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Petpet Name: Gazer
Pet Name: Ioqa
Breed: Royal Ukali
Ioqa, the famous warrior Draik, always has by his side a small faithful companion, a tiny mewling Ukali he calls Gazer. Many have asked how it was that he came to care for the tiny creature, but Ioqa, stoic as he is, rarely speaks of it, so it is a tale not often told. I will tell it to you now, though. It began in the fiercest war Neopia has yet faced, the war of The Faeries' Ruin.
The fight to save the faeries from Xandra and her wraiths was a series of dark days for Neopia, a time in our history -- however modern it may be -- that would make or break many Neopets. Countless hopefuls hit the battlefield, throwing themselves into the fight with nothing but a few weapons and determination. Most of them were able to hold back a few enemies, but the sheer overpowering numbers would batter most of them into limping off the battlefield. Heroes would be forged on the field of war -- but as in any forge, some would be broken, too.
Ioqa, the golden Draik of legend, refused to be broken. By the time the Faeries' Ruin war erupted, he had already earned a name for himself as a fine warrior -- he was Ioqa the Brave to some, and Ioqa the Mighty to others (and, sometimes, Ioqa the Arrogant, but this story isn’t about that particular nickname). Regardless of what one knew him as, he was no stranger to battle, and unlike the overly enthusiastic green warriors who thronged beside him, he approached the fight with nothing more or less than grim determination. Though the enemies often threatened to overwhelm him, he was determined to prove that he was forged of the finest steel and would not bend or break when Neopia needed its heroes the most.
Before the war ended, hundreds of thousands of wraiths had invaded Neopia and engaged its warriors in a grueling test of mettle. They faced defeat hundreds at a time but their strength was in numbers, not ferocity or skill, and as they kept coming, they wore down some of even the finest Neopia had to offer in its defense. Seasoned though he was, even Ioqa wasn’t immune to the numbing, disheartening nature of fighting against overwhelming numbers. In the times since, it has been said both that Ioqa stayed strong throughout the intimidating tedium and that the aloof Draik made no friends on the battlefield -- neither of these statements is entirely accurate, however.
You see, there did come a moment -- several, actually, but only one with tangible effects -- where the gloom of an extended battle had demoralized the golden Draik to the extent where he actually thought of abstaining. These moments usually came in the lulls between waves, after he had felled dozens of wraiths but knew he was only minutes from another crushing wave, when his muscles were sore from holding his shield and swinging his sword and the ever-present dust of battle made him long for a hot shower more than fighting more wraiths.
During the worst of these, when he began to think he wanted nothing more than to give up the fight, he even began to question why he fought. To be honest, he was never terribly social; very few touched his heart, and he didn’t even like most other Neopets. Why, then, should he fight for them? Why should he care? Why should he spend his strength to protect those who could not? On some level he knew it was only battle fatigue talking, for though he was no socialite, he did long to right what wrongs he could and make Neopia a better place. In that moment, however, it made a dark kind of sense. Why did he care? What, or who, was he fighting for?
It was in that moment that a very strange thing happened. On the battlefield, there are many sounds, and most of them are jarring until you grow used to them. There is the heavy tromp of many booted feet, the clash of claws scrabbling against shields. There is the dull clank of shields being wielded and the fierce metallic ring of swords clanging against one another, and even the occasional droning of a blaster. There are shouts, bangs, and wordless cries, and after a short time in a fight, none of them stand out as noteworthy -- but it was in his worst moment on the field, when sweat dripped and dust clung to him, when Ioqa sighed as sore muscles protested his every movement, that the Draik heard the strangest sound. It was one so unusual, so unexpected, that it stood out immediately amidst the battle clamor, quiet though it was.
If you have never heard a Ukali mewl and cry, it is a strange sound -- a cross between a baby Chia’s cry, a Kadoatie’s yowl, and Puppyblew’s whine. It was this sound that Ioqa heard, although at first, having never met a Ukali, he didn’t recognize it. In the midst of other warriors, none of whom appeared to notice the odd sound, he sought out its source. There, on the battlefield, trapped amongst a pile of discarded shields, was a small Petpet.
Annoyed at the distraction, Ioqa freed the small creature from its unintentional prison; much to his chagrin, the Ukali clung to him and mewed piteously.
“Go away,” he told it gruffly, “This is no place for a Petpet!”
Especially, he thought, one has tiny and helpless as this little Ukali.
The Petpet didn’t leave, though, and clung even more fiercely to its rescuer, doing its best to cleave to the Draik who had brought it to relative safety.
“I can’t have a Petpet!” he told it, baffled. “I’m a warrior, not a Petpetsitter.”
But somehow, without his knowing exactly how it got there, the Ukali burrowed its way into the crook of his arm, between his body and his shield. Miraculously, it stopped crying at once, and Ioqa could only stare at the now-content Petpet.
“You can’t like me,” he grumbled, for he was convinced that no one did.
The Ukali, however, seemed to radiate contentment, and slowly, Ioqa relaxed. Ioqa may have even smiled, though he would deny it today. For Ioqa it could only be described as a sense of wellness, a sense of rightness, as if a missing piece of a puzzle had just clicked into place. He had been well and truly claimed by the little Petpet, and it was immediately apparent that nothing short of cataclysm would ever separate them.
But that, he realized, was well and truly possible -- if the wraiths overran Neopia, who knew what would happen to his new little friend! It was a thought Ioqa could not bear; his navel-gazing would have to be put aside. It was a distraction that neither he, nor Neopia, nor the little Ukali -- Gazer, he decided -- could afford.
The rest of the battle is, of course, history. Ioqa, though younger then, was already a capable, well-trained warrior, and with his motivation safely back on track, his fierce record in battle knew no bounds. Gazer has been with him faithfully ever since, as near to Ioqa’s shadow as any living creature could ever be.
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