No Height, No Weight, No Problem: Part One
"Ma, will you tell us the story about Peopeo447 and the Faeries?" Splash_Shaolin asked eagerly. He and his three sisters had gotten themselves all ready for bed and were gathered around their owner on the yellow carpet of their bedroom with "please-please" expressions on their little faces.
"I don't know," said their owner, shaking her head and looking at each in turn. "The last time I started this story, your sister cried so much her pink little nose turned red from her blowing it so much!"
The three young Peophins glanced at their sister Jewels, the baby Uni, and rolled their eyes.
"You cried too!" Jewels exclaimed petulantly. "I just cried longer... and louder."
"Oh, come on, Ma," implored Ruach, the eldest. "Only the first part is really sad. The rest is wonderful."
It was lovely and warm in their cozy Neohome under the sea in Maraqua. A delicious scent of cinnamon and sugar wafted through the room from the crisp apple pie their owner had baked for dessert and their tummies were full. Splash tapped his large, purple scalloped tail on the floor in anticipation and began chanting softly, "Story, story, story." Soon the other Neopets had taken up the chant.
"Off the floor and into bed," their owner responded. "Then, maybe we can have a story."
Three Peophins obliged their owner at once. Splash floated into his rainbow bed without complaint and hung his tail over his footboard. He liked to daydream that there were pots of gold hidden in the clouds at the base of his headboard and footboard rainbows. If he closed his eyes and thought hard enough, he could imagine his bed floating high into the sky into real clouds and real rainbows. Ruach settled herself down on top of the turquoise striped coverlet of her sunset coral bed. She propped up her two white pillows behind her back. The golden stars on her blue body and her golden hooves shone in the bedroom's light. Galadriel crawled under the fuchsia colored bedding of her four poster bed and shook her silky white mane. Her forest green coat was as soft as velvet. Starburst, her ona, came out from under the covers and nestled against her owner. She loved the way Gala always smelled of lilacs. Jewels took her time getting up off the floor and climbing into her beloved toy train bed. She waited patiently for the undivided attention of her owner. She loved the way Ma tucked her in and gave her a kiss on her little Uni horn every evening. This evening, however, her owner had taken a seat beside Ruach and was preparing to start their story. That wasn't acceptable. Jewels flapped her pretty pink wings and floated above her train until she caught her owner's eye.
With a sigh, Ma made her way over to the little Uni and grabbed her in her arms. "You are such a baby," she said smiling.
"Could she be a little more spoiled?" Splash muttered in disgust.
"Ma, Splash is being mean to me!" Jewels took a yellow pillow from her bed and threw it at him, hitting the purple fin on the right side of his head. Splash retaliated and hit her with the same pillow right between her large blue eyes.
"Who remembers how the story started?" Ruach interrupted loudly. She didn't want the evening spoiled by her brother and sister sniping at one another.
Gala, was first to answer. "Auntie Healing Spirit was visiting Aunt Dendrobium in Neopia Central. Healing Spirit was on to mission to adopt the neediest Neopet Dr. Death had in the Pound." The thought of Dr. Death made Galadriel's stomach start to ache. She glanced over at Jewels who had begun to shiver. Both had been adopted from the Pound, unlike Ruach and Splash.
"Pound – Pathetic, Offensive, Unfortunate, Nauseating, Disgusting. Just like Dr. Death!" grumbled Splash.
"Perhaps it stands for Place Offering Unfortunate Neopets Desperately-needed shelter," interjected their owner calmly as she once again took a place beside Ruach. Ruach immediately crawled under her coverlet and wrapped part of it over Ma's shoulders.
Galadriel knew from experience that the truth of the matter was somewhere in between desperation and haven. She continued the story in her softest voice. "Auntie went from cage to cage. Her big heart was breaking because she knew she couldn't adopt everyone who languished there."
"Peopeo – get to Peopeo already," Splash urged impatiently.
"Healing Spirit walked past Peopeo's cage without seeing him," Ruach continued. "I asked her once what made her turn and look back. She said she heard a faint whimper and smelled peppermint mixed with dung. Ugh! She pressed her head to the cold bars of his cage and saw a tiny, translucent being pressed almost flat against the filthy floor."
"Trans what?" asked Splash.
"Translucent," explained Ruach, ever the teacher at heart. "It means you can kind of see inside him, but not really."
