The Truth Behind Neoplants
Greetings, my fellow Neopians. I come here before you today because I think it is time for the truth to be revealed. Before anything else, allow me to introduce myself: I am the Duchess of Queensberry, a small province in the proud land of Brightvale. My friends may refer to me simply as Lyllian. You shall call me Lady Lyllian. I am quite simply the most intelligent Lupe you will ever meet and, to be perfectly blunt, you owe me your life. Yes, each and every one of you. Perhaps I should start the beginning, in order to give those of inferior intellects a chance to regain their bearings...
Yes, yes, let me paint the best portrait my memory serves me with... It was the first day of the month of Eating and already the breeze was beginning to blossom with the rich aromas of budding flowers, fresh grass and all sparkling forms of new life. It sounded like a pleasant day to take my human out for a walk and so I decided to pay a visit to Meridell; I could leave her to amuse herself playing with the petpets while I took the opportunity to see my cousin’s family. Yes, my plan sounded utterly perfect and even the weather appeared to agree that absolutely nothing could go wrong... unfortunately, the universe would have none of that.
As soon as we arrived at the main city gates, my extremely acute eyesight pinpointed an unusual gathering around one of the market huts. What, I asked myself, could be interesting this crowd so much? Curiosity got the best of me and, while my human dedicated her dumbfounded glare to a stand of shiny stones, I approached the tumult with veiled interest.
When I managed to weave my way around what felt like hundreds of peasants, I was confronted with a rather interesting spectacle: Standing on a wooden box, a middle aged man held up what resembled a giant cactus with stickers for eyes and proclaimed in an excited voice:
“Gather ‘round, people, gather ‘round! Gather ‘round and behold, for I hold the future in my hands! Owners of Neopia! Are you tired of clingy, demanding pets consuming all your time and hogging all of your attention? Would you prefer to own something that looked just as fantastic with hardly even half the hassle? Well, dream no more, Neopia! I give you, the NEOPLANTS!” He held up the cactus as if he was lifting the Altador Cup itself, using his other hand to point to a woman dressed all in brown who stood nearby with a cornucopia of all sorts of flora, each specimen sporting the same staring, lifeless sticker eyes. “Yes, my friends! These beauties are not only dashing, clean and remarkably good listeners, but they are also extremely independent! All they require is a glass of water each day and some pruning around February. In the nearby future, every owner in our fair world will house one these priceless creatures. I give you four days –four days maximum- until the whole of Neopia is taken over by this superior race!”
His nervous outburst of what was probably supposed to be maniacal laughter died slowly in my wake, as I had already turned my back on this display of foolishness. Pff. Only humans humiliate themselves with such ridiculous antics. And what preposterous claims this character had! We, neopets, replaced by boring, pitiful plants? And they, humans, our owners? Why, I never...
Quite frankly, the day was ruined, so I proceeded to try to tear my owner away from the stand of shiny items. I eventually managed to convince her to leave, promising we would pay a visit to Illusen’s Glade. She loves Illusen, with her fresh cream cookies and sparkling magical junk. I was still quite unnerved with the degrading scene I had just witnessed; a visit to a dirty clearing was certainly not on the top of my list, but if that was what it would take to get my owner to leave that market... Oh, the sacrifices we make to humour this poor species.
We got there at early noon, only to find that the Faerie wasn’t home. In that moment, I admit I didn’t even spare a thought to the strangeness of that simple fact (after all, Illusen is always home - she has no need to go out; Neopians bring her everything she needs!). I was simply relieved that we could finally go back to Neopia Central. But my human was upset at the thought of not getting any cream cookies, the poor thing, so I conceded in taking her to Meri Acres Farm to collect some berries. She seemed quite excited about this prospect (although I can never really tell; she looks excited about pretty much everything...).
However, on our way there, we were approached by a miserable looking yellow Acara with a very peculiar request:
“Hey, can you spare some NP?”
I looked over at him, surprised and curious at the same time. After all, begging was usually something humans did, not Neopets. I moved in closer to the log where he sat, in order to examine him more thoroughly. He looked downright... well, how to put it... poor. He wore baggy, patched up pants and walked around barefoot which, in an era when customisation is all the rage, is indeed an oddity.
“Why do you need NP from us? Why not earn it yourself?” I asked suspiciously, while my human melted away in ‘aaaahs’ and ‘aaaaawwws’, looking for her wallet.
“I lost me job,” came the downcast reply. “The faeries won’t hire me anymore...”
