Kadoatie on the Brink
It was fair to say that Lucy the Kadoatie was used to a life of luxury. Either she was at home with her beloved Aisha, Leila, being spoiled, pampered. and generally adored, or she was in in the Kadoatery, where to her delight endless Neopians would clamour to feed her whatever expensive and delicious treat she most fancied at that moment. Leila had even painted her faerie, and now she could fly, which was honestly just too much fun. Lucy truly felt she was the envy of all other petpets, and she could not be happier with this state of affairs.
Point being, Lucy was not used to hardship in any form. So she really didn’t know what to think when Leila stopped in front of the catacombs of Neovia, and gestured at the door. Lucy cocked her head in confusion, and swished her tail.
Leila sighed. “Go on Lucy. There’s treasure in there and I need you to find it. If I go in I will be cursed.”
Lucy stared at her in disbelief, and mewed pitifully, before fluttering off into the branches of a nearby tree. She could not be serious! Surely she knew Lucy was above traipsing around in some filthy tunnels. Who knew what was in there?
Her Aisha sighed again. “Please come down Lucy. All my friends’ petpets have been in there and they’ve been perfectly fine. Most of them can’t even fly. Surely you’re at least as brave as they are.”
At this, Lucy hissed. Of course she was as brave as some other lousy petpet! How could Leila think otherwise? With another snarl, she descended from the tree, and slowly padded towards the ancient door. Leila picked her up, gave her a quick hug, and then pushed open the door,
“Thank you. I’ll be right here waiting for you when you come back. Just try and find anything that looks magical or shiny. You’ll be absolutely fine in there. Good luck!”
Lucy gave her one last plaintive look, before bracing herself and walking into the gloomy tunnels.
Lucy had been travelling through the catacombs for a couple of hours, and it was an understatement to say that she was not enjoying herself. In fact, she was not far off throwing a tantrum that would make that awful Mutant Kadoatie look pleasant. She hadn’t found any treasure, she was covered in some sort of foul slime she’d accidentally stumbled into, and worst of all she was hungry.
As she wandered down the next, near identical corridor, she thought wistfully about all the lovely, expensive treats she’d managed to get various Neopians to feed her in the Kadoatery. She wasn’t entirely sure why, but food definitely tasted better when she knew someone had spent millions of neopoints on it, just for her. That Chokato Toffee Apple she got during her last stay had definitely been a highlight.
Distracted by her daydreams of better times, she only noticed the nest of Spyders she had wandered into when they started hissing and clicking at her. With a screech of terror, Lucy froze, staring at the mass of malevolent red eyes. She closed her eyes, knowing the end was near.
Nothing happened. After a couple of minutes, Lucy slowly opened her eyes, only to find the Spyders still staring at her...and trembling? Wait, were they scared of her? How could they be scared? She wasn’t scary at all and they were positively terrifying. She looked closer, taking in the way they had clustered together as if for protection, and the fearful look in their red eyes.
Flattening her fur, she slowly approached the group. The Spyders shuffled even closer together. When Lucy was almost close enough to touch them, one of the larger Spyders let out a wail,
“Please don’t eat us!”
“Excuse me? Why would I eat you?” Lucy replied haughtily.
“Because we are small and you are huge, and why else would you be here except to eat us?”
“My foolish owner sent me here looking for treasure. I do not want to be here. I want to leave. And quite frankly, the last thing I want to do is eat you, that sounds vile.”
At this, the Spyders seemed to relax as one.
“Oh. Well that’s good. Glad to hear it. Do you need directions?”
“Wait, do you know where the treasure is then?”
“Well not exactly. But we have seen other Petpets in here, and they all seem to go that way.” The Spyder pointed vaguely towards another branch of the tunnels with one of its many legs.
“Oh, thank you. That is very helpful. Hopefully I will be out of here before long then.” Lucy nodded to them regally, and began to turn to walk down the path they indicated.
“Wait! You look very tired! Do you want to stay with us a while? We know some fun games, and maybe you can protect us from anyone who does want to eat us.”
Lucy hesitated. She sure could use a rest, and maybe the Spyders could protect her if it came down to it. They were pretty scary after all. She turned back and nodded.
