Forever Whirling: The Lost Desert Fruit Machine
Gold sand shimmers to life as the blazing desert sun rises upon Sakhmet once again. Already, the city is a whirlwind of sights and sounds as local shop owners peddle their wares; buyers grasp for the latest powders, potions, pottery, fired jugs, sand fruit, exotic petpets, or headdresses; and loyal subjects look on in wonder at the grandeur of the city’s palace.
However, there is one attraction that seems to draw a steady stream of multitudes at a much faster rate than the other tents and novelties. Each minute it seems, more and more pets arrive from Mystery Island, from Terror Mountain, from Altador, Virtupets, and Neopia Central; they flock to the single stall like treasure hunters to the Tomb of Sutek.
The cause of all this commotion, anticipation, and excitement is a lone wheel, located on the south-eastern corner of the city. The crowd gathers around and watches in awe as the lucky pet whose turn is up tries his luck. In a blaze of gold and black, the mesmerizing wheel whirls from the strong spin. As it comes to a slow, agonizing stop, three desert pets quickly scan the outcome. With poker faces that would bring Agent 00 Hog to shame, they select three cards from the folds of their robes.
The crowd becomes silent. With a quick flick of their wrists, the three desert pets in charge present the cards for all to see, exclaiming:
“Congratulations! You have won 1000 Neopoints!”
The pet’s face breaks into a smile and the crowd erupts with cheers and applause. “Thank you, thank you!” the winner gushes as one of the desert pets, a majestic Pteri, hands him the heavy bag of neopoints before ushering the next lucky pet for her turn.
This is just one pet from the millions who throng towards the Lost Desert Fruit Machine on each and every day of the year.
The Fruit Machine is a Lost Desert daily attraction that allows each Neopian family one free spin per day. Though many are simply advised to have better luck tomorrow, prizes range from desert food to Battledome items, to paintbrushes. It has been a staple of desert fun for as long as many pets can remember. A desert Peophin who has resided in Sakhmet for over a year with her three siblings states, “I couldn’t imagine the Lost Desert without a Fruit Machine. I am very grateful to its owners for establishing such a great attraction in the area.”
But who are these prestigious owners of one of Neopia’s favorite wonders? Who could have created the array of splendor and fun of a free wheel with amazing daily prizes?
Five pets who have long called the Lost Desert home currently run the ever-whirling Fruit Machine. The desert Aisha, Blumaroo, Elephante, Kau, and Pteri are proud of the success and popularity of their wheel, and each day you can witness three of them proudly holding up your daily cards. Not only do these pets own the machine, but they also spend countless hours working to ensure that every Neopian has a chance to spin the wheel each day. “We are the ones who established the Fruit Machine, and we are the ones that get to see the multitudes of pets who visit it each day,” the Elephante proudly states.
The Fruit Machine began when the Aisha, a long-time farmer of the area, had a particularly good harvest year. Not knowing what to do with the extra foods, she sought the help of her good friend. He suggested that she hold a contest for the local pets, in which they would select three random cards. Whoever had the best combination would win the food. “And thus the Fruit Machine was born!” the Aisha exclaims. “Of course, it’s gotten a bit more complicated than that these days. As more and more pets asked to take part in my little contest, we had to introduce the wheel to make the game more random and less easy to cheat. Then, as ever more pets started showing up, I enlisted the help of my four friends. These days, it takes all five of us rotating turns working the Fruit Machine just to give every Neopian the chance to spin each day.”
The Aisha and her friends were shocked to find how quickly word spread about a free giveaway. “Suddenly, we had pets saying they’d trekked for days through the desert sand,” the Kau states. “I remember a month after the wheel was introduced, I was chatting with some of the pets waiting in line. One of them told me they were from Faerieland! I couldn’t believe that someone had traveled so far! Of course, now we have pets that make the voyage every single day all the way from Kreludor, Virtupets, and Fyora-knows-where-else.”
However, once the remarkable Fruit Machine prizes are revealed, it's easy to see why multitudes of pets are willing to make long treks every day. Each card that the desert pets hold up has a local food drawn on it. If pets can match the first two cards, they receive a small prize. If all three cards are matched, however, a larger prize is awarded.
For instance, having a cheops plant on the first two cards equals a prize of 250 neopoints and a cheops plant. However, having all three cards with a cheops plant equals 10,000 neopoints and a battle muffin.
The rarest of all card combination is the puntec fruit appearing on all three cards. Lucky pets who win this prize receive neopoints, bottled faeries, a paintbrush, stat increases, and their names etched in glory on the High Score table.
However, there are still some that doubt the prodigiousness of the Fruit Machine.
Lenny Conundrum, a wise red Lenny that rewards clever Neopians in his Neopia Central game, states, “By telling every Neopet who visits, ‘better luck tomorrow,’ those who run the Lost Desert Fruit Machine are providing a greater number of Neopets with greater luck the next day, and thus bringing the chances of a jackpot spin down for every Neopet. There is no point in wishing every Neopet better luck, as the more Neopets with better luck, the smaller the chances of actually achieving better luck.”
In the far lands of Brightvale, King Hagan expresses his opinions on the Neopian daily by shouting, “Atrocity! Utter atrocity!” He goes on to say, “I am aware that many of my loyal subjects leave my pristine and knowledgeable kingdom to travel to a hot, stuffy, windy, sandy barbarian land. And all to see a few cards being held up! I am ashamed that educated Neopets still flock by the thousands to see the Fruit Machine!” It took some time, but finally a logical reason emerged for King Hagan’s abhorrence to the institution of a Neopian Fruit Machine: “As someone who has invested heavily in the Lost Desert Food Stall, I believe that it is ridiculous for tourists to be able to get free food in the same proximity.”
However, the food stall owner, an at-first-menacing yellow Grarrl, admits to actually donating food and various prizes to the Fruit Machine. He states, “The attraction brings many tourists that become interested in the food of the Lost Desert. Through the Fruit Machine, I gain new customers every day.”
The five Fruit Machine owners also guarantee that their attraction is actually the result of countless locals donating to their cause. “It’s truly amazing to see the entire Lost Desert come together and help us,” the Blumaroo proclaims. “Every pet that receives a prize from the Fruit Machine can thank the local citizens, the farmers, local games, local stores, and the royal family. Through their combined efforts, we’re able to give every Neopian family one free spin per day!”
The Lost Desert Fruit Machine is the only Neopian daily with five dedicated and living overseers, that uses the combined fun and fairness of a wheel and cards, and that will never ask for your donation. It is a must-see landmark in the land of sand and ancient traditions. Before the dazzling sun finally surrenders to the black and starry night, make sure that you have taken advantage of your daily visit to the Fruit Machine.