His name was Sundown. Yes, his name was the time of day. He thanked his owner every day for that with the kind of dry sarcasm that could only be safely used as thought waves. Well, it wasn’t so bad. His owner wasn’t a bad girl. She was just a bit strange.
Sundown himself was a bit strange.
As it was, he was standing outside of the NC Mall. He stared in the window with his face scrunched up as he thought. His forehead feather hung down in front of his face, fluttering slightly as he breathed.
Two months’ worth of allowance and two lucky rounds of Qasalan Expellibox. That was a lot of money. All of the Neocash he had was carefully held in his backpack.
“It won’t be so bad,” he told himself. A passing Desert Hissi gave him a strange look and glided away as fast as possible. The Faerie Lenny shook his head and slowly edged into the mall. A rush of cool air swept over him as the doors closed. The heat of the summer faded, and his forehead feather was almost instantly less wilted.
Sundown walked through the stores, staring. He couldn’t help it! The over-whelming amount of color made him a bit nauseous. There was a store selling pairs of wings for people who didn’t have any to begin with. So many wings! Fire and ice and shells, fluttering gently from where they hung on shelves and hooks. A wingless pet—a Red Ixi—was trying on a pair of Green Leafy Wings. There was a store of bright dresses and a store of shoes right across from the wings.
The Lenny walked past a display of Mystery Capsules. A few of them sparkled. Most of them had various appendages on the sides, or designs formed in the delicate glass shield. Sundown stopped for a moment, looking over a Mystery Capsule of Evil. He touched the tip of one of the horns with a feather-tip. He grinned.
“Stay focused,” he told himself. He stood up and stretched one leg, wiggling his toes. “Save up your money again. Not right now!” He shook his head and moved on.
An Island Ogrin looked after him, giggling. The Island Whinny at her heels shifted from foot to foot, smiling. The Ogrin shook her head and moved off to a stand of necklaces.
Sundown stood on the escalator and looked around as he moved up to the second floor. He looked down at the first floor and smiled. It was like someone had spilled a bag of Sutek Jelly Candies.
He emptied onto the second floor and shuffled to a map that was posted—slightly lopsided—on a wall. He stood beside a small group of pets and looked it over. The group of Chocolate pets gave him slightly sideways looks. Sundown barely noticed. He had gotten too many strange looks today, anyway.
“Left,” he said to himself. He wandered away and took a left.
The store was right there at the end of the hallway.
Sundown hurried into the store. The Superpacks were bigger than he’d thought, but he wasn’t worried. The Lenny knew exactly where he was going; he went to the back of the store and picked up the Superpack he had chosen three months ago.
The storekeeper smiled at him as the Lenny set the Superpack on the counter and fished his money out of his backpack.
“Finally got it all together, hmm?”
“Yep. Took me forever, but I did it.” Sundown dropped his money on the counter. “It’s exact change. All 800 of it.”
“I don’t doubt it.” The shopkeeper counted out the money. “Have a good day.”
“Thanks. You too.” Sundown hefted the Superpack and tottered out of the store. He stopped at the Pharmacy and picked up one more thing.
The Superpack started getting heavy about a mile down the road. The Lenny dragged his feet, slowly growing more tired and more grumpy.
His mood didn’t improve when a neomail was sent to him. The letter impacting the side of his head was just enough to unbalance him. An Alabriss napping in a tree woke up with a squawk as the Lenny shrieked and fell. The neomail hovered just above him head as he lay on the dusty road. The letter dipped down again, bumping the side of his head to activate.
“Sunny, when are you coming home? Mom says lunch is going to be ready in fifteen minutes! You’d better hurry up!”
Sundown smiled tiredly and shook his head. Luna_Lee, his little sister, was always sending him neomails at bad times. The Lenny stood up, brushed himself off, and picked up the Superpack. He started toting it down the road again.
His house came into view after another few miles. He stopped and crouched down. The Lenny tucked the Superpack into his backpack and crept around the house. He hoisted the backpack into his bedroom window.
The trip in the window could have gone better. He got stuck halfway in; he hung out of the window for a good ten minutes, wriggling and kicking.
Sundown shuffled into the hallway, nonchalant. Luna_Lee was sitting at the table, kicking her heels on the leg of her chair.
“Hi, Sunny!” she said happily. Their owner smiled at him.
“Where were you all morning?”
“Eh... tur_Jerky wanted to show me something by the lake.” Sundown sat next to Luna_Lee. “By the way, Lu, I got you something.”
“Hurray! What is it?”
“It’s a surprise!” Luna_Lee stuck her tongue out at him; she then sneezed. She was suffering from a mild case of Sneezles. “It’ll cheer you up, though. I promise.”
“Can I have it now?”
“No! We have to eat lunch!”
Their owner served omelets and cone-shaped watermelon. Luna_Lee watched Sundown the entire time, squinting at him in an attempt to brainwash him into giving her the surprise early. This was made difficult by her frequent sneezes.
Finally, after the plates were washed and put away, Sundown smiled.
“Well, I think I’m going to bed.”
“What? No!” Luna_Lee jumped up and ran to him, shaking his shoulder. “You said you had a surprise!”
“Oh, did I? Oh, that’s right. Sorry.” Sundown stood up. “Wait right here.”
Luna_Lee waited as Sundown ran down the hallway. He heaved his backpack onto his back and picked up the small package he’d gotten at the Pharmacy.
“Here you go!” Sundown handed the little package to the Plushie Blumaroo. She opened it, and her face visibly fell.
“Oh... thank you.” She sneezed and hefted the Magic Cookie. “Thanks, Sunny.”
“Eat it. Ten Neopoints says it heals you right up.”
“Oh, haha!” Luna_Lee shoved the Magic Cookie into her mouth and chewed thoughtfully. “Chewy,” she said through the doughy blob. Sundown snorted.
“Oh yeah, there’s this, too.” He heaved his backpack onto the table and pulled out the Superpack.
Luna_Lee choked on the Magic Cookie. Sundown started laughing as she gasped for air, and then she grabbed the Superpack and hugged it.
“Thank you!” howled the Blumaroo. “Thank you thank you thank you thank you! You are the ultimate awesome!” Luna_Lee threw the lid off of the Superpack and started clipping on the armor. Their owner hid a smile behind her hand.
“You look wonderful,” she said. Luna_Lee glowered from under her helmet.
“Do I look scary?” she asked, forcing her voice to a low growl. Sundown laughed.
“How much was this? These are expensive!” The Blumaroo grinned. “My Ceremonial Shenkuu Warrior Superpack.”
“Yeah, you enjoy that! I spent all my money on that.” Sundown grinned back. “It was heavy, too.” Luna_Lee shuffled forward under her armor and gave her big brother a huge hug.
“Thank you,” she mumbled. “Best brother ever, right?”