The Tale of TDMBGPOP
"Gather around, kids! It's time for everyone's favorite night of the week: storytelling time."
Garic, a very wizened old Pirate Gnorbu, hobbled towards a vacant log surrounding the campfire and sat gingerly down on top of it, turning to face his expectant crowd of young campers. Only they didn't look too thrilled for storytelling tonight. Most were looking wistfully at Kiko Lake. Some were stubbornly turned facing in the opposite direction. One picked his nose, looking simultaNeously bored and confused. Garic couldn't really blame them. It was the final week of summer before school went back in session. Kiko's Kamp for Kids only ran in week-long sessions, but most of these kids were return visitors. Many of them had been here for a month straight. There were really only two types of campers at Kiko's Kamp: the kids that misbehaved so much at home that their parents paid for them to go to camp just to get a break from them, and the kids that were sent here because their parents thought they were socially awkward and needed to make new friends.
Stellaluna ("Stella") the Blue Ogrin was the second kind of camper. As she tried to move closer to the campfire, she tripped over a log and collapsed to the ground, all four of her legs tangling up together. She quickly pulled herself to an upright position. The other campers might've laughed at this, if not for the fact that they had seen Stella trip countless times over the past three months.
"So, what's the story tonight, Mr. Garic?"
She peered at the old Gnorbu through her thick glasses. They had become lopsided as a result of her fall, and she took a moment to straighten them out. Garic always felt like Stella could see right through to his very core whenever they made eye contact. Her spectacles made her eyes look four times their normal size. It was a little creepy. No wonder she had no friends...
Her tiny voice startled him from his thoughts. He cleared his throat.
"Tonight, we hear the tale of T-D-M-B-G-P-O-P!"
"What?" "Huh?" "The who?"
"I said, Tee-Dee-Em-Bee-Gee-Pop! The Discarded Magical Blue Grundo Plushie of Prosperity."
All the campers started to push closer towards the fire, their interest piqued. stella sat front and center, a tiny grin on her face. She had always wondered about that lonely plushie in Faerieland.
"That's just some plushie the Faerie Queen charmed to give out free stuff to people!" shouted someone from the back.
"Well, of course that's what most people think these days. But I happen to be much older and wiser than all of you. I also happen to have heard this story directly from the Faerie Queen's mouth."
A few of the campers gasped in awe.
"How did you get to spend time with the Faerie Queen, though?"
Garic smirked. "That's neither here nor there. What matters is that this Grundo plushie used to be a lot like you, before he was punished by the Faerie Queen for stealing and for lying to Naia, the Fountain Faerie."
Stella gulped. "What do you mean, he was a lot like us?"
"Well, Stella. For one, he wasn't always a plushie. He was a living, breathing Grundo. And two, he might've been under the impression that he wasn't getting enough attention from his mother, and this caused him to feel lonely and unloved. And this is what caused him to act out the way he did, in my humble opinion."
Stella's body seemed to slump a little as if a weight had just been placed on her back. She thought hard about Garic's last statement. She had never "acted out", as far as she knew. She was always on her best behavior at school and at home; however, she had to admit she did feel lonely most of the time. Her older brother, Terrence the Shadow Techo, was so confident and had so many friends and people that looked up to him. Terrence didn't have to wear ridiculous glasses like she did. Terrence wasn't clumsy like her. Terrence was a cool kid.
Garic cleared his throat again. "But I digress..."
Farris the Blue Grundo was in his usual spot on a weekday afternoon: after school detention with Ms. Beverly.
He raised his hand. "Can I please go now?"
"Have you finished writing your one hundred sentences, Farris?"
"I will not trip my classmates in the hallway anymore, I will not trip my classmates in the hallway anymore, I will NOT-"
"Stop!" Ms. Beverly screeched, clearly annoyed. "What have you learned from this?"
"That I should really try not to get caught the next time I trip one of Racine's friends because writing the same thing one hundred times gives me bad hand cramps."
Ms. Beverly closed her eyes and took a steadying breath. There was nothing she could do to make this student see the error of his ways, and she had to accept that.
"Kindly show yourself out, Farris."
Farris sprinted for the door and after he was already in the hallway, Ms. Beverly could hear him saying, "see you for detention tomorrow, probably!"
"I'm sure you will." She rolled her eyes.
"So who was Racine?" a camper asked.
"Racine was Farris's older sister. They were only one year apart. She was a beautiful Faerie Peophin, admired by everyone that met her. She got perfect grades in school, she was the fastest swimmer in her division, and she spent most of her free time volunteering at charity events. There was absolutely NOTHING bad you could say about her."
Stella snorted. "She sounds exactly like my brother!"
"So then, you have an understanding of how jealous Farris was. He thought their mother spent all her time and energy on Racine, and he felt forgotten. Discarded, you may say."
Stella's eyes widened at the word. "What did he do next?"
