Maemo and Vrai’s Negg Hunt
"Thank you so much for agreeing to take Meephog to the negg hunt!" A baby Moehog flew through the air, tracing a trajectory from the arms of its striped Xweetok mother into the ready paws of a smiling silver Kougra. "I couldn't do it myself this year. The last time we went, her siblings whined the entire time, and, well..." the Xweetok grimaced and gestured towards the baby Blumaroo, Acara, and Shoyru behind her (they were climbing atop one another to form a wobbling tower of babies); "there was just no convincing them this time."
"No problem," Maemocala responded with a happy lilt, "Vrai and I were dying for a reason to go ourselves!" She fussed happily with Meephog's soft, pastel ears as she spoke.
Her petpet, a Baby Vampire, glanced up at the mention of his name. Anyone who saw him would have sworn that his expression had changed into a sardonic grimace at his master's assertion. Fortunately, no one was paying attention.
The sound of soft thudding and thwacking noises emanated from the living room, causing the Xweetok to turn around in distress. Her babies had fallen from their tower and were beginning to engage in a pillow fight with the smaller couch cushions. "Off with you then!" the Xweetok called back to Maemocala with fluttering hands and a distressed leap toward her wards. "We're quite busy here, and you've a walk ahead of you!"
"Alright, Mrs. Meep," Maemo shouted back. "We'll be back by sundown! Don't worry about a thing." The door slammed shut in front of Maemo's still-open mouth. The Kougra looked down to see her petpet leaning against the door in mock-terror, his hands splayed beside him as he mimed holding the door closed in great duress. She looked at him quizzically before saying, "Was it really that bad?"
"Yes," Vraiment replied, collecting himself into his normal, erect, straight-faced posture. "Yes, it most certainly was." He climbed quickly and gracefully onto his master's shoulder, the better to gaze down at the charge within her arms. "Let us hope that this little thing," at this he pointed at Meephog, "is not nearly as troublesome as its mischievous siblings."
"Oh, I'm sure she'll be a darling." She leaned into her little bundle, tickling its tummy until it giggled and snorted in high-pitched delight. "Won't you? Won't you?" she cooed in baby-talking tones.
Vraiment crawled off of his master in disgust, brushing the wrinkles from his black cloak while shaking his head. "I may not survive this ordeal," he muttered to himself.
A ring of brightly-painted stalls surrounded the edges of the clearing when Maemo, Vrai, and Meephog arrived at their destination. Flower-wreathed banners proclaimed the sale and loan of everything from hot dogs to toys. Gaming stalls were set up here and there, with loud-voiced neopets trying to convince negg-hunters to take a break and try their luck. Immediately beside the entry banner stood the most important stall: Kari, the negg faerie's stand.
Maemo hopped to the stall while Vraiment skulked along behind her. Gently, she placed Meephog on the grass beside her when she arrived. "We're here!" she announced excitedly to the welcoming faerie. She deflated a bit before asking her next question, "Um, now where do we go?"
Kari laughed gently before she spoke. "The path to the woods is right here, by my stall. Here," she said, handing them each a basket (Vrai declined his by holding up a hand and shaking his head in dismissal), "take these, you'll need them. Go on in and keep your eyes open. There are lots of neggs about, and you're welcome to as many as you can gather. Stick together in the woods, be careful, and most importantly," here the faerie paused to smile, "have fun."
Maemo raced by the faerie and her stall in her excitement, vanishing behind a clutch of quivering bushes in mere moments. Meephog toddled along behind, her hooves going clippity-clop on the freshly-mown grass. Vrai followed the swiftly separating pair, and cupped his hands around his fanged mouth. "Maemo, my master, it seems that you have forgotten something." He nudged the Moehog forward until a silver face peered back from the bushes.
"Oops," Maemo said, turning red, "really need to remember to keep an eye on her." She held out a paw and pushed Meephog to the front of their party. She followed anxiously, stealing glances at the piles of neggs in tree trunks and under bushes as she followed the baby neopet and helped her place neggs gingerly in her basket. Even the adorable giggles were not enough to persuade Maemocala that she wouldn't rather be running off and finding neggs of her own.
Vraiment took note of the tensed muscles and anxious expression on his master's face, and failed to prevent himself from commenting. "It seems that you, dear owner, have become almost as miserable as me on this little endeavor."
