Larry the Blue Gelert chased after the stick his owner threw amongst the rolling foothills of the Endless Plains. Laughing, the Gelert dashed right into a small grove and stopped to sniff at the foot of a large log covered with moss and fungi.
Little did he know that times were about to change.
Finally discovering where the stick had landed, he sprang over the fallen tree and discovered that he was amongst a carpet of sticks. “Well, this isn’t too bad,” he said to himself. “He threw a Cherry Wish Stick, and most of these are just regular sticks...”
It was easy for Larry to quickly locate the stick, for he had played Fetch many times and had trained at the Swashbuckling Academy, and recently the Mystery Island Training School, for many hours. His reflexes were as sharp as a knife and his movements were quick but nimble. However, Larry was still a loving and humble Neopet, as he had to be to take care of his brother and sisters and, occasionally, his owner if they ever encountered an enemy. Once, he had managed to fight off the Pant Devil and nabbed his owner a shiny Defenders of Neopia trophy for the task.
As the Gelert took the stick inside his mouth, he heard a rambling sound coming from the trees behind him. “Who’s there?” he asked, hoping that it wasn’t anything stronger than Kasuki Lu. “Show yourself!”
The reply that came was a great deal of muttering and cursing. “Malkus will kill us if we lose that Wish Stick... eshfut!”
As two Meercas stumbled out of the trees and tumbled over the log, a great wind began consuming the area. The leaves of the trees whirled around violently.
Then, all was still.
Scared, Larry began looking around, the stick still in his mouth unnoticed. Everything looked the same, but the sky was a strange shade of purple. The Gelert cautiously traipsed from the clearing and headed for the exit to the grove, but he prematurely found it. The grove was now a group of what one could call a spits-worth of trees encased in a purple-tinted opaque glass dome that was floating above the ground.
“What’s going on?” Larry shouted. His words, however, sounded thin, and it almost seemed to hit an invisible wall in the air. The Gelert’s first intention was to get out of the dome.
Combining all of his energy, Larry ran towards the glass, intending to break it. He closed his eyes for the impact. However, he only felt a strange rippling, as if he had ran through a thin sheet of water, and the Gelert opened his eyes to find himself in a completely new world. Where the Endless Plains had been was now an Endless City, with a giant, metallic hamburger and a black rainbow in the far distance at what appeared to be the heart of the city. Around where the grove used to be, there were now small wooden houses, laid down with what looked like a combination of dung and sludge. Waste littered the streets, with Petpetpets jumping around everywhere. There were no Neopets to be seen.
Larry turned around to the Dome to see a sign in front of it. The sign read, “A small grove, retained in Year 27, two years after the invasion of the Lord Protector. Now dates to 30 years.”
“Thirty years!” Larry thought. “Is this Neopia twenty-one years from now? Or before? Or... this time travel business is so confusing!”
For that was what he concluded must have happened. As he sat down to contemplate the issue, he realized that the Cherry Wish Stick was still in his mouth. Spitting it out, Larry immediately noticed that this was not the same stick that his owner had thrown. It was much harder and smelt different, though in all his euphoria and excitement back in the present (or was it the past?) he must have not noticed.
Larry mumbled to himself, “This stick must have something to do with Malkus Vile or something. Is he this Lord Protector? Did this stick help him take over Neopia?”
Muttering, he closed his eyes and tried to remember what the Meercas had said back when the grove was still a grove. “It must be awfully important to Malkus Vile, if he’s willing to murder losers of this stick. And what were they saying right before that strange wind picked up?” Almost unconsciously, Larry put the stick back inside his mouth. “Ishlut? Eshfut?”
The strange wind picked up again, and as Larry blinked he found himself in a desolate wasteland. There was no sign of the grove or the dome, though there was a small bump on the ground that looked like it had the same volume of the sign with a small glass shard on top and a leaf so dried it was black. Around it, the city was gone, the rainbow and hamburger in the distance were now crumbled, the sky was green, and the ground was hard, grey and cracked.
