“Thanks,” I muttered.
The Meridell Petpet Shop shopkeeper said, “Not a problem,” and handed me my brand-new Drackonack.
“Look,” said my owner, “Isn't it adorable?” I shot her a quick, angry look.
“I mean, isn't it, um, evil-looking?” she corrected.
I sighed. Not that I hated my owner, but sometimes she could be so sentimental. Yuck. That's certainly not how a Royalboy Draik is supposed to be like.
Yes, I must say I am proud of how I look. A great shade of blue, and richly decorated clothing, we Royal Draiks are very rare indeed. My owner even gave me a Gold Handled Short Sword to look even more charming and manly. I carry it with me at all times.
As we left the little shop, my owner declared the petpet 'Drakey', like my name. “NO!” I argued, “That's too girly. I want it to be Konack. It's more awesome.”
“O-o-kay, Drake, ” stammered my owner.
I smirked contentedly. I always, always, always, got my way. But to other people, I was spoiled.
* * *
As you can tell, I had it all. I was a nice color, I had a vicious petpet, my owner gave me what I wanted, and I never had to do anything unless I wanted. I was fed gourmet foods, dressed in royal clothing, slept in a Faerie-crafted bed... yep, it was great.
I was also a single neopet in the family. No one else but me to be pampered. No one else but me to be spoiled. No one else but me to live the PERFECT LIFE! I pitied (not) all those neopets who lived such a, erm, normal life.
My owner was very rich, too. She could afford as many paintbrushes and gourmet foods and handmade stuff as we wanted. So I never had to worry about being normal. * shudders * She was also an avatar collector, and everyone knows they need lots of space available for other neopets for avvies. She would never get another neopet. Or so I thought.
* * *
The day my whole life ended like the City of Geraptiku was MY BIRTHDAY. Of all the 365 days in the Neopian Calendar, it had to be the day when my family joyously celebrated my one special day? Cruel and rude, I call it.
Anyways, I had just woken up and was eating my morning Chocolate Chip Eyrie Cookies when my owner was happily humming away in our kitchen.
“Happy birthday, Drake!” she exclaimed. She hurried over to our dining table and set a plate of Thistleberry Pie, a Triple Choco-Strawberry Cake, and a Faerie Fruit Salad. I grinned broadly.
“Awesome! Thanks, Mom,” I said.
I licked my mouth and it watered. My eyes looked fondly at the cake. My favorite kind. I was about to take a big bite from that magnificent delicacy when Mom interrupted me. “Uh-uh! Not yet, Drake. I have another surprise for you,” she explained. I frowned.
“Aw, Mom, do we have to do it now?” I whined.
“Yes, Drake. Leave your sword here; it might freak them out or something,” Mom said.
Unwillingly, I went to my room to leave my sword there. 'Freak them out'? What did THAT mean? I didn't think we would visit a neofriend of Mom's or anything on my birthday. I shook that off and joined her soon enough.
“Put this blue bandana over your eyes, Drake. It's a major surprise,” giggled Mom.
I groaned but did so anyways. Even though I had the power to decide what to do, Mom's birthday surprises were no joke. After all, on my first MONTH of being her pet, I got painted Royal. When I turned six months, I got my trusty sword. Mom gives awesome stuff for birthdays and holidays, it's no wonder her friends love her.
I was guided to our secret destination by Mom, who was right behind me, in case I fell. “Not long now, Drake. Wait till you see it!” she exclaimed.
A short while later, we arrived to our place. I hoped it was Kelp. Their Whole Roasted Pheasants are THE BEST. I was imagining all the wonderful food I'd get there when my bandana was untied by Mom. And I couldn't believe it. It wasn't Kelp. It wasn't Illustrious Armoury. Not even Exotic Foods. Instead, it was the...
* * *
“...POUND?!” I yelled. “What kind of wonderful surprise is that?!”
Mom looked hurt. “Well, you ARE an only neopet, so I thought it would be very nice if you got a sister or brother.” She smiled weakly.
I sighed dramatically. “My life is RUINED! All the awesome things in the world are now under a pile of lost hope! How could this ever happen to a beautiful Draik like ME?!” I know I overdid it with that whole 'my-life-is-over' act, but if you did it carefully, Mom could give you something better than she originally intended to.
