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Vive Le Cheese!


by zenxtreme

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Festival Day

Today was the day. The day that all the inhabitants of Meridell would gather in front of King Skarl's castle for their yearly festival.

      The Cheese Festival.

      It was the most celebrated holiday of the entire year (next to Christmas that is). It was a day that men could enjoy seeing the fruits of their labor, women could dress up for once, and children could watch the spectacles in awe.

      To those of you who don't know what the Cheese Festival is (Fyora forbid), it is the most famous of all Meridellian festivals. All of Meridell gathers at the castle and they watch a parade.

      A parade of cheeses.

      There are sculptures of all of Neopia's most famous and infamous heroes and villains made entirely out of cheese; King Skarl's jesters juggle balls of cheese while they do ground acrobatics; others push mountain high wheels of cheese around the town and a scale model of all Meridell is in the center of all this hubbub. There is even a three story high house made entirely out of Bubbling Blueberry Cheese!

      On the day of the festival you are only allowed to eat and drink cheese. Some folks always come up with new recipes each year, while others keep to sacred family traditions, but everyone has a wonderful time.

      Any and all cheeses ever created are there; from Alkenore Cheese to Warty Blue Cheese, Meridell's got it. Now let us return to watching this marvelous spectacle.

      Trumpets sounded the arrival of the king. Grandly he walked up to the podium (made out of Purple Spotted Cheese of course!) and a hush fell over the buzzing crowd.

      It was almost time!

      "My dear friends and countrymen! The day we have so longed for is finally come! The day that we celebrate our most prized food! Our wonderful... delectable... CHEESE!" King Skarl bellowed. A roar of excitement erupted from the crowd. Fireworks exploded in the morning sky and the trumpets began to play the Meridellian Anthem as the first of the sculptures were pulled out of the castle gate.

      All the statues were mounted upon large wooden pedestals that had four large wheels on the bottom for mobility. Each pedestal was pulled by twelve of Meridell's strongest men and women.

      The first statue was a very realistic looking Hannah the Usul, made completely out of Fragrant Ummagcheese. The next was a beautifully crafted Illusen sculpted from both Overgrown Cheese and Furry Chocomint Cheese.

      The cheese statues kept coming for another hour and a half. Then once the sculpture of Sloth (made from Gooey Snot Cheese hehehe...) had passed, the jugglers' cart was wheeled out.

      All were Myncies dressed in common jester attire. They performed majestically, doing expert leaps and flips, but never once dropping even a single ball of cheese. The most mesmerizing of them all was a purple Mynci who was juggling three hundred and forty two balls of cheese, while balancing on one hand and blowing fire out of her mouth right in the middle of the circle of moving cheeses.

      Once all of the parade was finished everyone mingled with one another and visited the cheese house and model.

      When night fell everyone went back to their cottages and homes for a good night sleep. Tomorrow was going to be a very busy day and everyone wanted to be well rested and prepared for the chaos of the next morning. If only our "heroes" were so lucky...

          The Day After The Festival...

      "MAAAAOOOOM!" Yin shouted in my ear. I jumped three feet in the air (which is saying a lot, noting that I was sound asleep, in my bed, wrapped tightly in my blankets).

      "WHAT?" I snarled, glaring at my red Kougra. I was very irritable in the morning, and getting woken up by a screaming cat when I was dreaming peacefully does not improve my mood.

      "You said we could go to Meridell today and look at Ye Old Petpets!" Yin was beaming, then he saw the look of confusion on my face. His smile faded.

      "Don't you remember?" Yin's eyes started to well up with tears. I honestly could not remember ever promising to take Yin and Yang to Meridell to go to Ye Old Petpets. They already knew that I was saving up to buy them two Gruslens

      But what could I say to that sad face? Heck, I probably had told them that one day just so they would stop bugging me about when their Gruslens were coming. I mentally shook my head, but I plastered on a gentle smile and stoked Yin behind the ear.

      "Yeah, I remember," I lied. (Hey, what they don't know won't hurt them.)

