Caution: Quills may be sharp Circulation: 175,667,356 Issue: 359 | 12th day of Gathering, Y10
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A Fortune to Beat


by twocents

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I have lived in Haunted Woods for most of my life. I lived in Neopia Central, briefly, but after an unfortunate drink of a strange looking potion, well, I’m not so appreciated there anymore. I met my petpet, a lovely Ghost Candychan named Strachan, shortly after I moved here, and we’ve lived a relatively sane life ever since. Well, as sane as things ever are in the Woods.

***

     Charlie, a kind Mutant Chia, has been my owner for about thirteen years now, and he gave me a cute little nickname, too. It’s nice when pets name their sidekicks. We Candychans have our own names, but we don’t like to share them. So, I let him call me Strachan. It’s a noble enough name for a gorgeous looking Candychan like myself. Do you see the way I glow? Pretty nifty, huh? I know. I’m good.

***

     A while ago, a gypsy camp set itself up on part of the Woods’ land. They seemed like a rowdy group, but they were all friendly enough, and stayed away from us. They had parties and good times, and brought some much needed cheer to the Haunted Woods. I’ve never met any of them personally, but I heard stories about how they had helped other Neopians, by telling fortunes, casting curses, and making potions. It had become quite the tourist attraction and we were constantly seeing Neopians from all around the planet. Faeries, in particular, because they didn’t have to land on our dirt, like there’s something wrong with it.

***

     Today is like any other day. Charlie goes about his business and I go about mine. I managed to find some Neopoints on the ground the other day, and I want to go to the gypsy camp. Charlie thinks I shouldn’t bother them, but if I’m paying them... I’m sure they won’t mind. Most people will let you bug them for a couple of Neopoints or a smile made of win. I’m sure they value both equally. So, I’m going to let him venture off on his errands while I see a gypsy. I’m not sure what I want him or her to do yet, but it’ll be exciting to see one up close anyway.

     As Charlie set off toward the Deserted Fairgrounds, I flitted off toward the Gypsy Camp. When I landed, the first thing that occurred to me was just how bright and festive everything was in comparison to the rest of the Haunted Woods. The Woods are dark and generally sort of creepy, the perfect backdrop for a ghost of my caliber. The Camp, however, was bold and colorful. Skilled artisans were peddling their goods, a roaring fire seemed to be singing, and dressed up dancers fluttered around the fire, beating instruments rhythmically.

     It was magical.

     However, despite the fervor about me, my eyes were drawn toward a tent set off to the side a little bit. I double checked how much Neopoints I had, and flew over to the tent. Whatever was in it, I wanted it.

     The tent itself was a burgundy shade, and made of long strips of cloth hung rather erratically over each other. I pushed aside the curtain that lay there, and came into a spice-scented room. A table sat directly in the middle of the room, where two candles burned brightly and a crystal ball gleamed. Around the room, various artifacts were scattered: a pile of jewelry there, some loose Neopoints here, a small statue that someone had carved “Chet Flash wuz here” into, and bags of spices hung about, among other things.

     Sitting at the table was a Pink Aisha. A pale pink bandana held back her amaranth-colored locks, exposing her pierced ears. She wore a raggedy looking outfit, with brightly colored bangles and too many rings.

     “Would you like me to tell a fortune, child?” she asked me. Although I’m probably older than her, I let the faux pas slide. “I can only tell fortunes of Neopians, unfortunately, not their pets. If you possess an item belonging to your owner, I’ll be glad to tell you about what he may soon encounter.”

     I had a whistle that he gave me for the day, in case I encountered some danger without him to protect me. Apparently, people are afraid of mutants, but ghosts, on the other hand, are “cute.” I gave her the item.

     She cupped the whistle in between her paws, and hummed something to herself. She got up and scooped a variety of the spices out of the bags where they had been held, put them in a mortar, mashed them together, and then lit them. The smell flooded the small tent quite quickly, and I instantly felt light headed.

     Putting the whistle down squarely in front of the crystal ball, she began uttering words that were nonsensical to me. The smell got stronger, and the ball changed between bright colors rapidly. I felt dizzier than ever, and my senses slipped away. Before they left me completely, I heard the gypsy utter something that sounded like, “How clear.”

