Friday: The Curse
Note: This short story was inspired by a certain petpet, can you figure out which one before you finish the tale?
Kelp is the most exclusive restaurant situated in the depths of Maraqua City. It is reserved solely for the elite who are willing to pay a premium for tasty, exotic meals. Due to its popularity and long waitlist of ravenous customers, only the Top 1% of Neopia are accepted. In fact, the restaurant prides itself in rejecting customers, which makes Neo-citizens want to eat there even more!
In this circumstance, it is not how much you have, but rather who you know in order to bypass the picky, snooty and condescending proprietor of the establishment. For those who are fortunate enough to eat at Kelp, it is a wonderful place to commemorate special celebrations, meetings, birthdays, and anniversaries.
Regarding the menu, one can understand why this restaurant is reserved solely for the crème de la crème of Neopia. For example, the cheapest appetizer, essentially the pre-meal mini teaser costs a whooping 13,000 Neopoints! That is astronomical in comparison to The Food Shop that sells an entire meal, like a BLT Sandwich with Cheese for a measly 1,160 Neopoints! One can imagine how many Neo-citizens have fainted simply by looking at their food bill.
It was another busy Friday night in the restaurant, with a crowd of hungry patrons waiting in the restaurant front for a table; some were sitting by the bar ordering one of their specialty Cornupepper Lemonades, others were impatiently waiting in the alcove and enviously vying for a coveted seat, and one individual even went as far as to bribe the Kelp Owner - obviously he was politely escorted out of the building.
One lucky patron was fortunate enough to have gotten a reservation, a rarity for Kelp, mostly thanks to her Neofriend who knows the owner. She was currently returning to her seat after visiting the lavatories to freshen up. Upon her arrival, she merely rolled her eyes at the scene in front of her - her petpet just so happened to be hugging the Kelp Waitress for a job well done.
Sighing to herself, as her petpet has a tendency to get a bit overly-attached to others, she went around the circular cloth table and dislodged the poor Kelp Waitress from her petpet's firm grasp. Apologizing for her petpet's behaviour, she ushered the server to continue on with her job.
She saw the Kelp Waitress release a sigh of relief and say, "I am sure that you will love the food here," while setting down an Ocean Platter and Fish Special. Pleased that the server didn't complain about her petpet, she thanked the waitress and ordered a Coral Cake for dessert.
Eyeing the dishes in front of her, she was pleased with her choice. The Ocean Platter is a delectable blend of Maraquan's exquisite delights, considered to be Kelp's most famous entree that costs a whooping 33,000 Neopoints. In addition, the Fish Special is an exotic blend of the freshest fish caught in the morning, accompanied by angel hair pasta - a dish even fit for King Skarl! The aroma made her mouth drool and tongue purse in anticipation. "This looks delectable, doesn't it?" she commented to her companion of the night.
"My oh my, what a wonderful surprise! I cannot believe you got us a table at Kelp! I can see King Hagan sitting from afar and even Queen Fyora," he gleefully raved while eyeing a table with Truth: it is what it is guild members from afar who were commemorating their 5.5 years of dominance.
She noticed her petpet's blue eyes widen and two-toned blue and purple tail twitching like an excited Doglefox; apparently sitting across from such elite Neo-citizens was like a dream come true for him. Curling her hands up in a fist, she surmised that it was probably a good thing that her petpet was so happy - she wanted him to have an enjoyable night before she could lay the bad news to him - it was time to break up with him.
To put it simply, this petpet was merely a means to an end; she got what she wanted from him and now it's time to move on. In fact, she had already set aside Neopoints in order to obtain and attach her next petpet, a Snowbunny for exactly 365 days.
She glanced at her petpet eating his 32,500 Neopoint meal in a single gulp - his webbed teal coloured feet curled in pleasure. "I can understand why the Neopian Times raved about Kelp; that Fish Special was absolutely divine!"
Glancing at the petpet's two bright white buck teeth barely visible in his smile, she deduced that it was time to break the news to him. She was obviously nervous because of her petpet's odd penchant of getting way too emotionally-attached. For that reason, she feared his response - she knew if she were to break up with him in the confines of her Neohome, he'd throw a tantrum and end up wrecking her expensive furniture. Thus, it made sense to break up with him at this exclusive restaurant where he won't create a scene.
