My Zebie: Part Two
I jumped, startled, before Victorie, the shopkeeper, came into view. The blue Ixi smiled as the mysterious petpet picked his way over to the fence. She scratched him behind his horns and he leaned into her hand. "His name is Brandon. He's my best buck."
"What petpet is he?" I wondered out loud, still in a moment of awe. This is it, I thought to myself. These are the type of petpet I want.
"They're called Zebie," Victorie answered. "I used to sell more of them in my shop, but I fell in love with them too much. Now I rarely sell them at all, and I just keep them tucked back here where almost no one sees them. It's a shame, really, but I just can't bear to part with them." She smiled at my expression. "I'm sure you understand why."
I nodded and tentatively reached out a paw to pet Brandon. He sniffed at my hand and snorted, then trotted back to graze with the other petpets.
"You don't sell any at all?" I asked.
Victorie looked at me and her smile lessened a little. "No, I'm afraid not. I'm truly sorry, but selling them would be like selling my family. The other petpets in my shop, I love them too, but there's something about the Zebies that just connects with me on a personal level. They're not for sale."
I tried to blink away the tears that threatened to spill over. Here they were, my perfect petpet, and I was not allowed to own them. She must have sensed my distress, though, because Victorie quickly said, "You might be able to find some Zebies for sale at the Trading Post on Mystery Island, though. There are other Zebie breeders out there."
"That's true," I conceded, although I was reluctant to leave Meridell without one of the graceful creatures. I watched as Brandon and a male Plushie Zebie head butted each other.
"Would you like to learn more about them?" Victorie offered. That brightened me up, and she smiled at my enthusiasm, obviously thrilled to have discovered someone who shared her interest. Lina found us then, and watched from the shade of the trees as Victorie opened the pen to introduce me to her herd.
"Male Zebies are called bucks, and females are called does," she instructed, pulling a baby Zebie into her lap as it raced by. "The babies are called kids." The kid nuzzled the crook of her elbow.
"What type of care do they require?" I asked as one of the older does ambled over towards us. She greeted me with a low bleat and started to graze. I scratched behind her horns as I had seen Victorie do to Brandon, and the Zebie leaned into my paw and stepped closer to me.
"They eat hay, grass, and water. The pregnant and milking do need grain, and they should have a mineral supplement as well. They also need their hooves trimmed once a month."
"Are they used for milk?"
Victorie nodded. "Zebie milk is very high in butterfat, which makes it sweet and great for cooking and drinking. However, not many people are willing to try it. Someone invented a gross recipe for fermented Zebie cheese many years ago, and Zebie milk products have gotten a bad reputation ever since."
I wrinkled my nose and realized I had heard of Zebies before. Lina had once one a Stinky Zebie Chance, and it stunk up the whole house before she quickly threw it out. "Do you have any Zebie milk I could try?"
The rest of the afternoon passed in this way. Lina and I listened carefully as Victorie explained what Zebies needed and how they should be cared for. We each took a turn at trimming hooves, although Lina was better at it than me. "It's similar to trimming King's hooves," she said, thinking of my sister's pet Bika. I was the pro at milking, though. And the Zebie milk fudge Victorie let us try was absolutely delicious.
"Thanks so much," I gushed when it was finally time to leave. I took one last look at the herd of Zebies. Brandon, the Tyrannian Zebie, and a yellow Zebie doe, both watched us intently.
"You're welcome. I sincerely hope you find a Zebie on Mystery Island. When you do, you'll have to bring him here so I can meet him." I hugged Victorie good bye, and we made our way back to Neopia Central.
"Can we go to Mystery Island tomorrow?" I asked Lina. She scratched my head and smiled at me.
"Of course we can."
We got back to our home in Neopia Central later that afternoon. Lina went with my sister Kimi to go to the Lost Desert, and I went for a walk to the Rainbow Pool.
The Rainbow Pool was one of my favorite places in Neopia. I loved sitting at its edge and watching all the pretty painted Neopets and petpets. I often imagined what I would be painted, but I hadn't decided on a color yet. Lina promised that she would help me be painted whatever color I wanted.
I leaned over the crystal-clear water and whispered "Aisha." My breath caused a small ripple, which started to convulse and grow larger, until the surface became incredibly smooth and reflective. I smiled at myself, then stared at the miniscule runes above the mirror. I gently touched the word "Pirate" and watched as my fur rippled and became gray and clothes appeared out of nowhere. I stuck my tongue out and selected "Disco" next. Ah, that was much better.
I played with the different colors for a while, before I leaned over the water and whispered "Zebie." A generic, unpainted Zebie replaced my reflection. I scanned the choices above, imagining what color I would paint my own Zebie. I loved the Tyrannian color, like Brandon was. Yellow and Glowing were both cute too. But the original Zebie had a huge charm. They were all adorable, although I didn't like Plushie, Cloud, or Royal that much.
I couldn't fall asleep that night. I replayed my visit with Victorie and her Zebies over and over. I imagined what my own Zebie would be like and what I would name him or her. I desperately wished for my own herd of Zebies like Victorie had, but I knew that I would only be able to get one. Somehow, I fell asleep, although in my dreams I pranced with the Zebie kids in their field.
I was up early the next morning. I listened to the sleeping household, bubbling with excitement. I couldn't wait for Lina to get here and for my day to get started.
I ate a small breakfast of toast in the kitchen; I doubted I'd be able to stomach anything else. My sister, Sweets the Checkered Aisha, woke up next. Her ears were tied back in her signature ponytail, and she gave me a quick hug before beginning to assemble her own breakfast.
All of my brothers and sisters were Aishas. Our owner, Lina, didn't feel a need to own a variety of Neopets; she loved Aishas so much that they were the only species she owned. Despite that, we were a diverse family. We were all painted different colors, although I was only Red at the moment. Some of us had been created, but most of us were adopted. Over half of our family did not start out as Aishas, but were morphed into them using potions. Dragon still ate like a Skeith sometimes, and Sweets would stare at passing Pteris and remember when she too used to be able to fly.
Lina loved us all, and we were a family just the same.
I was at the door the instant Lina opened it. She kissed the top of my head, called goodbye to my siblings, and let me pull her out of the doorway and onto the street. We rushed to get a carriage to Kiko Lake, and from there a boat to Mystery Island. The trip took most of the morning, and I bounced in my seat, receiving several annoyed glances from other passengers.
Mystery Island loomed on the horizon. I had been there many times before, but it still took my breath away whenever I saw the mysterious statues or the exotic palm trees. If I was excited before, I was crazy now. I rushed to be first off the boat, and Lina quickly joined me.
The Trading Post was bustling with activity. "2,000 NP! Cheapest on TP!" someone shouted, holding up the codestone they were selling. "Best food for your Neopet over here!" Another man yelled.
Lina walked up to the Kougra who was keeping records of the different trades. "Excuse me," she said, "Could you tell us if anyone is selling a Zebie?" She hoisted the bag of Neopoints and items she had brought from the bank onto the counter.
The Kougra flipped through his book and carefully scanned the pages. "Yes, here are the lots to some different Zebies." He handed us a few slips of paper and directed us towards the indicated trades.
Lina scanned the pieces of paper in her hand. "The first lot should be right around here."
To be continued...