Neopia, Year 200: The Beginning - Part One
Chapter One: Layla's Question
It is Year 200, and Neopia’s future is uncertain. After all the Owners left in Year 195 (where they went is unknown) due to a massive strike of shopkeepers that left prices ridiculously high and the owners unwilling to shell out 15000 NP for a single Green Apple, their Neopets were left to fend for themselves.
All Neopets reacted to this in different ways. Some began to panic, while some of the more level-headed ones created a Region Council as a form of government to keep the situation from becoming too chaotic. The Council had a group of representatives from each region of the planet, which was later reduced to just one representative per region after the group idea proved unsuccessful.
Around this time, destructive weather patterns began to form and cause havoc all across Neopia. Spell casters such as Edna the Witch, Kauvara and Sophie were blamed at first, but then the Neopian public realized that the ones to blame were likely the only inhabitants of Neopia with control over the elements: the Faeries.
With this new thought in their minds, a massive campaign to banish all Faeries from Neopia began. Some of the gentler Faeries, such as the Soup Faerie, tried to reason with the angry Neopets, but the mob persisted— and each and every Faerie was banished. It took a period of three years, but now every single Faerie had been exiled to Faerieland.
With the Faeries banished, Neopia sunk into a deep depression. Some external force seemed to be preventing the planet from evolving, but none seemed to notice. Instead, prices stayed up, the Faeries stayed exiled in Faerieland, and the damage caused by the weather would likely never be repaired.
Welcome to Neopia, Year 200.
Yorick regarded a box of Trifle Mix on a Food Shop shelf sadly. The yellow Draik knew he didn’t have enough Neopoints to purchase the box, even though it was one of the cheaper items in the store.
He walked past the bored-looking green Lutari that was at the cashier and out the doors. The once-polished hamburger-shaped shop was now grimy and unkempt; since most denizens of Neopia Central couldn’t afford the store’s prices, there wasn’t much needed in terms of appearance- who would care, anyways?
Yorick continued his trek past the Auction House, where countless pets were clutching bits of old shoes and useless trinkets, hoping to gain an extra few Neopoints for them. Both the Book Shop and Neopian Bank were closed, the former because books cost too much and couldn’t be eaten (although several starving Skeiths had begun pillaging the store due to their anything but choosy palates), and the latter because, with all the owners gone, pets had no way of being identified as belonging to a specific owner. Yorick considered himself and his siblings lucky that their owner, whose name he couldn’t remember – Chelsea? Charlene? – had withdrawn all her Neopoints a few days before vanishing to wherever it was that all the owners had gone. However, in the three years that had passed since his owner’s disappearance, most of the large sum she had left had been spent on groceries and twice on medicine.
Speaking of which, the Hospital was stuffed full of sick Neopets since the cures offered at the Pharmacy were way too expensive. As the yellow Draik walked past, he could see the ill pets pressing up against the windows, their drained faces looking imploringly down at Yorick as he walked past. He could even see some of the hospital staff through the hordes of pets, trying to get a Meerca with Reptillioritus or a Bruce with Sneezles back into bed. He wished there was something he could do, but pretty much all the rest of Neopia Central’s population felt the same way he did: powerless. The Defenders of Neopia, despite their best efforts, had become completely overwhelmed with the constant outbreaks of criminal activity and eventually shut down; the Chia Police had taken up in their stead, but there was only so much a group of Chias could do when Neopia Central was so large. From what Yorick had heard, the Catacombs was a favorite spot for groups of evildoers to hold meetings, although one of the Defenders’ last acts before they disbanded was to clean up the Catacombs so that pets could shop there in safety. Its days of being an art centre were dead and gone, but it still functioned as a shelter for those pets without a home.
Finally, Yorick reached Magical Road, whose once-shining cobbles were now dirty and caked in mud. He made his way down the road past several dirty and dark homes and stopped at a bright blue two-storey house with a few cheerful gnomes placed outside. How ironic that they’re smiling while everyone else is suffering, he thought, and entered the house through the cracked glass door.
