Behind the Silver Circles
Alianci marched up to the Wocky behind the desk at the
"Back so soon, Ali, old pal?" grinned the Wocky.
"Yup, and I'm feeling lucky today. One scratchcard
The Wocky reached up his sleeve and flipped out
a card. Ali studied the card. It wasn't one that he recognized, and he was a
regular customer. He gasped.
"That's not a... it couldn't be..." he stuttered.
"It is! It's an Icetravaganza scratchcard!" the
Wocky exclaimed with wide eyes. "I haven't dished out a lot of these in my time!"
Ali was trembling with excitement. Considering
his options, he stared at the rare artefact in his paws. It glistened every
time it caught the sunlight. If only I knew what's behind the silver circles,
he wondered. Is there a way to find out?
"Tell me," he asked the Wocky with hope, "is
there any way to find out what's behind the silver circles?"
The Wocky shrugged. "To me, it looks like your
only options are to sell or to scratch."
Ali sighed. "Tough call," he said, puzzled. With
the card tightly clasped within his paws, he wandered out of the Kiosk.
Outside, some of his friends were munching on
Chia Pops. His best buddy, Jubslyme, slid over to him. He blinked his three
yellow eyes in disbelief at the card.
"Is that what I think it is?" he asked.
Ali smiled. "Yeah, it is. But I don't know what
to do with it."
Jubslyme pondered for a while. "I've heard of
a guy on Mystery Island who might be able to help you decide. He lives in a
hut near the Trading Post." He shrugged. "But then I'm not much of a gambler.
You shouldn't listen to me; it's probably cheating anyway." With that, Jubslyme
skated off, leaving Ali alone. After a hard decision, he chose to visit the
Mystery Island guy.
"Thank you!" Ali yelled to the friendly Pteri
as it flew back off into the horizon. It's not every day you find someone who's
kind enough to fly you across the sea! He looked around. Mystery Island wasn't
somewhere he'd been before. It was very busy, full of exotic Neopians hustling
and bustling around. There was a lovely aroma coming from the Cooking Pot. A
small cart with a tour group inside was bumping along. And then, he saw the
There was a big crooked sign nailed over the
door saying, "Hut of the Island Mystic". Ali reached out a paw to open the door,
but it creaked open by itself. He stepped inside, and the door shut.
"Welcome," a low voice from the shadows whispered,
"to my little hut."
Ali found himself looking into a pair of large,
"I was hoping that, um, you might be able to
help me with my scratchcard," he explained.
The Mystic stepped out of the shadows. He was
just shorter than Ali, had a long mop of straw-like hair, and was covered in
"If you are asking me if the card you hold is
a winning one," he told Ali, "then I will reveal to you that it is, very much
so, a winning card. A Neopet can only dream to possess as special a gift as
Ali felt like his heart was in the skies. It
was he who had been chosen to find such a lucky card! But he could still win
nothing, if he scratched away the wrong circles.
"Do you think that you could, um, just..." Ali
leant towards the Mystic. "...Maybe tell me what's behind the silver circles?"
The Mystic frowned. "So young, so foolish. It
is not I who will decide your fate. It is you. Now go."
Back at home in the Ice Caves, Alianci stared
at the card. Should he scratch, or should he sell? He would get a very good
amount of money if he sold it in the market, maybe even 100, 000 or so neopoints.
But if he scratched, and hit the jackpot, he would never have to worry about
money again. He drifted off to sleep dreaming of being painted Faerie.
Alianci woke to the sound of faeries singing
above the clouds. He rubbed his eyes and looked around. It wasn't until he looked
at his piggy bank when he remembered the events of the day before. He reached
for the card, which he had put in a drawer next to his bed. Feeling around,
he identified some of the contents of his drawer. A Gormball stamp, half a packet
of Chomby Chips, colouring pencils... but no card. Searching frantically around
his room, he came to realise that someone must have taken it.