      "Just give me about half an hour to get ready and eat, then we can go," I said, rubbing the sleep out of my eyes while I clambered out of my bed and headed toward my bathroom.

      "Yes!" he yelled as he jumped up and pumped the air with his fist.

      "Is Yang up yet?" I questioned from the bathroom as I ran a comb through my tangled, auburn hair. Sometimes I loved my curly locks but on days like this I hated having to comb through those evil knots! Why couldn't I have straight hair like-

      "Yep!" Yin said, pulling me out of my thoughts and back to what we were talking about.

      "Have you two eaten breakfast?"

      "Uh-huh!" my red Kougra nodded vigorously.

      "And have you gotten-"

      "Yeah, we're all ready to go! We're just waiting for you so we can leave!" Yin said cheerfully, hopping out of my room, probably to go tell Yang how he had victoriously woken me up.

      I sighed as I finished brushing my hair. Sometimes it was hard taking care of two young pets. Especially twins.

      *****

      Twenty minutes later I was downstairs in the kitchen making myself some Buttered Toast and Neocrunch Cereal with a tall glass of Chocolate Milk to finish it off with.

      As soon as I sat down, Yang was bombarding me with questions.

      "Did Yin really wake you up by dumping a whole bucket of sludge on you?" my blue Kougra asked breathlessly.

      "What are y-" I started, buy Yang cut me off.

      "And then did he really tickle you so much that you started crying?" she asked in the same manner as before.

      "N-"

      "And then did he really have to drag you to your closet, shove your outfit into your arms and lock you in your bathroom so that you would get ready?" Yang asked as fast as a Poogle Racer on its best day, as her face came closer and closer to mine until she was practically nose to nose with me.

      "NO!" I bellowed, making her go reeling back and thumping into her chair.

      "Oh. Okay," Yang said as she righted herself.

      "You just had to say no, not yell it. It's not like I didn't let you talk," she said sourly as she jumped down from her seat and slunk up to her room.

      "AAAGGGGHHHHH!" I screamed at the top of my lungs. Sometimes I wondered if it was my pets' sole duty in life to make mine miserable. Maybe it was because I accidentally named them wrong. Yin was supposed to be Yang and Yang was supposed to be Yin.

      Oh well, I can't change it now, I thought miserably. One mistake probably cost me the rest of my sanity and well-being.

      About ten minutes later I was walking outside with my two Kougra's loping about behind me. Yang was suddenly captivated by a passing Beekadoodle and started chasing it around a patch of flowers, while Yin charged at a flock of waddling Mallards sending them flying for their lives. I was stuck in the middle of all the commotion.

      "GUYS!" I shouted, sending the Mallards into an even wilder flight for safety. The red and blue Kougras froze on the spot, looking at me nervously.

      "If you two really want to go to Meridell, then you will behave yourselves the rest of the day, okay?" I said in a low voice.

      Yin and Yang nodded their heads so hard I almost worried that they might pop off. Almost.

      "Good," I said. Then I continued walking toward the ferry, with Yin and Yang falling into step next to me.

      Once we boarded the ferry I knew something was wrong. There were so many people on this ferry that they were almost falling out of the boat and into the icy waters below us.

      "Uhhh, Mom? Why are there so many people on this ferry?" Yang asked me quietly, so as not to attract the miscellaneous pets and peoples attention.

      "I have no idea, baby," I whispered back out of the corner of my mouth.

      "Hey, mom! Check me out!" Yin's voice sounded from somewhere above us.

      "He didn't," I said in horror.

      "Oh ho ho, I think he did, Ma," my blue Kougra said, trying to suppress her laughter and failing miserably. I sprinted (or tried to, it was pretty hard with about forty people in my way) to the outer deck and looked up at the fabric covering that shaded most of the ferry.

      Sure enough my red Kougra was on top of it, prancing around like he was king of the world.

      "Yin, you get down from there this instant!" I called up to him, I was really getting comfortable at yelling at them, which made me feel a little bad.

