Destiny in the Sky
“Guardian of the forests and farmlands, and one of the twelve protectors of Altador.”
The Farmer. That’s me. Well, sort of. That’s my constellation. Just a collection of stars - five to be exact - that light up that wonderful sky I admire every single night. It shines so brightly over Altador, and makes our land just that little bit more special. Well, that’s what I think anyway.
I’m what you might call an Altador native, but from one look at me I bet nobody would be able to guess that. Quite precisely, I’m a disco Yurble called Kelnin. But I’m not as strange as I might sound. Far from it, I’m actually just a normal Yurble. Well, that was true, until I found out that The Farmer was my constellation. It’s a pretty rare set of stars to end up with. Almost as uncommon as King Altador.
But I suppose I’m getting a little ahead of myself. Most of you won’t be particularly familiar with an old tradition that most of us Altadorians have. You see, the stars play a very important role in our lives. And not just a small part; it’s a fact that these stars will map out your life. Following this tradition, you must pick a star, any one that catches you eye, and remember it. Some just pick one randomly, while others – myself included – have a special reason. My star will always remain in my heart: it’s the one that’s closest to my home. I would sit at the window every night, and chat to it until I was too tired to utter another syllable. Even today I love nothing more than talking all my cares and worries away. It’s like my own special friend that nobody can ever take away from me.
So, after picking this star, tradition dictates that you must wait 365 days exactly, before Finneus can tell you what constellation it belongs to. And that is all there is to it. It’s been just over one year since I picked my very own star, and just a few weeks since I discovered that The Farmer was my destiny.
I was less than pleased.
Whose ever heard of farmers changing Neopia and becoming heroes? Florin himself is the only one that I know of, but he hasn’t been around for quite some time. Instead, he left me with his constellation, and to do what? Don’t get me wrong; nature is a wonderful thing. Running and playing in the lush grass is my idea of total bliss, but looking after plants and nature? Well, that’s sort of a different story. Not my ideal cup of borovan. Why couldn’t I have chosen The Gladiator, The Wave, or even The Collector? Those are a lot of questions, with not many answers. Suddenly, my precious little star didn’t seem as inviting as it used to. Now that I knew it was part of The Farmer, I wasn’t so willing to divulge my secrets, or have long conversations in which I couldn’t stop myself from talking. I was somehow reserved, but I just couldn’t work out why. Neoschool didn’t help either.
Being a disco Yurble, I wasn’t exactly the most popular pet. Of course I did have a few friends, but I couldn’t help but wonder if they would only talk to me out of pity, and even then they said little to me. I guess that’s why I’d found it so easy to talk to my little star. It would always listen to any problems I had, unlike most others. I was a late-picker too. My teacher would say that there was “Always one who left it until the last minute to pick a star,’ and that just happened to be me. But it wasn’t because I was lazy or anything. I wanted to be absolutely certain that this was my star. This would shape my destiny, and choose the path that I would follow. I needed to be certain that I was picking the right one. I thought I had, but now I’m not so sure! My first day in Neoschool after finding out that I was The Farmer, and things only got worse from there. Apparently, word had spread of my constellation already, and the second I stepped through the door I was surrounded by a group of my classmates.
“The Farmer? Shouldn’t you be out planting trees or something then?”
“That’s the lamest one! Even The Dreamer is better than that!”
Even though their words did hurt me, I couldn’t help but agree. My Neoschool was in Altador; so learning about the constellations was a large part of our curriculum. All of the other heroes seemed to be amazing, and do wondrous deeds, except for The Farmer. He just planted trees and protected the forest that surrounded our land. Most of the other pets all had The Gladiator as their stars. Altadorians are a gallant and proud group you see, so it seems only natural that most of us would end up with the brave and honourable Torakar. But alas, I didn’t share that fate, and I was paying for it.
Surely there must have been somebody with the same constellation as me who did something spectacular. Maybe Jeran of Meridell, or perhaps even Tomos hailing from the Lost Desert would be Farmers too. Somehow, I couldn’t see that ever happening. And it wasn’t as if I could ever find out. Both lands are an awfully long way from me, so I just had to make the best possible use of this situation I was in. I’d start in Altador. There were tonnes of great pets here, so there was bound to be somebody who could answer some questions for me. Of course my first instinct was to run straight to Finneus. Out of everybody, it was he who knew the most about the constellations. After all, he did live in a library. But I knew that the moment I asked him about it, I’d be there for hours, probably not even getting an answer to the question that was rattling through my brain so hard that I felt like I was going to a splode from curiosity. Could The Farmer really mean that that was my destiny? I knew I had to find out, and what better place to start than the Hall of Heroes? Well, I’d have to wait until after Neoschool. I was hardly one to be tardy.
