I woke to the steady slapping of waves against the sand. My head throbbed horribly, and my mouth was filled with salt water. I opened my eyes blearily, and saw it was very dark outside, except for a glowing light in front of me. Then I noticed an Island Kyrii with a lantern, looking at me concerned.
“Hullo! Are you alright?” he asked, as I tried to sit up and promptly fell back down, feeling dizzy.
“I... I don’t know. How did I get here?”
“No idea. I was just taking a quick swim, when I saw you lying here in the sand. Looks like you took a nasty hit on those rocks over there,” he said, nodding towards the craggy boulders behind me. “Do you remember anything?”
I tried hard, searching through the dark corners of my brain, but to no avail. “Not at all,” I said, worried. “In fact, I can’t remember anything before I woke up!” The Kyrii looked even more troubled after this. The dizziness in my head seemed to dissipate a bit, and I noticed his strange get-up: a trench coat, compass, and square glasses.
“Well, it is very late. Would you like to come stay the night with me and my tribe, The Neopian’s Paradise? If you’d like to recuperate, you can come to my hut, not a few minutes away from here.”
I nodded gratefully. “What’s your name?”
“Oh, I’m Jeuffry,” he said, extending a wet paw to help me up. I took it, but not without another question as we walked along the beach to his village.
“Why were you swimming out so late at night?” I asked curiously. Jeuffry was certainly a person full of eccentricities.
He laughed. “Why not?” And that was the last thing I remembered before half sleep-walking into Jeuffry’s hut, and falling asleep nearly instantly.
I had a fitful sleep, tossing and turning in the night. I had strange dreams, none of which I remembered when I awoke. The next morning, I woke up to hear someone banging pots and pans in the kitchen next door. I looked at myself in the mirror, and saw a Maraquan JubJub staring back at me. What was I doing here?? I still couldn’t remember how I had ended up lying in the sand the night before.
“Good morning! I’m Mojo- welcome to Paradise Island!” an Orange Elephante cried, bouncing in through the door. “Here, I’ve made some welcome waffles just for the occasion. Chokato, Asparagus, or Strawberry?”
“Uhm, Chokato please.” I replied, and seconds later she had a plate of three waffles loaded with Chokato syrup. I was ravenously hungry, and had wolfed down all of them like Lupe eating Chias. Mojo was prepared, and flipped another two onto my plate with her spatula. She waited for me to finish eating before she spoke.
“So, what do you remember from last night?” she asked. It sounded like she had been waiting all morning for her to ask just that.
“Nothing,” I said truthfully. “Don’t even know my name!”
“Hmmm. Strange, isn’t it? Well, we can’t just call you ‘it’ forever, y’know.” she said, smiling. “Sarah? Lauren? Betty Lou?” I shook my head, not knowing if I would even recognize my own name if she said it. “Well, we’ll just call you Z for now, because it’s a cool letter.”
“Sure,” I said- it sounded just as good as any other name. “Do... do you think I could have another waffle?”
With a grin a mile wide, she hustled back into the kitchen. “Haven’t had anyone around here appreciate a good waffle in years!!” she exclaimed.
Ten minutes later, after I was all filled up and showered, I went out on a walk. “Haiii!” squealed an Usul, her purple hair bobbing up and down in her excitement. “I’m Kay. Welcome to The Neopian’s Paradise! We’re so glad you’re here; we haven’t had a new tribe member in ages. What’s your name?”
I paused, trying to explain my little problem when Mojo came out of the hut behind me. “This is Z. Just came last night! Jeuffry’s trying to find her an open hut, but for now she’ll need to share with someone- poor Jeuffry had to sleep on the floor.” I felt a bit ashamed, kicking the tribe’s chief out of his bed, but no one else seemed to mind.
“Ooo, I would, Z, but my hut’s only one bedroom anyway. Ask around, though; I’m sure you’ll find someone! I’ve got to go, my Usuki gallery needs updating.” And with that, she scurried off. As she was leaving, two Electric Kougras were walking out of another hut, obviously awoken by Kay’s noisy chatting.