Now this particular answer led my immense brain power to ring little alarm bells inside my head, although I wasn’t sure why. Weren’t the faeries supposed to be some of the nicest inhabitants of Neopia, all-powerful and ever-so-kind? Why would they have left this poor little peasant out of work without any kind of compensation? I tried to get some more information out of him, but my human had already dumped a fair amount of coins in his paw and he was too busy ranting about all the food, furniture, perhaps even a Neoplant, that he would be able to buy now.
“What was it that you worked in?” I shouted, in a rather shameful unladylike manner, after his departing form.
“I took care of the crops, fer them earth faeries!” he shouted back, waving with a dazzled smile as he ran towards the market.
I was certainly not going to stain my dress with mud by pursuing him, especially considering that he was headed to the very same mental hole I was trying to get away from. With my human happily munching on a Loveberry, we finally began our journey back home. But my mind was still not at ease...
I was still mulling over the unemployed Acara matter when we arrived in Neopia Central and thus failed to notice another undesirable crowd at the entrance of Soup Alley. I almost bumped into a group of excited citizens, all staring at yet another human giving a speech about those pathetic neoplants. The scene was basically the same, the woman dressed in brown guarding the stock of greeneries, the man shouting enthusiastically to the crowd (this one had chosen an exemplary of the Neopedia as his perch, though. I must admit he was significantly higher than his colleague in Meridell, atop his little wooden box), several humans and neopets gathered around... The only difference was that these seemed amused rather than surprised and that the location itself seemed to contain a lot more plant life than the Meridell market. In fact, I was sure things hadn’t been so flowery when we had left home in the morning...
I turned away from the scene, disgusted, and stomped home with my teeth clenched in my human’s sleeve to make her move faster. And just when I thought my evening couldn’t get any weirder, an earth faerie suddenly swooped down from the skies, landing right in front of us. Before I had the opportunity to point out the sheer rudeness of such a sudden invasion of our personal space, the unwelcome creature bluntly cut me off:
“I am in need of a Fire Jug, but can’t find the time to go get it myself... is there any chance you could bring me one? Pretty please? I will throw you a banquet if you do...”
I was about to tell her how much I cared about her Fire Jug, but my human, ever so helpfully inconvenient, hurried to chirp:
“Sure, Miss Faerie, I’ll get it for you asap! Promise! And then we can all have lots of goodies together, right?” I growled at her silly attitude and lack of dignity. What kind of a lady sold out like that, in return for food? The faerie nodded with one of those dazzling smiles they seem to master so easily and replied:
“Deliver it in Faerieland before nightfall. Bye, dears!” Then, without further ado, she flew off. I was utterly shocked at her rudeness, but my human seemed preoccupied with other matters.
“Hurry, Lyllian, only about half an hour till nightfall!” She tugged on my fur (something that, for the record, I do not appreciate) and dragged me towards Kauvara’s Magic Store. There was a remarkable amount of people there, which was odd, especially considering it wasn’t even restocking time...
While my human hurried towards the counter, yapping about fire jugs, banquets and how much in a hurry she was, I sat in a corner to allow the cogs in my brain to work at full speed. Something was definitely off with Neopia. Today’s events had been incoherent at best, alarming at worst. I was still wondering what an earth faerie could possibly want with a fire jug, when I caught a wisp of the conversation between my human and Kauvara.
“Sorry, honey, we’re all out of those.”
“Out of fire jugs? How come? It’s not even a very popular item!”
“Yes, I know. It’s strange, but some of my items are selling like hot cakes today... Fire jugs, fire rings, bottled fire faeries, fire amulets... apparently a lot of people are getting quests.”
Suddenly the alarm bells inside my head turned into deafening sirens. The word “fire” kept replaying itself inside my mind. My stomach did a somersault as all the pieces of the puzzle seemed to fit together from one moment to the other. The supposed “women” clad in brown, the hysterical but nervous men advertising those stupid little neoplants, Illusen’s disappearance, the increase in the flora... oh my goodness! The flora!
I ran outside in a sudden outburst of panic and, sure enough, the amount of vines and bushes had practically doubled while I had been inside the store. An ominous sentence rang in my mind like impending doom. I give you four days –four days maximum- until the whole of Neopia is taken over by this superior race!
Oh my sweet Fyora... they were coming! They were here to conquer us! And the faeries were behind it all! All those “women” dressed in brown were actually earth faeries; they had been forcing the humans to...
“All set, Lyllian, Kauvara managed to find a remaining fire jug after all. It was at the bottom of a...”
I ran towards my human, panic-stricken, and placed my paws on her shoulders to look her straight in the eye. “Do you not SEE what’s going on? The plants, the faeries, the... the plants?!”
