The Extravagance of Life
5th Day of Swimming
"Perfect," King Jazan remarked, observing the object from top to bottom. "It's magnificent."
"Well, I do what I can," Adrian the Tonu said proudly. "But it satisfies you?"
"Very much so. This should bring wonderful income to the city of Qasala."
They spoke of Adrian's masterpiece, handcrafted by him and funded by the king: the Wheel of Extravagance. Created from exquisite gold and bronze, it was designed as a tourist attraction for the city. A Neopian could pay one hundred thousand Neopoints to spin the wheel, and depending on where it landed, they won a prize.
"And you made sure to make the right parts heavier?" Jazan questioned.
"Yes, and I spun it one hundred times to check it. Eighty spins were profitable for Qasala. The odds of the spinner winning are just good enough that people will keep coming, but bad enough that we can make plenty of money."
"Adrian, you're a wonderful person to employ. You designed this, you built it, you learned how to boost the stats of spinners... What would I do without you?"
"You wouldn't be bringing in millions of Neopoints daily, that's what." Adrian grinned mischievously.
"Very true. Well, what do you say we open for business tomorrow?"
"That's fine with me."
"Wonderful. I'll make an announcement this afternoon to draw people in." Jazan turned and left the room to return to his palace.
6th Day of Swimming
When Adrian arrived at the building in which the wheel was located, he was amazed by how long the waiting line was. Hundreds of people had gathered before the wheel was even ready to be spun. Adrian unlocked the back door, opened it and locked it again, and made his way to the wheel. He gave it a spin to make sure it was working (it was), then went to the front door and unlocked it. He opened it, ushered the two security guards inside, and positioned them at the doorway that led to the wheel room. He then moved back to the front door.
"All right," Adrian announced in a booming voice, "you may come in one at a time, and bring the line up to the next doorway." The line began to move forward, stopping at the stern-looking guards.
Adrian then made his way into the massive chamber holding the wheel. When he entered, he saw that there was already someone inside: King Jazan.
"Your Majesty, I wasn't aware that you would be coming today," Adrian said quietly while he made a short bow.
"Well, how could I miss the first day of one of the wonders of my kingdom?" Jazan said, smirking. He moved closer to the Tonu and whispered, "There will be more publicity if I'm here. I also tried to convince Princess Amira from Sakhmet to come, but she unfortunately declined."
Adrian nodded. "Well, you won't be disappointed, I can assure you. Did you see the line outside?"
"Yes, it's absolutely wonderful. Six hundred people, at least. That equates to at least sixty million Neopoints going into the kingdom, just in the first batch of people.
"Well, what do you say we get started?" Jazan asked.
Adrian nodded again. He moved to the doorway and told the guards they could come in; they moved to either side of the wheel, while the king positioned himself somewhere visible from outside the chamber.
"Okay, if the line could now come into the wheel room, moving no further than the red line on the floor," Adrian announced, and the line moved as such. He then moved to the wheel and motioned to the person at the head of the line to come forward.
"Well, how does it feel to be the first to spin the wheel?" Jazan asked the spinner, an Elephante.
"It's incredible," the young Elephante said. "I can't believe I'm gambling a hundred thousand Neopoints, and that I'm meeting King Jazan."
Jazan smiled, the kind of smile that every ruler shows when a commoner says something like that. He heard it quite often, but he always showed that fake smile. "Well, good luck."
Adrian said, "Go ahead and spin."
The Elephante put his paw on a peg of the wheel and, with all his force, pushed it. The wheel began to spin... and spin... and spin... before finally coming to rest on a spot.
Seeing the symbol the ticker was on, Adrian reached behind the wheel and found the spinner's reward. He turned and presented it, saying, "Congratulations, you've won fifty thousand Neopoints. Good luck next time."
"Fifty thousand?" the Elephante repreated, dismayed. "You mean to tell me I wasted fifty thousand Neopoints?"
"Well, it is a gamble," Adrian said with an apologetic smile, as he motioned for the next spinner to come forward.
Jazan, meanwhile, put his hand on the Elephante's shoulder and said, "Not to worry, old chap. For being the first to spin, I have something else for you," and he guided him out of the building, toward the palace. Adrian wasn't sure what the reward would be, but he expected it would be many Neopoints.
"Well, go ahead and spin," Adrian said with a smile to the next spinner, who did so, and... the wheel stopped on a big X. Adrian looked at it and said, "I'm sorry, you haven't won anything. Better luck next time." The spinner moved away, grumbling as he exited.
The third spinner, expecting to have a similar fate as the two before him, was happily surprised to receive an exclusive stamp as his prize. He was already formulating a plan to sell it as he was leaving.
As the day went on, hundreds of other people came to spin. After Adrian took his lunch break, he returned to see the line had doubled in size since he had left to eat. I guess people really love to take risks, he thought to himself as he returned to his station at the wheel.
By the end of the day, though, the line had wound down to a few dozen people. It was then that Adrian looked out and saw a young little Wocky, looking in sadly. Adrian thought he knew why, and he knew he had some time to spare. He told the room that he needed to take a few minutes and went out to the other chamber, walking over to the Wocky.
"What's wrong?" Adrian asked as he kneeled down.
"I want to spin the wheel," she said sadly, "but my family doesn't have enough money to spare."
"Well, the wheel is expensive, but someday you'll be able to spin it." Adrian smiled, hoping she would do the same, and she did slightly. "What's your name?"
"Well, Sarah, I look forward to seeing you here to spin it."
"Okay." The Wocky smiled at him again, and she walked out the front door.
Adrian walked back to the wheel. Soon, the last few people had spun the wheel (most of them had been quite disappointed with their rewards), and he and the guards could leave. Jazan returned then.
"Well, how many spinners were there?" he asked.
"Over three thousand. Of those, five hundred got their money back, and another five hundred received items worth more than what they spent."
"But that means we made at least a hundred million Neopoints in profit... Why didn't we think of this years ago? We could be rich by now!"
"We are rich, Jazan."
"Well, that's true. But anyway, this was a good idea, and it's all thanks to you. Adrian, I can't thank you enough."
"Ah, it's all right. I have a job now, and I'm happy with it."
30th Day of Swimming
After over three weeks of the wheel being open for business, Qasala had made over a billion Neopoints. King Jazan was happier than he had been in years, and Adrian was too. Many of the spinners were less than pleasant to deal with after learning of their rewards, but that was all right. He had the protection of the royal guard.
Just as Adrian was closing shop on this day, he saw a Wocky prancing in happily. He recognised her immediately, and told his guards to stand down, that they could continue closing.
"Sarah, you're back."
"I have enough money to spin!" she said happily.
"Really? How'd you get so much money?"
"My classmates at school knew I wanted to spin, so they donated Neopoints so that I could come."
"That's great! Well, here's the wheel. You're the last spinner of the day. Are you ready?"
"Yes!" Adrian thought the young Wocky was so happy, nothing could have dampened her mood at that moment. He gently took the bag of Neopoints she was offering him, and motioned for her to spin.
Sarah put her paw on a low peg, and pushed as hard as she could. The wheel began to spin... and it spun... and it came to rest on a spot. Adrian saw it, and a smile lit up his face.