***

     I had left Strachan to go about his business, and while he pretended to not know what he wanted to do, I saw the gleam in his eyes and knew he would head off to the Gypsy Camp. At least he would be easy to locate.

     I, on the other hand, had some business to attend to in the Deserted Fairgrounds that really weren’t so deserted. I stopped at the Scratchcard Kiosk first, because I had found an unused scratchcard the other day. I arbitrarily scrapped off six of the spots, and look! I didn’t win. How shocking.

     The real reason I was over here, though, was to visit Haunted Weaponry. With the influx of visitors, I thought it might be better to be on the safe side and get a couple of items for protection. While being a mutant who travels around with a ghost doesn’t exactly invite trouble, you never know who may feel bold enough to test your patience.

     The Scorchio greeted me with his usual saying, “Big! Strong! Wow!” that wasn’t very impressive. I picked up a pair of Ghostkerchief Bracers, and the shopkeeper said, “Those are sure to make your opponents a bit apprehensive!” Well, why not add to the scare factor that I already possess? I stuck them in my basket, and then went to ogle a couple of items. The Stale Candy Blade, because you know that stale candy just had to be good for something, and a Bone Mace, because the odd look to it fit in with my general personality, and might also make others wary about approaching me, particularly if they were looking for trouble.

     I started to haggle with the Scorchio, and he asked what I wanted the weapons for. When I told him, he directed me to another item, the Ghostkerchief Dagger. “This trusty dagger will be a good addition to any weapon set!” he exclaimed. “Plus, it’ll go quite nicely with those bracers you already picked out.” It seemed reasonable, so I put back the blade and the weapon, and left with the bracers and the dagger. Who would have thought that a couple of weapons named after petpets could be useful? Well, we’ll see if I ever actually have to use them.

     I left the shop, and intended to head toward the Camp to retrieve Strachan, who would spend all day and night there if let to go about his own whims, when I heard an odd sound. People were still bustling about, so it took me a while to distinguish exactly what it was and where it was coming from. Some careless Neopian had forgotten his or her baby. For Fyora’s sake, these people need to think straight! It’s just foolish to take your baby to the Woods, and then to leave him or her there? Ugh, some people.

     Listening as attentively as I could, I followed the sound to behind the Coconut Shy stall. A small Baby Wocky was wailing as loud as he could, and I released a sigh. Some silly guy probably lost more Neopoints than he thought he would at the game and left his baby here in a huff.

     I bent down to inspect the poor creature, and he calmed down instantly when he saw me, which was odd. Mutants don’t usually make people feel calmer, especially when it comes to young children. “Can you talk yet?” I inquired.

     “My name is Trabor,” he sputtered out. “Wh-where are my parents?!” he finished with a wail.

     “I don’t know,” I said with a resigned sigh. “Maybe they’ll come back soon. Would you like me to stay with you?”

     A big tear dropped out of his left eye, and he nodded. As I turned around to sit down next to him, I thought I observed a devious smile, but I pushed the thought out of my mind. He’s just a baby, after all.

***

     I woke up with the Aisha standing over me, waving a bright red scarf. “Are you okay, hun?” she asked when she saw me blink open my eyes.

     I tried to pull myself into a sitting position, but a wave of nausea hit me as I did. I lay back down and tried to breathe deep breaths. As the feeling left me, the Aisha told me what she saw. I realized that what I heard as I passed out was not “How clear” but actually “Oh dear!”

     When she finished her story, I convinced her that I would be well enough to leave, and gave her a handful of Neopoints, as the currency is generally not very useful to use petpets. Kicking off from the ground, I flapped my wings as hard as I could, hoping to beat the fortune. Racing toward the Deserted Fairgrounds, I knew it wouldn’t take me long to get there. I dropped down at the Weaponry, but couldn’t find what I was looking for. I scoured the area close by, dropping down on to my paws and knees to get a better view.

     Eventually, by a knocked off coconut, I found what I was looking for. Picking up the Grumblebug carefully, I said, “Hi, Charlie.”

The End

 
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