Baloona hadn’t lived with her new family long in their spacious house in Faerieland. Adopted into a family of three pets much older than she, the young blue Aisha felt content in her new home, but also felt left out. She had received a new friend when she joined the family - a Slorg petpet she had affectionately named Louis - and she got along well with her new older siblings, but they were always busy. Mostly, she kept herself occupied playing outside with Louis; but, being that he was a slimy, limbless creature, the fun things the two could do together were somewhat limited.
After waking up one morning feeling particularly fed-up with being lazy, Baloo decided to investigate. What did her older siblings do to make good use of their time? The first place she knew to look was the Faerieland Bookshop in Faerie City, not far from their home, where Kiirki, an orange Aisha and the oldest of the four pets, could often be found browsing. When Baloo arrived at the shop, she discovered Kiirki tucked away in a corner, flipping through a copy of The Big Book of Faerie Spells.
“Hey there,” Baloo said, putting a paw on Kiirki’s shoulder.
“Shh!” she replied at once. “There are pets trying to read here, so you’ve got to keep it down!”
“Well, you aren’t really supposed to sit and read in a book store, anyway,” Baloo pointed out, speaking more quietly anyway. “So, you’re studying up on magic?”
“That’s right,” Kiirki sighed. “I want to read all the books in Neopia. Since I’ve been reading on magic and the Faeries, I’ve become more and more intrigued. I’ve begun learning spells so that I can practice magic with the Faeries. I hope someday to become a Faerie’s apprentice...”
“That sounds hard,” Baloo answered. “It would be really cool, though! What spells do you know so far?”
“So far, I can only get one to work,” the orange Aisha admitted. She uttered few obscure words, and suddenly, Louis began to glow.
“Whoa! What did you do to him?” Baloo stared at her petpet, reluctantly reaching out a paw to poke him for exploratory purposes.
“I made your petpet a little stronger just now – or maybe he’s just got gas. I haven’t quite worked all the kinks out yet,” Kiirki said with a smirk. Impressed nonetheless, Baloo watched Louis carefully for a moment, wondering if something would happen. He seemed to be moving around more quickly than usual, though that isn’t saying much for a Slorg.
“That’s amazing!” Baloo looked on her older sister with awe.
“It takes a lot of hard work for not a lot of reward,” Kiirki said, sighing once again, “but it’s my dream. I want to be able to perform more and more magic! I want to be one of the most accomplished Aishas in Neopia! But I need to do a lot more studying, so we’ll have to continue this conversation later.”
Baloo nodded and lead Louis – who may or may not have followed behind more speedily than usual – out of the bookstore, and wandered through Faerie City back to their home. On her way through the hall toward her bedroom, she passed Cambreea, a striped Lupe who was always following up on the latest fashion. Cami had a consistent grooming routine to keep her coat looking brilliant and soft; Baloo often watched and tried to get tips on keeping her own coat looking nice.
“Hi, Cami,” she said, “can I talk to you for a while?”
“Well, I’m sort of busy right now,” she huffed. “I need to perfect my outfit for a job interview at Uni’s Clothing!”
“Oh, that’s the store you visit whenever we go down to Neopia Central, right?” Baloo wasn’t such a big fan of fashion, but she had noticed that Cami would run off on her own every time the four of them went on a shopping excursion to pay the shop a visit and window-shop.
“Yes, that’s right,” Cami said. “I want to be a stylist. No – scratch that. I want to be THE stylist. Uni’s Clothing is just the first stop toward my dream life of making all Neopets beautiful! Actually, do you mind if I practice on you? It won’t take long! I just need to make sure my styling products are all functioning at their best.”
Before Baloo could speak up to answer, Cami dragged her into her room and began making her coat all glossy and smooth, and even let her borrow one of her favorite scarves to complete the look. Baloo hardly recognized herself post-makeover! She was used to playing outside and going on adventures, so she was accustomed to her low-maintenance looks.
“Wow, I clean up nice!” said Baloona.
“Well, I’ll need to buy another can of mousse, but other than that, I think I’m prepared.” Cami smiled. “Looking good, kid! Wish me luck!”
