The Quest!: Part One
Somewhere near the Altadorian docks, two neopets were lying down on the shore observing the color-changing sky as night approached.
"Ah, don't you just love watching the stars show up slowly as the sky darkens?" Lunia asked, while gazing at a few stars on the highest part of the observable sky.
"You could barely see the stars back there at Neopia Central. That place never sleeps. There's too much city light, so the night sky is completely obfuscated..." Jex said.
"Well, that's a pity. Not being able to enjoy this Kreludan sight with such a starry background must be really sad!"
Lunia and Jex were best friends since their child years. Jex moved to Altador when he was only a little Shoyru, but he remembered clearly the day he met Lunia, a shy Acara that used to spend her days alone reading her booktastic book collection while listening to Jazzmosis, that is, only until she met Jex and made a friend. The two of them used to explore Altador together and even made a map revealing every single secret spots they could find. Years passed, Lunia currently works on the Altadorian Archives as an intern, organizing books, while Jex is a volunteer petpet caretaker.
"Well, nothing's ever too sad when you live near a chocolate factory." Jex said, smiling with the fond memories that invaded his mind.
"Look! See those six stars? It's The Sleeper constellation, a pair of eyes! Very easy to spot." Lunia exclaimed, as she pointed to the now visible group of stars.
It was the last week of the Month of Collecting. Kreludor shone full on the sky, and the atmosphere was warm and cozy. A gentle, sweet breeze drifted through Altador, coming from the sea. That night, Lunia and Jex were resting and enjoying the low soothing sound of the waves hitting the rocks. Small fishing vessels were attached to the docks nearby, some Flotsams were swimming on the proximities and Pteri families were flying home. Only a couple clouds could be seen near the horizon.
"I've never been that into astronomy, it's... complicated. The night sky is to me, nothing more than a dark background garnished with sparkling dots. It's surely a beautiful thing to watch, but I don't have the imagination to see constellations," the Shoyru said.
"Well, let me help you! Stargazing has always been such a hobby for me anyways," she said, while grabbing Jex's hand and directing it to point to the eyes of the Darkest Faerie. "See?"
"Oh... that's it? Those lines? Pft, that looks nothing like eyes. I never understood why people make such a big deal out of this specific constellation."
"Arrg, you really are helpless! What's the purpose if you don't want to see it, anyway?"
By that time, the sky was already pitch black, and every cloud had disappeared.
"It's so quiet in here I can almost hear the flotsam's thoughts..." Jex said.
"That, my fair fellow, is our Altador off Cup season. Love it or leave it!"
"Yeah, this place does get kind of abandoned around this time of year. Foreigners rarely stop by," he said.
"Well, I do prefer this quietness over all the Cup fuzz, though. I mean, it's too much noise. It almost sounds like people compete over who cheers louder!"
"Well, the Cup is our greatest attraction. Altador holds it, no other place. It's something ours. Though sometimes I wish I lived somewhere like Roo Island, where everyone has fun all the time."
"Our city is fun too! I mean, it might not be that colorful, or display a game attraction at every corner, but hey, we have great history! King Altador's my hero and role model!" Lunia said, smiling.
"Well, it's getting pretty late. I have to get back to the shop. Someone's got to clean up the petpet mess. Those Alabriss await me..." he said while prompting up.
"You're right, you should go. I'm going home to bake some pie, I promised Finneus I'd let him have a slice tomorrow. It's his birthday, and the poor thing stays all day inside that moldy room."
The two neopets said goodbye and followed their own paths. Lunia followed the short rock route that led to the village, where hundreds of fisher families reside.
As the sun rose the following morning, Lunia woke up to start working on her daily chores. She was washing the overnight dirty dishes when she remembered it'd been ages since she'd watered her plants for the last time. Lunia grabbed her favorite watering can and put in under the kitchen's sink to fill it. While humming, she headed to her backyard to water her thirsty flowers, and the second she finished watering a whole bush and turned around to go to the other side, her eyes got wider and she dropped the watering can on the grass in shock. With her hands covering her mouth, she muttered: "Holy Ghostkerchief..."
Almost an hour later, Jex, who was just waking up, was surprised by a visit.
"Who could it be at this time of morning..." he began to ask as he opened the door while rubbing his eyes.
"Jex! Guess what just happened! You'll never believe it!!!"
Lunia went through Jex's entrance door as soon as he opened it, and stood still right in the middle of his living room.
"Lunia? What are you doing here? It's 6 AM!" Jex cried in anger, surprised by his friend's untimely visit.
"Well, come on, just guess!" Lunia said, with a rather excited voice tone, while ignoring Jex's disapproval of her sudden appearance.
"What? Sorry, I have no idea!" he said and proceeded to walk over to his couch, where he sat and waited patiently for what he knew would be one more of his friend's dramatic breakdowns.
