Cantrua the Ogrin had a pretty great life. Her owner had adopted her and her best friend, Ibenti, from the pound. She and her siblings were all painted, fed, played with, and loved deeply – but after a while, Cantrua found herself staring blankly out of her bedroom window, sighing deeply to herself. She'd grown tired of all her toys, and most conversation with her friends and family always turned to something dull.
In short, she was bored.
She had tried to cure her boredom by asking her owner for gourmet foods in order to join the Gourmet Club Hall of Fame, but these foods were often so filling that she could only eat them once a day, and while that kept her interest for a few days, she would always go back to that window, staring into nothingness. It's not that she felt unfulfilled, or even unhappy. She just had nothing to do with her time.
One night, after eating a whole Water Pizza by herself and retreating back to her room, something outside caught her eye. There in the distance was a hunched blue Kacheek, dirty and haggard looking, standing outside on the street. Even though it was one of the hottest nights of the year so far, he was wearing a heavy overcoat and fingerless gloves. He was holding an old tin cup, and looked as if he were begging for money. Cantrua felt an awful nagging in her gut, and after a moment's hesitation, she made her way outside.
The dirty Kacheek couldn't even make eye contact with her as she approached. "Excuse me, miss," he said in a tired voice, "but my owner and I are very poor. Would you mind sparing anything for us?" Even as he asked, he looked as if he knew she would say no.
Cantrua's heart just about broke right then and there. She couldn't believe that this poor little thing was so poor that he was reduced to begging on the street! She remembered back when she and Ibenti were ownerless. Even though they had nothing but each other, they still always managed to at least get something to eat. The pet had an owner, and he couldn't even afford food. Her eyes started to well up, and her words caught in her throat. The Kacheek took her silence as a no, and quietly thanked her for her time.
The Faerie Ogrin ran back to her house as fast as she could, and started to ransack the kitchen. She knew that one of her brothers had just gotten done with her daily regime in the Battle Dome, so they would have tons of extra pies and cinnamon rolls. She grabbed some healthier foods as well, remembering how thin the little Kacheek had looked, wanting to make sure he was well-nourished.
Right before she headed out the door, she realized that this Kacheek might have more than just him and his owner to look out for. What if he had any siblings? If he had a petpet, was it being fed at all? She quickly made her way up to the bedroom that she and Ibenti shared, and felt around under her bed. She had been storing away Neopoints for the holidays, wanting to buy something nice for her family members. She only had only managed to save up about 2,500 NP saved up so far (she was a bit of an impulse buyer), but it was better than nothing. As she got up to leave, she noticed Ibenti standing in the doorway.
"So, True," he said, "is there a reason why there's a pile of pie by our front door?"
Cantrua knew that her brother would be hard to talk to about this. Ibenti was her best friend in the entire world, but he wasn't perfect; he could be very shallow and greedy at times. After lots of whining and pleading, Ibenti had managed to get their owner to morph and paint him into a Faerie Draik, and he had no real concept of sharing with anyone. Well, anyone other than Cantrua.
"There's a poor pet outside," she said slowly, knowing that, while Ibenti might not try to stop her, he wouldn't fully approve. "A Kacheek. He's hungry, and we have more than we need. We're constantly discarding old food."
Ibenti thought for a moment, looking out their window. "That Kacheek?" he asked, motioning with his head, "I see him there at least once a day. No one really pays a lot of attention to him. Why do you even want to help him?"
"Well," Cantrua said quietly, "I know it's not much. But I thought that I could make a difference in his life. You remember how it was for us not that long ago."
Her brother was quiet for a long time after that. Just as Cantrua was about to head out the door, Ibenti stopped her. "Wait. True," he said, holding out a Baby Eyrie Plushie, "This might cheer the little guy up." Cantrua took the toy and smiled, knowing how much that particular plushie meant to her brother.
The Ogrin struggled to carry everything outside, but she finally managed to make her way out to the little Kacheek. "Excuse me, miss," he started his speech, not looking up again, "but my owner and I –"
"I know!" Cantrua puffed out, a little tired out from carrying so much. "We just talked a few moments ago. I came back to give you some stuff. I really don't think that it's enough, but it's all yours."
