What's My Gift?
Every neopet, when he or she is first born and hatching in the Neopets Hatching and Creating Machine (NHCM for short), is blessed with a special gift. Some neopets have the gift of courage. Throughout their lives, they fearlessly compete in Battledome, seeking new opponents, never fearing for their lives. Others are blessed with the gift of kindness. The most famous example is a pretty pink Uni in charge of the pound. But no matter what, each and every neopet created is special.
It was too cold, too bright. I heard many Neopians crowding around, shouting and fighting. I wanted to curl back up in the warm, peaceful nest; not to wake up yet.
“Here’s your little red Ixi. Congrats!”
“Thanks! Ouch, don’t push me!”
A pair of hands grabbed me, hurriedly but also attempting to be gentle, out of my nest. I was squeezed through a loud, noisy crowd. Finally, I was brought out of the NHCM, into the quiet, cold air of Neopia. It was 12 midnight. Yawn. Why couldn’t I be created in the afternoon or evening? Why midnight?
“Oh yes! I can’t believe I managed to create you! There were like, a million Neopians crowding around there!” my owner whispered excitedly, gazing at me lovingly. I hiccupped and looked up at her. “Oh, what a cute little red Ixi you are,” she added happily.
Indeed, I was. My fur was a dark shade of pink, almost brown. I had little hard stubs sticking out of my head which everyone called my antlers, and also not forgetting my large, cute eyes. My owner had named me Koa.
Right from the start, I was a lively Ixi, galloping along the isle of Mystery Island where my owner lived. The Tombola Man was my best friend, letting me have a go thrice a day instead of just once. I never knew worry, until my first day at neoschool.
“What’s your gift?” asked a blue Kougra.
“Huh? What gift?” I replied, confused.
He then proceeded to explain about the NHCM, how it had a random way of blessing each neopet with his or her own special power.
“Mine is intelligence, I’m already an Ultimate Genius even though I’m only a week old,” he finished proudly.
When I got home, the first thing I did was to ask my owner what the NHCM had gifted me with. “What? Oh no! I forgot to ask! When I created you, I was in such a rush to get you out of NHCM. Oh dear, oh dear...” She buried her face in her hands and shook her head sadly. Suddenly, she lit up again. “Let’s go and ask the Machine now! Maybe it’s still saved in the system somewhere...” Immediately, we both leapt up and ran as fast as we could to the Machine.
“Sir, sir! We’re not here to create a neopet, I just wanted to ask you, can you tell me what’s the given to my Ixi her? Her name is Koa and she was created about a week ago. She’s a red Ixi...” My owner gasped for air.
The Poogle in charge of the NHCM shook her head. “I’m sorry. We do not save any information regarding neopets. Maybe she can figure out her talent by exploring different things? You could visit the bookshop or bring her to Battledome. You never know! Alright, next please!”
I couldn’t help but heave a sigh of disappointment. The fact that the Poogle did not care very much for me wasn’t helping my mood either. Other neopets knew their gifts. They knew where to develop themselves in, and could sort of guess their occupation in the future. Smart neopets became owners of bookshops; neopets who were fast were employed to deliver neomail. Me? I was probably going to end up managing the Rubbish Dump. Even Dr Sloth had some sort of talent (being evil and dominating the world).
Back home, my owner tried to cheer me up. We were going to visit Battledome, the Book Shop, Maraqua (to see if I had a talent for water), the Pound (to see if I was blessed with a compassionate heart), the Healing Springs (to see if I had a knack for potions )...
The next day, we headed to the Battledome early in the morning. There was a lot of shouting, swearing, and injured neopets hobbling out of the arena. I felt my little heart thump with worry. “Don’t be scared, Koa,” my owner said, as if she had read my thoughts. “We’re gonna fight Inflatable Balthazar first. He’s the easiest.”
Once I got into the arena with the squeaky toy, the fight started. Suddenly, panic filled my mind. What if he was more powerful than I thought? What if he trapped me inside his air-filled body? Would I suffocate to death? Would I... The hundreds of threatening thoughts ran through my mind.
All of a sudden, I began wailing, softly at first; then louder and louder until my cries filled the entire Battledome. Fights stopped and neopets all turned to me in astonishment. As for my embarrassed owner, she quickly apologised for the commotion and dragged me out. It was obvious my talent wasn’t in fighting.
Next stop, the Book Shop. When I entered, Neopians were quietly reading. It was quite a sharp contrast from the Battledome. My owner bought me a Neopian Times Issue #3, and I eagerly opened it. “That is like such a boring book!” I accidentally blurted out loud before I had even finished reading the front page. My owner sighed, and tossed the newspaper under the Money Tree. She bought me other, more expensive books as well, but I blurted out the exact same words again and again. It was obvious my talent wasn’t in reading and intelligence as well.
