Origins of a Shop Wizard
A few nights ago, I was wandering through the Haunted Marketplace when I came across the Shop Wizard; he was angrily jumping up and down on a grave. I asked him if he needed some assistance.
“No,” he huffed, his fur standing on end. “The shopkeepers here, they are trying to be funny.”
He tapped his orange foot impatiently, clearly working something out in his head. “They have been changing the locks to their shops... I think they want to keep their prices a secret.”
“Why would they possibly want to do that?”
He looked up to me from under the brim of his starry hat. “Seriously? Think about it. If I can’t post their prices, then Neopians will have to come here to see for themselves.”
“Or,” I pointed out, “Neopians may just stay away. Just go where they can see the prices in advance.”
The wizard shook his head. “Don’t be ridiculous. All Neopians are frightfully curious. How many of them went on a boat no one had seen before so that they could find out who threw a crew member off the boat? I personally stayed away.”
“Sounded dangerous. If someone would throw a crew member off, who knows what they might do to an outsider.” He glanced forlornly toward the grave again. “This job is getting tougher, you know?”
A thought struck me. “Er... just how do you do your job?”
“Hmmm?” He wasn’t really listening.
“I said, how do you do your job? I mean... if someone wants to bargain shop in Neopia, they have to go through you, right?”
“Yeah, that’s right.”
“Well... what gives? How did you get the monopoly on bargain shopping?”
“Is that what you think this is?” he asked incredulously. “A monopoly?”
“You are the only one. Said so yourself.”
“Well, yeah,” he said, poking at the ground with his foot. “But it’s not out of choice.”
He sighed. “I knew someone would ask one day. Buy me a Xweetok Hot Chocolate and I’ll tell you all about it.”
“Where do I go to get that?”
“Oh, right.” He then stamped on my foot. As I was jumping up and down holding my injured foot, I lost my balance and fell because the ground spun very fast five times. When everything stood still again, I looked up and found myself in a shop with a shopkeeper offering to sell me the hot chocolate. I bought two; the wizard and I went outside and sat on some patio furniture.
“How do you do that?”
He took a cautious sip from the chocolate. “You know, I used to be a terrible shopper.”
“Oh my, yes. Never worried about prices. If I saw it and liked it, I bought it right away. I didn’t think about trying to bargain shop or even about saving some of my neopoints. I just spent and spent like I was richer than King Skarl.”
“Were you rich?”
“I was... past tense being key here... You see, I had won really big at Dice-a-Roo several times. And I even won again that Roo that sleeps all day... forget his name. Bit odd, but a nice enough fellow. But he must be pretty lazy... he’s hardly ever awake...” He trailed off, and I had to nudge him. “Oh, sorry. Anyway, yes, I was quite wealthy. But I ended up spending it all.... every last coin.”
“You aren’t kidding. There’s only so much omelette a Neopet can eat, you know? Occasionally I came across some jelly but never could figure out where it was coming from. I tried to ask a few Neopets, but they all mumble something about Meepits and run away...”
“So... how did you go from having nothing in your bank account to helping save everyone else’s?”
“As if I had a bank account then. But I know what you are saying. It’s pretty sad, really. You see, I was staring at another half-eaten sausage omelette and said to myself, “I’d do anything not to have to eat one more omelette.” Then Illusen came walking by. I suppose you have heard of her?”
“Of course! She lives in the glades near Meridell. She’s supposed to be very nice.”
“She is. And she believes in hard work. She told me that if I did a few jobs for her, some work, she would give me some neopoints. It wouldn’t be hard, just a little shopping. I was happy to oblige. But when I saw the list, the things were so expensive! She did not give me enough neopoints to buy everything. But she told me to walk around and try to find better prices.
“Well, I did just that. And it worked well. One person would have an item for, say, 3000 neopoints. Then I would find the same item for 1000 neopoints.”
“So that’s how you became the shop wizard?”
“Not quite. Stop trying to get ahead of me.” He sipped more chocolate before continuing. “You see, that was a lot of walking for me. I’m pretty short. Barely even have legs at all,” he noted, wriggling his toes. “I was tired and getting cranky. And that’s when she appeared...”
“Jhudora. She came up to me when I was rubbing my feet one day. She said she had seen how Illusen kept me running around and it was ridiculous. She asked me if I wanted to be able to do things quickly. Of course, I wanted to, and she gave me a cloak and hat. She then said I had what I needed and was gone in a puff of smoke.” He shook his head. “I should have known she was up to something.”
“Well, the cloak and hat worked like a charm. I was able to say an item's name and then find it for the best price without even moving. It was great. And Illusen was delighted to have her shopping done so quickly; she even asked me how, but I told her a good shopper never gives away his secrets.
Then Jhudora came up to me one day and asked me to get an item for her. She didn’t want to give me the neopoints for the item, though; she said I owed her. I thought that was fair, though, and I bought the item for her. It wasn’t that expensive, so it wasn’t like it was a big deal. But then she asked me for something else the next day, and it was more expensive. Not horribly, but still... and then it happened again the next day, and then again the day after that. It wasn’t going to end. And I was soon going to run out of the neopoints I’d earned for myself by working for Illusen.”
“Uh oh. What did you do?”
“The only thing I could do. I confessed to Illusen what was going on.”
“Was she angry?”
“No. She was disappointed that I had tried to take the easy way out. But she said she understood and she would help me out.”
“Did she fight Jhudora?”
“Of course not. Illusen is a good faerie. She took me to the Faerie Kingdom and we met with Queen Fyora.”
“You met the queen??”
“Yes. And she is just as wise and regal as she looks to be. She listened to my story. She then summoned Jhudora – who was most unhappy to be summoned – she told Jhudora to stop forcing me to buy things for her. When someone does work for you, you must give them a payment of some kind. It is only fair.
She then told all of us that she did have an idea, though. The queen then pointed her scepter at me and declared that I was the new Shop Wizard; I was to help all Neopians spend their money more wisely. She increased the powers of my cloak and hat so that I could help many at once. I have been doing this ever since.”
“Do you like it?”
“Sometimes it gets hectic, especially around the holidays, but most of the time it is all great fun. Neopians really love finding a bargain!” He grinned. “And, of course, it all gave Illusen an idea as well.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, she had wanted to share some of her magic with worthy Neopians, but she’d been unsure how to go about it. She then came up with the idea of offering quests. Other faeries already did that, but she wanted hers to be special.”
“But you can’t help with faerie quests...”
“Nope, I sure can’t. The faeries complained to the Queen that I made it far too easy to complete their quests, so Fyora asked me not to help those Neopians on those quests. But there was no problem with helping Illusen’s quest-takers because she gave me permission to help those on her quests. They get tougher, but the magical items she gives as a reward are better and better with the difficulty and price increases.”
He sighed. “She couldn’t be outdone by her sister. Jhudora told me that her quests were to be just like Illusen’s. I told her I would only help someone if they were not on a quest for Illusen already and if they hadn’t done one for either of them that day. Jhudora wasn’t happy about it, but Illusen was fine with my condition and the Queen liked it as well. Funny thing, though,” he added, smiling through his yellow fur, “Jhudora’s rewards aren’t prized nearly as highly Illusen’s...”
He looked down at his watch. “Goodness, look at the time! I must have a real backlog of requests. I’d better be going.” And with a puff of blue smoke he was gone, leaving me to wonder how to get back home....