Christmas Capers at Little Nippers
Once upon a time on a small windswept island in the middle of high-foaming seas, there lived a blue Kyrii.
This Kyrii dwelled in a modest little house on a wharf and he spent most of his days picking up Quadrapus poop, stomping around on his wooden leg and acting in pirate-y ways. Sometimes his wooden leg would get stuck in a crack between the planks of his wharf, at which point he would fall flat on his face and act very pirate-y indeed by swearing most abominably about dung items of every description.
This Kyrii was known to his friends as Stumpy because of his wooden leg and his peculiar limping gait, but alas, since his only friends were of the imaginary kind, mostly he went by the moniker “that Pirate Petpet shopkeeper dude with the hair.” We will nevertheless call him Stumpy for the sake of brevity and because his other appellation ceaselessly calls attention to his hair, which, being ridiculously blue, gets quite enough attention as is, thank you very much.
In case you are not among the most perceptive of readers -- or if my descriptions have until this point been hopelessly vague -- I will reiterate. Stumpy the Kyrii is the keeper of the Little Nippers petpet shop on Krawk Island. He is the fellow who waves his walking stick madly at you when you row too close to the coastline while playing Dubloon Disaster because he’s afraid the mines are going to blow up his wharf. He’s the one who charges utterly exorbitant prices for his various cute, tentacled, and slimy petpets, and who hands them to you with a hearty slap on the back and an admonition to “not let the door hit ye on your landlubber rear end when ye leave.” His fur is a tasteful shade of turquoise, his hair is, as we have observed previously, brilliantly blue, and his shirts are always very crisp and white (except when the resident Pawkeet has an accident).
On the particular day on which our story begins, Stumpy was on all fours wiping various Pirate petpet surprises off of his wharf and thinking for the three hundredth time about how this absolutely gave the term “swabbin’ the poop deck” a whole different meaning. He also muttered about participating in the Better Than You challenge for Petpetsitter because, quite frankly, after an incontinent Blurtle, what’s a little Baabaa puddle? Pah!
Once he finished cleaning the wharf, Stumpy stumped his way to its edge and sat with his mismatched legs dangling over the water. He chewed on a Weewoo feather and looked around in a very chill, world-weary, pirate-y way. Then he stared at the horizon and prepared to make some very profound comment about the sea and its vast, sublime beauty.
However, his attention was drawn to a little rowboat moving along the southern shore and the profound comment about the sea was instantly replaced by a very pleasant fantasy involving chucking a nicely-aged Egg Bomb at the twerp paddling away over there. Stumpy chewed on the tip of his Weewoo feather and thought about doing it, except he didn't have any Egg Bombs on him.
“Your rowing is wonky,” Stumpy called half-heartedly across the bay where the rowboat was going around in hopeless circles.
“Ahoy,” called Stumpy a little bit more forcefully when the little rowboat circled for another five minutes. “Use yer right oar! Yer right oar! Barnacles-for-brains!”
Then Stumpy paused and reflected pensively, “arr! Layin’ on ye olde pirate-y accent so thick tastes like a soggy Fishwhich on me tongue.”
At this point, much to the relief of all concerned, Stumpy decided to continue all communications in a more normal manner o’ speakin’ -- that is, manner of speaking -- so nobody would feel like swabbing the poop deck with his face.
Erm, as we were saying.
The sole occupant of the rowboat seemed to have heard Stumpy’s kindly-delivered advice and was now using both oars properly. Now that she -- for it was a she -- had figured out how to row, she was inching her way towards Stumpy’s wharf at a ridiculously slow pace.
Stumpy resisted the urge to make a scathing remark about how she was a little faster than a Slorg out for his morning constitutional, because she had these enormous puffy sleeves encumbering her arms and a ridiculously elaborate dress hindering her every movement, so how could he expect her to even lift an arm, really.
So instead Stumpy just repeated loudly, “barnacles-for-brains,” because he was a nice person that way.
Finally the little skiff came close enough for Stumpy to make out who exactly the barnacles-for-brains incompetent rower was, and it was the most absolutely splendidly dressed Royal Kyrii girl he had ever laid eyes on.
This made Stumpy grumpy immediately.
“I’ve got a Blibble right here who’s got more sense than you have in your noggin,” Stumpy said by way of greeting when the Royal Kyrii had finally rowed up to his dock a few minutes later.
Then Stumpy narrowed his eyes at her because he had been struck with the sudden suspicion that she was a Cove smuggler out to steal his stuff.