Since she’d been dolled up, Baloo figured she might as well go out and show off her make-over. After taking the sky tram from Faerieland to the mainland of Neopia, she decided to track down Slilith, her shadow Lupe brother, who spent almost every day training on Mystery Island. With her new-and-improved look and Louis’ new-and-improved speed capability, the pair boarded the ferry from the mainland to reach the island, anxious to arrive for a sunny afternoon at the beach.
Their first stop when their ferry arrived ashore was the Mystery Island Training School. Slilith was sparring with the Techo Master when they entered, so the two stayed off to the side and watch until he was ready to take a break. Unfortunately for them, Sly preferred not to conclude his training until it was absolutely necessary.
As they sat on the wooden floor, watching the ebony Lupe train in such seriousness, Baloo reflected on what she’d learned from her two sisters earlier that day. “Both of them have a goal of their own,” she thought, “something they want to achieve that they work at every day. I wish I had a dream like that, too.”
When the Training School Master finally concluded their training for the day, Baloo and Louis had been waiting for some time; in his deep focus, Sly hadn’t even noticed they had come in. For their patience, he offered to buy the three of them food for a small picnic on the beach before they headed back home to Faerieland.
“Why did you come here to watch me?” Slilith asked them, biting ravenously into a Chocolate Chia. “You must’ve been pretty bored.”
“Well, I went and saw Kiirki and Cami today, too,” Baloo said, “because you all have goals of some kind... And, well, I don’t really have any. I don’t know what I want to do.”
“You could train with me, if you wanted to,” Sly said, “but I don’t train so that I can fight others. I train so I can defend myself, my friends and my family, if necessary. But most of all, I train simply for the sake of being healthy and strong.”
“I don’t think I could keep up with you, having seen you train just now,” Baloo said with a smile. “You’re really intense, you know?”
“Well, that’s how it is when you’re passionate about something,” said Sly. “Look, Baloo, if you want to dedicate yourself to achieve something, you just have to figure out what you want for the future, and what you enjoy doing the most... And then it’s all a matter of figuring out the logistics of getting what you want.”
“It just looks so hard,” she said, looking down at Louis, who had eaten his Petpet treat and promptly fallen asleep, exhausted from all the day’s traveling and activity. “I’d love to read a lot of books, like Kiirki, and I’d also love to be able to make myself look really pretty, like Cami does. And of course I’d love to be strong and focused like you, Sly. It just seems like there isn’t enough time in the day to do everything I would like to do, and so I end up unable to decide on what I should choose, so I end up doing nothing.”
Sly nodded, and looked out onto the water, in silence. The sun was beginning to set over the island; in the distance, the ferry from the mainland could be seen approaching the island’s harbor.
“Maybe you just need a different perspective. Everyone likes to do a lot of different things,” Sly said, “but what do you like the best, Baloo?”
She thought quietly for a while, looking at the scenery around her. High up in the sky above her, she could see the cloud on which Faerieland rests; and in the far-off distance, the mainland of Neopia, which held so much she had yet to see or discover, so many potential new friends. Her eyes lit up suddenly and a smile grew on her face as the ferry sounded its horn, alerting the harbor of its arrival.
“I know what I want to do!” Baloo exclaimed, standing up suddenly, startling Louis awake. Sly looked at her for a moment, then stood up himself. “Well, what’s that?”
“I want to be a world traveler! To meet all the different Neopets and Neopians out there, all the faeries... To climb Terror Mountain, traverse the Lost Desert - without getting lost, of course... There’s so much out there, and I want to see and do it all!”
She ran off ahead of Louis and Slilith toward the dock to get aboard the ferry, stopping and turning back just for a moment to shout back to them. “First, though, it’s time to go back home! My next adventure begins tomorrow!”
Slilith and Louis exchanged a bemused look before hurrying to catch up with the excited Aisha, bouncing and skipping happily on her way with newfound self-validation. She realized she didn’t have to decide on one thing to work on forever, but that there were nearly endless opportunities and adventures that await around every corner. “Every day is a new chance to try something new, which I may or may not end up liking,” she thought, “but that’s part of the adventure! And today, just finding that out, was my first day on the job.”