The inside scoop on Jelly W-argh! *choke* Circulation: 186,134,553 Issue: 486 | 18th day of Running, Y13
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Meridell's Slimy Little Secret


by dizzyblackberry

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Even the most perfect lands in Neopia can hold their secrets, and Meridell is no exception. Its outward appearance of being a wholesome, profitable land may indeed be called into question after what I present here. This investigator has stumbled upon a secret so shocking, so stunning, so utterly disgusting that more sensitive readers may want to stop reading to preserve the contents of their stomachs. In order to fully reveal the implication of this discovery I have carefully retraced my steps, from the beginning of my suspicions to the moment of discovery, to give the reader the best possible chance to connect the dots and see that I am not, in fact, crazy.

     My investigation began on a normal Neopian day. I was on vacation, having taken a break from playing the stock market to spend some quality time with my pets. We were at our first stop of the week, Meridell, intending to win some avatars and possibly buy a petpet. Our day did not start off well, with a quick succession of losses against Snargan. Disheartened, with her grating laughter ringing in our ears, we continued to our next stop with higher hopes: Kiss-the-Mortog.

     The Grundo running the place had always been very cheerful, though that might have had something to do with his Mortog-slime-proof shield and jacket. He likes to brag that it was custom-made by faeries, very expensive stuff. We listened patiently to his spiel one more time before stepping up to play. After puckering up several times and always ending up with a face full of slime, we (or rather, I, since I was the one dealing with Mortog smell in my nostrils) decided to give up for the afternoon. As the Grundo hosed me off, I stared at the Mortog entrails floating by my feet. A question formed in my mind.

     What happens to these poor, exploded Mortogs, anyway? And how on earth does the game stay in business? Fifty neopoints definitely doesn’t cover the cost of a new Mortog (which, at print, cost approximately 350,000 NP), not to mention the occasional winners whose success decreases the profit of this venture even more. I put my questions to the Grundo. To my surprise, his face turned immediately ashen and he responded with an evasive, “You know.” That was my first clue that something fishy was going on.

     We dejectedly trudged to our next stop, Meri Acres Farm. My pets’ disappointment quickly turned to excitement with the notion of berry picking, and I totally forgot the mortog business. I handed the berry-keeper 400 NP and told my pets to start looking. They ran off and began searching. To our surprise we had much better luck here: two bits of barbed wire, a half-eaten berry, and two super juicy berries were quickly found and placed in our basket. We could practically smell the avatar (or maybe it was just the dung). Bhaet ran off into the bushes for our last pick and ran back with a shout. From her excited waving we could see that it was definitely NOT a pile of dung. The avatar was ours! My jubilation was quickly dampened when I noticed exactly what it was that Bhaet had found: a Mortogberry.

     I pondered this new information while my pets dashed around me, playing keep-away with the avatar. Was there possibly a connection between the strangely rich Grundo and the dung-loving Gelert? I decided right then and there to pursue this subject until an answer had been found. We bought some potatoes from the neighboring farmer and continued back to our campsite for the night.

     The next day was Mystery Island day. We took the ferry over bright and early to have enough time to get to everything we planned on doing. After a few games of Mynci Volleyball we headed into the village for refreshment. Our path led us straight to the Tropical Food Shop. The thought of a nice Jug of Fresh Phearade was enough to convince us to go in. I let my pets sit and chatter while I struck up a conversation with the shopkeeper. We began naturally talking about our vacation. I mentioned that we had recently been in Meridell. The shopkeeper seemed well acquainted with his counterparts in the north, yet seemed skeptical to their recent success in the fruit business: “Did you know they could only grow potatoes up there until quite recently? I even had a visit from the berry-keeper up there a few years back asking for farming tips. I told him there wasn’t much they could do with the soil they had, plus the slorg infestation. He seemed pretty obsessed with dung though... and not only as a fertilizer.”

     So what was this new method that the farmer had figured out to make it possible to grow such wild and exotic berries all the way up in Meridell? This was another piece for the puzzle. Our conversation ended with a friendly debate regarding the merits of Brightvale Fruits, another recent competitor. I noted in passing a Mortog and Slorg petpet tied up outside the shop, snarling at each other. Come to think of it, I had never seen a Mortog and a Slorg get along...

     A quick trip into the Island Market revealed yet another oddity. Inside a small, Meridell/Brightvale-themed shop I found two items that caught my eye: Mortog Stew and Essence of Mortog. The descriptions of both items suggested that this was what happened to Mortog leftovers: rebottled and sold at sky-high prices (6,000 and 50,000 neopoints, respectively). Was my search entirely in vain? It almost made sense. I could at least understand how the Grundo made enough money to pay for that faerie getup of his. But why did he need to be so secretive, if it stood here in the descriptions for the whole planet to read? I knew that there was more to it than that. And based on sheer supply and size of the aforementioned items I knew that there had to be a surplus of Mortog goo. The shopkeeper, a happy-looking Ixi, tinkled with laughter as I asked her what the point of these Mortog products was. “Everyone knows that the Mortogs they use at Kiss-A-Mortog are magical. They don’t actually blow up; it’s just stage guts! These are the same thing. They’re labeled as Mortog products to seem more magical than they actually are.”

