Once upon a time there was a chocolate Kacheek named Kaylacakes. She lived alone in a small house in the middle of a vast garden in Neopia Central. She passed her time in her garden, tending to her plants by day and reading books about Kreludor by torchlight at night.
Kaylacakes was obsessed with Kreludor. She read every book about it she could find and made beautiful drawings of it. She often looked at the moon for hours, dreaming of one day leaving her lonely garden for the mysterious, exotic landscapes of Kreludor. She couldn't say exactly when this fascination of hers had started, but she could guess why, since the moon had always been her company through lonely nights.
One day, her only other company in the world, the Autumn Princess Usuki she always carried around with her, burst into flames in her arms. The torch by her side flickered, and a strong wind started to blow. Shivering with cold, Kaylacakes was staring sorrowfully at her burning Usuki when footsteps startled her. She turned around and saw old witch Morguss approaching her from behind the trees.
Morguss offered her a Berry Cupcake and said:
"Kaylacakes, this cupcake will make you so rich that you could have anything you want in Neopia. If you take it, you will live in a palace made of gold in Altador, and everyone will envy you. Anywhere you go, Neopets will rush to please you, and if they don't, you can get rid of them with a simple wave of your hand. You will live in luxury and be carefree, and none of your wishes will ever be too expensive for your bank account."
Kaylacakes looked from the cupcake to the witch and furrowed her brow. She thought about all the pretty things she could have and all the beautiful places she could visit... but in the end, she shook her head and replied, "Morguss, what's the point of having endless riches when I would still be alone? Worse still, all those Neopoints would bring me all kinds of opportunistic Neopets, who would adulate me for a bit of my richness while insulting me behind my back. I would never be able to find anyone who was kind to me without a hidden motive or who liked me for who I am. I'd live a beautiful life out of nothing but appearances and emptiness. No, thank you."
With that, she dismissed the witch and turned to put out the flames still burning her Usuki. Morguss left grumbling, annoyed but convinced that Kaylacakes would come to regret her decision. After both she and the flames were gone, Kaylacakes sat down on the grass and sighed. Right then, she heard a soft rustling of leaves above her head. She turned and saw the famous and elusive Shadow Usul coming down from the chestnut tree behind her.
"I knew I should have taken a nap instead," Kaylacakes said to herself, rolling her eyes.
The Shadow Usul sat in front of her, wriggling her tail. Only after staring at her intently for a couple of minutes did she spread her hands out to show a golden ring. She then said, "Kaylacakes, this ring will make you Queen of Meridell. When you put it on your finger, you'll go live in Meridell Castle, and you'll have thousands of subjects willing to follow your every command. You'll have staff to attend to your every wish, and everyone will bow down to you wherever you go. You'll have reverence, obedience, and wealth. Above all, you will have power."
Kaylacakes shook her head again, saying, "Usul, none of that is important if it's not for the right reasons. What's the point of reverence and wealth if I haven't earned them? And power and wealth will only bring me double the envy, the falsity, the trouble. I'd live buried in worries, fearing my enemies, never in peace. And worst of all, I'd live alone in a castle, with many subjects but no friends. I don't want others to follow my commands -- I want them to listen to me, tell me the truth, and be themselves."
The Shadow Usul's eyes went wide. She couldn't believe what she had just heard. No one had ever denied the offer of a magical golden ring and the promises she made. She stood, frozen for a while, and then turned around, saying, "You can have your garden of dirt, then, fine."
She then sprinted into the shadows.
Kaylacakes scooted closer to the torch's flame, feeling cold and sad. Maybe she wasn't right in turning down those offers... they weren't perfect, but weren't they better than this? Sighing, she whispered, "After all... I am still right here. Alone."
Lost in thoughts, hugging herself, Kaylacakes didn't notice the approach of a Darigan Lupe that her words had brought out of the garden's shadows. Only when he stopped right by her side and fumbled at the ground with his paw did she turn around and see him.
"Kaylacakes, I've been watching you. You seem to be the right one for my offer. Bear in mind that it's not as easy as the previous ones. Nothing will be handed to you on a plate if you take this silver heart charm bracelet. But you'll be given a unique opportunity, and it will be entirely up to you to make the most out of it. If you make the decision to take this bracelet, you'll go to a place in Kreludor called the Kreludor Crater. There you will find a group of Neopets. They won't automatically respect or adore you. They won't bow down to you and be your servants. But if you are honest, make the effort, and treat them right, instead you will find amazing friends, those who will appreciate you for who you are and be by your side through thick and thin.
"You won't get riches beyond count, but you'll be surrounded by others who will try to help you achieve your goals. Besides, as you achieve them through your own hard work, you'll find yourself valuing every accomplishment as if it were a palace of gold.
"You won't get absolute power over that land, either. The Neopets you'll meet will never obey you blindly. But if you manage to earn their respect, they will be by your side, take your advice, and let you lead them -- not because you were magically given that power, but because you've earned it with your actions and worth.
"I won't deceive you. You will find falsity, envy, foolishness, and even treason. But it's up to you to sort through the weeds and find those who are worth keeping around. You will also find sadness, trouble, and anger, but you won't have to find your way through them alone.
"Of course, that's assuming you succeed. For it's entirely up to you to make all of this happen. If fear of failure prevents you from trying, or if you're not willing to make and sustain all the effort that this enterprise will require, then I suggest you don't take this bracelet. It is your decision, for it is your life."
At this point, Kaylacakes had tears running down her face. She broke into a beautiful smile, though, as she replied, "Lupe, this is exactly what I've been looking for. I'll take the opportunity in this bracelet, and I'll do my best to be worthy of it and of all you've said."
So she did. Kaylacakes accepted the bracelet that the Darigan Lupe handed her and put it on. She instantly found herself in Kreludor Crater, and every day she put in all the effort she could muster in making that the best place in all of Neopia. As the Darigan Lupe predicted, her hard work was rewarded. She was surrounded by true and constant friends that she had got because of who she was and how she behaved, and though she never became amazingly rich, she did manage to make many of her dreams come true, through work that wasn't lonely anymore.
She didn't live happily ever after, but she did have a full, sincere, meaningful life surrounded by true friends.