The Unconverted Shoyru: Part Two
The next day felt like deja vu to Asra. The other neopets gathered again with the prospects of playing another yooyuball game. This time, however, Asra didn't bother to ask to join in. He settled for reading a good book instead. He had just opened his copy of Faellie Tales, when it was plucked from his hands and he looked up to see Nexter and Angel standing above him.
“Enjoying your book?” asked Nexter.
“I haven’t started yet,” Asra said, making to grab the book back, but Nexter kept it out of reach.
“So,” he said, flipping through the pages. “Don’t you want to play with us, Asra?” Angel smirked at this.
“Not really,” he lied. “I just want to read. In peace.”
“Actually we have something you might want to hear,” Angel piped in. They were both circling him like two jetsams circling their prey.
“What is it,” Asra asked skeptically.
Nexter stopped in front of him, and leaned in close. “We might know a way you can become converted.”
Despite wanting to admit it, this peeked Asra’s attention. “How?” he asked, nonchalantly.
“Illusen,” was his simple answer.
“Illusen? What about her?”
“Haven’t you heard,” Angel asked with mock incredulity. “She has the power to convert neopets. All you have to do is ask her.”
“All I have to do is just ask?” Of course Asra didn’t believe them. Illusen was a powerful faerie, and Asra doubted he could just waltz into her residence and ask for her time and energy when she had no obligation to help him.
“Well, you might have to help her out a bit. A quest, you know. But sometimes she helps you out for free. Ask Angel.” Nexter gestured toward Angel, who nodded.
“It’s true. One time.. I needed.. a.. uh, a stamp,” she concluded. “And she just gave me one, just like that.” She snapped her hoof to indicate the rapidness.
“We’re just saying,” Nexter continued, tossing the book back into Asra’s lap. “If you really want to get adopted, you should think about... dressing yourself up a bit.” The Blumaroo and his Ixi companion chuckled and left Asra to his thoughts.
Illusen’s was only an hour’s walk away from the Adoption House, and if he left now, early in the day, he could make it back before dark. He calculated this in his head as he walked pass the lake and towards the inner world of Meridell.
J caught up with him. “Where are you going, Asra?”
“I’m going to see Illusen and ask her if she can help me become converted.”
J frowned. “That doesn’t sound like a good idea. Did you even ask Miss Mickensy?”
“I’ll be back before she even finds out.” He continued walking, and glanced back when he noticed J no longer by his side. “You coming?”
J sighed, and followed.
The two friends had walked nearly an hour when they saw the hut of the earth faerie perched in the humongous trees near the Meridell forest. They saw several neopets mulling around outside, sitting against rocks or laying around in the grass, waiting for their next chance to do a quest, but the queue to see the faerie was relatively empty. They passed only one baby Bruce fuming on his way out.
“Crazy!” he shouted when he passed Asra and J. “She wanted an Ylanas Blaster. Costs a million neopoints! Does she think I'm made of money? And at level 19 I was! Level 19!" He spat these words at the two neopets as if his misfortune was somehow their fault. "I'll show her level 20, stupid wing flapping..." And his voice trailed off as he climbed over the edge and out of sight.
Exchanging glances, J smirked. "This sounds promising."
Asra knocked on the wooden door ahead of them. It was muffled lightly by the vines that climbed their way across it, but they distinctly heard the magical voice quite clearly when it yelled, "Enter!"
It took both their tiny frames to push the massive door, and when they stepped inside they saw Illusen sitting straight across from them, lounging in a wooden chair that looked to be carved out of the very tree in which the house was perched.
They took a few seconds and dared to glance around the room. Asra noticed it looked normal in the sense it held all the necessities the usual house did. A small living area, a kitchen and bedroom. The only difference being, every piece of furniture was made entirely out of wood with leaves and other plants being the sole decor. He also noticed many random items strewn across the place, ranging from food items to rare stamps, to Battledome magic.