Patting away the dust on the bump, he saw that some magic had still kept the years changing, as it now mentioned that the grove was dated to fifty years.
“This is Neopia in Year 50?” Larry exclaimed. Immediately after, he remembered to keep his voice down, but then recalled that there was nobody around to hear him. No Neopets, no owners, no Lord Protector. However, as he turned around, he proved himself wrong. There were, in fact, all three.
A long ways away, there was a steady line of Neopets and owners. With his sharp vision, Larry saw that they were all chained in a line like slaves. Standing above them was a gigantic black mass. Looking up at the sky, the Gelert expected to the see the sun, but instead saw the grinning face of a large green thing with a chicken-like head. He was so enormous that when Larry looked up at the green part of the sky, he realized that it was actually a claw, stretching right above him.
It now seemed like the sky was falling to the Gelert. However, it was falling extremely slowly. “I need to find the right word to bring me back to the present!” Larry thought hastily. Talking aloud would no longer be a wise idea, as he assumed that Dr. Sloth had heard his exclamation. “If going to the future is eshfut, then maybe the word for going to the present (or the past) would be eshpre?”
A strong wind picked up, and Larry was back in the grove. The Meercas were just picking themselves up from the ground after their stumble over the log; no time had passed. They looked up to see the Cherry Wish Stick in Larry’s mouth.
“You! Give that to us!” one of the Meercas shouted. However, his companion picked up another stick from the ground that Larry’s owner had originally thrown.
“Nevermind, Heermeedjet; that Gelert must have another one,” he declared.
“You’re right, Meerouladen,” Heermeedjet said. “Why are you always so right?”
The Meercas left the clearing, discussing Meerouladen’s intelligence. Larry wiped his forehead in relief. As he prepared to go find his owner, a bright light illuminated the clearing, and Fyora the Faerie Queen appeared, the cumulonimbus that was Faerieland in the sky above her.
“Larry the Gelert?” Fyora asked. She continued, after Larry nodded, “You have recently become acquainted with a Cherry Wish Stick that the Space Faerie has dropped into the clutches of Malkus Vile. He initially wanted to use it to go back in time and change the past so that Coltzan’s crown would end up belonging to him, but after weeks of searching through old Mystery Island native books and finding the words, Psellia the Air Faerie was able to create a gust to take the stick away from Malkus, though it only ended up in another part of Neopia instead of safe with the Space Faerie.
“Malkus sent Heermeedjet and Meerouladen, the Meerca Brothers, to retrieve the time-travel device, though recently Psellia was able to get it out of their hands and into the grove in which we now stand. It just so happens that as Meerouladen cursed, he chose one of the incantations, which brought the holder of the stick at the time, you, to go into the future and see the havoc that Dr. Sloth will wreak in only fourteen years from now.”
Larry was amazed by the presence of the Faerie Queen and still shocked from his time traveling, but he still managed to stammer, “Wh – what am I – should I do about this?”
Fyora smiled. “More than you think. The only reason that Dr. Sloth was able to take over Neopia was with the Cherry Wish Stick you now hold. Time is a confusing business for Neopets and owners, but we Faeries are always aware of the proceedings of anything time-related.
“As the Space Faerie was searching for her Wish Stick, she encountered a rift in the time stream: a Blue Gelert, young but valiant, was to discover the device and leave it in a clearing where Dr. Sloth sunbathes regularly. After I saw that you returned to the present from the future, I quickly came to you to give you a mission. I would ask if you accept or not, but as the fate of Neopia is now on your bony shoulders, I will refrain from doing so. Instead, I will merely ask this: are you ready?”
Larry doubted that the Faerie Queen, after the long novel she had just presented to him, would allow him any preparation time if he was not. Instead, he nodded his head, hesitantly at first, and then surely; so surely that the stick fell out of his mouth.
