Tales From Number Five: Rise of the Neopoint: Part Two
”D arigan will win the Altador Cup,” the Oracle said. “Though, I must confess, I do not know what this ‘Darigan’ is or what this ‘Altador Cup’ is either.”
The Prince nodded, it was quite common for the Oracle to have visions of times long in the future, or long in the past.
“Another thing,” the Oracle said, “I had visions when I gazed up at the sky, and also at the moon. I saw creatures living there, as well as an entity by the name of Sloth.”
“Sloth? As in laziness?” the Prince asked, surprised. It was quite a far-fetched thing to suggest that there were creatures living on Neopia’s only moon, but the Prince believed that if the Oracle had said so, than it must have been true at some point in time.
“But these things, though wondrous, I believe do not matter to us,” the Oracle said. “I have had a vision of use to you though, one in which I saw the dubloon fall and a new currency… the neopoint as it is called rise and take its place.”
“Did you see when?” the Prince asked. Knowing when was a crucial point in interpreting visions.
“Within this year,” the Oracle said. The Prince nodded and began to leave when the Oracle said, “Wait!”
The Prince paused.
“I know what you are going to do,” the Oracle said. “You are going to sell off our entire stock of dubloons save for a few and begin exchanging them for neopoints.”
“If the dubloon is to fall, is that not the logical option?” the Prince asked.
“It most probably is,” the Oracle said. “But the one thing that you must understand is that no one knows the future for certain. Of course, what I see are probabilities, and I know the clearer my vision the more probable it is to happen, but that does not truly guarantee anything. If someone changes their choices, the results can so change. What I am saying is that you are a crown Prince, and your decisions affect the future to a large extent. Think, if you were to sell off most of our dubloons, what would the effect be?”
The Prince began to understand. “So you’re saying that by telling me, you risk making this a self-fulfilling prophecy?”
“Exactly,” the Oracle replied. “Then again, one can never truly know just whose choice it is that will determine the future. So many factors come in, and this business truly is murky. I cannot say for sure what will cause what is going to happen to happen.”
The Prince nodded, understanding this.
However, the Prince was still worried about what the Oracle had said. In truth, it is far better to either know for certain what the future will bring, which is impossible, or to not have an inkling at all. Those who are given half-information are always the worst off.
The Prince had nightmares in which the dubloon was no longer in use, and his citizens all starved as no one would accept their hard-earned savings.
He then woke up in a cold sweat. Surely, he thought, there was no harm in keeping a safeguard? He could exchange some of his dubloons for neopoints, and keep that in as a reserve just in case. There shouldn’t have been any harm to that.
Something should probably be said at this time, in regards to the Oracle’s vision. The Oracle was right, the future could be changed, but he had already sealed the future when he had told the Prince his vision.
The next morning, the Prince called several of his ministers in private and told them that they should exchange a certain amount of dubloons for neopoints.
This should have proceeded smoothly, but the thing was that one of the ministers was sadly corrupt, and had a habit of leaking such news to his wealthy friends. In modern times, such a practice would be called ‘insider trading’ though there was no such term back then, and also such a practice was seen as being a benefit of being powerful and not frowned upon largely.
The nobles whom the minister informed gave him a large sack of coins for his trouble, and immediately decided that they should start investing in neopoints.
Seeing such movement, even the commoners began to realize that this new currency seemed to be the next big thing, and they began hoarding it as well.
By the time the Prince realized what had happened, it had already been too late. He had set into motion something that could not be stopped. And once his city began using neopoints extensively, almost every other place in the Lost Desert began using it as well, because all of them depended on that city for fresh water.
One evening, the Prince decided to visit the Oracle.
“It turns out that your prediction came true, my friend,” the Prince said. “Although I should note that it was partly my fault that it came true, so I suppose it was a self-fulfilling prophecy. The dubloon is finished, it seems.”
The Oracle shook his head. “The dubloon isn’t finished. True, I do not see it likely that it will ever regain its former glory as being the prime currency of this world, but it will still linger on. Krawk Island will still use it, and as a matter of fact I do not believe that it will ever vanish completely. Interestingly, I also see a future king from here giving out dubloons, with Neopets from all over coming to visit him and take his blessing.”
The story sounded far-fetched, but the Prince knew that if the Oracle had said it, it would probably come true at one point.
“And that,” Number Five said, “is the story on how the dubloon ended and the neopoint rose up.”
The Draik didn’t do anything like the normal visitors, like being awed by disbelief or saying that Number Five must be insane.
Instead, he showed him a ring with a symbol on it that made Number Five’s head hurt.
“That ring…” Number Five began, “… there was a… there was someone here before with that…”
The Draik nodded. “Indeed, Number Five, there was someone here before this. And that’s how we found you.”
Number Five tried his hardest to remember, but his memories seemed to be slipping from him. Finally, after some time of trying, he managed to utter, “The Sw… the Sway.”
The Draik nodded. “Indeed, I work for them. I believe you have already filed a complaint regarding your food, noting that its taste has changed? Well then, let me assure you that in that regard you are completely within your senses. One of our agents has been mixing a special type of medicine into it before it is served to you, one that has helped clear your head by quite an amount, I believe. However, that was combined with a good amount of hypnosis so you wouldn’t remember anything about us.”
“Who are you?” Number Five asked.
The Draik said, “I am Professor James Chadwick. I work at Neopia Central University, and until a few weeks ago I was simply studying economics in depth. However, after an attempt to topple Neopia’s economy, I learned of the Sway and joined them. They told me of you, and I thought that some information of value could be gleaned from you, such as the origin of the neopoint and such.”
“I do not know that,” Number Five said.
“True, but I did get to know some other things. It appears than an earlier claim stating that the dubloon was the Lost Desert’s principal currency was correct,” he said. “I believe you may remember a Blue Bruce who had come here before? We had begun a plan for extracting you from this prison every since then, and today, I believe that you are cognizant enough to be taken outside.”
“What did you say?” Number Five asked.
“I mean to say that we are freeing you,” Professor James Chadwick said. “Though of course you will be kept under the Sway’s surveillance and custody. We need such information to counter the efforts of people such as Ylana Skyfire and the Governor, who have been using a new form of warfare: economic warfare. The Sway will now be involved in governing the economy, for it has now become a large machine capable of toppling kingdoms. Control over such an entity, must, of course, fall directly to us.”
Number Five nodded. He would still be a prisoner in a sense, though not a prisoner of this sort of dungeon, but his movement would be watched. Not to mention he knew that he was being used, and he also knew that he would probably be kept around only until he was useful. He knew the ways of the Sway well enough to be certain of all of this.
Then again though, what was he supposed to do about all of this? And Number Five had a feeling that whatever was in store for him, it was better than this dungeon at the very least. And, after all, that medicine seemed to be working well, already a plan was forming in his head of escape. He was good at hiding; after all, the Sway had not found him for all of those years.
“The plan is simple,” Professor James Chadwick said. “We have arranged for a gate to be open and your door to be left unlocked. Trying to get you out the normal way would have taken long and have roused suspicion, but if you just seem to have escaped through an unlocked door, who should care? You are not an extremely dangerous criminal, after all. There will be a search, but you will not be found. It will be assumed you met with an accident, and some evidence may also be forged to support that.”
Number Five got up, feeling new strength course through him. He then smiled; today was a very good day indeed.