Poof!: Part Two
Ponder stepped into the open, heart pounding. He began to wend his way through the crowd. He was halfway up the plank before he had to duck and dodge some tricky luggage. Then, he got broadsided by a swinging bag in a chocolate Draik's grip. He yelped with surprise and fear as he found himself teetering on the edge of the gangplank, the water maybe a foot below him.
The Cadro waved all four of his arms, panicking as his long body swayed precariously. Then, he found his balance and moved swiftly aboard the ship. He found a place to hide in a coil of rope tucked behind a barrel. That's where he stayed for the next few hours. When he descended the gangplank, he had no heart stopping mishaps. Ponder breathed a sigh of relief that he had made it to Altador in once piece.
Altador was a bustling seaport known for merchants and the Altador Cup. Ponder slipped through the crowd with ease. That's when a brown Lenny caught his attention. She was talking animatedly to her Airax, perched on her shoulder.
"Oh, Thespis! Uncle Finneus will absolutely love this gift!" the Lenny exclaimed.
Gift! Ponder's curiosity was piqued. The gift was held in a simple paper bag. It wouldn't do to give the gift to Uncle Finneus in that. Ponder followed after the Lenny, struggling a little because she had a long stride and was moving fast.
Finally, the Lenny turned into a doorway and Ponder followed without thinking. The Lenny had only entered a dining room, setting the bag on the table, her Airax perched on the back of one chair. Ponder was out in the open so of course the Lenny saw him immediately.
"Hello, there! Have you been following Thespis and me?" the Lenny asked curiously.
Ponder was relieved that he wasn't in trouble (at least he hoped not). The Cadro nodded his head.
"I've met a Cadro or two but never one made of snow. Are you lost? I mean, you can't be from Altador, can you?" the Lenny said.
Ponder first shook his head yes, then no to the Lenny's questions.
Casting an amused glance at his owner, the Airax then looked at Ponder. "She does love to chatter."
"My name is Ponder. I overheard her talking about a gift for her Uncle Finneus. I'm from Terror Mountain and a professional gift wrapper. I'd love to help, if you'll let me."
"Sure! We're always open to that!"
Thespis turned back to the Lenny and let out a trill. Ponder climbed Thespis' chair and onto the table. He waved his two left arms towards the paper bag, a gesture that asked, "May I?"
The Lenny laughed. "You may. By the way, my name is Coral. My favorite color is pink and my favorite color combination is pink and green, you see."
Ponder nodded his head absentmindedly. Coral was indeed dressed in pink and green but she pulled it off well. His full attention on the bag, he tipped it and began to pull out a pink outfit. The Cadro was rather surprised. Coral had said her Uncle Finneus, hadn't she?
The Cadro cast a curious glance at Coral and Thespis. He saw this all the time as a gift wrapper. 'Pets thought about what they wanted as a gift, rather than the 'pet the gift was actually for. Coral loved pink, so she had gotten her uncle a pink gift, whether it suited him or not. Continuing to handle the outfit, he let out a cry of surprise as two beady eyes looked back at him.
"This is a Meepit costume," Ponder exclaimed, looking at Thespis with wide eyes.
Thespis fluttered his wings. "Yes, it is. Coral's Uncle Finneus loves Meepits. It is the perfect gift for him."
Ponder only shook his head. He didn't want to meet this Uncle Finneus. He began to neatly fold the top and bottom of the costume, setting the head on top of the folded garment. The gloves he set into the open area in the head.
Coral had gathered wrapping supplies on the table. Ponder found a suitable box, not too big, not too small. Best of all, it wasn't flimsy. Flimsy boxes were the worst! They couldn't hold their shape and they offered no protection to the gift they held, especially important if the gift was being mailed.
Ponder set the folded costume into the box. A perfect fit! He closed the lid, making sure it was secure. He was a bit of a perfectionist. He knew his job and did it well, though the best part was that he was helping the others with his profession.
Next came the wrapping paper. Ponder was pleased to see a selection of wrapping paper available. Coral was quite thoughtful. Normally, Sycamore and Ponder were given a few personal details to help make good choices on wrapping gifts. This time, however, he knew next to nothing about Coral's Uncle Finneus.
Though, the young brown Lenny had sound judgment. From her gift choice, she was well informed to what her uncle would enjoy. Ponder waved his two left arms at the array of wrapping papers, asking Coral to choose.
Coral hesitated only a moment before she chose a sky blue paper with Altador suns scattered across it. "Uncle Finneus won't get any clues from the wrapping paper what I've gotten him."