Twirling her fork in between her fingers and nervously smiling, she began with, "The last 99 days have been wonderful-"
"Oh yes, oh yes! I love being with you," the petpet eagerly interjected, and then hopped off his chair to hug her.
Uneasily fidgeting in her seat and anxiously shifting her eyes, she continued, "You are an amazing petpet and I have enjoyed our time together, but it is time for it to end." She felt her petpet stiffen in response. Just when she was about to continue, the Kelp Waitress set down a Coral Cake on the table.
The server wanted to make sure their dessert would be set safely on the table before the petpet would attack her with another sweet, albeit overbearing hug - she had learned her lesson after almost dropping their Kelp Gazpacho appetizer on the floor. Oddly enough, she was shocked to see the scene before her - a dejected, almost catatonic petpet with no words to say. Realizing the awkwardness of the situation, the waitress quickly said, "Let me know if there is anything I can do for you!" and then swiftly left the table to assist the other patrons under her care.
The Neo-citizen expected the petpet to cling onto her like a newborn baby, but instead he released his hug - a first for him, and then sat back on his chair with tears brimming around his azure eyes. Knowing that her petpet has a strange proclivity for sweets, she pushed the expensive Coral Cake towards him, hoping to get some sort of response, but alas nothing came out. Getting nervous from the silence, the Neo-citizen tried to steer the conversation elsewhere, "The dessert looks delicious--"
"Am I cursed?" the petpet interrupted. "I've gone through dozens of masters and I've offered nothing but unconditional love. But I've noticed a strange pattern - every 99 days, I get released. Am I that unloveable?"
She knew her petpet would ask that question and didn't have the heart to answer. Instead, she began to gaze at the interior of Kelp, looking at servers decked out in pristine black and white outfits, glistening and sporadically placed strands of kelp adding a more elegant and luxurious vibe to the restaurant, carefully crafted cloth napkins folded into little crowns, and expensive artwork hung on the walls that's probably worth more than her own bank account.
Seeing his master divert her attention elsewhere, the petpet knew he would not get the answers he was searching for. With tears streaming down his two-toned coloured blue and white cheeks, he explained, "I give hugs to anyone I see because I don't know if I'll ever see them again. For some reason, after 99 days I get unattached from my master - I just want to know why?"
Trying her best to avoid the sensitive subject, she lightened the mood by saying, "At least you never have to worry about finding a home - someone will always want you..."
"I want a stable home! I don't want to be passed around like a Neopian Times Issue anymore!" the petpet agitatedly retorted.
Instantly, she recognized that her petpet was losing control; his typical smile was replaced with a grimace, his stance began to appear aggressive, and he was even gripping a butter knife in between his webbed hands like a weapon.
Just when she was about to make a snarky retort, she noticed a couple of nosy Neo-citizens eyeing her table. Flushing red in embarrassment, she realized her worst nightmare was coming true - her petpet was making a scene in front of the wealthy Top 1% of Neopia! She deduced it was wrong to break up with him in Kelp - perhaps The Bakery House would have been a more appropriate place instead.
Narrowing her eyes at the angry petpet in front of her, she sternly responded, "I wish I could give you the answers you seek, but I cannot. Enjoy your last meal and we'll go home to discuss alternative living arrangements." She gripped her exquisite crystal champagne glass and downed her Phear Juice Tonic in a haste - her petpet was making a scene and she refused to be outed in Kelp. After all, she had a reputation to uphold and she hoped to be dining here again in the foreseeable future.
The petpet glanced at her ex-master and knew he couldn't change her mind. No matter how many hugs he has given her, how many kisses, or how much attention, it didn't matter - he was cursed. Sighing to himself with another ex-master under his belt - currently he had gone through 17, the Huggy quietly mumbled, "I just want a stable home..."
Huggy Trivia: Huggies gives a hug to anyone they see. They can be quite overly friendly and sometimes annoyingly so.