Hatching a Friend
Lauren was bored. She was sitting on her simple green bed in her room, holding a plushie that looked almost exactly like her: a green Usul with a pretty green bow. She had received the plushie as a Christmas gift from her owner, but it was August now, and she had played with the plushie so many times that it looked a bit tattered. Its left ear was coming a bit loose, and the green headband had lost some of its color. The plushie didn’t look as clean as it used to, either. Lauren’s owner had told her not to play with the plushie in the garden - Meridell wasn’t the cleanest place to live, after all – but she hadn’t always listened.
Lauren sighed. She had been playing with the plushie for almost half an hour, and she was looking for something else to do, or maybe a friend to play with. But her only sibling, a blue Wocky named Amanda, was out playing Cheeseroller with the Cybunny who lived next door. The Usul placed her plushie in its regular spot, a corner of her bed, and went to check on her Petpet. Roger was a loyal friend, but unfortunately, the little Turtum usually spent most of the day sleeping in its Petpet Bed. And yes, sure enough, as she was walking towards Roger, she could hear him snore quietly. Maybe he would wake up in the evening for a snack or perhaps a game of Ultimate Bullseye, but now, at 2 in the afternoon, he probably wouldn’t provide Lauren with a lot of entertainment.
As a last resort, Lauren decided to glance at her bookcase, but she had already read all of the books displayed in there, from The Way Windmills Work to The Grand Usul Adventure. She could probably recite all of the words by heart, after having read the books so many times! Of course she shouldn’t have expected to see a new book there – sadly, her owner hadn’t been around for a few days, so she hadn’t gotten any new books to read.
Suddenly, a wonderful idea bubbled up in Lauren’s mind: she could make a trip to Brightvale and buy a new book! Excitedly, she headed over to her desk. In one of the drawers, she kept a piggy bank in the form of a Cybunny. She had been saving up her Neopoints for quite a while now, and when she opened the piggy bank, a bunch of coins fell out. Lauren guessed that there must have been maybe a hundred thousand Neopoints in there. She could buy plenty of books with all that money!
The Usul gave her Turtum a few pets on his head and headed out to the city. Brightvale was located fifty miles west of Meridell, but she would get there soon enough with one of the Uni carriages that were of service to any travelling citizens of Meridell. Either way, it gave her something to do – and she could read one of her books on the way back. And, Lauren thought, maybe she could stop by Merifoods first. She had had a real craving for a Turnip Tartar all day.
After a five minute walk, Lauren reached the center of Meridell. She could see the castle, and the hills where her sister Amanda was playing Cheeseroller with Ellen, her Cybunny friend. Lauren arrived at Merifoods, and looked at all the food on display on the crates. There were piles of bread, some fish, and potatoes. What suddenly caught Lauren’s eye, though, was something she had never seen before: it was a rather large yellow egg, with a few spots here and there. It looked a bit like a Pteri egg. Maybe it was an exotic food imported from a faraway land?
Lauren inspected the egg closely and then directed herself at the shopkeeper, a purple Meerca who had a friendly smile on his face.
“Excuse me, sir,” Lauren asked, pointing at the strange egg. “Can you tell me what this yellow egg is for?”
The Meerca turned his head to Lauren and replied: “That, little girl, is a Draik egg. It has an actual Draik inside! It’s very rare, though, and I don’t think you will be able to afford it.”
Lauren frowned. She had read about Draiks before, but she had never actually seen one, and she wondered if maybe the shopkeeper was tricking her. After all, what was a Draik egg doing in a food shop? Surely you were not supposed to eat an egg that had a Neopet inside! But the possibility that it might be true excited her. She had already completely forgotten about the books she was planning on buying. “Well, how much do you want for it, then?” she asked.
“I want at least eighty thousand Neopoints for that egg,” the Shopkeeper said.
“Eighty thousand Neopoints?!” Lauren exclaimed. That seemed a bit outrageous!
“Like I said... you probably won’t be able to afford it. I’m sorry.” The Meerca smiled.