“Calm down, Drake!” she ordered. For the first time, she sounded bossy. I quit my act.
“Drake, I just thought this would be a great experience for you. You've never had a sibling before so this will brighten up your life-”
“I don't need 'brightening up' in my life!” I mocked. “It was good enough!”
Mom gave me a stern look. “You WILL pick a sibling today,” she said. The seriousness in her voice made me want to stand up straighter.
“But what about your avatars?” I asked.
“I gave up on that. I was so obsessed with that, I forgot about your needs. Not your need for things, but your social needs. You don't know anyone besides me and Konack,” she concluded. When she said Konack's name, he growled.
“All right, all right. But I won't like this,” I said.
We went inside the pound and the immediate chorus of pets asking us to take them home started. The Pink Uni greeted us at the front door and showed us the painted pets. “This is Twystar the Split Uni. She's so adorable! She is Level 2 and has average stats,” she said. We went to the next cage. “Say hi to Yupio the White Grarrl. His owner abandoned him shortly after acquiring him, so-”
I cut her in mid-sentence. “Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa! Hold on a sec! A Grarrl?! Awesomely awesome! Let's adopt him,” I told Mom.
Mom opened her mouth to speak and let her words come out slowly. “Well... I don't want to,” she said.
I looked at her like she had just told me Jelly World existed. “Um, hello? It's my birthday; I get to pick.”
Mom shook her head. “Let's give an unpainted pet a chance. Sometimes, they're the best pets,” she said with an and-that's-that tone. I reluctantly walked over to the place where all the 'ugly' neopets were kept. Most were lying down or sleeping. They all knew they'd probably never get adopted, so they really never bothered to look up. Mom stayed over to talk to the Pink Uni.
I passed some pets with horrible hopes. They made me feel kind of bad. I had tons of desirable things, while they had none. “No, no,” I thought. “Who cares about them? Just adopt one randomly and treat it badly, so then Mom will have to abandon that pet. Yes, yes, I like that plan.” I walked past a snoozing Blue Gelert when I saw it.
A lonely Green Usul sat in the corner of her cage, with her eyes to the top of her cage. I didn't know whether she was rolling her eyes at me or daydreaming. “Umm... hi,” I said. She looked at me, startled. Daydreaming, I decided.
The Usul smiled and approached me. “Well, hi!” she said brightly. “What brings you here to my castle?” she asked.
“Huh?” I said. “This is the POUND, dummy. You are in the pound,” I repeated.
The tiny creature giggled. “No, it's you that has made the mistake. I am Princess Usulina, living in a beautiful castle in a far-off place, like Shenkuu.”
I sighed and rolled my eyes and walked to the next cage.
“Wait!” she urged.
I turned around and raised an eyebrow. “Yeah?” I asked.
The Usul giggled again and twirled in her cramped 'home'. “You haven't heard everything yet!” she said. I smiled. This was a little funny Usul. I walked to her cage to see what she was dreaming up.
“I'm Princess Usulina. I live in a majestic palace in Shenkuu, where servants aid me all day. I have royal clothing and royal food and a maid, who is a Pink Uni!” She laughed at this and pointed at the Pink Uni. Mom noticed I was looking at a pet and hurried over to me.
“Well! Looks like you found your new sibling. Miss, we'll take her,” she said to the Uni.
“What? No!” I yelled. I ran to Mom, who was talking once again vividly with the Uni, who was opening 'Princess Usulina's' cage.
The Pink Uni gently grabbed the giggling Usul and took her to a counter. “She has very low stats and levels, so she'll be only 117 neopoints,” said the Usul. Mom dug for money in her purse and gave it to her. Meanwhile, I was jumping up and down.
“Mom! I was only chatting with her! I don't want her! Take her back!”
Mom turned to face me and gave me the evil eye. “Drake, this pet can last forever in here. Give her a chance. You'll grow accustomed to her,” she reassuringly said.
I whined some more. “No!” I said, “No, no, no! Take her back!” I shouted so loudly, the sleeping neopets woke up, wondering where the sound that had disturbed their slumber came from.
Mom once again gave me the evil eye. “Drake,” she said. That did it. I decided to shut my mouth. Mom was going to get nasty.