Outside, he skidded over to his crowd of friends
and began to quiz each one of them as to whether they had seen anyone take his
"Have you seen my Icetravaganza Scratchcard anywhere?"
"Have you noticed anyone suspicious walking around
"Does anyone know where my card is?"
Just as his hope was fading, he noticed a shifty
looking Grarrl whom he hadn't seen around before. He was wrapped in a scarf
and had a balaclava over his face. His beady eyes were scanning the Ice Caves
as though he were looking for someone. Then his eyes met Alianci's. And he began
to hurry away.
Confused, Alianci followed in a rush. Who was
this person, and why was he running away?
And that was when Ali saw the flash of a silver
circle on a scratchcard.
Picking up speed, the small jog quickly became
a full speed chase. The Grarrl skidded down a steep slope, and flipped over
at the bottom onto an icicle. Sliding along, Ali followed. Using the icicle
as a snowboard, the Grarrl shot out of the Ice Caves and out of Happy Valley.
The ice was beginning to melt around here. Ali landed in a heap of melting snow.
Shaking his little green head from snowflakes, he looked up. They had reached
The Grarrl was at the end of a jetty. The harbour
was deserted, but a small speck on the horizon was zooming across the waves
towards them. Diamonds of sunlight danced along the horizon. The Grarrl glanced
suspiciously at Ali, who was still in a heap a few yards behind. He tapped a
scaly foot impatiently. The small speck was now much bigger, and came to a stop
next to the Grarrl. The driver of the boat was an old and greying Mutant Blumaroo.
His floppy ears rose to alert when he spotted Ali.
"He has seen too much. Bring him along," he growled.
And the Grarrl skidded over to Ali, and forced
him into the boat. Ali had no experience in fighting, and was completely helpless
throughout. He was being kidnapped.
"Quickly, get him out of sight," snapped the
Blumaroo. Ali had his paws tied together by the ankles, which made it difficult
to walk. He was being led over by the Grarrl towards some kind of cave. They
appeared to be somewhere in the Lost Desert. It was a mighty contrast in weather,
and Ali began to break into a sweat as he entered the cave. The sky, however,
was eerily dark, and a wailing wind from the distance raced towards them.
Inside, there was an ugly aroma hanging in the
air, like rotting flesh. The chatter of hundreds of neopets filled the enormous
space like water over filling a cup. And then he saw them.
Hundreds, thousands, millions, billions of scratchcards.
Everywhere he looked there were piles and piles. There wasn't a neopet in sight
who didn't have one in his paws.
Suddenly, the light dimmed, everywhere except
for a beam of light illuminating the centre of the cave that seemed to come
from nowhere. Out of the coal grey shadows stepped a hideous creature. A Halloween
Lupe, flashing vicious gnarly teeth and dribbling as he walked into the light.
He caught sight of Ali and their eyes locked for what seemed like an eternity.
Ali felt as though they had met before...
A burst of lightning exploded in the black sky
outside the cave, causing small rocks to shift slightly and patter down the
walls. The heat was still intense, but the storm continued. Thunder rattled
the desert, and sand blustered on the howling gales. Every creature in the cave
closed their eyes and raised their scratchcard.
And every scratchcard gleamed with light. Every
scratchcard uncurled to its straightest form as if to stand to attention. Even
the Halloween Lupe was holding one.
Every single scratchcard...
...was an Icetravaganza scratchcard.
Ali gasped with horror. It looked as though these
neopets had stolen every Icetravaganza scratchcard in the whole of Neopia. Without
a warning, a small noise clattered behind him. He turned around to see movement
in the shadows. A small Korbat rolled into a heap behind him. Ali squinted his
eyes in the black mistiness.
"Shouldn't you be with the rest of them? About
to, um, take over the world or something with your scratchcards?" Ali asked,
quite politely under the circumstances.