"Admiring my decorations?" The earth faerie's voice drew Asra's attention and she giggled lightly at the look of awe that must have been present on his face.
"H-hh-hello," he mumbled. He took a tentative step forward.
"Aren't you the cute one." She stood up... no, floated to her feet and fluttered softly until she was almost nose to nose with the Shoyru. She reached up and placed both her hands upon each of his cheeks and squeezed slightly. "So cute. I could just place you upon my shelf and stare at you for eternity." She laughed gaily.
Asra laughed nervously.
"What can I do for you, sweetie?"
"W-well." Asra glanced nervously at his friend. J looked mildly frightened but nodded his head encouragingly.
"You see," he continued. "I would very much like to become a converted pet."
Illusen frowned. "And why on earth would you want to do such a thing?"
"So I can... fit in," he finished meekly.
"Hmm." She stood up and sashayed slowly back to her chair. "I suppose I might be able to help you. If you were to help me in return."
"A quest?" J asked.
She looked at J as if noticing him for the first time. However, she didn't gush, she merely answered, "Yes. A quest."
"I don't have many neopoints," Asra said, shuffling his feet embarrassed.
"That's alright," she answered merrily. "The item I want you to get is a Black Mirror. I happen to know it's worth exactly one neopoint. You do have one neopoint, don't you.” She said this last part while glancing knowingly towards the Shoyru’s little stitched on pocket. Asra felt the small coin weighing heavily in his pocket and nodded.
“Very well, if you bring me the item I asked for, I shall show you beauty in return. Off you go.”
Asra and J climbed down the ladder. Their feet had barely made contact with the ground when a hoard of neopets surrounded them. Some had on briefcases tied around their necks, others carried bags or pushed carts. Asra even noticed one neopet with a trench coat on who had opened it wide to reveal various items which he hard marked at ridiculously high prices.
“Faerie items! Bargained Priced!” one of them shouted.
“Items that any faerie asks for, right here, best prices in all of Neopia!”
“Need a faerie item? I got it!” yelled the trench coat.
Asra and J could do nothing but look at each other, speechless. “Uhh- We’re looking for a mirror. Worth one neopoint,” he added. As he said this, he fished out what was left of his life savings holding it out in his palm to gleam in the sun. As if on cue, dozens of mirrors were suddenly thrust into Asra’s face.
“Meepit Mirror, one neopoint!” someone to his right said.
“Green Mirror. Only one neopoint!” another to his left spat.
“Black Mirror! One neopoint.” Hearing this, Asra grabbed the mirror and planted the coin into the hand. As if he had pressed some magical button, the surrounding crowd subsided immediately. They spotted another neopet making his way down from the tree and fired up once more, shuffling along to harass the next neopet with bargain prices.
Asra and J bypassed the crowd and the wide eyed neopet that was their current target, and slipped back up to the hut, knocked once more, were told to enter, and found themselves once again in the earth faerie’s presence.
“Do you have the item?” she asked.
Asra held it out to her, and she grabbed it, holding it up to look at it more closely. “Perfect.”
The plushie Shoyru cleared his throat.
“Oh don’t worry,” she said. “I have not forgotten our agreement.”
She once again seemed to float as she approached the two neopets. “To show you what beauty is...” she said lightly. Asra felt his anticipation grow and he felt J place a comforting hand on his shoulder. Holding the mirror up, Illusen turned so that the reflective glass was in front of the plushie’s face, and Asra saw his own excited reflection staring back at him.
"A beautiful Shoyru, who is fine just the way he is. Stuffed, stitched, and unconverted."
"You mean," Asra began tentatively, "you're not going to convert me?"
Illusen looked down at him apologetically. "I feel like I would be doing the Neopian public a great injustice if I did that."
Asra neither knew what the earth faerie meant nor really felt the energy to care. He was so disheartened by this change of events that he couldn't even stand to be in the faerie's presence much longer.
"I suppose we should go now," he said to J, before turning to leave.
