Brain of Neopia: Part One
Midday, and the sun shone in the sky, illuminating the ground below. It had often been said that Altador looked best in the light, and this is true, as it is difficult to see anything in the dark (although darkness improves the image of a lot of places).
The light covered everywhere equally, bathing everything in a golden glow that would have fooled the average viewer into thinking the streets were paved with gold. This, however, doesn’t apply to anywhere, as gold is not the best building material, and any architect designing a city with the principal building material being more valuable than the city itself is unlikely to be a success.
There was nothing particularly special about the light shining on Roan, but, as this serves to move the narrative on, it will be commented on, but only very briefly. Roan was sitting in a chair, observing the scenes around him, of bustling city life. Traders were trading, sight-seers were sight-seeing, thieves were thieving, and no prizes were awarded for guessing what the shoppers were doing. Overall, the scene was one of chaos. Just the way Roan liked it.
But it was an ordered chaos, and it took a keen observer to notice it. Roan, spending most of his free time on this seat, just outside the Altador Coliseum, was a keen observer. From his seat, he could see the whole of Altador, and see it in detail as well. And there was logic to the movements.
Most shoppers, when they arrived, would head straight for Altador’s biggest attraction, the Altador Souvenir Shop, which had previously belonged to a Meridellian owner (the words ‘Ye Olde’ were crossed off the start of the shop’s sign, and the letters ‘pe’ had been removed from ‘shop’). Invariably, the shop would be out of stock, and shoppers would, reluctantly, leave and disperse. They would mill about for a bit, possibly buying some food, or some shoes, before, between ten and fifteen minutes after leaving the souvenir shop, returning.
It was an interesting psychology, and this was just one of the patterns he noticed. Roan spent a lot of time wondering how the owner of the souvenir shop had been so successful. They sold really well. Even people who lived in Altador bought things regularly from the shop, as if to prove that they really did live there.
Business tended to be less good for the Altador Natural History Museum, a short distance away. As Altador’s natural history was the same as its natural present, this was not a popular tourist destination. Indeed, Roan had never seen more than three people enter it in a single observation sitting, and he could notice the ones that would a mile off. He knew they would visit it before they did, and he was never wrong about this.
His observing of the city was interrupted by the arrival of his producer, named Producer by owners who had a very clear idea of what they were expecting him to be.
“Roan?” asked the Producer tentatively.
“What?” Roan replied, tersely. He enjoyed relaxing when not working. It made a change from relaxing whilst working.
“Just so you know, you’re due to do another Meepit Show this afternoon.”
Roan groaned. The Meepit Show had, in recent weeks, become more and more successful. He hosted a quiz show, and large numbers of people paid to watch him flounder about on a pedestal, being rude to people. Less wanted to participate, but volunteers weren’t difficult to find, once you made volunteering compulsory for a select few. And the money rolling into his bank account was hard to refuse.
The main thing he disliked about the show was the number of idiots that were on it. Excluding himself, everybody else seemed to be foolish. Most thought that they were always right (of course, only Roan knew that he was, obviously, the one that was always right), and a large number were unable to successfully string a sentence together. Not like him.
“Is it really necessary to, you know, have all these... people, sort of, answering the... I mean to say, furnishing... no, providing... the solutions to the... unless they don’t, in which case... I tend to... in case I don’t... you understand?” Roan asked.
“Yes,” said the Producer, hoping that that was a good answer.
“I knew you’d understand.”
Roan sat in silence for a moment. The Producer, after a moment, interrupted the noiselessness.
“The show, Roan.”
“Ah yes. I was wondering when you were going to mention that.” Roan stretched his wings. “You can toddle off inside. I’ll be there in a minute.” He had just seen a green Jetsam arrive from the east. He was a prime Natural History Museum candidate. A quick visit to the souvenir shop and an ice cream, before delving into the building full of dusty tomes, old plants and peeling paintwork.
The Producer re-entered the Coliseum, and Roan reclined back into his chair. The sun continued to shine.
