Our Shopping Trip at the NC Mall
“Where are we heading today, Vanessa?” Coldfire, my red Ixi, asked as we strolled around Neopia Central. It was a glorious day. The sun was shining, neopets and their owners were out-and-about with spending neopoints jangling happily in their pockets, and I had finally convinced my two neopets to leave our Neohome for the first time since our last little, er... misadventure. I don’t really want to get into the details, but it involved the Altador Cup, forty-seven slushies, a Darigan Yooyu, and, well... you get the picture.
“Are we getting the latest issue of the Neopian Times?” Snowfall asked hopefully as we passed the statuette entrance to the Underground Catacombs. The green Gelert had always been partial to the newspaper and I normally brought one home each week for her to read, but I shook my head.
“Nope, today we’re going shopping.”
The two of them paused in the middle of the road and looked at me as if I had just sprouted two more heads.
“Shopping?” Coldfire inquired, an eyebrow raised. “When did you start liking shopping?”
I shifted uncomfortably under her scrutiny. Okay, so maybe it’s true that I’m not a huge shop-a-holic, my shopping stamina running out after only a single hour of carrying bags and trying on clothes. But today was different, way different, and I made sure to point that out.
“Right,” Snowfall scoffed, but followed me all the same as we made out way down the well-traveled paths and approached the newest building smack dab in the corner of Neopia Central. It was tall with numerous floors, huge banners, and the large window displays showed mannequins wearing the latest fashions: The NC Mall.
“What are we doing here?” Coldfire asked cautiously as we hopped onto the end of the long line to get inside and gazed up at the giant green Scorchio balloon floating high above us bearing the word, “Welcome!”
“Shopping, of course.”
“But what about the whole ‘neocash’ thing?” Snowfall pointed out as the line slowly moved ahead. “Last time I checked, you didn’t have any.”
“Who said anything about buying?” I responded craftily.
Coldfire’s eyes widened. “You out of all people should know that stealing is wrong...”
“I’m not going to steal anything!” I exclaimed, causing a couple of Cybunnies and their owner in front of us to turn around curiously. Then, digging into my pocket, I pulled out a palm-sized rectangular piece of metal with a round lens, a small circular button on top, and the words “Produced by Virtupets 2.0,” printed across it in green letters. My pets recognized it right off the bat; after all, it had been they who had given me the screenshot camera in the first place last year for the Day of Giving. The fact that hadn’t used it yet was simply because there never had been an occasion, and now there was.
“No way,” Snowfall breathed. “You’ve got to be kidding.”
“Not at all,” I answered, smiling as we finally stepped through the revolving front door.
Now I must say, I probably would have been even more hassled about my brilliant idea from Coldfire and Snowfall had it not been for the sheer amazingness of the NC mall (and for the fact that we got stuck in the revolving doors for a good five minutes until some kind striped Peophin helped us out). We were speechless. I mean... wow! It’s gigundo! Just on the first floor I could make out huge pieces of backgrounds off to my right portraying numerous scenes from all around Neopia, hundreds of racks of clothes laid out across the floor, shelves filled with so many different accessories on every wall that it was hard to tear my eyes away, and the number of neopets and owners carrying shopping bags printed with the green logo of “The NC Mall” was stifling!
“Oh.... Fyora....” Coldfire gasped in awe, her eyes wide.
“Hello! Welcome to the NC mall! Please, shop and enjoy!” greeted the head green Scorchio hurriedly as he rushed by carrying a bunch of Quick-Change El Picklesaurs in his arms. I had to give him credit; it was quite a task as they kept changing into mini-superheroes dressed in ridiculous orange ensembles with yellow capes and then switching back to their regular outfits whenever he glanced down at them.
“Come on, you two.” I beckoned once he disappeared behind six Weewoo Clocks chirping the hour. “Let’s try on some clothes!”
“Is this even legal?” Snowfall asked tentatively as we approached the first seemingly endless racks of clothes.
