A Twist of Fortune
Figured Fortuna needed a story, too. Thanks to my dad for helping edit!
DesertKauDawg, nicknamed “Desi”, was bored.
It wasn’t the normal kind of boredom, either. It wasn’t as if she had nothing to do – in fact, she was doing something – hiding. Her cyan-furred body blended perfectly with the blue marble of the fountain, and all she had to do was keep low, crouched in the damp brown soil beneath and behind the red-flowering bushes.
Totally fooled her, she thought, triumphant. How long has she been looking? Four minutes? Five? She’ll come walking by here any second, now...
Sure enough, a pair of teal-shod feet walked past the bushes where she lay at that very moment. They stopped in the middle of her line of sight, turned, and walked away, towards the park bench.
Can she really not see me? Am I hiding that well? Desi thought. She inched forward, belly to the ground, like a prowling wild Lupe. Poking her nose ever-so-slightly out of the bushes as her owner bent down to look under the lacquered wooden bench for the fifth time in the game, Desi stood, little branches and leaves getting stuck in her cobalt-blue fur.
“Kirsche!” she called. “I’ve been here for five minutes straight!”
Startled, the curly-haired brunette in the blue camouflage shirt straightened up, whirling around to face her. “Desi!” she said, in a mixture of surprise and relief. “You were there the whole time?!”
“Yep,” replied Desi coolly, trying to shake off clumps of mud and twigs, though only succeeding in repositioning them elsewhere on her lupine body.
“Ha... When we get you painted Desert like I promised, you won’t be able to hide there so well anymore. C’mon, let’s go home and get you cleaned up.”
“Sure.” Desi fell into step beside her owner, plodding alongside the too-bright movement of her lime green pants, tied Shenkuu-style at the ankles with brown twine. She’s a weird one, thought Desi, not only because she hasn’t bothered to learn that lime and teal clash like Lupes and Chias, but because she hasn’t abandoned me yet. It’s been a month, already. Could she have been... serious? A human? Serious?
Ever since Desi had been abandoned by her previous owner, she had mistrusted humans, knowing that, on a moment’s notice, they would kick you out as soon as they’d taken you in. There was no permanence with a human. Or so Desi had thought. Until she’d been adopted by Kirsche. Now, she was starting to see humans (or maybe just Kirsche) in a different light.
Soon enough, they entered their apartment in Neopia Central, and Kirsche disappeared into the bathroom, emerging with a green comb styled in a vaguely leaf-like shape.
“You know,” said Desi as Kirsche began to comb the dirt and twigs out of her fur, “for something called “Illusen’s Comb”, it can’t be her comb. Everyone who’s completed a quest for her has one.”
“She probably mass-produces them,” said Kirsche. “Got a factory hidden away somewhere.”
“Probably...” said Desi, shaking herself off again as the dirt came loose. Now clean and groomed, she walked to the kitchen, where a half-eaten piece of pink jelly sat on a low table, small enough for her to reach.
“Where does jelly come from, anyway?” she asked as she took a bite. “You always come home with it, but from where?”
“You really shouldn’t talk with your mouth full. Anyway, I’d guess it’s made by partially-solidifying starches and flavoring in water, but don’t quote me on that...”
“Really? I’d heard there was a world where it grows naturally, like trees.”
“Please, Desi.” Kirsche laughed. “Jelly World is just a tale told by stray, starving Neopets to give them hope. It’s not real.”
“Eh, whatever. It tastes good, so who cares?”
“Exactly,” said Kirsche, smiling. She stood and grabbed a large bag of Neopoints. “Well, I’m going shopping. I’ll be right back.”
“You’re taking a lot of Neopoints with you...” Suddenly, Desi jumped from mostly-apathetic to excited, crouching her front end, her tail wagging in the air. “Are you buying a rare item!?”
“You... could say that,” said Kirsche, winking. She walked out the door.
Excitement buzzed in Desi’s lean frame, and she practically ran in circles around the apartment, joyous. She was finally going to get painted! All that waiting, and now Kirsche would come home with a Lost Desert paintbrush in hand! She’d wanted to be Desert all her life (probably because of the name her original owner had chosen for her), and now her wish would finally come true.
As the downstairs neighbors started banging on the ceiling with a mop handle, Desi skidded to a halt, the friction of the brown carpet so hot against her paws that she leapt onto the couch to avoid it.
“Wait a minute,” she said. “We don’t have enough Neopoints for a paintbrush yet! ...What is Kirsche getting?”
At that moment, there was a knock on the door. Desi hopped off the couch and walked up to it, then realized she couldn’t open it. “Who is it?” she called.
“Your downstairs neighbor. Quit causing all that racket!”
“Sorry!” she said.
She heard footsteps leaving and going down the polished wood floors of the hallway. Shaking her head, Desi crawled back up onto the plain brown couch, curling up and laying her tail across her nose. She heaved a sigh and closed her eyes, falling asleep and dreaming of life in the Lost Desert...
The sound of the door opening woke Desi from her dreams. She perked a blue ear and opened her eyes, looking up as Kirsche walked into the room, a wrapped box in her arms. There were airholes on the sides. Whatever it was, it was living.
“What is it?” asked Desi.
“Open it,” replied her owner, setting it down.
Desi nudged the top off with her nose, and a blue-furred creature leapt out, prancing nervously on cloven hooves as it tried to determine where it was. Large amber eyes darted around below two yellowish horns, and, seeing it was nowhere familiar, the Fangy let out a squeal.