The Faerie Queen smiled again. “Then it is settled. You will go back in time with the word eshpas to the time period immediately after Neopia’s first major conflict with Dr. Sloth: the twenty-fourth day of the Month of Hiding, or August as your owner is accustomed to knowing it, or the very first Grundo Independence Day as Grundos everywhere tend to recognize the date, in Year 2. Time is of the essence; already Dr. Sloth, seeking a sunbath, approaches this clearing from his space craft – ”
“That’s right, you Faerie Freak!” There was a ray of green light, and Dr. Sloth appeared behind of Larry, with his spacecraft, like Fyora’s Faerieland, in the sky above him. “You give me that time stick, and I’ll let you off with a warning!”
“Oh please, you’ll probably just sludge us even if we give it to you,” Fyora said, losing the mystical voice she had been using and now using an irritable, significantly less mature one.
Dr. Sloth smirked maliciously. “Now, now, Fyora, no need to jump to conclusions!”
“If I hadn’t been doing so for the past fifty years, then I’d be long dead by now!” Fyora snapped back.
“Pah! You’re so old you might as well be dead.”
“Well, I’m not the one with the liver spots – ”
“You leave my liver spots out of this! If you didn’t have your – your magical Elay Earth Faerie Facial Cream then you’d have these liver spots too!”
“Actually, Faeries don’t have liver spots; they only get wrinkles, which my Elay prevents!”
“Well, it’s going to take a whole ocean of Elay to clear up the wrinkles you get.”
Fyora blushed. “How would you know?”
Dr. Sloth laughed. “How did you think I knew you were here?”
“Where are the spy orbs?”
“Where aren’t they, Fyora?”
“Don’t mess with me, Frank.”
“Oh, are we on first-name terms now - ”
Fyora’s eyes flashed with fire. “You wouldn’t dare say it.”
“Try me,” Dr. Sloth said, laughing.
“Why you - ”
Unobtrusively, Larry stuck the stick back inside of his mouth, and disappeared in a high wind with the word eshpas as Fyora and Dr. Sloth continued to look daggers into each other and argue. The Gelert found himself in a slightly-different Neopia; the glade was now just the log with a mess of sticks underneath it and the sky was a slightly different shade of blue. The grove could be passed off as a small wood.
Suddenly, a shrill voice rang out from behind. Larry wheeled around to find what looked like a yellow spiky ball of fluff with two orange feet jump over the log and right on top of the astonished Gelert.
“What – ”
The strange ball of fluff stood up and brushed itself off. “I’m sorry!” it said in a high-pitched, squeaky voice.
“You can talk!” Larry was amazed. “I knew that items could move, but never talk –”
“There are items that can move?” the fluff ball said skeptically. Then, it raised its eyebrow. “Wait a minute, I’m not an item! I’m a JubJub!”
Larry was amazed. He stepped back and inspected the thing that had just crashed through the grove to the clearing. It was, in fact, a JubJub. It just appeared to be a little outdated compared to the ones he had left behind in Year 9. And this JubJub... “No, it can’t be,” Larry thought, disbelieving. He had to make sure.
“What’s your name?” Larry asked politely. “Where’s your owner?”
“Name’s Clide,” the JubJub said happily, but soon after he appeared crestfallen. “My owner’s getting me a- a-...”
“A... Brown Weewoo!”
It took Larry a moment to remember that he was in the past. Of course they hadn’t made White Weewoos yet! “That’s horrible!” Larry exclaimed, putting on an act. Then he bent down and winked. “Maybe if you hold on to it for a while, you’ll get a chance to paint it White.”
Clide still looked sad. “I doubt that day will ever come.”
Larry smiled. “Oh, trust me, it will.”
As suddenly as Clide appeared, Larry heard a rustling sound from behind him and turned around to see an owner, no more than twelve years of age and clutching a Weewoo, trip over the log and land on top of the two Neopets.
“So sorry!” the owner said to Larry in an identical voice to his JubJub, for he was Clide’s owner. The owner now turned to his Neopet and said, “Clide, you can’t keep running away from me! This Weewoo cost me a lot of dubloons, you know. I could be training you, or buying a Christmas Paint Brush to paint you, or buying you better food than omelettes!”
