Follow the Stars: An Aisha's Story - Part Four
Picking up the Quill
THOUGH I WAS quite enthusiastic about the Defenders, and got constant encouragement
from Reizend (who insisted it was "my destiny" to be a Defender), I slowly became
aware that there was more to life than my job, glamorous though it seemed. I
was missing out on my family's experiences, and I felt left-out. My siblings
insisted to me that they were fine, but I knew they just wanted me to continue
QVL gave me one last assignment, one he knew
meant a lot to me: capture the Pant Devil, once again. I succeeded, in a quiet
meadow near the home he'd recently burglarised. And so I began and ended my
career with a small blue urchin with a fetish for pants.
At home, I was welcomed with open arms; my family
had always been supporting, even if they didn't agree with my decisions. Reizend
had taken up drawing (and had pretty much stopped reading his extensive collection
of books), Juega exploring and gathering artifacts, and Klaue training. He'd
always been rather obsessed with his stats and didn't want to let them "go to
waste," as he said.
I found myself with nothing much to do. I tried
drawing with Reizend, but I couldn't even draw an acceptable smiley face. So
I joined Juega on some of her hunts, but I accidentally broke a priceless Maraquan
piece of pottery. Training with Klaue was likewise unfortunate, though not because
I was bad; because I was too good. He was getting jealous at the skills I'd
learned through the Defenders.
At one point, I was crossing through Reizend's
room to get to the kitchen when I noticed, truly noticed for the first time,
his library. Books of all sorts lined the shelves, almost hidden under the general
disarray Reizend was so fond of. I'd known, of course, that he was previously
a voracious reader before starting his art, but I'd never actually thought about
his books before, nor figured that they might be interesting. I'd borrowed that
fateful Neopian Deaths book from him, but that was it.
I stopped walking and began to examine the shelves,
looking for a book I might be able to borrow from him. Why not? I thought.
I've tried everything else to pass the time.
Eventually, I found a rather interesting tome
entitled Watch Out!, about the villains of Neopia. Quickly, I realised that
I could have used this while I was a Defender, and wondered why it wasn't required
reading for all "newbies". A quick call to QVL--who owed me a few favours collected
over the years--remedied the situation.
As soon as Watch Out! was finished, I moved on
to Life Behind the Bow Tie, Caring for Your Neopet (all volumes), Maps of Neopia,
Loyal Lupes, Golden Shoyru Book (Reizend's prized possession; I had to beg for
it), Popular Neopian Stories, Time Travel, Book of Bizarre Tales, Theories of
Physics, Uni Myths, Neopia's Past, Snowy - A White Kougra Story, and all the
others in his extensive collection.
I soon found that reading could make the time
fly and I was no longer bored. My siblings began to call me Bookworm, and they
made jokes about always finding me reading, but I didn't mind. My head was filled
with strange and wonderful ideas that I'd never encountered before. I learned
new concepts and ideas, and taught myself many more things. Sure, I had got
along fine before, but somehow this seemed superior. Reizend grinned every time
I brought this up, and he said the same thing had happened to him. It was amazing.
Eventually, I had read the majority of common
and some uncommon books in Neopia. Muas was only too happy to buy them for me,
and was very glad I'd found something to amuse myself with. Unfortunately, though,
there was a limit to our funding, and she couldn't buy me the rarer books. I
slumped back into boredom once more, until one fateful day.
I had just finished reading a story about Eyries
when I thought of a possible plotline for another Eyrie book. As I thought about
it more, I realised I could easily write it. Why wait for another author to
come up with the same idea? Why bother? Before I forgot it, I ran to my desk,
picked up the quill pen I kept there, and started writing. And before I realised
how long I'd been writing, I had an outline for the story completely mapped
out. All that remained was to write it...
...and write it I did, working morning till night
for a week. I edited, revised, and bugged my siblings about every paragraph.
They still recall me asking, "Does this sentence look OK? Would it sound better
reworded? Does it evoke emotion in you?"
Finally, I was confident that the story was the
best it could be. Everyone gave it a thumbs-up. I sent it in to the Neopian
Times early one Thursday morning, thinking that it was too late to get published
in Friday's issue. To my surprise, though, when I opened the newspaper the next
morning, there my story was:
The Impossible Dream
first time I'd ever seen my name in print was a joyous one for me. I
showed everyone the copy, and ordered dozens more. I couldn't resist
saying "I was in the Times, you know," and polishing my golden quill
trophy every day. I was falling victim to a massive ego, and it wasn't
even justified--all I'd written was this one short story!
was the one who brought it to my attention, gently, by taking me to
visit a few much more famous Neopians and Neopets who didn't act quite
so bigheaded. That certainly calmed me down; I stopped bragging and
started working on my next essay.
through, however, Muas hit some financial problems. I never really understood,
but I got the gist of it: Muas, while helping out some other Neopians,
had brought our bank account down to about 1,000 Neopoints--not enough
for four pets and a human to eke out a living on, even with omelettes
and games. We all gathered in the living room to figure out what to
for us at the time, publication in the Times was not profitable; no
one made any money off of it; none of the things my siblings did would
gain us any NP either. After a bit of hard thinking, I latched upon
an idea: a store!
have all of those books," I said, motioning in the general direction
of Reizend's room, where our books were still kept. "I've read them,
Reizend's read them, and Klaue and Juega have read the ones they want.
We don't have to keep them. They're probably worth a good deal of money,
especially Golden Shoyru Book.
you wouldn't have to do any of the work. I'd love to do it, since I
could write in my spare time."
sounds like a great idea," said Muas, "especially if you could do it.
Reizend, are you OK about selling your books?"
said Reizend. "I don't read much anymore, anyway."
set to work carting all the books to Muas' shop, which she was letting
me turn into a bookstore, the next day. Juega and Klaue helped briefly,
but mostly, it was my work; I didn't mind. I cleared out the old items
there, and set the books up, dusting them and the shop itself until
they all shined. And then, the next day, it opened.
flood was immense. I suppose people had come by, seen the shop, and
then realised they would want to check it out when it was open. At any
rate, I almost sold out in the first few hours and found myself low
on stock by the end of the day. Muas used half of the money from the
till to buy more books for the next day.
course, the business tapered off, but it was steady for many days. I
worked on my articles between customers and got more done than I'd ever
thought I could. After a month, we had enough Neopoints for me to open
another shop in Faerieland, selling not just Faerie books, but books
of all shapes and sizes; from childrens' simplistic little stories to
gargantuan epics even the most learned of Neopians hesitated to try.
I kept writing. It became the love of my life. I wrote fictional stories,
mostly--stories about the Defenders, about adventures, about simple
little acts of kindness; and people loved it. One fan wrote me, "it
was in your stars to write." I was amazed that people thought my work
was of such high quality.
day, I sat down, parchment in front of me, quill in my paw, and thought
of what I could write. I decided that my life might not seem interesting
to me, but I should preserve it for others. And so I began to write...