A Closer Look at the Negg
It’s a mystery, always a mystery.
We all see them, some worth millions, but what are they? Yes, of course, neggs: that magical... well, food, I think. At first, while I was renovating my neohome, I came across a particularly well-painted Easter negg. It didn’t come like a wave of awe when I took it outside into the sunlight; no, it was gradual inspiration, much like the forests of Meridell.
You all might not like my sense of poetry, but hey, I’m a writer. Anyway, as it came to me that night I began to think, what in Neopia is a negg, well, besides a negg? At first I thought it was simple, it’s a rare fruit found on Terror Mountain, but then doubt struck me. Yes, they are sometimes sweet, and yes, the Negg Faerie does live in the Ice Caves, but what about all the exceptions?
Next morning I set out to work, I spoke with my supervisor on the subject of my first real article. That deranged Skeith laughed at the thought of yet another negg related article. At that remark my temper flared; he was never going to let me do any investigative journalism, none. I abruptly stood up and shocked him with a simple remark.
“I bet you,” I looked him in the eye, “I bet you 20k I could write a better negg article than any you have ever seen.” At that his eyes took on a greedy sort of look, and with that he turned and walked away, he waved his hand in the air as if shooing a fleaf.
I was surprised. I was on the paper for three months with nothing to do but dot i’s and cross t’s. Finally I had a chance to work magic in the Times. I picked up my camera and notepad and called for my dear Lines. She pulled on her coat when I told her that we were heading off to the Ice Caves.
We took the eleven o’ clock ferry from Neopia Central; unfortunately, it was the stop and go and we didn’t get there until six. When we came to the port I neomailed my other pets and we headed off to the only hotel in Happy Valley. We watched the amber light of the sun die down while we planned for the next day. Lines grabbed her camera lens and started her routine cleaning. I went inside for bed; don’t forget, the sun stays up quite late on the top of the world.
Next day broke and we left a message at the Times telling them we’d have the story by the end of the week. Lines and I got the equipment ready and headed of hiking towards the gaping mouth of the Caves. We got to the Neggery around nine and waited in line for about fifteen minutes. As soon as we reached her counter that dear faerie asked us if we wished to exchange our neggs. I shook my head and Lines started digging in her bag. She pulled out three purple neggs, three I hadn’t seen before. I glared at her and she shrugged, handing them over for six little tokens.
“Ma’am, I’m from the Times, and I was wondering...”
She held up her hand and smiled. “Let me guess,” she said quite sweetly, “you want an interview with me.” She grinned wider, as if asking me if she was right.
“Well,” I hesitated, “not exactly; we’re here to do some research on what neggs are.”
Lines nodded after slipping the tokens in her pocket.
“Ahhhh,” she breathed in deeply. “You’re some of the first. Well, I guess I’ll close up for today.” she waved us to the side and made the announcement. With moans and groans, she closed up her little shop and beckoned us into her back room. There, set up on her back-counter, was a large map with lines and words written all over it. She offered us a seat and we began the lesson.
“Now what is it that brings you here to learn about neggs, and not faeries.” She poured some piping hot tea and sat down; the whole place had the aroma of negg cookies.
“To tell you the truth, I’m not sure, I guess it was two days ago; yes, it was when we were renovating the house, right, Lines?” I nodded toward her.
“Yeah, and I still have paint in my hair.” She started picking a white clump at the end of her hair.
“Oh my. Anyway, I was shuffling through some boxes when I came across an old Easter negg. You know the artsy ones that have designs on them, the ones for decoration and such.”
She nodded and folded her fingers together.
“Well, from that negg the inspiration just flowed; I just wanted to understand it.”
“Yes, I understand what you mean.” Her hazel eyes twinkled in the light. “It’s that craving we all have for the knowledge of what things are, neggs especially.”
I nodded in hesitant agreement. She understood. “What I really want to know is, is a negg a fruit or vegetable or even a cross? It always confused me because some neggs are sweet, while others are savory.” I looked at her, searching for an answer.
“Yes, that is the same question I asked in my youth; the truth is, its very hard to explain.” She gazed about the room as if looking for the answers in the walls, until her eyes meet the parchment in the middle of the room. “Yes, it is very hard, until you see for yourselves.” She rose from her seat and moved toward the back of the room.
“Do you know where neggs come from, dear?” she asked us quite unexpectedly.
“No, not really,” I started. “I always supposed they grew here on the mountain somewhere, but I was never really sure.”
She turned to me and motioned for us to get up. She led us out the door back into the Ice Caves.
“Okay,” she turned to us and pointed behind her, toward the path to the mountain top, “I’m going to show you my personal garden of neggs; it's one of the only ways to really understand. It’s either this or a long boring lecture, and we don’t want that, now do we?” She smiled and we started getting ready for the trek on toward the summit.
Lines grinned at me and shouldered her camera bag to follow the sweet faerie into the depth of the caves. I followed in awe at the size of the place, its sheer size in comparison to the mountain. In fact, as we were walking the faerie shared some folktales about the culture of the place. Apparently, neggs, though quite rare in bustling cities, are a staple food of the nomads who live on the slope facing Shenkuu, and have served as medicine in the caves for decades.
