Baby Adventures: The Faerie Gazette
Treaphie sighed as she looked down at her breakfast plate - it was filled with fresh bunches of broccoli. The Baby Usul had cleaned her plate of the terrible stuff yesterday by dumping it in the trash, and now her owner, Brianna, thought that she loved it. But now Treaphie wasn't seated near the trash bin, and she could think of no plan to get rid of the meal except to eat it - which was out of the question.
She glanced next to her and saw Kasthie, her little sister, stuffing as much of the vegetable into her mouth as possible, her small Baby Korbat hands filled with the disgusting green stuff. Her big black eyes were literally shining with happiness. Treaphie briefly considered giving some to her sister, but the sight of more broccoli being gifted her would certainly cause her to burst out into happy exclamations, and Brianna would undoubtedly hear.
On Treaphie's other side sat Kolyae the Baby Chomby, a little older than Treaphie but far more shy. He was trying to be good, slowly eating his broccoli, but it was clear from the look on his face that he could not wait until it was all gone. Beside him Leti, a young Baby Peophin, was daintily scooping up broccoli on her fork and eating it with a composed look on her face. The newest member of the family, she was always very polite and elegant, but nobody except Brianna knew where she had come from. One day she arrived home with the young baby in the backseat of the baby stroller, in which the others had been sleeping, and Brianna hadn't told anyone how she had come to adopt her. But Leti was a very pleasant addition to the family, and soon everybody in the family had grown to love her.
Suddenly, a bright white figure sailed through the window, landing on the table beside Brianna. Thinking fast, Treaphie got up, raced to the trash bin, and emptied her plate of broccoli while Brianna stared at the arrival.
It was a Weewoo with neatly-clipped, soft white fur and big, beady black eyes. Clutched between its talons was a rolled-up edition of the Neopian Times, and hanging around its neck was a small brown satchel. The Weewoo chirped softly as it hopped around on the table. Treaphie slid back into her seat, staring curiously at the bird while Brianna took the newspaper from its feet.
Kasthie frowned at the newspaper. "It looks different today," she commented, "but I didn't think there was a holiday coming up." Treaphie glanced at the newspaper and privately agreed with her - she knew the Neopian Times was decorated with images of upcoming holidays several times a year, but she couldn't imagine what the golden pictures on the new issue were supposed to indicate.
Brianna placed a coin into the bag on the Weewoo, but the Weewoo didn't fly off. He chirped a little more impatiently, and Brianna seemed to remember something.
"Of course, it's the special issue, I'm supposed to give an extra tip!" She fished in her pocket for extra change and deposited the coins into the satchel. Whistling in thanks, the Weewoo turned around and flapped back outside.
"What is it?" Kolyae asked curiously. "What's so special about today?"
"It's the five-hundred-fiftieth issue of the Neopian Times!" Brianna exclaimed happily. The others gasped.
"That's a long time for a newspaper to be in circulation," Treaphie said. "You'd think another newspaper would replace them by now as the top news source."
Brianna looked shocked. "Nonsense!" she declared. "Nothing can beat the Neopian Times! This newspaper has everything - comics, short stories, series, articles, an editorial, and a great delivery service." She looked content as she unfolded the newspaper. "I don't know of any other newspaper that has all that."
Treaphie grinned. "Not yet," she muttered, so that only the babies could hear her. They shot her quizzical looks, but she smiled mischievously and simply said, "Brianna, I finished my breakfast. May I go to my room?"
"Of course," Brianna told her affectionately, beaming at the sight of Treaphie's spotless plate.
When all the other babies had finished their breakfast, they joined Treaphie in her bedroom and gazed around in shock.
Treaphie's room had transformed since they had last seen it. The soft purple walls had been coated in newspaper clippings from previous Neopian Times issues, and several small, cream-colored tables and chairs had been spaced out throughout the room. Treaphie sat in the seat nearest the door, wearing a small red-and-white baseball cap and scribbling on a piece of paper beside a small plaque reading 'Manager'. She looked up expectantly as the door opened.
"So glad you could come, do sit down, please," she instructed formally.
Perplexed, the babies sat down on the floor in front of her desk.