She looked back at me as if I had just coughed out a petpetpet. “What’s the matter, Lyl? This is all just an April Fools joke made by TNT... you know that; I told you today is...”
“An April Fools JOKE?” I screamed in disbelief. How could she say such nonsense? Did she not realize? Did she not see? I looked around frantically. Everywhere, humans and neopets alike pranced around, carefree and happy, even laughing every time they passed a plant. Were they all blind to the seriousness of this situation?! TNT had been played; the faeries were forcing them to do this! How could they...
“C’mon, Lyl, I’ll show you.” My human grabbed my fur, which I still detest (she is in need of a little reminding bite, it seems...) and took me to a place called “The Boards” where apparently lots of people banded together to talk about the most random subjects. I had been here before, once or twice, looking after my own human while she chatted, but today we were heading into a completely different section...
“Haha, look at that,” she mused with her usual air-head expression. “They even made a board devoted to the prank! TNT sure takes things seriously!”
She pulled me into an eerie tunnel, almost completely covered in spiky vines, wild trees and the tallest grass I had ever seen. It ended in a somewhat wider room which looked more like a jungle than a chat room, so covered in vegetation it was.
Lots of neopets accompanied by their humans gathered here, laughing and talking about this so-called “prank” as if it was the most amusing thing in the universe. Others complained about how lame and unrealistic it was, but all of them looked thoroughly convinced that this catastrophe was no more than a joke.
“See, Lyl, there’s nothing to worry about. Everyone knows that-” I didn’t give her time to finish. I snatched the fire jug from her pocket and leapt towards the very centre of the room.
“Children, listen!” Granted, most of them weren’t children, but one usually gets more attention this way. I guess it reminds people of their school times and gives you that teacher-like authority... “Look around you; our world is being covered by plants! Growing at this rate, they’ll have swallowed us whole in less than four days!”
I heard a chorus of stifled giggles and some exasperated shouts of ‘it’s just a prank, for cryin’ out loud! Go check the other boards!’ I memorized the faces of these insolent youngsters in order to give them a piece of my mind later, but continued on with my tirade.
“Neopians, this is not a joke! That’s what THEY want you to believe!” The stifled giggles turned into hearty laughter and I realized I was sounding completely paranoid. No... this couldn’t be happening! I had to convince them! “The faeries are responsible for this, my friends, the earth faeries! They have forced TNT to hand out these Neoplants and act like it’s nothing, but the truth is that they are going to grow and grow and grow...” I stopped to catch my breath. Hysterical speeches can get really tiresome. “... and they’ll keep growing until they eat us alive! That’s what the faeries want; they are sending us on quests for fire items so they can have control of all the fire of Neopia... So they can’t be stopped!” The laughter turned into an uproar as every single being in that room did their best to make me feel ridiculous.
My eyes widened in hopeless shock. Even my human was laughing. There was... no hope. And then, in a low but somehow audible whisper, I heard a sugar coated voice accompanied by discreet clapping say, “Congratulations, smart little one... You got it all right.”
I whipped around, a cold feeling running through my spine. There, wearing a brown cloak atop a cheerful green dress, was an earth faerie with her trademark warm smile. In her eyes, however, I could see the distinct gleam of madness.
“You!” I lashed out, but the shout got strangled in my throat and came out as a mere whisper. “Why?” was all I managed to ask.
“Why? Why, my dear? For our beloved Neopia! We want a nice lush future for it, full of powerful, wonderful plants, sweetie! No more pesky furry creatures, no more destructive humans, only glorious, perfect plants!” Her voice grew in a crescendo, from an acute whine to a low, powerful rant, topped off with a sinister cackle. You have never seen true strangeness until you hear an earth faerie cackle.
“I will not let you go through with this!” I defied, the crowd of Neopians still laughing behind me, apparently deaf to our conversation and unsuspecting of the ominous figure among them.
“Oh, sweetheart, I’m afraid there isn’t much you can do anymore... It has begun!” She raised her hands in a single, stiff movement, clasping her fingers like claws “Rise, my little pretties!”
As her command echoed through the now silent room, every single patch of green began to contort and extend. The previously still vines stretched up towards the ceiling, ready to rain leafy doom upon the Neopians below; The bushes expanded, becoming sharp-toothed open mouths, prepared to swallow whoever came near.
All around Neopia similar transformations took place. Terrified citizens scurried around like ants, trying to escape the wrath of the greeneries. It was like an entire forest had come to life, a colossal salad bent on only one thing: world domination.
The plants were everywhere. From the deepest pit of Maraqua, to the driest spot of the Lost Desert, covering the Lunar Temple in Shenkuu and climbing the invisible walls of the Hidden Tower. No one was safe. No place to run. Neopia was over. Plantopia was here.
