It was the first day of the Month of Swimming. I was practicing the piano, as I normally did at that time in the afternoon. I was interrupted by my mother, who leapt into the music room, slipped on the carpet, and fell on her bottom. I worked hard to suppress a snigger as I continued playing the piano.
"Yeah, yuk it up. I know you want to," Kristy groused as she got up.
I grinned widely at her and replied, "If you don't want people to laugh at you, stop giving them so many reasons to. What's got you extra ditzy today, Kristy?"
"We're going on a summer vacation!" Kristy announced, striking that pose that always accompanies her 'fantastic' news.
"I already knew we were planning on going to Meridell. We only started packing to go back last week," I informed her. I wondered if she had hit her head on something again, and if I should be worried this time.
"Elise, you don't have a very high opinion of my intelligence, do you?" Kristy asked.
"No, your intelligence is perfectly sound. Your decision making processes are what worries me. You get into a lot of trouble that normal people wouldn't, simply because they'd think before jumping headlong into the situation. Or in your case, tripping headlong," I told her.
"That's lovely, that is," Kristy sulked, unable to deny what I just said.
Yanli came running into the room and crashed into Kristy, sending her to the floor once again. My hyperactive Christmas Zafara sister didn't even seem to notice what she had done. She leapt up onto the stage of the music room. Another bound landed her next to me.
"Elise, we're going to Tyrannia!" Yanli shouted.
"We're WHAT?" I was unable to control the pitch of my words.
Yanli twirled around and explained, "I read that Pteris are from Tyrannia, and so I wanted to go and see Bluejay's homeland, and Kristy said yes! We're going to spend two weeks in Tyrannia before we go to Meridell. Isn't it awesome?"
"Um, sweetie, Pteris may have originated in Tyrannia, but Bluejay was born in Neopia Central. You live in his homeland. Only Chloe and Anita were born somewhere other than Neopia Central," I explained.
I noticed Kristy was still lying on the floor and called out, "Are you all right?"
"I'm not getting up; it's probably safer down here," Kristy called from the floor.
Yanli turned to look and asked, "Whatcha doing, Kristy?"
"She'll land on you and break your back when she jumps down," I warned.
Kristy scrambled up and sat down on a chair while Yanli protested that she'd notice Kristy there and not land on her. Then Yanli jumped down, landing exactly where Kristy had been, and ran off shouting that she had to finish packing.
"I hate you very much right now," I informed Kristy.
"Why?" she asked, completely shocked.
"We're vacationing in Tyrannia for two weeks? Tyrannia is barely fun for a day and we are stuck there for two weeks. You hate Tyrannia! What induced you to want to spend two weeks there?" I cried in frustration.
"Yanli was very enthusiastic about it, how could I say no? How could I crush her little dreams just because Tyrannia stinks? That's part of being a parent," Kristy replied, not pulling off the 'responsible parent' look she was trying for.
"I hate Tyrannia and this is going to be the worst vacation ever," it was my turn to grouse.
"Elise, Meridell is home, we haven't had a real summer vacation in years. I thought this might be fun," Kristy reasoned.
"Yeah, as much fun as being Dr. Sloth's lab rat," I replied.
"Careful, bunny-mine. That can be arranged if you'd rather," Kristy teased, sticking her tongue out at me.
She jumped up and skipped off, and I heard her trip in the next room.
I sighed deeply as we got off the boat; it was the same old Tyrannia. Chloe, currently a Blue Kougra, growled low in her throat as she looked around. Princess, a Desert Uni, had her nose deep in a book she had bought before we left Neopia Central. She was walking down behind us, seemingly unconcerned about this trip.
"Did you know that Lightning Lenny is capable of reaching speeds of up to two hundred miles per hour?" Princess asked, not looking up from her book.
"Yeah, I know. I work for the DoN; and he's also like my best friend there. He claims three hundred, though. I can't believe they insisted I take time off to come to Tyrannia. There's so much paperwork I could be doing right now," Chloe complained.
Kristy was walking down carrying her suitcase and my Baby Acara sister Inna. Anita, a white Aisha, was walking next to her chatting energetically. She has a cousin who is an archeologist whose first excavations were in Tyrannia, so she has good memories of the place and was pleased to be here. Yanli skipped down after them, swinging her suitcase wildly, and my only brother, a Starry Pteri named Bluejay, flew above her to avoid being hit by her suitcase of doom.
"Mama, it tinky!" Inna complained to Kristy, as she covered her little nose.
"The lovely aroma of a civilization whose greatest asset is dung," I commented sarcastically.
"Oh, come on, bunny-mine, stop grousing already and try to make this fun. Besides, the Neopian Philharmonic is playing tomorrow night. I got you and the older girls tickets," Kristy said, a mite too cheerily for my taste.
Yanli twirled around and giggled, "Bluejay, you have to show me everything!"
Bluejay landed next to her, put his wings on her shoulders, and said, "Yanli, I want you to pay very close attention to what I have to tell you, because I really want this to be the last time I say it. Are you listening?"
Yanli nodded her head.
"Where were you born, Yanli?" Bluejay asked.
"Neopia Central, silly!" Yanli laughed.
