The Comical Cheese Crusade
Meridell was a quaint place for a young Neopet to live. The grass was always lush and green, and the sky was normally a vibrant blue color (unless you were standing underneath the Darigan Citadel, then the sky was a miasmal purple), and besides an all-out war for the fate of the kingdom every now and again, things were pretty calm. The two main events of the year were getting ready for the Altador Cup, and when the Giant Turmac decided to change the way it was lying. (You try sleeping in the same position for more than a week!)
Of course, with the lack of action around the peaceful kingdom, it was easy for a neopet to become bored. Rhodes Lupine, an outgoing white-colored Lupe, just happened to be a very bored resident of Meridell. He sighed and rolled onto his back and watched the clouds drift lazily by, then decided that he would find something to do. There had to be something worthwhile; there just had to be!
He set off on a dirt path, with no particular destination, when the idea hit him like a... cheese wheel? He yelped in surprise and the cheese wheel rolled to a stop, then promptly fell over. Who on Neopia would even think to roll a wheel of cheese down a hill? Rhodes reached out and flicked the cheese. Correction, Who on Neopia would think to roll a BRICK wheel of cheese down a hill? He looked all around to see where the cheese had come from, but the owner was nowhere to be seen.
“If no one pushed you, then where did you come from?” he asked the cheese. The cheese remained stubbornly silent and refused to tell him its origins. With a flourish of his tail, he sat down and proceeded to stare intently at the cheese, willing it to do something interesting, such as begin rolling off its own accord. The cheese remained adamant.
“Fine, I see how you are! You won’t talk, so I’ll have to figure it out for myself!” Rhodes said as he jumped to his feet. He righted the cheese, then gave it a hefty shove and watched with great amusement as the cheese took off down the hill. “Oh, so you’re running away now, are you?!” He yelled after the cheese, and took off after it. “Get back here! Don’t be a coward!”
The cheese refused to listen. It rolled in spite of the Lupe’s specific command to return immediately. He gave a low growl under his breath, and as he started to catch up to the cheese, he tensed to pounce. Unfortunately, as he was preparing to claim his cheese, a Xweetok that was oblivious to the Lupe inadvertently intercepted Rhodes.
“Hey, watch where you’re going!”
“Pardon me, but my cheese--”
“What did you hit me with, a brick?!” the green Xweetok demanded, rubbing his now-sore paw.
“Well, that’s a funny story,” Rhodes said as he sheepishly rubbed the back of his neck. “It’s less of a brick, and more like a wheel. A cheese wheel, to be exact,” Rhodes gestured a paw towards the cheese wheel that lay abandoned in the grass.
“Oh, so you’re a cheeseroller?” The Xweetok looked surprised. “You’re awfully far away from the stand to be playing that... did you happen to get lost?”
Rhodes shook his head. “You’ll never believe it, but I’m telling you, this cheese appeared out of nowhere and hit me. So I chased it down the hill,” Rhodes said, leaving out bits and pieces of the story as he saw fit. “My name is Rhodes Lupine.” He stuck out his paw for a handshake. “What’s yours?”
“Risu,” the boy said, taking Rhodes’s hand. “I usually help the Gelert at the Pick Your Own... You know, since you’re only allowed to travel twenty farm areas? I’m the one who follows the pickers around and make sure that they don’t violate the rule.”
Rhodes nodded his head a little. “That’s a respectable career. My job changes about... whenever I feel like it. Today, I have been entrusted on a top secret mission.” Rhodes let go of Risu’s tiny paw and rolled the cheese up onto its side once again.
“Oh?” Risu was intrigued. “What kind of mission?” He scurried over to Rhodes and cocked his head. “Is that why you were so far away from the cheeseroller stands?”
“Sssh!” Rhodes hushed him. “Do you want Lord Darigan to hear you?!”
Risu squeaked and covered his mouth, then glanced around the area to see if any spies had heard.
“Oh no, now you’ve done it!” Rhodes said, then dove into a bush. “Quick, take cover!” Risu jumped in after him, and they both clung to the cheese, ready to use it as a shield.
After a few agonizingly long minutes, Rhodes decided it was safe and they climbed out of the bushes. They spent the next ten minutes picking leaves and sticks out of their own fur, and Rhodes gave a small sigh of relief. “That was a close one.”
“You mean that we were almost discovered?” Risu said, scurrying over to Rhodes again.
“No,” Rhodes laughed softly, “I mean I almost got a burr caught in my fur, but I was lucky enough to get it out without cutting it.”
“Yeah, that is a lucky break... so what’s your mission?” Risu persisted, trying to figure it out.
“Well...” Rhodes said, running a paw over the cheese wheel that had started this all. “It’s quite simple, really. This cheese right here? It was actually created in that new place... over the oceans? What’s it called? The really hot molten one?”
There was a small silence as Risu tried to think, then he gasped in amazement. “You mean that cheese came all the way from Moltara?!”
That sounded as good as any place to Rhodes. “Yeah, you bet! All the way from Moltara! Now that it’s finally in Meridell, it can go to its final destination,” Rhodes said with finality.
Risu furrowed his eyebrows. “Final destination? Where would that be?”
Rhodes slowly looked over at Risu, stretching out the pregnant pause. “We’re taking it to Meridell Castle itself,” he said proudly, and Risu looked amazed.
“Wow, are you a knight?” Risu asked excitedly.
“Well, I prefer to call myself the King’s Noble Ingenious Genius Heroic Traveler,” Rhodes said, proud that he could come up with such an acronymic word on demand.
“Oh my... that sounds really important....” Risu said; he was almost overwhelmed by amazement. “Can I help you with your mission?” he asked with big, hopeful eyes up at the Lupe.
Rhodes pretended to ponder for a minute. “Well... I don’t know... sometimes the missions can be really dangerous...”
“I don’t care. It sounds fun!” Risu was bouncing up and down happily.
“All right, it’s a deal! You are now my Partner Against Great Evil, or my P.A.G.E. How does that sound? We’ll be the new Defenders of Meridell!” Rhodes grinned as Risu cheered his agreement. “Now, all we have to do is get this cheese to the big cheese, his majesty, King Skarl.”
Risu let out a long sigh. “That sounds impossible. Why don’t we just give it to one of the guards there?”
Rhodes shook his head in mock-disbelief. “You mean you really don’t know? What if the guards are corrupted? All right, now listen closely. This is how we’ll sneak into Meridell Castle...”