With Intelligence Comes Ignorance
"Wait, you're telling me you, Teckno, the guy who's read over a hundred and sixty books, have not read Mystery of the Kougra Paw?"
"Is it really that big of a deal?"
"Dude. Teck. All neopets read it. Even if they don't want to. It's the first book you get in those Newbie Packs. So YES, it is a big deal!"
The Halloween Techo rolled his eyes. "Viepe, in case you don't remember, I'm so old Newbie Packs weren't even around when I was little."
His blue Zafara brother raised his hands for emphasis. "See! Even more of a reason you need to read it! You haven't even seen the potato sack that comes with it, have you?"
"Is that where those come from? I always thought there was a donation center that made those."
"What? I've never seen a Newbie Pack."
Viepe sighed. "You have a lot to learn, Teck."
It wasn't even half a day later when Teckno, sitting by the fireplace, bluntly had a book shoved at him by Viepe.
"Hey, whoa, Viepe—"
"Shush and look!"
He does. And he can't help but shake his head with silent laughter.
"Seriously, Viepe? Mystery of the Kougra Paw? You trying to rub it in my face or something?"
Viepe shook his head furiously. "No! Never! I just want to see your face when you read it!"
Teckno looked the book over, turning it to read the description in the back.
Someone has stolen the precious gem and the only clue is a strange shaped Kougra paw print...
"How much did this even cost?" he asked.
"It's so cheap I only had to spend twelve neopoints on it," he said. "So your conscience can rest easy."
Indeed it could. Teckno still couldn't quite wrap his head around what was happening, but decided it was easier to go along with it than question things. "Okay. You want me to read it? I will."
"Oh, goody!" Viepe said, clapping his hands together. He laid down, getting himself comfy on the carpet. Teckno tilted his head at that. Viepe made a fierce gesture at him, expression stubbornly scowling. "Get on with it!"
And so, that night, with the lights dimmed and the fireplace crackling softly next to him, Teckno opened the book and began to read.
Five minutes into the book, Viepe pouted. "You know this isn't as enjoyable as I thought it would be."
Teckno snorted at that. "Want me to read aloud or something?"
Teckno nearly dissolved into a hysterical gigglefit. Viepe scowled.
"Just—nostalgia, you know? That was the first book I ever read. It would be nice to hear it again."
"Fine. I'll start over, then."
Viepe squirmed a little closer, resting on Teckno's bandaged body comfortably. Then his hands fumbled a bit as he tried to get one under his head without disturbing Teckno too much.
Eventually all motion from him ceased.
Again, Teckno tilted his head in Viepe's direction. "All comfy?"
Viepe nodded, ears flopping slightly.
"Okay. Let's see then. The Mystery of the Kougra Paw, by whoever decided to write it. Chapter one. 'The day started out normally for Traibella. She went out and did a bit of scavenging for anything that could be traded at the trading post, had lunch under a palm tree, and met up with a friend or two on her way home. When she finally made it to her home on the edge of Mystery Island, though, she was surprised to see two mysterious figures at her door, looking around and just oozing suspicious vibes.'"
Teckno stopped at that. Viepe looked up at him, a tad annoyed that he stopped. "What?"
"'Oozing suspicious vibes' just sounds odd, doesn't it?" he asked. Viepe rolled his eyes.
"This story's full of weird wordings and clichés out the wazoo. Just ignore it and read, please?"
He did. "'She didn't have time to hide, as they had already seen her coming. One of the figures, a green Gelert, held his hand out and called out to her. "Hey! You! Do you know when the person who lives here will return?" She gave him a hesitant glance and said, "Who wants to know?" "My friend and I, we serve a queen of a small kingdom. Something bad has happened." "What?" "I cannot tell you. My friend and I are only to discuss it with the one who lives here." "I live here," Traibella said, standing up straighter. The green Gelert looked to his blue Lupe companion, then looked back at her. "You are Traibella the Acara? Known for solving mysteries and returning stolen items?" She nodded, saying, "A while ago, yeah. Now, I'm just Traibella the Acara who finds junk and trades it."
"'"We have come on the request of our queen," the Lupe started to say, only for the Gelert to silence him. "Please, Mercut, this is a private matter," he said, then turned to Traibella, "May we discuss it in your home?" Hesitantly, she agreed, and the three of them entered the house.'"
Teckno carefully turned the page. "How can you like this? It seems so... rushed."
Viepe shrugged. "I heard somewhere they wanted a special book for the Newbie Pack, so they hired some guy to write one in only two weeks."