“Of course it’s legal!” I exclaimed, rifling through Sparkly Faerie Dresses and Patchwork Trousers. “You guys have never gone to the mall with friends, tried on some clothes, took pictures, and then left?”
“Me neither,” Coldfire concurred.
I rolled my eyes and put on a smile. “Well, now you have!”
It was then, as I ignored the groans from my neopets, that I spotted it. “Aha! Perfect!” I held it out to Snowfall. “Try this on.”
The green Gelert blinked, staring at the article of clothing in disbelief. “It’s the Darkest Faerie’s dress.”
“And she’s evil...”
She raised an eyebrow. “Sometimes I worry about you, Vanessa...”
“Well, you don’t have to worry; you just have to try it on.”
“Yeah, Snow. Try it on!” Coldfire chorused in with a smirk.
“UGH!” she exclaimed, exasperated, but wordlessly took the dress and slipped it on. I had to admit that I had good taste; the dark blue complemented her green fur nicely.
“It looks nice,” I complimented her, and then spotted a small dressing platform to my right. A couple steps lead up to the small wooden stage, and it was just large enough for a single neopet to stand on with a couple of accessories and background. “Ooh!” I squealed. “Snow! Go and stand up on the dressing platform! Then we can complete the look!”
Snowfall reluctantly made her way on top of the wooden stand, turned around, and frowned. “I think the green Scorchio who runs the place is staring at us.”
I flung out my arm, startling a couple more shoppers and drawing in a few more stray glances. “Well, let him stare! The ‘try on’ option was created for a reason!”
“To let us try on clothes and take screenshots?”
Now I assure you, I would have said something back to Snowfall, but at the moment I happened to be running low on comebacks and something had caught my attention out of the corner of my eye. I turned my head and spotted it: it was eerie, dark, creepy.... Perfect for what I had in mind.
I pointed to it. “Coldfire, can you pass me that Bogshot Background please? It’ll be perfect for the whole ‘evil sorceress’ look that we’re going for.”
“Great. Now I’m evil?” Snowfall protested.
Coldfire laughed as she scurried off to retrieve the large background. “Why is it such a surprise? You always were.”
Snowfall glared at her as the Ixi slid the dark background into place behind her. “Laugh now. You won’t be so happy once it’s your turn!”
“Can we all try to get along for just a few minutes?” I pleaded, even though I knew it would be futile. Once they started bickering, it never ended. “We’re almost done with Snow. All we need is some sort of trinket to add that... je ne sais quoi!”
Coldfire’s face scrunched up. “What is that supposed to mean?”
“Umm.... I don’t know....” I admitted reluctantly as I headed over to a wall lined with shelves and a huge sign that read “Trinkets,” in pretty writing, “but it sounds cool.”
Now I must admit that the NC mall has a great assortment of trinkets, enough that could keep me entertained for quite some time. There were Spinning Neopian Globes, leering Omnivorous Geraptiku Fly Traps, Magical Floor Harps that played such soothing melodies that I almost fell asleep right then and there, and a bunch more. But then I spotted the perfect trinket: a Rainy Day Cloud!
I think a lot of people stayed away from them once they spotted the sign, “WARNING: may give electrical shock,” and fact that each cloud was dripping wet and sending off sparks, but with careful maneuvering, I managed to place it just so above Snowfall’s head. “Tada! Perfect!”
“I’m getting soaked,” Snowfall grumbled as the dress started sticking to her fur, but I ignored her complaints and pulled out the screenshot camera.
“Smile and say cheese omelette!”
She grimaced, but then grudgingly made a smile. “Cheese omelette.”
SNAP! The camera clicked, there was a single flash, and the screenshot was captured.
“It looks great,” I said enthusiastically. “You’re done now, Snow.”
“Thank Fyora!” she exclaimed, stepping out from under the cloud and taking off the soaking wet dress. “I think I’m going to be traumatized for the rest of my life.”
