Recognition: Part Two
Part Two – Meet the Helpers
"Are you looking for a real adventure? With a real purpose?
Are you a Grundo who feels that Kreludor as home of all Grundos should get the recognition it deserves in all parts of life and not only Yooyuball?
If you wish to help rectify a situation where Kreludor and Grundos have long been overlooked by means of participating in this adventure, take a seat in booth number 6 at Café Kreludor at 4 pm and order an Orange Moon Rock Pie. You will be contacted then."
Xoliii and Fallicina had just settled down in one of the booths of Café Kreludor, intent on spending at least a nice half hour off their feet while enjoying a refreshing sundae, when Ugliii bounded up to their table. Excitement danced in the incredibly large eyes of the youngest Grundo of the trio.
"We have to change the booth!" Ugliii exclaimed determinedly.
The two other Grundos exchanged slightly exasperated glances. As happy as they were that their idea to cheer the Baby Grundo up by taking her on an excursion to Kreludor had worked so well, it was difficult to keep up with a rather energetic Grundo like Ugliii. But deep inside both preferred this skipping bundle of energy to the rather depressed sad heap of a Grundo Ugliii had been ever since she had been sent to spend a few weeks with her Uncle Odd, as her sister had signed up for a student exchange program and her mother had deemed the first guest student too dangerous for a Baby Grundo to be around. It was not that Ugliii was unreasonable; she was a rather intelligent young Grundo and knew that comparing size and teeth, she would be all too vulnerable around a giant Grarrl. Besides, she liked the house of her Uncle Odd, so she didn't mind staying for a few weeks. But as week after week was added to her stay she began to miss her family and feel quite abandoned by them. The other guest students were not dangerous to be around, yet everybody at home seemed to be too busy with the guests to remember her. And the longer she stayed with her uncle, the more Ugliii saw why he was called Uncle Odd. Today however she was determined not to think about her home situation and enjoy herself. Which in her book included a real adventure, such as she had just read advertised at the customers' notice board. Hence her insistence that they change the booth. "We have to sit in booth number 6!" And as way of explanation she held up the piece of paper she had taken from the notice board to show Fallicina and Xoliii.
"It sounds a bit fishy," Fallicina voiced hesitantly after reading it over.
"There are no rivers or ponds or lakes or oceans on Kreludor. So no fishes, no fishy things," Ugliii countered with the undeniable logic of young Neopets.
"Still, it sounds rather vague," Xoliii agreed with Fallicina.
"We could still back out later," Ugliii argued. "No harm getting more information, don't you agree?"
Exchanging glances, the two older Grundos eventually agreed to the inevitable, stood up and resettled in booth number 6.
An Orange Grundo approached their table, asking if they had already made their choice regarding foods and drinks. Ugliii, looking at the huge clock on the wall behind the counter, beamed up at him and said: "One Orange Moon Rock Pie, please."
Once the waiter had taken their orders and retreated to forward those to the kitchen, Fallicina frowned at Ugliii. "I hope you intend to eat that pie you just ordered!" She was well aware that young stomachs often found adventurous dishes exciting by sound and horrible by taste, leaving a, by that time often unidentifiable, dish to the rest of the family to eat so that the food did not go to waste, while the youngster happily claimed the safer choice of their parents. But as none of their parents were with them that day – after all they were all responsible Grundos and as such old enough for such an excursion without parental supervision – Fallicina feared that as the maturest Grundo of the group she would be obliged to eat that questionable pie while Ugliii would want her sundae in return. Something Fallicina was not really willing to do, so she wanted this to be clear.
Ugliii nodded. She had already figured out that whoever had written the ad liked this pie, so if she did not like the taste and if the advertiser came, she could simply offer the pie to their new acquaintance.