"That would explain the rushedness," Teckno murmured, then said, "Chapter two. 'Inside the house, Traibella got some drinks together. She brought three mugs of tea over and placed them beside the Gelert and Lupe, then sat down herself. The Gelert sipped a little out of politeness, while his Lupe companion was feeling much too anxious to even think of being polite. "Mercut here," the Gelert said, "might act a little strange, miss. It's just him."' ...How does that even pertain to the subject?" Teckno asked, giving the book a strange glance.
"Fine, fine. 'Traibella smiled. "It's okay, I'm used to strange. Now, tell me, what is it that has happened in your kingdom?" The Gelert and Lupe look at each other, before Mercut begins to explain. "Ellos and I, we were at the Queen's palace, when she suddenly screamed. We rushed to see what was wrong, and she said one of her most prized family heirlooms—the Gem of her great great grandfather—had been stolen. We searched high and low, for days, but the only clue we could find was a strange Kougra paw..."
"'"A strange Kougra paw..." she echoed, rubbing her chin in thought. "You don't have any other clues?" "None whatsoever," Ellos said, shaking his head sadly. Mercut looked downtrodden as well. "Eventually," Mercut continued, "the Queen, near giving up, decided to ask for help searching—from you, seeing as you have a reputation for solving mysteries and finding stolen items."
"'Smiling sadly, Traibella said, "That was years ago. I've lost my touch. I'm not sure I could be much help to you two." "Just try," Mercut said, looking desperate. "The Queen is very upset—we don't know if she could live with herself, knowing her great great grandfather's Gem is gone...!"
"'"Traibella thought it over. "Maybe," Ellos said, "You would like a reward? Surely the Queen would reward you handsomely, for finding the Gem. It's very important to her family, you see, and the bloodline of the throne—the kingdom might fall into shambles if they figure out the Gem is missing." She grimaced, but sighed.' ...Doesn't make sense—"
"—Fine—'"Alright. I'll help." Mercut and Ellos were quite happy to hear that. They all decided to sleep there for the night, and to catch the earliest boat to the mainland so they could journey to the kingdom.'" More page turnings, and Teckno said, "Chapter three. 'Early the next morning, the three went to the pier, found a boat, and took it to the mainland. When they arrived to Meridell, they headed west. "Where exactly is your kingdom?" Traibella asked. Mercut smiled at her, and said, "Nowhere!" like it was a hilarious joke. Traibella, confused, looked to Ellos. Ellos had a strained look on his face, then said, "A joke, yes—our Queen liked to joke that, since we weren't on the map of Neopia, our kingdom was nowhere. It's just a day away by walk, though, west of here. Which is where we are headed."' ...I can't do it, Viepe, I can't read it out loud anymore—it's just... so..."
"Cliché? Yeah, it's aimed at young pets, y'know?" Viepe did a totally unnecessary barrel roll off of Teckno, stood up and stretched. "I'm actually getting tired. Tell me how it went in the morning?"
"You know how it went thou—"
"I mean what you think. Okay? I'm so tired I think I might, uh, do something that involves hibernation. Yeah, that sounds wonderful..."
He walked off, leaving Teckno to read quietly to himself.
Viepe, really too tired to be awake the next morning, ate some of his specially acquired cereal as Teckno rambled on an on about how absurd and unrealistic the Mystery of the Kougra Paw was.
"—I mean, there's even a part where it says she wakes up in the morning, and the exact next paragraph Ellos is going off to bed because it's apparently night time, and the whole thing is just confusing—"
"Mhrmmm," he agreed through the food in his mouth, though he didn't really get what he was agreeing too. Teckno continued on anyways.
"—and when they finally find the guy who took the gem, it was a Kougra, yeah, but that doesn't clearly explain why the paw print was so weird, unless it only got half the print when Zevverra was running—"
"Teck, don't think too into it. It was written in under two weeks, 'member?"
"—There can still be decent writing, though, in just two weeks! This guy didn't go through an editing process—there was even a passage where he totally forgot Traibella was a blue Acara and called her a green one!" Teckno held his hands out in despair. "Seriously...?"
"At least they got the Gem back to the Queen in the end, right?"
"Queen Izzra was happy, yeah, and Traibella got her reward—but Ellos was still badly injured, and Zevverra just got ten years to life in the dungeon—Viepe, it's just a bottle of cliché and some words someone tried to pass off as a book! I can't even—it's hideous!"
Viepe said nothing, instead raising his arm and placing his hand on Teckno's shoulder, giving it a good squeeze. "Congrats, Teckno. You are now a full fledged neopet."
Teckno gave him this unbelieving look mixed with confusion. "Wha—Viepe, that doesn't make any sense—"
"It doesn't have to make sense," the Zafara cut in. "It just has to be. You are now one hundred percent neopet for reading that book. Now let us never speak of its clichés and weird wordings again."