Hi. My name is blchocobo. Things have been winding down
lately into the gray of winter. The other day I was doing the dishes and staring
out into the back yard. MonoKeras had finally cleaned up the last of his mess
out there and had stashed anything useful in the basement. (Actually, we didn't
have a basement until he put stuff there, but that's another story.)
I didn't realise how loud I'd sighed until Kallisari
spoke up behind me. "Why so sad, blchocobo? This is a time of celebrating!"
"That's what they say. But look at it! Cold,
gray, dreary. The trees and everything are dead and brown and then everything
gets sopping wet with rain."
"Aw, we have some sunny days too."
"Huh. Not for long. Come four thirty and it's
dark again. And the sun never gets too high in the sky--you'd think it's four
in the afternoon most of the day. Big help that is."
"Well, but... still! There's lots of nice things
to do. I mean, shopping for presents is always fun. How's yours coming?"
"I... okay, I guess."
"Well see? There you are then!"
I kept quiet and let her think she'd proved
her point. I didn't dare tell her that she'd just hit what was maybe the darkest
spot in my foul mood. Presents cost money, and of four pets in the household,
I was the one that had the most trouble with that. MonoKeras had his detective
agency to produce income, and since he and Kallisari were married, they sort
of pooled their finances, so she didn't have to worry either. Heilley always
had gobs of Neopoints that she got from playing Cheat! at Spectre's casino.
I, on the other paw, stayed home and did a lot of the housework- and you don't
get paid for that.
The wind whined out back, and a loud creaking
sound came from above our heads. Kallisari looked upwards nervously. "When are
we going to get that hole fixed? I keep hearing those awful moans from the house.
It sounds like it's about to collapse."
"It might be," our owner replied.
I looked over my shoulder briefly as he came
into the dining room. "That doesn't sound good."
"You're right," he agreed. "It doesn't. I'd
been hoping that MonoKeras would come up with ideas about fixing things, since
it was his lab that was turned into a huge gaping hole. But he's busy laying
plans for another, and doesn't seem at all interested that the place is about
to come apart at the seams."
"I'm sorry," Kallisari said contritely. "He
gets that way sometimes."
"Oh, no need for you to apologise. I'm probably
the one that should be doing something about it anyway. And you're right about
the sounds. I think I'll go get a crew in here as soon as possible."
It was a good thing I'd gotten the dishes caught
up that morning. The kitchen was filled with workmen and our owner the rest
of the day, talking about how to fix the huge spot on the floor above that used
to be MonoKeras' lab. It wasn't until the next morning that I was able to get
something decent cooked again and get things cleaned up.
MonoKeras leaned back in his breakfast chair
and burped. "Now that's what I call a good breakfast. How do you manage these
Kallisari gave him her wide-eyed innocent look.
"With lots of help! Blchocobo does most of it, and I get to add the seasonings
"My compliments to the chef," MonoKeras said
as he winked at me.
"Indeed," our owner agreed. "But I think we
need to get the chef and all the rest of you out of the house today. Those builders
are going to be here all day today just starting on rebuilding the place. How
does a trip to Terror Mountain sound?"
"Yick!" MonoKeras gave a shiver. "Been there,
done that, got the frozen nostrils to prove it."
"For once, big brother, you're right." Heilley
chimed in. "It's torture trying to get ice crystals out of your 'do."
"It is?" Kallisari looked surprised. "I'd think
they'd just melt out when you got inside."
"Yeah, then leave you soaking wet, chilled to
the bone, and with a totally blitzed hairdo. No thanks!"
"I hadn't thought of that. I always worry more
about my tail flukes freezing."
Our owner laughed. "Okay, okay, I get the idea!
We'll visit the Lost Desert today. Better?"
"That sounds neat!"
"Fine with me."
We stayed just long enough to make sure our
construction crew arrived, then caught the neotube headed south. I bounced happily
off the train, glad to feel the warm sun. It wasn't as hot as it got in the
summertime, but it was still a lot more and a lot higher than I'd felt in way
Although we started out together, it didn't
take long for us to go our own separate ways. Heilley never made it past the
Sakhmet Solitaire tent - one look at a deck of cards and she was hooked. MonoKeras
wound up browsing through the scrolls at Sutek's, and Kallisari was totally
entranced with Peopatra's petpets. I wound up wandering around, simply enjoying
the warm sun and the busy crowd of pets. It was nice not to feel so out of place.
Being one of the few Desert painted pets is fine for being unique, but it gets
lonely after a while.
I was passing by the food stall when I saw the
Shoyru. He was sitting glumly on a box of food, staring down at a broken crate
He glanced at me. "Yeah. I broke another crate.
A whole day's profit, scattered on the ground."
"That's too bad."
"Say, do you come from up north?"
"Yeah, I guess you could say that, why?"
He got a wistful look in his eyes. "Ever see
I couldn't help but laugh a little. "Yes, of
"I wish I could. All my life, and I just hear
stories about it. Now I'm losing money because I'm so busy wishing for snow
I'm not seeing where I'm going. Say, you wouldn't want to buy a ummagine, would
"Er... I'm afraid not."
