“Mom,” Emerveille whined. “I DON’T see the point in going to the Employment Agency so early on a Saturday morning.”
Em’s owner, Olivia, sighed impatiently. “Sweetheart, it’s just a few hours-”
The red Lenny stamped her foot. “A few hours on a Saturday is very valuable! I could be doing loads of other stuff, like hanging out with my friends, or going to the Lost Desert, or even just swimming in the ocean–”
“Em, this is my job, and you know we need the money,” Olivia said. “Jaraiya and Lee are visiting friends, and Sendrii is sick. Besides, it’s your turn this week.”
From upstairs, they could hear Sendrii coughing loudly. Her owner looked up.
“I’d better go get her some tissues,” she said. She walked into their small storage cabinet.
“Mom, you know she’s faking it!” Em said desperately. This was her last resort; maybe... just maybe...
“Em,” Olivia said, and turned around, holding the box of tissues. She looked annoyed. “You know I’m not taking that for an answer. Be nice to your sister. And I expect you to be ready by seven!”
The next day dawned early and bright, and Emerveille’s alarm clock began beeping loudly. As Em tried to turn it off, she fell out of the bed, pulling the covers with her. She was almost about to fall asleep again when Olivia walked in.
“Em, get up!” she said. “We have a busy day today.”
“Urgh...” Em groaned.
“Would you like some breakfast?” Olivia asked.
“I’ll take that as a yes.”
Emerveille stumbled downstairs a few minutes later, passed up eggs and bacon, and grabbed a bagel.
“Wait, Mom,” she said as they were walking out the door. “We don’t need coupons or anything, right? I mean, doesn’t that make it easier-”
“No, Em,” said her owner. For some reason, she was smiling a little secretively. “You’ll see.”
“Mom, why are there so many people here?” Emerveille asked as she hopped off an Eyrie Taxi. “I mean, this early?”
“Well,” Olivia said, “there are some Neopets who actually enjoy getting up early. Isn’t that hard to believe?” She laughed.
Em nodded, but she was also taking in the view. She had never been to Faerieland before, as she had only been created a week earlier. Faerieland buzzed in a way that Mystery Island didn’t – there were shops everywhere, and she saw petpets jumping around all over the clouds. Everywhere she went, there was a Neopet convincing her to try a new flavor or product. She had the rest of her breakfast by claiming some free Buttered Toast.
Soon they began to reach a very tall archway, and Em looked curiously through it. Ahead she could see a large purple castle, and right in front of her was –
“The Employment Agency!” she said. “We found it!”
She followed her owner through the throngs of pets until they reached the front of the line. Some Neopets began to grow anxious, and Emerveille saw a few of them pushing ahead of others.
Next to the large crowd, there was a shorter line, and it was moving extremely fast. Emerveille assumed that those people must have coupons.
“Mom, is it okay that we’re skipping?”
“Don’t worry,” her owner said, “we’re allowed to do it. Krysten! Krysten!” she began calling.
“Who’s Krysten?” Em asked.
To answer her question, a very tall girl appeared in front of them. She looked incredibly flustered.
“Hello, Olivia,” she said. She was clutching a thick folder. “And you must be... Emerveille?” she asked Em, who nodded.
“Em is the newest addition to our family,” Olivia said, and placed a hand on her pet’s shoulder.
“OK,” Krysten said. “I’m sure your owner has explained this to you, but we need you to help out here. Because you’re here on official business, we’ll give you the first job that comes up. You’ll get the assignment and you have to complete it in a certain time limit. If you do it well, you will be rewarded!”
“Okay,” the Lenny said. She felt a bit wary. “But... but where do the items go?”
“What items?” Krysten said. She looked quizzically at Olivia.
“The items that we get. Like, two breadsticks. Where do they go?”
“Well, they go back into the system, into the economy. This way, we can provide Neopets with more jobs. Now, hurry up, it’s almost your turn!”
Emerveille looked around hurriedly. She could see that the Neopets and their owners were pressing forward to get in. There was a kind of pounding in the street – an excitement. For one second, she almost forgot that it was so early in the morning, and the atmosphere took hold of her.