It wasn’t my first time visiting the Hall of Heroes. Apart from the numerous trips that I’d been taken on there, it was a place of interest for pets all over Neopia, and it was amazing to soak up all the different cultures. I even heard that somebody from Kreludor came to visit, but who’s ever heard of life on Kreludor? It looks pretty empty to me! It was probably just some prank... or maybe someone from the Haunted Woods. Now that’s a creepy place!
So, the hall was almost empty, except for an orange Yurble with a mop. He was standing by the ashy rubble of The Sleeper, muttering something avidly. I thought it best not to bother him. He seemed to be very busy, what with all that rubble. The statue had crumbled ages ago, and he was still cleaning it up! Instead, I left him to his whines, and walked directly to the statue depicting The Farmer, all the while making sure that I didn’t make any kind of eye contact with the janitor. We Yurbles can be a crazy breed sometimes, and I thought it best not to attract any kind of attention from him. Although I hated to admit it at the time, Florin did look pretty cool standing on that pedestal. They all did, of course, but he just seemed to have a particular glow about him. Those colorless sticks of wheat in his hand looked almost real to me. I was always aware that it wasn’t real, but at the time they just looked so inviting. Without giving it another thought, I outstretched my hand, in an attempt to grab just a tiny piece of the wheat.
It was then that I heard his voice. I tried to retract my hand as fast as I could, but it was too late.
“You’re lucky I don’t ban you from this place. I just finished polishing ‘im! Don’t you think I have enough work to do?”
Uh-oh. I’d really got into trouble now. The crazy Yurble looked like he was going to throw me out personally. But instead he just walked over, with the mop firmly grasped in his hands. I wanted to ask him why he bothered polishing the other statues, instead of cleaning up The Sleeper, but I knew that would just make him angrier, so instead I decided for a safer option.
“Don’t you think a brush would be better to sweep up the rubble? A mop isn’t going to do much.”
Uh-oh. And I thought I was in trouble before? In truth, I didn’t plan to say what I’d asked him, it was merely another funny thought that occurred to me when I first saw him, and somehow it’d slipped out of my mouth. However, much to my relief, he began to looked decidedly more... well orange, than red.
“Kids these days! Mopping serves a very valuable purpose in life, you know. It’s not just about cleaning floors. Mops are the very meaning of life itself-.”
Uh-oh. I could feel a lecture coming along. Suddenly Finneus didn’t seem like such a bad choice. I’d have picked a lecture about constellations over one about the importance of mops any day. I knew the only way to get out of this was to somehow distract him from his current train of thought, and I figured out a way that would help the both of us.
“Say, do you happen to know what your constellation is?”
Well, it didn’t quite seem to work the way I’d planned. He did stop talking, for which I was very thankful, but he did seem unwilling to give me an answer. Instead he pursed his lips tight and shook his head vehemently. I’d half hoped that he wasn’t The Farmer. I didn’t want to end up a crazy janitor like him! But it didn’t look like I was going to get any answer at all. Until, I caught a quick flick of his eyes over to one of the statues. At first I just thought it was a coincidence, but when he did it again to the same statue, I was sure that was his.
I couldn’t help but chuckle out loud. Of all the constellations, that would have been the last I’d have picked for him. But it did make me think that maybe constellations were wrong. Maybe mine was wrong, and surely his was wrong too!
“You’re The Dancer?”
I couldn’t help but laugh again: louder this time. But that only seemed to fuel his anger, and his humiliation. The Dancer had been a graceful creature.
“Well, I’ll have you know, that I am quite the entertainer. Or I would be, if it weren’t for this job. Seems like I’ve been here forever. But I can dance, and sing.”
Somehow, I found that hard to believe.
But then it dawned on me. I hadn’t quite realised it before, but he had made me laugh for the duration of my visit to the Hall of Heroes. Maybe not quite in the conventional way of The Dancer, but the easily angered Yurble had entertained me. And he was protecting these statues fiercely too. Maybe nobody else realised it, but I knew that he was in fact The Dancer. Just as much as I was The Farmer! I didn’t have to be a farmer to live up to my constellation. While Florin looked just like any other lowly farmer, he was in fact a selfless hero. A protector! And I knew that I could be too. Suddenly my dream to become Altador’s Yooyuball goalkeeper didn’t seem that far off. Protecting the goal, and the honour of Altador. I couldn’t think of anything better. And maybe one day I’d be the statue to replace The Sleeper, and I’d have my own constellation in the sky. Kelnin, The Yooyuballer!
That sounded pretty good to me! I came away from my thoughts to look up. Above the Hall of Heroes. Above Altador! It was beginning to get dark, and the first stars were starting to protrude out of the darkness. The First to Rise was first, naturally, but I knew exactly where to look. It was then that my star awoke from its slumber, and for the first time since I could remember, I couldn’t help but smile seeing it glisten and illuminate my eyes.
“Welcome back, Florin.”
“Planting his harvests in fields of skies, the farmer tills with expert eyes.”