Roan waited until the Jetsam had finished his ice cream and headed off for an hour of looking at vaguely interesting vegetables, before following the Producer into the building.
* * *
The show had ended, Roan had reluctantly allowed somebody to win, the crowd were cheering at his lack of manners, and another fifty thousand neopoints had made their way into his pocket. All in all, a fairly average afternoon.
Roan lay back in his chair again, thinking over the show. He smiled at one particularly good put-down he had produced. The line had made the Acara it had been aimed at cry. He pulled out a notebook and a pencil, and carefully wrote it down, underlining it so that he remembered he had used it once, then dating it as well, in case he ever needed to use it again, in the distant future.
He flipped through the book, searching for ones he hadn’t yet used. ‘You’re as right as a left turning,’ he rejected as being too flippant. ‘If I waited until the Lost Desert froze over, you’d still be wrong,’ didn’t seem harsh enough, whereas ‘Would you mind if I removed your brain for testing? It’s amazing how somebody so large can think as little as you do,’ seemed to be provocative to the point of dangerous. He sighed. Being effortlessly witty was a lot of work.
The Producer appeared again.
“What now?” asked Roan. “That’s all the shows for the day.”
“Yes, it is,” said the Producer, smiling slightly. “In fact, that’s it for the rest of the week!”
“Really?” asked Roan, surprised, and looking at the Producer. “All week? You mean, the next five days?”
“Yes!” said the Producer, grinning more and more broadly with every second. “We’ve – that is, me and the rest of the production team at the Meepit Show – been planning this for months. It’s a surprise for you!”
“A surprise!” Roan liked surprises. If they were good, he would be pleased. If they were bad, he could use some of his special lines, the ones that he only got out and dusted down for important occasions. He hardly ever had an opportunity to use them. He sincerely hoped that it would be appalling.
“Yes! You know how you say you’re the best.”
“Because I am.”
“Obviously. And how you know the most in Neopia?”
“And how, if you were ever on the Meepit Show, you’d become the most successful contestant in history?”
“Well, I’ve heard the host is a fan.”
“So you’ll be delighted with what we’ve found for you!” said the Producer, smiling so widely that he was in danger of permanently splitting his face. He produced a flyer from his pocket, and passed it to Roan.
BRAIN OF NEOPIA
So, you think you’re the best? Think you know the most in Neopia? Imagine you would become the most successful contestant in history on a game show of your choice? If you answered ‘yes’ to all of the above questions, congratulations! You have just qualified for the quiz to end all quizzes!
Being held in Neopia Central, for all the best minds and the biggest egos in all of Neopia, this Spring, we will be crowning the best brain in all of Neopia, and the head and body that surrounds it.
Eternal glory will exist for the winner, that will only fade in three, maybe four years, and eternal humiliation will exist for everybody else who enters and loses, which we can guarantee will never be forgotten, through the best efforts of our staff.
If you think you can challenge the elite of Neopia, come and enter! We will ensure that it will be an experience you will never forget, not necessarily in a good way.
Roan read the paper again, and began to smile.
“Brilliant! You got me the job of hosting this? To be able to demean and taunt all those deluded souls who wanted to enter this competition that I would, naturally, walk if I entered?”
“Initially, yes!” said the Producer, happily. “But then we saw that the prize money was ten million neopoints! And we thought, since Roan has proven to us that he knows everything, it would be a great opportunity to earn some extra money.”
“Yes!” Roan’s expression suddenly froze. “What?”
“We entered you in as a contestant.”
There was a moment of silence.
“You’ve told us time and time again that you know everything about Neopia.”
“And that nobody could beat you in a quiz.”
“Excellent! You’ll be able to prove it. Think – all the people you’ll be able to force eternal humiliation on, when you win. All the crushed egos. All the people who’ll never be able to show their face in public again.”
Roan’s smile had become so glassy that a passer-by may have seen it necessary to fill him with water and take a sip.
“Yes...” he said slowly. “Public humiliation...” He cleared his throat nervously.
“That sounds... really good.”
Inside his head, his brain began to melt in panic.
To be continued...