The Peophin Who Wished He Could Climb
"...Will I ever get to climb, Mum?" The tone was wistful, the gaze in the big eyes longing. The woman smiled softly, doing her best to appear reassuring and confident, as she ran her fingers through the unkempt blue mane.
"Someday, honey. Someday, you'll climb." She pulled her beloved Peophin close, rocking him slowly. He huddled in her arms, never looking away from the tree that had prompted him to ask the question.
"Someday, little one, you'll climb. I promise."
It was an ancient conversation of theirs, and it had not changed since the first time he asked the question. He had been but a few hours old, still huddling in his owner’s arms, on the Beach of Mystery Island where he had washed up, and where she had found him. He had looked up at the tall palm trees, high above their heads, and they had sparked a dream deep within him. It was a dream to one day climb the highest of the trees, to sit among its leaves and look out over the Island; maybe even beyond it, to whatever was beyond the sea. He did not know what that was yet; he had never been anywhere but near the shore. Never known any warmth except his owner’s arms, and the sun shining down on them. But he wanted to climb that tree. He wanted it so badly.
River was aching to fulfill her promise, the one she had made to a tiny Peophin with big, sad eyes. But how was she to do that? Peophins cannot climb trees. They are water-living creatures, who use levitation to move on land. And then only about one feet above it. He had no claws with which to grip the bark, only hooves. And how was he to push himself up the trees, with only a tail to provide force? No, it was impossible. Surely, it never would happen. How could it? But she couldn't show him her doubts, not when he looked at her so hopefully, his big, dark eyes asking the same question over and over again. The only thing she could do was to smile, ruffle his mane, and promise.
"Soon, honey. Soon."
What on Neopia do you do, she wondered morosely, when your little Neopet is not comfortable in his own skin? When every bath is a battle of wills since he refuses to get wet, even though he should love the water. What do you do with a Peophin who cannot swim, sinking like a rock at the merest attempt? How do you comfort him, when he looks at you with those enormous sad eyes, asking why he is different from his sister? Why he fears going into the deep waters, when she dives in with a happy cry?
She wandered aimlessly through Neopia Central, stopping at some of the shops to spend her hard-earned neopoints. She bought some fruit from the Health Food Shop, a book from the Bookstore. She stopped by the Neolodge to ask about vacations. Then she wandered on. Eventually, she found herself outside Kauvara’s Magic Shop. If there is anyone who can help me, she thought, surely it is Kauvara; there are no spells or potions she does not know, or so I have heard. She stepped inside.
"Hello, Kauvara," she said, carefully sitting down on an empty crate labeled HEALING POTIONS.
"I'm afraid I'm all out at the moment," said the shopkeeper, looking stressed.
"I'm not here to buy anything; I just wondered... you who know so much about magic... maybe you can help me."
Kauvara stared at her in shock. It was almost unheard of, that people came to her for help; usually they just wanted to buy a potion or two, then they rushed out again. Well, maybe she could help this young woman who seemed so sad.
"I can try.” Kauvara said, sitting down next to her. “What is the problem?" And the young woman told Kauvara about the Peophin who dreamt of climbing, and who couldn't swim. After she had finished, Kauvara sadly shook her head.
"Peophins cannot climb, River. It's impossible." The woman sighed, looking down at her hands, clasped in her lap. Her voice was small, when she answered:
"I know. But he is miserable. And it breaks my heart, because I don't know how to fix it."
They were both sat in silence for several minutes. Then the shop door opened, and man entered. He had a tiny, furry creature with a long tail in tow.
"Sorry" Kauvara said apologetically, "no restock yet; check back in a few minutes." The man nodded and left, just as the tiny creature climbed him like a tree, settling on his shoulder. River stared after the pair, a curious look in her eyes.
"What was that creature?" she asked Kauvara.
"Hmm? Oh, the Xweetok. Cute little creature, very friendly. Great climbers."
"Climbers?" River's eyes lit up, her formerly morose face changing into an expression of hope. "Maybe... maybe I can find a way to turn Prifdinnas into a Xweetok! Then he can climb all the trees he dreams off!" she cried excitedly, jumping up from her position on the crate. Kauvara smiled at her.
"That's easy. Just give him a morphing potion. I don't have any, though, sorry. Try the Trading Post on Mystery Island." The last line she yelled after the woman running out of the shop, a beaming smile on her face.
When River returned to the Beach Cottage that was her Neohome late that night, she was smiling. This time the smile was honest and cheerful, not one of the false ones meant to look reassuring, and that her pets had grown used to seeing. In her hand, she was clutching a small, oddly colored vial.
"Come, Prifdinnas. This bottle is the answer to all your wishes." She sat down on one of the kitchen chairs and pulled her red Peophin into her arms. He curled into her lap, drawing comfort from her presence. He had had an absolutely miserable day, since all RiverGenesis had wanted to do was to play water polo even though she *knew* he couldn’t swim.
"What is it, Mum?" He pressed his muzzle to the vial, trying to see if it smelled as odd as it looked. It didn’t. It didn’t smell of anything at all.
"It's a morphing potion,” River explained with excitement in her voice. “It will turn whoever drinks it into a Xweetok." He looked at it dubiously. It was just a tiny vial; it didn’t look at all magical.
"Why would anyone want to become a Xweetok?" Surely she must have gone a bit mad?
"They are beautiful creatures. But that is not all! Xweetoks are wonderful climbers; the best in Neopia.” She had uttered the magical words, and they echoed in his head. Xweetoks were climbers, like he so desperately wanted to be.
"They can climb?" he whispered, awed. She hugged him hard.
"Yes, honey. They can climb." His eyes went slightly misty. Surely... she couldn’t have spent the money it must have cost, just to try to fulfill his impossible dream?
“Oh, Mum, please – may I have it?” He hardly dared to hope. She laughed softly and kissed his forehead.
“Oh, Din, I bought it for you!” He tried to unscrew the cork, but his hooves proved useless in doing so. His owner smiled even wider and helped him. Then she held the now opened bottle to his muzzle.
The taste was not foul, but it definitely was not something he wanted to drink again anytime soon. But if he wanted to change, surely he must drink all of it? He drained the vial. If this was what was required of him to climb that palm tree, he would drink a dozen morphing potions and not complain once. To fulfill his dream, he would do anything.
If you go to Mystery Island, now, to the beach where this story began, this is what you will see: A young woman is standing in the sand, her face turned towards the bright blue sky. By her feet, a speckled Peophin is sunbathing, more asleep than awake. And high above her head, in the tallest palm tree, sits a Red Xweetok. And if you have eaten your carrots, or simply can see that far, you will be able to see that the Xweetok is smiling.
Turned Prifdinnas from a red Peophin to a red Xweetok on May 5th using a morphing potion. :)