The Other Side of the Rainbow
Also written by scenette
Let me introduce myself with a little about my childhood. I'm Gaeran, a male Blue Lupe from the ancient city of Neovia. Ever since I was a young pup, I’ve been interested in the mysteries of Neopia. The stuff that just isn’t explained in all of those little kids books you get from your owners these days. Kyrii ABCs may tell you that Aisha begins with ‘A’, but it doesn’t even hint at how the Fountain Faerie’s magical pool became magical, or why Meepits are so cunningly evil. So, as I got older, I began to wander around the valley a little more to find out about all the assortment of things that I wasn’t being told. With me came my tiny Shoyru of a friend, Hannah. Together we explored the deepest secrets of Neopia. Our explorations mainly came to nothing, just a good trip and a couple of giggles afterwards. Finally, however, we struck gold – or rather, didn’t, as the story goes. Perhaps it was under the grand Money Tree in Neopia Central that we came up with our golden plan. Have you ever noticed that rainbow that seems to spring from Neopia Central into the sky? Well, Hannah and I had. We planned and planned to explore it, in hopes that a pot of gold would be waiting for us at the other side. One day, we mustered up the courage to try out our escapade. Grabbing each other’s paws and running wildly into the rainbow, we were lifted out of central Neopia and dragged into a flow of vibrant colours.
The intensity of the heat was almost unbearable; I could feel my cheeks burning against the surface of the rainbow, and had the odd notion that we must be travelling upwards, towards the sun that burned so brightly over Neopia. I could feel Hannah’s paw shaking in mine, and I grabbed on to it even more tightly. I tried to look at her to see if she was okay, but instead of seeing her normal purple sheen, I saw only a vague outline of her. Her body was shrouded over in a twirling, mist-like rainbow. I shivered at the thought of putting Hannah in danger. This was predominantly my plan, and if anything happened to Hannah, I’d feel terrible.
After what seemed like years, we arrived at our destination with a thump. I stood up shakily, and shook the rainbow dust from my body. My first thoughts were for Hannah. I crouched down right beside her, bringing my muzzle close to her dust-covered face.
‘Are you alright, Hannah?’ I whispered gently.
‘Ye... yes, though I’m surprised at what happened. Our explorations never really actually come to anything usually!’ She gave a shaky giggle, and brushed the dust off her face.
Now that I’d confirmed Hannah was safe, my brain switched to its less heroic, greedier side. Hastily, I peered around for our anticipated pot of gold. There wasn’t a pot of gold, however. Instead there sat a rather forlorn looking creature with an expression of gloom fixed on his face, and heart-shaped pads on each of his long forearms. I looked up and saw hundreds and hundreds of these miserable creatures scattered all over the land. I knew suddenly we weren't in some neopoint-filled paradise; we had arrived in Roo Island.
Being the adventurers we were, Hannah and I began to wander around; we’d never visited this place, and so it gave us a certain thrill to investigate. However, a prickling shiver stopped me in my tracks. I turned around to see the eyes of hundreds of Blumaroos staring threateningly at us. I had no idea why, but it wasn’t as though we were causing them or their island any harm. Shivering at the eerie gazes from the Blumaroos, I wondered why exactly they didn’t want us on their island.
Fortunately for us, a friendlier Green Blumaroo came up to us when all was silent on the front. He tried to keep his voice down whilst speaking to us, as though he didn’t want anyone listening in on the conversation.
‘You know, most Blumaroos don’t like other species on their island,’ he said, cautiously looking around.
‘Why’s that?’ I asked. ‘Why wouldn’t we be allowed to visit? You’d think the island would be grateful of the tourism, at least.’
‘It isn’t that... We Blumaroos like our privacy, some more than others, and it’s as though you’re invading. Blumaroos have been looked down upon by society in many of Neopia’s common lands for years, and I suppose it’s our way of levelling it out. Don’t take it personally; they dislike any other species that sets foot on the isl—’
He stopped dead mid-word. There was a sudden noise behind us, and several Blumaroos came out of the shadows of a building, shaking their heads in dismay.
‘I—I didn’t say anything!’ the Blumaroo stammered, but the underlying tone of guilt that rippled through his voice made it obvious that he was lying. He had denied saying anything before they’d even asked a question, and that was surely a reason to disbelieve what he said.
‘Guards, take Peo to the prisons,’ a voice commanded. It was King Roo, and he was glaring directly at the two explorers.
‘What do we have here?’ he boomed. ‘We don’t like other species on our island.’
‘We’re sorry,’ I began. ‘We didn’t see any harm in visiting. We were expecting a warm wel—’
‘A WARM WELCOME?’ The Blumaroo laughed condescendingly. ‘For your trespassing, you may never leave! To the prisons you go!’