“A Fangy!” said Desi. “It’s cute!”
“I remembered you said you wanted a Tyrannian Petpet when I first adopted you. Well... she’s yours,” said Kirsche. “Just give her a name.”
“Um... okay...” Desi crouched down, to the Fangy’s eye level. “Hello there,” she said.
“Merog Gah?” said the Fangy curiously, sniffing Desi’s snout with her broad nose.
“Hmm...what should I name you?” she wondered aloud.
Suddenly, the Fangy took off running, squealing in fright. Whatever she had smelled on Desi’s scent, she didn’t like.
“Hey!” chorused owner and Neopet, running after the Fangy as it bolted through the door Kirsche had forgotten to close. The Tyrannian Petpet charged headlong down the halls of the apartment building, eventually exiting through the revolving glass door in the lobby so speedily that it rotated several times before spinning slowly to a halt, slowing her pursuers’ progress. As soon as it was slow enough, Desi plowed through the door, knocking over an unfortunate yellow Quiggle who happened to be in the way, and also preventing Kirsche from getting through as well. The Quiggle’s owner shouted angrily at the charging Lupe, but Desi didn’t hear him. She ran on, after the fleeing Fangy...
Kirsche waited for the glass door to stop turning. As it slowed to a halt, she exited, murmuring an apology to the yellow Quiggle and his owner, and walked to the edge of Neopia Central, where she saw Desi chasing the Fangy off into the distance.
As they vanished from her sight, she said, “I told you I’d stick with you... well, here goes...”
Desi was only dimly aware that she had left Neopia Central, and was now chasing her would-be Petpet across the endless plains, blue paws striking green grass at lightning speed. A castle loomed in the distance, and before she knew it, the distance was closed, and she had lost the Fangy in the crowd in Meridell.
Desperately, she searched the medieval land, sniffing for the Fangy’s scent. Tired and sore from her incredibly-long run, Desi could only curse the fact that the Fangy had escaped before she had named it. She had nothing to call out.
Then, she spotted it, running away from her at full speed. It ran along the livestock-eaten grass, tongue hanging out and streaming behind it, until it slammed into a massive yellowish wall.
Desi skidded to a halt for the second time that day, watching in awe as the wall moved.
It wasn’t a wall. It was the largest Turmac she had ever seen. The corpulent Petpet groaned and opened its eyes, staggering groggily to its feet on chunky legs.
“Turmaculus...” Desi whispered in awe, as the Fangy backed up, shaking nervously as Turmaculus bent down to sniff it.
He licked his lips, and a knot of fear tightened in Desi’s chest. He’s going to eat her! she thought frantically. Turmaculus opened his gaping maw, closing in slowly on the trembling Petpet, paralyzed in horror.
“No!” Desi called, bounding out of the crowd. Turmaculus looked up at Desi, his mouth snapping shut. He looked from her, to the Fangy, then smiled. Balancing unsteadily on three legs, he reached underneath himself with the fourth, bringing out a crumpled yellow shirt with a chainmail vest over it. He set it down in front of the Fangy, then grunted, flopping down again, his massive weight causing minor tremors that rattled the chainmail on the ground.
“Whew, you were lucky,” said Desi. “It’s a good thing I was here.”
“Merog Gah!” agreed the Fangy, bounding over to Desi and nuzzling her leg.
“Wait... lucky...” said Desi, the proverbial light bulb turning on in her head. “I’ve got it! How about I name you Fortuna?”
“Rarg!” growled Fortuna happily, butting Desi’s leg affectionately.
“Okay. ...We’re friends now, right, Fortuna?”
Fortuna roared loudly, pouncing playfully onto Desi’s head and sliding down her neck to her back.
“Cool. Let’s go home.”
Chuckling, Desi picked up the medieval shirt in her mouth, and made her way towards Neopia Central, Fortuna riding on her back. The setting sun elongated their shadows and gave the sky a red-gold hue as the Lupe and her Petpet passenger started home.
The fading sunlight revealed a tall figure approaching from the other direction. As they neared, Desi realized who it was...
“Kirsche!” she called (dropping the medieval shirt in the process), bounding forward to meet her owner despite her sore paws.
“Desi!” Kirsche exclaimed, dropping to her knees to embrace Desi as they met. As she did, she felt the Fangy’s short blue fur, and she stood, looking down at the Petpet.
“Well,” she said, “you two seem to have bonded. What happened?”
“Fortuna had a run-in with Turmaculus,” Desi explained.
“So that’s what you’ve decided to name her?”
“Yep. Because Turmaculus was about to eat her, but I managed to save her. It’s fortunate she’s alive.”
“I see. Cool!”
“And... he gave us that!” added the Lupe, gesturing with a paw at the medieval shirt she’d dropped.
Kirsche walked over and picked it up. “...Not bad. So... ready to go home?”
“Definitely,” said Desi, matching Kirsche’s pace.
“By the way...” added Kirsche as they walked, “what did you do to make our downstairs neighbor so angry?”
“Uh... well...” Desi stammered. Fortuna let out a roar that the Lupe could swear was a laugh, and, before she knew it, she was laughing, too. “It’s stupid, really,” she said, still chuckling.
“Eh... I’ll ask him later. ...What do you say we stop at Roo’s Pizza on the way home?”