HAUNTED WOODS - The last place I ever want to be, but when one’s duty is too clear
the record on so called “denizens” of Neopia, I have to go where I must. With
my Sell-a-holic Yellow Poogle Poogleemee in tow, I had wandered deep into the
woods in search of Balthazar, the large Lupe “bounty hunter” responsible for giving
us bottled faeries. Of course, it’s hard to locate somebody if you don’t know
where they live.
Fortunately, I have connections in the form of Ghost Lupe. After he’d saved
us from a Meuka attack, I convinced him to take us to Balthazar.
After a rather short walk we arrived at Balthazar’s grove, which is populated
by a few tree stumps and flowerless rose bushes. The Lupe himself came jogging
in a minute later; a large net full of Faeries slung over one shoulder. I ran
over and introduced myself.
Me: Hello Balthazar, I’m reporter reverbir. I’d like to ask you some
Balthazar: That will depend on what the questions are about.
Poogleemee: (interrupting) I’d like to ask if you’d be kind enough to
ship a bunch of Faeries to my shop.
Balthazar: Can you bottle Faeries?
Poogleemee: Uh, no.
Balthazar: (laughs) I’m kidding. We’ll discuss something later. Now
reverbir, what is it you want to ask?
Me: I’m here to clear a few things up. First off: I’m sure you know
Neopia’s popular opinion of you.
Balthazar: Yeah, I’m an “evil bounty hunter who captures innocent faeries
just to get revenge.”
Me: And what’s the validity of that statement?
Balthazar: Not true. Well, at first it was for revenge. However that
was only because the first faeries I ever met where those prankster Dark Faeries
who hit me with rocks.
Me: I imagine that if Dark Faeries were the first faeries you’d ever
met, you’d be disillusioned about faeries in general.
Poogleemee: So when did you stop capturing faeries for revenge?
Balthazar: After two things occurred. First, I captured and bottled
each and every one of the Dark Faeries who’d hurt me as a pup. Second, I learned
how much demand there could be for bottled faeries.
Me: How’d learn about the commercial value?
Balthazar: Well, one day early in my career a Moehog broke into my cabin
while I was out hunting. When I came back, I saw he’d released a lot of the
faeries and that 90% of them had blessed him in some way or another. After I
chased the intruder out and caught what faeries hadn’t gotten out the door,
I realized my purpose in life.
Poogleemee: So you capture the faeries for a profit? You’re my kind
Balthazar: (to me) What’s that supposed to mean?
Me: He’s obsessed with selling things.
Balthazar: Oh. So that’s why he asked me about faerie shipments?
Me: Yes. Speaking of capturing faeries, how do keep them from escaping
your nets? (I motion to the net of faeries)
Balthazar: Oh right! I forgot about them. Come with me. I’ll show you
how I bottle them.
He picked the net back up and headed towards his cabin. When we got inside
I saw that two walls had shelves on them, floor to ceiling. On one set of shelves
sat a bunch of bottled faeries while the other shelves held empty bottles. Balthazar
set his net down and grabbed a bottle.
Balthazar: All these bottles are recycled. If the guys that open them
don’t keep the bottles for other uses, they reappear on these shelves. (Three
bottles suddenly pop onto the shelf.)
Balthazar popped the top off the bottle and then reached into the net. He grasped
a Fire Faerie by the wings and transferred her quickly to the bottle and put
the top back on. He repeated this procedure as we continued with the interview.
Me: Well, for one who say’s he doesn’t want revenge on the faeries,
you aren’t being very gentle with these ones.
Balthazar: Would you want to be stuffed in a bottle? I can’t count how
many times I’ve tried to convince these girls that I’m-(stares right at the
faerie he just bottled) just trying to make a living and I’d be quite willing
to give them a percentage of my income if they’ll cooperate.
Me: If they cooperated, your reputation would pretty much die.
Balthazar: See, there’s another reason they ought to cooperate with
me. They hate me, and I know that if any got out I’d be cursed so bad I’d never
be able to work again. However, we naturally work together. I catch them, sell
them, some other Neopet frees them, the faerie blesses that pet, usually, and
flies away. I get some Neopoints, and the process restarts.