“I don’t want a Weewoo though!”
The owner crossed his arms and put the Weewoo back inside his inventory. “Well, fine then. I’ll just give it to the next pet I get. Come on, Clide, we’re going home.”
It was at this time that the owner turned to Larry. “I do beg your pardon – ” he began, but stopped when he caught the look on Larry’s face. Larry had been paralyzed by the appearance of the owner. He looked exactly like a younger version of his own owner.
“What is it? Are you looking for something? Did you drop something?” the owner asked, perturbed.
“I – I...”
“Yes, yes, spit it out!” the owner said, not coldly.
“I – need to find – ”
“The moon? Are you waiting for NeoSchool? That’s still in preparation, you know.”
“I need to find the Space Faerie – ”
“Oh, the Space Faerie!” the owner laughed. “I just saw her at the Grundo Adoption Center as I was adopting one of the last remaining Grundos. Would you like me to take you to her? I still have a bit of time before I have to meet my NeoCircle friends for a game of Techo Says.” The owner almost pitied the Gelert and his strange ways; he did not bother asking why Larry had made such a request.
Larry did not usually stutter, but this situation was just too awkward. “Yeah – um – sure – if you want – if it’s not too much trouble – ”
The owner laughed at what he presumed to be shyness on Larry’s part. “Then I’ll gladly take you to her!” He took Larry by the paw as Clide jumped on to his head. “I hope you washed your feet,” the owner said as he dragged both Neopets from the grove.
Once they were outside, the Gelert found himself in a slightly different environment than the one he had left behind. The Endless Plains were still endless and plain, but the air smelt somewhat cleaner, the sky looked somewhat nicer, Neopia Central looked significantly smaller far in the distance, and a strange fog hung to the south where the Haunted Woods and Lost Desert worlds were.
“Nobody ever ventures too far south, you know,” the owner said, replying to Larry’s seeking look. “You must have been sitting in that grove for a while!”
“Yeah – sure,” Larry stammered back. The owner smiled again, and out of his inventory he took a Spiced Apple Pie. As he raised it above his head, a ray of light shot out from the sky and enveloped the owner and the two Neopets. Larry was not used to this; he had visited the Space Station before, but never in such a way. He could feel himself being dragged through the sky and thought it worse than using the Cherry Wish Stick to travel through time.
“There you go,” the owner said after a few uncomfortable moments. “The Space Faerie is right over there.” The boy pointed at a dark-skinned Faerie dressed in a blue jumpsuit.
Larry stammered, “Thank – thank- ”
“It’s no problem, really.” The owner smiled. “I’d best be going now, Techo Says awaits me...”
As he held up a hamburger, Larry heard Clide asking, “Can we get a Gelert?”
For some strange reason, Larry felt that his future owner was grinning as he said, “Maybe one day, Clide.”
As his future floated away to Neopia Central behind him, Clide approached the Space Faerie. She was just giving the last of the Grundos to a strange, green owner dressed in a large black smock. “Thankee,” the owner said, his voice muffled by his wardrobe.
“No problem, sir,” the Space Faerie said with a bow. After the owner left, she looked at Larry, and said, “I’m sorry, Mr. Gelert, but all of the Grundos are gone now.”
“That’s not why I’m here.” Larry was about to continue, but the Space Faerie interrupted.
“The Cherry Wish Stick isn’t here either.”
Larry spluttered and stammered harder than ever now. “What – Cherry – Stick –”
The Space Faerie made a noise that sounded like ‘tcha’. “Duh, I know! I made it, or I’m, about to, at least. That’s why it’s not here. And I suppose you want me to not make it?”
The Gelert shook his head but then quickly nodded. Intimidated, he said, “If – if you really –”
The Space Faerie laughed. “The only reason I made it was because of all the pent-up energy inside of me. When too much magical pressure builds up in my body, I’ll explode. If it’s really going to change the future too much, I’ll resort to making it much less powerful.”
