Sanity is forbidden Circulation: 194,605,131 Issue: 779 | 28th day of Eating, Y19
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A Guide to Berry Bash: The Grandest Bogen of All

by faeriequeenoffire


Mystery Island has recently opened up a restaurant and needs the help of Rufus, the Grand Bogen, to make sure it's a big success. With guests from all over Neopia clamouring to get in and try the best berries that the island has to offer, it's up to you to accommodate everyone's needs and have them leave happier than they came in.

The day starts with a clean bamboo table for guests to dine at, a well-groomed lawn cordoned off with red rope for the guests to wait in, and freshly watered berry bushes for you to pick only the ripest and juiciest berries for guests to enjoy. You'll barely have time to finish lighting the Tiki lamps before you see the first guests arrive, so look sharp and be prepared to listen to every one of the guest's orders. You'll most likely be stuck serving the natives of the island and their cranky elders the majority of the time, but there will be tourists from all over flooding in for the Bountiful Berry Harvest Festival so you can expect anyone to show up – maybe even Queen Fyora – but keep in mind that even though you're the Grand Bogen, the owner gets serving priority so you'll just have to make do with the same old island jokes from regulars until his duties take him elsewhere. There's no greater path to success than anticipation, you'll hear him say time and time again, so take some time to look over the menu and see what the owner has planned to serve this evening:

Lemwarts are first on the menu. The owner tells you that the tourists love this fruit, and to you it's no surprise. It looks kind of like a lemon, tastes kind of like an apple, and has a scent that would catch anyone's attention an island away.

Gruish Melons are also in season now, though you still can't quite understand its appeal. Looking like it hales from a Tyrannian's mane more than a pretty green bush near the beaches of Mystery Island, the blue and orange fur exterior leaves much to be desired – until you break through the shell to the delicious interior. It's a berry you'll likely still stay away from during your time here, but that won't stop you from highly recommending it to any tourist in site when they ask for the most exotic thing you have.

Honeyplumes are going to give you trouble. A delicacy known all over the world, you can't help but be reminded of fond memories of your childhood when your mother would bring home a single Honeyplume to share with you for Gadgadsbogen. The scent lasted longer than the fruit itself, as the peel alone would brighten up even the dreariest of homes when used as a decorative bug repellant afterwards. How bugs could be driven away by the smell you'll never understand, but what you do understand is that nobody else will and this will likely be the most popular item on the menu as a result.

Banans might be the least popular of the bunch, as they just resemble a bunch of bananas fused together. While the taste isn't quite the same as a banana, you know that nobody wants to stick too close to familiar territory when exploring new food options so you already expect only upturned-nosed elders to tout their appreciation for this under-desired fruit.

Pluburbs are the last listed item on the menu. You can't help but gawk at the price tag, but from what you've gathered from the whispers in the corner of the Tiki Tack Tombola you know that only the bravest of Neopian would dare put this carefully prepared berry in their mouths. Not that it's that dangerous – it can't be, right? The owner knows what he's doing – but it'll be a rare sight to behold on your own serving platter, you know that well. You toy with the idea of saving up enough Neopoints to have your own before the festival is over but you look over at a Honeyplume bush and remember why you're here in the first place – and it's not just for you.

The owner comes over from the freshly pruned bushes and gestures to the line forming on the grass. It's time to open, and oh Fyora you were not expecting that many guests to show up this early in the morning but you put on a smile you hope is as pleasing as the owner's and get started on your first day at work. Everything is simple enough: bring guests to their seats, take their orders, pick the best berries from the abundant bushes and serve them fresh, then clean up their mess and collect your tip. It's not as easy as it sounds when some Neopians eat faster than others, and others have the patience of a Meepit, but you keep going in hopes that you'll learn their habits quickly enough.

The tourists are friendly enough so that keeps your confidence going, but when you clean their crumbs off the table and count your tips you can't help but grumble and wonder what you did wrong. Things don't get better when the elders start to trickle in, but to your surprise even when they had not a single good thing to say about your service you still made more than double what a tourist tipped you. You stifle a smile before accommodating the next guests assigned to you, wondering if this is how the rest of the day will be.

In the end, the day sure was full of highs and lows but you know that if it weren't for the smell of each Honeyplume you delivered that day wafting into your nostrils you wouldn't have been able to keep going. The owner was pleased, though, and when you groomed the last of the blades of grass for tomorrow's guests to trample all over you go home in a satisfied mood and dream of your mother.

At the start of the next day you think you've formed a decent strategy, though. Even though it's been only a day, you know what to expect tomorrow and all the tomorrows after that. The owner was right: anticipation is the only path to success. Now that you now what everyone likes and what they tip, you know where to put your attention and when you can keep someone waiting. The key is to juggle everyone in such a way as to keep them as happy as they can be without risking the joy of others, and with the fruit available on Mystery Island you know it won't be that hard. All you need to do to take that gold trophy home is to know when to pay attention and when to cut your losses, and like all things on this beautiful island listening to the elders is key.

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