When I first got saddled... err... made friends with
my Lupe, Stonewolf3x, I was perfectly happy just roaming around Neopia as just
the two of us. I would sit around counting potatoes as he ripped the heads off
of chocolate Chias and ate them. I figured life was good at 37101 Tyrammet Close,
Then just before his birthday, Stonewolf3x sat
staring at me from across the room. He was parked on a comfy stone carpet in
front of our dung fireplace, and I was shifting around on the stone sofa trying
to think of what possessed me to buy nothing but rock-hard furniture for the
entire house. Well, actually he wasn't STARING at me, he was GLARING at me.
I really shifted uncomfortably then. I learned that with Lupes you need to be
diplomatic and tactful so I stared back at him and screeched, "WHAT???"
"I'm blue," he hissed through clenched teeth.
I didn't think he looked particularly sad, but
living with a Lupe had taught me that everything about them is as clear as a
pile of sludge. I figured he wanted some sort of mental hug, since an actual
hug looked about as welcome right now as a bite on the neck by Count Von Roo.
"Why are you unhappy?" I asked in my look-I'm-being-sympathetic-don't-chew-my-elbows-off
"I didn't say I was unhappy," he snarled, his
eyelids narrowing to icy slits, "I said I'm BLUE."
I pondered this for a moment, trying to understand
the subtle difference between being blue and being unhappy. He must have seen
the blank look on my face because he snorted in disgust.
"If you cared about me, I wouldn't be blue,"
he continued, his tail swishing in agitation. "I'd be PAINTED like all the other
Lupes I know."
"Ohhh..." I replied, the cloud lifting from
my mind and drifting lazily off towards Faerieland. It was immediately replaced
by a vision of glittering golden Neopoints rising skyward out of my wallet and
floating off after it.
"I have a great idea!" I gushed enthusiastically.
"Let's go grab some omelette for breakfast!"
Several minutes later we were approaching the
massive blob of molten egg. I had decided to build our NeoHome in Tyrannia in
the first place because I was so pathetically poor that the idea of living right
next door to free omelette every day appealed to me. As we got close, the warm,
wonderful aroma of free sausage and free pepperoni nicely browning in free egg
filled my nostrils. The drool of anticipation in my mouth could have filled
a dung bathtub. Wolf plopped himself down and leisurely surveyed the scenery.
I waited for a long long long long time. About fifteen seconds. Then I casually
He swiveled his head in my direction for a moment
and gave me a "Do I know you?" look and then focused his attention on a random
void of space. I actually shivered from the icy blast of the cold shoulder he
was giving me. But my brain was in my stomach at the moment so I wasn't as quick
on the uptake as I should have been.
"Aren't you going to go grab some?" I asked
in a tone mixed with naive hopefulness and utter cluelessness.
"My birthday is coming soon," he drawled. "And
I bet you don't have my present yet."
I was dumbfounded for a moment and then sputtered,
"If you would go and grab some omelette, that would be a nice present for both
I stared enviously at a baby Aisha lying bloated
at the edge of the omelette and moaning as an Angelpuss rubbed her stomach soothingly.
Stonewolf3x merely jerked his nose up in the air and snorted.
"Okay," I said, feeling my shoulders sag down
to my knees in defeat. "How much is this going to cost me?"
"Omelette is free, stonehead," he growled.
"I mean a paint brush!" I shot back, guessing
it was probably my turn to be irritated now.
All I saw then was a blur of blue streaking
towards the omelette. Seconds later he came trotting back with a carrot and
pea omelette in his mouth. He walked past me and settled down in a spot next
to a rock that was frighteningly identical to the hewn stone chair in our living
room. I parked myself on the rock and waited for my share. It's no wonder I
get six invitations a day from the Clueless Optimists of Neopia Guild.
Stonewolf3x chewed on a corner of the egg square.
I cleared my throat as loudly as I possibly could.
He simply ignored me. So I tried again. And
again. And again. I cleared my throat so many times a passing Tonu handed me
a bottle kikoughela syrup and patted my arm sympathetically. So I did what any
Lupe owner would do. I caved in.