Treaphie sighed, looking at the large clock on the wall, and stated, "Time is of the essence. This is a business, we can't be slacking off - we must be punctual. Understood?"
The others just stared.
"Um, Treaphie?" Kasthie asked timidly. "What do you mean it's a business? What are you talking about?"
"I'm talking about the Faerie Gazette," Treaphie announced, her lilac eyes sparkling in excitement. "We're going to get more readers than the Neopian Times. We'll be rich! But first we have to get our positions. I'm going to be the manager. Kasthie, you'll be the reporter."
"Reporter?" she asked uncertainly. "Reporter of what?"
"Of the news. You can hunt around town for a story and take pictures of what you see, anything interesting will do. Now, Leti, you'll be the writer."
"What do I write?" she asked curiously.
Treaphie shrugged. "Stories, articles, series... you choose."
Leti nodded confirmation. Kolyae shifted uncomfortably, realizing he was going to get his job next. He hoped it was something easy.
"Kolyae, you'll have to make the comics. You'll think of funny situations and draw them in an amusing way," Treaphie stated clearly.
"I think I can do that," he said nervously, thinking hard.
"This sounds like a lot of work," Kasthie murmured.
"What exactly are you going to be doing, Treaphie?" Leti asked politely, though a bit suspiciously.
"I'll be managing you all to make sure you're on task," Treaphie stated proudly. "I'll also be compiling the newspaper together, advertising, and, of course, solving other trivial matters that come with owning a newspaper."
"Such as what?" Leti questioned, curiosity dancing in her eyes.
"Such as finding a way to deliver the paper," Treaphie replied conversationally. "The Neopian Times has Weewoos. We'll have to find another delivery method. I think I have an idea, but it'll take a bit of work."
Leti pressed her for more information with a glance, but Treaphie shook her head. "You'll find out soon enough. Now each of you, go to your desks. You will find that your names are on plaques on each of them."
Sure enough, each of the babies found a stack of paper and pencils at their desks, though Kolyae found a pile of colorful crayons and Kasthie noticed a large, thick black camera with a fancy lens as well. Before they had even sat down, Treaphie had toddled out of the room, calling out, "I have a few errands to do to get the Faerie Gazette running smoothly. I expect you all to be ready by noon."
After a short silence, Kasthie whined, "I don't know how to find 'interesting' stories! Where do I look?"
"I suggest taking a stroll through the streets of Faerieland and seeing what you can find," Leti suggested. The Baby Peophin was looking thoughtful as she brushed her golden hoof through her pastel-blue mane, racking her brains for a story idea.
"Okay, I'll do that," Kasthie agreed, climbing out of her seat and grabbing a paper and writing utensil. She put the leather strap of the camera around her small neck and struggled to hold up the camera's weight. "Thanks, Leti!" she called out to her sister as she passed through the door. She made her way out of the house and strolled down the streets, looking earnestly around for anything interesting occurring. It seemed that all was peaceful, however; Weewoos were making their last morning deliveries of that special golden issue of the Neopian Times, faeries were fluttering about, and tourists were gushing excitedly at each mystical building they saw. Kasthie briefly considered interviewing them but decided against it. "I need something more newsworthy than tourists," she told herself sternly.
She glanced towards the Faerieland Petpet Shop and noticed two masked Purple Grundos were entering, whispering to each other. They were inside for a few minutes, then exited with bulging sacks.
"Where will I find something to report?" she asked herself, thinking back to all she had seen so far. As she thought of the Grundos, an idea came to her. "That's it!" she cried, excitedly scribbling down the story. She hastily snapped a picture of the shop before fleeing to a park bench, where she wrote the rest of her report in earnest.
Leti frowned, thinking hard. She needed this story to be incredible - the first issue of the Faerie Gazette had to sell well if they were going to continue, and this could prove to be an excellent job opportunity. After several more moments' thought, she began talking aloud to herself. "I need something taking place in Faerieland, as it is the Faerie Gazette," she mused. Suddenly, an idea sparked in her mind.
"I could write a thrilling tale about the adventures of a young thief in Faerieland who comes upon the Magical Blue Grundo Plushie of Prosperity and ends their thieving days!" she exclaimed excitedly. Kolyae, sitting at a table next to her, looked over in surprise.
