Invisible Paint Brushes rock Circulation: 187,548,816 Issue: 521 | 18th day of Storing, Y13
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Maemo and Vrai Visit Mystery Island: Part One


by teaspill

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A long time ago – or perhaps not so long, if many still remember the events – there was a city in the sky that went by the name of Faerieland. Now, that Faerieland was quite unlike the Faerieland of today. It was held aloft by swirling mists of fluffy, sparkly pink and white clouds, and... well, everything else was basically the same. I mean, it fell. It's not like it was completely remade or anything.

     Ahem. As I was saying, there was a Faerieland in the clouds, and in that lofty, shining place an unlikely petpet and his master lived in their sprawling estate.

     That petpet was a Baby Vampire named Vraiment, and he was not a happy petpet at all. In fact, he was positively bursting with angst. Not only was he one of a declining number of his petpet species, but he was stuck in the remarkably perky environs of Faerieland. Faerieland. What self-respecting Baby Vampire lives in the land of pink towers and fluffy clouds? None, that's the answer. Well, none but Vraiment. It was a problem, and it needed a remedy.

     Vraiment turned from his all-important project of scowling through the window to glance at his owner. There she was, playing with a blue bouncy ball in the middle of the floor. Life was easy for her, the simple, sweet Kougra that she was. She didn't have to worry about her species going extinct, or feeling out of place, or...

     "Maemo?" Vraiment ventured to say his owner's name, and was pleased to see her interrupt her play for him.

     "Yes, Vrai?" Maemo asked. Vraiment had, as always, cringed at the nickname, holding his cape a bit closer to his face and scowling over its edges. Maemo grinned, her tone only becoming more jovial. "Come on, tell me what you want."

     Vraiment shrugged his cape back into its ordinary position, lifting his head as he walked toward his master. "Don't you ever get bored of Faerieland?" he said softly, rubbing into Maemo's sparkling silver fur. "Don't you ever want a change?"

     "Bored of Faerieland?" Maemo puzzled over this question for half a second before her eyes lit up in glee, and words rushed from her mouth. "We could go on a vacation! Not just to one place, but everywhere! Why, we could travel all around Neopia! See everyone and every place, play every game, shop in every store..." Maemo was excited now, her tail wagging slowly behind her, ears pricking high and happy on her head.

     "Um, Maemo," Vraiment interrupted, pulling gently on her dress. "Maybe we could start in just one place. Mystery Island, perhaps?"

     Maemo blinked, pausing just a moment to consider his suggestion. "Okay," she said, "but that won't be the last of our adventures!"

     Vraiment watched her jabber on about future trips and skip about the room in preemptive excitement for some time. He wondered, as any sane petpet would, exactly what he had gotten himself into. In the end, he could only shrug and console himself with one phrase: At least we'll be out of Faerieland...

     ...

     "Is your bag packed yet?!" Maemo shouted from across the room. Vraiment looked down at his small, black duffel. Black cloaks, check. Pointy boots, check. What else was there in life? Vraiment still had no idea how Maemo managed to turn everything into a spastic production, but it didn't surprise him that packing turned into yet another epic event.

     "I'm packed," he finally answered, "but you don't look like you are."

     "Erm..." Maemo paused, a floppy hat on her head and three different types of nail-polish in each hand. "That's because I'm not. Could you help? I have to find my beach clothes, and my formalwear, and my adventurer hat, and..." Vraiment stopped listening, and started slogging through the bedroom after any piece of clothing Maemo could possibly want. After half an hour, a giant pile of clothes, accessories, and beauty products was heaped in the centre of the floor.

     "Is that everything?" Vraiment panted.

     "I think so," Maemo replied. "Now help me pack."

     Vraiment, sensibly enough, collapsed.

     ...

     Two days had passed, and what began as the tentative suggestion of a bored petpet had transformed into as concrete of a plan as the neopet who owned him was capable. They were packed, they were motivated (well, Maemo was motivated, Vraiment mostly looked sulky), and they were almost ready to start their journey to the Neolodge booking center in Neopia Central.

     Maemo towed her steamer trunk behind her, Vraiment carried his tiny duffel, and they left their neohome locked behind them. Maemo skipped on the clouds at their doorstep, while Vraiment skulked through the mist, trying to keep his eyes shielded from the too-close light of the sun. Finally, after traipsing from the outskirts of Faerieland to the heart of the Faerie City, they approached the Faerie Quest hut.

     Maemo bounded into the hut ecstatically, skidding a bit as the fluffy clouds gave way to slick ceramic tile. Queen Fyora gave her a stern look, and Maemo blushed behind her fur.

     "S—Sorry for that, Miss Fyora Queen Faeriela—," Maemo stammered.

     "That's fine, child," Fyora replied. "Have you come for a quest, or might I grant you a boon?"

     Maemo hesitated; she didn't like asking much of the Faerie Queen. "I was wondering if you could magic-zap us to Neopia Central? It's an awfully long way down, after all, and we'd really like to take a vacation. Just for a while." Vraiment smiled at his master's awkwardness. Usually, Maemo was a little too self-assured, but something about Fyora never failed to make her nervous, and it showed.

