes, yes, go ahead. I will be right over here if you need any help." He walked back the way he came and disappeared behind a painted paper wall.
Gnorblaz and I began to look around for any more special wares. I noticed a stack of old parchment scrolls and books sitting on a carved wooden table. We walked over to the table and I gingerly picked up a dusty tome. Dust rose into the air and Gnorblaz began to cough. As soon as the dust reached my face, I began to sneeze.
We escaped the dusty shop and rushed into the bright, clean air. Coughing and sneezing, we sat down on the path next to the sign. Once my eyes had adjusted and my sneezing subsided, I stood up and brushed myself off. Gnorblaz shook out his brown mane and we set off to find another shop with hidden treasures.
We walked along a mountain trail past a beautiful waterfall spilling cool, clear water from the mountaintop. Gnorblaz stopped to take a drink from the pool of water while I absentmindedly watch the water ripple through his reflection. We again set off, and came across another small shop.
Gnorblaz and I went inside the well-lit shop and we peered around the large Draik guardian statues at the wares. There were windows on every side and bins full of Shenkuuvian vegetables sat along the base of each wall. Baskets containing tins of green tea were hanging on one wall and paper-wrapped cakes sat on shelves on another wall.
We went over to the cakes and looked them over. "Shall we get one for later?" I asked of my companion.
"Sure. Let's find one without fruit."
I laughed, knowing that Gnorblaz hates fruit and refuses to eat anything that has fruit in it. We selected a large golden cake and took it over to the shopkeeper. The shopkeeper, a pink Zafara, looked up as we approached. She smiled and looked at us in a motherly way.
"You'll really enjoy this one. It's flavored with delicious clover honey. I made it myself this very morning. Your total is 20 Neopoints."
"Only 20 Neopoints?" I asked. "I thought the sign said 100."
"Well, today must be your lucky day," she replied.
I handed her the coins and after wishing her a nice day, we left the shop.
"I'm hungry for some lunch. How about you, Gnorblaz?"
"Yeah, so I am I. Let's find somewhere to eat," Gnorblaz said. "Hey. Did you notice she said 'lucky day'?"
"Wow, you're right. You don't suppose this Petpetpet really brought us luck?"
We walked farther along the trail and turned onto a much larger road. A painted wooden arrow marked 'Marketplace' pointed us in the right direction. We followed the wide road past trees full of singing birds to a long wooden bridge. On the other side, we could see the shops and stalls that made up the marketplace.
As we crossed the bridge, we couldn not help but notice the carvings on the railing. Some were Petpets that we recognized, the famed Pandaphant and rare Quilin, but others we did not know. One day we would be able to return and know what each of these was.
We reached the other side and looked at the numerous covered stalls lining the road. "How are we ever going to decide?" I asked Gnorblaz.
"Easy." He walked over to the nearest cart and sniffed the air wafting from inside. He shook his head and I followed him to the next wagon. He sniffed the air and with a nod of approval, he got in line behind a plump purple Cybunny. We waited for the Lutari to finish helping the Cybunny.
After the Cybunny left, the green Lutari turned to us. "What would you like? I've got grilled tofu, spicy sushi, and some vegetable dumplings. Oh and plenty of steamed rice."
"I think we'll try a little of each," I said, "If that's all right with you, Gnorblaz."
Gnorblaz nodded and the Lutari dished us up a small serving of each and put them in neat little containers. He handed them to Gnorblaz, as I was holding the cake and cage, but when I pulled out my Neopoints to pay, he said, "That's okay. It's on the house."
I looked at Gnorblaz, who simply grinned. We thanked him profusely and went to a nearby bench to eat. I set the wrapped cake down beside me and placed the tiny cage on top. Four chopsticks had been tucked in the side of one of the containers and we opened all three, smelling the delicious scents and letting our mouths water.
We savored every bite of the incredible fare and knew we lived in the greatest city in Neopia. I decided my favorite was the wonderful array of vegetable dumplings whereas Gnorblaz preferred the grilled tofu. We sat there for some time afterward, enjoying the warm sun and cool breeze.
Unknown to us, the small Petpetpet had escaped from the cage and disappeared into the nearest bush.
We finally decided it was time to get up and visit one last shop before heading home. We threw away our trash and I picked up the cage in one hand and cake in the other. We headed along the road past the food stalls to a large shop marked 'Furniture'.
Gnorblaz followed me through the doorway. "What are we looking for?" he asked.
"I think we should get a... rug. Yes, a rug."
We looked around the interior and spied a selection of rugs near the back wall. We followed a winding aisle past ornate cabinets and dressers before reaching our chosen destination. We browsed through the many colorful rugs and decided upon a particularly exotic one.
I carried the rug back to the front where the Kougra shopkeeper was waiting. I heard a thump behind me and I turned around to see Gnorblaz getting up off the floor.
"I tripped on this stupid table leg," he complained.
I turned back to the Kougra who gave me my total. "20,000 Neopoints."
"Holy Kau! 20,000 for this rug?"
The orange Kougra nodded and adjusted his glasses. "Shenkuu isn't cheap. Maybe you should go back where you came from."
I would not let the Kougra ruin our day, so I paid the Neopoints and we left. Once outside the shop, Gnorblaz let me know how mad he really was.
"I can't believe him! What right does he have to talk to us that way? 20,000 for a measly rug? What happened to that lucky bug?" We looked into the tiny Petpetpet cage but he was nowhere to be found. "Great. Just great..."
He was about to start complaining again but I stopped him. "Gnorblaz, it's okay. We'll just go buy another one, okay?"
"I guess so," he sighed.
I put the rug over his back and we began the trek back to Shunan's shop.