Neopian Story Time: The Great Cybunny Theft
The 450 million Neopoint gem was gone... What were they going to do? Nobody would ever believe what really happened!
"This is so cool that your dad is letting us look through his stuff!" True exclaimed, staring in awe at a smooth, curved dagger with a jewel encrusted handle.
Loni shrugged. "My dad always lets me look through his stuff. These are just trinkets. He keeps all the really important stuff locked away."
True perked up, glancing curiously at his Xweetok friend. "Really? What kind of stuff?"
"Come on," Loni said, gesturing the Gelert after her. "I'll show you."
Loni led the way to the back of her father's storeroom where there was a locked vault. She pointed up to a tiny window at the very top, too high for her to look through. "That's the only way to see what's in there. I've never bothered looking."
"Well, I want to see!" True declared. "Give me a boost!"
Loni gave her friend a sceptical glance, but, all the same, hunkered down so he could scramble onto her back. He pressed his front paws up against the smooth metal wall of the vault and stretched out as long as he could, finally managing to get his face as far as the window.
"What? What is it?"
"You've got to see it for yourself!"
True hopped down and then let Loni climb onto his back so she could stretch up and get a peek through the window as well.
"I told you! Where did your dad get something like that?"
"I... I don't know." Loni's dad sold all manner of interesting and curious oddities to antique collectors and, in general, anyone who would buy them. But never before had she seen anything equal to the item that lay in her father's vault now.
"Loni, what are you and your friend doing?"
Loni yelped and toppled off of True's back, glancing up slowly to look at her father, her cheeks pink with embarrassment. "I... I... nothing," she mumbled, trying not to sound guilty but failing miserably.
Her father raised a single eyebrow and then moved past them, turning the vault lock with the right combination and then pulling the heavy door open. "Do you want to take a closer look?"
Loni opened her mouth to reassure him that they didn't when True jumped up eagerly. "Yes!" Loni glared at him, but he ignored her as he hurried into the vault, pressing his curious little nose as close to the gem as he dared.
Loni couldn't help but to be a bit curious herself and she followed him, taking a second look at the jewel. It was a large gem, crystal clear and sparkling. Light seemed to radiate outward from its very core.
"This is from Fyora's own collection," her father said, a small smile playing at the corners of his mouth. "It's one of a kind and worth four hundred and fifty million neopoints."
Loni gasped, her eyes widening with amazement. True was staring with his mouth hanging open.
"It's also supposed to be the luckiest item on Neopia," her father added with a chuckle. He gently guided Loni and True from the vault and then shut the door, locking it behind him. "Best item I've ever had. Now you kids run along and have fun." With that he wandered off again, vanishing out of the storeroom.
"Wow..." True breathed again, his gaze fixed on the vault door. "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"
Loni eyed him warily. "I don't know... what are you thinking?"
True grinned widely. "The Wishing Well avatar!"
Loni blinked. "Okay, now you've lost me."
He rolled his eyes. "Your father said it's the luckiest item in Neopia. I bet, if we took it to the Wishing Well and wished for the avatar, we'd get it!"
Loni couldn't help but to be intrigued by the idea. How cool would it be if they could be the first ones in all of Neopia to get the Wishing Well avatar? "Do you think it would really work?"
"Of course it would!"
For a moment, Loni shared his excitement. Then she deflated, glancing towards the locked vault door. "Too bad we can't get to it."
True grinned. "Oh can't we?" And - to Loni's very great amazement - True proceeded to turn the dial on the lock, first one way and then another and then back again, until the door swung open.
"How did you do that?" Loni demanded, staring at her friend in shock.
He shrugged. "I simply watched as your dad entered the combination. He didn't do a very good job of hiding it."
"Oh." Loni was embarrassed again, wondering why she'd never thought to do that.
"Well, are we going to take it to the Wishing Well?"
Loni wanted to protest. She wanted to voice all of the what-ifs that were popping into her head. But the idea of being the first to show off a new avatar was simply irresistible. She grinned. "Of course!"
Getting the gem to the Wishing Well wasn't really all that hard. They wrapped it in some velvet cloth that Loni found and put it in an old backpack.
When they reached the Well they waited in line for their turn, resting the backpack on the ground between them.
"Do you have any neopoints?" Loni whispered suddenly, realizing that she'd forgotten to bring any. Luckily, True nodded and patted his jacket pocket meaningfully.
She sighed in relief and, when their turn finally arrived, carried the backpack up to the Well where she balanced it on the edge of the stone circle. "What do we wish for exactly?" she asked, peering down into the depths of the stone shaft.
True pulled the neopoints from his pocket and held them out over the Well with one paw, placing his other paw on the backpack. "Wish for the avatar."
