The Mystery Behind Neoschool: Part One
Neopian Plaza. Certainly not as bustling with crowds as the Neopian Bazaar and surely not as much as Neopia Central. There's the Kadoatery with throngs of properly equipped (and not to mention charitable) feeders prepared to stuff a hungry Kadoatie's mouth with whatever it wishes. The Pound wails from the filled capacity of abandoned neopets. Every once in a while, some hopeful Neopian will drop a bag of neopoints into the Wishing Well. Off in a corner, a quaint Vending Machine sits, waiting for nerkmids to be dropped into it. Restockers gather around the Plushie Shop, Pizzaroo, and the Music Shop, the latter emitting a pleasant musical melody.
Only a tall building stands amidst this semi-lively corner of Neopia feeling desolate and unknown. A sharpened yellow pencil acts as its rooftop, pointing high up to the sky. Most Neopians can associate it with School Supplies, but how many of them can remember the anticipation of Neoschool back in Year Five? I know I was one of those eager awaiting its release, packing my Safety Deposit Box with countless writing utensils, paper, erasers, lunchboxes, backpacks, scissors, rulers, and more. I've forgotten all about them until yesterday morning...
"We're HUNGRY!!" my neopets announced to me as they stared at my empty inventory, devoid of food. Knowing I had plenty of delicious omelettes, I approached my Safety Deposit Box, opening its heavy steel frame. A Tatty Pencil, almost consumed and broken, fell forth on the ground, its lead snipping off. I picked it up and suddenly drifted back to yester years, when Neoschool was the latest buzz in Neopia and Neopians were collecting them. "Now how many of these pencils are slowly rotting away in Safety Deposit Boxes across Neopia?" I pondered, shaking my head from side to side. But that was not the important question. Far from it. What happened to Neoschool? I thought to myself, being interrupted by my still starving neopets. Reaching into the box, I pulled out a stack of omelettes, handing the items to them, their eyes all aglow from adoration. "Listen, I'll be back later today. Take care of yourselves, you hear?" I told them carefully before setting off for the shop carrying School Supplies.
An amused young looking blue Techo, adorned with a black graduation cap, greeted me as I entered through the glass doors of the empty building. Laid out in front of me were an assortment of goods, ranging from Snotty Erasers to Faerie Backpacks. "Sending your Neopet to school? Oh... I suggest you buy as much stuff as possible!!!!" he exclaimed enthusiastically, recommending a Twirly Fruit Eraser, one of the latest additions to a shop stocked with items that served no immediate purpose.
"Actually, I have all of these items," I stated as if it were a matter of fact. "So you wouldn't mind pointing me in the direction of Neoschool, would you? I'd love to sign up my neopets. They've been rather impatient about studying, you see." If he's as exhilarated as he acts like, he'll easily tell me where Neoschool is. After all, there must be a location where it was built, I bemused to myself, waiting for his reply in the prolonged silence. We were alone in the store with not another in plain sight yet he whispered something that I barely managed to hear in a peculiar tone. "Neoschool? Whatever do you mean, Miss? There is no Neoschool." He stared at me, his eyes beginning to grow.
"A Back to School Shop and no Neoschool? You certainly can't be serious, can you?" I gasped defiantly, shocked at his denial, when I was so certain he would tell me.
"I assure you, there is no Neoschool that you speak of." His tone took on an angry air yet he remained at a whisper's loudness.
Attempting to be calm, I started to debate with him... "But surely, all of those rumors must hold some truth in them!"
"Madam, I appreciate your concern about Neoschool, but I repeat, it does not exist." His gaze into my eyes told of lingering vehemence.
Without saying another word, I quietly left the shop quite confused. There must be a Neoschool. His refusal just confirms that, I thought. Turning around, I glanced at the shopkeeper. He had a frown across his face as he looked off into the distance. A-ha! I think I have a plan, I surprised myself, rushing home to my neopets. Finding them sleeping in their rooms, enjoying an early afternoon nap, I softly awoke them. "Remember Neoschool?" I asked their slumbersome faces.
