Tales From Number Five: Rise of the Neopoint: Part One
It is a fact uncontested that the Darigan Citadel’s Dungeons are the worst in all of Neopia. Truly, even King Skarl treats his prisoners better.
Several prisoners in the Dungeons should have been released several years ago, among them Squire Meekel and the Yellow Knight, and Barallus for that matter should have never been in there in the first place, but the story of his imprisonment is an entirely different tale. And as for the other two, their files are in process, another way of saying that they are currently lost in the mountain of bureaucratic paperwork that has inundated the Darigan Citadel since the end of the Second Meridell-Darigan war. But we are not here to discuss that.
No, the prisoner we are here to talk about is an old Lupe by the name of Number Five. He is denounced as being crazy by all of the other prisoners, guards, and Master Vex as well, generally ranting about a realm by the name of Jelly World.
However, while talks about Jelly World may be nonsense, the fact remains that occasionally, he seems to get into his better senses. When this happens, he turns to tell a story to someone. Most of the people who hear them may denounce them as crazy nonsense, but sometimes, just sometimes, they are just about crazy enough to be true.
Number Five had been feeling odd lately. And by that he meant even weirder than usual. For one, he was certain that the food that they were giving him tasted weird, though everyone besides him agreed that there was nothing different about the food, and with his reputation no one was ready to believe him or cared for that matter. Not to mention that he felt that there was something wrong with his brain (everyone else had been sure of this before, but that was another matter entirely) and he always felt as if he was forgetting something. At the same time though, he felt as if he was actually remembering more things than usual, as if his mind was unusually clear about some things.
One day he was just staring blankly at the wall when he felt as if someone was watching him. He turned towards the door of the cell to see a nicely dressed Shadow Draik standing there. Number Five didn’t even notice that there weren’t any guards standing outside. There was something about the Draik, about the way that he carried himself, that made Number Five sure that he had seen him before, but when Number Five tried to remember, all he got was a splitting headache.
The visitor then rolled something inside the cell. It was a shiny coin with a skull on it, Number Five vaguely remembered having seen something like that. Then it hit him; it was a dubloon.
Strangely enough, the dubloon seemed to awaken something in him. His eyes seemed to regain a sense of clarity, and he turned towards the Shadow Draik.
“I have a story to tell,” Number Five said. The visitor didn’t shirk away, but simply nodded as if this was something he had been expecting.
“This is a tale that took place long ago,” Number Five said as his voice stopped cracking and became steady. “It is a Lost Desert Tale, a tale about the origins of the dubloon and the end of it as well.”
The origin of the Neopoint may be a mystery, but so is the origin of the dubloon. It began with pirates of course, but the thing is that there was a time when the dubloon was used in quite a number of places in Neopia. It fell out of use after some time though, to be replaced by the Neopoint everywhere except Krawk Island.
However, there was a time when trade between Krawk Island and the Lost Desert was strong, and so the people of the Lost Desert began adopting the dubloon as a currency and trading it amongst themselves. Our story begins in approximately 3200 BN in a city near one of the Lost Desert’s ports, which was situated next to the river that flowed through the entire place and emptied into the sea, from where trade with places like Krawk Island took place.
The name of this city has been lost to time, but what I do know is that there was a king and queen who ruled the city and a part of the outermost lying areas around it. They had three sons, but we need only concern ourselves with the eldest, who was an Orange Blumaroo.
Being the eldest, combined with the fact that his father was recovering from some injuries, made him the de facto head of the city for the moment.
He had many advisors of course, but his favorite one was a Blue Tuskaninny who was simply called the Oracle, for he had the power of sight and could see things that were yet to come. He was also one of the Prince’s childhood friends, but the problem remained that the Oracle could not control what he saw. And neither did he know about when they would happen, he himself admitted that some of the things he saw would probably end up occurring several thousand years into the future, or had occurred a long time ago.
Today, the Prince did not have much to do except secure a major trade deal with a neighboring region. The city’s economy mainly depended on trading out fresh water that they purified from the river and other goods that they imported from the sea. An aristocrat had apparently had a huge fascination for Weewoos, and had ordered five hundred be delivered to him.
As this was a large deal involving one of the government’s own companies, the young Prince had to oversee it himself.
He met a Yellow Techo near the warehouse, who was the aristocrat’s ambassador. The Ambassador was carrying a huge sack of what the Prince could only guess was full of coins for the payment for the Weewoos.
The Prince watched as the five hundred Weewoos were unloaded onto a large cart the Ambassador had brought.
The ambassador turned to the Prince and placed the large sack on the ground. The Prince opened it and frowned.
“What are these things?” he asked. They weren’t dubloons, rather there were some sort of shiny round things. For a moment, the Prince thought that they might have been gold coins, so he picked one up. But no, they were far too light to be made up of gold.
“Neopoints,” the Ambassador said.
“What are they made up of?” the Prince asked.
“Actually, your highness, no one really seems to know truly where they came from,” the Ambassador said. “Based on what we can tell though, they seem to be nearly indestructible, but aside from that we don’t really know anything.”
“They have to come from somewhere,” the Prince insisted.
“There is a story about that,” the Ambassador said. “I’ve heard rumors that these just fell out of the sky or came out of the void randomly, and people started finding them. Soon, they began trading them around and now nearly everyone’s willing to accept them.”
Number Five noticed that the Shadow Draik shifted when he mentioned this, as if this particular line was of great importance to him, but the old Lupe continued on with his story anyway.
“I’m sorry but I cannot accept these,” the Prince said. “They seem to have no inherent value, so we’ll take dubloons as usual.”
The ambassador nodded and pulled out another sack full of dubloons, which the Prince accepted. Normally, the Prince would not have bothered counting the coins or checking to make sure that they were not duplicates for fear of insulting the visitors, but the thing was that there seemed to be something off about the ambassador, including the fact that he had tried to pay in a foreign currency.
With the deal done, the Prince returned to go back to his palace. However, he couldn’t get one thing off of his mind: If the ambassador had already bought enough dubloons to pay for the Weewoos, why did he first try to pay with something else?
It was a small matter, but it was bogging down the Prince’s mind. After a while, he talked with a few of his ministers and they reported that some of the traders in the city had begun using these new coins as well.
In such a situation, he decided to consult with the Oracle. The Oracle had his own room inside the palace, and he didn’t consult with anyone except for members of the Royal Family.
When the Prince entered his chambers, the Oracle was gazing out of the window up at the sky.
“Good evening, my Prince,” he said, noticing the Prince without even looking at him. “I have had the most curious of visions throughout this day.”
“What kind?” the Prince asked.
The Oracle turned with a grave air, as if the visions were very important.
To be continued…