"Well, Farris had always had this dream of being painted Plushie. He thought himself too alien and ugly to ever make friends as easily as his beautiful sister could. Being a plushie would make him cuter and more approachable as a Grundo. He knew his mother would never paint him herself. She was too busy making sure Racine stuck to her rigorous training sessions for the swim season. So, he took matters into his own hands."
Farris was hiding in a tree branch overlooking the Rainbow Fountain in Faerieland. This was his third time spying on Naia, the Fountain Faerie. He wanted to make sure he understood the whole process correctly before he attempted his grand plan.
A very meek looking Yellow Gelert approached the fountain, brandishing a shiny golden ticket. Naia swam to him with a knowing smile and grabbed the ticket from his paw.
"Oh my, you've had this ticket for ages, haven't you? What took you so long to come back and visit me?"
The Gelert grinned sheepishly. "It was such a tough decision. There are just so many wonderful colors!"
"And what have you decided on?"
He paused for a few seconds. After all, he could still change his mind. "Can you please make me Maraquan, Fountain Faerie?"
Farris watched, utterly bewildered, as Naia smoothly waved her arms in an elegant motion, bending the water so that it circled around the Gelert. It only took about ten seconds, but once the water had receded back into the pool, the Yellow Gelert had magically and effortlessly been replaced with a Maraquan Gelert, and the golden ticket had dissolved into the mist. After three days of spying on the Fountain Faerie and her spellwork, he still couldn't believe the transformation he had just witnessed.
He looked down at the golden ticket he had crumpled in his hand. He had never been given the opportunity to complete a quest for the Fountain Faerie, but he had managed to steal a ticket from one of his classmates. The ticket was nondescript; it had no date written on it, nor the name of the recipient. So how could she know it wasn't his own ticket that he had earned?
Farris leapt from the tree and splashed noisily into the pool.
Naia spun to face him. "Hello there. How may I be of service to you?" I don't recall sending you on a quest."
"Oh, I finished a quest for you, but it was such a long time ago, you probably don't remember me. Years ago, even! I still have my ticket, though."
He proudly thrust the stolen ticket towards her.
She immediately frowned. "Excuse me, Farris. What is the meaning of this?"
His mouth agape, Farris cried, "how do you know my name?"
"I am a faerie. We have magical powers the likes you can't even imagine. Do you honestly think I don't remember the Neopets I reward with my quests? I remember every single one of them, and you are NOT one of them."
A dark cloud seemed to pass over the pool, and the water grew instantly colder. Farris gulped. Something wasn't right.
"Am I in trouble? I'm really sorry. You can take this ticket from me and I will be on my way."
"No. Wait here. I've called upon Fyora to come and decide your fate. She rules this land, so I believe it should be up to her to figure out your punishment. The Faerie Queen isn't fond of thieves or liars."
Farris was panicking. "I didn't steal it though! I just found it on the floor at school. Someone must've dropped it."
Just then, Fyora appeared, floating in upon a cloud.
"Who do we have here, Naia?"
"This is Farris. He came to my fountain today with the intention of using a stolen ticket to collect on someone else's color change."
"What were you hoping to be painted, Grundo?" asked the Faerie Queen.
Farris couldn't even hold her stern gaze, so he stared down into the pool, ashamed. "Plushie. I'm so tired of my sister getting all the attention. I want people to like me, too!"
"Hmmm. I think I have an idea that will make all your dreams come true, Farris."
He looked back up at her again, hopeful now.
Fyora waved her rod, and in the blink of an eye, Farris the Blue Grundo became Farris the Blue Grundo Plushie.
"...and that's where Farris has stayed until this day, hanging silently in his tree in Faerieland," Garic trailed off.
The campers all seemed shocked by the ending to the story.
"Why did the Faerie Queen say she was going to make all his dreams come true? That's not what she did at all!"
"She did, actually. He wanted to be Plushie, and she made him a plushie. He wanted to be well-liked by everyone, and he definitely is now. We all get to visit him once a day, and he always hands out money or items to us."
Garic nodded. "Very good, Stella! As you can see, he got what he asked for, in the end."
Stella was a little confused. "But Mr. Garic, how come he is able to resist giving us things sometimes? Or sometimes he just makes me feel really sad."
"It's difficult to say. Some think that because it was so long ago, Fyora hadn't completely honed in on her magical powers, so the spell wasn't as strong as she intended. Others say she purposely left Farris a few loopholes, thinking her punishment was too harsh. So what's the moral of the story, kids?"
"Don't lie to faeries!" "Grundos are stupid!" "We should be nicer to plushies because they might've been real once!"
Garic chuckled. "I think the real moral of the story is this: if you are ever feeling lonely or unloved, you should reach out to those in your life that are making you feel this way. Let them know! They may not even realize what you are dealing with."
There was an awkard silence until Stella began a loud clap. The rest of the group followed suit. The campers then slowly trickled away from the fire.
Stella rushed to get back to her cabin. She was eager to Neomail Terrence and her mother as soon as she could. It was time for them to give her the love that she so desperately needed!