You're walking through the Marketplace when you see her: a tall, somewhat chubby human girl with brown hair back in a messy bun, with glasses, a black cloth poncho over a t-shirt, jeans, and sandals. Ordinarily you'd not have noticed her, but the enormous bag she's carrying--a bag almost as tall as her, and twice as wide--is pretty attention-grabbing.

You watch her stumble down the road, staggering under the weight of the bag. Just when you're wondering whether or not you should help her, she stops at a wooden toybox that is, for some reason, right next to a tree nowhere near any shops. She drops the bag with a sigh of relief, then raps on the lid and says "We're home." She then opens the box and--much to your surprise--picks up the bag, steps into the box, and disappears.

You run over to the box, and see that where there should be a bottom, there is the beginning of a staircase. You pinch yourself to make sure you're not dreaming; you're not. Bewildered yet curious, you decide to venture down the staircase and investigate.

You travel down a long, winding staircase for several minutes till you finally reach a small room, about ten feet by ten feet. Directly across from you are three doors. On your left is a round green door labelled 'Entrance'. On your right is a rectangular red door labelled 'Exit'. In between them is a hexagonal door labeled 'Closet'.

You try to go through the Entrance door, but when you open it you find yourself facing a brick wall. You open the Exit door, and find yourself facing a slide; you put your hand on it, thinking to climb up it, but your hand slips right off. You're beginning to wonder if you've stumbled into some weird children's novel when you open the 'Closet', and find yourself facing another staircase.

Certain you've gone insane by now, you start to climb down the stairs.

The moment both of your feet are on the staircase, the stairs disappear, and you find yourself tumbling down a long, winding slide. Finally you see some light up ahead, and you feel relief surge through you--until you realize it's coming from hole.

You cover your face and scream, certain you're about to fall to your doom. You find yourself falling through thin air--and then, abruptly, your fall ends, broken by something soft and cushiony. You open your eyes, and find yourself in a pile of...socks?

You look around wildly, and find yourself in what appears to be an enormous living room with electric rug-patterned carpet. Sofas of all types are up against the walls, some with coffee tables between them or footrests in front of them. In the center is an in-ground trampoline; on the wall to your left and the one in front of you is a rock climbing wall; on the ceiling above the trampoline are mynci bars; there's a door to your left that leads to what looks like a kitchen/dining room area; and on the wall to your right, there's a climbing net that leads to a loft area, which contains some bookshelves, some board games, and a door labelled 'Exit'.

You've just finished taking all this in when you hear a scream, and turn to see the girl you followed here standing in the doorway of the kitchen area, staring at you in terror and holding up a frying pan like a weapon.

Who are you?! How'd you get in here?!" she demands, pale and trembling.

Before you can explain, something falls through the hole you entered the room through and lands on top of you; the next thing you know you're being jerked to your feet by a white xweetok, who is apologizing profusely for squishing you. "Hey, never seen you before. You Phoenix, Lily, or Jaylie's friend?

You explain that you noticed the human going into the box, and got curious and decided to investigate. Once she learns you're not a burglar, she relaxes; she and the xweetok--who introduces herself as Twilit--welcome you to what they call The Kanrik-Proof Box, and invite you to stay over for cookies.

While you're chowing down on cookies, another human, named Lily, arrives. She seems wary of you, but politely greets you and enthusiastically chats with Twilit and Jaylie. When you ask them about the Box, Twilit and Jaylie explain that they all like to hang out with the Thieves' Guild, but Twilit and Jaylie have a bad habit of annoying Kanrik. So, Twilit decided to start a guild where they could hang out when Kanrik's threatening to feed them to a Snowbeast, and Jaylie had Grandpa Tobi--a korbat wizard who lives with her family--enchant the wooden toybox to be like a neohome on the inside. "And it can teleport, too. All one of us has to do is clap our hands, say a code, and then say where we want it to go, and it teleports there," says Twilit.

You're about to ask who's all part of the guild when a blue shoyru flies into the room, zooms around for a moment--and then suddenly runs into the wall.

Phoenix, are you okay?" Jaylie and Lily ask simultaneously, standing to their feet and looking concerned.

I'm good," the shoyru says, peeling herself off of the wall. "At least this time I didn't get stuck in a fish bowl. Still trying to figure out what that was doing there...and why it had chocolate lupe treats in it...

They introduce the shoyru as Phoenix. You greet her, then ask if there are any more members of the Kanrik-Proof Box.

Just our neopets," shrugs Jaylie. "Twilit thinks we oughta get more members, but I think it's fine the way it is.

Over the next hour, you get to know the girls quite well. You learn that Phoenix and Twilit were originally humans, but Twilit was turned into a xweetok by a mad scientist, and Phoenix...well, they're not quite sure why she turned into a shoyru. You watch wide-eyed as Twilit changes from a white xweetok, to a Darigan, to a Fire, and back to a white xweetok. You learn that Twilit's the hyper and random one, while Jaylie is a quirky bookworm who doesn't always know when to keep her mouth shut, Lily is wary of strangers but very nice once you get to know her, and loves anime and manga (she's also good at first-aid; a good thing, since the others seem very clumsy), while Phoenix loves videogames, kougras, and is prone to crashing into things. The four share a common interest in Lord of the Rings, books, and exploring.

It's with real regret you bid them farewell. As you exit the Kanrik-Proof Box and head towards home, you think of the four young women you met and shake your head and smile. The Kanrik-Proof Box. What a strange name. And what strange people. That guild had to be the weirdest one in Neopia.

And in this case, weird is a very good thing.




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