"I'm not miserable!" Maemo hissed, offended. "How could I be miserable?! Look around you, Vrai. This place is wonderful! All the colours, and the neggs and the happy neopets! Come on, follow me!" She pranced to a nearby bush and pulled out a negg she had spotted while following Meephog around the clearing. It was a Cackling Negg, smooth and black with bright, sinister red gashes for the eyes and mouth. "Come on, Vrai. Even you have to admit this negg is awesome, and if this negg is awesome, then the whole trip was worth it!"
Vraiment coughed and stood himself up proudly, "While I will refrain from commenting upon the poor quality of your inductive reasoning skills, I must admit that I am unimpressed with your bigoted and hurtful assumption that I, as a Baby Vampire, would simply like anything that looked remotely dark and creepy."
"You don't like it? Well, that's fine. I can throw it away if you don't want it!" Maemo pulled back her arm slowly for a long, well-aimed toss at the forest treetops. Just before she began to move her arm forward, Vraiment panicked and began a flurry of black, flapping cloaks as he scurried up his master's form and down her arm towards the Cackling Negg. He plucked it from her hand before gliding back to the ground.
"Bigoted and hurtful," he said as he slipped the negg into his cloak, "but unfortunately, completely correct."
Maemo giggled, pleased with her petpet. She patted him on the head through his batting hands before rising to look around the clearing. "Now where did Meephog go?" she murmured. "I'd hate to lose her again."
Vrai tugged on her tail a few nanoseconds later, "She appears to be on the opposite side of this little clearing," he said, pointing a dainty finger towards a light blue bottom and curly tail that were poking out from the top of a wobbling negg basket.
Maemo ran towards the Moehog with her petpet trailing slowly behind. She was inches away from the baby neopet when long, thin orange legs with talons grew from her pastel behind. They dropped to the ground as her body changed from its blue hues to a deep, forest green and sprouted feathers. She raised her head with her newly-elongated neck to show a half-chewed, tiny witch hat poking out from her freshly-formed beak. She gulped it down along with the last remnants of the Witchy Negg she had eaten and looked at her sitters. Vrai finished his slow walk and offered a comment upon his arrival.
"You've turned Meephog into a green Lenny. This is a failure far beyond anything I would have presumed possible."
Maemo, meanwhile, was staring at Meephog in horror. Her eyes were wide and her nose was twitching. She looked on the verge of tears.
Vraiment sighed and climbed to his master's shoulder. "I'm sorry, dear master. But it's not sundown yet. We have quite a few hours before her mother will be expecting us. Perhaps we can find some way to change her back into her former, disgustingly cute self."
Maemo nodded her head hard in response. "Yes, exactly! I know just what we need to do!"
Vraiment asked his question with some level of trepidation, "What is that, may I ask?"
"Get help!" Maemo responded, racing off with Vraiment still clinging to her shoulder-fur. Meephog, displaying a remarkable amount of newfound intelligence, toddled along behind on her awkward bird legs.
Maemo skidded to a stop in front of Kari's booth, breathing hard and fast from exertion. "Can you help us?" she gasped.
Kari looked at the trio in confusion. "What do you need help with, little Kougra?"
"Our friend, this Lenny, she used to be a baby Moehog! She ate a bad negg, and we have to change her back before taking her home! Could you please help us? Please?" Maemocala made her biggest, saddest eyes of supplication as she looked up at the green-clothed faerie.
Kari smiled awkwardly. "Well, I haven't run into this problem before, but we did bring the healing faerie along in case any Tonus came down with Neezles while they were here. Maybe you could ask her if she can do anything. She's at the well over there." Kari pointed to her right.
"We're on our way!" Maemo shouted as she sprinted towards the well.
Her arrival involved head-butting the stone well in her haste and Vraiment flying over her head and into the well's hanging bucket. He clung to the ropes in terror as the bucket swung back and forth wildly. After it settled, he glided down to his clumsy master. "Once again," he muttered, plucking his soaked cloak from his wet form in distaste, "I am the victim of your excessive exuberance."
But Maemo was already breathlessly accosting the healing faerie. "Can you help us, we—"
"No! Stop!" the healing faerie interrupted her with a flick of her hair and a lilt of her head. "I'm a healing faerie, I can figure out what's wrong and exactly how to cure it. Your problems will be solved in just a moment!" She rummaged in her bag of supplies and eventually giggled in delighted satisfaction. "I have just the thing!" Then she pulled a poison snowball from behind her back and presented it with a proud grin. "Ta-da!" she said, "isn't this exactly what you needed?"
