A Gathering of Friends
When I woke up one morning, I just felt really depressed. I had no idea why; nothing bad had happened lately. It was what some Neopians called a “grey day,” where you feel like you’ve been painted grey in your sleep. I looked myself over, and was glad to see that I was still a Royal Girl Uni.
After a few minutes of trying to push my sadness away, I got to my hooves and hopped off the bed. Then I headed for the kitchen to find my owner, BG, who always gets up well before I do.
I found him sitting at the kitchen table, reading a book. As I entered the room, he put the book down and turned to me.
“You look kind of down,” he remarked, coming over to me.
“I kind of feel like I’ve been painted grey,” I sighed in response.
He picked me up and cradled me.
“Everyone gets a day like that at some point,” he said kindly. “I do too. It’s perfectly normal. Just remember, those feelings never last long. Even for grey pets; they may LOOK sad, but if you look past their color, they may be quite happy.”
I felt the truth and warmth in his words, and felt a bit better. Then I felt even better when he began to rub the sweet spot between my ears. I sighed happily and rested my head on his shoulder.
“You always know how to cheer me up,” I said.
I scanned the kitchen, trying to figure out what BG was making for breakfast. My gaze rested on the stove first. Usually, if he was cooking pancakes, the stove would be on, and the skillet would be out.
But it wasn’t.
I looked over at the table next. If we were having cold cereal, then there would be bowls there.
But there weren’t.
I was puzzled.
“BG, what are we doing about breakfast?” I asked.
“I thought we’d go over to the Cup ‘n’ Spoon for breakfast,” he answered. “We haven’t been there in a while.”
I felt my grey feelings vanish instantly when my owner said that. We go out for dinner every now and then, but going out for breakfast is very, very uncommon for us.
“You’re the best!” I sang out, wrapping my forelegs around him.
The Cup ‘n’ Spoon is a small café located in the Lost Desert. Which is nice, since BG and I live in the Lost Desert as well. The owner is a strawberry Uni named Leblao, and while I don’t know him well, BG and Leblao’s human friend, Shin, talk to each other a lot. So we two Unis have met before.
BG pushed open the door of the café, and I felt the cool air wash over me. I don’t mind the Lost Desert heat, but it felt good anyway. Behind the main counter was a snow Eyrie by the name of Halbringer, another one of Shin’s friends.
“Good morning,” he said as we entered. “I knew you were coming.”
Halbringer, or Hal as he likes to be called, is psychic. This amuses me greatly, as he knows who is coming to the café before they open the door.
“Where’s Leblao?” I asked, looking around.
“He’s in the back,” came a male’s voice from behind us.
BG turned to face the young man who was sitting at one of the tables, then raised one hand in greeting.
“Morning, Shin,” he said.
Shin responded with a similar wave. BG and I approached the counter and placed our order, then looked for a place to sit down.
“You two are welcome over here,” Shin said.
BG and I sat down at Shin’s table, and it wasn’t long before the two humans were deep in discussion. I was only half-listening to them, but I noticed Hal suddenly stop working and stare at the door.
“Hey guys?” the Eyrie said suddenly.
Shin and BG went quiet and turned to look.
“I’m sensing a familiar presence outside, heading our way,” Hal went on, shading his eyes as if he was trying to see out the window.
“I think... it’s Caalo. And he’s not alone.”
BG, Shin, and I exchanged glances. Caalo is a spotted Lupe that I’ve met several times in the past. He’s a friendly sort, but kind of distant, and not too great at conversation. And he lives on Mystery Island.
“Why is Caalo coming here?” I asked Hal.
“Your guess is as good as mine, Urasina,” he replied with a slightly sarcastic tone.
That was pretty typical of Hal.
The café door swung open and Caalo came in, trailed by a young woman. It was Drei, Caalo’s human companion. Shin and BG both waved to her.
“What brings you all the way out here?” my owner asked Drei as she sat down after ordering.
“Well, me and a few other friends are touring the Lost Desert,” she replied. “I think you know who most of them are.”
Caalo settled down in the chair across from mine. He looked as tired as ever, but I guess since he’s a workaholic, that’s pretty typical.
“How’s your own restaurant doing?” I asked him.
“Same as always,” he mumbled.
I knew I wasn’t going to get much else out of him. So I turned to Drei.
“Anganael didn’t come with you?” I questioned. “I wanted to congratulate him on his success.”
“No, he had something else to do,” Drei answered. “I’ll pass on your message, though.”
“How’s Ameiika?” I asked next.
“She’s doing all right,” she responded. “As good as anyone who went through what she went through can be, I suppose.”
She was about to say more, but Hal spoke up.
“Someone else is coming,” he called out
We all looked at him, then at each other.
“It’s probably Eisha and Rozzia,” Drei said. “They left the hotel right after we did.”
“You’re right,” Hal commented. “Here they come now.”
The café door opened again, and this time a purple Wocky came in, side-by-side with a young woman. The Wocky, Rozzia, jumped nimbly onto a stool in front of the counter and stared up at the menu.
When Eisha saw our little group, she immediately hurried over.
“I know you live in the Lost Desert, BG,” she said to my owner. “But I never thought we’d cross paths here!”