"Neoschool? ... Why, is that the place to go and learn?" one of them questioned me.
"Yes, yes. Listen up, I think I'm on the verge of finding something out!" After telling them about my encounter with the Techo, I ventured to propose my plan. "He won't tell me anything. And I know he's hiding something. What I think we need to do is annoy him enough to tell us." The four of them, a Grey Ixi, a Grey Cybunny, a Plushie Zafara, and a Strawberry Poogle, were looking at me in disbelief as if I were crazy.
"Sure and Jelly World is real..." The Cybunny laughed, rarely displaying a smile on his wizened face.
"I think what he means is that if Neoschool existed, it would have been known to all of us by now," the Poogle scolded the other neopet for his lack of respect.
"That's exactly what I meant!" He shook his head.
I sighed; they were arguing and my plan was going nowhere. On top of that, the other two pets, not having said a word, went straight back to blissful sleep. "Good grief! Doesn't anyone believe me?" I cried.
"Sorry, but not on this one," the Cybunny disagreed.
"I do," my Strawberry Poogle declared with compassion, edible ears high up in the air thanks to enthusiasm. I went over, and scooping her up into my arms, hugged her for understanding.
"I'm not sure if annoyance is the key to our success, but certainly, another visit to the Techo is a must," she stated her opinion. I was just elated that one of my neopets, Blusia, was willing to go along with me.
Later that day, Blusia and I arrived in front of the Back to School Shop's see through doors. Confused, perhaps slightly terrified of the Techo's potential wrath, we remained standing there for a while. "What should we do?" Blusia asked, rather dismayed for we lacked a plan. Perceiving his malevolent gaze on us, I started to think annoying him was not the wisest thing in the whole of Neopia. "Hello?" She repeated her question at me, who had been too contemplative to answer before.
"Ummm.. We will enter the shop and ask him again?" I stated, still hopeless of the situation.
"We could do that... but I have a better plan." She grinned, revealing her shiny white teeth.
"And that would be?" I wanted to know how she managed to come up with one in so short a time when I'd been pondering it all day long.
"Simple. You see that yonder?" She, instead of revealing our intent to the Techo, directed only her eyes to a distant corner in the store. Following them, I perceived something extraordinary. Something that I, foolish enough, didn't chance to find whilst arguing with the shopkeeper. It was a door, but not just any door. A door with a sign that read "Henry the Techo Only Past This Point".
"His name is Henry?" I was amused at the discovery.
"No, that's not the point. Because he's the only one allowed access to that room past the door, there must be something of importance there," Blusia assumed.
"Right... Perhaps school supplies?"
"Well, there's only one way to find out and I'm going to. You'll distract him; he doesn't recognize me yet," the Poogle remarked confidently.
"Well, what would I do without you?" I smiled, regaining some hope of finding out the truth after all.
"You would be standing aloof outside his very doors all day long, that's what." Blusia laughed out loud.
"Haha, very funny," I said with a hint of sarcasm.
"Just kidding. Well, what are you waiting for?" Blusia nudged me to take a step forward. Her few words gave me the strength to face the defiant Techo again. I took some more steps forward and reaching out my hand to open the doors, entered inside the shop once more that same day.
Perfect, a customer! I observed a Red Usul, with books in hand, looking over the assortment of items presented to her by the Techo. He was talking to her about his preferred choice when he chanced to look my way and paused for a second to look what I was doing, back again so soon. Henry, apparently deciding I was going to start with Neoschool again, decided not to begin conversing with me, turning his attention back to the Usul.
I wasn't, as you could probably deduce, the master of grand plans, but this time, I knew how to get his attention. In fact, get his and the young customer's. Blusia will have adequate time to muster her way into that secret room, I thought as I approached the Usul, ready to put myself to proper use as a decoy...
To be continued...