“Ready, set... go!” Krysten said. The pets began rushing in, and Em grabbed a slip of paper that Krysten handed her. She squinted at it.
“Find four Purple Java Juppies,” she read out loud. “Where can I get those?”
She turned around to ask her owner, but both she and Krysten had disappeared.
“Thirty-four minutes??” she said as she kept reading the slip. “That’s hardly any time at all!” She eyed the Neopoint reward, and felt more nervous. She knew that her family needed the money.
She began to run down the streets of Faerieland, and hopped into the nearest Eyrie Taxi she could find.
“Thanks for the ride,” Em said as they landed on Neopia Central. “Do you know where I could find Purple Juppie Javas? I’m very new at this –”
“Have you tried the Art Centre?” the Eyrie said.
“No,” Em said. “Why would I go to the Art Centre for a coffee?”
“Just trust me, my dear,” the Eyrie said with a wink and flew off.
“Wait!” Em shouted. “Where is it?” But the Eyrie was already gone.
Em began to walk around Neopia Central. She didn’t know what the Eyrie as talking about, but she had at least been in Neopia Central before. She walked around for at least ten more minutes before deciding that maybe she should ask for help. She began to walk shyly towards an Information Booth when a pet’s voice interrupted her.
“...really craving a coffee right now,” the Neopet said. Em whipped around and saw a Kyrii and his friend walking down a set of stairs near the Rainbow Pool. She hesitated, then followed them.
The stone steps seemed very old, and a few moments later Em found herself in a large cavern.
What is this? she thought. Olivia had never taken her here before. In the middle of the cave was a roaring fire with a bunch of Neopets crowding around it. Off to the side was an art gallery, and next to it –
“A coffee shop!” she said. She had never been so excited to see caffeine before. She burst inside the shop, almost tripping over the Kyrii she’d seen earlier, and rushed to the counter.
“Sir,” she gasped, “I’d like four Purple Java Juppies,” she said.
“Four?” the Shoyru asked. He laughed. “You must be thirsty!”
“No, really, it’s not for me-”
“I’m sure it’s not,” he said, still laughing. Em tried to explain again, but instead grabbed the four cups and bolted out of the store.
“Thank you!” she yelled over her shoulder. She ran past a Chia handing out copies of The Neopian Times, and knocked into him. Some of the coffee spilled on several of the copies in his hands.
“Oh, I’m so sorry!” she said. The Chia looked sadly at the ruined paper. “Here you go,” she said. She rifled in her bag for a few spare Neopoints and thrust them at him.
“I’m sorry! I swear I’ll come back sometime – I really like this place!”
She grabbed a quick Eyrie Taxi, and began muttering to herself on the ride.
“So, that must have been fifteen minutes... so that’s a total of twenty-five, so it should take about five minutes to get there, which leaves four minutes to get Krysten this coffee!”
She jumped off the Eyrie Taxi without saying goodbye, and raced to the Employment Agency. As she pushed past the Neopets, she recognized a few of them from the earlier shift.
“Krysten!” she yelled. “Mom!”
Olivia appeared in front of a booth. She was smiling and handing out slips of paper to Neopets. She took the four coffees Em had and handed her pet a purple slip.
“What’s this?” Em asked.
“That’s your reward!” her owner said. “Go out and by yourself something nice. You did well today.”
“No, Mom, I can’t,” Em said. “That’s thousands of Neopoints. I want to give it to you, and to the family.”
Olivia hesitated. “Really?” she asked. She looked surprised.
“Yes, really,” Em said. “Sen is sick, and I should help. And if you want, I can help out more for the rest of the morning. It’s not really that bad, you know. Doing jobs. Working.”
Her owner’s smile was even bigger now now. “I see,” she said. “Well, why don’t you go over to Krysten? I’m sure she can find something for you.”
Em grinned. “I’m sure she can.”
After she’d finished a couple more jobs, Emerveille found herself disappointed to see that the day was over.
“Mom,” she said as they walked home. “You know, if Sendrii is sick, I can fill in for her for the next couple of days.” She paused. “I mean, if she’s still sick, of course.”
“Of course,” Olivia said, and smiled to herself.
Thanks to my pet Emerveille for letting me use her, and ALL neomails are appreciated!!