"Let me tell some," Jewels demanded. "Auntie Healing Spirit grabbed a fuzzy pink blanket from the bag she was carrying and gathered up Peo in her arms. She adopted him right away even though he had Neomonia. She ran with him in her arms all the way to the hospital, but they couldn't help her; they didn't have the cure." Jewels paused and looked expectantly at her big sister. "I can't remember everything that happened next."
"Auntie ran from the hospital to the bank," Ruach continued eagerly. "She began to cry when she saw how long the line was."
Splash saw his opportunity to act the part of Healing Spirit and put his all into it. "Please, Mr. Green Skeith Banker," he begged in a high pitched voice, spreading his front hooves out wide. "My little one is dying. He needs Medicinal Soap right away. Please let me withdraw a zillion Neopoints now."
Ruach continued undisturbed. "A young Gelert at the front of the line smiled at Auntie and allowed her to cut in line in front of him. Only one customer objected, but the others cheered. They couldn't really make out what she was holding so tightly to her, but knew it was gravely ill. The kind Gelert promised to contact the Shop Wizard and purchase the medicine Peo needed. Auntie gave him Aunt Den's address and entrusted all her savings to him."
"Everybody knows that thieving Gelert stole all her Neopoints," Splash teased.
"Did not! Did not! You are such a liar!" Jewels defiantly stuck out her tongue at her brother.
"Ma, I like how you tell the rest of the story," Ruach urged, throwing a disgusted glance at her brother.
The four young Neopets leaned forward, thankful to hear the end of the sad part of the story.
"By the time my sister arrived at Den's Neohome, that dear Gelert had already delivered the lifesaving cure and several jars of baby food too. Healing Spirit filled the bath tub with warm water and gently held the little creature in her left arm while rubbing the Medicinal Soap on him with her right hand. At first she couldn't tell what he was. There was no substance to him. She couldn't describe it. She knew he was there because she saw a tiny heart-light inside him flicker. She believed he had become some kind of living spirit. For an instant his little head slipped under the water and he made a few tiny bubbles. She thought she heard him coo. She lifted the little thing out of the tub and wrapped him in the softest fuzzy white towel my sister Den owned. Then she gently dried and massaged his little body. He was a tiny Peophin, unlike any she'd ever seen before. She placed him in an autumn harvest basket filled with fluffy pink pillows. Healing Spirit warmed some milk and put a few drops on her fingers. Then she placed her fingers against the baby's mouth. The little one opened his red eyes and began to lick off the milk. She dipped her fingers in the milk again and again. She left him a moment to warm up a tiny bit of strawberries and cream baby food. He ate a spoonful gratefully and then fell asleep. Healing Spirit held her little bundle against her warm chest all night long and rocked him back and forth. She watched each of his little hooves move in his sleep and kissed the green and red jeweled markings on his little face. It was like kissing a warm breeze. Sometime in the early morning she fell asleep. When she awakened, a ghostly little Peophin was hovering above her. He landed on her chest, nestled his nose against her warm neck, and murmured, "Mommy, don't throw me away."
Ma paused in her storytelling. All four of her little Neopets had wrapped themselves around her. There was no end to their love for her or hers for them. She gave them all kisses and cheerfully accepted theirs and promised to continue the tale of Peopeo447 the next evening.
At precisely eight p.m. the following night when her young ones were tucked into their warm beds and silent with anticipation, their owner reached into the large pocket of her apron and withdrew a small blue waterproof notepad. "This is Peopeo's first journal. My sister, Healing Spirit, thought we might like to borrow it for a little while."
Ma handed the turquoise water Faerie notepad gently to Ruach. "I'm entrusting this to you, darling. You're the eldest. Read a little each night to your brother and sisters, and put the journal away in a safe place before you fall asleep."
Ruach carefully opened the journal and began to read...
1st day in the month of Swimming
My name is Peopeo447 and today is the beginning of my first adventure. I died the day I was created, but that hasn't stopped me from leading a wonderful life. Healing Spirit, the best owner-mom any Neopet could ever dream of having, explained it to me this way: My first owner abandoned me before I was even a day old so I couldn't grow and thrive; that's why I have no height or weight. It's OK, though. No Height, No Weight, No Problem!
