The pound was not a pretty place, especially for Pianto.
All around, pets sat, lonely and abandoned. Except for he. He was there for a
Pianto had been there for about three hours
when Mason, guided by Dr._Death, walked up to his cage. There was no smile on
his owners face.
"Hiya," Pianto greeted, a grin (more from embarrassment
than from happiness) spreading across the fire Gelert's face.
* * *
Outside, Mason walked a good block without a single word. Pianto flowed slackly
behind. After a moment, Mason stopped and turned on his heels to face his shamefaced
"What were you thinking?!" Mason cried, angrier
than Pianto had ever seen him before. He was standing beside himself with rage.
Pianto shrugged nonchalantly. "I just wanted
some chocolate." This infuriated his owner even more. It was like rubbing salt
in an open wound. Mason's face had been a rose-in-a-meadow red, but now was
a lobster-boiling-in-a-pot red.
"I gave you money to buy chocolate! You didn't
have to steal it!"
Mason stopped himself, trying to regain his
composure as passer-biers were beginning to stare. "This is the third time this
month, Pianto. You're in that pound so much, they're going to give you your
"I hope it's a suite," the Gelert snickered.
Mason did not smile.
Instead, he turned and continued down the sidewalk,
but not before giving Pianto a bit of advice.
"If I were you, I would take the long way home
and give me time to cool off," he warned. With that, Mason continued home, leaving
Pianto to find his own way home.
Pianto had been working hard to not get in to trouble. But the Gelert was
like a magnet, attracting trouble wherever he went. Like fate was out to get
him for something.
Pianto had gone to buy some chocolate, an afternoon
snack. While he was looking around, a chocolate Chia treat had somehow found
its way into his pack. Pianto knew it was there, but, for some strange reason,
had decided not to take it out, to see if he could slip past the sensors.
He was caught and thrown in the pound until
Mason had come to get him.
Though it didn't show, Pianto was ashamed of
what he had done. Mason just didn't see that. No one did.
Wandering along the ever-darkening streets,
pets everywhere were heading home as dusk was fast approaching. Looking up,
Pianto could see he had walked up to the door of a diner. The Mystery Island
Eatery was written on a flashy neon sign hung just above the door.
The shame-filled Gelert walked inside. It was
about entirely filled, considering it was dinnertime. There were booths along
the walls near the door. A bar sat in the back. The fire Gelert spotted a stool
and sat down.
A yellow Aisha came over to take his order.
"What do you want hun?" she asked.
"I'll take a blue coco fizz," Pianto ordered.
She walked away without even writing it down. Aren't they supposed to write
all the orders down? Pianto wondered to himself, as she made up the drink
in a machine.
Behind him, a green Gelert sat in a booth. It
would have appeared to anyone else that all was normal, but Pianto sensed something
different about this pet…
The bartender's return with Pianto's drink startled
him out of his thoughts. He thanked her and began sipping at his drink.
Pianto had never tasted a blue coco fizz before,
but after the first sip, he knew he would have to order one more often. The
drink fizzled in his mouth like pop, but it had a nice mix of berry and coco,
with neither one over powering the other.
Out of the corner of his eye, Pianto continued
to watch the green Gelert. The stranger seemed to have taken an interest in
Pianto as he continued to stare at him.
After a while, and another four blue coco fizzes,
Pianto got up to leave. "Hey wait!" he heard a voice shout from behind him.
"What do you want!" Pianto shouted back towards the green Gelert.
Spinning around, he saw it was just the barmaid.
She appeared startled. "You forgot to pay you bill," she said, calmly holding
up the check.
"Oh, sorry," he said, very embarrassed at himself
for being so paranoid. He quickly paid the tab (and tipped the Aisha extra for
yelling at her) and walked out.
Night had fallen on Neopia Central as Pianto stepped out into the cool summer
night air. As he walked down the sidewalk, dreading the thought of going home,
the Gelert looked into a shop window only to see a familiar face's reflection
a few paces behind him. The green Gelert was following him!
Pianto sped up. In the next window, he saw the
Gelert had, too, sped up. Quickly, but without running, he ducked into a nearby
The fire Gelert watched in the shadows as the
green Gelert followed him. Pianto suddenly jumped out from hiding, tackling
the stalker to the ground.
"Why are you following me?" he growled.
The stalker appeared relieved that it was only
Pianto. "You surprised me, kid," he breathed heavily.
"Who are you? Why are you following me?" Pianto
repeated, keeping his shadower pinned tightly.
"I'll tell you everything if you let me get
up," the pinned Gelert bargained.