“What’s your name?” Stumpy asked abruptly, pointing at the girl with his Weewoo feather.
“Stella,” said the Royal Kyrii, whom we shall now refer to as Stella. Then she rowed a little closer until her boat touched the dock and she looked up expectantly at Stumpy, because he was totally supposed to help her get out of her boat very chivalrously.
Unfortunately for Stella, Stumpy just sat and stared at her because he didn’t actually know what chivalry was. (I am of the opinion that, if asked, he would think it was a rare strain of Neopox.)
Unfortunately for Stumpy, when Stella did not get the chivalric response she was expecting, she took matters into her own hands quite literally by grasping Stumpy’s wooden leg and yoinking herself onto the dock by these very undignified means.
Stumpy was so offended at his leg being used in this fashion that he threw his Weewoo feather at Stella and swore like a wounded pirate about dung items of every description. (This was a habit of his whenever his wooden leg got involved, as we have seen previously.)
Stella smiled brightly at Stumpy throughout his tirade and clapped excitedly all of a sudden.
“Oh!” she cried. “I recognize you! You’re the Pirate Petpet shopkeeper dude with the hair!”
She did not, to Stumpy’s disappointment, ask him for his autograph.
(Stumpy decided upon reflection that this was probably a good thing because he didn’t know whether he should sign with ‘The Pirate Petpet Shopkeeper Dude With The Hair’ or ‘Stumpy.’)
(Also, he did not remember whether he knew how to write or not in the first place.)
“Call me Stumpy,” said Stumpy.
“Right. Stubby,” said Stella.
“Stumpy,” corrected Stumpy.
“Whatever,” said Stella, and she gestured dismissively. “Listen, Stunty. I want to buy a Pirate petpet as a Christmas present.”
“Oh, how nice,” said Stumpy, and he realized that swearing about dung and calling clients barnacles-for-brains was probably bad for business so he should avoid doing it in future. “Who is it for?”
“For me, obviously,” Stella replied, as though Stumpy had just asked a stupid question.
“Oh,” said Stumpy. “Obviously.”
And it was obvious, in retrospect, because what kind of self-centered brat uses someone’s wooden leg to climb onto a dock? This kind of self-centered brat. Plus she had made him lose his favourite Weewoo feather. Stupid Royal Kyrii. Royal pain in the Golden Dubloon.
Then Stella and Stumpy realized that they were just standing around like morons so Stumpy snapped to attention and said, “Right! I’ll show ye me petpets.”
They made their way into Stumpy’s Little Nippers petpet store, which was dark and kind of smelly despite Stumpy’s best efforts.
Stella looked decidedly unimpressed as she watched an Octorna squelch its tentacled way across the floor in front of her. She wondered how offended Stumpy would be if she declared that she had changed her mind and was off to Faerie Petpets. Then she decided that she didn’t care if she offended him, and was about to open her mouth and say something to that effect when a Palmplat scuttled towards her with a wide-eyed stare and two feathers quivering on its little round head.
“Hello, cutie,” said Stella sweetly.
The Palmplat screamed something that sounded vaguely like “the palm trees, they are coming!” and ran away, which vexed Stella greatly.
“Well, this was interesting,” said Stella, and she gathered her extravagant dress up around her and made to leave.
Stumpy decided that Stella was not leaving without dropping some shiny dubloons in his till, so he intercepted her very suavely by stuffing a slippery Quadrapus into her hands.
“This is a Quadrapus,” said Stumpy. “It’s stupid. You can tell by the way its eyes point in opposite directions.”
“Oh,” remarked Stella, “I was just thinking about how it looks like you.”
Stumpy really wanted to slay Stella dramatically at that point. Or at least chuck an Egg Bomb at her, which he should’ve done the minute he saw her boat, now that he thought about it.
“Well,” said Stumpy cheerfully after he had mastered these violent urges. “I have a petpet that looks just like you, too.”
“Really?” asked Stella, mildly interested, and she watched Stumpy fetch a petpet in a dark corner of the shop.
Of course she was expecting him to return with a White Weewoo or something similarly delicate, pretty, and profoundly imbued with Neopian lore -- White Weewoos, for instance, being the petpet of choice for the intellectual, the articulate, the scholarly and the lunatic.
And of course Stumpy did not return with a White Weewoo, or a fuzzy Kateil, or even a Blibble (which might not have much sense or many limbs but is at least kind of cute). Instead he returned with a Snarhook, and a remarkably ugly specimen at that.