Neopia is awesome. It has the most amazing caves and coves, caverns and tunnels, passageways & corridors, and all sorts of secret places just begging to be explored. There are ice caves in the deep underground of Terror Mountain and caves and corridors on Mystery Island. Pirates dug secret caves on Krawk Island. Can you imagine the Faerie Caves of Faerieland, or the caves and craters on Kreludor? I want to explore them all!
You'd never guess where I am right now. My owner will be furious. She let me go to Cap'n Threelegs for training this morning. She warned me not to go anywhere but the Swashbuckler Academy and come straight home when classes let out. She thinks Krawk Island is a dangerous place and I guess it is, but being a ghost and all, I think I can handle it. Anyway, after training I just had to explore Smugglers Cove. It's at the bottom of a steep cliff. I searched every inch of rock and sand outside and in, but I couldn't even find one measly dubloon. I stayed there so long a fat, angry Bruce pirate with a black patch over his left eye and a golden hook for his right wing forced me out.
Hidden away on the coast to the left of Smugglers Cove and to the right of the Dubloon-O-Matic is a dank cave covered in a sickly green fungus. I stumbled on it by accident. Rumor is that something magical might happen here if the time is right. A short Neopian eagerly located the cave while I was inside. He opened a few buttons of his fancy red frock coat and gently withdrew a spotlessly white handkerchief from against his chest. Inside was something small and light green with big blue eyes and a beige tummy. I think it was his Petpet, but he treated it like it was his long lost child. He even talked to it. He tried to feed it a fungus ball, but the little creature groaned, "Yuck, I'm not eating one of those!"
The Neopian started to yell and swear. "I never heard of such a thing!" he shouted. "After all the Neopoints I spent on you, you worthless, miserable...!" Finally the angry owner sat down on the wet earth and sobbed. When he noticed I was watching, he said I tried to turn his Krawk against him and called me terrible things. He swore he'd get that golden-hooked pirate to separate my head from my body, but the Neopian never returned and the pirate never came.
It's dark outside now. I've nestled myself on a fungus-covered shelf. My head is out of water and my tail is swishing lazily in the gentle waves flowing in and out of the cave. I'm writing this by the light of Kreludor, Neopia's wonderous moon, shining in through a fissure in the top of the cave. If you peered into the cave, you'd see the barest hush of my silvery green-blue body. The shimmering golden marking that runs down my face and the red and green jewel designs on my forehead would let you presume that a Peophin had taken up residence in this Fungus Cave. My deep red eyes, however, would send a shiver across your shoulders and a sense of dread would fill your very soul.
Not really! You'd just assume that some fortunate Peophin had an owner wealthy enough to take him to the rainbow fountain and paint him "ghost." If you looked more closely, though, you'd see that my notepad page is filling up, but my hoof is barely gliding my water Faerie pencil. You'd either flee in fright or stay in awe. It's taken me years of practice to perfect this skill, one of many I've worked on my whole young "life" so that I can survive in the world of Neopia.
My owner believes that I'm unlike any other ghost anywhere. Although I have no substance really and am kind of ethereal, Mom says she feels the softest heartbeat when she hugs me. When she closes her eyes and pets me, she has the imperceptible feeling that I'm there and I, although I don't know how, feel her touch and it brings me immense joy. When I play-fight with my brother and sisters, they say it's like I'm tickling them. I've never wanted to hurt anyone or anything so I really don't know what would happen if I tried.
This is the first day of my quest for adventure. No Height, No Weight, No Problem ... That's my motto from now on. I am invincible!
Actually, it's my first day away from my family and they won't know what happened to me and this Fungus Cave reeks, but I'm not going to allow myself to be homesick. Real ghosts don't cry real tears.
2nd day in the month of Swimming
The sun is rising due east of me and it's HUGE and rose-colored. There's lots of water seeping in both entrances to the cave. It took me a long time to fall asleep last night so I spent some time reclining under a palm tree on top of the cave. The sky was filled with more stars than I've ever noticed before. From here, I could see lights on Mystery and, way in the distance, on Maraqua too. I discovered that if I drew a line from Krawk Island to Mystery Island to Maraqua and back, I'd get a triangle. There's something in the center of that triangle. I can sense it with my magical Peophin powers. It may not be on a map of Neopia, but it's there. I'm going to set out on my first great adventure and discover it!
