Battle Quills... ready! Circulation: 196,453,187 Issue: 907 | 17th day of Swimming, Y22
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Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beholder

by aliceinwonderland18


“Back again, eh?” Charlie asks.

     Sekhegal grunts. He’s perfectly fine at understanding standard Neopian, but speaking is a clumsy exercise when his mouth is used to the guttural sounds of Tyrannian. Outside of Tyrannia though, few people speak Tyrannian and grunts usually are enough to get the message across. Selling things at his furniture shop is simple enough without speaking. Honest Neopians will grab an item and wake him up to start the haggling process. Numbers are the same across Neopia and they can trade prices until he’s satisfied. For the dishonest Neopians who try to sneak out with something...well he isn’t actually asleep and Grarrl teeth are great for intimidation.

     Charlie leans on his pitchfork as he watches Sekhegal head straight for the nearest rubbish pile to begin sorting through the Bits of Barbed Wire and Soggy Old Boxes for Piles of Dung that he tosses into his wheelbarrow after a brief inspection. The Meridell Rubbish Dump is the best place to get materials for his furniture, but if the crop here isn’t enough he’ll need to stop by the Secondhand Shoppe to make up the rest.

     He prefers just finishing his business up at the Meridell Rubbish Dump. Pets and owners in Neopia Central always look at him funny when he’s hauling his wheelbarrow of dung around, and while the Ruki who runs the Secondhand Shoppe is nice enough, he always has a look of pity on his face when Sekhegal comes to take his dung.

     “You’re really great,” he had said the last time Sekhegal had made the trip to Neopia Central. “Really, I’m so thankful you’re helping me with all this trash. I can’t get a single Neopian to take any of the dung donations and they stink up the whole store.” He’d sighed and wrinkled his nose. “Guess I can’t blame them though. I hate having them in the store, myself.”

     Sekhegal had stared for a full minute, incredulous and indignant, before leaving with a huff. The nerve! He hasn’t been back since, and he doesn’t plan to if the Meridell Rubbish Dump dung donations are enough to keep him stocked.

     Trash? What was trash was the Ruki’s hideous argyle sweater, he thinks sourly. Sekhegal’s toga is much airier and easy to wash.

     “It’s real helpful of ya to always clean up ‘round ‘ere,” Charlie remarks after a few minutes of just watching Sekhegal poke through the various dung piles. “If not fer you takin’ all this dung away every day, the whole dump would jus’ be piles of dung.”

     Sekhegal snorts. Showed what these Neopians knew. All this good dung for the taking and everyone thought it was trash! What was it like in those little Neopian brains, he wonders. Dung for free at the Meridell Rubbish Dump and all these pets and owners would come into his Tyrannian shop to pay him Neopoints for Dung Couches and Dung Curtains. He’s absolutely amazed there’s been no competition for materials.

     Charlie must have taken his snort as some kind of “you’re welcome” since he pats Sekhegal on the back twice before heading off in the opposite direction to heckle some Neopians digging through the rubbish for codestones and paint brushes. Most of the time they head home empty-handed, which in Sekhegal’s opinion is utter - pardon the pun - rubbish, considering all the things they could be doing, making, or even selling with all the dung they’re just passing by with nary a second glance. It can’t be the lack of profit; Sekhegal’s checked with the Shop Wizard and some dung products are selling for tens of thousands of neopoints a pop!

     Dung Stairs, Dung Toilets, Dung Bath Tubs, the possibilities were endless! It isn’t even that hard to make dung furniture: dung is easily moldable and very forgiving. Pack some more dung on if it’s not sturdy enough and remove as needed. Sekhegal hadn’t even gone to NeoSchool and he’d figured it out just fine. If they couldn’t handle even doing that, they could just dump the dung in their Neogardens as fertilizer or use them to bake some good old Dung Cookies, but here they were, all plugging their noses and grimacing like this wasn’t prime quality stuff.

     Sekhegal sniffs the Pile of Dung he’s just picked up. Hmm, slightly stale but not quite stale or dry enough to make a good solid Dung Bed. He doesn’t have much competition in the dung furniture market, but he takes pride in his products being top-notch quality. He places the dung back down to let it bake out in the sun a while longer. He used to worry all the good, stale dung would be gone if he left it here to dry, but the dung is always right where he’s left it, so he never worries anymore. He picks up another one and gives it a sniff. Fresh, too fresh for furniture-making, probably was left here not even ten minutes ago.

     The Dung Faerie must have dropped by just recently, he thinks as he sets it back down again and picks up another. He’s never caught sight of her, but whenever he does, he intends to thank her for all the good work she does. How hard it must be to tirelessly donate all this good dung and not only not get a single word of thanks, but have all these ungrateful Neopians gagging and spitting at the sight of it. He’ll make sure to show his appreciation tenfold to make up for their ignorance.

     “Those pesky Neopets,” Charlie grumbles as he sidles back up to Sekhegal. He must be done heckling the latest batch of Neopets. “Can never get a bit ‘o shut-eye ‘round ‘ere anymore. Always gotta be babysittin’ them while they poke aroun’.” Sekhegal grunts in answer. Charlie plops down on the ground beside him, his pitchfork clattering to the ground beside him. “How’s business fer ya, anyhow?”

     Small talk. Lovely.

     Sekhegal grunts again and glances pointedly at his full barrel of dung. Business is great as always, especially considering his cost of materials is zero and his profit margin is 100%. He restocks a few times every hour when he sells out, and he makes enough that he can take an hour break each day to head to the Giant Omelette for some lunch and visit the cute little buggers at the Tyrannian petpet shop. He’s got his eyes on an adorable Stego.

     “Well, tha’s good, I guess.” Charlie stands back up and dusts at his orange overalls. “Guess I’ll be seein’ ya again soon then, eh?” A shout rises up from a faraway dung pile and Charlie growls. “These darn pesky -- “ Sekhegal doesn’t catch the tailwind of whatever Charlie meant to say as the Kacheek stalks away, pitchfork raised. Well, that’s the end of that.

     He throws a couple more Piles of Dung in his wheelbarrow and decides that’s as good of a haul today as he’ll get.

     “Gross!” He turns at the sound just in time to see a disgruntled Wocky staring at his dung-covered paws in disgust.

     Sekhegal rolls his eyes and shakes his head as he pushes his filled up wheelbarrow away, nodding at Charlie as he goes.

     He’ll probably never understand these silly Neopians, but he’ll welcome them all the same when they want to pay up their hard-earned Neopoints for a new Dung Carpet at the Tyrannian Furniture shop.

     The End.

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