Pen Gets a Petpet
Today was the day.
It took months of begging and double chores, but the day had finally come. Penito leapt out of bed and knotted his lucky bandana around his neck, then buckled on the heavy leather belt and wooden sword Taiseus had made him on his sixth birthday last year (an adventurer never goes anywhere without a trusty blade). He skipped brushing his teeth and ran straight into the kitchen, where Tai and Syd were eating breakfast.
"I'mreadycomeonlet'sgo," he said excitedly while tugging on Syd's pant leg.
"Slow down, lad, and eat some breakfast." Tai chuckled. He scooped up the young Lupe easily with one claw and deposited him onto a chair. "Now what's the rush?"
"Penito is getting his first petpet today," Syd mumbled around a mouthful of toast and eggs. "Breakfast first, buddy, then we'll head out." She got up and went to make Pen a plate.
Tai smiled over at Pen, who was practically vibrating with impatience. "Your first petpet, eh? What kind would ye like?"
"Something awesome. Adventurers gotta have cool looking petpets so they can scare off all the bad guys," Pen answered. Syd plopped a plate full of eggs and hash browns in front of the little Lupe, who began shoveling great forkfuls of food into his mouth.
"Slow down, kid, you'll choke," she warned, then sat down. "We have to stop by the shop first, Kiro wants to tag along." Pen merely nodded, too busy trying to clear his plate to talk. Once it was clean, he all but threw it into the sink and dragged Syd out the door.
The Altadorian market was bustling with sailors on leave and shopkeepers hawking their wares. Pen held on to Syd's hand in the crush of people and neopets, his excitement growing every second. This was his first big responsibility, a sign that he was a big kid now, and he couldn't wait to meet his new best friend.
They stopped by a modest shop that sat near the docks. A wooden sign hung on the door that read "Kiro's Curios", with a grinning Anubis carved beneath the letters. A lanky black Lupe wearing only a golden wrap with thick cuffs on each arm and a heavy scarab medallion came out, blinking from the sudden light.
"Ugh, remind me to never order durians again, they smell like feet. Well, it's Ashim's problem now," he said, then swung Pen onto his shoulders. "So, my young friend, ready to go?"
"Only since this morning!" Pen said eagerly. The trio plunged back into the crowd and slowly made their way towards a cluster of tents near the harbor. These stands were often stocked with the cargo passing ships sold off, and they were the perfect place to find a variety of petpets.
They heard the stall before they found it. Squawks, growling, and other odd noises filled the air as they came closer. Pen clambered off Kiro's shoulders and ran into the large tent next to the stand while a burly man with a thick red mustache and scarred arms stepped out from behind the counter and shook hands with Syd and Kiro, introducing himself as the owner.
While the adults talked, Pen ran from cage to cage, looking for his perfect petpet. He peered into a pen that had three Jumas napping in it, but none of them looked fierce enough.
"These are cute," Syd said as she scratched an angelpuss under the chin. "How about one of these little guys?"
"They're too girly," Pen said as he examined an alabriss. "I need something cool."
Pen began to worry as he made his way to the back of the tent. There were a lot of neat petpets here, but none of them were perfect. When he reached the last few cages, he noticed one cage was slightly different than the others. This one had thick bars on the front, and a heavy padlock kept it shut. Curious, he walked over to the box and put his face near the bars to see inside.
"I wouldn't do that boy. That thing is a bit feisty."
Pen swung around to see the big shopkeeper standing there with his arms crossed.
"Why, what is it?" Pen asked.
"Don't really know," the shopkeeper said as he scratched his chin. "The Aisha who sold it to me was a Meridellian trader, and awfully happy to be rid of the thing. It chewed through three cages before I stuck it in that reinforced box."
Pen turned back to the cage and looked in, careful to keep his face away from the bars. Inside was a scaly, four legged creature. Its eyes were a few shades lighter than its orange body, and its grin almost touched the stubby horns on its head. The thing was happily tearing a red ball to shreds with its shark-like teeth.
"Gah, what is that?"
Kiro and Syd had joined the other two at the box, and were craning to get a good look at the creature.
"I think it's a Farnswap," Syd said as she peered into the box. "Hinjo and Bucky ran into a pack of these things in the Haunted Woods once. Told me they ate their entire camp, tent and all."
"Can I see him?" Pen asked. Syd and the shopkeeper looked uneasily at each other.
"Well, he's just been fed, so it should be alright," the shop keeper said. "But I'll get him out for you." He pulled on a pair of thick leather gloves, then dug a keyring out of his pocket and unlocked the cage. He carefully stuck his hands in and pulled out the squirming petpet, then put it on the floor. For a moment it just stood there grinning at them, then it ambled towards an empty cage and tore a chunk out of the door.
"Cool!" Pen said with a grin.
"Sweet Fyora!" Kiro and Syd gasped.
"Not another one!" the shopkeeper moaned.
Pen walked over to the farnswap and sat down on the floor next to it. "You're not like all the other petpets in here," the little Lupe said. "How would you like to come home with me? We can go on some awesome adventures, and there will be loads of things for you to eat!"
The petpet somehow swallowed without losing its grin, then stared at the young Lupe curiously. Kiro became worried that the thing was sizing up Pen for his next meal, but before he could pluck Pen off the ground, the farnswap put its two front paws onto the Lupe's shoulders and began to lick his face.
"Can we get this one, Syd?" Pen asked between giggles.
"Of course he wants the one that chews through metal," Kiro muttered, but no one paid him any mind.
"Are you sure you want that one, Pen?" Syd asked skeptically. "There's a lot of other nice petpets here."
"This one is the best. I can tell," Pen said as he clung to the Farnswap's neck.
The shopkeeper was more than happy to give them a deal, and was almost pushing them out the door. "It's your problem now," he said with a wave. Pen pulled out a blue bandana from a small pouch on his belt and tied it around the farnswap's neck.
"This is for you. I think I'm going to call you Fang since you have so many sharp teeth." Fang's grin grew even wider, and he wagged his tail energetically. "You and me are gonna be best friends, Fang, and wait till you meet everybody else!"
"Are you sure this is a good idea?" Kiro asked as they followed behind..
"Not really, but he's just so happy." Syd sighed.
"Well, here's to hoping that thing doesn't eat the house," Kiro muttered, then grinned. "I have to head back to the shop to make sure Ashim didn't muck things up. You get to tell Tai." He waved then took off towards town. Syd stopped in the middle of the path and groaned.
"Oh man, Tai's going to kill me."
Pen hadn't noticed Syd had stopped and kept walking, telling Fang all of the adventures they were going to have together, his grin as big as the Farnswap's.