The Negg Faerie's Apprentice
NEGGERY - If you, my dear reader, are anything at all like me, you’re obsessed (at least for the moment) with training. I don’t mean the kind where you spend all day eating as many Doughtnutfruits as possible in an attempt to gain that elusive Hasee Bounce Champion trophy. Rather, I mean the kind where you spend every waking moment practicing complex maneuvers under the watchful eye of Ryshu the Nimmo. My owner currently knows far more about fluctuations in the codestone market than she ever wanted to know. By the time you read this (I hope!) I’ll have out-leveled the training school on Krawk Island and she’ll never have to ask the great Coltzan for another dubloon again.
If there’s one thing about getting up there in levels, though, it’s that after a while you really don’t want to have to wait four hours to gain one measly point of defense. You’d rather spend those four hours and three codestones on exciting things, like endurance and strength, and you turn to a very curious thing, Armoured Neggs. As anyone who has ever seriously considered becoming the STRONGEST NEOPET EVER knows, munching on one of those will certainly increase your ability to deflect oncoming attacks, if only because, well, they’re basically hunks of metal. The first one is the worst, but a steady diet of them, one every two hours, will quickly harden even the most fragile of pets.
Once you get used to a steady diet of armour-filled metal (because, yes, there’s even armour INSIDE the Armoured Neggs) you start to develop a taste for them. This left me visiting the Neggery with alarming frequency at all hours of the day and night. Whenever I gathered 16 points worth of Neggs, I embarked on the trek to visit Kari and exchange my small hoard.
Much to my surprise, it wasn’t Kari I found manning the Neggery one fine afternoon in the month of Eating, but a new, younger faerie I had never seen before. She refused to tell me her name (as the names of faeries have a special power), but after a lengthy conversation, I did learn some interesting things about the way the world of faeries, and Negg faeries in particular, works.
You see, this blue-haired fill-in is what’s called an “apprentice” in the faerie world. It means that, while she’s fully capable of running the Neggery unsupervised (otherwise I’m sure that Kari wouldn’t have left her in charge and run off to celebrate the Festival of Neggs elsewhere), she’s not a yet a full-fledged Negg Faerie.
“But I’m close,” she explained. “This is kinda like my final test. If I do well and nothing explodes or goes horribly wrong, I’ll be promoted.”
When asked exactly what she would be promoted to, her answers were less straightforward: “Well, that’s still up in the air. I’ve been in training for a while. I might end up running around giving random Neopians neggs, or Fyora may decide to set up a second Neggery. Who knows?”
The likelihood of a second Neggery seems, to me, questionable at best. The iconic Ice Caves shop just doesn’t fit in with the backdrop of any other potential location. When discussing the odds of a second Neggery, Kari’s apprentice had this to say:
“Well, it’s challenging to say the least. Neggs, in addition to being magical, require special care and attention. The ones we sell here at the Neggery are prohibitively expensive,” (here she eyed the Cool Negg on the shelf behind her) “because growing them requires so much work. It was the hardest thing to learn about being a Negg Faerie. They require special environments. The Cool Negg, as its name suggests, has to be kept cool from the time it’s planted to the time it’s picked, and in the crucial days afterward in order to properly ferment the magic. Otherwise, it’s a dud. Completely worthless. And let me tell you, Cool Negg seeds are not a neopoint a dozen by any stretch of the imagination.
“If we were to open another branch, there are obviously concerns about how to keep these special neggs in stock. We won’t be able to grow them on-site like we do here, so the price will have to rise to reflect the extra effort required to transport them when they’re ripe. Another option, and I’ve discussed this with Kari, is opening limited-service negg stands throughout Neopia and offering only the neggs that can be grown locally at those locations. So no Cool Neggs in Moltara, but we can definitely grow Fireball Neggs there, and maybe Wicked ones. This helps keep the price the same across the board, and, of course, our patrons can always visit the Neggery here for all their Negg needs.”
I didn’t ask about the challenges of growing Fireball Neggs in the Ice Caves, and the apprentice Negg Faerie didn’t seem concerned enough to make it a point. The prospect of being able to trade for Armoured Neggs in the Haunted Woods was pretty exciting, but I had other questions for this young faerie, such as what it took to become a Negg Faerie. She started off with a description of the faerie schooling system.
“Some faeries are destined to be one thing or another. The elemental ones for sure, and then the Faerie Queen, well, she knew from the moment she was born what she was going to be. Others aren’t so restrained by their natures and can choose what to do. We all spend a few years in Faerieland just learning about the world and history, math, that sort of thing, and then we go off to specialized schools. The elemental faeries—they’re the ones you know best, probably—all go to the same place but take different classes. Some of those grow up to be special among their own kind, like Illusen and the Darkest Faerie. The rest of us without those natural magical inclinations discover something that really interests us and follow that path. Me, I went to Negg School.
“We had to learn about all the different kinds of Neggs in Neopia, from the ones we give points for to the ones they grow and even the others that don’t fall into either of those categories—and yes, there are a few, but I won’t tell you what they are!” (She winked.) “The easiest part was learning what neggs trade for how many points. In school we had to memorize it and were tested on it quite frequently, but outside of school it comes naturally. You just trade them so often that you don’t even have to think about it anymore. Learning to grow the neggs was much harder, and we did that in the greenhouses in Faerie City, near the palace. Kari would come up every few weeks (closing the Neggery for a day or so) with some half-grown neggs and watch as we took care of them. She took them back with her so we were never left alone with expensive neggs until she was sure we could take care of them on our own.
“Sometimes she’d even ‘disappear’ while they were in our care to make us think we really were on our own to see how we handled problems that came up, but she was always watching to step in in case something went wrong. On the cheaper neggs—Happiness and so on—she’d let us make mistakes so we could learn how to fix them on our own.”
Fascinating. For my final question, I asked the apprentice Negg Faerie about her stint running the Neggery.
“Oh, it’s been great. Some people are a bit confused that Kari isn’t here, but once they discover that nothing’s changed and that she’ll be back as soon as the Festival of Neggs is over, they just carry on business as usual. I was kind of shocked at some of the account balances here. There are Neopians with thousands of negg tokens just waiting to be spent! Some of them even keep bringing more. I’m not sure what they’re waiting for, but Kari did mention something about an experiment in the back that I’m not supposed to touch, so maybe they know something I don’t?”
I laughed and shook my head.
“Yeah,” the apprentice agreed, “I’m sure it’s not very exciting.”
I, like the other visitors who found a new face at the Neggery, carried on business as usual. Unlike the others, I also jotted down as much as I could about this new faerie to bring you, my dear readers, the latest news surrounding the Festival of Neggs.