4th day in the month of Swimming
I'm floating above the calm waters of Neopia as I write this. I came upon a school of fat, brown Breadfish today so I'm not the least bit hungry. Yesterday I ate enough Butterfish to turn myself yellow. I wonder what fish-flavoured ice cream tastes like? I've been swimming and floating for days, but I haven't had any adventures yet. I met a really friendly Flotsam heading for her home on Mystery Island this morning and swam with her for a few hours. She's never heard of anything in a "triangle," but did hear stories of pirates and poachers using caves and tunnels around Neopia to move and conceal their ill-gotten treasure. It was nice to have company for a while. I never thought that adventuring would be so lonely. One thing I did discover, however, is that I can sleep floating in the air.
7th day in the month of Swimming
It is with heavy heart that I make this entry by the light of the moon and myriad stars. I'm glad my water Faerie backpack, notepad, and pencil are all waterproof because it's been raining for the last two days. I am bobbing here in the water in what I believe is dead center in the triangle made by Krawk Island, Mystery Island, and Maraqua. My Peophin senses are tingling, but I don't see anything of interest! I think I'll just head home to Maraqua and toss myself into the Whirlpool; maybe it will push me out to sea to someplace special.
Wait! I think I see lights...
10th day in the month of Swimming
A few nights ago I saw lights far off in the distance. At first I thought it was a reflection of the stars on the water, but the lights grew brighter and brighter. They seemed to head toward me, but then they abruptly turned away from the triangle center and traveled toward Mystery Island. The lights turned out to be flaming torch lamps fastened to the sides of a small wooden skiff. Krawk Island ship lamps shone brightly both fore and aft. I floated high above the boat for more than a day watching what appeared to be three Poogle sailors on a mission, but they never noticed me. When they reached Mystery Island, they sailed past the Island Market and the Trading Post and made a wide circle around the Island Mystic as though they were afraid to encounter him. Finally they moored their skiff on some craggy rocks about 10 feet off the northern shore of the Lost City of Geraptiku. A lost city in ruins... buried treasure... dangerous monsters... skulls bleached by the sun. I love this stuff!
Two of the Poogles swam with their heads above water forcefully kicking their feet until they reached the sand. Each wore a dirty explorer backpack crammed full with what I couldn't tell. The third Poogle stayed to guard their boat. They'd obviously been here before because they ran straight to a hidden pathway and followed it through high moss-covered boulders and dense jungle. With maractite throwing nets in hand and poison tipped daggers in the waistbands of their trousers, they confidently waded through Crocalu infested waters. I've heard a Crocalu is small, but can still hobble you with its vicious bite. They silently and rapidly made their way past a small stone tower, several thatched huts, and a couple of piles of disembodied skulls. A pair of brightly colored Tuceets watched them unconcerned from the thick cover of a skullberry tree. Cautiously, the Poogles approached what looked to be a temple or a tomb, spun around to see that they hadn't been followed, and disappeared through a doorway at the top of a stone stairway. When they emerged, their packs appeared to be empty. I sat in one of the abandoned thatched huts and watched them make half a dozen trips to their boat and back. The armpits, back, and neckline of their torn T-shirts were discolored with sweat and you could tell that the Poogles were bone tired, but they never once sat down to rest. Each time they arrived with full packs and left with empty ones. By midday, they headed back to their boat and sailed west toward Krawk Island.
I floated around the stone structure and sat atop it. It began to pour. From my vantage point I could see a thirsty Mimbi sipping fresh rainwater collecting in the hollow of a large palm frond that had fallen from a tree. In a few moments, the rain stopped and the air became uncomfortably humid and heavy. I approached the structure's stone door. It was intricately carved and covered with vines. Ever so slowly the door began to slide up from the ground. I'd heard tales of treasure buried inside a tomb on Mystery Island. This must be the tomb. My heart told me to explore every inch of it, find the gold and jewels, and make Mama the richest owner in Neopia; my head, however, questioned why someone would bring valuables TO the tomb and leave empty handed.
Well, I explored every chamber of that tomb and had an awesome time doing it. It was dark and dank inside, but it was cool. It reminded me a little of the Fungus Cave on Krawk Island. I give the architects who designed it a lot of credit. Whoever had been buried here must have either been revered by the city's inhabitants or immensely feared by them; their remains have been superbly protected.