"What exactly is it you are thinking of, paint
Wolf chucked me 1/3 of the omelette and gazed
intently at a large green figure with tusks in the distance growling, "NO! You
cannot take more than one slice per day!"
He smiled smugly and replied, "Well, since we
live in Tyrannia, I want to be painted Tyrannian."
I winced. "Ummm... bad news, there buddy, but
Lupes can't be painted Tyrannian..." I replied. Wolf glared at me as if I were
"Sabre-X is a Tyrannian Lupe," he retorted indignantly.
"Well, yeah..." I said hesitantly. "But he's
the only one who is... I don't know why, but regular Lupes just can't be painted...
"Fine," he snorted in disgust. "Then I want
to be painted ghost."
My brain began spinning in desperation like
the Wheel of Misfortune.
"Ummm... bad news again, but Lupes can't be
painted ghost either."
He no longer looked at me as if I were insane.
Now he looked at me as if I were an alien from another planet with arms growing
out of the top of my head.
"The Ghost Lupe is a ghost Lupe," he sneered,
his egg-coated fangs gleaming yellow the bright sunlight.
Before I could answer, a volcano erupted on
the other end of the plateau, shooting up molten lava like a... well, like a
volcano. Stonewolf3x's eyes glittered in fascination.
"FIRE," he said with breathless awe. "I want
to be painted fire."
My eyes bulged so far out of my head I looked
like a Greeble. I think my skin colour also matched one. A Fire, Fire, Your
Pants on Fire Paint Brush was one of the most expensive paint brushes around.
I gave him my most pitiful please-don't-make-me do-this look, but he just grinned
and said, "I'll walk you to the bank."
The Mystery Island Trading Post was deceivingly small and shabby on the outside.
It looked like nothing more than a grass shack. When we walked inside, the place
was bare and deserted. But along the walls, looking about as natural in a grass
hut as an abominable snowball in the Lost Desert, were six elevators. In the
centre of the tiny room was a large directory map proclaiming, "YOU ARE HERE".
Stonewolf3x stepped briskly up to the board and scanned it quickly.
"Paint brushes are on the third level," he said,
more to himself than me.
I followed him to one of the elevators, stepped
inside and... stood. He stared at me for a moment and said with irritation,
"Well what?" I replied, smiling with mock innocence.
I cracked my knuckles and wiggled my fingers in the air just inches from the
buttons on the panel. "It's a real bummer not to have fingers, huh?" I chuckled,
and pressed the number 3. It felt good to be useful for something.
Several seconds later the doors slid open on
a large hall with a high ceiling. It was teeming with screaming, panicking pets
and humans. The crowd would look up at the stock market board on the far wall
at the neon ticker-tape board. Stock abbreviations and numbers were scrolling
rapidly by on it. Groups of people and pets broke off from the crowd and dashed
off in a huge clump to where the hot items of the moment were being traded.
It looked like a Kau stampede. We stepped out into the room and looked around
for the corridor to the paint brush wing.
"Babaa," snorted a red ixi standing close by.
"I beg your pardon?" I asked, turning towards
"Sheep. All jumping together at the same time.
None of them have clue what a real bargain is."
I nodded knowingly. Except that I wasn't feeling
knowingly at all. I hadn't a clue what a real bargain was either.
"Now you look like the intelligent sort," he
said, looking me over. "I bet you're the type who can spot market trends and
buy in advance, when the price is low. Then when you resell, you make a bundle.
Am I right?"
I nodded and shrugged, my mind drifting towards
the two hundred and fifty-seven bottles of green sand in my safety deposit box.
Someone had once told me that when NeoGardens came they would be worth something
because it says on them, "From the lush western shores of the island, this sand
is reputed to make anything planted in it grow twice as big." I hadn't exactly
made a bundle on that.
The ixi moved close me and opened the Chomby
and the Fungus Balls jacket he was wearing. Casting a quick look around,
he pulled out what looked like a radioactive carrot.