Once the Kacheek saw the load of gifts from this stranger of a pet, his tired eyes grew round in awe. "Oh, miss... Thank you very much," he whispered. "But I could never accept this much."
"Nonsense." The Ogrin smiled kindly. "My family and I have too much as it is. My name is Cantrua, by the way. Most people call me True."
"Drohn," the Kacheek answered, eyes still wide with disbelief, "Thank you very, very much. This is very kind of you." He moved to take the load, but couldn't manage to find a way to hold it all by himself.
"Here, let me carry half for you," True said. "You can introduce me to your owner! Do you have anyone else in your family, or is it just the two of you?"
"I have a sister named Gefra," he said as they started to walk together. "Also a Kacheek. We were created within minutes of each other. We both have Tapira petpets. We try hard to take care of each other, but..."
Drohn looked embarrassed. He kept his eyes on the ground as he spoke. "My owner has a bit of a gambling problem. She loves us, don't get me wrong, she loves us very much – she just winds up losing all of our money making awful bets at the Food Club. That leaves me to take care of us all."
The rest of their walk was long, but in complete silence. Cantrua had no idea what to say to comfort her new friend. She knew that life could be tough on poorer families, but to have an owner purposefully use all of her Neopoints on gambling without even buying food for her pets first was another thing entirely. This pet and his sister needed help. And she was going to be the one to help them.
It was pitch dark when they got to Drohn's home, and True wasn't at all surprised to see how sparsely furnished it was. His owner seemed to be nowhere in sight, but Gefra was sitting in a far corner, absently stroking two Tapira petpets. She was green instead of blue, and she was only wearing a burlap sack as a dress. When she caught sight of her brother and an expensively-painted Ogrin holding at least 40 items between them, she was at a bit of a loss for words.
"Hello," Cantrua said, trying to strike up a conversation with the confused pet. "I'm True. Sorry that we didn't give you any notice before I came over. I met your brother by my house, and I figured I should do what I could to help out, you know?"
Gefra, it seemed, was a lot more prideful than her brother. Her eyes lit up with anger as soon as the Ogrin was done talking. "Were you out begging again?" she angrily whispered, turning to her brother. "I told you that we don't need any pity from strangers. Sheila is in a bit of a slump, yeah, but she's going to hit it big soon. She said so." She then turned her attention to Cantrua. "We don't need your sympathy, princess. We're not your charity case."
True took a few deep breaths, determined not to lose her cool with Gefra. "Look," she said. "You're right. I feel bad for you and your brother. But only because I know what this is like. Not this exact situation, but I've been completely ownerless before. My brother and I used to hide out in Geraptiku with a few other abandoned pets. My first owner had tried to take me to the pound, but I ran away, so for a few months, I had no idea where my next meal would come from. I had to rely solely on my best friend for help, and he relied on me."
"And now what?" Gefra laughed bitterly, "Now that you've gotten your happy ending, you've decided to become Defender of the Poor? Spare me."
True decided that it was best to just ignore the Kacheek and let her cool off. Turning to Drohn, she said, "I've got to be headed back to my house now. I didn't even time to let my owner know that I was headed here. I could come back, though, if you ever need anything."
Drohn looked over at his sister, who currently had her back turned to the pair, and was grumpily snuggling with one of the Tapiras. "Don't worry about her," he whispered. "She can be stubborn, but she warms up to new pets eventually. She's not half as bad as our owner, though. If Sheila saw all of this, she'd make us return it immediately. I'm going to have to hide it somehow." He sighed heavily, looking around the empty room, trying to think of a good hiding spot.
"I can come back, you know," True said. "At night. I could come back here with more food and make sure you and your sister are alright."
"It would be tough," Drohn said. "But possible, I suppose. I just hope that Gefra doesn't tell on us."
From that day on, Cantrua made a point to visit the Kacheeks once a month. At midnight, she'd load up a big wagon full of supplies and visit the pair, letting only the glow of passing Lightmites guide her way. Once Gefra had slightly warmed up to the idea, she had told True about some of the other pets that she knew of in similar situations, and True did her best to make sure that all of the pets she met were happy and fully fed.
And things became even more fun for her when Ibenti started going with her to help out these pets. How she convinced him to do so, however, is an entirely different story. Let's just say that he had quite a lot of Baby Eyrie Plushies after that.