When their owner, angel_apple_pie, came home, she and Lark talked privately
for what seemed like a million years.
But for Ermine, it was a good thing. She spent the whole evening adding to
her plan, until at last, it was perfect.
Before she went to bed, Ermine packed up a bag of all her favourite things.
A postcard from her tour of Mystery Island, a stuffed red Aisha doll. What she
had looked like before angel had painted her brown. And last but not least,
a photo of the whole family. Angel and Lark and Cloud and Sunset looked so happy.
Ermine had regrets when she looked at them. But then she looked at herself.
Yeah, she was smiling, but she wasn't happy. That's why she had to go.
Ermine set her alarm for 4:00 and fell into bed with her clothes on.
Ermine hastily wrote a note before she left that morning. It read:
I went to vacation in Mystery Island. Be back in a bit. I'll write!
Then, Ermine hoisted her pack onto her back and left.
Ermine crept silently to the Neolodge. She shivered, but not because she was
cold. All young NeoPets were warned that after dark was the thief's hour. She
knew it was just a story to get young NeoPets in bed on time, but it was a story
she had grown up hearing, and old habits die hard.
She had almost reached the Neolodge when she felt a hand in her pocket. She
turned around just in time to see a skunk Meerca making off with her wallet.
It's OK, she tried to convince herself, There were only 100 or so
Neopoint in there.
Finally, she reached the Neolodge and did as the Grarrl had said to.
"May I speak to Ulrick?" she asked the Lodge-keeper.
He nodded and pointed her down a hallway.
She knocked on the first door there and asked for Ulrick again.
The Shoyru who answered nodded and led her in.
"Have you come to enlist?" A huge Skeith who must be Ulrick said.
Ermine nodded reluctantly and Ulrick handed her a contract. She gulped. If
she signed, it was final.
Her paw wavered as she approached the paper, but she managed a shaky Ermingarde
"Right," Ulrick said, "So, uhh," he looked down at the paper, "Ermingarde.
We leave at dawn."
That morning, at 6:05, the troops set out. A Shoyru had explained to her that
they were heading to the Lost Desert, then to the Haunted Woods to look for
"What about Mystery Island?" Ermine asked.
"Man, those coconut-heads can't fight for jelly beans!" the Shoyru replied,
Back at Ermine's House...
"MUM!" Lark screamed. She waved the note Ermine had left in the air and raced
down the hall to angel's room.
"Mum!" Lark cried, throwing her door open.
"What?" angel asked, sitting up instantly.
"Ermine's gone!" Lark cried.
"What!?" Cloud said, "What do you mean 'gone'?"
"Well," angel said, "According to this note, she went to Mystery Island."
"We have to find her!" Lark said, "She can't be in Mystery Island NOW! It's
"Why?" Cloud asked.
"It's so near Tyrannia!" Lark said, "And the huge war they're having..."
Angel leaped out of bed, "We have to find her!"
Ermine wiped her brown and sighed, "Are we almost there?" she panted.
"No, not really," a huge Mynci named Aelfrick replied.
Ermine groaned and wondered for the eighty-billionth time whether there was
an easier way to make a name for herself.
No, Ermine thought, I'm going to do this, and there's no turning
"LUUUNCH!" Ulrick yelled. There was a stampede to the picnic basket and Ermine
wondered how a bag that tiny could feed a whole army. Apparently, it did. Everyone
had gotten their fill, and more, before Ulrick called out: "ABOUUT FACE! MOOOOVE
Ermine had finally found someone she knew from Neopia Central. A sketch Poogle
named Blue_Print. After they began talking, time seemed to go in fast motion.
It seemed they had only been walking for 5 minutes when Ulrick called, "SET
Great, Ermine thought, It's raining.
Aishas, like cats, hate rain and water. But, Ermine wasn't about to wimp out
She and Blue_Print found a tent in the huge wagon of supplies and together,
set it up.
"Pretty good, if you ask me," Blue_Print said, smiling.
The tent was lopsided and almost falling over, but it kept the two dry overnight.
The next morning, the troops moved out at dawn and Ermine and Blue_Print continued
The conversation ranged from how good rainbow Chia Pops tasted to how ugly
Aelfrick the Mynci was. Finally, Blue_Print asked a question Ermine had been
dreading. She knew it would come eventually, but she dreaded it anyway.
"So," Blue_Print said, "Why did YOU enlist?"
Ermine gulped. How could she explain?
To be continued...