“Would you really?” Larry asked. It seemed as if all his problems were going to be solved.
“Of course,” the Space Faerie said. “All I’m going to need you to do is sell this Christmas Paint Brush for three-thousand Neopoints and purchase, not a Cherry Wish Stick, but an Oak Wish Stick.” She turned around and handed him a Christmas Paint Brush, as well as three totem heads. “You’ll need these to get to Mystery Island, where you should be able to perform both those tasks. After you have finished, leave Mystery Island and use the totems to return to me.”
As soon as the paint brush was put away and all of the totems were safe in his grasp, Larry felt himself fading away again, and instantly found himself at the Island Trading Post. The Space Station was floating peacefully through the Neopian sky, a barely recognizable blot in the clear blue.
Larry entered the Trading Post, and soon came out three-thousand Neopoints richer. The unnamed Island Faerie happily pointed him to the Tiki Tack Shop, way on the other side of the island.
As Larry passed through the jungle, he saw many strange things. New kinds of fruits that he had never seen before grew on the trees; some of them even looked completely flat without any shading at all, while others seemed to shift shape. Strange Neopets he had never seen before, such as what looked like an owner with a yellow bowtie and an eye with wings, passed by with odd petpets that changed into things (such as hammers and jelly beds) on their heads. The Gelert felt threatened in this environment, and increased his walking speed.
When he passed large blank clearings where he knew the Kitchen Quest and Mynci Volleyball areas were supposed to be, he gave a shudder. He really wasn’t in Year 9. Larry had known this all along, but he still wished that this was just some kind of prank, with everyone playing along. However, those gigantic gaps were irreplaceable; the truth finally hit him. In an earlier age, he might have simply had a breakdown and lay on the ground in tears, but he had to be strong. The fate of Neopia, after all, was on his shoulders.
The Tiki Tack Shop finally came into view. An Oak Wish Stick purchase and another transport to Virtupets Space Station later, a magical Oak Wish Stick was in Larry’s mouth.
“This Oak Wish Stick will only allow you to travel through time once. However, you may find it still has a few magical properties, so tell the Meerca Brothers to treat it well. Eshpre.”
Larry nearly spat out the stick in wonder, and he did when he found himself back in the clearing in the grove amongst the modern day Endless Plains. “What?”
Voices came from behind him yet again. Turning around, Meerouladen was shouting, “Heermeedjet, you nitwit! You picked up a normal Cherry Wish Stick!”
“You’re the one that picked it up!” The two Meerca brothers tripped over the log as they stumbled back into the clearing, just as Clide and his owner had seven years before. “You, there, Gelert!” Heermeedjet said. “Where’s our Cherry Wish Stick?”
With a pang, Larry realized that he never knew what happened to the Wish Stick he had left behind in Year 2. Had it simply disappeared, since the Space Faerie never made it? Larry was about to splutter an answer to the Meerca when Merouladen yelled excitedly, “There’s a magical-looking Oak Wish Stick over there! I bet that’s even better than cherry wood!”
Heermeedjet grinned happily. “You’re right, Meerouladen. You’re always right.”
Once again, they trampled back through the forest. As Larry never saw them again, they quickly faded from his thoughts, but he never did discover that the Oak Wish Stick, when they were about to give it to their boss, had one last trick up its sleeve. Nobody ever saw the Meerca Brothers in Year 9 again.
“Larry!” His owner tripped over the log as he stumbled into the clearing. Larry went up and gave him a big hug. “Where have you been? Does it really take you this long to find a Cherry Wish Stick?”
“Oh, it’s okay,” his owner said, smiling. As he stood up, he looked around the clearing. “Say, does this place look familiar?”
Larry turned around to hide the grin that he could not help away from his owner. In the most stable voice he could manage, he asked, “What makes you say that?”
Larry’s owner shrugged. “It’s just... nothing. Come on, let’s go home. Clide’s probably worried sick by now.”
The sun set as they went home.