     It seemed that, as far as the rest of the world was concerned, the Mortogs were actually magical and the entrails were faked. So why wouldn’t the Grundo just admit it to me directly, if it’s such common knowledge? Why was he still so evasive on the matter?

     A quick trip to Kreludor would soon bring me closer to the answer. We arrived in the afternoon by spaceship and quickly headed into town. Walking by Booktastic Books, we saw a crowd of neopets gathered across the street. Curious, we walked over to see what was going on.

     A big banner between two lightposts announced it to us long before we could see the actual event: KRELUDOR BUSINESS OF THE DECADE. A well-dressed Grundo was speaking into a microphone on the stage, far in front of us. “...without further ado, let me introduce this decades winner: Kiss-A-Mortog!” Through the throng I could see a familiar, blue, warty form ascending the stairs. I tried to see closer, but my sight was blocked by two rather long, yellow ears protruding far above the crowd. I focused on them angrily, before realizing whom they belonged to: our dung-loving berry-growing friend. So, the two knew each other, did they? Well enough for the work-obsessed Gelert to take a day off to come watch an awards ceremony? That was a sign of a pretty strong friendship, as far as I was concerned. So what did the Gelert and the Grundo have in common, anyway? I could barely sleep that night, despite the low gravity. There was something very strange about the whole operation.

     The next day we arrived in Maraqua around midafternoon for a lovely, formal dinner at Kelp. We passed through town, diving helmets on, peddlers selling goods on either side of us. Varriyn tugged on my drysuit, pointing at a vendor selling pies on our right. I shook my head, motioning through the heavy, distorting helmet that she would spoil her dinner. She made a face (Varriyn isn’t much for fine dining) and tugged harder. I sighed, gave up and followed her over. The Maraquan Blumaroo brightened up at the sign of potential customers. Through the glass we could see a wide variety of pies from all over Neopia. Varriyn quickly found one she wanted and I paid for it and waved goodbye to the kind Blumaroo.

     We went inside a small park nearby, glassed in for its non-Maraquan visitors, and gratefully took off our helmets. The pie sat in front of us, steaming temptingly, though the smell bothered me. It smelled so familiar, somehow. I brushed the thought off and cut into the pie. The filling oozed out as I began to dish out the pieces to my waiting pets. The smell wafted up into my nostrils again and I shook my head, irritated. I glared at the remaining pie and tried to figure out what the smell reminded me of. “What kind of pie did you say this was again?”

     “Mortogberry,” Varriyn replied, giving me a confused look. The slimy, squishy filling continued to ooze out of the crust and run onto the plate as I stared at it, just like...

     “EUREKA!” I shouted, my voice echoing off the glass walls and magnifying it. “THAT’S IT!!!”

     My pets looked at me strangely, then continued eating. It wasn’t the first time I had embarrassed them in public. (Now, dear readers, comes the big reveal. Hold on to your petpets!) “Don’t you see?!?! They fertilize their berry farm with MORTOG GUTS!”

     I began pacing. “That Gelert at Meri Acres Farms must have discovered that Mortog innards make good fertilizer a long time ago, not to mention they took care of the Slorg problem. He bought a small farm, opened it for business, and charged people to come pick their own berries. ”

     “But he couldn’t hide the fact that he was buying several Mortogs a week, Mortogs that no one ever saw again. So what did he do? Hire his old friend the Grundo to come open a kissing game—featuring enchanted Mortogs to get the public interested and make it seem more humane—to cover up his operation. He and the Grundo turned ‘fake’ Mortog parts into a big market, selling eyes and pies for thousands of neopoints each, quickly getting rich on the profits! But he couldn’t have foreseen that the fertilizer would cause the berries to mutate, growing to look just like the Mortogs he had condemned to death. No one realized that these Mortogs exploded for real and that the various Mortog products on the market were actual Mortog viscera. They would never have dreamed that the berries that made their little land famous would be the product of one of the biggest cases of petpet-icide this world has ever seen!”

     You heard it here first! Meri Acres Farm uses MORTOG GUTS to fertilize their precious berries. If you don’t want to support these atrocities anymore, make sure to NEVER EVER go back to Kiss-A-Mortog or Pick-Your-Own EVER AGAIN! And don't buy any 'fake' Mortog products!

     At the time of print, the author of this article has gone into hiding because of numerous threats to her stamp collection. Or she might have disappeared. We’re actually not sure.

The End

 
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