Lauren was intrigued by the egg, though, and quickly started counting all the Neopoints in the bag she had brought with her. She concluded that she would have to spend most of her savings on the egg. After a moment of hesitation, she decided to take the chance and buy it. If it really was a Draik egg, that was an opportunity she couldn’t miss out on! She quickly handed over the Neopoints to the shopkeeper, and received the egg in return.
With no Neopoints left to buy any books, she had nothing left to do but return to her Neohome, all the while inspecting the egg she had just bought, earning her curious glances from the passers-by. Lauren hoped that what the Meerca had told her was the truth, and that a Draik would really be born from this egg. Or else all those Neopoints she earned counting potatoes and playing Ultimate Bullseye with Roger would have been spent in vain! The egg was fairly heavy, and Lauren couldn’t wait to return home and show it to her sister.
When she arrived home, Amanda had already returned from the hill, and had brought home a shiny golden cheese. Ellen was there too, admiring the cheese with a hint of jealousy. I wonder what they will say when I show them this egg, Lauren thought excitedly.
Lauren greeted her sister and her friend, but they weren’t paying any attention to what she was saying – their eyes were immediately drawn to the yellow egg Lauren was holding in her paws.
“Where did you get that?” Amanda exclaimed.
“Is that a Draik egg?!” Ellen asked, her eyes as big as saucers.
Lauren put the egg on the table and nodded proudly. “I just bought it from Merifoods! The shopkeeper said if I could get it to hatch, a Draik would be born!” Suddenly, she frowned. “I don’t know how to hatch it, though. Or how long it will take.”
Ellen grinned excitedly. “I may have the answer!” she said. “My brother has a few books about Draiks. Let me run over to my house and see if we can find out anything!”
“Okay,” Lauren said, “That sounds like a great plan!”
While Ellen ran over to her house, Lauren pondered about how lucky she was that her neighbor was willing to help out. Amanda seemed to be sulking a bit though, now that the attention was drawn away from the golden cheese she had won.
Ellen returned quickly and handed Lauren a book: it was a thick, yellow book with an egg on the cover. The egg looked a lot like the one she had just bought, but the color was green instead of yellow. The cover of the book said “Hatching A Draik Egg” in big green letters.
“This is perfect!” Lauren smiled. “Thank you!”
She quickly paged through the book, looking for the answers to her questions. After reading a few pages, Lauren discovered that she had to take the egg to a place called the Draik Nest. The Draik Nest was located in Meridell and the book even contained a map pointing out the location of the nest. Lauren almost jumped up and down with joy: the egg she had bought was probably real, and the nest was pretty close to her Neohome!
The three pets decided they didn’t want to wait any longer to find the nest and immediately set out to the city again. They had to pass by Meri Acres farm, and walk around in a large forest, until they finally reached the spot that was marked with an “X” on the map. It looked like some sort of cave and Lauren thought it was kind of dark and eerie looking. She hesitated for a bit.
“This must be the spot! Let’s go inside and check it out!” Amanda said, always having been the more courageous of the two sisters. Amanda entered the cave, and Ellen and Lauren followed after her, the yellow egg still safely in her paws.
The inside of the cave was as dark as Lauren thought it would be. It was warm inside the cave, and it smelled a little bit funny, but she didn’t care about all of that anymore as soon as she saw an orange nest on top of a rock. This was it!
Carefully, Lauren placed the egg on top of the nest, and the three pets waited for something to happen. At first, the egg didn’t seem to change at all, and Lauren was trying her best not to feel disappointed. But then suddenly, a few cracks appeared in the egg. Lauren’s heart nearly thumped out of her chest, when suddenly, the egg cracked open, and she could see a small yellow Draik!
“Hello.” Lauren said reluctantly. She wasn’t sure if the Draik could talk or even understand her.
The Draik looked around him, taking in his environment and the three pets who were staring at him. “Where am I?” he asked. “Who are you?”
Lauren quickly introduced herself and told the Draik the story of how she found the strange yellow egg in the food shop.
The Draik seemed very happy to meet her and they chattered happily while travelling back to Lauren’s Neohome. Lauren told him about her room, about Roger and her favorite plushie, and the Draik was very interested in hearing everything she had to say. Lauren knew she had made a great friend, and it would be a while before she ever became bored again!