Fireworks in Shenkuu
I’ve made mistakes. Lots of them. Perhaps a few were childish or dumb. However, I usually manage to make up for them. If I broke something, I’d try to fix it. If I lost something, I’d search tirelessly for it. I’m just that kind of character.
There is one thing, though, that I never made up for. I lied, so it wouldn’t look like my fault. And I kept up this lie for so long, I can’t remember when it started. The guilt pains me. I didn’t know how I could ever make up for it.
I suppose I should go into more detail. Yeah, this would probably make more sense that way. So, this awful, terrible, horrible thing I’ve done...
I gave away Yoshi’s Petpet.
Yoshi is a green Lutari. He’s been around since the first day the account ‘honshusan’ was made. That’s even longer than I’ve been here! Still, I am responsible for all of the pets. The head of the house, as I put it. Who am I, you ask? The name’s Fang. I’m a red Shoyru if you hadn’t noticed.
Anyway, a long, long time ago, Yoshi had a Mazzew named Mayz. It never seemed like they played a lot. Yoshi would cuddle Mayz every once in a while, but not much happened between them otherwise. Since Mayz was an avatar-giving Petpet, plenty of my friends were interested in ‘borrowing’ him, though. I like my friends and didn’t think Yoshi would care. So off went Mayz to a new home. Even after that, though, it took a few days for Yoshi to even notice.
“Has anyone seen Mayz?” he had asked one morning, scratching his head with one wing talon. Back then, he was a mutant Korbat. He turned that gold-on-black gaze of his onto me expectantly. Oh, he was so innocent, so naïve! I couldn’t tell him I gave the little Petpet away!
“N-no, not for a few days... Maybe he, uh, ran away...” I answered weakly. Yoshi, of course, believed me. Thinking back on it, I still get a knot in my gut. What a terrible Neopian I was...
Months and months passed. Yoshi never gave up looking for the Mazzew. He would search the streets of Neopia Central at least once a week. He had even gone out and bought a Petpet bed (which was, unfortunately, moldy), a Mazzew poster, and a Mazzew pillow for his bedroom. He rearranged the Petpet bed every once in a while, and when I happened to witness this act, my heart ached.
Even so, I simply couldn’t tell him that I had lied. That I had given Mayz away, that he would never see the Mazzew again. He had so much hope. He would often talk about when Mayz returned, how he’d take even better care of him and make sure he never ran away again.
After a year, I tried to stop him. I told him Mayz wasn’t coming back. After all, if he had been out there for a year, surely someone would’ve picked him up. He’d be in a good home, I reassured. That didn’t stop Yoshi, though. He wanted to be sure Mayz was safe. I told him that would be impossible, but he was determined...
I don’t often think about Mayz anymore. Just when Yoshi reminds me of him. After the excitement with the lab ray, Yoshi doesn’t remind me much, though. He’s busy with this or that. He doesn’t go to the lab anymore, after turning into a Lutari, but he still keeps busy. Maybe that ray rattled his brain enough to make him forget? But no, I know he remembers Mayz. He probably just moved on...
I should as well. I decided that this past summer. “We’re going to Shenkuu for fireworks!” I announced at the beginning of the month of Swimming. The entire family was excited, especially Uintaite, the red Uni who grew up in Shenkuu. Everyone packed up and soon, we were on our way to the mountainous city.
I am always intrigued by Shenkuu. It amazes me that anyone would choose to occupy the peaks of mountains as those in Shenkuu have. The architecture is fascinating, with paper doors and spiked roofs. What I enjoy the most, though, is the gorgeous stream that runs down one of the mountains. Yep, I was looking forward to surfing in Shenkuu. Or, at least riding a canoe down, but I didn’t think that would be entirely too safe.
We arrived at Shenkuu early the next afternoon, after taking a ferry to the north and through the straight between Terror Mountain and the mountains to the west of Neopia Central. The ferry docked in Altador and we spent the night there, then joined a caravan headed toward Shenkuu. Have you any idea of how much the fare is for eighteen Neopets to ride a ferry?!
Anyway, we checked into a Neolodge at Shenkuu, booking their largest suit, for they didn’t have enough rooms for each of us separately. Some of us would have to sleep on the couch or the floor... But we were here!