"Alright." Loni took a deep breath. "I wish for the Wishing Well Avatar... please."
True let go of the neopoints. They leaned forward together, watching as the golden coins clinked and clattered against the stones on their way down.
The two of them slowly raised their gazes, looking at one another. "Is the avatar supposed to appear here or do you suppose we're supposed to wait for it to be given out like a wish?"
"I don't know," True admitted.
All at once someone shoved them from behind. "Come on, out of the way! There are other people who want to make wishes you know!"
Loni grabbed onto the wall of the Well to steady herself. True accidentally shoved on the backpack. Before either of them could reverse their actions, the backpack had toppled off the wall and dropped out of sight.
Looks of equal horror came to their faces and they backed away, allowing the next person in line to make their wish.
"We have to get it back," Loni said finally, her voice trembling as much as the rest of her.
"There isn't a way," True replied, his voice hoarse. His long ears were drooping low at his sides and Loni decided not to remind him that this had all been his idea. "No one is allowed to go down there. Besides, we'd never get back out."
"What are we going to do?" Loni moaned. "No one will ever believe us if we tell them what really happened!"
"What are you two doing under there?"
Loni and True were hiding under one of the tables in her father's storeroom, trying to look frightened. "Is he gone?" Loni asked in a small voice.
"Is who gone?" her father demanded.
"The Cybunny," True whispered, as if that explained everything.
Loni's father sighed, a hint of irritation creeping into his voice. "What Cybunny?"
Loni poked her head out from under the table to glance up at her dad. "The one that snuck in here! The one that was dressed in black and had a mask on and looked really mean. We were playing hide and seek when we saw him and he looked so scary that we thought we'd better hide!"
For a moment her father simply stared at her in disbelief. Then all at once he sprinted towards the vault at the back of the storeroom, glancing in through the window. "No!"
He put in the combination and yanked open the safe door, hurrying inside. Loni and True exchanged a glance, wondering if he'd bought their story. A moment later he staggered back out, a dazed look on his face. Slowly he sank himself down into an old chair, dropping his head in his hands. "You'd better tell me what happened."
"We already told you!" True said anxiously. "There was a big Cybunny, all dressed in black." His voice became low and menacing and he looked around as if worried about those who might overhear him. "He snuck in through the back door and crept around to the vault, barely making a sound. He pressed one of his ears to the vault and then turned the lock. One way, then the other; back and forth until all of a sudden, it clicked open! Like a flash, he darted in, took the gem, and then just ran right out of here!"
"Yes, just like that!" Loni agreed.
Her father let out a heavy sigh. "Well, he won't get away with it. You kids did the right thing." He got up and left with a determined look on his face. Loni and True let out heavy sighs of relief.
"Do you think he guessed?" True asked.
Loni grinned and shook her head. "He doesn't have a clue!"
At first, Loni and True were very proud of their lie. They had gotten out of trouble easily enough and no one had thought to question them again on the matter. Their only disappointment, however, was that they never did get the Wishing Well avatar.
They had assumed the whole matter would blow over but only a couple of days later they began to notice how wrong they'd been.
The Great Cybunny Theft!
So read the headline on the front page of the Neopian Times. Loni cringed as she read the smaller line under it aloud. "Cybunny steals priceless gem. Faeries pledged to bring him to justice."
"Hey!" True grabbed the paper, frowning at the headline.
"They got it wrong! It's not priceless; your dad told us exactly how much it was worth."
Loni sighed. "You don't think any Cybunnies are going to get in trouble because of us do you?"
"How could they? None of them did anything so nothing can be proven."
"I guess you're right," Loni agreed, though she hardly sounded convinced.
True shook his head and took her paw, pulling her towards the door. "Come on, I know what will cheer you up."
Loni allowed him to lead her through the marketplace to an ice cream stand where he ordered a pistachio ice cream – her favourite. She couldn't help but to smile when he handed it to her. "Alright, I'll stop worrying. Thanks."
Before she could so much as take a lick, the Skeith at the ice cream booth pulled his copy of the paper from under his counter. "You kids heard about the jewel theft?"
"Uh huh," Loni said, turning to go. But the Skeith wasn't through yet.
"Quite something, they're calling it the crime of the century! Poor Fyora! She's trying to sell off some of her ancient artefacts to make more money for the repairs to Faerieland, and here the most expensive of them all gets stolen! Boy, would I like to meet that Cybunny. He must be a smart fellow. After all, who would think to look for a priceless treasure like that in a little antique shop?"
Loni and True stared at the Skeith, entirely lost for words. They were spared having to respond when another customer came up to the booth, taking the Skeith's attention away from them.
They scurried away as fast as they could and Loni groaned. "I wish people would just forget about it!"
