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The Tombola Exposed

by rainbow_unicorn81


MYSTERY ISLAND - The Tombola Man. Who is he? Where did he come from? How on Neopia does he manage to run the Tombola and where does he get all the prizes from? These are questions that I'm sure most Neopians have asked themselves. In this article, I'll explore some theories and possible explanations.

My first theory is that the Wishing Well in the Neopian Bazaar is actually a project started by the Tombola Man to fund the Tombola. After all, the Neopedia itself admits that few who visit the Wishing Well come away without empty hands. The idea that the more you give to the Wishing Well, the more likely you are to get the item want makes sense enough, but it could also be a very clever way of getting honest, hardworking Neopians to give as many Neopoints as they possibly can. However, this theory does not go without investigation, so I have interviewed Katara the Zafara for the purpose of this article. Katara, as some of you may know, features in the Neopedia article for the Wishing Well.

RAINBOW_UNICORN81: Katara, thank you for coming in. How about we start with a recount of your experience with the Wishing Well?

KATARA: Well, OK. My brother Petro had just come back from the Money Tree - he goes there every day to see if he can grab some items or Neopoints. He told me that he had been overcome by these nasty red blotches as he was coming back from the Collectable Card Shop. It was plain that I had to do something, so I dipped into my emergency stash of Neopoints and rushed off to the Shop Wizard to buy him a slice of Neopox Pizza. When I got there, I learned that a slice of Neopox Pizza was going to cost me much more than what I had on hand. The Shop Wizard suggested that I go to the Wishing Well. I was expecting a long queue, but there were only a few Neopets lined up at the well. I've got to admit, my hopes were not high, but it was worth a shot. I told the Well what I wanted and emptied my Neopoints into it. Nothing.

RAINBOW_UNICORN81: And then what?

KATARA: Well, it's difficult to remember exactly. I went home, thoroughly disappointed, and tried to soothe my brother's feverish rash with some chicken soup and a comfy blanket. It was no use. I could barely sleep because my poor brother was moaning so loudly. The next morning, I was woken by a yell. I ran to my brother's room to see him eating a slice of Neopox Pizza. I could only assume that the Well had granted my wish.

RAINBOW_UNICORN81: How do you know that the Neopox Pizza came from the Wishing Well? Couldn't your owner have bought the cure for Petro?

KATARA: Well, I guess so... are you saying that the Wishing Well doesn't work?

RAINBOW_UNICORN81: No, no, not at all. I'm testing a theory. But I appreciate you coming in to answer my questions.

KATARA: You're welcome. Good luck with your theory... whatever it is.

And after this, Katara left, leaving me with more questions than answers. So I decided to see for myself if the Wishing Well was for real. I asked my Shoyru, Skizlina, to come along with me. Fortunately, there was no queue at the Wishing Well. I asked Skizlina to drop to the bottom of the Well and see what was down there. It must have been a pretty deep well, because I could barely hear Skizlina when he called out to me. There was nothing in the Well, at least nothing he could see. I dropped him a torch, but he still couldn't see anything. Not a single Neopoint. The well was completely empty. At that point, I decided that I had run into a dead end, and that it was time to test another theory.

My second theory was that the Tombola Man was receiving donations from the manager at the Neopian Bank to fund the Tombola. I mean, think for a second. The Skeith manager must handle billions and billions of Neopoints every day. Who'd notice if a few hundred thousand Neopoints 'mysteriously disappeared'? Anyway, Skizlina and I paid a visit to the Neopian Bank. The Aisha desk clerk was busy stuffing papers into filing cabinets and writing replies to neomails. I guessed this was as good a place to start as any, so I approached the desk. The Aisha clerk looked up, pen in hand.

RAINBOW_UNICORN81: Excuse me, miss, but is the Skeith manager available?

AISHA CLERK: Sorry, no, I'm afraid he's not. And I really can't talk to you right now either. I am very busy writing replies to these neomails. See this stack here? I don't get paid enough to do this.

RAINBOW_UNICORN81: Where are all the neomails coming from?

AISHA CLERK: For a few months now neomails have been pouring in from angry customers who insist that their bank accounts are missing Neopoints. I can only do so much, I'm just an underpaid desk clerk, and the Skeith manager has far better things to do than listen to Neopians complain about missing Neopoints.