And so, another hour passed, with the Spyders teaching Lucy how to play ‘Chase the Vernax’, which to her surprise, she greatly enjoyed. They were even kind enough to share some delicious cinnamon rolls they’d found in another passage, and when Lucy eventually left to continue her journey through the catacombs, she found herself feeling much more positive about the trials ahead. Admittedly, that might be more to do with the fact she was no longer hungry. Hunger never did agree with her.
Lucy continued ever deeper into the catacombs. Her good mood had passed, and she was once again feeling very fed up with the whole adventuring business.
As she made her way down yet another winding, identical passageway, she saw a familiar looking blue tail disappear around the next bend.
She came to a halt, surprised. Could it be? Another Kadoatie here? Oh she had to catch up with them, and that way they could both have a nice little chat and complain about their irresponsible owners sending them down here. Maybe it was even one of her friends from the Kadoatery!
With that happy thought, she began to run as quickly as she could down the dark tunnels. Occasionally, she would see the tail again, but the other petpet always seemed to be just out of reach.
After a few minutes the passage opened up, revealing an ancient, dilapidated room. The room was filled with shelves in various states of disarray, packed with dusty tomes and strange bottles.
At the back stood a large, ornate mirror. There was something deeply unsettling about the strange artifact; its surface seemed fogged over, and its frame was covered in strange engravings. In front of it, sat completely still and staring into its depths, was the other Kadoatie. Lucy paused, noticing for the first time the pink wings folded together over the petpet’s back. What were the odds? Not only another Kadoatie, but another faerie Kadoatie?
Lucy approached the other Kadoatie happily, glad to have found a friend in these terrible catacombs. Perhaps they could hunt for the treasure together! As she got closer, the Kadoatie finally turned around, and Lucy mewed a greeting,
“Hello I’m Lucy! It’s…”
“Hello I’m Lucy! It’s…”
Lucy stopped speaking as the other Kadoatie began to repeat her words back to her. How awkward! Another Kadoatie with the same name!
“I’m sorry,” Lucy began.
“I’m sorry,” said the other Lucy.
“Oh there’s no need to be sorry.”
“Oh there’s no need to be sorry.”
Lucy paused, beginning to feel slightly unnerved. She stared at the other Lucy, suddenly realising just how very familiar she looked. It was a bit like looking into a mirror.
The other Lucy simply stared back.
After a few moments of reciprocal staring, Lucy let out a sigh and asked, “This is really strange, what’s going on?”
“This is really strange, what’s going on?”
“Stop repeating everything I say.”
“Stop repeating everything I say.”
Lucy’s hackles began to rise, and she looked from the other Lucy to the mirror behind her. The fog in the mirror seemed to be clearing, and she could see a shadowy shape beginning to take form in its depths. The mirror began to pulse with a strange blue light, and the glass surface rippled like water.
Transfixed, she barely noticed that the other Lucy was no longer anywhere to be seen. She padded towards the mirror, her thoughts feeling strangely disconnected. Just as she was almost close enough to touch the mirror, a panicked voice interrupted her reverie,
“Stop! What are you doing?”
Lucy blinked, suddenly snapping out of the strange magical trance. She turned around to see a Psimouse standing in the doorway, peering in nervously with his three beady eyes.
“Huh? What? What’s going on? Where did that other Kadoatie go?” Lucy asked, dazed.
“Never mind the other Kadoatie, you need to get out of there. Well, unless you’re keen to spend the rest of eternity inside that mirror.”
“You can’t be serious,” Lucy scoffed.
“I really really am. Honestly, trust a Kadoatie to fall for that old trick. Most petpets who come here know better, but you Kadoaties are so vain you will literally chase your own reflection. Come on, get out of there.”
“Oh well that’s just insulting. As if I’m really going to believe...” Lucy began, then screeched as the Psimouse darted into the room, grabbed hold of her tail, and dragged her, kicking and screaming, away from the mirror.
