My Year in Shenkuu: Part One
Also by heeken
Despite the fact that there was nothing to soften the hard bamboo, Tanny happily allowed herself to fall backwards onto the ground. After all, for someone as intelligent as her, surely losing a few brain cells could not matter. Her luggage stood in the doorway, still waiting to be opened. However, she was not going to do that just now; the lengthy travel was more than enough to tire the little purple Pteri out.
Just from her spot on the ground, she could already spot a few faults in the roof – if it rained, as the weather report said it would, the room was definitely going to get wet. That discovery did not matter at all, though. It was not as if Tanny was in the mood to care; she could always fix it later, and having lived in Maraqua for such a long time, a bit of water did not bother her at all. The main thing now was to look around Shenkuu. Having left her birthplace for a whole year, Tanny was interested in seeing how things have changed.
It was only when she forced herself up again that she noticed she had a backyard. Curiously, she flew out, and took a deep breath of the fresh air. Already, she could pick up random scents of daisies, roses, and whatever else the previous owner had planted. As she scanned around, she saw the many plants that were there, and groaned. Tanny had always found gardening extremely bothersome, even back in Maraqua where she practically did not have to care at all for the kelp. Sighing, she inspected the garden for any pests, but to her surprise, there were none.
“I’m so happy today! Tanny is so happy to be back in Shenkuu!” she trilled. Suddenly, she no longer felt tired. From another neohome, some music floated through the air into her garden, and Tanny immediately recognised it as her favourite. Happily, she sang along to it, not noticing as she began to go higher and louder. In fact, if it was not for Aceliane’s timely intervention, it could be said that, despite her relatively likeable voice, quite a few of Tanny’s neighbours would have received permanent ear damage due to the noise level and pitch.
However, having said that did not mean the little conversation between the two was any more pleasant. As soon as the delicate paws of the purple, clothed Acara (or, Royal, as they call it) drew back her curtains, the others knew it was trouble. Tanny, on the other hand, was oblivious to what she had just done.
“What do you think you’re doing?” asked the Acara in the voice of those in the higher society. It sounded sweet, but the venom in it was obvious.
“Err... singing...” Tanny replied a little shakily. “Is there anything wrong?”
Instead of the conventional ‘not really’ that the Pteri had expected, the reply was quite different.
“Everything’s wrong!” shrieked the Acara. “You’re out of tune...”
“Yes! Of course you are!”
Tanny was about to rebut, but after being shot an extremely offended look from the Acara, she decided otherwise.
“What note should it be?”
In reply, the Acara hummed two notes, ending her ‘lesson’ by saying arrogantly, “See?”
Slowly, Tanny nodded, although her sharp ears could not catch the difference between the two sounds. Just before she managed to ‘thank’ her ‘teacher’, though, the Acara spoke.
“And also, your voice is absolutely terrible! Awful! As you see, you have no talent whatsoever for singing. Why don’t you just quit it?”
“What singing? You mean, that squawk is what you call singing?!” As she spoke, the Acara examined Tanny closely. “And... purple coloured...what are you? A cheap version of royalty that couldn’t afford the rest of the purple paint and some clothing?”
Tanny had enough. Although she knew that there were some irrational people in the world, her tolerance had died down. It was time to get irrational herself.
“Oh, and what are you? A cheap Neopet who dropped purple oil paint on themselves and couldn’t afford the royal paintbrush, so made them out of cheap scrap cloth to cover up?”
“I’m one hundred percent royalty, thank you very much! And compare my figure to yours. Look at you! You’re so fat, I’m starting to wonder whether you’re a Skeith in disguise!”
“But then, we might find out later, because real Pteris can actually fly...”
The constant arguing obviously began to annoy the neighbours, for not long after, they heard someone shout, “If you two don’t be quiet, I’ll go ring the Defenders of Neopia!”
The threat worked rather well. The Acara shot a glare at Tanny, but said no more. The Pteri would have commented, except she did not want to be hated since the day of her arrival in her new home.
With a final ‘HMPH!’, the Acara slammed her window down and pulled her curtains close. In reply, Tanny stormed inside her neohome and slammed the door.
Irrational people... thought Tanny angrily as she poured herself a drink (by spilling half of what she poured onto herself). Neoschool had better be better than that...