The insane faerie in front of me kept her arms outstretched, swaying in unison with the plants. Growing. Rising. The screams of the Board residents were drowned by the rumbling of the ceiling being torn apart by the rising trunk of immense trees.
I desperately looked around for my human, but she was nowhere in sight. The mob had probably swallowed her... or the plants... I forced down the lump in my throat, trying not to think of the worst. No. I would not give in so easily. I had a baby, a bubble-headed sister and a recently adopted brother back home. Not to mention a human who was responsible for our monthly income of NP. I could not let them be devoured by salad!
I boldly faced the faerie, bearing my sharp fangs in my most menacing growl (the effect tends to be ruined if you’re wearing a long dress and a tiara, trust me...).
The faerie grinned from the top of her omnipotence, piercing me with glowing green eyes as sharp as cobrall daggers.
“Make as much noise as you want, little princess. In less than four days, this ugly little world will be completely covered in green! Your fate is sealed!”
I crouched down, ready to pounce. It would be useless and I knew it. More renegade earth faeries were probably controlling the plants from other places as well. My mind was racing, every muscle in my body tense. I had to think... intelligence can always overcome strength... it had to... I looked over the chaos, the destruction spreading around me like a giant wave... I saw the invader plants. I saw the scurrying Neopians. And then, suddenly, I saw it.
I whipped around, turning my back on the faerie and madly dashing towards the centre of the room. Her eyes momentarily left her beloved creations and followed me instead.
“Foolish neopet! You think you can do anything against my army?” Her words fuelled my run, making my legs move faster (or as fast as the dress would allow them).
I dodged vines, avoided bushes and finally, with one remarkable leap, landed on the centre of the room. Almost out of breath, I reached down with my jaws and clasped my teeth around it. It was warm. I could feel it. My lips curled up into a grin.
I turned around, slowly and deliberately, taking the exact amount of time necessary to add to the drama of the moment. The Faerie’s eyes locked on the bottle held securely in my mouth. And they widened. They widened in shocked disbelief.
“Fire Magic! How... where... where did you get that fire jug?!” she demanded, sounding more like a hoarse Pteri now.
“Sorry, Miss Faerie...” I replied, mimicking my human’s girlish voice. “But I never had any intentions of completing that quest of yours.” I placed my paw upon the jug and, with my teeth, uncorked it. I could feel the fire seep out like a cloud of warmth, catching onto the nearest vine and spreading to the farthest bush. The attacking plants began to wither as the shrieks of many desperate earth faeries filled the skies.
Since they were all connected, in a matter of minutes, all of the evil plants were being consumed by the magic flames while the regular, innocent ones were spared. Finally, Neopia was free. Its deep blue waters, snowy mountains, barren deserts and natural lush fields were back to their original state. The rogue Faeries fled to hide in their earthy burrows, hoping to escape the punishment of their sisters. From Qasala to Terror Mountain, cheers and dancing could be heard.
But what were they saying? “All hail the great Lupe hero?”, “Three cheers for our saviour?”, “Long live Lady Lyllian, the bravest neopet of all?” Oh no. Not in a million years. Fyora forbid that I should get some recognition for my actions. No, the cries that could be heard were the same everywhere, with very little variations:
“April Fools is over! Hooray, TNT!”
So now you know my epic tale. And you know why you owe me your life. Unless you’re one of those ungrateful little nincompoops who still believe in April Fools. Like my human. She still doesn’t believe that I saved the day. You aren’t one of those, are you? Good! Then worship me! Build a statue in my honour, name your baby pets after me... Actually, I would be rather content just to be published in the Neopian Times. It’s the least you could do for your hero, for crying out loud!
Final (unbiased) statements: All of the events and characters portrayed in this article are non-fictional. Sorry, but all of this really happened.
Lady Lyllian’s role in all of it is somewhat controversial, though... A source that would rather remain anonymous (*cough* her owner *cough*) assures us that the famous Fire Jug was actually dropped accidentally in front of the shop window of Uni’s Clothing, where a rather dashing dress was apparently on display. This casual accident would have caused all of the plants to catch fire.
As for our beloved Illusen, there is truly no tangible proof that could connect her to this devious plot. Perhaps she was just out for groceries. For the first time in her quest giving life.
Author's notes: I would like to thank TNT for coming up with such a hilarious April Fools joke, Neopia for providing me with enough coincidences (in the form of random events) to allow me to come up this idea and, finally, the people in the Neoplants Board, for playing along with this joke and helping my imagination run wild! I would quote your names, but there are simply too many of you. :P