He raised a hoof to his lips and whispered dramatically,
"This is worth over a hundred thousand Neopoints. It's an unbuyable.
This is an item most people don't know about, but it's worth having! But for
you, since you look like someone who would really value a bargain, I'll part
with it for ninety thousand."
"What is it?" I asked, keeping my distance in
case it was some sort of weird salad experiment gone horribly wrong.
The ixi grinned and waved it under my nose.
I leaned back so far everyone must have thought I was doing the Limbo without
bothering with minor details like music and a stick.
"It's a magical glowing carrot!" he breathed
in hushed excitement. Before I could ask the obvious question, like "huh?",
the ixi continued, his purple eyes shining with a bright gleam even more unnerving
than the vegetable he was holding.
"It changes any Cybunny that eats it into a
glowing Cybunny!" he whispered enthusiastically.
"It does?" I asked, reaching for it.
Before my fingers connected, the ixi let out
a howl of pain and galloped off into the crowd. I turned and looked at Stonewolf3x.
He spat out a tuft of ixi tail and shook his head at me in disgust. He then
turned and began striding quickly towards a hallway with a huge banner that
read "Paint Brushes".
"What if it really does make a Cybunny
glow?" I asked in a breathless pant after catching up to him. "It was a magical
He rolled his eyes and replied, "When we get
to the paint brush kiosks, just let me do the haggling, okay?"
The paint brush wing was eerily quiet compared
to the mayhem of the main hall. There were rows and rows of empty booths with
huge banners that read "Fire paint brush! Cheapest on post!" with little hand-scrawled
notes on them that said "be back tomorrow" or "be back next week" or "be back
when the Faerie Queen marries Dr. Sloth".
Stonewolf3x headed down the rows and stopped
dead at the first kiosk that actually had life inhabiting it. I followed close
behind. The last thing I wanted to do was to get lost in a maze. The boy behind
the counter appeared to be about eleven years old. He was playing with a Yoyo
of Death and he looked extremely bored as it bounced up and down on the string.
A white Elephante play-wrestled with a checkered Korbat behind him. The Elephante
was losing badly.
"Knock it off, guys," the boy drawled. "We have
"Fire paint brush?" Wolf asked with a look of
boredom almost matching that of the boy behind the counter.
"Yeah. Got one." The boy nodded but was focusing
his attention on the Yoyo of Death as he flipped it over the back of his hand.
"What do you want?" Wolf asked.
"Whatever it's worth."
"What do you think it's worth?"
"I dunno. Make me an offer."
Wolf sat down and simply glared at him. Finally
the boy shrugged and said, "A hundred and sixty thousand, I guess."
"Deal." Wolf replied.
My mouth flew open and I stared at my Lupe in
disbelief for a minute. "Masterful haggling job there," I grumbled as I opened
up my wallet. I laid the hundred and sixty thousand Neopoints on the counter.
The boy looked at it for a minute but didn't make a move.
Wolf sighed and said to me, "Aren't you forgetting
I looked at the Neopoints. I was sure I had
counted them right.
"An item," Wolf hissed impatiently. "You need
to offer an item too. This is a trading post."
"Oh," I said and dug into my pocket. I pulled
out a tiki tack key ring and laid it on top of the Neopoints haltingly.
"You know, this key ring has sentimental value.
It's the first thing the Tombola man ever gave me..." I said slowly.
Both the boy and my own Lupe laughed.
"You're really funny," the boy said, snatching
up the Neopoints and key ring and plopping down a Fire, Fire, Your Pants
on Fire Paint Brush. "That's the funniest thing I've heard since someone
offered me a magical glowing carrot for ninety thousand Neopoints."
We emerged from the Mystery Island Trading Post one fire paint brush richer
and one hundred and sixty thousand Neopoints poorer. Stonewolf3x was eager to
get to the Rainbow Pool for his complete makeover, but I hesitated. I was limping
badly from the pain in my wallet. He was several yards ahead of me when he turned
and sat down, thumping his tail on the ground impatiently.