Monsters guarded secret rooms. One appeared to be a ghostly Dragon or Island Hissi or something. His eyes burned red, like mine, but he had a mouth full of sharp fangs, extraordinarily large wings, and a skullcap adorned with red, orange, and brown feathers. We both came upon each other all at once, ghost to ghost. I let out a fierce roar. He laughed. I think we're friends now, but I wouldn't turn my back on him.
There were lots of deadly traps too. Spears were pointed at the heart of anyone who dared enter one special chamber. Just the sight of the spears must have kept treasure seekers away. The Poogles must have known the mechanism controlling the spears was faulty because nothing happened to them when they entered the room. I followed their footsteps to a stone passageway leading to and from the chamber. They went into a passageway beyond the spear chamber. When they left, I saw their priceless treasure. There were at least a hundred filthy glass jars and inside each was a trapped Faerie. The Faeries looked like wilted flowers. In the lid of each jar were a few crudely made air holes, but there was no food or drinking water. Summonsing all my concentration, I focused on opening one of the jars. Turn, lid, turn. I can do it. I can make the lid open. I'd never opened a jar at home, but then I'd never had to. Turn, lid. Turn, you miserable tightly-twisted piece of metal. Turn. Turn. Don't tell me ghosts can't cry. I made my way out of the Faeries' prison with tears running down my Peophin cheeks. Then I went back and tried again and again.
I'd seen my owner run hot water over the lid of a jar. Sometimes she had to do it more than once before she could turn the lid, but it always seemed to work. I flew out of the tomb as fast as I could. Red Geraptiku vases can carry water and there were at least a dozen of them in the hut where I'd been hiding from the Poogles. Some of the vases were cracked, but I salvaged at least 4 or 5. I thought I had a workable plan: I'd fill the vases with water from the sea and leave them out in the jungle sun to get hot. Unfortunately, it was almost dusk and the water in the vases didn't get as hot as I'd hoped it would. I didn't want the Faeries to spend another night trapped and terrified. I needed to come up with a workable plan and fast.
This is what I thought up: I'd carry (levitate actually) two of the large red vases filled with sea water into the air and float them over Techo Mountain, the beautiful and deadly Mystery Island volcano. The water would be hot enough to open any jar lid.
I kept my hooves crossed that the water inside the vases would heat up quickly and not shatter as I floated them over the bubbling lava that glowed orange in the darkness. Then I floated the scalding hot vases back to the tomb, up the stairs, and into the passageway through the spear chamber making sure no Poogle was there to see me. I didn't have to worry. They didn't return. Now the hard part started. Gently I levitated one of the jars off the floor and positioned it inside the vase so that the lid would get hot, but the Faerie inside wouldn't. All the while I had to make sure that hot water wouldn't seep through the air holes. The impossibility factor was enormous.
Sometimes I surprise myself. Once the lid was hot, I focused all my attention on it. Slowly I began to turn it counterclockwise without actually touching it. As soon as it fell off, out flew a magnificent creature.
"I am a Water Faerie," she exclaimed. "Thank you for rescuing me. I grant you the Ability Heal. When you fight in the Battledome, you will be able to cure some of the damage your opponent inflicts upon you."
I led her to the tomb's exit and watched as she flew out the door. Then she circled back to me. "Save my sisters," she implored, then turned and flew away the direction I suppose was Faerieland.
One by one, with the magic of hot water and ghostly Peophin energy, I was able to open each of the jars and free the helpless beings inside. Some were so weak they could barely fly, but all mustered the strength to fly away in the end. Water Faeries blessed me with the Abilities Bubble Shield, Water Jet, and Quench to use against my enemies. I could hide beneath the bubble, squirt water, and neutralize fire creatures I guessed. Air Faeries bestowed the Abilities Spark, Air Shield, Haste, and Thunder Tail. I'd be able to zap an enemy with electricity or wind or bop 'em with my tail or amaze them with my mighty speed. The Earth Faeries granted me Magic Pebbles & Berries, Tough Skin, and the Ability to Burrow. Would tough skin make me look more alive? Fire Faeries presented me the options of Smoke Screen, Fiery Roar & Gaze, and Fireball so if I don't scare my opponents with loud noises or hypnotic stares, I can zap 'um with fireballs (cool!) or disappear. I didn't much like the Dark Faeries, but they bestowed upon me Night Vision, Nighttime, Temporal Leak, and Shroud. I could fight at night, darken a light area, slow down my enemy, or make myself 99% invisible. Don't Dark Faeries realize I'm practically invisible already? Light Faeries blessed me with Magic Touch, Flash, Bless, and Sun Ray. If I were in the Battledome, I could light dark spaces, blind my enemies, heal faster, and maybe even defeat evil. I liked the idea of that sun ray one a lot. Some Faeries didn't give me any Abilities, but what I did receive was their undying gratitude and a whole lot of kisses on my cheeks and nose.
