Eating and Hunting
I had been running some errands in Neopia Central and now I was heading
back home through the early afternoon sunlight. As I reached our driveway, though,
I was surprised to see Achilles81 and Moeioe both heading up the walk to the
front door just ahead of me. It was far too early in the day for Moeioe to be
done with school already, and it didn't dawn on me until I got closer to them
and noticed that Achilles had a firm hold on Moeioe's ear that our little brother
must have been sent home from school. Moeioe is generally well-behaved but any
young NeoPet gets into some mischief every now and then. Achilles certainly
understood this--he had done his own share of harmless trouble-making in his
youth--so I was curious as to what the little Moehog could have done to make
him look so stern.
"Hey guys," I said as I walked in the door behind them, "What's going on?"
Achilles wheeled around to face me, causing Moeioe to grimace silently as
Achi still had a firm hold on his ear. "You won't believe this MaxKanine," Achilles
fumed. "I had to go all the way to Mystery Island to pick him up because he
got kicked out of school for a week!"
I frowned at that. Looking down at Moeioe, I asked, "What did you do?"
Moeioe opened his mouth with an indignant expression on his face, but Achilles
spoke up before he could get anything out. "He bit a Chia!"
"Moeioe!" I cried, suddenly understanding why the normally placid Gelert was
"What?!" he shot back, finally managing to break free from Achi so that he
could walk up closer to face me. I raised my eyebrows at him, waiting to hear
his defence. "Maxi, I was just tryin' to be like you! I wanna be a brave, strong
Chia hunter just like all the Lupes. Lupes--Lupes hate Chias!"
My anger dissipated at this, but it turned quickly into sadness. "Oh Moeioe,
is that what you think? That Lupes hate Chias?"
I shook my head. "And that hunting Chias makes Lupes brave and strong?" Moeioe
shrugged a little, realising that there must be something wrong with his reasoning
if I wasn't patting him on the back. I sighed, "Moeioe, sit down. I have a story
to tell you..."
With Neopia's first spring in full bloom, it seemed to all of the NeoPets
that there was more food all around than any of them had eaten in their entire
lives. There were tons of delicious fruits and nuts growing on trees, juicy
berries blooming on bushes, hearty vegetables sprouting from the ground, and
all were thriving in the new warmth of the sun.
If any NeoPet became hungry, he had only to wander outside to find some wonderful
treat just waiting for him to pluck it from the earth and make a meal out of
it. It seemed to everyone that their supply of food was endless and everyone
could eat all they wanted.
Unfortunately, some of the NeoPets took this idea a bit too literally. Many
of the smaller creatures, such as the tribes of Chia, Jubjub, Meerca, Kacheek,
and Usul, had amazingly large appetites, and they began to take their prosperity
for granted. What's more, their numbers seemed to be increasing quite rapidly,
and the more small NeoPets that were born, the more that each one seemed to
need to eat.
Despite the plentiful feast that had appeared before them at the beginning
of spring, the other NeoPets began to notice that their food seemed to be dwindling
rapidly. Trees and bushes that were once practically overflowing with fruit
now had to be searched diligently to find even one withered morsel of food.
Fields that had once flourished with various vegetables were now barren and
dry except for a few scattered weeds. Their worry over this situation made it
all the more easy for the larger NeoPets to assign the blame.
"It's those tiny fellows," Skeith grumbled, "Especially that Chia and his
"Yeah!" Wocky snarled, "They're the smallest of all of us, and yet they eat
more food than all of us put together!"
As Grarrl, Kougra, Gelert, Eyrie, and the other large NeoPets mumbled their
agreement discontentedly, even Lupe had to concede that the smaller NeoPets
and their eating habits were becoming a dangerous problem. "They're multiplying
out of control, and taking more than their fair share," he admitted. "We have
to do something to stop them before they doom us all with their eating."
"We'd best go to the Faerie Queen!" Grarrl roared, (for he rarely spoke anything
except in a roar.) Lupe and the others considered for a moment and then nodded
their assent. They would have to bring the problem pets before the Queen and
let her solve their dilemma. Surely they had no other choice. They were all
certain that there would be no talking any sense into the little gluttons themselves.
So they formed a plan of action.
One night, each of the large pets crept into the den of each of the smaller
pets, captured the leader of each small-pet tribe, and met at an empty cave
they had designated for their purposes. Lupe himself was the one who grabbed
Chia Chia struggled and kicked out with his tiny feet at the large creature
who held him fast in his teeth, demanding to know what was going on but receiving
no answer. The others arrived one by one, each hauling along an angry prisoner
and refusing to reply to his questions. When all were finally assembled, Lupe
called out to the Faerie Queen, knowing that she would appear at their bidding,
just as she always did.
