Sanity is forbidden Circulation: 123,711,044 Issue: 249 | 21st day of Swimming, Y8
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The Practical Neogardener


by pandorasaha

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"Let's go fight in the Battledome! Could we maybe get that Leaf Shield today, mom?" Fitzziwig the Blue Ixi bounced up and down enthusiastically as he tried to get the attention of his human, Sarah.

     "In a minute, Fitz, I'm playing this game to earn some more Neopoints," Sarah said rather absentmindedly as she dropped colored blobs in the vats and created a rainbow Uni plushie.

     Fitz frowned and looked at his sister, Widgitgaree the Pink Aisha. "I'll get her attention," Widge said, and winked. "Mooooooom... I'm hungreeeee." Widge batted her eyes and looked cute. "I'm awfully tired of omelettes. Would you please make us something different? Please?"

     "Widge, sweetie, in a second, okay?" Sarah said. "And anyway, omelettes are good for you." She continued playing.

     "Why is she so busy earning Neopoints?" Widge asked Fitz.

     "There!" Sarah said. "An extra thousand. Now I can go get that Orb Plant I've had my eye on. And maybe I'll have something left over to pick up some Dunkydoos or some Bluesticks! Oh, I'm so happy about my wonderful garden. Green, blue, red, everything blooming and lovely! It just seems there's always a bare space I need to fill up with some plants. I'll see you guys in a bit, Widge, Fitz, be good while I'm at the Garden Store, okay?" And she bustled out of the house.

     "THAT'S why," said Fitz. "She's got the gardening bug. I've never seen it so bad. Glass roses, Furrns, Snakebushes... She wants one of everything! Or maybe two!"

     "Well, it IS a pretty garden," Widge said, looking out the window at the riots of yellow Mordongos climbing up the fence, the beautiful big purple blossoms of the Sunday Bush, and the humming clumps of Song Flowers quietly rehearsing in a far corner.

     "It's BORING," Fitz said, and stamped his foot. "What can we do to get her to pay attention to US?"

     "I know," Widge said. "Let's go on a quest. We can ask the Wise Old King in Brightvale. I hear he knows everything. Surely he can tell us what to do?"

     "Brightvale's awfully far," said Fitz doubtfully.

     "You're the brave one, aren't you?" Widge said. "C'mon! The sooner we go, the faster we'll be back!"

     "Are we allowed to go?" said Fitz.

     "We're allowed to go to the store by ourselves. Brightvale can't be much farther, now can it?"

     So Fitz and Widge wrapped some Spicy Juppie Cheese in a bandanna, in case they got hungry, and set off for Brightvale.

     It turned out to be a bit farther than the store. But they were very lucky. Just outside Neopia Central they met a nice man with a cart who gave them a ride all the way to Kiko Lake. After that they met a Petpet herder who was taking a litter of Melvies to the market in Meridell. She was able to show them the right road. And before they knew it, they were in Brightvale!

     They marveled at the lovely glowing colorful windows in all of the houses. Brightvale certainly didn't look anything like Neopia Central! Finally, they were at the castle. A smartly dressed Lupe, in colorful yellow and green livery, guarded the door. "Can I help you two pets?" he asked, looking at them in a very businesslike manner.

     Fitz opened his mouth, then, a bit overawed, closed it and looked at Widge. The little Aisha calmly and politely asked, "Sir, we have heard of the wisdom of King Hagan and we have come a long way on a quest to ask for his advice. Could we please have an audience with him?"

     "King Hagan is very busy and cannot be disturbed. He's studying cartography right now," the Lupe said sternly. "You'll have to come back another time."

     Fitz's heart sank.

     "Oh, sir, please!" he said before he could stop himself. "We really have come a terribly long way. And my feet hurt."

     The majestic Lupe looked at the two young pets and his expression seemed to soften. "Well, I suppose you can come in and sit in the guardhouse while you wait. I think we have some Hot Crossed Buns if you're hungry." Fitz and Widge happily accepted, and sat comfortably by the guardhouse fire chatting with the Lupe, whose name was Garump.

     It wasn't long before he escorted them into the majestic throne room, where Wise King Hagan sat on a beautiful golden throne.

     "Well? I hear you are on a quest. What can I do for you two young Neopets?" he said kindly.

     "Please, your Majesty, it's our human, Sarah. And her garden. She's always busy with plants and things and she never has time for us anymore," Widge explained.

     "I see." King Hagan stroked his long white beard. "Well, today is your lucky day. I have not one but two pieces of wisdom for you. So you see you get a bonus."

     Widge and Fitz nodded eagerly.