With that, he gestured for another couple of Blumaroo guards to drag us away.
‘Wait!’ yelled Hannah, who had been quiet up until now. She yanked her arm out of a Blumaroo’s grasp. ‘Why don’t we strike a deal? We’ll do anything if you’ll show us the way home!’
King Roo looked deep in thought.
‘Well, I have a proposal for you!’ he replied. ‘You need to beat me at the island’s best game – Dice-a-Roo. If you win, we’ll show you how to get home. If you lose... to the prisons you will go!’
King Roo grinned maliciously, and the other Blumaroos around him began to chortle.
I wondered tremulously what the inside joke was. Was the game hard, or something? We had never played, our owners being people that barely strayed from Neopia Central.
Clutching Hannah, I made to follow King Roo. It wasn’t like we had much choice, as behind us a squadron of Blumaroos watched our every move. We walked and walked, our paws thudding on the ground and eyes darting around. Even in our fear, we still wanted to investigate the new land. Suddenly, King Roo bounced aside, causing us to stop abruptly. Ahead of us stood the most weird and magnificent building that I’d ever seen. It seemed to be completely modelled from a blue Blumaroo, its body so carefully modelled with faerie blue paint and smooth plaster that it looked almost real. Around this big Blumaroo, roofs and chimneys seemed to be protruding. After a while, I saw a tiny door at the front of the neopet, which presumably led the way inside.
King Roo was looking at us very carefully.
‘Do you like my home?’ he said, daring us to say something back.
‘I... It’s lovely, sir!’ Hannah squeaked, before I could open my mouth. Her shy demeanour had obviously come back since her moment of braveness back at the foot of the rainbow.
‘Yes, I rather thought so,’ agreed the king. ‘Cost me almost two million Neopoints to build, it did; hand crafted by Blumaroos, of course. Now, what are we waiting for? Let’s play Dice-a-Roo!’
With a bounce, he landed at the foot of the door, and opened it, almost welcomingly, for the two of us. Shuddering slightly, we walked in. I was scared to the bones, but I held my head high. An explorer never shows fear in front of his enemies.
I gazed wondrously at the inside of the palace. Its high ceilings and golden interior gave it an ambience of haughty beauty. On every wall, paintings and photographs of Blumaroos were hung. We came to the end of the hall, and waited nervously for King Roo to take the lead again. In front of us lay three doors. Each looked completely ordinary, yet we knew our fate lay behind one of them. Looking as forlorn as usual, the king bounded to the front, and opened the left hand door.
The doors burst open, and in the vast room lay just one stationary object: a table. Not just any table, but a massive oak table, with intricate carvings of Blumaroos and Roo Island carefully patterned around it. Spotlights centred on to this huge table, making it stick out like a professional performer’s stage. Around the edges of the room, hundreds upon hundreds of 'roos stood, each of them staring silently at the Hannah, the king and I.
I took a step towards the table – but with great cautiousness. There was no telling what was around this place; it could have had a dozen and one traps for all I knew. My foot hit solid floor, and I knew I was safe.
‘Go on then,’ said King Roo, slightly annoyed. ‘I assume you have played before!’
‘Erm... well, actually we haven’t...’
I was stopped by the great boom of laughter coming from the Blumaroos around us, and from King Roo. I looked down at my feet, and Hannah shuffled hers nervously. It was slightly degrading how we were supposed to know how to play, when we had never set foot on Roo Island before.
‘Well, I guess I’ll have to teach you half-wits the rules of the game.’
King Roo pointed at the table. I peered over, and there in the centre of the table lay a single, miniscule red die. I didn’t know what to do, or what to think. What did it mean? What was I supposed to do? Hannah looked confused too, and looked to me for guidance. One puzzled look for a reply told her I didn’t know in the slightest.
‘Well, we start off with this red dice,’ began the King, sounding slightly annoyed. ‘You can both win and lose Neopoints at this stage of the game. There is also a very special throw, the levelling up throw. This throw allows you to progress to the next colour of dice, and brings you a step closer to winning. We don’t want that to happen, though, do we? The final dice, which I’m sure you’ll see in no time at all, is the Game Over dice.’
King Roo stopped for a moment, and then chortled maliciously. The other Blumaroos snickered. I looked the other way; struck by a tremulous fear that spread through my very bones. I avoided eye contact with him, and attempted valiantly to muster my courage again. I needed to show him who was the boss around here, and that just because he was a ‘roo and a king, he wasn’t the centre of the world.
‘So... we just roll the dice?’ asked Hannah. She had been relatively silent for a while.
‘Of course you do, fool! What else would you do with it? Eat it?’
King Roo laughed jarringly once again, and the Blumaroos echoed him. It was slightly intimidating, but it only encouraged me to try my very hardest at mastering this obscure game.