      "No! It's cool up here!" he responded, prancing even farther away from me.

      I racked my brain for anything that I could think of that would make him come down. Oh yeah!

      "Well then, I guess you don't want to go to Meridell," I said in mock sadness.

      "What!?" He ran back over to the edge where I was standing below.

      "I told you two that you needed to be on your best behavior or we wouldn't go to Meridell today. You aren't being on your best behavior so we'll just go home right now. I'll be sure to let Yang know who to thank for our ruined day trip," I said, looking at him with a mischievous gleam in my eye.

      "You wouldn't!" he said, trying to making himself believe it.

      "You know I would. And you know how much Yang hates to have to cancel vacations... " I let Yin figure out the rest.

      "Oh no! She'll make me end up like that one Jetsam that wouldn't let us onto the Eyrie when we were late to go to the Hidden Tower!" Yin wailed.

      "Well, you won't have to if you just come down and join us inside the boat."

      Yin thought for a few moments.

      "Well?" I prompted.

      He sighed.

      "Okay," Yin mumbled, looking down to make sure he wouldn't crush somebody, then leaped down and laded grandly in front of me.

      We slowly and laboriously made our way back to where Yang was and struggled to sit down. Finally we managed to all sit down, Yin on the floor, me on the smallest available seat in the entire boat, and Yang sitting very tightly on my lap.

     *****

      About three hours later we landed on Meridellian soil. It took about another half hour of bumping, bruising, shoving and pushing to get off the ferry.

      Once all three of us were out of the crowd we let out a sigh of relief.

      "I never noticed how far away Mystery Island was from Meridell until that boat ride, if you can even call it that," I said darkly, glaring at the tiny boat as it made its way back to Mystery Island.

      "Yeah," my pets said in unison, rubbing different sore parts of their bodies.

      So far this trip was turning out to be a disaster.

      I should have taken the boat ride as a sign...

      "Well, let's get going then," I said, starting off towards the town. My pets trailed after me quietly. We all noticed something different about Meridell.

      All of Neopia was here!

      "What is going on?" I asked nobody in particular. My pets only shrugged their shoulders in response.

      We passed an elderly looking blue Kacheek that was walking quickly and mumbling to himself as he held a paper bag to his chest in an iron lock grip.

      "Excuse me sir, but could you please tell us what's going on?" I asked politely. He jerked his head up sharply and gave me a weird look, one Yin called "The Crazy Eye".

      "Get away from me an' my cheese, ya hooligans!" he shouted, waving a wooden cane that I hadn't noticed before at me.

      "It's mine I tells ya! All mine! Muhahahahahahaha!" the grizzled Kacheek cackled madly. We could only stare at him in a mixture of amusement and terror. This guy was crazy!

      "Sir, what are you talking about?" Yang asked kindly, gently placing a paw on his shoulder. He tore his threw her paw off with a rough shove of his shoulder and glared at her in the same manner as he had me.

      "I say that it's all mine! You just want it fer yerself, you greedy thieves! Well, you ain't gonna thieve from this 'un, no sir! Yeah, you just keep walkin', missy!" he hollered after us, waving his cane above his head at us as I rushed my pets and myself away from the insane Kacheek.

      Once we were a safe distance away from the old guy and in a fairly deserted area (if you consider having over sixty different people walking around you, yelling and arguing fairly deserted...).

      "We really need to find out what's going on here," I said to my pets. They nodded in agreement.

      "Why don't we split up for, say, ten minutes, ask around and see if we can find out what's going on today without getting ourselves killed. Let's meet back in front of King Skarl's castle, okay?" I said, looking at my Kougras.

      "Got it!" they replied in unison. We split up and began our search.

      I went over to a group of chattering teenage Usuls first. They were laughing, so they didn't appear to be too mean. Each of them was holding at least four paper bags bulging with who knew what.

      "Um, excuse me, but I was wondering what was going on today?" I asked as nicely as I could to a group of strange girls that were giving me even stranger looks.