First thing after dropping off our luggage, Uintaite headed off to greet old friends. I, of course, had Khlui the baby Shoyru and Uta the baby Eyrie to watch, but that wasn’t stopping me from seeing the scenery! Uintaite agreed to take Uta with him (the two of them were quite close; Uin was like an older brother to Uta). I took Khlui with me in his stroller and headed off.
With all of the hills and bridges, it’s really hard getting anywhere with a stroller. I got a workout pushing Khlui along. Every once in a while, a Shenkuu Petpet would buzz or hop or flutter by. Khlui was absolutely fascinated by everything. He would giggle and clap as we went along, grabbing plants that happened to get within reach. He had a decent collection of unique flowers and differently shaped leaves by the time we stopped at the Fanciful Fauna shop for a rest.
While I was holding him in one arm and dumping that nice collection out of his stroller, I heard a familiar voice speaking to the lovely Koi shopkeeper. “Yoshi?” I said in a daze, looking up at the Lutari. After registering the scene, it wasn’t a surprise that he would be there. He was petting a Dandan when I approached the counter with Khlui.
“Fang! And Khlui!” Yoshi exclaimed in greeting, gently taking his little brother from my arms and hugging him. “I was just telling the shopkeeper here about my own Petpet, Mayz.” My gut knotted, as it had so many times before.
“Such a shame he ran off,” the shopkeeper was saying by the time I started listening. “He must’ve been bored.”
Yoshi sighed. “Yeah...” He looked to me. “Fang, I just thought I’d tell you that you don’t have to look for Mayz anymore. I’m...” He stopped, biting his lower lip momentarily. “...over it.” The shopkeeper patted his shoulder with a fin, nodding gently. I felt like I would just fall apart right then... But I still couldn’t tell him the truth.
I took Khlui back from him, since he appeared as though he might burst into tears right then. He muttered something about being strong as I turned and put Khlui back into the now plantlife-free stroller. I wheeled it back over to Yoshi and gave him a small hug. “I’ll be back at the Neolodge, okay? Come when you’re ready.”
I returned to the Neolodge as planned, putting Khlui to sleep in his portable bassinet. Vael, the blue Uni who always cooked back at home, was the only one there. She seemed at a loss without any cooking to do. She had been tossing a Petpet ball around for her Bika, Carter, when I first entered the suite. By the time Khlui was asleep, she was petting Carter with one hoof and smiling at me kindly.
“Long day?” she asked.
“Yeah...” I replied. I looked up at her. She was such a good friend. And reliable... I had to tell someone or I would burst. So... I poured my heart out to Vael. I told her about Mayz and how it was my fault he was gone.
She gave me a grim look when I finished, a frown on her face. Anyone that knew her knew that that was unusual for her unless she was concentrating on cooking. She stared at me, her eyes so cold as if she hated me like Yoshi should’ve. “You have to tell him,” she finally said. “He might be mad, but Yoshi never holds a grudge.” Her expression had softened by then. She understood my side of it as well as Yoshi’s. For that I was thankful.
“Would you take care of Khlui?” I asked. She nodded. With that, I left the Neolodge again and headed for Fanciful Fauna.
When I arrived, the shopkeeper told me that Yoshi had left. He apparently was headed toward the Lunar Temple. Spreading my wings, I flew out of the shop and hovered there, squinting toward the temple. There, on the spiral path up to it, I could see a tiny green figure. It was definitely Yoshi.
I soared toward him, just as he disappeared around the path to the other side of the mountain. I landed on the path and jogged toward him, nearly tripping over my woolen scarf. Skidding to a halt, I stared, my mouth hanging open.
Yoshi had stopped as well, a good distance ahead of me. A little birdlike Petpet, a Naleap I later found out, sat on the branch of a tree by the path. It tilted its head at Yoshi. Yoshi followed suit. Then, he laughed out loud. “Aren’t you a cutie?” I heard him coo. I remained hidden, sneaking toward him.
“What’s your name, lil’ birdy?” Yoshi asked the Naleap. It responded with a beautiful, high-pitched note. Yoshi giggled. “How ‘bout I call you Eglantine? That’s a cute name. My name’s Yoshi.” The Naleap chirped a few more notes, creating more of a song. “Aw, you like your new name, huh? Wanna come with me?” The Naleap chirped again, then hopped onto his shoulder, smiling a beaky smile. Yoshi giggled again, then walked on.