“Here,” Stumpy said, and he showed the Snarhook to Stella and he tried not to giggle because that wouldn’t be pirate-y. “It’s perfect for you.”
Stella took one look at the Snarhook and she assaulted Stumpy’s ears with angry shouts about how he could possibly think this monstrously ugly creature was perfect for her, and whether he really thought her nose looked like that snout, and when had he last had his eyes checked, and then she requested that Stumpy please go jump off the wharf.
Then Stella held her Stumpy-Quadrapus, and Stumpy held his Stella-Snarhook, and they glared at each other.
Then Stella declared loudly, “Staring contest! Nobody blink!”
And she and Stumpy stared at each other and Stumpy called to his aid all of his years of pirate-y glaring into the sun and surf, and Stella invoked the power of the Beauteous Kyrii Gaze to help her win this epic battle.
This resulted in Stumpy squinting abominably while Stella tried to flutter her eyelashes without actually closing her eyes, which is an extremely difficult thing to do, as you might know if you’ve ever tried.
So Stella and Stumpy were both staring at each other doing these preposterous things with their eyes and then, of course, their mouths started to twitch while they tried not to laugh. This made their expressions even more absurdly hilarious, which of course became unbearable and each found the other’s face so screamingly funny that they collapsed into fits of shrieking laughter and felt like they were going to perish, they were laughing so hard.
They recovered gradually and were eventually able to actually start breathing again. Stella got up quickly because her dress was getting wrinkled and dirty and lying on the floor like a laughed-out corpse wasn’t very princess-like. Then Stumpy got up quickly lest any of his pirate-y acquaintances should walk in and ask him whether he was actually swabbing the poop deck with his face.
Then Stella and Stumpy stood around like morons for the second time in so many minutes and they didn’t know what to say to each other for some reason after this spontaneous outburst of hilarity. Stella straightened her dress and Stumpy hummed a rude sea-faring ditty about Hannah’s early career working in a tavern on Krawk Island cleaning out spitoons.
“Right,” said Stella, and she moved to the counter with the Snarhook and the Quadrapus in tow. “I’ll take them.”
“Both?” asked Stumpy, and he tried not to let dubloon signs pop out of his eyes dementedly.
“Yes, both,” said Stella. “I’m going to feed them to Turmaculus.”
“Um,” protested Stumpy very articulately.
“I was joking, Stubby,” said Stella, and she petted Stumpy patronizingly on the head.
“Oy,” said Stumpy, who whipped away with a speed that would make the ninja at the Training School envious, “don’t touch the hair.”
After he had assured himself that his hair was still okay, Stumpy slipped behind the counter and said: “that’ll be one hundred dubloons. But I’ll give ye a discount. Ninety nine dubloons.”
“How generous of you,” said Stella, and she muttered between her teeth about money-grubbing pirate so-and-sos and how she would like to give them all wedgies.
However, when Stella put a purse full of dubloons on the counter, Stumpy did not take it. Stella looked at him and watched his facial expressions reflect some strange internal struggle.
“Indigestion?” Stella inquired kindly.
“No,” said Stumpy at length. “Christmas spirit.”
“Oh,” said Stella, and Stumpy slid the purse back to her.
There was an awkward pause.
“I think you need it more than I do,” said Stella, whose face was suddenly also exhibiting signs of indigestion -- or Christmas spirit -- and she did not pick up the purse. “Maybe buy yourself something.”
“Maybe,” said Stumpy, and his indigestion worsened. “Maybe I could buy meself some toothpaste.”
“That would be nice,” said Stella. “For the good of Neopia.”
There was another awkward pause.
“Right,” said Stella. “I’d better be going.”
And she picked up her Stella-Snarhook in one arm and her Stumpy-Quadrapus in the other, and they both looked absurdly ugly because she was so absurdly pretty, and she gave Stumpy a small smile and made for the door.
“Hey,” Stumpy called to her as she left, “Merry Christmas. And don’t let the door hit ye on your landlubber behind on yer way out.”
And Stella replied very sweetly, “Merry Christmas. Go sit on a Urgoni,” and she laughed her way back to her rowboat.
“By the Krawk’s hangnail,” said Stumpy after Stella had departed. “Ouch.”
Then he smiled a silly smile to himself and hummed a song about bonny lasses at Christmas time, yo ho.