      "She's on to us! Run!" a red Usul shouted. The five girls scattered in different directions, clinging to their bags as if they were going to be taken at any second.

      "Oookaaay," I mumbled nervously. I walked around for a few minutes and finally saw an adult Lupess with her pup walking toward the harbor.

      "Excuse me, ma'am!" I called as I forced my way over to her. She turned her head, and when she saw me a look of horror came across her face and she sprinted off toward the harbor at a dead run. As she disappeared into the crowd I noticed that she had two brown bags clutched tightly in her left paw.

      "What in the world is going on with these people?" I asked myself. I felt a tug on my jeans. I looked down. Looking right back up at me, with the biggest eyes I had ever seen, was a baby Shoyru.

      "Um, miss, youwr tanding on my baggie," she gurgled.

      "Huh?" My brow furrowed in confusion, but I looked down anyways. And, of course, I was standing on the opening of a brown bag.

      "Oh, I'm so sorry!" I exclaimed as I jumped off of it. I began to reach down to pick it up so I could hand it to her when she swiped it as fast as lightning.

      "Were you trying to touch my bag?" she growled darkly. Her voice had become more evil and older sounding. Her eyes were now red slits on her face.

      "N-n-no," I stammered.

      "I-I-I was j-just going t-t-to g-give it b-back to y-you." My voice getting smaller with each word I spoke. The baby Shoyru flew up, still clutching the bag with one hand, and with the other she took a fistful of my shirt and pulled me toward her so that we were nose to nose.

      "Listen up, chicky, don't you ever let me catch you tryin' to touch my bag again. Got it?" she said in a dangerously quiet voice. Her eyes were the most sinister scarlet I had ever seen.

      "Got it," I choked out.

      "Good." With that she threw me back, with surprising strength, so that I was reeled back and fell onto my side on the hard ground about six feet away from her. She then returned to her normal disposition and smiled sweetly at me and skipped away, down the dirt road.

      "What the heck was that about?" I said aloud, rubbing the back of my neck where my shirt had dug into and my ribs where I had landed.

      "I guess now's as good a time as any to meet Yin and Yang," I mumbled as I made my way over to the castle.

      Luckily I didn't have anymore run-ins with anyone by the time I made it to the castle and was sitting under a tree waiting for my pets.

      About two seconds later Yin came bursting out of the dense crowd, now sporting a large and shiny black eye, as well as a few cuts and bruises.

      "What happened to you?" I exclaimed as I ran over and cradled him in my arms.

      "Don't know. Just asked a few people. Too defensive about bags. Got slugged by a big Grundo, don't know how I got my cuts. Know how I got my bruises. Too many people! Can we go home now?" Yin wailed.

      "We still have to wait for Yang," I said soothingly, stroking his back as I held him.

      He groaned loudly.

      "She'll never come out of there! Its like a maze that never stops changing! She'll be eaten alive!" he cried. Just then Yang appeared from behind a couple of Techos. She had to push them severely, but she sprinted over to us once she spotted us under the tree.

      "So did you find out anything?" I questioned, noticing that she had a little dent in her tail and a slight limp in her back paw.

      "Yeah! Yesterday was Meridell's annual Cheese Festival and every year the day after the festival they sell all the Cheese that they have left over and it's for practically nothing!" Yang exclaimed. My body tensed up. I dropped Yin to the ground. He landed with a thump and another painful moan.

      "You mean," I growled through clenched teeth, "that we have been shoved, pushed, screamed at, attacked, threatened and nearly suffocated to death because of... CHEESE!?!?!?"

      "Yeah, pretty much," Yang said simply. "Oh yeah! Speaking of cheese, look what I bought!" Yang said, turning around and sprinting back into the crowd.

      "Jack!" we heard her yell. There was a thump, some grinding and finally Yang reappeared from the crowd with a giant Halloween Uni following right behind, pulling a huge, two story tall cart filled to the brim and then some with various assortments of cheeses.

      "Vive Le Cheese!" Yang exclaimed happily.

The End

 
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