True looked downcast. "If it really is the crime of the century, I guess they won't forget about it as fast as we'd hoped."
At that moment they heard the sounds of a commotion and they looked up to see a crowd gathered around a couple of fire faeries and a Cybunny.
"It wasn't me, honest!" the shadow Cybunny was saying, waving his paws in a gesture of innocence. But the fire faeries took hold of him anyway, and while the crowd watched in shocked amazement, they flew off with him, obviously not believing his story.
Loni and True exchanged a glance. Somehow they had to set things right.
Loni could not face her father. Instead she decided that the best thing to do would be to go to the Neopian Times. Surely any of the many reporters would be eager to publish their story. And yet, when they reached the main office, the receptionist pointed them to a messy office where, she said, the only reporter currently in could be found.
Busting about inside the office was the most elegant neopet that Loni had ever seen. She was a royal Draik, dressed in an beautiful, old-fashioned pink gown with a little hat to match. For the longest moment, Loni could only stare at her in envy.
True cleared his throat. "Excuse me, we're here because we have some information on the Cybunny theft."
The Draik hardly paid them a glance. "Oh?"
Loni shook her head to stop her staring. "Yes, it wasn't really a Cybunny at all. We can tell you what really happened to it."
"Uh huh." The Draik stopped, blowing a strand of blonde hair out of her face. "Look, kids, I'm very busy. I've got to write up the next story on the theft before my deadline and I've managed to lose all my notes. I really don't have time for your-"
"But we're not fooling around!" True interrupted. "It wasn't a Cybunny that took the gem, it was us!"
The Draik smiled. "Nice try, kid." Skirting her desk, she came towards them, turning them around and pushing them out of her office. "There are better ways to get famous, I assure you. Maybe try writing."
And then the door was shut, and with the Draik went their only hope of getting the paper to publish their story.
"Now what?" Loni asked despondently.
Cybunnies Arrested Across Neopia!
The latest headline on the cover of the Neopian Times was worse than the first had been. Under it read the words: Faeries determined to find the guilty party at all costs.
Loni had almost hoped that someone would be suspicious of them, and yet nobody was. Everyone was very willing to believe their story about the thieving Cybunny. And the faeries were determined to get their jewel back, refusing to so easily give up on a great financial boost to their rebuilding.
"I just don't know what to do," Loni moaned, dropping her head in her hands.
True was silent, staring at the paper.
"Everyone wants to believe our story and no one will listen to the truth!" she prattled on. "I mean, I knew our story was good, but I didn't think it was that good. Why can't people be happy with simple explanations? Why didn't we just tell the truth? Why-"
"We could tell your dad."
"No!" Loni's head shot up in alarm and she stared at True, worried that he might try and tell her dad anyway.
True nodded thoughtfully. "Then our only other option is to tell our story to the faeries."
Loni blinked. "How do we find one?"
True shook his head. "Not just anyone, that wouldn't make any difference. We'd have to talk to Fyora. She's the only one who could call off the hunt."
Loni gulped. "Tell Fyora we dropped her gem down the Wishing Well?"
True cringed. "I don't like it any better than you do. If you have another idea..."
"I don't," Loni admitted. Taking a deep breath, she let it out in a heavy sigh. "I guess we visit Faerieland."
Both Loni and True had been to Faerieland before, but they'd never felt gloomy there. The normally cheerful place seemed dark and dreary to them as they trudged up to Fyora's castle, dragging their paws with every step.
"Are you sure about this?" Loni questioned for the hundredth time.
"No," True answered yet again.
And then the door to the castle was looming before them and the battle faerie who guarded it was staring at them with one eyebrow raised sceptically. "Yes?"
"We need to see Fyora," Loni said, sounding braver than she felt.
But the faerie shook her head. "I'm sorry, Fyora is very busy at the moment, questioning Cybunnies. She hasn't the time."
"But we know who took it!"
The faerie looked surprised. "You know which one it was?"
"Yes," True interrupted, cutting his friend off. "We know which one it was."
The battle faerie eyed the two young neopets a moment longer and then she nodded. "Wait here."
She opened the heavy doors and vanished into the castle. Loni turned to glare at True. "Why did you tell her that? We're trying to get people to stop believing that story!"
True shrugged. "It wasn't her we needed to convince; we just needed her to let us in."
Loni found she couldn't argue with that simple sort of logic.
"Come on, kids, Fyora will see you."
They followed the battle faerie through a seemingly endless maze of pink corridors and purple hallways until they reached a small seating room where Fyora was perched upon a couch, frowning thoughtfully at a list in her hands. When she saw them, she gestured them inside. "I recognize you; you're the ones who saw the Cybunny, aren't you? Have you figured out who it was, then?"