Maemo's face fell. Vraiment grabbed the snowball, patted it in his hands, and eyed the healing faerie in an attempt to find the best location for his throw.
"No," Maemo said in exasperation. "Our friend, the Lenny," she gestured towards Meephog, wandering about the clearing behind them, "she should be a baby Moehog. Can you help us change her back?"
"Oh, well," the faerie replied, "I'm afraid that snowball was the best I could do, but that doesn't really seem like a health problem anyway." She flicked her hair. "Go see Kayla over in the potion shop. It's a little walk from here, just inside the castle walls."
This time Maemocala, Vraiment, and Meephog walked side-by-side out of the negg hunting grounds. They carried their baskets gingerly as the sun lowered from its afternoon height. If Kayla couldn't help, they'd have to walk Meephog home in the shape of a green Lenny and apologize profusely to her mother – not an appealing prospect.
The walk was a quiet one, with no member particularly full of hope or cheer. Even Meephog gazed in fascination at less passing objects than she had as a simple, carefree baby neopet. Finally, they arrived inside the castle walls and saw Kayla, an energetic red Zafara, mixing potions at her table.
"Can I help you?" she asked with a smile as the group approached.
"We hope so," Maemo said sadly. "This Lenny used to be a baby Moehog, and we need to turn her back before sunset tonight. Is that something you could do?"
"Honestly," the Zafara said, "pet transformations aren't my specialty, but I have been trying to diversify my stock lately. Hold on one moment." She ducked beneath her table. Sounds of rummaging and clinking bottles could be heard amidst mutters and shuffling from the Zafara. After a few moments, she arose holding two items: a Brown Moehog Morphing Potion and a Baby Paint Brush. "Now," Kayla said, "what do you have to trade?"
Maemo checked her pockets for neopoints, finding almost none. Then she checked for items. Some wearables, yes. A little food. And her humble, but treasured, battle set. She pulled a Hanso Charisma Charm and a Randomly Firing Freeze Ray from her pockets. "Would these be worth enough?" she asked hesitantly.
"Yes, indeed!" Kayla said happily, as she exchanged items with her customers. "Just remember – potion first, paint second."
"Sure, sure," Maemo said sadly.
"I assure you, things will be perfectly fine," Vraiment said, climbing onto Maemo's shoulder to hug her as they walked towards the Rainbow Pool, "After all, think about how absolutely delighted you'll be when Meephog is returned to her former, proper state."
Maemo smiled a little. "Yeah, and we should be able to save up enough neopoints to re-buy my battle set soon."
"That is absolutely, positively correct." Vrai said before giving her another hug and hopping to the ground. "Now, let's go and put this whole ghastly trip behind us."
The journey to the Rainbow Pool was every bit as uneventful as the trio would have hoped. They arrived just as the sun sunk below the horizon. Pale, cool light bled over Meephog as she was transformed into a brown Moehog before being painted at the pool. Maemocala carried her home in her arms, cooing and toying with her restored, adored form.
When they arrived back at Mrs. Meep's, the sun had fully set, and they rang the doorbell with mild trepidation.
"I'm sorry we're late!" Maemo stumbled as the door was opened, "We were having so much fun we just—"
"You're late?" Mrs. Meep said in a nervous rush, "Oh, it doesn't matter! I'm just glad you got Meephog home safe and sound!" She plucked her baby from Maemo's silver paws and set her on the floor inside the house. "Thank you again! You can babysit for me any time you like." She turned back to her house to mind her other children's pretend-swordfights with their dinner carrots, almost seeming to forget her guests had arrived at all.
"Well, that abysmal problem's been dealt with much more handily than I would have supposed," Vraiment said as he closed the house door and turned away.
"Abysmal problem?" Maemo asked. "I thought it was fun! Exciting! And we still have our neggs!" Her tail waved in happiness as she looked into the basket slung about her arm.
"Yes, we do," Vraiment replied grimly. He let himself fall behind his master, plucked the Cackling Negg from his cloak for one last, furtive moment of admiration, and slipped it back inside without his master noticing a thing.
"So Vrai," Maemo said with a glance over her shoulder, "want to do it again next year?"
He patted his cloak and rubbed his chin, thoughtful and calculating. "Perhaps," he replied. "Perhaps."