Relaxing, I smiled. Maybe he’d get over Mayz more easily with a new Petpet? I certainly had hoped so. I returned to the Neolodge without telling him about Mayz. It wasn’t the right time... I would eventually.
Most of the Neopets in the family had returned to the suite by then. It was getting quite dark, so I was a bit worried about Yoshi. He was the only one missing. He returned about an hour later with the Naleap still perched on his shoulder.
“Fang! Fang, look who I met!” he exclaimed, approaching me. I smiled at the little birdlike Petpet. “How cute,” I said, acting as though I hadn’t witnessed the scene on the path to the Lunar Temple. “What’s her name?” I asked with a giggle.
“Eglantine. At least, that’s what I call her. Uh, if you want to give her to someone, they can rename her...” he said with a small frown. He looked away, his hands behind his back.
I shook my head. “Why don’t you take care of her for now? I’m sure Mayz wouldn’t mind.” I said it without thinking and regretted it when Vael cast me a dark look. “Uh...” I started shyly. “Yosh’, why don’t we go somewhere and talk?”
He looked excited at first with the prospect of taking care of Eglantine. When I asked that dreaded question, his expression changed to one of curiosity and uncertainty. I motioned him toward one of the bedrooms in the suite and when we both had entered, I closed the door behind us.
“Yoshi, I have to tell you something. ...about Mayz.”
I winced. His face was so cold and he had even paled a bit. I’m sure his imagination was running wild with what I might have to say about his previous Petpet. I cleared my throat. It felt like it was closing with anxiety. I couldn’t imagine Yoshi hating me, but... After so long, after lying so much...
“Mayz didn’t run away, Yoshi.”
His frown grew.
I almost couldn’t speak at that point. “Y-you know that... that Mazzews give avatars... and, well... A friend wanted, um... wanted to borrow him to get that avatar... So I gave him to her...” I confessed this in such a quiet voice that I was afraid he’d ask me to repeat myself. My heart ached when I looked up and saw his face. The shock was evident on it. He looked like he had almost fallen over. Eglantine had flown over to the bed and sat on it. I half-dragged Yoshi over to a chair that was also in the room, sitting him down there.
“I’m sorry, Yoshi. I didn’t think you’d notice. Yoshi... I’m just so sorry, but... Mayz isn’t ever coming back.” My blood ran cold as I spoke this. It had to be said, I knew it did. I just didn’t want to admit I had been lying.
Yoshi, at that point, was focused on his feet. I sat next to Eglantine on the bed, looking sadly over at him.
When he didn’t speak for a long while, I decided to. “Can you ever forgive me?” I hesitated. “...I would understand if you didn’t.” I wanted to cry. However, I felt it would just be wrong. This was my own fault. If I cried, I’d just make Yoshi feel worse. Instead, I sat there, frowning and holding back the tears.
“Why did you lie?”
I was surprised by the question, mostly because it was in a voice so cold and emotionless for Yoshi. Yoshi was always jolly, even when he thought Mayz had run away.
My lip quivered. How could I respond to that? Gulping, I simply told the truth. “I didn’t want you to hate me, Yoshi. I also didn’t want to hurt you—“
“Well, great job of that!” he snapped, cutting me off. He glared at me. There was so much hatred there that his eyes almost looked red instead of pale green. Without another word, he got up and stormed out, slamming the door behind him. I could hear the door of the suite slamming as well. Eglantine silently looked from the door to me. At that point, I broke down and cried.
I slept in that room. I couldn’t face anyone after Yoshi had stormed through. They’d all question me and I knew they would. Why was Yoshi so upset? Why was he so mad? Why?
I woke up early the next morning. The curtains hadn’t been closed in that room, so the first rays of the sun struck my face. I sat up, looking around. Eglantine had roosted on the headboard of the bed. My scarf... I had tossed it into the chair Yoshi was sitting in the previous night. I picked it up and put it on, tying it carefully so that it wouldn’t be too tight. I gently lifted Eglantine from the headboard and placed her on my shoulder, walking out of the room.
The hall was dark. There were four rooms in total in that suite; two with just one bed in them and two with two beds in them. I was in a one-bed room. I could see the door to the other one-bed room right across the hall. The doors to the other rooms were in the lounge, which was also the entryway to the suite. I hadn’t taken a lot of time to look the place over the previous day. I was a bit... busy.
