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Petpet Name: Happiness
Pet Name: Naet
The light had just barely broken over the ocean, and yet the humidity and heat of the summer was upon them. The air shone gold and pink where stray sunbeams pierced the hanging moisture, turning the quiet market into a misty dreamland. Tenants quietly shuffled around their small booths, preparing for the day to come, indulging in the glowing peace of morning. Naet was momentarily mystified by the calm; she had arrived at Mystery Island the day before and had tried to reach the Trading Post as soon as she'd gotten off the boat, but had quickly found herself lost in the crowds. Now, with the trading day not yet begun, it was a new world, wrought of coral and gold, dust and dew, cloistered in peace. She had a basic idea of where she wanted to go – the stalls with the Petpets were on the east side of the lot, according to the friendly coconut JubJub she had asked the previous afternoon – but she was unsure whether she would find what she was looking for. She shouldered her bag and strode through the empty aisles, nodding politely to professional merchants and Neopets armed with odds-and-ends alike, looking for her prize.
The stall she came across was well-appointed, clearly an established merchant. A number of rare and exotic items lined the front table, but what interested her were the spacious, clean cages in the back. She leaned over the counter, glancing at the small figures within, and smiled. The nearest contained a Turdle, basking in a puddle of slowly strengthening sunlight; beside him, a reinforced cage contained a Meepit, looking too drowsy to get up to any mischief for the moment; the slime of the Meepit’s neighbor, a Slorgclops, was contained by a glass tank, and beside that tank – that was what she was here for.
“Excuse me?” she called into the empty stall, leaning further to try and spot the vendor. “I’d like to make a purchase.” No immediate response was made, so she quietly edged around the counter and strode to the final cage. Crouching down, she cautiously slipped one hand in between the bars to attract the attention of the small Moltenore curled up inside. Its bright eyes opened, and the creature moved toward her.
“What are you doing back here?” Naet jumped to her feet at the sound of the voice, loud and right behind her. Turning, she found herself face to face with a robot Grarrl, its metal jaw clenched tight in what she had to imagine was irritation.
“Back out behind the counter, please!” the Grarrl interrupted, gesturing jerkily with one mechanical arm. With one more glance to the Moltenore, Naet obeyed, quickly mincing to the path outside of the booth. Once she was out, the Grarrl looked at her evenly. “Now. What can I do for you?”
“I’m sorry about... entering your space,” she mumbled quietly, rubbing nervously at the spot where the spines on her neck grew shorter. “But... I was hoping to make a purchase.”
The Grarrl gave her an appraising look, and then nodded. “What were you looking for?”
“Well, I was just introducing myself to your Moltenore... I thought that, if we got along, I could buy it?” Glancing past the vendor, she could see the fiery reptile sitting at the door of its cage, small paws resting against the bars.
“Moltenores are very rare, and very expensive,” stated the Grarrl, looking at her calmly... at least, she thought it was calm.
“I know. I’ve been planning to get one for a long, long time. I’ve also been researching... and saving.” Naet responded earnestly. She then hoisted her pack, full of all the valuable books and bits of jewelry she could bear to part with. “I don’t have enough just yet, but if I sell some of my things, I can afford it.” While she couldn’t tell for sure, given the expressionless metal of his face, she seemed to feel the merchant’s demeanor shift.
"Well... I can hold on to him until you have enough,” the Grarrl said. “But only if you promise to take good care of him!” he added, looking back to the cages. “Really good care of him.”
“Y-yes. Of course. I promise, I promise I’ll take good care of him.” she responded, trembling slightly with excitement. “I guess... I’ll sell my things today, and then I’ll come back this evening?”
“That would be fine.”
Darting off into the market, Naet made her way to the reputable-looking vendors with the contents of her bag, carefully calculating how much each item had to sell for to achieve the Moltenore's lofty price. She finally had enough points, with one simple necklace remaining -- a small red star on a long red cord. Moving quickly, she returned to the stall, and the waiting Grarrl, who nodded slightly as she approached.
“You’re really serious about this, then?” he asked.
“Yes. May I meet him? Please?” she responded, leaning once more over the counter to look at her future pet. The Moltenore seemed to recognize her, immediately approaching the door of its cage again, flames flickering brightly.
“Of course. What do you plan to name him?” the Grarrl enquired as he opened the cage and lifted the small Petpet into his arms.
“I was thinking Salamander, or maybe Hephaestus.” Reaching over the counter, she gently scooped the little Moltenore up, moving to hold him close to her chest. “Oh, they really are cold, aren’t they?”
“Yes,” the robot responded after an awkward pause. “Their data does say...”
“I know. Cold to the touch. It’s just... a surprise; it’s hard to believe when you look at them.” Naet laughed softly as the Moltenore sniffed at her, the flames surrounding its body flickering without burning. “I’m used to warm Petpets because of my roommates...” she added, stroking the little reptile’s head. “It’ll take some getting used to, is all.” Carefully, she set the Moltenore on the counter and unslung her bag, pulling out the expected amount of Neopoints and the necklace at the same time. As the Grarrl counted the money, she fastened the necklace around her new pet’s neck, admiring the way the star glimmered in his soft glow. Once the transaction was completed, she smiled at the vendor. “Thank you very much... I’ll take care of him, I promise.”
He nodded solemnly. “See that you do.”
Reaching to lift the Moltenore, she let out a small sound of surprise. “He’s... he’s warm now.”
Suddenly, the Grarrl’s mechanical jaw loosening slightly... and she realized he was smiling. “Well, they do say that Moltenores are masters at controlling their heat... I guess he’s warming up to you,” the Grarrl stated, with what must have been a laugh. “Have you decided on his name yet?”
“Yeah. I think I have.” With a grin, she scratched under the flaming dragon’s chin. “His name is Happiness.”
“Happiness is a warm Moltenore?” asked the robot.
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