The Korbat winced. "No way," he squeaked. "I
was never a part of this! I live in this cave, and I was trapped when all this
evil walked in. They have taken a few other creatures prisoner, right at the
back. I escaped. What about you?"
"They stole my scratchcard and I chased after
them," Ali said. "Then they took me prisoner. Do you think, if you're on my
side, that you could get me out of this?" Ali gestured towards the ropes around
his ankles. "They're kind of digging into me."
The Korbat waddled over and started to nibble
through the ropes. "We gneeb der es cay mefor ve clips," he muffled through
a mouthful of rope.
"Pardon?" Ali said.
The Korbat spat out the ropes. "We need to escape
before the eclipse!" Ali stared at him blankly. The Korbat continued. "Don't
you know about the big eclipse?" Ali shook his head.
The Korbat looked around. Every other neopet
was busy with their scratchcard. He leaned over to Ali. "Every 50 years, here
in the Lost Desert, there is a total eclipse, and -"
"Every 50 years?" Ali interrupted.
The Korbat looked up in irritation. "Yes, every
50 years. It's pretty amazing; at least that's what I've heard. Anyway, tonight
is the scheduled eclipse, but the big surprise is, it happens to be the same
night on which a beautiful group of Faerie Peophins return yearly to where they
were born, here in the cave." He stopped for a breath.
"So?" Ali asked.
"Let me finish!" The Korbat blinked with annoyance.
"These nights have only ever clashed once before. There was a lonely traveller,
once, who witnessed the last time they clashed. He spoke of a brilliant white
light when the Faerie Peophins flew to the cave. And inside his bag, his scratchcard
glowed. It glowed a silvery musk colour, the silver circles faded, and the pictures
behind them were revealed. When the bright light had passed, and the eclipse
had finished, the circles were normal silver circles again, but he knew what
was behind them."
Ali looked confused. "But where does the bright
light come from?"
The Korbat bit through the last strands in the
rope, and Ali's paws were free. "That's what no one knows. But these guys are
the biggest group of scratchcard smugglers ever to have come across the myth,
and they are trying their luck, I guess."
At that moment, the entrance of the cave shattered
into thousands of small rocks. Standing in the moonlight, like an army, the
group of Faerie Peophins hovered in the warm air. There was one that was much
bigger than the rest, and he seemed to be almost guarding them. His eyes were
panic stricken when he saw the intruders in their cave. He backed away with
a terrible moaning, and the whole group of Peophins joined his moaning in a
wail of desperation and distress.
And that was when the moon moved into a total
eclipse. The leader of the Peophins was suddenly still, and the beautiful silver
diamond in the middle of his forehead caught the light of the moon. The cave
was filled with a miraculous, blinding wash of glistening white. The crowds
of smugglers shielded their eyes with awe. It was like nothing any one of them
had ever seen before.
Every scratchcard in the room glowed a silvery
musk. The silver circles disappeared and the pictures were revealed. But something
else was happening. Every neopet was lifted from the ground, including Alianci
and the Korbat.
"What's going on?" yelled Ali to the Korbat.
"I don't kn- " The Korbat's voice was drowned
out by a song. A beautiful song that caused everyone in the cave to go still.
The Peophins were singing. The neopets began to laugh. A warm feeling inside
of them made them feel happier than ever before. They felt as though they were
in the clouds. All the smugglers dropped their scratchcards. They forgot about
evil. They were drifting away into the deep, sweet melody of the Peophins...
Suddenly, the light dimmed and the cave was dark
again, but the neopets were still floating in the air. They began to turn around,
still in heavenly bliss. The Peophins stopped singing, and the neopets began
to glow. Ali came to his senses, and felt a burning in his back, but it didn't
hurt. It felt incredible. His paws stretched out, and every inch of his skin
was radiant with a warm, glowing light. Every neopet in the cave felt the same.
But then they weren't floating anymore. They
were hovering. Ali opened his eyes. He felt a million miles away. He looked
down at his blue feet.