Sometime later, the Psimouse came to a halt in a cosy looking nook, and finally let go of Lucy’s tail. The tiny alcove was full of piles of carefully organised items, with some comfy looking fabrics piled up in one corner as a makeshift bed.
The Psimouse shuffled around, carefully stowing away a few trinkets in various stashes, and placing his umbrella on a makeshift wooden stand. Finally, he looked at her expectantly, and Lucy took that as her cue to begin her tirade.
“How dare you? You can’t just go around dragging Kadoaties around by their tails! Look at the state of my fur! It’s all tangled up, it’s going to take me hours of grooming to get it back to normal!” Lucy yowled.
“Oh, do get a grip. I actually thought you might say thank you,” the Psimouse sighed.
“Why would I thank you? I have never suffered such awful treatment!”
“I just saved your life. Surely that’s worth a bit of messed up fur. That mirror is cursed. Most petpets know to avoid it by now...I guess I’ll have to put up the warning signs again. What a bother.”
Lucy stared at the Psimouse’s dismayed expression. It was obvious he did not want to put up the signs again. Maybe he was telling the truth after all. She carefully began to tidy up her bedraggled tail, before sighing and looking at him,
“Okay. Well thank you. I’ve never been here before and it’s all a bit much. This is hard for me to say, but...I am sorry for the way I reacted.” It really was hard for her to say. Lucy was not one for apologising, especially to strange petpets living underground.
“Yes I can see that you’re a bit lost. For what it’s worth, I am sorry about your tail. Just one moment please.”
The Psimouse began rooting around in the little cave, before producing a peanut and offering it to Lucy sheepishly.
“Look, I know it’s not much. It’s sometimes hard to find good food down here. We don’t see many Kadoaties, but I know your kind have a huge appetite…”
Lucy suddenly felt a new, unfamiliar emotion. She was ashamed. She had spent the entire time down here in an extended tantrum, not even considering that other petpets lived here all the time. And she had been horrible to the poor Psimouse.
“Thank you very much…” Lucy said, staring at the peanut longingly, “but please, keep it for yourself. I’m sure I will get out of here sooner or later, and I had some cinnamon rolls not long ago.”
“Oh, from the Spyders up on level one? Yes, they do tend to give those away. They have this odd delusion that everyone wants to eat them.”
The Psimouse smirked at this, before beginning to gnaw at the nut.
Lucy sat down, and glanced around at the small home the other petpet had created. It was really quite nice in here, all things considered.
After he finished eating, the Psimouse smacked his lips and looked at her again.
“I take it you’re here for treasure? To be honest, there’s not really much down here. Well, not much useful anyway. There’s plenty of junk,” the Psimouse said, waving towards his own belongings, “I’m not entirely sure why so many petpets come to the catacombs. I think we’ve been overadvertised a bit.”
“It’s a bit of a trend at the moment. My owner says all the other petpets come here all the time.”
“Yes, I suppose if you came here often enough, you might eventually stumble across something decent. But it just seems like an awful lot of effort. Perhaps it’s more exciting if you don’t live here...I do know there’s a small trove not far from here though.”
The Psimouse rose to his feet, and picked up his cheerful orange umbrella again. “Follow me, I’ll show you the way. There’s a shortcut to the surface there too.”
He beckoned to Lucy, and she followed him back out into the dank passages.
Eventually, the pair arrived at another hidden alcove. It was full of various knickknacks, and the Psimouse waited in the entryway as Lucy moved closer to examine them. There were a few tattered looking books, some dusty potion bottles, and an odd collection of nasty looking weapons coated in a thick layer of rust. She carefully pushed a few objects aside with her paws, feeling a rising sense of dismay. It was occurring to her she really didn’t know what counted as ‘treasure’ in Leila’s eyes. Nothing was looking particularly shiny or magical.
She wandered over to the corner to take a closer look at a pretty filthy, but otherwise fairly nice looking teapot. Maybe she should take that? How in Neopia was she supposed to get it back to the surface though? She didn’t even have hands.
As she sat considering, she felt something wriggle into her fur.
“AAAAAAH!” she screeched.
The Psimouse squeaked, clearly startled by Lucy’s reaction.
