The Zap that Changed it All: Part Four
Saoel soon gave up struggling against his metal prison. The bars held fast no matter how hard he bashed into them. He looked up and saw his captor for the first time. It was a red Usul. She was walking quickly, the cage held firmly in her grasp. Every now and then she would glance down at her catch, as if she was afraid it would disappear.
She half walked, half ran with Saoel until she reached an Eyrie cab. She quickly boarded it, Saoel’s cage in her lap.
‘Well,’ thought Saoel, ‘At least now I’m off that cloud. Now maybe I’ll have a chance at getting back home.’
Saoel couldn’t see out the window as they flew, so he had no idea where they were going. His captor was silent throughout the whole ride, looking out the window most of the time, every now and then casting a glance down at him with what now looked like disbelief.
The cab landed some time later, and as the door opened, Saoel saw where they now were. They were at Meridell.
The Usul broke off at a run, dodging Neopians and their pets and darting past medieval looking shops. The running caused Saoel’s cage to jostle about wildly, and more than once he was knocked off his paws. But the wild shaking stopped as the Usul turned entered a small cardboard shack.
The inside was dimly lit by a lamp that sat on a stone table. The home consisted of only one room. In one corner, a young girl who looked about twelve sat with her hand resting on a blue Shoyru’s head.
“What’s in the cage, Sasha?” asked the girl, getting up and walking over to the Usul, who Saoel assumed to be Sasha.
“It’s that Kadoatie that I told you about, remember?” said Sasha.
“Kadoatie?” asked the girl, who obviously didn’t.
“Yeah,” replied Sasha. “I saw it roaming around Faerieland on the way to the Wheel of Excitement a few days ago. Apparently they’re really rare.”
“How much could we sell it for, d’ya think?” asked the Shoyru, poking a paw through the bars. Saoel backed away from the paw, which looked huge to him.
“Tyril, quit trying to poke it,” said Sasha to the Shoyru, adding, “I don’t know how much it’s worth; I didn’t check. I was honestly hoping I could keep it.”
“Well, if it’s worth under five thousand neopoints, I guess you can keep it,” said the girl.
She pulled a small booklet from her pocket, and began paging through it. It was titled The Updated Prices of Neopian Items.
“...Kougra custard... Kacheek book...” the girl mumbled as she flipped through the pages, “Ah ha! Kadoatie! It says it’s worth...”
The girl stopped, staring dumbstruck at the page before her.
“Sasha, Tyril, you had better sit down,” she was finally able to say
The two pets obeyed, staring eagerly at their owner.
“It’s worth over 4 million neopoints!” she managed to say, her eyes wide with disbelief, “We’re rich!”
Sasha looked faint. Tyril leapt up and began flying around the small room in rapid circles, spinning and twirling and cheering in mid air. He succeeded in knocking the lamp over, leaving the room in blackness except for the light that shone through a large hole in the roof.
The girl dived for Saoel’s cage and ran out the door, her two pets in hot pursuit.
“Come on!” shouted the girl to her pets as she ran, “We’re going to the trading post! We’re going to be millionaires!”
The whole way to the trading post the pets and their owner talked and laughed and fantasized about what they would do with all the money. By the time they got to the trading post, Sasha had decided she was going to morph herself into a Cybunny, then paint herself Faerie. Tyril decided he wanted to be painted Pirate.
The trading post was a loud place, full of Neopians loudly advertising their items, and buyers loudly shouting out prices they would pay for those items. The two pets and their owner found an empty table near a tall palm tree, and sat Saoel’s cage down on it.
Saoel shifted uncomfortably around the cage, trying to get away from the searing heat. He could hear waves crashing on a nearby beach, and he wished fervently that he was in that cool ocean water.
It didn’t take long for Neopians to begin taking notice of Saoel. Some stopped and peered into his cage, some offered a generous amount of neopoints for him. But it was never enough for his captors. Saoel began to wonder how long he would be forced to stay here in the sweltering heat.
Sasha would talk to him in a high voice every now and then.
“How are you doing in there, little guy?” she asked in the high voice one uses to talk to baby pets.
‘Wonderfully,’ he thought sarcastically, ‘I always wanted to be traded like some kind of item.’
However, someone soon came who had enough neopoints to buy Saoel. It was a young blue Kiko by the name of Seakran. Presently Seakran walked by the booth, and paused when he saw Saoel.