Blue? Alianci looked up in wonder at the other
neopets. Fetching colours, sparkly wings...
They were all faerie!
The leader of the smugglers, former Halloween
Lupe, looked in horror at his new body. "Look what you've done to me! Look at
this filthy thing you have turned me into!" He growled at the Peophin. "You!"
The driver of the boat that had ferried Ali and
the Grarrl over to the Lost Desert, former Mutant Blumaroo, was now staring
intensely at his new wings.
"Well, I think they look pretty good, actually..."
he said to the Lupe.
Ignoring the Blumaroo, the Lupe leapt at the
Peophin, claws flashing. The Peophins, ears pricked up with alert and white
manes blowing in the wind, used their most powerful attack, Peophin Trample.
The whole cave rattled and the Lupe was blasted into the sky.
"Well that took care of that then!" Ali chuckled.
"It sure did," the Korbat agreed.
The leader of the Peophins nodded its head to
Ali and the Korbat, as if to say goodbye. The two of them waved as the Peophins
flew off into the night.
"So what's your name, anyway? I'm Ali," Ali inquired.
"Starhopper," said Starhopper. "Glad to meet
your acquaintance, Ali!"
Ali and Starhopper looked back into the cave.
The smugglers had cowered to the back, behind the rocks. They were all pink
and purple; it was an extremely amusing sight to see. They all seemed completely
spooked by the Peophins.
"BOO!" Ali yelled. They screamed and scattered
from the cave out into the desert. Ali and Starhopper laughed. The rest of the
Korbats who had been trapped at the back of the cave emerged from the shadows.
Starhopper fluttered back to his family, who stared at him admiringly.
"Look at my new wings." He beamed. He looked
at his brothers and sisters. "Why do you think they aren't Faerie, Ali?"
Ali shrugged. "Maybe the Peophins didn't see
them back there."
Starhopper gasped. "What are we going to do with
all these scratchcards?"
A figure stepped out of the shadows. "I believe
I can help with that."
"The Island Mystic?" Ali said, confused.
"Yes," answered the Island Mystic. "I knew that
something like this would happen one day. When you brought me your scratchcard,
Ali, I could see that you would end up here. I came down to make sure you didn't
get into too much trouble."
Starhopper looked puzzled. "I'll explain later,"
said Ali. He turned back to the mystic. "So, how can you help us bring back
The Island Mystic smiled wistfully. "I brought
a few... friends along..." He ushered them outside the cave.
Where the sand met the sea, around 50 wooden
boats were lined up along the shore, with an Islander in each. They waved to
Ali and the Korbats. Ali and Starhopper grinned. Then they looked at each other
"I guess this is goodbye, then," Starhopper said.
"Maybe we'll meet again some day," suggested
Alianci as he ushered the Islanders to come and help carry the scratchcards
to the shore.
"Maybe we will."
Back at the Scratchcard Kiosk, the Wocky behind
the desk thanked Ali yet again for his deeds in bringing back all the scratchcards.
"We really can't thank you enough. Everyone in
town is so grateful; you've become a hero. And you look fantastic!" the Wocky
exclaimed, pointing to Ali's large wings.
Ali laughed. "Always here to help." He floated
out of the shop. Everything back in the Ice Caves was pretty normal, but Ali
got a lot of smiles and paw shakes when people recognised him. There was a board
outside a small newspaper shop with the latest headlines; "Faerie Blumaroo wins
beauty contest". He was just about to go and play Rink Runner with his friends,
when a small card fluttered down in front of him. Ali picked it up and studied
it. It was one of the Icetravaganza scratchcards. He turned back towards the
Kiosk to take it back, when he noticed it was different from the others. 6 of
the silver circles had already been scratched off, perfectly, and without crumpling
the card in the slightest. All 6 pictures were exactly the same! Ali looked
up into the sky.
A Faerie Peophin tossed its mane before flying
off into the horizon.