Loni took a deep breath and glanced at True. He only watched her expectantly. She turned back to Fyora. "We are the ones who told the story about the Cybunny that stole the gem, but I'm afraid there's been a mistake."
"I... we, we took the gem. We thought it would bring us enough luck to get the Wishing Well avatar! We took it to the Well and made a wish and then someone knocked into us from behind and before we knew what happened it had fallen into the Well and we didn't know how to get it back!" She cut off, gasping for air.
"So we made up the story about the Cybunny," True finished for her, sounding guiltier than she had.
Both waiting as Fyora watched them silently. They kept expecting her to get mad or yell at them but she only watched them, allowing the silence to drag on until it began to drive them crazy.
"We're really, really sorry," Loni said finally.
"We'd have gotten it back if we could have," True added.
Finally Fyora nodded. "I believe you. But that doesn't make the problem go away. The gem still must be retrieved." She looked thoughtful for a moment. "Go home, both of you. Tomorrow, when you wake up, you will have the means to retrieve the gem from the Wishing Well. When you have it back, we can put this matter behind us."
Loni didn't sleep well that night. She tossed and turned, dreaming about being stuck at the bottom of the deep, dark Well. When she woke up in the morning, she expected a ladder or bunch of rope to be lying on her bedroom floor. But her room was entirely as she'd left it.
Confused, Loni got up and looked around. But there was nothing new to be seen, and the Xweetok began to wonder if she'd dreamed up the conversation with Fyora.
"Loni!" There was a bang on the door and then it burst open. A faerie Gelert stumbled in, an alarmed look on his face. "Look what they did to us, Loni!"
"True?" she gasped, staring at him. Then she hurried to her mirror. To her surprise and joy she saw a beautiful faerie Xweetok looking back. "Oh, True, how wonderful!" She twirled around, admiring her pretty new wings.
"Wonderful? Wonderful! I look like a girl!" he wailed.
Loni giggled. "Yes, you do. Come on, Fyora said we had to get the gem back, and now we can fly down for it!"
She skipped delightedly out of the house and through the marketplace while True slunk along behind her, trying to stay out of sight.
"It's dark down here, isn't it?" True asked, his voice hardly above a whisper.
The Well was indeed dark, so dark in fact that Loni didn't know how they'd find the backpack with the gem in it. They stood at the very bottom, on top of a pile of coins that shifted under them when they moved.
"We'd better start searching." She began moving her paws through the neopoints, feeling for any fabric. For what felt like forever they moved around in the darkness, bumping into each other and stepping on each other's paws or tails every so often. Finally True exclaimed loudly and Loni hurried towards the sound of his voice.
"Did you find it?"
"I think so!" She heard him groan and coins clinked softly as they tumbled aside. For a moment there was silence, but she could practically feel the smile on his face. "I've got it."
"Yes!" Loni felt around until she found him and the bag, patting the old backpack to be sure the gem was still there. It was. "Let's get out of here!"
She flew up, pulling the bag with her. It was heavy and made flying hard but she put as much effort into her new wings as she could and they carried her safely out of the Well.
She landed on the ground and turned around, waiting for True to follow. To her surprise, he did not appear. Leaning back over the edge, careful to keep the bag down at her feet where it couldn't fall in, she tried to look for him. "You coming?"
"Can't... quite... fly," he called up, sounding as if he were straining.
"What? Why not?" Then as an afterthought, she remembered all the neopoints they'd shifted through. "How much are you trying to bring up?" she accused.
For a moment there was silence. Then: "Not too much."
"Alright, alright." There was the clattering of coins being dropped and then True flew out of the Well, landing beside her. "Stupid heavy neopoints..."
Loni grinned and hoisted the gem onto her back. "Quick, let's get this back to my dad!"
But it wasn't her father who was waiting for them in the storeroom, it was the faerie queen herself. "Fyora?" Loni gasped, shocked to see her.
"Can you change me into something less girly?" True begged, running up to her immediately.
Fyora smiled softly at him and then looked back at Loni. "Have you the gem?"
"Yes, of course!" She pulled it out of the backpack and held it up to Fyora for her to see.
The faerie queen nodded. "Good. Would you open the vault door, please?"
True looked surprised by the request, but he did as she'd asked. Fyora took the gem from Loni and placed it back on the little table where they'd first taken it from. Then she stepped out of the vault and swung the door closed.
"There, your father will notice it soon enough, I'm sure. But we'd better not tell him how it got back."
Both neopets were confused, if not pleased. "Why not?"
Fyora winked. "We'll leave everyone with a bit of mystery. After all, no one ever believes what really happened."
This story was inspired by and based upon the book: The Great Cybunny Theft. Thank you for the inspiration, TNT!