"Me too. I was not born in Tyrannia. I never even left Neopia Central until after I was adopted by Kristy. I am not a native Tyrannian; I know nothing firsthand about Tyrannia. All I know comes from history books. Furthermore, I don't like Tyrannia, Yanli. I have a fear of getting eaten by something large, and everything here is large and prone to eating smaller creatures. Please understand this," Blue stated calmly and slowly, carefully enunciating every word.
Yanli nodded and replied, "Let's visit the Lair of the Beast first!"
Bluejay's face obviously couldn't go pale because of the feathers over it, but his eyes grew large at that. "Didn't I just stress that I am terrified of creatures who very likely want to eat me?"
"Yeah, so? Let's go!" Yanli laughed, truly oblivious.
"Not now, Yanli, we have to go check into our hotel," Kristy intervened.
Thankfully, it was a modern hotel with air conditioning and didn't smell of dung. I was worried that we were going to be staying in huts in the village. I was sharing a room with Princess. She put her suitcase down on her bed, then sat down in a chair and continued to read. She hadn't taken her nose out of that book once since she got it.
"You don't care do you?" I asked.
"Not a wit," replied my sister from behind her book. "Besides, Hector gave me an assignment to study the drawings in the caves just past the village. He's been teaching me to read Tyrannian. Aren't we lucky Anita's got such an awesome cousin? A doctor of archeology in Sakhmet, that's so cool."
"Stop fangirling already. He's your cousin too, by adoption. You can't fangirl your cousin," I teased.
The book lowered just for a moment so that Princess could stick her tongue out at me, then it when up again and she was lost in whatever she was reading. I looked out the window and found we had a lovely view of the furniture shop. I groaned in distaste and pulled the curtains together.
"Don't worry, Elise. There's not that much to do here, and we're only here because of Yanli, and she has the attention span of a Warf. She'll probably get bored in three days and beg to go to Meridell early," Princess consoled.
"I hope so. I hate Tyrannia," I replied.
The next two days dragged. Princess disappeared early every morning to go the caves, and the rest of us wandered around the tourist part of Tyrannia and did things. Yanli was exceptionally hyper and enjoying herself in a manner that, if I loved her any less, I might have hated her for. We sat for six hours at the Wheel of Monotony. I thought that would kill her enthusiasm, but no, she found a friend in the Quiggle there. Yanli can talk for hours nonstop. She was probably the only interesting thing that had ever happened to him in his life.
Day three dawned, and the temperature spiked. Anything made of dung melted and, of course, Tyrannia reeked. Yanli's enthusiasm was undiminished by heat or smell; she wanted to explore the village. So in spite of the blazing heat, almost all of us set out. Kristy got lucky that it wasn't a good idea to take Inna out in that heat, and so she got to stay at the hotel with her. Yanli skipped on ahead in her cute little sundress as if she didn't notice the heat, while we trailed behind wishing to die already.
Thankfully, disaster was coming. We slowly ended up splitting up, and somehow I found myself alone with Yanli as we explored the village. After about an hour of looking around the village Yanli bounced up to me and with a huge grin.
"So, Elise, didn't the Monoceraptor attack this village once?" Yanli asked.
"Um, yeah, but I don't know all the details. That was a long time ago," I said.
"Hey, Elise, guess what?" Yanli said, her grin growing wider.
I expected it to be something really silly; it normally was when she grinned like that and asked that question. "What, sweetie?"
Yanli took a deep breath, and then roared, "Once I ate sixteen Tyrannians in a week!"
I fell over backwards and stared up at my little sister, who was laughing her head off. The impression had been uncanny, especially as she has a rather high-pitched voice. Then I heard commotion around us, the villagers were panicking for some reason. I don't speak Tyrannian, so I had no clue what was going on.
I grabbed Yanli and ducked off around the side of a hut, out of the way, in case something happened. The panic in the village kept growing, and the villagers were running and screaming and brandishing spears. Princess, Chloe, Bluejay, and Anita came running from various directions.
"What's going on?" Chloe asked.
"A villager told me that the Monoceraptor has returned!" Anita gasped, she spoke Tyrannian.
"I'm going to help!" Chloe cried starting to run off.
The truth dawned on me and I grabbed her arm. "Later! For now, stick with us and let's get back to the hotel. Kristy will have a mental breakdown if she gets wind of this before she knows we're all safe."
We hurried back to the hotel. Kristy was pacing the lobby with Inna in her arms, her face white. She ran over when she saw us and tried to hug us all at the same time.
"Oh, thank Fyora! They said something bad happened in the village, I was so worried!" Kristy sobbed.
"Yeah, we're okay. We'll explain everything upstairs," I said.
I sent Bluejay and Yanli to play in another room while I told Kristy and my sisters what had caused the panic in the village. My sisters were working very hard not to laugh at the end. Kristy, however, was lying face down on the bed, writhing in laughter. Inna was with us, she didn't understand what had happened, but was laughing because her mother was.
"This is why we can never go nice places," Kristy choked out.
That destroyed any self-restraint any of us had left, and we all collapsed into laughter. After a few minutes of helpless laughter, Kristy sat up and wiped tears from her eyes.
"Go pack up, we're going to Meridell before someone finds out that it was a hoax. Last thing I want to is to be explaining to the Council of Elders how I could fail to teach my child basic common sense," Kristy giggled.
We all ran off as fast as we could, and the disastrous vacation came to a close. Needless to say, none of us went back to Tyrannia any time soon.