Isolde and the Faerie Statue
There’s nothing really like Neopia Central when you’re a young Neopet from the moon. The first thing Isolde the Shadow Aisha could remember about the land were the buildings. There were tons of them for every occasion or function imaginable, and each had its own shape. There was a hamburger-shaped building where Neopets could buy food, there was a building covered in chocolate for those who craved decadent sweets, there was a building that looked like a wizard’s hat for Neopians who wanted to find prices for an item, and even a building that looked like a Kadoatie cage for those who wanted to feed Kadoaties. Then the Neopets. There were so many of them! Isolde had never seen Neopians crowding in the streets just to have conversations and laugh with each other. The city was a sprawling metropolis, a dense labyrinth of buildings and crowds and lights that seemed so alien from the dark, quiet, lonely moon of Kreludor. It overwhelmed her eyes and her ears and she had to take deep breaths to keep her composure.
“You’re going to capital L-O-V-E love it here, honey,” her mother, Gertrude, said. Isolde looked around her, at the overwhelming array of Neopians and grooming items and weapons. She realized immediately, of course, that she would not love it, but grunted in assent to placate her mother. What she loved was the moon’s dark, crater-filled surface, its deep purple sky, and the silence, the beautiful, harmonious silence in which its citizens lived. The moon was quite different from the Neopian Bazaar, which was positively teeming with fashion stores, food shops, and little shops with magic items and weaponry in the windows. “Boo’s Faboo Boutique—No Need for Taboo, Just Be You! And Be You-tiful,” one sign read; above the writing, a Blue Uni in sunglasses and an orange scarf gestured with a hoof in the direction of the store. Across from the boutique was a Battle Magic shop with about a dozen very threatening-looking weapons advertised out front—clubs, maces, swords, and potions, your standard fare. Isolde’s father, Siegfried, a Royal Cybunny, took her to the Chocolate Shop to sample some sugared Slorgs and new jellies.
“Isolde, what do you think about these mirrors?” Gertrude asked. They stopped at the Battle Magic tent to look at the new Combo Battle Mirror in the store after spending a stint at the Neopian Furniture Store. Gertrude was trying to find a new mirror for the home. She didn’t like the iron mirrors at the furniture store—she left the place in a rage, saying that her hind paws had more personality than the mirrors still in stock there—and picked up a beautiful mirror lined with shells from a traveling vendor. The Fire Xweetok stood between the two mirrors, one front paw was on the Shell Mirror and the other was at rest on her hip. “Think about it. The Combo Battle Mirror…” she said, gesturing meaningfully to the mirror on the shop counter, “has a subtler, more refined look. It shows that we’re a family of fighters, too. It’ll also reflect light well, so you’ll be able to see all your best angles. The Shell Mirror, on the other hand, makes us look a little more bohemian, don’t you think? Worldly, well-traveled, more open to fun! So, what do you think?”
Truthfully, Isolde hadn’t been thinking about the mirrors at all. It’d been hard to think about anything, really, with the plaza’s constant bustle, which she still needed to get used to. She was thinking about what to say and almost came up with something when an Eyrie shrieked at someone on the street, “Hey, watch where you’re going!” She turned around and saw that the scene had dispersed already, and whoever the Eyrie was talking to had already disappeared. But as soon as Isolde tried to remember what she was trying to say, a Baby Techo began crying. His parents began to comfort him, and just as the Techo started calming down, a Chia yelled out, “Free chocolate at the Chocolate Factory!” Neopets swarmed from all over! She’d never seen so much happening at once.
“Isolde?” her father asked, seemingly unfazed by everything. “So, what do you think? Do you like this mirror or do you like the Shell Mirror more?”
“Huh?” she asked. Her parents looked at each other and raised their eyebrows at the same time. “Oh, the mirrors. It doesn’t matter to me; do whatever you think is best.”
“Isolde, I know it seems silly to you, but it’s important what you think,” her dad said. “Remember: this is our home and we need to make decisions together. What do you think?” He placed the Shell Mirror right beside the Combo Battle Mirror and pointed at the Shell Mirror. “This one?” He gestured at the Battle Mirror. “Or this one?” He pointed to the other mirror.
“Hey…” a low voice grumbled. It was the shopkeeper, a Yellow Grarrl covered in intricate golden armour. “I don’t have all day. I’m trying to sell some stuff. Are you buying? I have a lot of other customers lined up who’d love an item like this. I’ll give you one more minute. Twenty thousand Neopoints and this state-of-the-art Combo Battle Mirror is yours. But please, get out of line if you’re not interested.” It was rude to argue with shopkeepers, of course, and this one didn’t seem like someone to trifle with.
