Caution: Quills may be sharp Circulation: 155,374,162 Issue: 219 | 9th day of Celebrating, Y7
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For the Love of a Good Schmoonie

by shamisenrat


Perhaps it had something to do with the weather. Perhaps it was something to do with the fact he had gone to sleep a Lupe and woken up a Poogle and was now having a bit of an identity crisis. Or perhaps it was something to do with the fact that Naughty Little Riff the Schmoonie was currently in the process of smearing tchea berries all over the walls, but when WhisperedVoice woke up he knew with an unshaking certainty that he was about to be launched fully unprepared into a very bad day.

     "What are you doing!?" he cried, leaping out of the bathtub where he slept and grabbing Naughty Little Riff by the tail feathers. "We eat tchea berries, we don't paint with them! Eat, not paint!"

     Naughty Little Riff looked at the mushed berry in his hand, then at the wall, then at Whispered Voice's newly poogled face. "Widget!" he squeaked in terror, and pushed the berry into his owner's eyes.

     It had been a mistake adopting a Schmoonie - WhisperedVoice was even beginning to wonder if there had ever been a case of Schmoonie domestication before then. He had found the little guy shaking behind a bush on the outskirts of the Geraptiku marshes - poor little thing looked so hungry and all alone. WhisperedVoice was a Lupe…er, Poogle…of compassion and, before either of them knew it, he had wrapped him up in a blue scarf and hurried him away to the neohome he shared with Shapeshifter the Cybunny and a variety of lodgers who seemed to come and go as they felt. Bilokki the striped Gelert had moved out as soon as he'd clapped eyes on the impish bundle of brown fur and blue feathers, and nobody was impressed when the Schmoonie had started to display a startling lack of good hygiene and had come home one day infested with glacks. It wouldn't be long before Shamisenrat, the landlord, would discover the mess and, when that happened, no doubt they'd all be kicked out. They'd probably all have to go and live in the Haunted Woods or - even worse - in Tyrannia!

     "Naughty Little Riff, be quiet!" WhisperedVoice hushed, clamping his paw over his petpet's mouth.

     "Stranger, stranger!" Riff screamed, attempting to slap at his owner's arms so that he'd drop him. "Baaaad little Poogle! Baaaaaad!" Then, before WhisperedVoice had time to react, he went limp in his paws and started holding his breath.

     "No - Riff, it's me!" WhisperedVoice said, giving the Schmoonie a gentle little shake and trying to make himself look as Lupe-like as he could. "Don't panic, it's me! I've been turned into a Poogle!"

     Riff opened one eye suspiciously. "Eat me?" he asked.

     "No, I'm not going to eat you," WhisperedVoice reassured him.

     With a yelp of joy and a grin of pure mischief, Naughty Little Riff wriggled out of his paws and started trashing the neohome.

     "You've got a real problem with that little terror," Shapeshifter yawned, stepping out of her bedroom and running a comb through her red and white neck-mane. "He's a minion of Sloth, that one."

     WhisperedVoice made to growl at her, but discovered that Poogles didn't growl like Lupes, they snorted and grunted more like Moehogs. He cleared his throat. "Yeah, well at least he's not devoid of personality like that sappy little Miamouse that follows you about."

     "You leave Smurt out of this!" Shapeshifter said. Her nose was waffling like never before, so WhisperedVoice took the hint and dropped it.

     And the day got even worse after that. First of all, Riff started chewing the leg of the red table, then he made a mess on the cloud rug. When he was banished to the back garden, WhisperedVoice found him trying to melt a visiting abominable snowball with a hairdryer and then trying to scare a flock of Pteris by firing Ultimate Bulls eye arrows at them.

     "You need to take him to Captain Threelegs," Shapeshifter said coldly as she picked a stray arrow out from her mane. "That little Schmoonie needs some discipline."

     Sadly, WhisperedVoice took down his jar of codestones and gazed at them. He had been saving them specially to try and bump up his endurance. But Shapeshifter was right - Riff had to learn how to behave.