By then, I was getting desperate. Could I pretend to love something even if I didn’t? At least, I could assure my owner that her neopet had a big talent, not just a talent for collecting rubbish or scaring little neopets.
We then headed to Maraqua slowly. Before I even arrived, I was already worried. How was I going to pretend I loved water and swimming? If I jumped into the ocean just for the sake of pretending, I could drown! No, no, this was a matter of life and death. Ixi couldn’t swim. The whole of Neopia knew it. But maybe I could Lupe-paddle. Or pretend to be amazed by the seashells. I stepped into Maraqua with renewed determination.
“Hi! Are you here for a tour of Maraqua?” A cheery Maraquan JubJub that looked suspiciously like a rainbow anemone greeted us. “No, we’re here to see if my Ixi here has a talent for water, you know, swimming that kind of thing.”
The JubJub’s expression instantly changed. “Nah, Ixi can’t swim for the sake of their lives. They have such tiny hooves, nothing I can see that resembles a flipper or a fin. Forget it.”
His bluntness stung me. He wasn’t even going to let us near the ocean! If I were him, I would have... never mind. I tried my best to control my temper. However, my owner thought otherwise.
“How dare you say that about Ixi! They are fast, agile creatures, nothing like you clumsy JubJubs. And even though you’re painted Maraquan, I can see nothing that resembles a flipper or fin as well! Well, then, suit your arrogant self, we’re off!” With that, she angrily stormed off, with me following behind meekly. Oh well, another failure.
Time to visit the Pound. It was my most dreaded stop. When we arrived, neopets were wailing, most were crying and gazing at us with pitiful eyes. “Adopt us! Adopt us!” Each of them was screaming silently. I could feel their despair at the thought of maybe staying here forever, and their confusion at being left behind. I was lucky to have a good name and a caring owner. But deep inside, I’d rather not have my owner adopt another neopet. We’d have to share her attention, and sometimes I might go hungry.
For a while, I pretended to pity the neopets there, stroking them and gasping at thin, hungry ones. I have to admit, I put on quite a good show. But it didn’t take long for my owner to see through my pretence. She simply sighed and said, “You just wanna leave, right? I can tell. Me too. This is a horrible place to be in.” With that, we hurried out, trying to ignore the Techo’s creepy grin.
Last stop, the Healing Springs. When we finally got there (a kind-hearted Eyrie flew us up to Faerieland), the water faerie was swishing her tail around, busy healing neopets. “Oh, hi! Um, you can have -”
“We’re not here for potions or hit points, sorry. I was wondering if you can tell my Ixi here a little bit about potions, so that she can discover her talent,” my owner explained, a little wearily. Was I tiring her out already?
“Okay. We have many healing potions, all of which do different things to neopets. They are numbered in roman numerals...”
As the faerie droned on and on, I started to get bored. The potions looked pretty, but I didn’t want any of them. I just wanted to go home and let my owner have a rest from a hectic day of bringing me around Neopia.
“Okay? Now, what does this potion do?”
All of a sudden, the water faerie had finished her lecture. She was testing me?! Worry filled my mind as I tried to grope for an answer. “Um, um... recover the pet three hit points?” I guessed, praying it was the right answer.
The water faerie sighed. “This is the Essence of Everlasting Apple! It recovers your pet to full hit points, not just three.”
I silently beat myself up. How could I have forgotten? That was the easiest of all. I remembered when I tried to climb a tree and badly injured myself. My owner had fed me this potion.
“I’m sorry. It seems that your neopet doesn’t really know her potions well. But maybe she can be my sales assistant in the future. Good day!” To comfort me, the water faerie gave me ten hit points, before sending us off.
Home at last. I collapsed onto the sofa, while my owner busied herself preparing dinner. While running around searching for the broccoli soup, she attempted to comfort me. “It’s okay, darling. Tomorrow, we’ll go to Terror Mountain, or maybe the Haunted Woods, who knows, you might have a talent for knowing when people died. And maybe, if you’re good enough, you can turn yourself into a mini Brain Tree and give out quests too!”
I laughed weakly. But inside, I knew my owner wasn’t looking forward to running everywhere around Neopia again the next day. She was doing it for me, just so I could restore my self-confidence. She was such a nice, kind owner...
As I slowly drifted off to sleep on the sofa, I suddenly realised, that my owner was the best gift I had ever gotten. Who else feeds her pet scrambled neggs when she could sell them for a few thousand neopoints in her shop? Who else always bought her pet plushies in the Toy Shop? Who else but my owner?
“It’s okay now. We don’t have run around trying to discover my gift anymore. I’ve found it!”
My owner gasped with excitement, eyes filled with hope. “What is it?! What is it?!” she half-screamed.
“It’s you! I was blessed with the best owner ever when I was born!” I replied happily.