The Mystery Behind Neoschool: Part Two
The Techo eyed me again, suspicious of my behavior as I came near him and the Usul. However, he continued speaking to the Usul, "...and so this fabulous Berry Ink Eraser not only smells absolutely nice, but it erases all of your unwanted ink too!"
The Usul, too deep in thought to observe my awkward presence next to her, agreed to buy the item. "I'll take it. How much is it?"
The shopkeeper, eager as usual to close a transaction, stated, "2,500 neopoints."
Putting her various books, at this proximity what actually looked like sketchpads, aside on the table, she reached into a coin purse, withdrawing from it the allotted amount for the eraser. She was about to hand them over to the anticipating Techo, when I declared in a proud voice, "WHAT? I want that Berry Ink Eraser! I'll give you 2,600 NP for it!"
If I was any other customer, I'm pretty positive the Techo would not have erupted like a flaming volcano as he did, but since I went against his opinion earlier, he couldn't have helped it. His huge eyes puffed up to an extreme size, his veins turning bloodshot red and the rest of the eye a mustard yellow. His hands went up in the air and I could have sworn that I recognized him from somewhere else, from a stadium perhaps, but I kept quiet on that matter for fear of being correct. And trust me, seeing his demeanor now, I truly did not want to be correct either.
As soon as he displayed this odd behavior, Blusia sneaked in, ducking low in case he was sane enough to see her, for red was a rather eye drawing color. All this time, the poor Usul let out a sort of gasp, puzzled at the Techo's uncharacteristic way of presenting himself. She then turned aside to finally notice the Neopian who had shouted such a phrase and said, with as much politeness as possible, which I detected to be sincere for she really was a benevolent creature, "But, Miss, can you please allow me to purchase it? I've been drawing a lot lately and am in dire need of an eraser."
My heart felt as if it was melting at the sight of this poor creature's plea. Indeed, I felt sorry for dragging her into all of this, but I knew I just had to distract the Techo long enough for Blusia to find something of use. And as for that, I wasn't altogether sure how long that'd take, so my giving in at this moment was out of the question.
After what seemed like Neopian ages, the Techo, frantic, turned to me and boomed, "But you said you already had everything in this shop! Why would you want another eraser?!"
The Usul, neopoints still in hand, continued to be shocked even further as she cried out, "I don't have any eraser!"
"You can never have too many school supplies! Especially if you have many neopets to take care of!" I argued with him, taking a chance to glance about the room as if to look at the items, instead, trying to find Blusia. Good, she's in. I didn't even hear her go into the room, I marveled at her success upon discovering she was nowhere to be found.
Distraught, and not knowing what to do, the Usul told the Techo she would offer more for it, "2,700 neopoints, please," she pleaded with him.
I peered into my own coin purse and perceived that, thankfully, I had a sufficient amount of neopoints to outbid her. "2,800!" I let out a sharp yell.
The Techo was beside himself, confounded and wrathful all at the same time. "This is not the Auction House for crying out loud! Do I look like that Scorchio Auctioneer?!" he screamed and let me tell you what kind of scream it was. I'm sure it was heard all the way in Neopia Central. The Kadoatery might have been busy at the moment, but no other place in the Neopian Plaza was filled with the same amount of noise as the Back to School Shop.
The Usul was agile enough to cover her own ears; I however was not. Great, I'll go deaf before Blusia searches the room, I sighed. The customer, as much as she appeared kind, was stubborn enough, thankfully, to continue this haggling for a few more minutes. The increments weren't as high, though. "3,510 neopoints! That's all I have! Now I beg of you to spare me this eraser." She stared into my eyes in earnest. Her furry cheeks were all aglow from the onset of adrenaline and she was trying to control her breathing.
What should I do? I was torn between aiding her and buying more time. The Techo and Usul waited for my reply as if inevitably expecting a higher offer from me. I observed them both and before I could weigh in my options for the last time, something tucked at my side. It was none other than my Strawberry Poogle and with that huge grin on her face, I could see she was able to find something in the "Henry the Techo Only Past This Point" room.
Suddenly, it occurred to me what I should do. "3,511!" I exclaimed as I handed over the neopoints to the still sinister shopkeeper. All this excitement was enough to make the Usul's eyes misty with oncoming tears. After the Techo tossed me the eraser, I grinned and presented it to her as a gift. Of course, this was no way of getting rid of all that frustration or anger towards my part; she controlled her emotions barely enough and let out a shy "Thank you," rushing away from the shop, quite stupefied if nothing else.
She might have laid the matter at rest, but the Techo was not going to go down peacefully. "What in Neopia was that all about?" He let out another scream, this time, both I and Blusia, were prepared to close our ears.
"Nothing... Nothing at all! I just wanted to do the Usul a favor, that's all." I smiled calmly.
"Starting all this commotion for a mere gift? Getting her worked up like that? I highly doubt it. Get out! Get out of my shop!" Blusia and I took his suggestion and left the shop in a hurry, lest he saw what was in the Poogle's hand.
Walking away from the shop for a while, we felt we were safe out of the way when we reached a grassy meadow, the Wishing Well lay in our distance. "So what is that paper you're holding?" I pointed towards a very old looking, rusty yellow paper.
She handed it over to me, proclaiming, "I believe it's a picture of Neoschool, at least what it planned to look like."
The picture covered almost all of the page. A huge, sort of towering, multiple story stone house was displayed. It was painted a slightly tan color, with a huge round black and white clock inserted underneath the dark, charcoal rooftop. There were plenty of very tall windows adorning the structure. Its wide doors were wooden, I believed, and had a bright red apple painted on them. The chimney on the roof, steel and shiny, was working up a small cloud of smoke, showing signs of life. Patches of various bushes clung around the perimeter, teeming with Neopian berries. There was a nice, long path made of stones leading up to the entrance. It was a beautiful sort of picture, fresh with promise.
A pause followed, interrupted by Blusia again, "Look, I know you were probably expecting more, but this is evidence that Neoschool does indeed exist."
"Or it could mean that it was going to exist. We have no way of knowing for sure. Unless..." Another idea popped into my feeble brain.
"What is it?" my Strawberry Poogle exclaimed as I gave the piece of paper back to her to keep.
"Well, technically, the Neopians that built or were going to build this Neoschool were the same Neopians to build Neohomes for all of Neopia!"
And as if completing my thoughts, she continued, "Which would mean that we should go over to them and ask them about it!"
"If their answer is anything like that of the Techo's, I don't really want to ask. Everyone is being so secretive about this Neoschool affair and here we are, a duo of amateur detectives! For the sake of finding out the truth, we've got to be better than that," I muttered, determined to find another less suspicious way.
The neopet could see that I took this as a serious matter and nodded to show agreement.
"Hmm... wait a second, can I see that picture again?" She showed it to me another time. "Of course! We were both struck by the picture, but failed to notice this!" I pointed to the very bottom of the old paper. Blusia was stunned; I was smiling from sheer joy.
Along the bottom of the paper, there ran a line of faded out numbers. In front of them, I could make out two words. They said "Identification Number".
"Blusia, I know what we should do! Follow me!" And to her surprise, instead of going in the direction of Neohomes, we went to the Clothing Shop...
To be continued...