Blue's Way: Part Seven
They landed in the shopping area of the city. To Fura’s astonishment, the pathway underfoot was not soft and bumpy as she had expected, but hard and smooth as if it were made of diamond. She did discover, however, that the ground on either side of the path was indeed what she had imagined clouds to be like. She stooped and patted them for a moment, giggling at their softness. She was broken out of her reverie by Rei elbowing her hard in the ribs. She looked up to see Arabell staring at her incredulously.
“Whatever are you doing, you silly goose?” The Kougra laughed. “There is no need to play with these hard, dirty piles of cloud! They are quite disgusting. If ever you wish to go to the cloud fields and play there, you may. You need only to ask.”
Arabell shot the Wocky a look, which Fura understood plainly. For the safety of the mission, she needed to act like she had been a highborn pet of Faerieland for her entire life.
She sniffed. “Very well, sister. Perhaps I shall go tomorrow, as long as there are not any lower-class pets there. They might rumple my fur.”
Arabell shot her a surprised and pleased look, and gave her the tiniest of nods. Then she reverted back into her role once again. “Come, girls,” came the delicate voice. “Mother asked me to buy you some treats before we came home again. I thought that perhaps you would enjoy having Petpets of your own. I know how much you adore my Faerie Sauropod.”
Rei gasped. “Really, B-er, Arabell? That would be fantastic!”
Arabell turned to Fura and could see that the Wocky agreed wholeheartedly with the plan by the way her eyes were shining.
“There is the Petpet shop,” announced the Kougra, and started leading them over to it. “Come, I think that you shall both be able to find your perfect Petpets here.”
The trio fluttered over to the shop. Arabell pulled open the door and they landed inside. Fura and Rei were awestruck as soon as they walked inside. There were so many Petpets, and they were all so gorgeous!
Rei flew over to Fura, letting her toes lightly skim the floor. “What Petpet do you want?” she asked brightly.
“I’m not really sure yet,” Fura admitted. “There are so many choices!”
“Well,” Rei said, glancing around and lowering her voice, “I know that I want to get a Petpet that will be a great partner for me when I become a DoN member.”
Fura smiled in delight. “You want to be a Defender? I do too!”
Arabell came up to the girls. “I overheard what you two were saying- I think it’s fabulous! Let me help you pick the right type of Petpet. You will both want smart Petpets who will be able to understand and help you. For example, you probably don’t want a moonstruck Spardel whose brain is the size of a pea to be your partner.”
Fura blushed and quickly returned the Faerie Spardel she had been holding to its cage.
“On the other hand,” Arabell continued, “you will want a Petpet who is loyal to you and won’t attack you at every opportunity.”
Rei snatched her paw back from the door of the cage that housed the Faerie Niptors. All of the occupants were doing their best to bite her through the bars.
Arabell smiled and reverted back into her role of aristocratic Faeriedom. “I’ll leave you to your decisions, sisters; I think you have quite a better idea of what type of Petpet you will want to search for now.” She fluttered away to distract the attention of the curious shopkeeper.
Fura gazed around the small shop, debating her choices. She wanted the type of Petpet that would enjoy cuddling up in her lap on cold winter evenings. However, she also wanted a Petpet who was smart and useful in battle. She realized that the Spardel would have been completely useless in those areas. Finally her gaze settled upon the Faerie Snowbunny cage. Her breath caught. There, peering out at her, was the most perfect Snowbunny! She opened the cage and gently took him out. He was certainly cuddly, and he studied her with very intelligent eyes. She frowned. He wouldn’t be very useful in battle, though, would he? As if he could read her thoughts, the Petpet yawned and showed Fura his very sharp teeth. He also kicked out his hind legs, and the force behind the kick surprised Fura. “All right,” she whispered. “You’re going to be my DoN partner. How does that sound?” The Snowbunny nodded and smiled. “Maybe I’ll even be able to learn your language... Jolonni,” Fura murmured happily.
