The purple Tuskaninny picked up her snorkle, exiting the Petpet Battledome field. She remembered being arrogant, undefeated, a six-time-in-a-row-winning-top-of-the-world-master moments before.
But that all came crashing down upon the realization that... she'd lost. To a newbie, at that rate.
She gazed down at her beaten snorkle. Hamilton, as she had named him so long ago, snorted up at her, giving her a look of sorrow. Her grip tightened on him.
“Hey!” the newbie, a starry Xweetok she believed was named Samiiantha, cried, running towards her. “That was a great match! Didn't you say something about getting together afterwards to talk about training tactics?”
'Fascinating! Shrowds lasted longer then we thought he would. After we're done, we should exchange training tactics.'
Yes, she had said that. She had said that when the Xweetok's snow kookith had been on the lower hand of Hamilton, but still lasting longer than she had expected. She'd arrogantly thrown out the phrase, half expecting the girl to run out crying when she lost.
Which she didn't. Roxalia breathed in sharply.
“...Yeah, I guess I did,” she said finally. Hamilton snorted again. “But I guess I gotta tend to Hamilton here...”
“Oh, yeah, that reminds me, I gotta get Shrowds something cold!” Samiiantha cried, picking up her lump of legless snow and dashing away from the arena and towards the plaza area. Roxalia, startled by the sudden change in attitude, slowly followed her.
She lost sight of the frantic Xweetok a good five minutes later, and decided just to sit down—after getting Hamilton a healing potion, of course—and eat some food. Namely, some chocolate cake and some chocolate cookies shaped like chias and eyries and kacheeks. Chocolate made her feel loads better.
Hamilton munched on his own pile of petpet-o's. Roxalia found herself watching him with interest. Even after a devastating loss, the little snorkle was still so full of energy. Unbelievable.
“Hey!” It was her voice. Again. Roxalia turned her head slightly, seeing Samiiantha above her, smiling like a maniac, her red hat falling askew slightly. Roxalia grunted in reply.
“I found something cold for Shrowds,” she continued, ignoring Roxalia's sound. She held a bowl full of snow puffs, as well as Shrowds in there, who was nibbling on one of the strawberry ones. “This should keep him going 'til I can properly freeze him at home.”
Roxalia nodded absentmindedly, taking another bite of a chocolate kacheek. Samiiantha took the liberty of sitting down, without her consent, and eating a snow puff from Shrowds' bowl. Roxalia raised a brow.
“So, what do you wanna know?” Samiiantha asked. Roxalia thought the question over.
“...How did you get Shrowds to move so quick when he doesn't have any legs?” It was an honest question. How exactly did one move so quick with a lack of legs, anyways...?
“Oh, that's easy. He's got one big foot and he hops around like a slug on it,” Samiiantha said simply. Roxalia blinked.
It was quiet.
“How often do you train?” she asked. Samiiantha blinked at the question.
“Train. How often do you do it? I train at least twice a day, but look where that's gotten me...”
“Oh. Well, I don't really train at all. Living at my place is just like training every day for poor lil Shrowdsy. I have nineteen other siblings and a crazy Mama, anyways...”
Her voice seemed to drown out of Roxalia's head as she babbled on about her home life.
Roxalia, herself, hadn't had a very good life with her owner. Her owner had been a one-pet owner, only her, and it was only because she needed a pet to help her with stuff. Once she figured out how to do most things on her own, Roxalia was pretty much alone. Her owner popped in every now and then, even painting her purple once, in an attempt to cheer her up, but ultimately grew more and more distant form her.
Basically, her childhood was crummy.
She kept describing laughter and fun and the joy of welcoming a new family member into their extremely, out-of-this-world large family. She talked about how her owner—her mama—gave them presents on Christmas and worked her butt off to get them good things so they could have fun and spent as much time as she could with them, as often as she could.
Shrowds had been an old gift from the advent calendar, when her 'mama' hadn't been around Neopets yet. She bought it because she thought Samii would love it.
The fact that she actually got to pick to be painted starry was the last straw for Roxalia. Roxalia hadn't been given a choice. She actually wanted to be a plushie Tuskaninny so maybe, just maybe, her owner would hug her more often.
But still. Final straw. Roxalia gritted her teeth, trying to hold back her seething.
“Why are you here?” she finally asked, a bit gruff. Samiiantha, stopping her rambling, gazed at her questionably.
“To trade training tactics...? Wasn't that your idea...?” was her reply. Roxalia slammed her hand down, startling the petpets and Samiiantha.
“No! My idea was winning, finally getting a long winning streak! Making people proud of me! My owner proud of me! But then you come along, and beat me like I was a mootix and you were a Grarrl!” she shouted, holding her forehead. She sounded like she was on the verge of tears. She couldn't show weakness, though. She was Roxalia. Great Roxalia, who never, ever, ever cried.
Samiiantha was oddly quiet. In the short time that she'd know her, Roxalia could easily tell this was unusual for the girl. Samiiantha finally spoke.
“Uh, well...That's an... interesting way to put things,” she said, chuckling nervously. “But... I wouldn't exactly say mootix and Grarrl...”
“Did you come here to brag or something?” Roxalia demanded, an exasperated sigh escaping her lips. Samiiantha's head shook furiously.
“No! No, that'd be absolutely horrible and mean! Why would anyone do that? I really wanted to... get to know you. You seemed—seem like a good person...”
Roxalia gazed at the starry Xweetok. The girl's expression looked like she was appalled, with a mix of regret and pity.
Roxalia didn't need her pity.
“Yeah, well, people aren't always as they seem,” she said finally. She absentmindedly munched on some more chocolate. “Sometimes, they aren't even half of what you expect.”
“...I think I know what you mean,” Samiiantha said after a moment, holding her finger out. “It's like the saying, 'don't judge a book by its cover'.”
“Exactly,” Roxalia said. “Now will you please leave me be?”
“I'm gonna see what the context of this... book is.”
Roxalia gazed at the girl with new interest. She actually wanted to take the time to get to know her...?
“But first,” she said, grabbing the bowl that contained her kookith, “Let's go somewhere. Anywhere. You look like you need to get out. Where do you feel like going?”
“...Brightvale has a nice little shop that makes good pie,” Roxalia murmured. She faintly remembered her owner taking her there a few times. She was barely sure if it was even there anymore. Samiiantha brightened nonetheless.
“Great! We can go there, eat delicious pie, and talk about training and junk!” she said happily. Roxalia raised a brow.
“Suddenly good pie is delicious pie?” she asked, a very slight hint of teasing in her voice. She actually couldn't believe the tone she had said it in. But Samiiantha nodded anyways.
“All pie is delicious pie. As long as it has pie in it, it'd delicious,” she said, as if it were a proven fact.
“You do know pie isn't an ingredient in pie, right?” the Tuskaninny asked. Samiiantha paused.
Roxalia couldn't help but laugh. She hadn't laughed like that in a long time.
“You know, Samiiantha, I think you and I'll get along well,” she admitted finally, something she didn't say often. Samiiantha shook her head.
“We won't get along well,” she said, confusing Roxalia. “We'll get along well forever and ever and ever!”
“Sure, Samiiantha, sure.”
“Don't call me Samiiantha. It sounds too formal. Call me Samii.”
Roxalia nodded slowly. Her owner, once, had given her a nickname like that. One she hadn't used or heard for a long time.
But things can change.
“...Might as well call me Roxa, then.”
Samiian—Samii smiled a smile of pure delight. “Alrighty then, Roxa!” she said, having way too much fun saying those two syllables. “Lead the way to the pie!”
Maybe losing wasn't so bad.