“’Ello!” one called, sporting a bright red wig. “You must be the new tribe member. I’m Kate! This is my twin sister-”
“Bekah. We’re pretty much joined at the hip,” she said with a laugh. “I thought I heard someone coming in last night- how’d you come across TNP?”
“TNP?” I asked, curiously.
“It’s The Neopian’s Paradise- Paradise Island, basically. But doesn’t that sound much more... defenestrating?” I blinked.
“Word Nerd!!” Mojo hissed, laughing. “You’re scaring Z off.”
“Defenestrate: a throwing of a person or thing out of a window,” Kate stated, as if reading from a dictionary. Mojo elbowed her in the ribs. “Hey! Nothing wrong with a good set of vocabulary.”
“Anywho,” said Bekah, munching on a cookie, as I found she was prone to do, morning, noon, and night. “Want a tour of the island?” I agreed, and Kate, Bekah and I went off, Mojo to the YYB field for the Altador Cup that day.
“This is the Clubhouse, here, where you’ll find the Baby Buddies Club...” Kate waved to a Baby Kougra through the window. “Hi, Alicia!” Pointing to another room (which looked very lonely), “And that’s the Neopian’s Men’s Society, run by Sloth-”
“Which has only a handful of members, mind you,” Bekah said, sniggering. “Then we have The Perfect New Thing: Billions of Neopoints! It’s a race to see who can reach 2.93 billion first- that’s how much you need to make one million Neopoints in interest per day!” I gaped. I had no idea how rich or poor I had been in my life before TNP, but I knew that was a feat only attainable by Neopia’s richest.
At dinner, I met Dani, who offered to share her hut with me, as her brother, Phil, had gone out exploring the five seas of Neopia a few months before. She had an adorable Maraquan Shoyru plushie named Tillman, who we both doted on. Rebecca, the co-chief of TNP, also gave me a warm welcome that night, along with Stefani and Ellie. I couldn’t help but feel that they were watching me all night, but from what I’ve heard from the other tribe members, they’re friendly creepers... Whatever that means?
The day went on and on, and I grew to love Paradise Island more and more. But then, I hit a lull in activity- I explored the island by myself, stayed in my room, didn’t talk to anyone very often, and just generally was bored by what was here for me at Paradise Island. Deep inside me, I wanted to go out and explore Maraqua- my paint color was the only clue to my origins, and I felt as if I couldn’t rest until I had at least tried to find where I had come from.
I had then come to a decision that I had to go, just for a few days, to see if I could find my past. Late one night, I crept out of the hut that Dani and I shared, and slipped into the cool, calm waters of the ocean. I had quite a time finding my way to Maraqua- who knew that Grarrls and Jetsams could be so menacing?! Narrowly avoiding becoming fish food, I swam on and on.
Finally, I arrived at the city of Maraqua. At the city’s gates, I stopped in my tracks. How was I going to do this?? There must be dozens of Maraquan JubJubs just like me in this city... I didn’t even know my name. Feeling ridiculous, I wandered through the city streets, trying to formulate a plan in my mind.
“Oooo! Mommy, Mommy, a Maraquan Shoyru up for adoption. Could we pleaseeee get him? Please?” a Baby Chomby whined.
“Yes, I’d like a plate of gourmet cookies please,” said a Kougra, ordering his dessert at Kelp.
“Like I said, Elon Hughlis has the highest goals per game in the whole Cup. Of course Maraqua’s going to be in the Top Tier!” a young Moehog said, arguing with his peers.
A pang went through my heart every time I heard something like that. I seemed to be finding TNP everywhere. Every baby pet reminded me of Alicia, Yooyuball of Mojo, Usuls of Kay, cookies of Bekah, Maraquan Shoyrus of Dani, and nerds everywhere seemed to be exactly like Kate. The second day of my trip in Maraqua, I knew I had to swim straight back home. I was content with not knowing my past- my present was with TNP, and that was obvious. There was no other place for me but Paradise Island, and I knew it.
“You don’t know what you have until it’s gone.” This phrase really described my struggles in my tribe for a short period time. I was about to leave forever... Thank goodness I came back! And after six months (as of June 29th, that is), I am proud to say that I’m a TNPian, and always will be. Thanks for the great memories, TNP! There’ll be many more. ;D