Indeed, the Queen appeared, but although she was as radiant as ever, an emotion
that the NeoPets could not recognise on her beautiful face seemed to cloud it.
Before anyone could address her, she spoke, "I know what you have called me
here for, and I do not wish to be assaulted by the voice of every NeoPet here.
You must choose one pet to speak for the large and one to represent the small."
Looking to the others for their approval, Lupe stepped forward and proclaimed,
"I will speak for the large NeoPets."
Struggling up from where Lupe had been pinning him to the floor, Chia wobbled
forward and squeaked, "I'll speak for the small NeoPets, although I don't know
what this is all about!"
"Very well," the Faerie Queen said. "Lupe, what is your grievance?"
"Your Highness," Lupe began, "The food in Neopia was once plentiful because
of the wonderful Spring that you have given us, but now it has grown scarce
and we all fear for the survival of our tribes. We wish you to solve this crisis,
and you should know who is to blame in order to do so. We larger NeoPets have
spoken to each other, and we believe that it is because of the greed of the
smaller pets that we are facing this dire problem. Their tribes have been growing
at uncontrollable rates and each of them eats more food than any of the larger
pets, with no thought of conserving what little food we all have to share between
us for the sake of their neighbours."
"What you have said appears to be true," the Faerie Queen said, and Chia looked
down at the ground, abashed. He looked up again quickly when she addressed him
though. "And Chia, did Lupe and his friends discuss this problem with you as
they did with each other?" Chia did nothing more than shake his head at that,
and the larger pets glanced at each other, something about the Queen's tone
and the question she had asked making them nervous. "I see," she continued.
"Very well, I have decided upon what I must do." All of the NeoPets in the cave
held their breath as they awaited her verdict.
"Chia, because your people have grown out of control and taken food greedily
without thought for the other NeoPets, I must find a way to punish you, as well
as to control your numbers. To that end, from this day on, your people shall
be hunted. You will continue to take food only from the land, but you yourselves
will be food for others, and must be forever watchful for your lives. You shall
no longer be so numerous nor be able to take food so freely that you endanger
the other tribes around you." The smaller NeoPets gasped at this. A few of the
larger NeoPets exchanged satisfied looks, but most of them had realised by now
that there was more to come.
The Faerie Queen turned to Lupe. "And Lupe, your people must also be punished.
You did not even try to speak to your smaller brothers and resolve the problem
among yourselves before you came to me to seek retribution. Rather than give
them a chance to mend their ways, you simply made them into enemies, and for
that you must remain their enemies forevermore. You shall be cursed from this
day on to hunt your fellow NeoPets, to depend upon them for your food, for your
Lupe and the others were horrified and dismayed by this proclamation, but
they saw the finality of it in what they now recognised as anger on the Faerie
Queen's lovely face. She slowly disappeared from before them, leaving them all
to deal with their new way of life. Thus, the Faerie Queen solved the problem
of their hunger, but not in any way that they had hoped. The Chias and other
small NeoPets were no longer too numerous nor ate too much; they had to keep
from getting too fat in order to run for their lives at any moment. But they
were not the only ones who were cursed. From them on, Lupe and the other large
NeoPets carried the hated instinct that forced them to hunt those who had once
been their friends. The first Month of Eating had brought the NeoPets their
first real problem, and their inability to solve it amongst each other led to
their first punishment in the first Month of Hunting...
"Every Lupe still carries the instinct that we received on that distant day,"
I concluded. "It will always be with us, but now that NeoPets no longer have
to search or hunt for their food, but instead have owners to provide for their
needs, most of us try to control that urge. Only a fool, who does not recognise
that it is a curse and not a gift, continues to hunt for sport or hatred. We
should all try to heal the wounds that were formed so long ago."
Moeioe bowed his head in shame. "I'm sorry Maxi. I--I didn't understand.
I won't ever do it again, I promise."
I put a paw on his shoulder. "It's all right Moeioe. I know."
"But you're still being punished Moeioe," Achilles interrupted us, pointing
him up the stairs to his room. Moeioe just nodded and trudged obediently toward
the stairs. Satisfied that he'd fulfilled his disciplinary duty as big brother,
Achilles headed into the kitchen to plan dinner.
As soon as he was out of sight, I stopped Moeioe, who had just reached the
foot of the stairs. Pulling him into a conspiratorial huddle, I whispered, "Be
good, buddy, and maybe later I'll sneak some Meaty Lupe Treats up to your room,
okay?" Moeioe grinned and continued up the stairs, as I called out after him,
"Imitation Chia meat of course!"
To be continued...