The Search for the Blue Grundo Plushie
What I was looking for was a plump, blue plushie. What I found was a skinny, yellow JubJub.
My beloved Blue Grundo Plushie had been missing for a very long time. I had searched high and low and tried to remember everywhere I had gone the day he disappeared. Finally I decided it had been way too long for me to remember everywhere I went that day or, for that matter, to even remember everywhere I had already searched. I would just have to start over and search all of Neopia, one world at a time, until I found him. I had already been to Neopia Central and Brightvale and Altador and Krawk Island. Today found me about halfway across the Haunted Woods.
I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand up as I made a dive behind the nearest tree. Now, the Haunted Woods is not the most friendly-looking environment to go wandering around in and there was no telling WHAT that might be! I waited a minute then carefully peeked around the tree looking for the source of that awful racket.
“SCREE-E-E-CH!” It went again.
From the corner of my eye I caught the slightest little movement under the brush just to my left. I peered closer and there was the most pitiful-looking bedraggled little JubJub I had ever seen! His fur was supposed to be yellow, but it was covered in dirt and had bits of leaves stuck in it here and there and was all matted down close to his body, making him look even smaller than he was. My fear forgotten for the moment, I stepped toward him.
“Why, you poor little thing,” I said. “Let me brush you off.” I reached to pick him up.
I jumped back, half in fear and half in amazement. “Did that sound come from YOU?” I asked. He rolled his big black eyes up at me and nodded. “But you are so little and the noise is so big!” I said. “How do you do that? WHY do you do that?”
Tears started to well up in his eyes. “I can’t help it,” he said. “I do that when I’m scared!”
“But why would you be afraid of me? I didn’t even know you were there,” I asked.
“Because SCREE-E-E-CH-H you almost SCREE-E-E-CH-H stepped SCREE-E-E-CH-H on me! It scares me all over again just to SCREE-E-E-CH-H think about it!”
I was beginning to get a little annoyed by the persistent screeching. “Well, I’m not stepping on you now and I have no plans to step on you in the future, so will you please stop that! And besides, your screeching scared ME half to death and I ain’t scared of nothin’!” I looked down at him. “What’s a little fellow like you doing out here in the Haunted Woods all by yourself anyway?”
His eyes started to tear up again. “I’m trying to find my mother. We were running from Hubrid Nox SCREE-E-E-CH-H and we got separated. Will you help me find my mother? Will you? Please? Please? I’ve already SCREE-E-E-CH-H been out here for SCREE-E-E-CH-H two days and I don’t think SCREE-E-E-CH-H that I can find her by myself SCREE-E-E-CH-H!”
It didn’t take me long to figure out that if I didn’t help him his incessant screeching would echo through the woods and follow me anyway. The quickest way to stop it was to find his mother so he wouldn’t be scared anymore. “Come on,” I said, brushing some of the dirt away and lifting him to my shoulder. “I’ll help you look for your mother and you can help me look for my Blue Grundo Plushie.”
“Now what?” I asked.
“I’ve never been this high without my mother. I usually just skim along closer to the ground.”
“Do you want down so you can skim?”
“No, you might SCREE-E-E-CH-H step on me!”
So I carefully took the little guy down from my shoulder and set him in my pocket.
This time I didn’t even say anything. I just looked at him.
“It’s dark in here.”
“Then lift yourself up enough to peek out. You have to be able to see to help look for your Mother and for my Plushie anyway.” We walked on for a little way when I happened to step on a twig causing it to snap under my foot.
I could feel the little fellow trembling in my pocket. I reached down and patted him. “It’s OK,” I said. “I just stepped on a twig. I must say, yellow is certainly the appropriate color for you! I’ve never seen anyone so afraid of so many things!”
A few more steps and there came a huge rum-m-m-ble. “SCREE-E-E-CH! What was THAT?”
“The Esophagor is just over that little rise there. Sounds like it’s hungry.”
“SCREE-E-E-CH-H! Does the ‘Softagor eat JubJubs?” he asked.
I stopped for a moment and looked around, rubbing my ringing ears. “This is sure a fine kettle of fish I’ve gotten myself into!”
“Where’s the kettle of fish?” asked the JubJub.
“Sorry,” I muttered. “I didn’t realize I had said that out loud.”
“What’s a kettle of fish?” he asked again. “I don’t see any fish. Have I ever seen a fish? Does the ‘Softagor eat fish? What does a fish look like? Maybe we could feed the kettle of fish to the ‘Softagor.”
I patted him reassuringly. Taking a deep breath, I set out on my journey again ever watching for my beloved Plushie and for the JubJub’s mother.
