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Neopia's Forgotten Settlement - Delving Into Neovia


by whale_56

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For years the small town of Neovia in the Haunted Woods has flown under the radars of most Neopians. Hidden away from view by the shadows of the wispy trees that surround it, the quaint community is still said to be home to a dedicated cohort of residents, working to keep their distinct way of life a reality, rather than a relic of the past.

     At first glance Neovia doesn't pique the interests of many, being what seems to be a grey town, with cold aesthetics and even colder weather patterns. Temperatures in this part of the Haunted Woods barely reach 10 degrees at the best of times, never mind in the Month of Sleeping when I ventured into Neovia on behalf of the Neopian Times to investigate the lives and livelihoods of present-day Neovians.

     My journey began with a trip to the Haunted Woods and its harrowing dark sights. I arrived at dusk, greeted by a cacophony of cackles and moans. My overnight stay in Cockroach Towers was hardly a breeze, never mind the day I had ahead of me as I began my long journey into Neovia. The next morning I travelled to the Gypsy Camp, the halfway point between the Haunted Woods and my destination, passing trepidatiously through what seemed to be crowds of shoddy wooden wagons and carts. The people of the camp, of whom I spoke to very few of, were surprisingly kind and welcoming to such a stranger even as myself; the area doesn't seem to have been frequented by outsiders since the tumultuous times these people endured in Y8. However the metaphorical ghosts of the past are still very active here, and while the rest of Neopia is focused on the present there seems to be a certain yearning and solemnity about the past.

     One of the pedestrians through the camp, an older gentleman Aisha, caught my attention in particular. He was a Neovian en route to Castle Nox, the towering mansion haunting the skyline of the Woods. When I queried him about Neovia and the region in general, he recited tales of times long ago, when the Grand Neovian Mine was in operation and times were, as he put it, 'more pleasant for us Neovians'. Already I sensed a distinct warmth to the Neovian people or at least the few I had met up to that moment.

     That conversation spurred me on as I continued even further away from the Haunted Woods, following the course of an unkempt stone path that took me up and over the hillsides that surround Neovia. The town itself lies at the bottom of a valley, with steep edged hills lining the outskirts of the town, hence its obscurity. On the day I arrived in Neovia a faint purple mist hung over the town, cloaking its buildings from view as I walked ever closer to the town boundary. A suave Techo gentleman greeted me, expecting my arrival into the town, bearing gifts of the finest Techo Strudel and a monocle, a classic Neovian accessory. He introduced himself soon after as Alabaster Chesterdrawers, the owner of the local antique shop.

     Conversations with Alabaster were more normal than my preconceptions. Where before I had imagined an upper-class Neovian such as himself to be overly formal and forward about his wealth or social status, I now found the Techo gentleman to be kinder and more gentle than many a Neopian I've met in my time. He took a great interest in the lives of other Neopians and was incredibly courteous and humble in our conversations. Mr Chesterdrawers even let me examine the secret wares kept at the back of his shop, reserved for special customers, which included an Ornate Chandelier and various statues and tidbits of Neopian lore such as a King Skarl sculpture and Neopian encyclopedia hand-written years ago by Gorunda the Wise. Alabaster was unwavering in his passion for and dedication to these aged artefacts, the values of which are limitless, he told me. Yet there is something to be said for the fact that he has never once tried to sell one of these prized possessions, aiming to conserve them instead so the generations to come can admire the history of Neopia as he has done all his career.

     After a more pleasant night's sleep in Neovia than I had had at Cockroach Towers, I spent my second day in Neovia interviewing the local businesspeople, of which there are many. Once upon a time these streets were deserted and unclean, however on my ambles through the town it felt unabashedly busy, with its working residents all donned in Neovian attire and never slacking for a minute. What struck me was how ingrained this working spirit is in Neovian society, from young entrepreneurs to older janitors and gurus. In my conversations with the shop-owners of the town I was enthralled by their readiness to acknowledge the dark past of Neovia, yet also to put it aside and work towards a more plentiful future for all. The town is often said to be 'magical', often literally, but I found its true magic to be in its people and attitudes.

     I spoke with Chef Julien, a Gelert chef you may know from his work with the Spooky Food eating contests. A more rotund fellow, he greeted me with a smile as wide as he was tall. "Neovia today is thriving as an unseen success story. While other regions see great numbers of tourists and massive sales, we survive simply on the kindness of each other, and I must say we're doing rather well for ourselves."

     I also took a look at the selections available in the local Neovian Printing Press, the primary source of news in the town. It stocks everything from Meridell Heralds to Travel Brochures (not that many Neovians are keen to ever leave).

     I spoke with its owner, a gossiping Pteri dressed in Neovian finery. "We stock just about everything Neovians want to read, and at dashingly low prices too. Us Neovians love to read about the outside world, but we're more than happy to stay put as we know it helps us to thrive." And what of their disgraced former mayor? "Well, we don't tend to bring him up too often. I personally thought he was a fine fellow, but all that nonsense with his smear campaigns was just such a bother!"

     Walking away from the Press, its rhythmic industrial hum fading, I returned to my room for the night. But before doing so, I glanced at the night sky outside my window. Glimmering stars filled the black canvas of the sky, illuminating the peaceful dwelling that surrounded me. It made me wonder if the help that was given to Neovians during their crisis in Year 8 had somehow projected onto Neovians themselves; that the kindness given to them by Neopians had helped them foster their own community of kindness, to act as a shining beacon of positivity amongst the darkness of the Haunted Woods.

     Before my return journey began in the afternoon of my third day, I took some time to visit the graveyard on the South side of Neovia. Exploring the network of graves beside the town, I think the words of Edmund, a local Neovian, sum up the attitude of Neovia best: "Success is only achieved through hard work". These words are especially fitting, as the people of this quaint town have suffered yet worked through some of the harshest curses and tragedies known to Neopia. Not once on my journey did I meet a disdainful or disgruntled Neovian; only hardworking, down-to-earth people that live within their means.

     I think we can all take something from the character of the Neovian people, whether it be their unflinching determination or endless work ethic. I travelled to Neovia expecting to see the ruins of a formal society of times gone by but instead discovered the gem of the Haunted Woods. Neovia can be knocked down, but it will always return stronger than ever.

     The End.

 
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