Too bad my owner swore that her Neopets would never ("I SAID NEVER AND I MEAN NEVER") allow us to go anywhere near the Battledome. I didn't see the point in my fighting anyway. How could it be a fair fight? Besides, I didn't have any enemies or want to make any and poachers and thieves don't fight in the Battledome, do they?
After I'd accompanied each Faerie out of the tomb and watched each fly off to freedom, I went back to the passageway beyond the spear chamber one last time and stared at the red Geraptiku vases for a long time. That's when I saw it... a frightening little green demon with the face of a dead thing and claws for nails. We watched each other for a long time. It had black circles around its large yellow eyes and a large white head with red markings. Its thin black mouth looked as though it had been created with needle and thread. Finally he motioned to me to come and I followed him out of the passageway into a totally dark room. All I could see were many pairs of eyes shining in the darkness. The demon said two words, "Chuchuana" and "Follow."
A moment later, it led me into a room lit by torches. In a corner were two more jars. One was shattered; its Faerie occupant had never had a chance to fly home. The other was covered with dust and cobwebs. I opened its lid the way I'd done so many times before even though the water was no longer hot. This time, the Faerie inside didn't fly out. My heart-light flickered and I felt a sadness I never thought possible. Looking inside I saw a tiny creature curled into a tight ball. I called to her, but she didn't stir. I removed the crimson desperado scarf from round my neck and ever so gently lay the dead Faerie in its center. Then I tilted the remaining jar so that the little being inside could fall next to her unfortunate sister. My scarf is silky and soft; I thought it would make a fitting shroud. I planned to bury the two little Faeries together in it.
When the wee Faerie's body touched the scarf, she moaned and opened her eyes.
The tiny Faerie was grey in color. Her only wing was bent and torn. She was dying of hunger and thirst.
"Food, water, me, fast," I heard the demon say as he scurried from the chamber.
In what seemed to be hours but was in reality only a few minutes, the demon returned with a carved out piece of bone filled with water and a molabean. He deftly opened the molabean's tough brown pod, extracted some tiny fruits, and pressed them with his claws to extract juice.
I dipped my fingers into the water and dripped it against the Faerie's lips. Slowly her tiny mouth opened and her wee grey tongue caught a few drops. I repeated this over and over with water and with juice. It was the way my owner gave me sustenance when I lay dying.
I had to get the Faerie home, home meaning my home, where my owner would heal and care for her. We'd worry about getting her to her home once she was well.
The terror I saw in her eyes when I magically lifted her up and placed her in my backpack tore into whatever soul I might still have.
"Please don't worry," I whispered. "You're not my prisoner. I'm taking you to where you'll be safe. Hang on. Don't die. Please don't die. Please don't die. Please, please don't die. We'll be home soon."
I glanced over at the demon who was watching the whole time. "My name is Peopeo447. I'm a ghost Peophin. Because of you, this tiny Faerie might live. Thank you."
The demon touched his hand to his chest. "I Zak. I not demon. I Lizark. Not scary. Not brave. Friend."
"Thank you, Zak," I said again and floated off with the greatest treasure I could have ever found.
Ruach took a deep breath and closed Peopeo447's journal.
"Five more minutes, PLEEZE," begged Jewels. "Just read a little more." The others nodded in assent, but their big sister was adamant.
"Shhhhsh! I read too much tonight," whispered Ruach. "It's way past our bedtimes and Ma might take Peo's journal away from me. Close your eyes. Both eyes, Splash! I'm going to find a safe place to hide it." Ruach waited several minutes before reaching down and placing the precious book under the mattress of her sunset coral bed. By the time she was finished, the others were approaching the realm of Faeries, Lizarks, and adventures.
To be continued...