"Wait," Illusen said. "I will still give you a gift, obviously. For receiving the mirror."
Stopping, Asra turned expectantly around to face her, his hope growing a little.
"A Cream Cookie!" She beamed.
The Shoyru smiled weakly, took the cookie, and he and J left Illusen admiring herself in the mirror, once again spread out over her throne-like wooden chair.
The two friends walked back towards the Adoption House silently. It was late afternoon, and the sun was just beginning to lower over the Meridell farms, which meant Asra and J had plenty of time to make it back before anyone realized they were gone.
Head lowered, the plushie pet walked slowly, thinking about the fact that he had now wasted his savings, and for what? A nonexistent wish and a... cream cookie? As for getting adopted, he saw his chances, as if they were an animate object, sprout legs and begin to run in the opposite direction of whatever place he might be standing.
A boring, non-converted neopet who was not a genius, nor incredibly apt at battle. And he could now add on naive, gullible, and a wasteful spender.
Asra watched his feet drag along, and he was so focused on himself that he bumped into the solid mass in front of him so hard that it knocked him dizzy and he stumbled backwards, falling on his own tail in a big whoosh! It didn't hurt, of course... he was made of cotton after all.
He looked up, surprised, and the image of the king slowly began to focus. King Skarl, brilliant red robes and all stood massively before him. From the top of his crown to the bottom of his toes, he stood a colossal six feet tall. Asra had bumped into his stomach, which was actually quite buoyant.
"Better watch it there, young one," he said.
"King Skarl?" Asra was so shocked to see the king here of all places... Where were they again? Definitely not in the castle, where Asra was sure the king was supposed to be. He couldn't remember ever hearing a time when someone had encountered the ruler outside of the stone walls of the palace. He didn't know if he was supposed to kneel or not, so he settled for a half squat, J following suit.
"Oh, come off it," he roared. "None of that needed here." He motioned for them to rise.
"What are you doing out of the castle, sir?" Asra asked.
"I'm just making my way back from a nice game of Cheeseroller. Kings can enjoy a nice game now and then too!" He spat this last part defensively. "Not that I don't enjoy sitting on a hard throne all day, ordering people around who practically despise you, much less appreciate your efforts, and listening to mediocre and downright alarming attempts at humor all day."
Neither Asra nor J could think of what to say in response, so they both nodded respectfully.
"Do you know any good jokes?" he shot at them.
The two pets shook their heads.
"Come on. Just give it a shot. If you make me laugh, I'll give you a special reward."
The King looked at them eagerly, smiling toothily at them, like a kid who's just been given the opportunity to pick any piece of candy in the world.
Asra grimaced and turned to J, mouthing "I don't know any jokes."
J leaned in and whispered, "I heard this one time... *whispers*"
"Okay," Asra said, watching the King's lighted face. "What do you do if fierce Peophins has eaten too much tin of olives?"
The King's face frowned in concentration, finally he shrugged. "What?"
"You offering a tin of what what what."
The Skeith held a blank expression for a couple seconds, his mouth slightly ajar before he chuckled gingerly and then completely burst into hysterics, clutching his side and even going as far to wipe a tear from the corner of his eye.
"That ...hehehe, that was so funny," he managed to gasp. "Okay, you deserve a gift. What shall it be?"
The thought struck Asra before he had time to really think, and he blurted out the first thing that came to mind. "Can you make me a converted pet?"
The good hearted smile that shone seconds before on the Skeith's face suddenly disappeared, to be replaced by confusion. "Who do I look like, kid, the Fountain Faerie? Why would you want to go any do a thing like that anyways. You're so... cute."
Sensing a lost cause when he saw one, Asra mumbled, "Never mind."
"Hmm, someone feeling a little insecure about his unconversion, eh?" the king asked.
The Shoyru nodded.
"Very well. Come with me, and I'll show you something." The king turned and started to head towards the humongous towers that rested upon the skyline behind the now setting sun.
