|It was the perfect sort of day for a picnic. Warm but not too hot, with a pleasant breeze. Emily smiled contently as she packed up her picnic basket with all her favourite goodies.
“Emily, are you ready?” Her best friend Milo called.
“Coming!” Emily trilled.
Outside, Milo stood waiting for her. His little Cybunny face broke into a beaming smile as he saw her. They had been planning this picnic for days, spurred on by the unnaturally pleasant weather in the usually wet and humid Mystery Island. The food had been bought, sun cream dutifully applied and blankets folded in anticipation.
Laughing and joking between them, they strolled down the path towards the fields behind Emily’s house.
A loud BANG made them both jump as multicoloured smoke engulfed them.
“EMILY!” A voice boomed in the mist.
Terrified and confused, Emily turned round to see who called her name. It was -
Date: Feb 16th
---Leroy the Wraith Lupe!
Leroy had just thrown a Negg Smoke Bomb to startle the two friends.
"Have room for another?" Leroy asked.
"Not when you sneak up and startle us like that!" Milo and Emily replied.
Lucky for Milo and Emily, Leroy had brought a basket full of the rarest gourmet foods ranging from the tart Apple Rigamarolls to the cool Banana Split Chia Pops.
"I think we should give him a shot Emily," Milo quitely suggested. "We hardly get to splurge on gourmet foods, and he seems very genuine.
"Okay, I think we can give him a try. I mean what can it hurt?" Emily said.
All while Emily and Milo were conversing, Leroy tried his hardest to hear what they were saying.
"I really hope they let me join them. They always seem to have the most fun," Leroy quietly said under his breath.
Leroy was so focused on trying to make out what they were saying that he hadn't noticed his basket of gourmet foods slowly scoot away from him.
"Luckily I brought yummy gourmet foods for th..." Leroy paused as he turned around and noticed the basket was gone. Frantically he started looking around for his basket especially because Milo and Emily were on their way over towards him.
"What's wrong Leroy?" Milo asked?
The gourmet foods are gone!" Leroy exclaimed.
The three of them were looking around as Emily noticed a basket tied to a thin string was being pulled towards the trees and shrubs. They quickly ran towards that direction. As they got closer to the bushes they noticed that the line was tied to a fishing pole being handled by none other than -
Date: Feb 17th
---Samantha, the shadow Kyrii, famously known as one of the chefs at the Mystery Island Kitchen!
Samantha gasped immediately when she realized that she’d been spotted. She dropped her fishing pole, clutched the basket full of gourmet foods, and tried to sprint off deeper through the trees and shrub.
“Hey, stop running!” Leroy yelled after her and threw another Negg Smoke Bomb in her direction. Emily and Milo covered their ears in anticipation of the loud bang as multicoloured smoke once again filled the air. Emily, Milo, and Leroy all squinted through the mist as they tried to see whether Leroy’s plan had managed to slow Samantha down. Surely enough, Samantha’s vision had been completely obscured by the smoke and she had dropped her stolen basket and ran right into a tree. As the smoke continued to fade, Emily, Milo, and Leroy walked towards Samantha, knowing that she couldn’t escape with the three of them crowding around her.
Samantha sat on the ground leaning against the tree she had knocked into and was trying to regain her composure. When she looked up, she saw Emily, Milo, and Leroy, all looking down at her angrily with their arms crossed. Disappointed and embarrassed, she looked down at the ground and sighed.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered. Leroy could immediately sense that her apology was genuine, and he too apologized for tossing the smoke bomb that caused her to run into a tree.
“What happened? Why did you try to steal my food basket?” Leroy asked.
Samantha shook her head in regret. “I was just trying to impress the Underwater Chef,” she admitted.
“So… you tried to impress him by… stealing a basket?” Emily asked in confusion.
“I was out looking for inspiration because I wanted to make something amazing for him. I want him to know I’m serious about cooking! And then I saw your gourmet food basket filled with the rarest foods! I thought, if I can show him that I have all these awesome foods, he’ll be so proud of me! I just want him to like my cooking. I just wanted to impress him…” Samantha dreadfully explained.
Samantha’s admission resonated with Leroy. He too had gone to great lengths to impress Emily and Milo. At the end of the day, he too wanted to be noticed by someone, just like Samantha. And it was in that moment that Leroy realized it’s not about showing off your Negg Smoke Bombs, or about how many rare foods you have. To be appreciated, you have to be yourself and stay true to who you are!
Now knowing what he should have known all along, Leroy was determined to help Samantha express herself and her true strengths. He extended his hand out to her and helped her stand back up. “Come,” he said. “Let’s go show the Underwater Chef what makes you great!”
Date: Feb 18th
A bit flabbergasted, Milo and Emily shared a quick glance before following the determined wraith lupe and his new cohort. After all, this was the most interesting thing that had happened on Mystery Island all month! All of pets in the unlikely group followed Leroy. They traipsed through the jungle vegetation ducking low for vines and side-stepping over muddy holes. The unlikely group struggled to keep up with Leroy's quick pace, but eventually fell into step.