“Haha. Very funny,” I said as she stepped off the platform, and then turned to Coldfire. “You’re up.”
“Okay,” she said happily, lighting stepping up onto the platform. Coldfire wasn’t one to be fazed so easily. “Do your worst.”
Snowfall grinned maliciously. Her brief time on the stand had apparently brought about a whole different side of her. “Oh believe me, I will.” She turned to me, her eyes sparkling with a glint that would make Dr. Sloth cringe. “Let’s make her pose with a Down With Neocash Flag!”
Shock briefly flickered across Coldfire’s face as she gave a quick glance over the store employees who were helping the other customers. “You wouldn’t dare! We’ll all get kicked out of the store!” She then stood up in her hind hooves and looked around. “Is there any pirate stuff?”
Snowfall rolled her eyes. “More with the pirates! You’re obsessed, Cold; you do know that, right? And Ixi can’t even be painted pirate!”
“So?” She stuck out her tongue. “One day we will!”
“There’s a Smugglers Cove background,” I interjected, grabbing the background from its spot propped against one of the walls. “I think we could make it work.”
“Oh! And grab the Gypsy Girl Vest and Skirt too!” Coldfire added excitedly.
“You got it,” I said, draping the clothes over my shoulder and then handing them over.
She immediately put them on and gave a twirl. “How do I look?”
“How come she gets to pick what’s in her picture?” Snowfall asked, somewhat upset.
Guilt. Sometimes it doesn’t work on me, but this time I caved. “Okay, okay,” I said, feeling bad. “Then you can pick something for her picture too.”
“Yes!” Snowfall announced victoriously, smiling. “And I have the perfect thing...”
“Oh no...” Coldfire groaned.
I turned and looked over as Snowfall carefully grabbed something off a shelf... It was small, red and sparking...
“This is for calling me evil!” Snowfall said placing it next to Coldfire. I almost jumped out of my skin. It was a Barrel of TNT!
“WHAT?!” Coldfire started backing up, bumping into the Smugglers Cove background.
“Don’t worry,” Snowfall said sinisterly. “It won’t explode... I think.”
“You are evil!”
“Come on, you two,” I chided, holding up the camera and looking through the lens. “Just one more pic and we’re out of here. Smile, Coldfire!”
She gave a huge grin and I took the shot.
I looked at the small screen; the image of Coldfire dressed up in the ensemble in front of a cave and next to a sparking barrel of dynamite actually looked quite good. “It’s perfect.” I slipped the screenshot camera back into my pocket. “Okay, you two. We’re finally done. We can go.”
But for some reason, they didn’t look ready to leave. In fact, Coldfire and Snowfall just exchanged glances for a few moments and then slowly turned their gazes to me.
I guess it must be a sister thing because I couldn’t read their expressions completely, but I had a feeling that it wasn’t good... and that it probably involved some form of payback.
“You guys....” I started backing up and hit a Haunted Piano by accident. It didn’t make me feel any better; the looks they were giving me and the haunting melodies that the piano played all by itself made me feel like I was trapped in some bad dream or scary ghost tale dreamed up by the two of them for Halloween.
Coldfire casually slipped out of the vest, stepped off the platform, and said, “Now it’s your turn.”
I paled and continued backing up. “My turn? Umm..... I don’t think that’s such a good idea, you guys. It... I don’t think this stuff was made for me. It won’t work...”
Snowfall gave an evil smile and grabbed something off the nearest shelf. It was large, metallic, and purple with glaring red eyes: a Fierce Mechanical Darkest Faerie Minion. She hit a switch and with a slight mechanical whirr, it came to life, hovering and clanking menacingly behind her. Meanwhile Coldfire started grabbing things at random: a Prissy Miss Usuki Collector Dress, a Non-Ionising Lab Ray T-shirt, Pointy Claw Slippers, a Creepy Meepit Hat, a Wind-Up Ferocious Negg, a Baby Giant Moach...
“Don’t worry. We’ll make it work.”