Varanna at the Altador Cup (Part Two)
Percet gazed around his home and sighed with contentment. Everything was packed, donated, or given away and he was ready to move on to his next adventure. His last journey took him through Shenkuu and he was able to accumulate quite the fortune. Oh yes, he had many fond moments here. Now he was heading to Altador for a few weeks. It was so fortunate that he was a Scorchio and able to fly wherever he needed to go.
The Altador Cup would begin in a few weeks and he wanted to capitalize on the increased population. You see, Percet made his neopoints by keeping his finger on the pulse of Neopia.
His sensitive finger was telling him that he could make millions during the Altador Cup by selling souvenirs. There were already too many food vendors and he would never resort to selling cheesy flags or noise makers.
No, he was going to corner the market on T-shirts. Not the usual ones but 3D versions of the teams. He knew a terrific artist that would make prints of each team plus individual players. Even retired players would bring in quite a few dubloons. Fans were fiercely devoted to their favorite teams and were quite aggressive about cheering their teams on. Unfortunately, unsportsmanlike behavior had begun to creep into the games and fans were becoming unruly at times as well.
Now where was Varanna? His faithful petpet was always disappearing. They’d only attached to each other a few days ago in Shenkuu but they had a powerful bond. In fact his finger became sensitive as soon as he bonded with his beautiful Babith. Percet was a fire Scorchio and would love more than anything to paint Varanna the same but he felt the choice should be hers, not his. The available options were sort of weak looking, green, faerie, cloud? As if! He wanted something better. Something strong like Stealth or Wraith or even Halloween could pass muster. He didn’t dare hope she would choose Fire although that would give him the greatest joy.
Percet began walking through the rooms of his soon to be former home in search of Varanna. He finally found her on the back porch looking through one of his previously sealed boxes. The boxes contained some of the merchandise he would be selling in Altador.
Varanna’s head was inside the box with her body perched on the lid and she was tossing merchandise over her shoulder.
“What do you have there, Varanna?”
Varanna lifted a small T-shirt from the box and held it up to herself. It was much too large for her but it featured Mirsha Grelinek from Team Shenkuu. Varanna was smiling broadly and Percet believed she was trying to tell him she wanted it.
“It is much too large, my dear, but I’ll have my supplier make one up for you.” He picked her up and swung her around the way she loved it. He was spoiling her but he didn’t care. She was a very special babith. Somehow he knew there was something extraordinary about her. After all, look what happened in Shenkuu.
Placing her gently under one wing, he took off to the skies. The movers would handle transporting his belongings. It was a beautiful flight, the sky was clear with few clouds, the air crisp but the sunshine kept the chill at bay. Within a few hours he began descending when the Colosseum came into view.
Within a few more minutes he had located the large white house with the purple roof he rented. Percet was very pleased with the view as well as the large airy rooms with lots of windows.
The next few weeks passed quickly as he obtained more and more merchandise for the Altador Cup. The Mayor of Moltara had tried to get a copyright on all Moltara related merchandise but through judicious use of attorneys the Mayor failed and Percet was allowed to print up as many t-shirts as he needed.
Opening day ceremonies saw the crowds swell to unknown and never before seen numbers. It looked like everyone in Neopia would be at the games this year. His merchandise was selling but not as briskly as he expected. He left one of his employees, Manlift, to man the booth while he took a walk around before the games began.
He saw the long lines of fans buying hot dogs, slushies, and those annoying noise makers. There was a vendor selling caps and his sales seemed steady. Maybe he needed to move positions but his stand near the entrance was a prime location.
Suddenly horns blared and the start of Terror Mountain vs Haunted Woods game was about to begin. He looked around for Varanna but she was nowhere in sight. He wasn’t sure about leaving her but she knew her way home and he couldn’t expect her to hang around his stand. She would be bored.
He handed his ticket to the attendant and made his way to one of the front row seats. Trying to decide who to root for was a dilemma. Both teams had merit. Spectators were waving pennants and flags and he couldn’t help but notice the applause increase as the teams took to the field.
Just as the announcer finished introducing both teams and the salute to the Neopian flag was over, a furry bundle of cuteness took to the field. It was Varanna! She was doing somersaults and backflips to the delight of the crowd and as she landed she thrust her arms wide and everyone could see her t-shirt on the large screen above the stadium.
Emblazoned on her t-shirt was a symbol for each of the two teams, with all ten teammates in a large circle and in the very center the face of each team would alternate. Not only was it three dimensional but the symbols were moving! How did that happen? The band began to play again and chanting from the players reached his ears. Both teams were on the field shaking hands and slapping backs in spirited camaraderie. True sportsmanship and good will. The memories of earlier years when players supported each other and there were no grudges and rule breaking were in the minds of players, coaches, and referees. This was going to be a great season.
The crowd was ecstatic and Percet noticed more than one person exiting only to return with one of the new t-shirts. The images were moving on those t-shirts too! Soon a flood of people were leaving and returning. Every time a goal scored, the shirts lit up with the players face. The fever pitch was high and everyone was on their feet. Percet soon noticed he was the only one NOT wearing one of his t-shirts and left to grab one of his own.
Manlith, his employee was sitting on a chair, boxes were empty and he had posted a SOLD OUT sign on the table.
“Hey boss, for some reason the crowds waited until the game started and then suddenly I were flooded with customers. We’re going to need more t-shirts.” Manlith smiled.
Percet felt a tug on his leg and looked down on Varanna. She was holding up a shirt to him and he quickly put it on. He looked down and saw the Terror Mountain logo flash on his shirt. The resulting roar of the crowd confirmed who scored the goal. Could his petpet possibly be magical?
“Varanna, how did you do this?” asked Percet. His faithful petpet looked at him and winked before grabbing his hand and leading him back to the game. He knew he should get with his suppliers to get started on more merchandise but after selling out his entire stock in one afternoon, he knew once again he would strike gold. He paused for a minute to think about Varanna. She could do almost anything but mostly she made him happy and that was the best gift of all.
“Varanna, I’ve been thinking about painting you a new color. What do you think?”
Varanna fairly glowed as she heard Percet. She remembered how her mother had told her that being painted was a sign of a good petpet and that she was making her owner happy.
Percet handed Varanna a brochure of possible colors and watched as she studied it.
Varanna grabbed his left hand and Percet felt himself flush as his finger glowed and Varanna began cycling through the colors. She turned green first, then cloud, then ghost, faerie, maractite, and Christmas. Finally she turned fire and gave him a hug.
“Varanna, you don’t need a paint brush?” exclaimed Percet.
With a wink and a smile Varanna turned back to her base color and gave him a hug. She was just happy her owner was happy with her.
“If there’s no reason to buy a paint brush, what can I do for you?”
Varanna smiled widely and lead him over to the Slushie stand. A raspberry slushie seemed like just the ticket right now. Well, maybe a noisemaker too but she’d wait until he finished his slushie.
To be continued…