Asra and J looked at each other. "To-...to the castle?" Asra shouted towards the king. "We have to get back to our Adoption House."
"Trust me, you don't want to miss this," he yelled over his shoulder.
J shrugged his shoulders and he and Asra caught up to the king as he waddled along. J leaned in close to his plushie pal, and muttered, “Did you get that joke?”
“Not in the slightest,” was Asra’s response.
Ten minutes later, neither of them could believe they were standing in the King's private quarters. He had scooted them through a secret door which he revealed by removing one of the books on his bookshelf, and down a long stone corridor that eventually found them at a door. Upon opening it, the three of them stepped out on a field of grass, and glancing back, Asra realized they were standing outside the gates to the castle, behind the many towers that glared down at them.
The king winked at Asra when he caught his eye. "When the guards are away, the king doth play." With that, he continued ahead to the quaint square of houses that made up the small city outside the castle.
He led them straight to the center of the city. A few Neopians were out and about, watering their gardens or playing catch. None of them seemed surprised to see the king in their presence. A few of them even waved to him.
At last, they came to a stop in front of what seemed to be a giant bulletin board that was situated at the heart of the dwellings, so that everyone in the small city would be able to access it. It was placed on the main street, so that any foot traffic would be sure to walk right by it. Thousands of flyers were tacked to its cork surface and they ruffled slightly with the breeze.
"What-..." Asra begin, but the king simply waved his hand towards the flyers, so Asra turned and read the nearest one.
It said, "Grey Wocky Up for Adoption!!! Seeking well-named unconverted faerie pet!!!"
Asra was stunned, but he continued reading the other flyers.
‘Seeking unconverted pirates and royals!!’
‘Looking for pea Chia!! & horribly-named Poogle up for adopting!’
‘Up for Trade: well-named Draik. Seeking: royals, plushies, and malevolents!’
“Up for trade?” he inquired, looking at the king for answers.
“It’s a new system, where instead of putting your beloved pet up for adoption, you simply find someone who wants him or her, and in return, you yourself find a pet that peeks your interest.”
“Seems a little inhumane to me,” J remarked. “Being in the hands of someone who doesn’t want you? I think I’d rather be at the Adoption House.”
“Yes, well, it has its advantages and disadvantages. But this, Asra, is what I really wanted to show you,” the king remarked, pointing to one particular white flyer that didn’t quite stand out like the rest. It read:
‘Looking for unconverted plushie Shoyru to join family of three’
“See?” the king said. “There is no reason for you to feel embarrassed for what you are. There will always be someone out there who likes you for you. And if they don’t? Well then, they aren’t worth your time.”
Asra smiled... just a little. J remarked, “Are you sure you’re not the Wise Old King?”
This got another loud chuckle from the king, and he clapped J on the back, steering him the way they had come. Asra spared the board one more glance, before plucking the last advert off the board, tucking it carefully into his pocket, and joining the other two back home.
Adoption day at the House came bright and early, and the excitement was evident as the groups of pets up for adoption waiting eagerly for the arriving parents.
Asra and J stood among them, wired like the rest. They were told by Miss Mickensy to line up, and Asra somehow found himself next to Nexter, who smirked.
“I guess Illusen wasn’t much help then.” He straightened his hat and tie in an exaggerated manner.
It was time. The neopets watched as the doors to the Adoption House swung open and a crowd of potential parents walked in, some of them scanning the room slowly, others making a sprinting beeline for the pet they had an interest.
Asra almost didn’t realize that one of them was standing right in from of him! “Aren’t you cute!” she gushed.
“I saw him first!” came an angry voice, and a man pushed her aside, and she went sprawling to the floor.
“Well, I already claimed him out loud,” came another female voice, but not from the floor.
“You already have four pets!” Another voice. “I don’t have any, I deserve him!”
“Yeah right, NEWB! I’m a plushie collector. He would look so good on one of my side accounts.” The speaker’s eyes gleamed greedily.