"Come on!" he urged.
I looked off in the distance, pondering. "You
know... Faerieland is on the way... I think we should stop and play the Wheel
He rolled his eyes and mumbled to himself in
exasperation, but I could be just as firm and unyielding as he was when I wanted
"Pretty pleaseeeeee?" I whined.
"And what if the Pant Devil pops up and steals
my paint brush?" he demanded.
"Nah, I feel real lucky today."
I could tell he was completely unconvinced so
I whimpered a little more for effect. I even clasped my hands together in the
standard beg. He snorted. Which means yeah-sure-fine-whatever in Lupe-speak
Stonewolf3x walked down from the platform of the Wheel of Excitement black
with soot and with wisps of smoke billowing off of his singed fur.
"Whoa! That Lava Ghoul is one scary dude, huh?"
I remarked, careful to avoid the asparagus daggers darting out of his eyes and
streaking in my direction. With the hope of being helpful and not getting razor-sharp
Lupe fangs in my kneecaps, I added, "Nothing beats a nice cool bath at the Healing
Springs after something like this, huh?"
"Whatever you say, Mr. Lucky," Wolf snarled
The Water Faerie at the Healing Springs only
healed Stonewolf3x fifteen out of his 122 hit points, so he sulked all the way
to Neopia. A fog of dark smoke still wafted above him like a cloud of doom.
But I was sure that Wolf's mood would change when we got to the Rainbow Pool.
As we approached the Spectrum Arch, a starry
zafara--newly painted--snickered, "Tried to paint yourself fire the hard way,
She giggled and bounded off. Wolf cast me an
Stonewolf3x stepped in the waters of the Rainbow
Pool and steam actually hissed and rose up all around him for a moment. When
he sat down, the water boiled and bubbled like a jacuzzi. I must confess I felt
a tad guilty for a moment about his flame-broiled fur, especially when hunks
of it broke off and floated in the water like grassy blue islands. I pulled
out the Fire, Fire, Your Pants on Fire Paint Brush and tossed it to him.
He caught it, and the moment he did a radiant blinding light exploded from the
brush clenched in his teeth. It was the sort of light I imagine people see just
before they catch a glimpse of Elvis in Grundo's Cafe.
When my eyes came into focus again, a dark unfamiliar
shape was moving towards me. The regal, sophisticated-looking Lupe strode to
the edge of the pool and stepped gracefully out. He waited until he was right
next to me to shake himself vigorously. As I stood there drenched, with water
droplets dripping off the tip of my nose like a leaky faucet, I KNEW that it
"Thanks, bud," I muttered. "I needed that. I
haven't had my shower yet today."
"No problem. Glad I could help," he replied
I couldn't stay irritated at him for long though.
He really looked awesome. "You really look awesome," I said.
"Sure," he snapped. "For someone who has just
been char-broiled by the Lava Ghoul."
I had a sneaking suspicion he was still annoyed
by something, so I said cheerfully, "Well anyway, now you have something for
"No, I don't," he replied in an icy tone.
"What do you mean you don't?" I sputtered.
"What's the point of being painted a cool colour
when I keep getting toasted by the Lava Ghoul and frosted by the Snowager?"
I was so completely at a loss as what to answer,
I just stood wordlessly moving my mouth like a dummy without a ventriloquist.
"If you cared about me, I wouldn't HAVE to do
stupid dangerous things just so you can get free stuff or more Neopoints," he
continued, his tail swishing in agitation. "I'd have a BODYGUARD to do that
kind of stuff, just like all the other Lupes I know."
I had a expression on my face that was so blank
that a passing Tonu handed me the book Inside the Mind of a Lupe and
patted my arm sympathetically. I flipped it open to the chapter titled "Lupes
Don't Like to Do Stupid Dangerous Things Just So You Can Get Free Stuff or More
Neopoints". The entire chapter was one sentence. It read, "Get him a bodyguard."
"Okay," I sighed in defeat. "How much is this
going to cost me?"
To be continued...