He drooped again. "I thought not. No one wants
one after it's been rolled in the sand."
"Well... don't worry, I'm sure something will
I walked off, trying not to feel guilty. I knew
I didn't have any reason to, but I hated not helping him out. The fact that
I didn't have any money to buy anything with just made me feel worse, not better.
How was I supposed to get anything for Celebration Day if I couldn't even buy
a piece of fruit, for pities' sake.
We headed back home that evening, Kallisari
still sighing about the cute little Wadjets and other critters. MonoKeras had
his nose buried in a scroll, ferreting out some sort of obscure magical formula,
or piece of history, I wasn't sure which. Heilley was grumbling about her bad
luck at Sakhmet Solitaire.
We came home to find the kitchen looking a lot
different. The back wall, next to the hallway, had been torn open, and extra
reinforcing beams were partly installed. All sorts of boards and tools littered
the place, and I knew that I was out of the cooking business for another spell
while things got fixed again.
If there's anything worse than having troubles
gnawing at you, it's having the ability to do anything productive taken away
from you at the same time. All you can do then is sit and brood, and I was not
looking forward to doing just that the next day.
The next morning, I'd just gotten into a good
deep sulk, convinced the world was against me, when our owner made his little
"Blchocobo, you and I are taking a trip to Terror
Mountain this morning."
"Huh? Why me?"
"Well, let's see. If I remember right, you're
the only one that didn't immediately object to it yesterday. And you're also
the only one around here that doesn't have somewhere else to be today, and nothing
What could I say? "Okay."
We stepped off the ferry, and Terror Mountain
was every bit as cold as I'd remembered it. Even colder! I trudged after my
owner as we plowed through the snow, morbidly wondering if freezing my tail
off would be enough to distract me from my other worries. He stopped before
a building I'd never noticed before, and then led me inside. I looked around,
wondering what the big deal was. The room was full of pets and their owners
- any more, and it would've been so tight that no one could have moved. I just
held onto my owner's hand as we moved towards a back wall.
It was when I saw light coming from the wall
that I realised something special was going on. We drew closer and my jaw dropped.
There was a huge diorama spread out before us. The wall itself had a picture
frame surrounding the huge opening. Pets and their owners were stepping up into
the diorama one by one... and disappearing!
I couldn't contain my questions. I tugged at
my owner's hand and hissed up at him, "how do they do that?"
"Holograms," he muttered back. "Hold on, our
turn is coming up soon."
Holograms? Apparently it meant something to him. Me, I just waited and found
out by experience what it was - and it was certainly something!
"Right, come on, over you go!"
I followed my owner over the frame and into
the barnyard scene before us. As we stepped further into the image, I practically
fell over myself trying to dodge a whinny... but my owner pulled me right on
through! Before I could figure out what was going on, I collided "nose first"
with the nodding Ixi at the back, and wound up lost in a fog. I started to yell
for help, and then I felt something drop over my neck.
I was almost ready to panic as we re-emerged
back into the snow of Terror Mountain. I looked up frantically to find that
my paw really was still being firmly held by my owner. "What was that?" I gasped.
My owner grinned down at me. "Look in your paw
"Huh?" I looked. "Hey! Neopoints?"
"That's right. We can get a few hundred Neopoints
a day here - plus neat prizes."
"Prizes?" I started to ask him what he meant
by that, but I stopped myself in time. A bag was hanging around my neck, and
I opened it up to find what he meant. "Ohhhh! Candy!"
"Yeah, and it's not limited to that. They call
this place the Advent Calendar, and you get to come here once a day every day
during the month of Celebrating."
"Oh, okay... that's nice." I floundered as I
tried to take in this new idea. I didn't get any time to sit around and think
about it, because my owner immediately started leading me back to the ferry.
We were almost there when he casually dropped
the bombshell. "There's no need for you to tell the others about this. The way
I figure it, you can use these prizes and money to get all the Celebration presents
that you need."
He looked down at me with a raised eyebrow.
"Never mind, I understand," I replied hastily.
"It's just... wow... thanks."
He nodded slightly. "Don't mention it."
My eyes watered as I realised the full extent
of what he'd just done. I felt rather guilty about my harsh thoughts earlier.
Although you would have to practically use force to get him to say it, I've
always found that our owner's actions tend to show his love more certainly than
words ever could. I remembered again my repeated admonitions to MonoKeras and
the girls about how you should never underestimate what our owner saw, even
when he didn't say anything.
The cold wind blew over the docks from the mountain
behind us and I hastily dried my eyes before they froze shut. We boarded the
ferry back for the trip to the mainland, and wound up on the top deck. At first,
I was too busy with my own thoughts and tentative plans for a season that had
suddenly become brighter, but then I became aware that my owner was quiet, too.
He finally broke the silence. "Blchocobo, I
think I'm going to need your help."
"Well, I've got some plans for a great Celebration
Day gift or two, but things are a bit complicated and I need you to help cover
He explained further. By the time he was finished,
I'd managed to shut my mouth again and was nodding agreement. I was looking
forward to getting back home now. This would be the best celebration season
To be continued...