"I was just watering my flowers on the backyard and when I turned around, there she was!"
"She? She who?"
"Naia, the Fountain Faerie! She sent me on a quest! I'm so excited!"
The Shoyru's eyes widened a little. "What, really?! And what is it that she wants?"
"A plushie, I think. Wait, I know I wrote it down somewhere..." she proceeded to search on her pants' pockets. "Here it is! It's my one and only task to find..." she stopped as she opened the folded piece of paper. "... a Desert Usul Plushie!"
"What, a plushie? And where are you going to find that?"
"At the Neopia Central, of course! There are thousands of stores there! You know better, you've lived there! I'm sure I'll find it. No faerie has ever charged me of anything before, I'm feeling incredibly important!" Lunia said, sighing.
"You're out of your mind! The Neopia Central is too far from here; you'd have to travel for days!"
"So? I'm not refusing a quest this big. Oh, goodness, I could be painted Maraquan, with some luck!"
"Err, I don't really think you'd end up looking any better than now, Lunia. And I don't think luck is the word you're looking for."
"Well, that's something I can ponder on the way there, besides, I can't let that faerie down! She said she really needed that plushie. You know how faerie's business is. She might be working on something that will maybe bring an end to the Lutari Island storm, decrease inflation or even arrest the Pant Devil forever! C'mon, that faerie traveled all the way through Faerieland to Altador just to entrust me with this task! I have to help her!"
"Can't those lazy faeries look for whatever they need themselves?" Jex asked.
"Arrg, do you always have to be such a party pooper, Jex? Live a little! Everyone knows faeries are busy creatures, and besides, we don't work for them for free, neither do we do it obliged. It's my choice!" Lunia said while crossing her arms in a determined pose.
"Are you really considering this?"
The Acara pointed to the doorway, where she had placed a backpack and a suitcase.
"Whoa, you're serious, aren't you?"
"I think the possible obtainable benefits of this situation would completely outweigh the troubles. Well, sure, the trip may be exhausting, but think about all the places we are going to meet and how beautiful I will look when I'm painted Maraquan!" she said, sounding extremely serious.
"Wait, WE are going to meet?" Jex asked, interrupting Lunia.
"You're coming with me, silly!"
Jex didn't know what scared him the most, the thought of leaving Altador's safety or having to deal with his friend painted as a sea monster. He figured, probably the second option. Three hours passed and Jex was then, filling a suitcase. "Oh, the things we do for our friends..." he thought to himself.
"Have you finished packing yet?" Lunia asked impatiently.
"I'm almost there. Do you think I should take my gloves?" he asked.
"We're not going to the Terror Mountain! Take only what's necessary with you, unless you want to carry heavy luggage around."
"Ok, I just wanted to be certain! Hey, how many neopoints are you taking with you?" he asked while trying to close the overfilled suitcase by jumping on it vigorously.
"Enough, I guess. I broke my Snorkly bank and put all the NP inside some bags in there," she said as she pointed to her backpack.
"Well, I guess that'd be all. We're ready. Shall we leave then?" Jex asked, by the time he had finally managed to close the suitcase.
Before leaving, Lunia headed to the Altadorian Archives where she congratulated the Lenny for his birthday and handed him a slice of cherry pie while carefully informing him she would have to have a break from her job experience for superior reasons. Jex left the Legendary petpet's store in the hands of its owner.
"It's only temporary! I promise I'll be back for the Alabriss!" he said, trying to hide a couple of tears escaping his eyes.
Lunia pulled Jex by his arm through the store's exit.
"I'll be back for you soon!!!" he shouted, while clinging to the door's edges.
The two neopets headed to the city's nearest exit, guiding themselves easily through Altador's confusing streets thanks to their expertise on the place. A couple minutes later, Lunia and Jex were already deep in the outsides and Altador was a mere speck on the distant horizon.
"Well, I guess I may actually like that city more than I ever admitted to myself..." Jex sighed, as he enjoyed the last sight of a distant, fading Altador while smiling discreetly.
"How long do you think will take until we reach another city?" Lunia asked a couple minutes after Altador could no longer be seen at the horizon behind them.
"Well, let me see..." Jex searched his pocket for the folded Neopian map he had bought. "Hm, we should arrive at the Lost Desert next."
"But when, exactly?" Lunia asked impatiently.
"I suppose, when it starts becoming hotter?"
"Your sense of humor is making me sick already. I probably shouldn't have brought you along," Lunia said while shaking her head in a regretful manner.
"Now you're going to have to put up with me until we return! Geesh, I can't believe this! We're really going on an adventure. I hope we don't end up getting kidnapped or miserably poor on the way. Lunia, I hope you have it all planned out, you loony Acara!"
And just like that, the two travelers got farther and farther away from Altador.
To be continued...