“What’s the matter? It’s just a teapot!” he exclaimed, clutching his chest.
“No no not that! There’s something in my fur! What is it?! Get it out, quick!” Lucy wailed.
The Psimouse shuffled closer to examine Lucy’s fur, before gently plucking something out of it.
“Oh don’t worry, look. It’s just a Strale. It’s quite cute really. I think it likes you.” He held out his hand reassuringly, showing her the fluffy cloud-like creature which was wriggling over it, seemingly trying to make its way back to Lucy.
Lucy looked at the insect, surprised. It really was adorable. Lucy honestly wasn’t too convinced of the merits of willingly allowing vermin to make a home in her fur, but the idea had become quite fashionable in the Kadoatery lately. And this one was far cuter than some of the petpetpets the other Kadoaties had been showing off. Maybe it would be quite nice to have a pet of her own.
She lifted her paw, and held it out to the Strale. It gleefully wriggled back to her, before slowly climbing up to her neck, and nestling into her soft fur.
“Well, I suppose that settles it. I’ll take the Strale back.”
“Good! Are you sure you don’t want to take anything else?” the Psimouse asked.
“Oh yes. I actually have no idea how Leila expected me to carry anything back thinking about it. I don’t even have opposable thumbs.”
“Yes, I can see that would be a problem," the Psimouse smiled at her, before gesturing to a narrow fissure in the rocks at the back of the room.
“You should be able to get back through there. It’s a bit treacherous though, but you’ll be okay if you fly.” He paused thoughtfully. “You might be best using the main entrance if you visit again though, it’s easy to get lost in this area.”
Lucy laughed. “It’s easy to get lost everywhere here! Thank you so much for your help. You have been far kinder to me than I’ve deserved.”
“It’s no problem. Do pop in to see me again if you end up back here. I’m sure the Spyders would be happy to see you too. We do like seeing new faces, it gets a bit boring otherwise.”
Lucy purred gratefully, “I will. Thank you so much again. Goodbye for now.”
And with that, she slipped through the crevice, where she found a vertical shaft, with a glimmer of light at the top. With a sigh of relief, she checked her new Strale was secure, before taking flight back to the surface.
Lucy emerged into the daylight, and purred with relief. She had never been so grateful to see the sun. She stretched out appreciatively, basking in its warmth for a moment and closing her eyes.
After a few seconds, she heard hurried footsteps, and opened her eyes to see a frantic looking Leila running towards her, her face flooded with tears.
“Oh Lucy!” Leila wailed, gathering her into her arms. “I’m so sorry. I’ve been so worried. I should never have sent you down there. You poor thing, you’re all dirty...”
Lucy purred, settling into her owner’s embrace. She was actually quite over the whole ‘sent her on a dangerous adventure into some creepy catacombs’ part. She had made some new friends, and wouldn’t mind seeing them again.
“Oh! What’s that?” Leila exclaimed, examining the small creature that was now quite happily settled in Lucy’s fur. “You found a Strale, how lovely! I was hoping to get you one eventually, but they are really very expensive...”
Lucy mewed happily in agreement. She had found treasure after all! And she loved her new Strale very much already.
Leila petted Lucy’s fur, brushing away the thick coat of grime, “Don’t worry, I won’t ever send you back down there. You’ve done a wonderful job today, but you must have been so scared.”
Oh no. That wouldn’t be good. She needed to go back to bring the helpful petpets she’d met some food. Lucy refused to be seen as another ungrateful, spoiled Kadoatie! She had manners. Admittedly, fairly newly formed manners, but manners nonetheless.
She hissed at Leila, slipping out of hands before bounding back to the door of the catacombs and staring pointedly at it. She hoped Leila got the message. Communicating with her was so difficult sometimes.
Leila followed her and looked from Lucy to the door in confusion.
“Wait, you want to go back? Truly?”
Lucy purred, and slunk around Leila’s legs.
“What a surprise. I suppose we can arrange that next time I’m here shopping. I’m glad you enjoyed yourself.”
Well…’Enjoyed’ might be an overstatement, but Lucy supposed a bit of excitement now and again probably wouldn’t do her any harm.