As he entered, his sister Kayna walked up to him.
“Buy anything?” the chocolate-coated Zafara asked as her pale blue eyes looked at him inquiringly.
Yorick shook his head and sighed. Kayna nodded sympathetically.
“It’s okay, Yorick. We’ll just make do with what we have, although it would be nice to have some more bread. By the way,” she said, changing the subject hastily, “want to see how Cillo and Layla are doing?”
Yorick nodded and followed Kayna into the living room, where his brother Cillo and sister Layla were sitting on the couch and watching Neovision. The siblings had one of the few sets in the neighbourhood, so their house was visited frequently by Neopets from across the street.
Cillo glanced up from the news program he was watching at Yorick.
“Hey,” said the cerulean Techo. “How was shopping?” Yorick just looked down at the ground dejectedly, which signaled to Cillo that he should change the subject. Luckily, someone else did that for him.
“Look!” shrieked Layla, the youngest sibling, as she nodded towards the Neovision screen. Yorick and Kayna sat down beside their baby Aisha sister and watched the screen intently.
“And now, for some breaking news. A Faerie has been spotted on the outskirts of Neopia Central. Further details are unknown at this time, but eyewitnesses report that said Faerie had flaming wings. The public should be reminded that Faeries are extremely dangerous creatures, and if they see a Faerie they should notify the Chia Police immediately. Thank you.”
Layla glanced up from the news program excitedly. “A Faerie!” she exclaimed.
Kayna looked at her disapprovingly. “Layla, you shouldn’t get excited about a Faerie. They’re very dangerous, and if you encountered one you could be seriously hurt.”
“Your sister’s right,” chimed in Yorick.
Layla looked discouraged for a moment, but then looked both her older siblings right in the eye.
“How do you know that they’re dangerous?”
Kayna blinked. “Well, er... because the news says so. I mean, if it’s being reported it must be true,” she said hastily.
Layla’s eyes narrowed. “You don’t know, do you?”
Kayna crossed her arms impatiently. “So what if I don’t know? Look, Layla. Arguing about this isn’t going to get you anywhere. Faeries are dangerous, and that’s that.”
Yorick seemed to agree with this for a second, but then turned to look at Kayna. “It’s still a valid question, Kay. Layla deserves to know the answer. Maybe there are some books in the Lenny Library that have the answer.”
“Or,” suggested Cillo, “We could go straight to the source.”
A period of shocked silence followed this statement, which Kayna broke.
“Just what are you implying, Cil?” she asked, hands on hips.
Cillo looked up at the Zafara with a firm look on his face. “I’m saying that we go to Faerieland.”
“WHAT?!” shrieked Kayna, but Cillo silenced her with another firm look. “Just let me continue, okay?”
“My point is,” Cillo continued, “that this isn’t just about answering Layla’s question. I think that Faeries aren’t all they’re portrayed to be. I mean, we learned about Faeries in school, and ones like the Soup Faerie don’t sound particularly dangerous to me.”
“He’s got a point,” said Yorick pointedly to Kayna, who sighed.
“Alright, we’re going to Faerieland. But if we all end up in the hospital afterwards, keep in mind that I told you they were dangerous.”
“YAY!” exclaimed Layla, who beamed at her other siblings. Yorick, however, had a more serious expression.
“How are we actually going to get to Faerieland?” he asked.
Kayna paused. “Oh, I’m sure we’ll think of something. There are Uni-pulled carriages to other regions, after all. I’m sure we can use one of those.”
“Then it’s settled,” replied Yorick. “Okay, everyone, time for bed; we’ve got a busy day ahead of us tomorrow, and we all need lots of sleep.”
Everyone else nodded, and soon Yorick, Kayna, Cillo and Layla were fast asleep in their beds, unaware that this journey to Faerieland they were about to embark on would lead them towards a far greater journey of mystery, intrigue, and destruction.
To be continued...