Before he even became aware of what was happening, a large group of parents had congregated right in front of the poor Shoyru. There were words being yelled, spat and cursed, and even some fists being raised.
Some of the potentials even made a grab for the plushie, but their efforts were knocked ferociously away by one of the others. While they squabbled over him, he took note that the other neopets stood in line still, absent of parents in front of them, just watching the events over the Shoyru unfold.
Asra knew what he had to do.
“You there,” he said, pointing to the first man who had spoken about him, who had pushed the woman to the floor. The bickering crowd hushed, and the man pointed to his chest in surprise. “Me? You want to come home with me, little buddy?”
“Uhh, no,” Asra answered. “But I noticed you like to battle.”
The man thought about it for a second, then nodded.
“Well,” Asra continued, “my friend J’s stats are amazing! His strength is legendary! And look at his movement skills!”
“Hey, that is amazing,” the man said mesmerized, temporarily forgetting the Shoyru. He moved off down the line away from the crowd to examine the shocked looking Korbat.
“And you,” Asra kept on, pointing to the female, who for some reason, was still sitting on the floor. She was dressed head to foot in orange. “I’m going to take a guess that you love the color orange, am I right?”
She nodded in assent.
Asra grabbed Wenzel’s hand. The orange Aisha was quivering with nerves. “Meet my friend Wenzel.”
“Oh!” the lady gasped, noticing her for the first time. “How pretty!”
“And you,” Asra said, indicating the one who was christened ‘newb’, “I noticed you wearing a Haunted Woods T-shirt. Meet Hallow, the ghost Gelert.” The Shoyru pushed the Gelert forward.
“Wicked!” the boy exclaimed.
It continued on like this for some time. Asra listening to the demands of parents and carefully placing them with the pet that fit both their needs. He even managed to bypass all the avid avatar collectors, to find Bloyd, the pink Grarrl, a new and forever home.
It was nearing the end of the day, and only three neopets remained. Himself, Nexter and Angel. Usually spiteful and arrogant, the two neopets now looked heartbroken and hopeless. “Forget it, Asra, no one wants to adopt us,” Nexter said, pointing to himself and Angel.
Asra looked around the room, but all of the parents already had a pet in their arms. He was about to offer some consoling words of reassurance, when the doors banged open, and a chubby parent came jogging, and wheezing into the room. He doubled over, but managed to say through pained breaths, “Am... I... too... late?!”
He looked up at the three neopets, one of them catching his eye and he gasped. “Oh.. my.. I’ve always wanted... a... yellow Ixi!!!” He rushed forward, grabbing Angel into his arms. “YES!” Despite her tough exterior, Angel couldn’t help by laugh in exhilaration. She glanced down at her friend, and her smile dissipated when she noticed the despairing look on the brown Blumaroo’s face.
“I’m sorry, Nexter. I’m sure someone will come for you too.”
The boy stopped tossing Angel around and looked mournfully down at the Blumaroo. “Are you the last one, little guy? I’m sorry,” he added. He glanced from the Ixi down to Nexter, and back again. “Shucks, I wish I could just adopt you both!”
“It’s your lucky day then!” Miss Mickensy interjected. “We have a nice surprise for today’s last adopter. He’s allowed to take home two pets, instead of one!”
“That’s fantastic!” the boy shrieked. “I’ve always wanted a.. brown pet too, I suppose.” He lifted Nexter up. The Blumaroo and Ixi high fived in excitement. Miss Mickensy led the three of them off to fill out the adoption papers. Nexter and Angel both looked over the boy’s shoulder, and mouthed the words ‘Thank you’, to Asra, who waved in return.
He turned around at his mother’s voice.
“Are you ready to go? Did you have fun visiting your old friends? That was nice of you to want to see them off.” She smiled warmly at him, extending her hand.
Asra took her hand gratefully, and the two of them turned to go home, back to their family of four.