The Beast: Part One
In Tyrannia, a simpler way of life is followed than in the rest of Neopia. The lakes are sparkling with drinking water, the plains are vast and dusty, and the vegetation is clustered around the water, creating vibrant and lively areas. Anything far away from water is mostly uninhabited. To live far away from the water, citizens need to have a way of getting water to them – through deliveries (which are very expensive!) or magic, usually.
This means most of the spaces around natural lakes, springs, or falls are very densely populated. Everyone is on each other’s doorstep and they are very crowded towns and cities. Full of life, noise, water, and plants. Not all of the plants are friendly! Some of them can bite you, some of them can lead you away from the town. Some of them smell lovely to buzzers but absolutely foul to the poor Neopets who pass them. With everything and everyone so close together, it can be a little overwhelming.
Ogza is not a magical or rich. This means Ogza can’t live far from water, but she does have a lot of space to herself near a beautiful lake. If the situation were different, then it would be bustling like all the other lakes, and a popular tourist destination to boot. There is a clean flowing waterfall, the plants are mostly friendly and sweet, and some produce really tasty flowers to boot! So why does Ogza live on her own there? Is she the only one who knows about it? Has she fought anyone who would try to live nearby? Is she cursed to live alone?
No, nothing quite so exciting, I’m afraid. Ogza lives alone because nobody else wants to live near the lake. There is a volcano which casts a shadow on Ogza’s little lake and the beautiful waterfall. It’s not close enough to cause danger by erupting, but it is easily seen from anywhere around the lake and close enough to hike there on a good day. “The Beast” is said to have set up his lair in the volcano, and poor souls who spin the Wheel of Monotony sometimes end up getting a fright from this beast. However, no one is really 100% sure of where the beast lives. They can only guess, speculate, and try their best to stay far away. Ogza is not afraid of the volcano though. She is thought of as foolhardy by those in other towns, but she has never seen the beast. She has heard some stories of it, but never seen it, and it seems like a silly myth. She doesn’t even understand why anyone would want to spin the Wheel of Monotony in the first place, so even if it does exist, no one needs to be afraid.
So this brings us to today. A small tusked slorg and a smaller fanged Grumblebug approach her lake from the direction of the volcano. She is hiding in some vegetation while she waits to see if they are friendly – because she lives in such a beautiful place alone, she is not used to visitors and it makes her wary. What if this is the beast people talk of, in disguise?
You’ve seen the beast, right? You don’t know what it is but you know for sure it isn’t a slorg, right? How could that make so many people jump at the end of an hours-long spin at the Wheel of Monotony? They don’t move quickly and they aren’t loud at all! Unfortunately, Ogza doesn’t know this, and she has no one to confirm it is not the beast. The slorg munches on some leaves while the Grumblebug flits back and forth over the water, seemingly to cool off. The slorg is munching his way towards Ogza’s hiding spot, and she’s making sure her spear grip is solid and pointed in his direction.
The poor slorg slimes its way into Ogza’s hiding spot, to find the spear poked rudely under his chin. He tries to speak, but the spear it pushed just a little more, to ensure he stays silent. Ogza clears her throat, quite unsure of what to do next. She’s never seen a slorg or a Grumblebug before, and she can’t remember the last time she had company. She clears her throat again, and uses her non-spear hand to point towards the lake. “Back out there,” she says, with a croaky and unpracticed voice.
The Grumblebug quickly joins the slorg sitting just outside the lake, with Ogza squinting at them both and preparing to ask the questions.
“Are you The Legendary Beast? Have you come to attack me? To scare me away?”
The slorg tries his best to just answer no, but can’t help bursting out into laughter. The Grumblebug falls to the floor, rolling around and unable to move. “Beeeeeeeeeeeeeast,” he squeaks through his laughter. “You are a beeeeeeeeeeeeast!”
Ogza is startled but still pointing her spear at the slorg, who eventually catches his breath long enough to answer.
“No, Kyrii, I’m not the beast, and neither is he. I’m a slorg. He’s a Grumblebug. I have seen the beast before, but it was a long time ago. I got lost after seeing it, and have been making my way around the plains for a while. We saw your lake and we thought we’d stop for a drink of water and something to eat. That’s all.”
“Oh. Ogza is my name.”
“Ogza, eh? I’m Ugzo. Confusing!”
“Why did you come from the volcano?”
“We came from that direction, but not from the volcano itself. We did hear something from the volcano though – not an eruption … something like singing.”
Ugzo proceeded to demonstrate ‘singing’ to Ogza, who looked less than impressed.
“Look, we thought it was weird too. It was singing like you or I would, only it sounded … old fashioned. Primitive, sort of.”
“I don’t sing.”
“Right. Obviously. Look, we’re still not beasts at all. We’re tiny lost wanderers. I’m a petpet but I lost my Neopet, and my Grumblebug came with me. He’s a handy little scout, and we’ve been helping each other for a while. Do you have anyone to help you?”
“No, I don’t need help. I live alone.”
The slorg pulled a face, but Ogza couldn’t make out what the face meant. The Grumblebug was still bursting out into laughter every now and then, squeaking “beeeeeeeeast”.
“Why do you live on your own, Ogza?” asked the slorg.
“No one wants to live near the volcano. They say the Lair of the Beast is deep under it.”
The slorg joined the Grumblebug in the laughter for a short time, while he pictured the fearsome beast singing old show-tunes from the dawn of Neopia. Ogza, meanwhile, looked puzzled and clearly didn’t get the joke.
“Oh Ogza. The beast roars and screams, a fearsome and horrible noise. The beast, just like you, doesn’t sing. We can be sure of that.”
“Then who is singing in the volcano?”
“I don’t know, We climbed the volcano to look around, and this was the closest place with water and trees. So we climbed back down and came right here. It’s very beautiful, the plants are very tasty, and the water runs clear as anything. Why wouldn’t we come here?”
“Only because of the beast.”
“Right then, we’ll just be on our way back to a bigger town then. Like I said, we got lost. Could you give us any directions?”
Ogza fiddled with her spear and placed it to one side. She might not spent much time around others at the moment, which she liked, but she could still picture what would happen. The slorg and the Grumblebug would return to towns all over, and talk about the singing from the volcano. Others would realize the beast didn’t live in the volcano, and suddenly her lake would be as busy (if not busier than) all the others. This didn’t sound good to Ogza, so she tried to think hard about how to avoid it.
“You could live here with me.”
“Thought you seemed like more of a “living alone” kind of kyrii,” said Ugzo, stating what had been obvious since they first saw each other.
“You could still live here. You’re not loud.”
“But why would you want us to?”
Ogza hesitated. She thought Ugzo might be insulted if she told him the truth, but she wasn’t sure what else to say. She didn’t think ‘lonely’ would be a good excuse, as it was such a clear lie. How could she bend the truth to make it less insulting? Before she could think of something good, the Grumblebug interrupted her thinking with his squeaky little voice.
“I think we could stay, but only if we find out what’s in the volcano. If it’s good or bad, if we live near it, we should know. Things that sing can also be things that are crazy, or magical, or bad neighbours. If you help us find out, we’ll stay here with you with our quiet voices.”
The slorg looked like he had a lightbulb above his head, as he said,
“That’s it, isn’t it? You don’t want loads of others moving in and being loud?”
Ogza blushed, making it clear that the slorg was correct in his assumption.
“No, don’t worry, that’s fine. We like it here, and it doesn’t need hundreds of others. It’s nice with the water not being crowded, and there’s more than enough food for 3. We could always travel to markets. But I agree that we need to find out what’s in the volcano before we settle in,”
“And for that, we’ll need all three of us.”
To be continued…