Nervously, Tanny stepped into the classroom.
“Everyone,” said Mr Wuth, the black Lupe with dark blue robes, “this is a new student, Citanula... Would you like to introduce yourself?” He turned to her, and gestured towards the rest of the class. Tanny sighed inwardly – it looked like he did not expect an answer for the question.
Stammering, she began. “Hello... well... I-I’m Citanula... but most people call me Tanny...”
Was it just her, or did half the class suddenly just began examining her closely? No, maybe she was just sensitive...
“Good, Tanny. Now, if you don’t mind, sit next to Nell over there.” Mr Wuth pointed to a rebellious-looking blue Wocky in the third row, and Tanny shuffled over. As she sneaked glances at him, she saw he had so many piercings that it was a wonder his skin was still intact. As she caught him watching her intently, she turned away nervously and began unpacking.
Taking out her new pencilcase and notebook, she began copying down the notes Mr Wuth had started to write on the board. She was so intent on her work that she had not noticed when Nell took her pencilcase and looked through it, picking out certain objects.
“What are you doing?” asked Tanny when she finally realised her pencilcase was inaccessible to her. “I need to put my pen back.”
“I’ll do that,” replied Nell, reaching out for her pen. However, as he did, he paused, grabbed it, and stared at it.
“Wow! You have some quality stationery! I like it!”
Tanny’s protests went unheard as he moved half of her pens into his pencilcase, and zipped it up. As she tried to get it back, though, Mr Wuth saw, and shot her a disapproving glance.
Just then, the bell rang, and Nell shot up straightaway, roughly jamming everything back into his bag. Tanny stood up as well and tried to hold him back, but he shook her off easily.
“Sorry, I don’t want to be late for my next lesson! Bye! And thanks for the stationery!”
Before he had even finished talking, he was out of the room.
Sighing, Tanny stared woefully at her own pencilcase.
Similarly, the rest of the day went rather unwell for Tanny. First, she was held up when, in between classes, a large green Scorchio demanded her lunch Neopoints. After she gave half of what she had to him, just so she could get to class on time (which she did not), she received a ten-minute lecture from the teacher. Although she did believe that people should bring joy to others when they could, it made her feel no better when the class laughed out loud. Very loud.
During lunch, her tray was accidentally knocked over by a group of giggling Aishas, who had not even stopped to apologise. Luckily, most of the food was still in the bowl, but after a telling off from the cafeteria ladies, she had to mop it all up, including what she was planning to eat. Considering she never enjoyed chores, the experience was not so pleasant.
Then, after lunch, as Tanny asked for directions to the maths classrooms, she was lead by some mean seniors to the toilets. When she finally found the rooms after looking around the whole school, she was again reprimanded by her teacher, except only twice as loudly. This almost left the little Pteri wondering if her friends back in Maraqua had heard it.
Finally, after what seemed like forever, Tanny walked out of the school gates, both physically and mentally exhausted. Not only had she had one bad incident after another, she had also lost at least five thousand Neopoints altogether from stolen stationery and lost lunch. Then, she saw the one person she did not want to.
“Hello, Tanny. How was your first day at school?”
The voice was familiar. As Tanny turned her head, she saw her Acara neighbour from the other day, and gulped.
The latter walked closer, and held out a paw. “I’m Aceliane, Celi for short. Nice to meet you.”
Just like in their argument, the sweet voice was filled to the brim with venom.
“H-h-hi...” mumbled Tanny nervously as she reached out to take the Acara’s hand, but the paw shot back as quick as lightning. Behind her, Tanny heard an outburst of giggles. She recognised the voices of the giggling Aishas in the cafeteria.
“I just wanted to ask how your day had been,” continued Aceliane, insincerity leaking from her voice like a dripping tap. “And I just wanted you to meet some of my friends...”
Tanny’s eyes widened as Aceliane waved in different directions. To her surprise, everyone smiled and waved back. The situation was evidently not in her favour.
“Anyway, I have a major assignment due soon. I must be going. Goodbye.” As she watched the disappearing figure of the Acara, Tanny suddenly understood.
Aceliane was the Queen Buzz of the Swarm, and Tanny had already landed herself in the bad books.
To be continued...