Hello and thank you for joining us as we present this latest installment of The Neopian News Brief, your all-in-one source for everything that's been happening in Neopia. After taking a break for the holidays, there are now plenty of topics that need to be covered, so let's get right to it, okay?
Our lead story, of course, is the stunning end to the war in Meridell. Despite weeks of domination by the army of King Skarl, the forces of Lord Darigan continued diligently chipping away at Meridell's lead. For the grand finale, the two armies squared off against their fiercest opponents yet. Representing Meridell was the formidable Castle Defender; leading the citadel's forces was none other than Lord Darigan himself.
After weeks of toiling tirelessly, Darigan and his legions had finally pulled into a narrow lead when we last went to press. With the battle raging on into the weekend, the citadel was able to hang on and add to their lead. By the time the war had drawn to a close on Thursday, it was the forces of Lord Darigan who had managed an improbable comeback, finishing off the army of King Skarl and reclaiming the orb for themselves.
So then, what does the future now hold for these feuding factions? Will the citadel return to the prosperity that was theirs before losing the orb? If that is the case, will Lord Darigan be satisfied with taking his orb and leaving? Or will he try to insure that this epic clash doesn't have a sequel by deploying troops to occupy Meridell, or worse yet, enslaving his vanquished foes? Who knows, perhaps Meridell is just the first conquest in Lord Darigan's attempt to build a mighty empire of satellite states, unlike anything ever seen in Neopia? If so, who could be next... Tyrannia? Terror Mountain? NEOPIA CENTRAL?!?
Well, one thing's for sure; the fighting may be over, but this conflict is far from finished...
During the past month or so, a lot of pets out there have gotten spoiled... very spoiled. Oh sure, a Balthazar plushie here, a Krawk goodie bag there... but now that the Advent Calendar is gone, what are you going to do when that special someone comes up and gives you "the look"? (yeah, you know... that one!)
Well, have no fear, because the Toy Shop has just released a new slate of goodies that are sure to leave all their other toys in the dust. Who could possibly resist picking up a bouncy Zafara toy or pastel pogo stick for their pet? Moreover, when you consider that these toys have rarities as low as 65 and 70, there'll be no excuse for not swooping down in a few weeks and snatching up a bargain!
Also creating quite a stir is Tyrannia's newest sensation--furry furniture! The fur was certainly flying last Friday, as Neopians rushed from far and near for a chance to experience the cozy comfort of a furry sofa or arm chair. Luckily, the rarity of these items is low enough that most Neopians can find a place for a furry table in their wallets as well as their NeoHomes... so rush out and get yours today!
In fact, Tyrannia was so excited about the arrival of furry furniture that, this Wednesday, they revealed a trio of furry furniture stamps, which collectors eagerly snapped up. However, these tributes to furry furnishings weren't the only stamps that caused a commotion this week.
Stamp enthusiasts also rushed en masse to get their greedy little mitts on a quartet of Snowy Valley stamps. Featuring depictions of the Snow Faerie and other familiar snowy sights, this is one set that won't be getting a cold reception from collectors!
Lately, the biggest splash being made at the Rainbow Pool and Petpet Puddle has been the phenomenal success of the plushie paint brush, which has pets throughout Neopia clamouring for a chance to become stuffing and stitches. In under two weeks, no less than five pet species (and a whopping NINE Petpet species) have become available as plushies.
For those keeping score at home (and we know that you are!), you can now get plushie Kaus, Unis, Scorchios, Aishas, and Poogles, as well as plush Babaas, Noils, Puppyblews, Buzzers, Snarhooks, Pawkeets, Snorkles, Harris, and, of course, Slorgs (what, no Meep-its? Hmmph!). Now, thanks to Kauvara's latest batch of magical potions, there are more ways than ever to paint your pet plushie...
Not to be outdone, some new non-plush styles also made their debut during the past fortnight. Now, thanks to the magic of the Rainbow Pool, your pet can be transformed into an orange Buzz, checkered Ixi, or a Christmas Kacheek. Then afterwards, they can swing by the Wintery Petpet Shop and select one of the Powtrys that began turning up last Friday...
However, the big news this Friday was the arrival of... Aisha Day! That's right, Neopia began the first weekend of the new year with a real bang, as everyone gathered to celebrate these sly little rascals (and their Nerkmid-hoarding, gross-food eating six-eared alien brethren).
Along with the usual assortment of books, Battledome aids and confections that come with a pet's special day, Aishas were also the recipients of two new paint brush styles (island and orange) and a new set of Fun Images. Aishas were also featured in this week's Poetry and Caption Contests, as well as Friday's Pet Spotlight and Better Than You competitions. Oh, and there was even an Aisha transmogrification potion released (if you're into that sort of thing...)
Now, it's time to take a closer look at the latest news from the world of finance. With the Neodaq falling for the first week in two months, many skeptics out there are saying that this might be the end of an all-too-brief era. Ever since bottoming out on November 1st at 630, the Big Board had posted seven consecutive gains, climbing all the way up to last week's high of 1092. However, this week saw the index tumble a troubling one hundred and one points, all the way back to 991.
After three consecutive gains of more than a hundred points, the Neodaq's steep and sudden decline stunned many analysts. "Oh sure," said one market watcher, who spoke on condition of anonymity, "we knew the economy would slow down eventually. However, we expected it to be more gradual; you know... hundred point gain, fifty point gain, twenty point gain, then maybe a week or two of flatlining before the losses kicked in... we were totally unprepared for something this drastic."
Not surprisingly, the Neodaq's most valuable stock was hit hardest. The Neopian Auction House, which closed out last week at 244, fell a staggering forty points. However, despite this plunge, TNAH remains four times more valuable than its closest competitor, Unis Beauty Salon. UNIB was actually one of the week's biggest winners, putting up an impressive twenty-five-point gain.
So then, investors must now ask themselves: were the events of the past week a sign of hard times ahead, or just a momentary correction? Despite the naysayers, there are still plenty of optimists who are quick to point out the overall health of many economic indicators. The most telling statistic is the fact that only twenty-one out of the Neodaq's forty-five companies are valued under 15 NPs (a relatively low number). So, while now might not be the best time to go bargain hunting, it certainly doesn't appear to be the time for bailing out, either....