“How much for the Kadoatie?” he asked.
“Four million five hundred thousand neopoints,” said Sasha.
The Kiko quickly produced the neopoints from his pocket and handed them over.
“Just what you asked,” he said.
As Seakran picked up the cage and walked away, Saoel could hear his captors squealing in delight.
A pink Koi was waiting for Seakran a few booths away.
“Hi Niria,” said Seakran, “Look what I bought!”
“Mom’s not going to be happy that you spent all of those Neopoints on that petpet,” said the Koi. Saoel recognized the same tone of superiority in her voice that he had heard so many times in Clara’s voice.
‘Maybe it comes from being painted a rare color,’ he thought.
“Come on, you know I’m looking for a good, rare battler,” replied Seakran, peering through the bars at Saoel.
‘Battler?’ thought Saoel, ‘What does he mean by that?’
“Honestly,” sniffed Niria, “It was bad enough when you bought that Snowickle that nearly bit my fin off. Now you got a Kadoatie. How am I going to get to sleep at night with that thing mewling its head off?”
“I could always keep him outside. Anyway, these guys are supposed to be really tough. Look at that mutant Kadoatie that’s always stealing people’s neopoints. How do you think it gets them? I bet it’s a really good battler!”
Saoel stood up a bit straighter at these words. Maybe Seakran was right. Maybe he wasn’t completely weak like he thought he was before.
“Not only that,” continued Seakran, “but Kadoaties are really, really rare! Everyone will be really impressed that I got one.”
Niria shook her head.
“Whatever you say,” she said.
And with that the two pets began their trek home, Saoel’s cage swinging from Seakran’s fin.
* * * * *
Saoel soon learned what Seakran meant when he said he wanted a ‘good, rare battler’.
Like Saoel’s previous owners, or captors as Saoel thought of them, these pets also lived in Meridell. Saoel heard Seakran brag more than once that they lived, ‘only a short walk away from the Petpet Battledome’. And it was true. Only an hour or so after Saoel arrived at Seakran’s house, he was leaving again to go to this Petpet Battledome that Seakran talked so much about.
Saoel had never seen the Petpet Battledome before because he had never had a petpet. The closest he had ever come to owning one was when a stray Warf had followed him home from school. He had tried to convince Emma to let him keep it, but it was to no avail. Emma wouldn’t even let Saoel bring the Warf into the house.
“That thing is infested with Mootixes and Zytches and who knows what else!” she had said when Saoel had shown her the Warf. In the end he ended up giving it to one of his friends.
Now he gazed about him, seeing the Petpet Battledome for the first time. It wasn’t much like the real Battledome that Clara dragged him to every week to she could practice her new attacks on him. No, this was more of a chaotic jumble of noise. Some petpets were battling, emitting all sorts of strange barks and hisses. Others had managed to escape their owners and were now running all around the building.
The building itself was full of small arenas, most occupied by two shouting pets and two battling petpets. Seakran walked over to one that was already occupied by a pet and his petpet. The pet was a fierce looking Krawk. His petpet was... Saoel had to look twice. An Angelpuss? He burst out laughing, but it sounded like a series of high-pitched mews. An Angelpuss was the last petpet he would expect this fearsome looking pet to have.
“What are you laughing at?” hissed the Angelpuss.
“Uh... nothing,” he managed to say, stifling his laughter. Seakran set him down in the arena across from his opponent.
“Come on, Jaws,” said Seakran, “You can take that pathetic little Angelpuss.”
Jaws was what Seakran had named Saoel. Saoel rather liked the name. It made him sound tough.
“Come on, Saffron, flatten that weakling!” bellowed the Krawk.
As Saoel eyed up his opponent, he figured that this battle would be no problem. The Angelpuss across from him didn’t look like it could do much damage to him. This match would be a snap!
As he leapt in to make the first move, the Angelpuss took out her claws. And the match was over in an instant. Saoel suddenly found himself on his back at the mercy of those horrible claws. He had lost.
The match ended like this three more times. Seakran soon seemed to give up hope, and he pulled the battered Saoel from the arena.
“You’re just not a battler,” he mumbled, looking crestfallen. “Oh well, maybe I can sell you and use the money to buy back that Snowickle I sold after it tried to bite off Niria’s fin.”
And yet again, Saoel found himself being sold. But little did he know how different his new home would be from any home he’d had before.
To be continued...