     They boarded the boat to Krawk Island with a sense of anticipation. The sea air was salty, there was the smell of fish and chips, and a flock of pawkeets were doing their business on a passing Peophin. Even though Riff jumped onto WhisperedVoice's back and tried to ride him like a Uni, nothing could ruin the hope there was now.

     Captain Threelegs didn't seem too impressed when the impudent young Poogle tried to enrol his petpet in one of his training classes.

     "Yaar, I don't do petpets," he said. "Worthless little creatures, ha'n't got the talent to withstand one o' my lessons."

     Riff was clearly unimpressed by the captain's assessment. He cocked his head to one side, licked his lips, then leaped forward and started chewing on his wooden leg.

     "Oh, I'm so sorry," WhisperedVoice said, scurrying forward and scooping the Schmoonie up into his arms. But the captain didn't look angry.

     "Arrr, spunky little fella," he said, chewing on the stem of his liquorice pipe. "He's got guts, I tell ye." He stared at him for a few more seconds then said, "You're on, young Poogle. I'll make a hero out of him yet. Come back in four hours, and your petpet will be a new Schmoonie."

     Blurting out his thanks, WhisperedVoice decided to explore the rest of Krawk Island whilst Riff was being trained. He couldn't stop thinking about how great things would be if only he could walk down the streets of Neopia Central without having to worry that Riff would dash off to bully some poor defenceless Angelpuss. He was just examining the Dubloon'o'Matic and wondering if they accepted codestones when there was a roar from Captain Threelegs' Academy, a burst of fire, and Naught Little Riff was fleeing for dear life with Captain Threelegs hobbling after him in hot pursuit.

     "Little varmint!" he squawked. "Dratted little vermin! He's set fire to me wooden leg!" And it was true - the Captain was missing his wooden limb and Riff looked like he had done something he really regretted.

     "No good will ever come of that Naughty Little Riff, I tell ye! He's bad through and through! Yer should've left him by the swamp where ya found him. Arrr!"

     "It's ok Riff," WhisperedVoice said sadly as they slunk back to their boat. "I'm not sorry I found you. Maybe the Techo Master on Mystery Island will train you instead."

     But when they did finally manage to reach Mystery Island, a sign on the academy there read 'Closed'.

     "Taking a holiday is the Techo Master," a helpful old Techo nearby called over when he saw the Poogle's crestfallen face. "Gone to Faerieland. A cousin he has there."

     "Oh," WhisperedVoice said, cradling the subdued Schmoonie. "Ok." He began to slink away wondering what he could possibly do with the naughty little petpet now. Maybe he would have to try and sell him in his shop, The Vermin Realm. He hadn't wanted it to end like this.

     "Troubled I see you are," the Techo said, leaning against his broom. "What burdens you?"

     "My Schmoonie is just so naughty," WhisperedVoice explained. "He just won't be good. Everyone complains about him, and I just can't train him. Even Captain Threelegs won't have anything to do with him."

     "Naughty, you say?" the Techo said, raising an eyebrow. "When in his heart you look, is 'Naughty' what you see?"

     WhisperedVoice looking down at the Schmoonie, whose bottom lip was trembling. "No," he said. "He wants to be good - but he just can't be."

     "Ahhh," the Techo said, stroking his chin. "Sometimes it is good to look into the heart to see the truth. Naughty he is not, but bored he is. Perhaps an outlet for his energy you could find. Petpet battles, I suggest."

     "Maybe," WhisperedVoice said thoughtfully. "That would be something he could be good at, and he'd probably enjoy it."

     "It is good to look beyond what others see, and see the real truth," the Techo said. "Don't you agree, young Lupe?"

     WhisperedVoice smiled, then froze. "Lupe?" he said. "You can see I'm really a Lupe?"

     He looked up, but the Techo had gone. The Lupe-Poogle smiled to himself. The Techo Master, it seemed, was in a hurry to now begin his vacation.

     "So, what do you say, Riff?" he said to the sleepy little Schmoonie. "How do petpet battles sound to you then?"

     Naughty Little Riff started to purr and rested his head on WhisperedVoice's shoulder. If he wanted to be big and strong, he knew he needed to save his energy.

The End

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