Meanwhile, Rei drifted around the shop. She thought the Niptors were really cool. But perhaps Bl-Arabell is right, she thought. After all, Niptors are known for biting all of the time, and I can’t have my Petpet biting ME when we’re in battle! I do want a Petpet who is fierce and proud, though. She looked around the room twice more before she spotted a cage tucked away in one of the corners. Wonder what’s in there? she thought. She approached the cage and immediately realized that it was full of Gruslens. She looked in and immediately her eyes were drawn to a Gruslen sitting on a shelf near the back of the cage. She immediately unhooked the door and reached inside for the Petpet, but just when her fingers brushed his fur he jerked toward her with his needle-sharp tusks. She jerked her paw back just in time and let out a gasp of delight. This was the Petpet of her dreams! He was powerful with well-toned muscles, and very quick with his jaws. He would be excellent in battle! She could see that he also was very intelligent. He looked as though if his trust were won, he would be a very loyal friend.
Rei cleared her throat. “I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I didn’t mean to insult you. Could I pick you up, please?” She gingerly stretched out her arms, and after studying her for a moment the Faerie Gruslen flew into them. “Would you like to be my partner? I’m going to be a Defender of Neopia, you see; would you like that?” The Gruslen studied her for a moment more, and then licked her hand in affirmation. “Good... Riversurge,” she replied softly.
Arabell spoke. “Have you girls made your decisions? Come up to the front of the shop. We must pay and go quickly, or Mother shall worry.”
After paying and exiting the shop, Arabell hurried Rei and Fura along the streets. They went out of the shop district and started to travel through suburbs. The houses they passed started to get bigger and bigger until they finally started to go by mansions. Suddenly Arabell turned and headed up the front walk of a huge, three-story Neohome.
“Come along, sisters!” she called back.
Fura and Rei followed, marveling at the architecture and perfectly groomed gardens. Arabell tapped lightly at the front door, which was immediately opened by a Red Tonu butler.
“Miss,” he answered, bowing low and opening the door wide.
“Yes, thank you, Alfred,” Arabell said calmly. “Could you lead us to Mother? She will be concerned if I do not tell her that we have arrived home. I assume that she has not gone out?”
“Oh, yes, that’s correct, miss,” Alfred replied. “Right this way- she is reading in the walled garden.”
“Come, sisters,” Arabell beckoned. “Do not go to your rooms yet- you must show Mother your new Petpets.”
The Tonu led them at a sedate pace through large hallways and past elegant rooms. Fura and Rei did their best not to stare. Arabell, of course, had no trouble maintaining her role at all. Finally, they came to a large set of double doors.
“Here you are, miss,” said Alfred, bowing and opening the door.
“Thank you,” Arabell replied. You may leave us now, unless any Neomails or packages have arrived for me?”
“Yes, miss,” came the reply. “Here is a Neomail for you.”
Arabell accepted it, and then swept through the doorway with her ‘sisters’ following closely behind.
“Hello, Mother,” Arabell said. “How are you?” She pulled open a door and peered into the garden shed. “Oh, that’s lovely. Do you see these new Petpets I bought for my sisters?” She glanced behind several large potted plants and peered underneath some ivy cascading down the east wall. “What are their names again, girls? Oh, that’s right- Fluffykins and Puffball.” Arabell glanced around the walled garden one more time and, satisfied, turned to Fura and Rei. “All clear,” she said simply. “There are no spies about.”
“Ah, checking for spies,” said Fura.
“So, who’s the mother supposed to be?” Rei asked.
Arabell chuckled. “She’s the owner of this house. She always has been helpful to the DoN; she always lets us use this house when we’re on a mission on Faerieland. Her butler, Alfred, is in on it, of course. He gives DoN members any messages that might have been sent to them and takes them to a secret spot in case they need to meet anybody.”
“How’d Alfred know that you were a Defender, though?” Rei asked.
“I asked to see ‘my mother’,” Arabell pointed out. “If I were really the owner’s daughter, Alfred would obviously know me. Since I am not her daughter, he knows that I am a Defender. It’s a little trick that DoN set him up with, that’s all.”
“Are we really unsafe here?” Fura asked a bit nervously.
“Not too unsafe. Of course, there could always be spies among the servants, but you saw how I checked for spies before talking about anything important. And I don’t think an enemy would outright attack this place, because the attack would be obvious to anyone in the near vicinity and the Chia Police or the Defenders would be notified right away. Now- let’s see what this note says.”
Arabell deftly slit open the envelope with one of her claws and scanned the Neomail quickly. She blinked, and then read it a second time. Suddenly she snarled, crumpled the note and threw it to the ground in fury.
“What is it?” Fura asked, startled by this show of anger.
To be continued...