Ponder nodded his agreement. Yes, that was true. He unrolled the paper, grabbing the scissors and beginning his cut. It was a straight line and just enough to wrap the gift. In his business, needless excess was highly frowned upon.
Then, Ponder grabbed the tape and began to fold the paper. In this, it was useful having six limbs. Within moments, the gift was neatly wrapped with clean edges. Last of all were ribbons and of course gift tags. Ponder made a bow out of a forest green ribbon then Coral slapped on a gift tag.
"Done! It looks great! Thank you for the help," Coral said, reaching out a hand to caress Ponder's head.
The gesture took Ponder by surprise and he stiffened but coral made no move to grab him. The Lenny studied the Cadro for a moment.
"Now, I'd like to help you. I'd like to ask you how you even got to Altador but you wouldn't be able to tell me," Coral said.
Ponder shrugged his shoulders in a helpless gesture.
"Though, I can ask some things. Is your owner in Altador?"
Ponder shook his head.
"Are you from Terror Mountain?"
Ponder nodded his head yes. Coral exchanged a glance with Thespis and then smiled at Ponder.
"I feel certain we can help you get back home today," Coral said.
Today? Really? Ponder could only dare to hope but how? Terror Mountain and Altador weren't exactly close...at least he didn't think so.
"Come with me," Coral said, beckoning to Ponder.
The Cadro climbed down from the table. Thespis was once more perched on Coral's shoulder.
"Thankfully, we don't have to travel far. I've got the best place in the city. It's close to almost everywhere," Coral said.
They only walked a few blocks before they entered a bustling place. Ponder almost got stepped on a few times. The 'pets here were in quite a hurry, it seemed.
"Tenos!" Coral called (to who Ponder couldn't tell).
A happy squawk answered Coral. Then, a rainbow Lenny approached. The two Lennies embraced for a moment.
"Coral! I love visiting with you. How've you been?" Tenos asked.
"Fantastic! I went shopping today and got the most perfect gift for my Uncle Finneus..."
At that point, Ponder stopped listening. He didn't understand why they were there. How was this going to help him get home? He observed his surroundings, a defence tactic with him. He noticed that a good number of 'pets around had satchels: some bulging, some empty.
Were they messengers? It seemed likely. Oh! Would one of them get word to Sycamore? Or... Ponder's mind began to fly with possibilities.
The Cadro jumped at a light touch to his shoulder. Thespis and a Petpet that looked remarkably like a rainbow Lenny stood beside him. He also saw that Coral and Tenos were looking down at him.
"So, this is the snow Cadro you wish me to take," Tenos said.
Take? Take where? Ponder began to back up in alarm but the strange Petpet moved to block him.
"Yes, Tenos. You're the only messenger I trust. He wants to go home. I told him it could happen today," Coral said.
"Fine, I can do that," Tenos said.
"Wait, what are they saying?" Ponder asked, looking from Thespis to the strange Petpet and back again, uncertainty clear on his face and in his voice.
"Relax, Ponder. My owner is the best messenger in Neopia. If he says he'll get you home today, he will," the strange Petpet said.
"You do know that Lennies are known for their magical ability, don't you? Tenos doesn't have much but he can teleport."
"Teleport! Is that safe?"
"Quite. I always go with him. We're both still in one piece."
Ponder looked up at Tenos. OK, he would trust the rainbow Lenny to get him home. The messenger understood. He knelt and smoothly picked up the snow Cadro.
"Somerled, let's go," Tenos said.
Somerled flapped his wings and perched on Tenos' shoulder.
"Somerled is your name? What are you," Ponder asked.
"I'm a Piraket," Somerled said.
Before Ponder could do anything else a strong wind almost knocked him out of Tenos' grasp. It was, Ponder guessed, seven degrees Fahrenheit. The sky was a soft gray. Everywhere he looked was white. Ponder knew exactly where he was!
Tenos had done it! Ponder was back on the mountain. He jumped out of the Lenny's arms, landing easily in the soft snow. Then, he moved as quickly as a Cadro could. Thankfully, Ponder didn't have far to go.
The snow Cadro opened the front door to Frills and Thrills, the business that he ran with Sycamore. As he entered, he saw the snow Cybunny sitting in a chair, ears drooped and gray eyes despondent. Moving as quickly as he could, Ponder raced forward. Flicking one ear, Sycamore looked up and scooped up his Petpet with a cry of delight. Yes, Ponder was exactly where he needed to be.