Yanno had been watching the trio ever since the baby had removed his ad. He had spent all his afternoons in the café, ever since he had come up with this brilliant plan. Surprisingly it had been rather easy to convince the Kreludan Culture Committee that a parade in Neopia Central would be just the thing to share their special day with all Neopians, so that part of his plan was already covered. But unfortunately more local Grundos were interested in helping the committee with the preparations for the parade than going on an adventure. As for the tourists, though Kreludor saw quite a few nowadays, most were unfortunately not Grundos and Yanno did not think that any non-Grundo would understand the need for a Kreludan branch of the guild as part of international recognition. Therefore the trio now seated in the booth was his first real chance to find his helpers.
With high hopes he watched the table and when the waiter appeared with a tray which also held the required Orange Moon Rock Pie, Yanno quickly dove under the table and made his way to their booth. While the three other Grundos were distracted by the waiter he used the opportunity to slip unnoticed into an empty seat in the booth.
To be sure, the three girls were quite surprised at his sudden appearance, but then again sudden appearances were part of his business. He smiled invitingly at them. "I take it you are up to an adventure?" Yanno had no reason to beat around the bush, and though he spoke in rather low tones he preferred to get straight to the point or else the three might decide to eject him from their table.
"Yes, we are!" the youngest exclaimed brightly. "Hello, sir. My name is Ugliii and these are Xoliii and Fallicina!"
"Let's rather say we would like to know a bit more about said adventure before committing ourselves to likely doom," Fallicina interjected and Xoliii nodded in agreement.
Yanno had to smile at the interactions between those three. Each bore traits which would go well with his plan, but he had yet to convince them. "Hello, my name is Yanno. I will act as go-between, as the adventure-leader is a tad paranoid." This he said with a wink of his eye, showing that he thought this guy was sometimes taking things a bit too far but was still fun to be around. There was no reason to let anyone know that he and The Grundo Thief were the same Grundo. He just had to make sure that when dressed as thief he would only grunt and not really speak to avoid recognition by voice.
"So what is this adventure about?" It seemed that Xoliii was a bit of an impatient Grundo, but that might be due to her sundae starting to melt slowly and every Neopet knew that ice cream was best when solid and not melted.
"Why don't you start with your meal and I will fill you in with the details as far as I know them right now?" Yanno suggested, and not waiting for a response simply began. "You know that each country in Neopia is unique in its own way, yet all countries are considered equal. That does not mean that the inhabitants of each country might not feel that their own country is superior to the rest, but everyone feels so, so it is agreed that all countries are equal. Which means each country has their own Yooyuball team, each country has their own Coat of Arms, each country has their own heroes and villains."
"And each country has their own neohomes. Well, with the exception of Moltara, but they have furniture there," interjected Ugliii between two spoonfuls of pie. She had indeed found the taste very agreeable and did not regret ordering it in the least.
Yanno nodded in agreement. "So they do. But there is one part where Kreludor so far is ignored. Among the lesser villains of each country are a few well-known thieves which are organised in the Thieves Guild. Every country has its own branch, except Kreludor. Now one might say that as thieves are not to be counted among the good neopets, Kreludor should be happy not to have a subdivision of the Thieves Guild. But unfortunately the lack of presence of the Thieves Guild does not mean that there are no thieves on Kreludor. However, without the presence of the guild to organise their trade, the thieves on Kreludor will simply do what they like and how they like. So instead of using approved lock-picks for example, the Kreludan thieves might use heavy-duty hammers to open a door to a neohome forcefully. Which besides the loss of the valuables, which the thief will steal, leads to a lot of damage. Or imagine this heavy duty hammer to be dropped right in the entry hall of the neohome and the neopet who wants to alert his neighbours or any hero nearby stumbles over the hammer, drops to the floor and is badly hurt! While thieves will take property they are not supposed to harm neopets physically. The presence of the guild could rein in unruly thieves. It could also prevent that the same neopets are robbed time and again. Or that some neopets are robbed of their last neopoints and items and are left destitute. So while we all agree that being a thief is no honourable job, the presence of the guild on Kreludor would be necessary to avoid the situation escalating."