“It’s astonishing,” she said softly as we took the final turn in the cave, and suddenly we were blinded by mountain wind and winter sun. And yes, it was very astonishing; the noon sun slanted across the mountain tops and struck the snow with a blinding glare. It was the exit of the caves that everyone normally sees, Taelia’s hut and the Snow Food shop, but we didn’t take the main road. Suddenly the faerie took an abrupt turn to the left and fell into the shadow of an enormous brown-grey cliff. We struggled to keep up.
Now, if I were to keep describing the scenery, it would take at least an hour, seriously; it is so hard to comprehend the awe that the mountain held us in. But anyhow, Lines and I hiked with the Negg Faerie for what seemed like hours (and I think it was), until we broke through a nasty tangle of spruce trees. Instantaneously the faerie knelt down and Lines bumped into me.
“This,” she said to us, “is a negg plant, a very rare sight to see indeed.” She stood up and let Lines and me take a closer look; truthfully it wasn’t all that exciting, just a woody stem with very broad heart shaped leaves.
“Interesting.” Lines spoke up. “The main stem looks much like that of a rose plant, minus the thorns of course, and the coloring of the leaves is similar to a juppie plant; much more intricate though, the veins are more prominent and the margins are more yellow-green than teal.” She stood up and I raised an eyebrow. Usually the plants I brought home were left in the sun too long or overwatered, never actually studied.
“Yes, but this isn’t the only thing; the most amazing part is the flowers, come see.” She brushed the snow off of her knees as we set off through the rows of plants. At last we saw them, about waist high and covered in bell shaped flowers. Simply divine, as Lines would put it, and it truly was. I took out a pad of paper and threw down a quick sketch as Lines took some amazing shots; thank Fyora the lighting was good that day. These plants were amazing.
“To start, let’s get some things straight. These are very rare and delicate plants, so don’t touch, unless I say so.” She turned and looked us over as if checking to see if we were spies or something, I don’t know; it was kind of creepy. “Anyway, let me begin by saying that this is my prized purple negg plant; I’ve had it for the past 75 years, and that if you look close enough you will notice the small bulge at the end of the flower.” She looked at us and pointed to a flower at the top of the bunch. We had seen it at the beginning; it was quite unsightly.
“Is that the fruit coming in, ma’am?” I asked, looking up.
“Heavens no.” She looked kind of offended so I shut my trap. “No, that’s actually an inflamed flower receptacle. Yes, I understand it’s quite ugly; it's actually a parasitic infection. I’ll have to tend to it soon.” At these very scientific remarks I was quite lost, but on the other hand Lines was quite up to the conversation, diving right in, asking questions and listening intently.
Come the end of our little chat in the blistering cold, Lines and I left the faerie at her neggery, knowing quite a deal more than most about neggs. As we headed back to the hotel, I went over the simple things and made a list of the most important features, and after returning to our room around eight, I began some serious typing. Lines and I compared notes and sketches and we then comprised the following list of the key topics.
1. Fruit or Vegetable?
This topic is quite controversial in the fact that a negg is indeed a fruit, therefore meaning it bears seeds. Yes, anyone can claim to never having seen negg seeds, but they do indeed exist, in fact the negg itself is the seed. Yes, the negg flower, when pollinated, produces an average of three neggs.
2. Colors and Powers
Now anyone might think that all the neggs in the world, what with all the various colors and effects the negg possesses, can’t possibly come from only one species of negg plant. Well, that assumption is almost right. Negg color alone is determined by the flower's color: purple negg means purple flower. (Normal brown neggs come from a speckled white flower.) Powers, on the other hand, are all about the environment the negg is hosted in and of course the kind of magic used on the fruit. The sweet negg faerie only accepts boring neggs for two good reasons: one, planting a new plant and two, so she can bless them into happy and fireball neggs. She says it is a complicated and tedious job blessing neggs, which is probably why they cost so darn much.
3. Climate and Environment
Now, as you’ve read in the earlier parts of this article, neggs do in fact grow on Terror Mountain, but as the faerie told us, they grow elsewhere too. To be truthful, I didn’t understand what she meant; Terror Mountain was a one of a kind type of place. As she put it, “Neggs love the cold, and this far north they thrive, but high altitudes also provide the cold weather and thin air; therefore neggs love the mountains west of the Haunted Woods and some remote islands in the far south.” Another thing she mentioned is the presence of early frosts, which can alter any negg into an icy negg; thus, longer the frost, the higher the ice content.
4. Taste and Culinary Use
As I started my research I was continuously wondering about the taste of a negg and as our knowledge increased, my curiosity did as well. This is the thing; none of the things the faerie told us could explain why everyone thinks a yellow negg tastes different, or why when you grill a negg it goes from sweet to succulent. This is complicated and something we couldn’t fully explain; for all we know a good explanation could be as elusive as Jelly World (which doesn’t exist after all. Hmmm, this is a real mystery).