Not Just A Daydream Anymore
It was early morning on the east beach of Mystery Island. The breeze coming off the sea carried a pleasant, mild aroma of the salty waves, the leaves of the palm trees swayed in the wind, and a neighbor's Pirakeet could be heard quietly squawking in the distance. Very few people were out on the pristine east beaches, as many were still in their huts asleep, and the tourists did not start arriving on the island until hours later. Everything was quiet and peaceful...
A loud crash could be heard from inside a little hut hidden away in a grove of trees. Mila the Acara's practice cooking hut.
"Awww, Beeb!" Mila threw her paws in the air, exasperated, glaring at her Petpet. "You knocked over my souffle." She had been bent over the counter top since 5 AM, immersed in a cookbook, her hair a disheveled mess. She had most likely been running her paws through it and pulling it from stress.
Beeb the Bikiwan looked down at the mess he had made, gravied carrots and Ugnot along with globs of steamed rice covering the floor. He looked embarrassed and sheepish, then nuzzled Mila's leg affectionately, as if to say 'I'm sorry, I didn't mean to.' It was still very early and Beeb had just woken up as Mila religiously studied her cookbook.
"I know, dear." Mila picked up her beloved pet, with its newly stained apron, and sighed. "I just don't know what to do now. That was my assignment from Jhuidah and now I have to start all over again. It's a good thing I had some ingredients left."
Mila peeled a magazine page covered in rice and gravy off of the counter top; it read "Have a Chance to Be Bonju's Apprentice! August 10th!" Ever since Mila was a small little Acara, she was fascinated with the master chef Bonju the Blumaroo. She heard of his daring adventures, his creative concoctions, his delicious dishes, and she spent her days dreaming with all her heart to travel to Shenkuu and meet the famous Neopet. It was only a few weeks away from August 10th, and Mila felt absolutely hopeless. She had been stuck on Mystery Island for most of her seventeen years under the roof of the Island Faerie, Jhuidah, and even though her caretaker was dear to her heart, Mila wished for a more adventurous life.
"I just want to cook for Bonju, and let him see what I can do." Mila reached for a napkin to begin picking up her ruined souffle off of the tile floor. "I want to cook for Princess Amira, in Sakhmet. And the king of Altador! I will please even the Faerie Queen herself with my culinary skills. When will my life begin?"
Beeb blinked his gentle eyes at Mila in reply; he had been her cooking partner ever since Mila received the Petpet from her father after he arrived from a trip in Tyrannia. He had witnessed everything Mila went through, including mornings like these, when she was determined to carry out a recipe the right way, so determined that she would stay up all night with the cookbook and end up falling asleep on it. Beeb knew Mila's struggle. She tried so hard and dreamed with all her might.
In the midst of her daydreaming, a loud boom was heard coming from the other side of the island. It was most likely the Great Pango Pango in an early morning hunger-tantrum; if it was, which it mostly always was, Mila would not be surprised. She quickly fetched the mop and cleaned up the sticky, cold gravy, picked up her cookbook, lucky spatula, and her dear Beeb, and put them both carefully in her satchel.
Mila took a deep breath. "Here I come, world, ready for another culinary adventure."
Citizens began opening their doors to the fresh, yet salty air of the island, beginning their day as the roaring of the Great Pango Pango grew louder. They all smiled sympathetically at Mila, who was usually just the Neopet to bring breakfast to the colossal hungry creature. She smiled back and just said "Good morning", as this was the regular routine. Kita, Mila's best friend, tossed a volleyball into the air, crossing Mila's path. "Wanna serve a little later?"
"Ah, I'm a bit busy at the moment!" Mila smiled, almost having to shout now over the roaring thunder of the Great Pango.
Smoke was coming out of the chimney of the Cooking Pot; Jhuidah was found stirring the massive concoction in her signature pot. Mila thought one could possibly call it a cauldron.
"I was called?" Mila joked as the side door of the hut swung open. She put her satchel on a side table and Beeb hopped out.
"Yes." Jhuidah was calm, as always, but her brow furrowed and her wings appeared rustled. "He is not especially pleased this morning. I'm making a special soup for his breakfast. I can trust you to make the Banango Bread?"
"Yes, Jhuidah." Mila began gathering ingredients: a bag of flour, three common Neggs, a whole gallon of Kau Kau Milk, and ten bananas that were past the ripening period. (If this list sounds like a large bit, remember that the Great Pango Pango needs his bread loaves the size of a small tree.)
Mila began washing her hands underneath the kitchen faucet, anxious to bring Pango his breakfast and begin working on a new recipe that would be sure to impress Bonju and members of the Gourmet Club, who tasted gourmet food as a pastime. Earlier on she had felt stressed but now she felt determined. Nothing would stand in her way of meeting her idol, the talented Bonju.
"Oh... Mila," Jhuidah said, her voice obviously changed. "What is this?"
Mila turned to see the cooking faerie holding up the soiled magazine page of Bonju's Apprentice Day. "It had been stuck to the bottom of Beeb's foot," Jhuidah explained, then looked at Mila strangely. "Were you wanting to do this?"
Mila had wanted to tell Jhuidah but it seemed as though the faerie did not trust her in her culinary skills enough for Mila to bring it up. The Acara's face slowly turned rosy as a blossom with embarrassment. "I wanted to tell you, but.."
"Why didn't you? I believe you are a talented little Acara. Enough to meet Bonju. You are a bit careless at times, but you are determined enough. And you have talent."
Mila's face turned to surprise. The faerie usually told her how to do something better and how to improve; a compliment such as this was extremely rare. "Jhuidah.. Do you really mean that?"
"Absolutely." The Acara's caretaker smiled a genuine smile, and patted the young Mila in the middle of her head. "You know, your father asked me to take care of you. And I have done that. I have taught you everything I know. Everything I have ever asked you to do was to benefit you in some way, not to make you doubt yourself. You are my little Mila, but you are growing into a young Acara." The faerie, unexpectedly, started to sniffle.
"You have dreams and ambitions, and I know that. I am so proud of how far you've come, Mila." She dabbed her tears away with her apron, composing herself. "Well. Shall we get started on the recipes you have to make for this apprenticeship?"
"You're serious?" Mila almost shrieked and threw her arms around the faerie. She felt as if everything she ever wanted was going to be hers. Every dream was coming true.
"Yes. And I'll even get you a ticket to travel there." Jhuidah grinned over Mila's furry shoulder. "I should have enough Neocash saved in my sock drawer for a round trip."
Jhuidah fastened the lid onto the massive cooking pot. "Well, the soup tastes delicious. All I need you to do-"
"Is roll it into Great Pango Pango's cave." Mila rolled her eyes, wrapping the massive loaf of Banango bread with plastic wrap. "I've been doing this a long time, remember?"
"Yes, I do remember. Be careful, that loaf is heavy."
"You're telling me."