"Don't you realize what month it is?!" Leroy said with maniacal glee.
It was at this point Milo started to feel like maybe following two strangers into the deep and somewhat sinister jungle after being attacked not once, but twice might not have been the wisest choice to make. Although concerned, he took a few deep breaths like Techo Master always taught him and started to try to deepen his senses about him as to avoid additional surprises.
Emily, on the other hand, had alternate ideas. She had just finished her copy of Basic Survival Skills that she'd traded for the last time she was in town. Instead of saving the blanket for the picnic, she was ripping off small threads of the red and white cloth and tucking them noticeably every 50 or so feet.
When no one answered the lupe, he turned quickly to Samantha-
"WHY OF COURSE it's the end of the month of AWAKENING! What comes after the month of awakening?!"
Samantha, a quick study and even faster mind started to make the connection. "It's almost gadgadsbogen!"
Leroy started to continue his pace, even faster now until the air started to cool a bit around them and some of the island humidity started to increase. He continued, "The other day I was exploring a mossy cave and I found the most beautiful and sweet-smelling berry. From my research, it's brand new- nothing that has ever been seen or tasted before! If you can use the ingredients that we already have and have this berry be the star of your dish, the underwater chef is sure to take notice! Now, if I could only find it..."
Leroy started humming the theme song to Mystery Island's Altador Cup song. The little diddy had a bouncing melody and reverberated through the cave. After advancing another 100 feet into the cave, they started to smell the most complex and delightfully sweet scent of berries.
Suddenly Emily spotted a beautiful multi-coloured berry with twirling spindles and glowing leaves. "I found the berries! Right there! Look! Under that... GALLOPING GOBLERS, WHAT IS THAT?!"
How will this story end?
Date: Feb 19th
Leroy, Samantha, and Milo ran over to where Emily was standing. Just like Emily, they were speechless when they saw what she had pointed out.
Sitting there in the middle of the bushes, right on top of the berries they had been searching for, was a beautiful, water-filled berry that was a light bluish in colour. It was so juicy and pristine that it glistened in the sunlight. It was an Aquaberry.
Samantha was thrilled. "The Underwater Chef is going to be ECSTATIC when I bring him an Aquaberry! I will certainly rise to the top of the class! My cooking skills will be renowned! I will become Neopian's Next Top Chef and people will come to me from all over Neopia to taste my—"
As Samantha went on and on, Emily's face fell, until she gained the courage to interrupt her. "Samantha. Stop." Samantha turned toward her, looking alarmed. "Samantha, you tried to steal our gourmet food. We forgave you for that. Milo, Leroy and I were willing to find these new berries that Milo knew about, to help you win favour with the Underwater Chef, and let you take all the credit for it. But this Aquaberry is a very rare, very expensive berry. It's native to Meridell, not Mystery Island. This is a once in a lifetime find, and I found it. I'm not going to let you take all the credit for this. We take credit for the find as a group, or Milo and I won't be friends with you, and I'll expose you to the Underwater Chef for who you really are: a thief, a liar, and a bad friend."
Emily sighed as she finished saying her piece. Milo gave his best friend a pat on the shoulder. He was proud of his friend for standing up for herself.
Samantha pondered the words that Emily had spoken to her. She didn't want her reputation to be that of a thief or a liar. She just wanted to impress her friends and the Chef. But she couldn't really impress her friends if she didn't have any, could she?
"I'm sorry, Emily," Samantha started, her face softened. "I never meant to steal this great discovery from you. I just wanted to impress you and the Chef, and I got carried away with myself. How about we take these multi-coloured berries to the Island Kitchen, and I can whip us up a meal to share? After that, we can all take my meal and the Aquaberry to the Underwater Chef. If he wants to buy the Aquaberry, we will all four split the Neopoints. Does that sound okay to all of you? I hope we can all still be friends."
Leroy and Milo were nodding their heads in agreement, but both of them turned to Emily, waiting for her to say something.
"That sounds great, Samantha. I accept your apology. And of course we can still be friends."
The four friends collected their multi-coloured berries and the glistening Aquaberry and put them into the basket with the gourmet foods. They set off to the Island Kitchen, and once they arrived, Samantha got to cooking while her new friends watched, sharing stories and getting to know each other. They shared a meal together, and when they were done, took Samantha's creation and the Aquaberry to the Underwater Chef.
"None of this would have been possible if not for my friends Emily, Milo, and Leroy helping me today." Samantha said, gesturing to the rest of the group. Chef was impressed, and offered the group 2 million Neopoints for the berry. The group was thrilled!
It wasn't the quiet afternoon picnic that Milo and Emily had set out to have, but that was okay. It was a day filled with adventure, new friends, a delicious meal, and lessons in standing up for yourself and being true and kind to your friends. A great day in Mystery Island indeed.
Date: Feb 22nd