‘Well, we have nothing to lose, I guess,’ I said to Hannah. (Apart from our freedom, I thought wildly to myself.)
‘Here it goes...’
I picked up the dice. It felt warm in the palm of my paw, and it had a slightly magical feeling to it. It was blood red, and had a simple symbol on it of some odd language that I didn’t know anything about. I threw it back onto the table, and it rolled around for a moment or two.
‘You win two Neopoints!’ boomed King Roo. ‘Have another try, but you won’t get far!’
Hannah picked it up this time, and gently tossed it onto the table. I watched with anticipation as it rolled for a few seconds, as did Roo and his faithful supporters, before landing on a die that had a strong, black arrow on it. I knew immediately that it was the levelling up dice, and even through my fear I could feel a small grin spreading across my lips.
‘What?!’ cried Roo in surprise. ‘That wasn’t supposed to happen... You’ve gone up a level. The dice is now blue, but I’m sure you can see that. What in Neopia happened there...?’
King Roo continued to shake his head in dismay. His shock at the dice made me wonder; was this game fixed? Nevertheless, we had a game to finish, and I was determined to win – even if it was a game of luck. Or so we thought, anyway. It seemed as though King Roo had a plan to enchant the dice, but it had backfired, and that the dice was now entirely in our favour.
Hannah and I took it in turns to roll the dice, occasionally losing a couple of Neopoints, but nothing extreme or anything to be worried about. Level up after level up... it never seemed to end. Red die, blue, green, yellow... until we finally reached the silver die. King Roo was not pleased.
‘I suppose I should tell you now about the jackpot die,’ he muttered resentfully. ‘If you get this, you win the game, and your freedom.’
I could feel the tension mounting in the room; it seemed as if all of the hundred 'roos were simultaneously holding their breath. Would the die roll in our favour for one last time?
I picked it up, and closed my eyes. We had to win this. We just had to. I wondered about the people back home in Neovia – my owner’s happy face flashed into my head. I had to do this for her, and for Hannah.
Shaking with emotion and suspense, I rolled the dice. As it flew into the air I quickly crossed my fingers together and hoped. It spun wildly in the middle of the table, spotlight creating an ever-growing shadow as it failed to stop. It began to slow and it hovered over a skull symbol. My hear began to beat, faster and faster; it was on the verge of stopping.
‘No!’ Hannah whispered, terrified, her eyes as wide as saucepans and glittering with tears ready to spill.
‘Don’t stop yet...’ I muttered to myself.
King Roo began to chuckle, but his victory was short lived. The dice suddenly toppled over onto another strange symbol... Could it be...? King Roo pounded his fist on the table, screaming with rage. His eyes had an eerie red glow to them. I had never seen such anger in my life.
‘What! This can’t be happening! You weren’t supposed to win... W-what did you do to that dice? You bewitched it! You changed my spell! How dare you!’
Neopoints spilled onto the table from nowhere: the jackpot! I stared at it in disbelief, and grabbed Hannah around the waist, swinging her round and around.
‘WE WON!’ I shouted ecstatically, oblivious to everything else.
‘I guess you did win - fair and square.’ The Blumaroo King sighed. ‘We’ve locked ourselves up on Roo Island for too long, I guess. I forget other species can actually be fair players, from the treatment we receive when we venture out of Roo Island.’
I watched silently as the 'roos around the table advanced towards us, not looking at us with disgust anymore, but with a certain reverence. We had finally earned the welcome we wanted when we’d first arrived.
The mass of Neopets led us out of the huge castle, and back into the bright sunlight.
The Blumaroo that had been locked up for helping us, Peo, had been released almost immediately, and he bounded up to us excitedly.
‘I heard what you did, young Neopets! Thank you so much. Because of you, Roo Island will no longer be separate from the rest of Neopia. King Roo is going to allow other species to come here whenever they want!’
He bounced up and down on his pale green tail excitedly.
‘And now, the King has given me the great pleasure of guiding you home.’
‘That’s great!’ I said to him warmly. ‘I can see what a great place Roo Island is. And when I get home, I’ll tell people not to be so judgemental about Blumaroos.’
Peo just smiled happily at these comments, and beckoned for the two pets to follow him. Finally, they reached the familiar foot of the rainbow.
‘I assume you know what to do, young adventurers!’ Peo spoke, happily.
‘I hope to see you sometime in the future, as you are always welcome here now.’
Nodding, the two pets walked slowly towards the rainbow, and, hesitating slightly, stepped into the bright stream of colours. For a split second, Gaeran looked back at Roo Island. He saw, through the film of rainbow, hundreds upon hundreds of Blumaroos staring back at him. This time they did not look malicious. Instead, a small, friendly smile played on each of their faces.