By now we had covered almost all of the Haunted Woods. A quick swing through Neovia and the search here would be finished. As we rounded a bend in the creepy path past the edge of the Gypsy Camp I stopped short. Right in the middle of the road in front of me was another JubJub.
“MOMMA! Oh Momma!” The little JubJub darted out of my pocket so quickly I scarcely saw him move. He bounced excitedly around his mother as she made her way over to me.
“How can I ever thank you,” she said. “How did you happen to find him?”
So I explained to her all about losing my beloved Blue Grundo Plushie and how I was methodically searching all of Neopia, one world at a time, trying to find it. As I talked, her eyes began to twinkle and a little smile played around the corner of her lips.
“Now, I’m not one to gossip, mind you,” she said, “but I’ve heard rumors about a discarded plushie somewhere up in Faerieland. Why don’t you check it out?”
I thanked her for the tip and stood in the middle of the road and watched as the two bounced along toward their home. My pocket felt strangely empty, but my ears were enjoying the peace and quiet.
That night I made a camp at the edge of the Haunted Woods where I could look across the water and see the clouds of Faerieland. It had been a very long and very noisy day. I ate a little of the Giant Omelette that I had carried with me, but I really wasn’t hungry. I lay back on my Cosy Sleeping Bag and stared at the sky and thought. I thought about the little JubJub and how frightened he had been out there all alone. And I thought about my beloved Blue Grundo Plushie and wondered if he was afraid as well. Finally, as an exhausted sleep began to overtake me, I closed my eyes and a little tear slid down my face.
The next day I began working my way across Faerieland, talking to the shop owners and visitors passing by. My first stop was the Healing Springs. The faerie looked at me with compassion in her eyes and said, “I stay very busy here and don’t get out and travel about much. However, I too, have heard the rumors of a discarded plushie around here somewhere. Since I can’t help you in that way, perhaps I can restore you or something.”
“No thanks,” I said. “I rested and ate last night, so my Hit Points are already full.”
“Then take this along. You may need it later.” She smiled and handed me a bottle of Dewberry Reviver.
I tucked the bottle into my pocket and thanked her. As I started on, I thought, “This will be a good thing to have along. I could have really used a shot of that yesterday in the Haunted Woods!”
From there I went to Jhudora. Now, I have been to see Jhudora a few times, but she is so intimidating that I usually hesitate for a very long time before going back. “Oh well,” I thought. “There is only one way to find out if she knows anything about the rumor and that is to just go ask her.” I squared my shoulders and approached her cloud.
“A Discarded Blue Grundo Plushie that does random acts of kindness? How ridiculous!” She threw her head back and cackled. Quite suddenly she stopped laughing and narrowed her eyes and looked straight at me. “I have NOTHING to do with random acts of kindness or anyone who might be handing them out! If you want to know something like that I would suggest that you check with that goody two-shoes Illusen!” And with that she folded her arms and turned away.
I swallowed hard and backed all the way out the door. When I felt I was far enough, I turned around and ran. Glancing over my shoulder from time to time to be sure she wasn’t following me, I didn’t stop running until I was all the way to the Poogle Races.
I stopped to rest a minute and try to figure out where I needed to look next. Glancing up, I happened to see the Tower. Of course! Fyora would know if the rumor was true or not! And from the tower I could look out over all of Faerieland at once! And I could check at the Rainbow Fountain as I went by. With a renewed sense of hope, I started off again.
I hurried along smiling to myself as I remembered all the wonderful times my Plushie and I had spent together. And to think! This may be the very day I finally find him. From the Tower I will be able to see... wait... what was that little flash of blue I saw.... IT’S HIM! I can’t believe it! It’s really him! I ran faster and faster until falling to my knees at his side I reached out to pick him up.
“No!” he said. “Don’t pick me up!”
“What? What?” I cried. “Are you hurt? Are you sick? I’ll go get help!”
“No, no,” he said gently. “It’s nothing like that. It’s just that I have learned a lot while I was lying here waiting for you to return – and I did know that you would return. You see, all the time I have been waiting there have been friends stopping by. Now don’t get me wrong, you are and always will be my first and best friend. But when so many of these other friends come by and I can make them happy, it just makes me feel really wonderful and happy too. It is an absolutely magical feeling. Sometimes I even leave them a little gift just to show them how much I enjoy it when they visit. If I were to leave and go back home with you now, all that would be over. I really want to stay here and continue making my friends happy when they visit.”
I gazed into those soft, loving red eyes and I knew he loved me as deeply as I loved him, but I would be going home alone. I also knew I would be back to visit him every day.