It was plain to see that the three young Grundos were thoroughly surprised by the topic. They had been raised with strong principles, among them being that one did not steal. Being a thief was all wrong! But it seemed as if things could be even worse.
Yanno continued to present his case, though he was well aware that he was twisting common morale quite a bit. But then again, he was a thief and thieves were not known for their high morale. "Now, one cannot simply found a new branch of the Thieves Guild, one has to be approved by the head of the guild, Kanrik. Only when approved, the branch will have the necessary authority among the thieves. Usually a prominent thief, who adheres to the principles of good thievery, would be invited to found a new branch. But for years no such invitation has been issued, even though there is a qualified candidate available. This is discriminating to Kreludor and it subjects all the peace-loving Grundos to uncontrolled thieves. Therefore the candidate has now decided to do something which will make sure that the guild no longer ignores Kreludor and its needs. But he can't do it on his own; he needs help, so he has decided to advertise."
"Who is this candidate?" Xoliii, having finished her ice cream, asked suspiciously. Helping a thief was not something she considered a good adventure and judging by the looks Fallicina, she was of similar mind.
"The Grundo Thief," Yanno answered. "You might have already heard of him. He steals the little neopet figurines at the Krelufun Freaky Factory. Though he might be nuisance to the workers, he has never harmed any neopet or petpet, he does not even steal from a neopet personally but rather steals from a company and he always steals only a few figurines, never a whole load."
"And what does he want to do to make the guild give Kreludor the needed attention?" This time it was Fallicina who voiced this question with a rather doubtful tone.
Yanno hesitated. It had been his intention to reveal his plans only once he knew the helpers had agreed to join the adventure and therefore would not blab on him. The last thing he wanted was his plans to fail because the Neopian Times was warned ahead of time. But he felt that if these girls did not know what they were about to become part of, they might back out and as he had not that much time left before the parade he could not waste this precious opportunity. "Are you willing to swear on your Grundo's honour not to reveal the plans you are now to hear to anyone? Faerie, villain, hero, neopet, petpet, petpetpet or other sentient being?" he asked.
Intrigued by the long list of beings they were not to share the secret with, the three Grundos nodded.
"The Grundo Thief plans to steal the Grundo Independence Special Issue of the Neopian Times. Again no neopet will be harmed personally; they will just have to go without one issue of newspaper," Yanno whispered almost inaudibly.
Silence followed. Then Ugliii squealed: "We'll do it!!!"
"We will?" Fallicina and Xoliii were still rather sceptical and stealing was something they were not keen on either. This would only lead to troubles and they were good Grundos.
"Of course we will." Ugliii pouted slightly. "Everybody will miss the newspaper if the issue disappears. Including Mum and my sibling. And if Mum and the others miss the newspaper, they will surely realize what else they are missing in their lives and will finally remember to take me back home from Uncle Odd!" The pout had increased threefold with this statement and Ugliii's eyes had become dangerously large. It was her secret weapon: adorable pout in combination with large eyes. Nobody was able to resist this! Especially not her friends. And even if they got into trouble for stealing the newspaper it would ensure that her mum would have to take notice of her again. Because if they were apprehended by the Defenders of Neopia, Ugliii would make sure to give her family's address as contact and not Uncle Odd. To her it was a perfect opportunity where she could only win!
Fallicina and Xoliii still hesitated, but it was obvious that the secret weapon was slowly working towards its desired effect. Besides they were pretty sure that Ugliii would participate in this adventure, no matter what, and therefore it was kind of their duty to join as well and make sure that Ugliii did not get into any real trouble. Then again, perhaps all would go well and in that case they might even be secretly proud of their daring adventure, though they would never share it with anyone outside the three of them. Eventually the purple and the brown Grundo nodded and Yanno finally had his helpers.
To be continued...