“Well, Syvelle, you have a home,” said the Uni.
Syvelle clapped her hands. “Yay!” she exclaimed.
Mom laughed at her cute antics, as did the Pink Uni. But me? I knew this was going to be a nightmare.
* * *
Settled at home, Syvelle was still the weirdo she was at the pound. She would point at something and say, “My, that's a rare painting indeed.” or “Wow! This fruit looks just like the ones Princess Usulina eats!”. Mom thought this cute. Gah. 'Cute'? Seriously, I think that's the only word some girls know.
“Here, Syvelle, eat this. You must be hungry,” Mom said. She handed Miss Daydreaming one of MY Chocolate Chip Eyrie Cookies! She even gave her a slice of MY cake! And half the pie! And some of the Faerie Salad! Rude, rude, rude!
“Hey!” I shouted.
Syvelle stopped eating her cookie and cocked her head to the side. “Yes, Horacium?” she asked.
“Those are my- hey, why'd you call me Horacium?” I asked.
Syvelle giggled. “I just thought that you looked like one. I look like a Princess Usulina, so that's what I call myself. Life in the pound is boring, so that's why I made that up,” she explained.
“But when life gives you Ummagines, you make Ummagine Juice,” she reasoned. “There's no need to be sad in the pound when you have your imagination.” She pointed at her head and giggled. That was another thing. This Usul sure loved to giggle. She stood up and twirled like a ballerina before tripping. “Oops, sorry,” she apologized. She then took her food and skipped to what would be her new room.
* * *
The next day, Syvelle continued her little Princess Usulina story. She thanked Mom for breakfast politely and firmly and ate like she was a princess after all. After Mom gave me my breakfast, Syvelle told me her life story.
She couldn't remember much because most of her life had been in the pound. She thought the owner that got her usually never attended her and decided to abandon her. At first, she mourned for her owner. She was miserable in the pound. But later, she found out how to use her imagination for fun. Ever since, she has been Princess Usulina.
You might think a creative Usul like this would get adopted, but because she had low stats and was considered 'weird' (ahem), she remained in her bleak, gray, lonely cage.
She told me how a prince in Shenkuu was skilled with swords. I scoffed. “Better than me? I don't think so,” I said. I took my sword out of my special belt and took the Green Apple I had gotten along with my cereal, threw it in the air, and cut it in half before two apple pieces fell.
Syvelle clapped. “Bravo, bravo! You are most definitely better with the sword than Prince Fabion! Cheers for you!”
I smiled. I was liking this Usul.
The rest of the day, Syvelle followed me around like a Warf. She also asked me several questions, like 'What do you do when you're bored around here?' and I answered her, wisely. She clung to every word, admiring them.
“I'm bored,” she finally said. “Let's go do something fun.” I took her outside and showed her the little stream that ran in our huge backyard, where we spent hours trying to catch the fish that swam there. Syvelle caught a Goldy and got to keep it. She named it Finley. I almost caught a Catamara, but it slipped away before I could put it in a fishbowl.
“Cheer up,” optimistically said Syvelle. “There's plenty of Catamaras out there. Your life isn't in ruins.”
This made me think. When it had been my birthday and Mom told me I was getting a sibling, I had said my life was in ruins and was horrible. How could I? I had a GREAT life. I had everything a neopet could dream of. The pound neopets were the ones with the dull lives. Syvelle was, in a way, deep.
After what seemed like five minutes but had really been several hours, Mom called us inside, where we had Iced Borovans and Strawberry Fruit Pancakes.
* * *
Time passed. Every day, Syvelle would teach me a lesson- Expensive items aren't everything. Your life is not ruined just because one little measly thing changed. Bad situations can have good effects on you. Never frown; it's just another day. I wondered where she got all this great advice, but when I asked her, she would always go back to her little Princess Usulina world.
Baby step at a time, I became less pampered and spoiled. I began to share. I didn't try to be more superior than other neopets and people. I donated some of the stuff I barely used to the Money Tree. Syvelle really had an impact on me.
A year flew by. My relationship with Syvelle was as strong as steel. We did everything together. I even taught her how to use my sword. She still tells me a little advice every day.
“How can you know all of this?” I asked her.
She simply winked.