Me: You still haven’t told me how you capture them.
Balthazar: It’s all about my nets. The trees that used to grow in this
glade had great magic-resisting properties. The wood is what makes up my cabin,
so if any faerie escapes in here and the door is closed, they can’t escape.
My nets are made up of the vines from those trees. The little faeries are powerless
Me: Do you catch bigger faeries? (pulls out a note) My brother Kingwerewolf
was wondering if you’d net and bottle Illusen for him.
Balthazar: Sorry, no-can-do. Well, I could; I’ve got special nets that
shrink big faeries down to a smaller size for bottling. However, I’ve got a
rule about catching the big faeries: if they’ve given a quest to somebody, I
don’t catch them until that quest has been completed or ended.
Me: Do they know about that?
Balthazar: Of course they do. I risked life and limb to deliver that
message to Fyora. She read it and then had me catapulted out of the castle.
Fortunately I landed in the ocean near Mystery Island. When I got to shore Jhuidah
tossed me in her cooking pot and rocketed me to the Haunted Woods.
Poogleemee: Did she do that out of hatred or as a favor?
Balthazar: Take a guess.
Me: You claimed you don’t hunt for revenge. However, the Neopedia article
on you doesn’t spout you off as a very kind Lupe.
Balthazar: A small portion of that was fictionalized. Like I said before,
I recycle my bottles so I don’t need to punch air holes in each one. And I can’t
take pleasure from struggling faeries because they don’t fight anymore.
Me: The info at the start of the article says you joked about your “one
day hopes that…” What is it you really hope for?
Balthazar: I honestly hope that one day the faeries will forgive me
for just trying to run a business.
Poogleemee: I’ve got a question for you. In the game Extreme Herder
you are depicted as a Petpet eater. Is that true?
Balthazar: I think whoever created that game has me confused with Florg.
I’d never eat any of the Petpets you try to save in the game. In fact, I don’t
eat Petpets at all, unless they get cooked and served on a plate.
Me: I hope you’re referring to Snorkel-based dishes.
Balthazar: Of course. I’m a bounty hunter, not a savage.
Me: Well, considering how well your business is doing, do you ever take
time out for fun?
Balthazar: Unfortunately, being a faerie-catcher is a full-time job.
My day actually starts at 4:00 AM NST when I pack up the faeries I’m going to
donate to the Money Tree. I keep three of each type around as decorations, then
about a quarter of what remains goes to the Money Tree. The rest I ship off
little by little to certain shops, and I occasionally pop a few by the Wishing
Me: How do you stay so stress-free without free time?
Balthazar: Well, I do try to take a day off every now and again. I beat
up on Punchbag Bob and Sid, play my favorite games, like Tombola, Dice-A-Roo,
and Extreme Herder.
Me: But I thought you had complaints about that game?
Balthazar: It’s inaccurate, sure, but it’s a great game. Its actually
quite fun to have to save Petpets from a fictionalized version of yourself.
Oh yes, I’ve one more complaint. I’d certainly never munch on Kacheeks. They’re
too cute, and I don’t like fur getting in my teeth.
Me: How can you know you don’t like fur in your teeth?
Balthazar: I ate an Evil Fuzzle when I was still a pup. Took me a week
to get all the fuzz out.
Me: That brings up an interesting point. What’s you opinion on the Lupe-Chia
Balthazar: the only Chia I’d ever eat is a Strawberry Jelly Chia. The
real things are too tough to barbecue.
Me: That just put an interesting picture in my mind. Okay, thank you
for this great interview Balthazar. Perhaps I’ll see you around.
Poogleemee: And don’t forget about shipping me those faeries!
I couldn’t drag my Poogle out of poor Balthazar’s hut until they had struck
up a deal. Let’s just say I’ll be in debt for a month if I’m as good at games
as I think I am. As for the faeries, something happened while they were in transit
and every single one escaped its bottle.
As for Balthazar, my suspicions were proven true. The poor Lupe is just a victim
of misunderstanding and is just trying to make a living and doing a fine job