     "Of course," Fyora replied. "That's no trouble at all. Just try not to cause any problems while you're gone."

     With that, Fyora tapped Maemo and her petpet on the tops of their heads, and they were off.

     ...

     "Well," Vraiment quipped, looking down from the highest branches of the Money Tree, "at least Fyora didn't discard us."

     Maemo had sunk her claws into the branch in terror, her trunk precariously perched behind her. "You're the one who's afraid of dirt," she hissed through clenched teeth. "I'd rather be in a rubbish dump than here. I... how are we going to get down?"

     "Not a clue," Vraiment responded perkily. "You're a bit too large for the Warf Rescue Team." Maemo almost pounced on Vrai for that particular snipe, leading to her fumbling for her branch after remembering her current, very far from the ground, predicament. Her branch wavered as she clung to it, her luggage sliding back and forth in delicate indecision.

     "You should be flattered," Vraiment went on. "Fyora thought you'd make a good gift for some poor, quick Neopian. Why else would she send us here? You're a special treat for the masses of swarming neopets at the base of the tree!"

     Maemo's silver fur turned green. "My Faeries, you're right. Even if we get down, we'll still have to get out of the crowds without them ripping us apart." Now Maemo was the sulky one, burying her shaking head into the backs of her paws.

     Vraiment's smirk faded into a frown. "Hey," he said, his voice soft and apologetic. "I didn't mean it. I'm sure we'll get down safe and sound."

     A grey eye peeked out from behind his master's silver paw, "Thanks," the hidden mouth said softly. "I needed some encouragement." Slowly, carefully, the Kougra untangled her limbs and brought herself to a proud stand upon the branch. "Now, let's figure out how to do this."

     ...

     "How about we hop from branch to branch until we reach the bottom?" Maemo was happy again, pleased with this, the first of her brainstorming ideas.

     Vraiment responded starkly. "No."

     "No? What kind of response is that?"

     "No. It won't work. Try again."

     "It'll work fine! I can go slowly when I get scared!"

     Vraiment sighed. "Maemocala, my dear master, perhaps you remember frolicking about the house, gathering everything you own, and stuffing it into a steamer trunk. Do you, in fact, remember that?"

     "It wasn't everything I own, just what I need for the vacation!"

     Vraiment coughed.

     Maemo sulked, "I remember. Go on."

     "Well, that luggage that you so desperately needed is currently behind you on the tree-branch. Unless it suddenly sprouts legs and sets about hopping like a Cybunny, your plan's not going to work. I repeat: Try again."

     After a pause, she resumed her attempts. "Okay. I can slowly lower you to the ground on top of my trunk. There's plenty of rope for that. Then you can stand there and protect my luggage while I take my time hopping down."

     The response was quick. "Nope. I'm a petpet. They'll think your fantastic vacation wardrobe comes with a free Baby Vampire."

     "You have teeth! You can scare them away!"

     "They're more likely to be scared by my hairstyle. It's not worth risking."

     The silver Kougra paused, thoughtfully rubbing a paw against her chin. "I've got it! We can send smoke signals that spell out 'Lost in top branches of Money Tree, please, anyone with wings, come help us!'" Maemo wagged her tail, yet again pleased with her work.

     "You want to burn the Money Tree?" Vraiment looked at Maemo in amusement. "Yeah, sure. Everyone will just love us after doing that."

     Maemo snarled. "So cheery and optimistic. No wonder I've kept you around for ten years."

     "I do have an idea, if you were wondering."

     "Sure," she grumbled in reply, "Go ahead. Tell me."

     "If we make a complicated enough pulley system with your rope, I should be able to hold up your luggage. You can 'hop' down, as you put it, and I can make sure the luggage keeps pace with you. After that, I can follow you down. Sound good?"

     "Fine, but you're setting up the rope."

     ...

     After a great deal of time spent canvassing the Money Tree and draping ropes over branches, Vraiment returned to his impatient master.

     "Is it ready yet?" she asked.

     "Almost," he wheezed in reply. "I just have to make sure your luggage is properly secured, and then—" Vraiment's touch on Maemocala's trunk sent the trunk flying down from the branch, whipping the other end of the rope from the petpet's small hand. The Kougra leapt after her luggage with a panicked shout, sinking her claws into its wooden side as it slid down the Money Tree's trunk. A flurry of leaves fell around Maemo as the ropes were pulled from the tree's branches. Soon she was sitting at the base of the tree, amidst donated neopoints and shells, with her petpet high above.

     "Oh dear," murmured the Baby Vampire, "I seem to have miscalculated." He sighed, anticipating the ire of his owner, and fluttered down to meet her. She glared at him as he approached.

     "Look at the bright side," he said as he landed next to her, "at least we're down."

     Maemo spat the leaves from her mouth, refused to speak, and started tugging her trunk through the crowds of people and items at the base of the tree.

To be continued...

 
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