Isolde frowned. Honestly, it didn’t make her much difference which mirror they chose. Her mother, however, noticed the frown and grimaced in response. “Oh, no. You hate them both, don’t you? It’s okay. We can find new ones. I’m sorry, I just know you don’t really like most elaborate things and I thought—”
Isolde was a bit surprised, but cut her off. “No, no, it’s not that! Just a little distracted by everything going on. There’s a lot to see here and I wasn’t ready for it. I think the Shell Mirror is fine. I like it! It’s cute. We’ve spent a lot already and we probably don’t need more new stuff for the move. It’s getting late, too. Should we go?”
Siegfried nodded. He looked to the shopkeeper. “We’ll pass on the mirror for now, thank you.” Then he turned to Gertrude and Isolde. “Okay, are you two ready to go?” he asked.
They walked through the plaza to their new home, a quaint little place close to a forest on the outskirts of the Neopian Plaza. It was near the main marketplace, too, which was nice; it was a convenient location, yet also quiet, which was a rarity in Neopia Central. The move was a bit strange. They’d received an offer perhaps three months ago, Siegfried remembered. Neopia Central wasn’t well-known for its exports, so they’d have to travel or import goods to make their plushies with charms and tchotchkes, but it had a phenomenal location and enabled them to easily distribute their goods all over the land’s main marketplace. It was not only a bit cheaper than living on the moon, but brighter and better for business, which made both Gertrude and Siegfried both pretty happy. It was hard to work with only five hours of sunlight a day, after all.
While they were walking toward their new home, Isolde noticed something that she thought was strange. About halfway along the path, there was a small side path that led off into a little clearing. In the middle of the clearing was a marble statue of a faerie, though she couldn’t tell what kind of faerie from where she stood. However, even from afar, she could tell the statue was beginning to crumble in places. Moss covered a good portion of its base, and bits of the faerie herself, especially the wings, looked very dark black in the distance. Isolde wondered how the artist had gotten the black colour on the sculpture. Or maybe the statue was damaged somehow? Isolde asked herself many other questions about the statue. Why was it there? Whom was it made for? Did her parents notice? If not, why didn’t they say anything about it?
She didn’t have time to answer those questions, though, because they had to get home. After over an hour of walking, their new house finally came within sight. It was then that Isolde realized that the most dreaded part of moving wasn’t adjusting to Neopia Central’s rhythm, which admittedly was alien and unpleasant to her, but ultimately something she could learn to live with; the most dreaded part was the new house, which was empty and not really a home to her, at least not yet, but a series of empty rooms. Their stuff from Kreludor had been transported to their place by a couple friends from the Grundo Gymnasium, which was a new Kreludan business set up as an homage to the original Grundo Gym many years after it went out of business. This, however, was a furniture moving company: employee Grundos would lift all the heavy furniture in homes, carry it on their backs, dive off the moon, and deliver it to whatever the new address was. The Grundos became extremely muscular through this endeavour.
The house itself was totally empty and undecorated, at least for now. Isolde always thought that rooms were some of the best narrators imaginable. You could tell a lot about someone based on their rooms, she thought. A room could tell you whether someone was messy or clean, whether they preferred Wock ‘til You Drop to the Sticks ’n’ Stones, whether they enjoyed making music, or writing, or what kind of furniture appealed to them. But an empty room couldn’t really tell you anything. She was anxious to put up her favourite decorations and unpack her most prized possessions: her Kreludor poster, her very own Wock ‘til You Drop Guitar, glow-in-the-dark stars and moons, and all of her books, bobbleheads, and snowglobes. She knew who she was: she was studious, she was intelligent, she liked rock music and toys that bounced a lot and she was probably a little more scared of the dark than a Neopet who lived on the moon should be, and the things she owned showed that, and she wanted her room to tell any potential viewers—her mom, her dad, potential friends at school—a little bit about her.
“Hm, it’s getting late…” Siegfried trailed off. “You do have school in a few days, so you should probably work on getting your sleep schedule together. Your mom and I have to hash out a few business-related things, too. We’ve put all of your favourite things in a box in your room. Why not get started decorating?” Ah, yes. Business, as always. Her mom and dad owned a plushie company that attached little trinkets from all over Neopia to the toys. Gathering all of the materials to make the gifts took a lot of time and involved many negotiations from Faerieland to Shenkuu and even sometimes involved visits to Maraqua—something Gertrude hated, being a Fire Xweetok.
Due to the nature of their business, the family often had to relocate. Supply and demand for moon rocks or maractite, for instance, varied by the month. Plus, negotiations with suppliers could sometimes take months, even years, to go through, and moving was often more convenient than simply commuting for hours every day. And sometimes it was just easier to move than to stay depending on circumstances (they moved to the Lost Desert for a few months after the infamous Terror Mountain blizzards in the winter of Y12). Moving never got any easier, though, and what Isolde hated the most was going back to an empty room and having to start all over again. That being said, though, there was something at least a little exciting about exploring a new place. The new friends, the new places, the new things to do… so Isolde, after unpacking her posters and her guitar, went to sleep a little optimistic this time.
But everything would change after she fell asleep.
To be continued…
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