Needed: Part Six
DANTAM THOUGHT THAT he had done every assignment there was until Cap pulled
him aside one late afternoon when Feruli's team had gotten back early from their
scavenging duties. "I've got a job for you, Dantam," the old Skeith said, and
Dantam followed him expectantly as he walked away from where the others, who
were playing a game of hide and seek. Cap led him to a little cart that was
stored away amidst the piles of garbage and had a large cauldron in the back
of it. Dantam obediently allowed himself to be harnessed to the cart, used by
now to Cap's occasional cryptic ways and confident that he would explain everything
in due time.
As he and Cap were about to leave the junkyard,
Feruli wandered away from the others to come after them. "Cap, you know I can
do this," the Eyrie said.
"Yes, I know you can, my boy," Cap said in a
placating voice, "But Dantam and I will take care of soup duty tonight." Feruli
hesitated, but eventually he nodded his head with a sigh and went back into
the junkyard, allowing Cap and Dantam to continue on.
"He worries about me," Cap said to Dantam as
they traveled along the street, Dantam towing the cart behind him. "He was the
first young Neopet that I took in, you know." Dantam shook his head and the
old Skeith continued, falling into his familiar storytelling mode. "His old
owner used to fight him mercilessly in the Battledome. I've no doubt he was
quite good, but there's a limit even to what a skilled fighter can take, and
he was fighting against pets far stronger than himself. He was finally beaten
when his challenger tore his wings to shreds, and his owner couldn't be bothered
to pay pharmacy expenses or even take a trip to the Healing Springs for the
sake of a Neopet who had failed him. Instead, his wings passed the point of
any healing and his owner abandoned him to fend for himself. He was still a
young Eyrie, as toughened as he was by his owner's treatment and life on the
street, when I found him one night, trying to fend off a gang of bullies to
no avail. I chased the others off and somehow he and I never ended up parting
ways. It was fate I suppose, and I've had numerous similar run-ins with fate
over the years, until my 'family' has grown to what it is now."
As he finished his tale, Cap smiled fondly at
the thought of his 'children' back at the junkyard. He looked over at Dantam
and spoke again, "They've all got stories much like that one of how they came
to be on the streets. But you Dantam, you are different." When Dantam gave him
a confused look, he added, "Your owner loved you."
Dantam's mood changed instantly. "If she loved
me so much, then why did she leave me?" he asked angrily, his eyes glistening
with unshed tears. He sighed and bowed his head sadly toward the ground. "I
"Maybe she wanted to give you a chance to find
someone who needed you."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
Cap just shook his head and smiled. "Someday
you'll understand my boy, someday. For now all you need to know is that sometimes
things happen that even love cannot overcome. That doesn't mean the love is
A few minutes of silence passed between them
before Cap spoke again. "I was like you, Dantam. My owner's name was Sam, and
he really did love me. I know that in my heart, even though one day he just
stopped coming to Neopia. I don't know why. Whatever it was, I know it must
have been difficult for him to leave, and I try simply to cherish the time that
we had." Dantam looked over into the old Skeith's eyes, but quickly turned away
again, and Cap continued, "I stayed in my empty NeoHome for a few days, feeling
sorry for myself, and then I truly realised that he wasn't coming back, so I
left. That's when I found Feruli and took him under my paw. I found someone
else who needed me as much as I had needed Sam, and it took away a part of my
pain. With each new Neopet who needs me, I lose a little more of the hurt that
I felt, and I realise more and more that I really was loved."
Just then, a strange-looking building in the
shape of a cauldron came into their vision. "Is that where we're going-- the
Soup Kitchen?" Dantam asked, and Cap nodded, smiling. "I've never been there
before." Cap led him up to the wooden door and scratched on it with his long
A woman answered the door. She had straight brown
hair and plain clothes, but a simple beauty accentuated by the two golden wings
sprouting from her back. "Cap!" she exclaimed as she looked down and spotted
her two visitors. She bent down to hug the old Skeith and then ushered them
both inside. "Who's your new friend?" she asked as she unharnessed Dantam from
the cart and waved him over to a chair in the corner of her cozy home.
"This is Dantam," Cap answered. "He's been with
us for about a month now. I thought I'd let him in on our little arrangement."
The Soup Faerie nodded and sat on an old, worn couch across from Dantam. Dantam
watched as Cap clambered up onto the couch after her and the heavy Skeith settled
in her lap. A contented look settled over Cap's craggy features as the Soup
Faerie began stroking his scaly head, and when Dantam looked up, he saw that
the Skeith's contentment was mirrored in her own face.
The Soup Faerie continued to pet Cap, whose eyes
were now closed as if in sleep, as she spoke to Dantam. "Cap first came to me
years ago, looking for help... I'm not supposed to give my soup to pets who
don't have owners, but how could I just turn him and all of the sweet pets that
he cares for away? As needy as the pets are whose owners are poor, they are
not the most unfortunate ones in Neopia, after all. They do have someone who
"We have each other at least," Dantam interrupted
her. He meant what he said; he'd already come to think of the other junkyard
pets as a family, and he was proud to be a part of it. But at the same time,
Cap's knowing look and the happiness that radiated between him and the Soup
Faerie when they were together brought up memories of a similar happiness that
clogged Dantam's throat with tears and kept him from saying any more.
The Soup Faerie nodded and smiled benevolently
at him. "Yes, you do have each other... and now every month since I first met
Cap I give him all the leftover soup that I have. It's not much really, but
it's warm and filling, and there's plenty for all. I hope you'll like it." Still
unable to quite form words, Dantam just nodded his certainty that he would.
They stayed in the Soup Faerie's home and talked
amiably for hours. Dantam often found himself simply listening to the conversation
between Cap and the faerie, but he didn't mind. Part of him enjoyed watching
the ease and affection that passed between the two of them. Finally, noticing
that the sun was beginning to set, Cap reluctantly noted that they ought to
leave and pulled himself away from the Soup Faerie's arms. The Soup Faerie agreed
sadly, poured her soup into the cauldron that Dantam and Cap had brought, and
helped to harness Dantam to the cart again so that he could bring the soup home.
At the doorway, she patted Dantam fondly and then hugged Cap goodbye, making
him promise to come back soon.
"Cap?" Dantam questioned as they walked slowly
down the streets that were tinted rose by the setting sun.
"You and the Soup Faerie... you seem very close,"
Dantam ventured. "I bet that she would adopt you, if you asked her to."
"Yes, she would," Cap replied, turning his head
to smile at the Gelert. "You're a very observant fellow, Dantam. That will come
in handy someday."
Dantam waited through a few minutes of silence
before he spoke again. "But Cap, if you can have a home, an owner... then why
By now they had crested a small hill just outside
of the junkyard. Cap stopped there, and Dantam followed his line of vision to
notice that they could see the other homeless Neopets still playing in their
encampment in the centre of the junkyard. Cap looked over at Dantam and nodded
down at the pets down below. "Because they need me, Dantam... they need me."
To be continued...