Surpassing Shenkuu's Summit
Nestled deeply in the Most Challenging Neopian gaming section, we find Shenkuu Warrior! Its difficulty rating is second only to that evil Island Techo by a mere fraction of a point! Countless levels and sometimes seemingly endless ledges make it hard to reach the top, whether you're simply trying to get through another level or grapple a trophy!
How DOES one manage to hook onto solid progress without a downwards spiral? There is only one person to ask! I set out to Shenkuu to speak to the Emperor princess herself!
Instead of finding her at the palace, I found our heroic princess purchasing Seaweed Paste from a local shop. Ew...
As I approached her, I noticed that it appeared as if she had just returned from the mountains once more. She greeted me with curiosity and the shake of a paw, noticing my notebook and a pen poised to write.
"What can I do for you?"
"I'm here to find some tips on how you climb that great mountain with nothing more than a grappling hook. It seems like an impossible task! What's your secret?"
At first the Gnorbu chuckled a bit. She grabbed her sack of Seaweed Paste and led me out of the shop. There in the distance was the daunting mountain that she was so famous for climbing. She pointed to it and smiled as she spoke.
"That mountain is just like any other mountain. It can be climbed with will, not with tools. However, I am sure that I can find more tangible tips for you. Will you going to be joining me at the top later if I give them to you?"
We both laughed. I made sure that the ink of my pen was flowing, and prepared myself for some valuable insight towards mastering the majestic challenge that stood tall and proud over the horizon.
"First, I must note that you humans have it easy. You have the opposable thumb, which is an effective tool no matter what you set out to do. As a Gnorbu, I have no thumb; I have only paws and my grappling hook when I go to Mountain Xi."
I nodded, noting my thumb encircling the pen I was using. It never stood out to me before, but what the princess said made sense.
"Secondly, unless you are a winged neopet, you cannot fly."
I paused for a moment and looked up at her with raised eyebrows. "What do you mean?"
"I mean that at first you will be thrilled that you are soaring up towards the sky. You will feel a surge of excitement, and then you will notice the sky growing wider and wider, and then you will slam against the dirt floor. You cannot fly as you are making your way up Xi, for you are defying the forces of nature going upwards. Do not be distracted by the beauty of nature. You must always be in constant movement!"
With this she smacked one curled paw into an open one for emphasis. I nodded, scribbling furiously into my pad. Suddenly, she peered over my shoulder.
"You spelled Xi correctly, yes?"
I assured her that I managed to spell "Xi" properly and, satisfied, she continued.
"One thing that grasshopper climbers want to do is go straight for the top. You cannot do that at Xi. There are many ledges, but they are not always in a successive straight line. I have learned by experience that there is not always a ledge to grapple onto straight above me."
Once again she pointed to the towering difficulty that was blocking the evening sunset.
"The mountain may appear straight from a distance, but face to face, it is a meandering path. You must navigate wisely."
I was growing to appreciate the princess's tips, some of which I had never imagined before! I considered booking a trip to Mount Xi in the future for a trip with my pets. I was broken from the thought by another sudden question.
"What is your name?"
"Ember works," I offered. "Do you have a name?"
"Of course, I am part of a happy family. But Princess suffices for you!" She laughed. I joined her hesitantly, slightly embarrassed.
"Ember, what do you know about grapples?"
"Not very much," I admitted. She seemed as if she would have been surprised otherwise. Carefully, she pulled out a familiar tool from her pockets.
"I have become good friends with this. While it is a very sturdy tool, it only reaches so far. Do you understand?"
I nodded slowly. I understood that surely the length of the grapple was not infinite, but what was her point? The princess squeezed an eye shut and aimed the grapple upward, as if she were preparing to launch herself upwards.
"When I aim for a ledge, I try to aim for one within my reach. I always aim for the nearest ledge. Although it is difficult at times, it is better than falling down because my aim was too ambitious. Do you see?"
"I never thought of that before!"
"Unless the ledge is directly above me, I MUST aim for the nearest ledge. Another thing I must never forget is that every bit counts, whether it is will, or effort, or progress, or the mountain itself. I must put all of myself into it and improve all I accomplish; but I must also teach myself that every bit of the Xi is important, too."
She lowered the grapple and turned her gaze on me with both eyes opened now.
"What few know, even those from Shenkuu or those who have set foot on Xi, is that the corners count. When I am grappling, I am not afraid to aim for the corners. Xi is a very ancient friend of our village, and she is very strong due to her age. Her corners do not crumble like sandy bread from the desert. They will stay firm, and so when I am sailing upwards, I do not fear latching this hook into her edges."
I was unaware of an almost mischievous smile on the Gnorbu's face as she concluded. I was writing faster than ever before, trying to contain all this information within the limits of my book.
"What no one else knows, and it is between us," she piped up suddenly, leaning forward as if to tell me a secret. "I do not go alone to climb Mount Xi. In the pictures and games you see of me, I am alone, grappling furiously towards the top. I seem like a great hero doing so. However, I never leave without the company of either the royal guard or my good friends, Shu and Min."
"Shu and Min?" I did not know of her friends, but I was curious! I had grown to like Shenkuu's princess already and would not mind learning more about her.
Her smile was radiant with the last rays of the sun.
"Shu is my Gikerot, and Min is my Quintilc. They are both pets of mine, and they have my dearest love. They have always accompanied me to Xi, even when my father's guards could not."
"They sound like great friends." Her happiness was infectious.
"Well, if you have no more questions, I must be on my way for supper."
"Of course. Thank you for your time... Princess."
We exchanged a handshake once more and then Shenkuu's princess turned and set towards the royal palace for what I am sure must have been a hearty feast after another climb on the mountain. As I collected my things, I noticed that the sack of Seaweed Paste had been left forgotten onto the street. I peered into the bag cautiously and noticed a note addressed to me.
"I trust your taste buds are as broad as your curiosity. Embrace Shenkuu's new proverb! There is no goal too far, whether from the deep, or even Mount Xi."
I included the gift with my other belongings and gazed with newfound interest at the mountain the princess had described with personality and passion. Perhaps I would schedule a trip there with my pets, but not today. It was time to go home and have a nice supper... and maybe try this new Seaweed Paste.