On the sofa, which apparently pulled out into a bed, Uin and Uta were sleeping and Bolt, the ghost Pteri, was perched on one arm of said sofa. In an armchair by the sofa, Gro, a red Lupe, was curled up. There were two more armchairs, but they had four Pterii perched, one on each arm. Leven, Sky, Apollo, and Izzo, it looked like. The last two Pterii, Ming and Azy, would be in one of the two-bed rooms. The other two-bed room would be occupied by the twin Xweetoks, Satho and Suhzu. I nearly tripped over Olrado, the Tyrannian Uni, for he was sprawled across the floor. As I reached the suite door, I noticed Mag, a fellow Shoyru, leaning against one of the armchairs, asleep. That left Vael and Khlui in the other one-bed room. I sighed, feeling guilty for leaving Vael to take care of the baby Shoyru.
I left the Neolodge, wandering Shenkuu aimlessly. Almost no one was awake. It was very early and the mist that usually filled Shenkuu was even thicker in the brisk air. I didn’t know where Yoshi would’ve been. He could’ve left Shenkuu altogether by then. Still, I clung to the hopes that he didn’t. Determination replaced early-morning drowsiness, and I began my search.
The sun was up enough to thin out the mist by the time I found him. He was alone, sitting by the waterwheel of the Exotic Foods store. His tail lay limp behind him, instead of curled tightly as Lutaris typically held them. He had a twig in one paw and was watching the ripples that came off of it in the water of the river. I approached quietly, though Eglantine had alerted him of my presence by squawking and flying over to him. The coldness he had in his gaze the previous night had vanished, but he still looked a bit mad.
“You alright?” I asked, sitting by him. I ignored how uncomfortable the river’s bank was, only shifting a tiny bit. He scooted away from me, dropping the twig into the river accidentally. Instead, he turned his attention to Eglantine, smiling and stroking her feathers. I could only tell this because she was on the shoulder closest to me. A frown crossed my face.
“You can ignore me if you want, but I’m still here,” I told him, my temper flaring just a tiny bit, then cooling down. My brow furrowed. “Please, Yoshi, don’t be like this...” I murmured. The two of us went silent.
I looked away from him, out over the river. A small smile crossed my face. It was beautiful here... Yoshi spoke, causing me to jump and look back to him. I frowned once more.
“I’m not mad anymore...” he sighed, moving his paw away from Eglantine and placing it on his own lap. “I just wish you’d’ve told me sooner.”
I nodded quickly. “I know. I wish I did, too. It wasn’t worth it, keeping that from you.” My eyes begged him to forgive me. I would understand at that point, though, if he did not.
Yoshi looked to me calmly, frowning. “Yeah...” He looked away again. I could see the reflection of the dawning sun in his eyes. “I know why you did.” His eyes teared up a bit. “Like you said, you didn’t want to hurt me.” He gritted his teeth a bit. Eglantine fluttered down to the water’s edge, splashing in the water a bit. He ignored her. “I... I can understand that. ...But next time...”
“There won’t be a next time,” I said in confidence. “It was wrong the first time and I know it. As long as you want to keep your Petpet, you will.” I smiled what I hoped would be a comforting smile.
Yoshi smiled back. Relief flooded over me. “Okay,” he murmured. He finally looked down at Eglantine, chuckling at the birdlike Petpet’s antics. I joined him, though it was more because I was glad to be on his good side again.
We returned to the Neolodge together. Vael was cooking breakfast (she just couldn’t take her vacation) and mostly everyone was up. They appeared relieved by the fact that Yoshi was alright.
After we ate breakfast, Yoshi headed off with Eglantine to spend more time around Shenkuu. We would be leaving the next morning, so he didn’t want to waste any time.
As night fell, all eighteen of us gathered on a lone hill. I cradled Khlui in my arms contentedly. The fireworks began when the day was over. They lit up the ground far beneath.
“Beautiful...” I heard Yoshi say. I smiled at him. He had his head back, looking up at the sky. Eglantine sat on his shoulder in the exact same position. It was nice to see him happy again...
Then, baby Khlui started to scream, scared by the noise. Laughing, I stood with him and headed back to the Neolodge. Oh, well... I could see the fireworks next year...