Pianto stepped off, letting the green Gelert
arise. "Thank you," he said. Then, in a flash of fur, the green Gelert jabbed
Pianto with a needle.
"What the…" Pianto began. But before he could
finish, his world went blurry and Pianto passed out.
Pianto wouldn't have even known his eyes were open, except for the shaft of
moonlight coming through a window. Sitting up, the Gelert's head throbbed with
Looking around, Pianto could see he was definitely
in a warehouse of some kind. Crates sat stacked everywhere around him. A clock
on the wall read 3:15. Pianto estimated he had been out for about four hours.
"I was wondering when you were going to wake
up," a voice said from behind. Pianto turned to see the green Gelert sitting
in a chair, reading some kind of book.
"You!" Pianto shouted, starting to lunge at
him. But Pianto fell back in pain. His entire body hurt, from the tips of his
ears to the ends of his tail.
The green Gelert smiled and chuckled to himself.
"Sorry I had to do that to you," he apologized. "But I was afraid you might
have hurt me if I hadn't."
Pianto glared at him. "No problem. I love getting
stabbed with needles. It's my favorite pastime."
The green Gelert's smile only widened. "He told
me you were funny."
"Who?" Pianto demanded.
"You'll see soon enough."
The green Gelert helped Pianto to his feet and
out a door. They made their way slowly down a hall, Pianto leaning on the green
Gelert the whole time. All along the hallway, more Gelerts stood guard, watching
Down the hall and around the corner, they eventually
made their way to a door. The green Gelert opened the door with one paw and
helped Pianto inside an office, lighted only by the moonlight.
The fire Gelert was placed on a leather couch.
The green one walked over and sat at attention next to a spinning leather chair.
Pianto could only see the back of it.
All around them, sat Gelerts, about eight that
Pianto counted. The green Gelert whispered something to whoever was sitting
in the leather chair.
The chair spun around to reveal yet another
Gelert sitting in it. But this one was some how different. He held his neck
higher. And a glint of fear came into one of the guard's eyes at the sight.
This Gelert was most assuredly the boss.
"So you're Pianto, eh?" he asked. The Gelert
was red and quite young, not much older than a young adult.
"Yes, um, yes I am," Pianto replied, trying
to sound brave.
The boss smiled and nodded. "Good, good. My
name is Alfonzo. I'm sorry my friend Maraka had to knock you out." He motioned
to the green Gelert beside him. "But it is quite important I speak to you tonight.
A pet who can discover a new world is certainly called for in my case."
Pianto gasped. "How did you know about Jellyworld?"
The boss only smiled. "It's not important HOW
I know, just that I do. Now, on to business."
Alfonzo pulled out a picture and handed it to
Pianto. It was a picture of another red Gelert standing on the beach, smiling.
But it wasn't just any Gelert. Pianto had to catch his breath when he saw her.
It was like an angel from heaven. She had gorgeous
white teeth and most beautiful of smiles. But her eyes, they were the greatest
of all. Deep, brown, it was almost surreal. Pianto could've look at the picture
for an hour, but Alfonzo soon brought him back to reality.
"That's my sister," he explained. "Her names
Aryll, she went missing about four days ago. And that's why you're here; I need
you to find her."
Pianto's heart nearly jumped out of his throat.
He was going to get to meet this beautiful creature! Get to rescue her, like
the knights in the stories Mason used to read to him when he was younger. Suddenly,
Pianto remembered his owner. Mason would probably be waiting for him at home.
"I don't know," said Pianto. "I've kinda got
other things going on right now."
This statement didn't break the red Gelert's
glee. "I wasn't really asking for your help. More of an instruction than a plea."
So Pianto was stuck with a deal he couldn't
refuse. It wasn't a favor he was performing, it was a duty. He had no choice.
Pianto agreed and, as he was walking out, the
boss called out "I suggest your owner know none of this. Just pack your supplies
and set out. She was last seen in Tyrannia."
Pianto packed his knapsack, the same one that had taken him to Jellyworld
and back, and prepared to set out. The clock on the wall read 6:33. He lightly
licked his owner on the forehead.
"I'm sorry for being such a nuisance," he whispered,
walking silently out of the room.
Leaning over the edge of the ferry, Pianto could see the reflection of the
sunrise off the waters surface. The boat inched closer to Tyrannia with every
passing minute. Here we go again, Pianto thought glumly to himself. Yet,
a part of him was glad to be setting out on another adventure. And so the adventure
of Pianto's life began.
To be continued...