     "The first one is: You should help your human work in the garden. That way you will get to spend time with her and the work will be done more quickly." Fitz and Widge looked at each other. They didn't think much of that advice - after all, they wanted to have fun, not work -- but they were too afraid to say anything.

     "Here is the second. You should look for value in things that do not seem valuable." Fitz and Widge looked at each other again. What kind of advice was THAT? How on earth did that apply to anything at all?

     "Very well, that's all for today, please have a safe journey home," King Hagan said, and closed his eyes. The audience was clearly at an end.

     Outside the throne room, Garump the Lupe told the pair, "Well, you two, I hope you got what you came for."

     "He wasn't very clear, was he?" Fitz said.

     Garump laughed. "He never is. Now, here's a thought. A company of the royal guard are going to Neopia Central today for a weekend leave, so you're welcome to ride with them if you want to get home a bit quicker."

     They gratefully accepted, and quicker than two shakes of a Meepit's tail, they were back home.

     Sarah was out working in the garden. "Oh, there you are, you two! I was starting to worry. You really must leave me a note and tell me where you are when you are going out to play."

     "Yes, Sarah," they said. "We will."

     "Do you want some help in the garden?" Widge said.

     "Why yes, that would be lovely!" Sarah said. "Here, could you help me dig a hole for this Plantmelon?"

     Widge started to help. Fitz rolled his eyes. He didn't want to dig a hole, he wanted to fight in the Battledome. Pow! Yah! Zap! But... they had spent all of that time to go to talk to Wise King Hagan. Maybe it was worth trying his advice. He went to help dig the hole for the Plantmelon, and when Sarah wanted to go back to the plant shop, Widge and Fitz both said that they would go along.

     "I'm so pleased you wanted to come," said Sarah. "Look how lovely the flowers are."

     "They are so beautiful," said Widge, and indeed they were.

     Fitz wandered along the rows of plants. He had to admit, it was wonderful and fresh smelling there at the garden shop, and everything was cool and green and colorful. He got to the last row of the shop, and glanced at the store next door. It was a very strange store. It seemed to have mostly rotten shoes and boots, a few flip flops, some fish, a bucket of sludge, and piles and piles of red, green, and brown kelp.

     "What kind of a shop is that over there?" he asked Sarah.

     "It's a fishing shop," she told him. "Those are the sorts of things they pull out of the underwater fishing cavern at Maraqua. The fish are good to eat, but most of the rest of the stuff is just junk. It's dirt cheap. Most people throw that kind of thing away."

     Hm, thought Fitz. What had the Wise Old King said? "You should look for value in things that do not seem valuable." He looked at the shoes. They were brown, smelly, and rotten. He looked at the sludge. It was also brown and smelly. He looked at the glossy green and brown piles of kelp. It really was nice looking kelp, with ferny fronds and healthy leaves.

     "Mom? Isn't kelp a plant?" he asked.

     "I suppose it is," Sarah said, looking over the rows of Pebeanjay Flowers.

     "Could you plant it in the garden?"

     "I suppose you could, but nobody does that," Sarah said, thoughtfully examining the price tag on a Snake Rose.

     "Why not?" said Fitz. "It's kind of pretty."

     "What?" Sarah said, "Do you think so?" She stepped over to the fishing shop and looked at the shiny leaves. "I suppose you're right. It's not a bad looking plant. Widgey, come over here for a minute."

     Widge scampered over. "What do you think of that kelp?" Sarah pointed.

     Fitz added, "You should look for value in things that do not seem valuable."

     Widge looked at Fitz, then at Sarah, then at the kelp. A smile dawned on her face. "I think it will look lovely in the garden. And it's so cheap, isn't it? We can buy a lot!"

     "Enough to fill in all of those empty spaces!" Sarah said. "It's worth a try. Say, fishmonger, sir, I'll give you ten Neopoints for that big pile of kelp."

     "You can have it and welcome," he said, loading it up into a big box.

     Once at home, Sarah, Widge and Fitz happily dug and dug and planted rows and rows of pretty green, brown and red kelp. The work was quickly finished, and soon they all stood back and admired the result.

     "It looks fantastic!" Sarah said. "Those pretty curling dark leaves really set off the rest of the flowers and plants."

     "It does!" Widge agreed, and gave Fitz a big wink. "Will you come play with us now?"

     "Why not?" said Sarah. "Let's go to the Battledome with Fitz, and then we can all go ride the Merry Go Round."

     "Yaaaaaaay!" they said. Good old King Hagan! Who knew how excellent his advice would be? Now Sarah was indeed a practical Neogardener.

The End

 
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