I watched as Rozzia finished placing her order and joined us.
“When you guys come to Mystery Island next, we should all go on a Tiki Tour,” she chirped happily.
I started to giggle. Rozzia loves the ocean, and especially loves Tiki Tours.
“You should be a Tiki Tour Guide,” I suggested. “You go on them so often.”
She batted me with a front paw. I swatted her back.
“Where’s the rest of the Wocky crew?” Shin asked Eisha.
“Only Rozzia wanted to come on this trip,” she replied. “I hope the others are doing OK... they can get out of hand at times.”
BG snickered. He knew what it meant to live with “wild” Neopets. I knew I could sometimes be a handful.
Hal stiffened again, but this time, he looked a bit concerned.
“Here comes a princess,” he said.
All of us, both Neopets and owners, exchanged glances.
“Let me guess...” Shin said after a moment. “It’s Gwenydine, right?”
Everyone stared at him.
“How’d you know?” Drei spoke for all of us.
“How many other princesses are in our little group?” he replied.
“I mean, aside from you, Urasina,” he quickly added, looking at me.
“No offense taken, Shin,” I reassured him. “I may be painted royal, but I have no royal blood in me. Gwen, however...”
At that moment, in came a Royal Girl Kyrii. She looked around the café, then sat down regally in a chair at the next table over.
“You’re not going to order something?” Hal asked her.
“I already ate,” Gwen replied in a slightly condescending tone.
Hal rolled his eyes, but Gwen didn’t see him do it.
“Come on over and join us,” I asked her.
After a moment’s pause, she did just that. We were running out of room at the table now.
BG and Shin nodded to each other, and stood up to push some more tables up to ours. But before they could, Leblao came out of the back room.
“Dis’s some crowd,” he commented, then quickly moved around the counter.
“'Llow me,” he went on, easily pushing a few tables together.
“Thanks, Leblao,” Shin said.
“An’time,” the strawberry Uni replied.
Then he noticed me.
“Ow are you t’day, mon ami?” he asked kindly.
I had to smile.
“I woke up feeling depressed, but I feel much better now, being around so many friends.”
“Das good, den,” he said as he returned to the counter.
BG turned to Gwen. He and Gwen’s human companion, a young lady named G, are close friends, so the Kyrii would be slightly more inclined to actually engage him in real conversation.
“Where’s G today, if you mind my asking?” my owner asked.
Gwen looked straight at him before answering.
“She decided not to come on this tour,” she replied. “Just like Mystic did.”
The whole group exchanged glances once more.
“Which of Mystic’s Neopets came along?” Eisha asked Gwen.
Before Gwen could reply, Hal spoke up.
“Here comes Mikkoshya,” he announced.
“I could have guessed that one,” Shin commented. “Mikkoshya is nomadic, after all.”
A brown Hissi arrived only a few seconds later. She placed her order and joined us at the table.
“Have you been practicing your dancing?” she asked me and Rozzia with a smile.
We both giggled. Mikk loves to dance, being a gypsy and all.
“I haven’t really had the chance,” I answered. “I’ve been too busy taking care of my rooftop garden.”
That got Gwen’s attention.
“Tell us about that,” she said.
I spent the next few minutes talking with Gwen, Rozzia, Mikk, and Caalo about gardening. Gwen seemed quite interested, even though I knew she wasn’t the type to make a mess of herself in the dirt. I, however, love making a mess of myself, so gardening is a good hobby for me.
“Dat ev’ryone?” Leblao asked from his spot at the counter as soon as there was a pause in the conversation.
“As far as I know,” Drei responded.
The strawberry Uni nodded and began to bring out our food.
Once the food arrived, conversation slowed down. But once we were all finished, no one really wanted to get up and leave. It had been a while since this small group had a chance to catch up. In fact, it had been a few months since the task that brought us together ended. And while there were many more people in our group, we knew that most of them were too busy to travel.
BG, Shin, and I began to discuss Battledome strategies, with periodic inputs from Gwen. Both she and I were training to be warriors.
Eisha and Drei were deep in discussion about who-knows-what.
Rozzia was clearly daydreaming.
Caalo and Mikkoshya were talking quietly. Or rather, Mikk was talking and Caalo was giving half-hearted responses. I knew that his heart wasn’t in the conversation.
Hal had gone to wash dishes, but since there were no other customers in the café, Leblao came around the counter and stood nearby, just listening.
“Everyone!” I called out, standing on my hind legs and raising one foreleg over my head.
The whole group got quiet and turned to me.
“I just wanted to say that it’s such a nice treat to have all of us together again,” I said happily. “At the end of last year, we barely knew each other. Now, we are quite a close-knit group. When things pick up in the fall, I hope to see many more smiling faces among us.”
I raised my glass of orange juice.
“Here’s to the future success of NNTM!” I shouted.
“To NNTM!” the whole group answered, raising their own glasses high.
Author’s note: I would like to thank Drei, Eisha, G, and Mystic for letting me use their pets in this story. Also, a BIG thank you to Shin for letting me not only use his pets, but for letting me use his setting, and helping with the writing itself. You’re all good friends, and I hope to meet more people like you at the next cycle of NNTM.