RAINBOW_UNICORN81: Why would Neopoints be missing from their banks?

AISHA CLERK: Why are you asking me all these questions? I have a job to do!

RAINBOW_UNICORN81: I am testing a theory, and I would appreciate your cooperation.

AISHA CLERK: I have no idea why Neopoints would be missing from their banks. I imagine that they simply get lost in transition or something like that. They probably think that the Skeith manager has the answer to all of their Neopoint-related problems. I think they're just making something of nothing. Have you seen the figures in personal banks these days? These people are rolling in Neopoints, and they have the nerve to complain to me about a few hundred Neopoints that have gone missing...

I realised that I probably wasn't going to get anywhere like this. I thanked the desk clerk for her time and left the bank. I had tested two theories so far and had nothing to show for it. I was going to have to come up with some answers soon. I sat at a bench for a while, wondering what to do next. While I hadn't managed to disprove my theories, there was still plenty of room for speculation. What was that the Aisha clerk said about being underpaid? Was it possible that the Skeith manager was paying his employees less so that he could pay tribute to the Tombola Man? And what about the Wishing Well? There was a plethora of possibilities. Maybe the Well was cleaned out regularly or something.

I spoke to some of the other shop owners, but the tips I was given all turned out to be dead ends. Still no answers. By now, as you can imagine, I was thoroughly frustrated. There had to be an explanation for the Tombola Man's seemingly endless stash of items and Neopoints, and I was determined to find out what it was. But I was fast running out of ideas.

As I sat deep in thought, it occurred to me that my best sources of information were likely to be those who were around the Tombola Man every day. They saw what he did, the way he treated customers and the things he did when they were not around. So I thought I'd try my luck with the Techo who ran the Tropical Food Shop, as he operated his store right next to the Tombola.

ISLAND TECHO [angrily]: What, what do you want? What do you want, reporter? Spit it out, spit it out! I've got work to do.

RAINBOW_UNICORN81: Uh... am I interrupting... something?

ISLAND TECHO: You reporters are always interrupting things! For a few months now, reporters have been treating this place like a tourist attraction, annoying the customers and causing all kinds of upset. And you always ask these weird questions about the Tombola Man, if he has been receiving unusually large amounts of Neopoints lately, or if he acts shifty at all. I don't know what he does. I spend all day in here, serving customers like a good little islander. I suggest you talk to the Tiki Tours Guide. His stall has a good view of the Tombola. Now shoo!

Needless to say, I took the store owner's advice and paid a visit to the Tiki Tours stall. The little coconut man was diligently waiting by the shore of Mystery Island with his carriage, cheerfully greeting passing islanders and handing out colourful leaflets for the Tiki Tours. I tapped him cautiously on the shoulder and introduced myself.

RAINBOW_UNICORN81: Um, hello there. My name is Rainbow_Unicorn81, and I'm a reporter for the Neopian Times. I'm looking into some, ah, concerns about the Tombola--

TOUR GUIDE [interrupting]: Let me guess. You're here to ask me if he has been receiving unusually large amounts of Neopoints lately, or if he has been acting shifty around his customers. The answer is no, at least, not that I have seen.

RAINBOW_UNICORN81: Yes, I was told that reporters have been asking those kinds of questions... but I was just wondering if you had any information that could help me in the construction of my article. I'm writing an article on the Tombola Man as a result of some concerns that have been put forward. If there is anything you can tell me that may be of some help, I would appreciate it if you let me know.

TOUR GUIDE: Well... I did notice a shady character hanging around the Tombola lately. It was about the same time that the reporters started showing up and asking all kinds of odd questions about the Tombola Man.

RAINBOW_UNICORN81: This shady character you speak of. What did he look like? What was he wearing?

TOUR GUIDE: From this distance it's a little hard to tell, but I could tell that it wasn't a Neopet. I think it was a faerie, judging by the robes. She always wore a hood so that I couldn't see her face. When she turned away, I saw a swish of purple robes. Maybe you should go and interview Jhudora?

And I was just about to go and do just that when I heard a voice call out to me. It was the Tombola Man. I thought it odd that he would actually want to draw attention to himself, but I saw my opportunity and I grabbed it. I calmly walked over to the Tombola Man.

TOMBOLA MAN: Hey, are you one of those, ah, reporters?

RAINBOW_UNICORN81: Yes, sir. I am. Why do you ask?

TOMBOLA MAN: You reporters have been visiting the Island a lot lately. I hear you've been asking all kinds of questions about me, and to be honest, I'm kind of curious. Well, what can I say? There is no better person to ask about the Tombola Man than the Tombola Man himself! So what is it that you want to know, Miss Reporter?

RAINBOW_UNICORN81: Well, Mr. Tombola Man, I don't mean to be blunt, but there have been some concerns about the way the Tombola is run. As a reporter it is my job to look into these things.

TOMBOLA MAN: Well! Why didn't you just come and ask me what it was all about? I would have been happy to help, you know. I may be a little cheap at times, but I'm an honest soul.

RAINBOW_UNICORN81: Well... OK then, I'll get right to the point. Neopians have been speculating that you take large amounts of Neopoints from an unknown source to manage your Tombola. I have spent the last few hours testing theories and interviewing Neopians, and I've turned up nothing conclusive. My first theory was that the Wishing Well was set up not to grant wishes, but to fund the Tombola. I sent my Shoyru down to investigate, but there was absolutely nothing down there; not a single Neopoint. So I tried my second theory: the Neopian Bank manager steals Neopoints from user accounts and funds your Tombola. But I couldn't get in for an interview, and his silly desk clerk used me as a sounding board for all her job-related woes. After this I went to Mystery Island to interview the shop owners, but I was shoved off by the ever-so-polite owner of the Tropical Food Shop and the Tiki Tours guide couldn't help me much. So here I am.

I realised that I was waffling, and inclined my head in apology.

TOMBOLA MAN: ...oh. Well, I'm sorry to hear that, Miss Reporter. I can assure you, there's nothing fishy about my funding. I run the Tombola mostly on donations from kind Neopians; you'd be surprised how willingly people donate to a good cause. I also visit the Money Tree every now and then to see if I can pick up a faerie or two.

RAINBOW_UNICORN81: That's all?

TOMBOLA MAN: Were you expecting something a little less believable? Don't worry, I got the same reaction from most of your little reporter friends. A funny lot, you are. Always walking around in that odd way, a notebook in hand and a pen behind your ear. Some of you tap the notebook with your pen as you walk--

RAINBOW_UNICORN81 [interrupting]: You mean you've already had reporters from my paper visit the Island?

TOMBOLA MAN: Yeah. I guess they found the truth too embarrassingly innocent to share. All right, then... will that be all, Miss Reporter? I think I should be getting back to the Tombola now.

RAINBOW_UNICORN81: I have just one more thing to ask you. The Tiki Tours guide told me that he saw a mysterious figure, hidden underneath a hooded cloak, visit the Tombola around the time the reporters started visiting the Island. How do you explain this?

TOMBOLA MAN: Oh, that would have been Jhudora. She visits me sometimes and plays my game. Even faeries have to enjoy themselves sometimes, you know. Word must have gotten out that she visited me, and we all know how quickly gossip goes around. Someone must have decided to cash in on the unfortunate rumour and tipped off all the major newspapers that I was having liasions with the dark faeries. Sometimes I wonder if people give the media too much credit.

RAINBOW_UNICORN81: But why would she wear a hooded cloak?

TOMBOLA MAN: I guess she takes her foul-and-nasty image very seriously and doesn't want to be seen playing the Tombola. I can't say I blame her. We don't see faeries around here often, apart from the fire faeries that visit the volcano. A dark faerie would stick out like an Elephante in a flock of Pteri. Now, if you'll excuse me, Miss Reporter, I have to get back to the Tombola. My customers are growing impatient. Good day!

And with that he left me to tend to his Tombola. I was still not quite sure to make of the discovery that the Tombola Man was innocent after all. I think I felt rather annoyed with myself when I realised that I'd been led on a wild goose chase. That I'd swallowed the rumour hook, line and sinker. I comforted myself with the thought that I at least had an interesting tale to tell, and that if I came out with this story I'd be the first of many to do so.

And now, with that over and done with, I think I'm going to go and play the Tombola. Maybe I'll get lucky today.

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