"That's a great idea," he told her earnestly. "Can you think of one for me? Treaphie will be back soon, and I haven't come up with a comic yet."
"Sure, Kolyae," Leti said kindly. "What sort of idea?"
"Anything funny," he begged.
After a few moments of quiet thinking, she suggested, "You could try to make one of those play-on-words comics - such as someone finding a berry and saying, 'This is berry good!'"
"Genius!" Kolyae shouted enthusiastically. "Thanks, Leti!" He began drawing away while Leti put her pencil tip on the page and began to write.
"Where is she?" Treaphie muttered to herself as she peered into the living room. She had checked six rooms of the house so far, but had not yet managed to find the Pteri she sought. After several moments' thought, she scurried out the door and into the backyard. Turning her head from side to side, she finally caught sight of her beautiful sister lounging in a chair beside her other sister and best friend, Toupahz.
"Curesa!" she called out, making her way towards the Faerie Pteri. Curesa glanced up at the sight of her baby sister, as did Toupahz the Faerie Meerca. Both of the Faerie pets were very stunning, but in different ways. Toupahz had a smooth black body with a creamy white face and stomach, and her large, butterfly-shaped wings were decorated with electric-blue streaks. Meanwhile, Curesa was coated in feathers of deep gold, orange, pink, and purple. Her long, elaborate tail feathers were flapping slightly in the breeze as she looked up.
"Oh, hi, Treaphie," she greeted calmly.
"Curesa, can I borrow Tune?" she asked sweetly, trying to sound as polite as possible.
Curesa noticed the unnatural way in which she asked. "What for?" she questioned suspiciously.
"I'd just like to play with her and watch her fly around," Treaphie replied innocently.
After a few moments' hesitation, Curesa consented. The Pteri sang a long, low note and her Beekadoodle, Tune, flew down from the trees. The Beekadoodle stared inquisitively at Treaphie, her long, thin orange beak pointing at the Baby Usul. She ruffled her light-blue feathers, tinged with purple, and fluttered over to Treaphie, landing on the Usul's shoulder.
Treaphie grinned. "Thanks, Curesa!" she exclaimed happily. She turned around and raced back towards the house.
Toupahz looked over at the Faerie Pteri. "She's up to something, isn't she?" Toupahz mentioned conversationally.
Curesa nodded. "Definitely," she agreed. "But if Brianna asks later, we did nothing."
Treaphie sat at the desk in her room, yet again coaxing the Beekadoodle to bring the piece of paper clamped in its beak to her.
"I'm right here, just fly over to me, Tune! Haven't you ever delivered things before?" Treaphie sighed as, yet again, Tune flew off towards the ceiling, looking for a nice, high-up place to rest. She thought she now knew why the Neopian Times used Weewoos for deliveries - Beekadoodles were not at all focused on their jobs.
A chime echoed through the room, coming from the small timer Treaphie had placed on her desk. "Time's up!" she shouted, causing her three employees to jump from their seats in alarm. "Come up and show me what you've got!"
The first to reach her was Kasthie, looking nervous but a little pleased too as she handed her news story to Treaphie. Treaphie glanced down at it.
"Hello, Faerie Gazette readers!" Treaphie read aloud. "Your reporter saw that the Faerieland Petpet Shop has gotten a new paint color! The old blue shade has been replaced by a light purple, which is totally pretty! When the shopkeeper was questioned, she said, 'It's no big deal. I thought we should change the color sometime.' Keep checking back for the newest report!" Treaphie raised her head slowly to look at Kasthie, filled with disbelief. "This is a report?!" she asked incredulously, staring at the short paragraph in her hand.
Kasthie nodded, feeling a little shy after seeing Treaphie's reaction. "Um, yes," she said quietly, "And I got pictures too." She handed Treaphie the heavy camera and watched anxiously as she flipped through the pictures, shaking her head.
"Kasthie, these are all pictures of Petpets!" Treaphie exclaimed in dismay. She paused and her expression faltered as she came upon the last image in the camera. "Kasthie..." she said slowly, turning the camera. "What is this?"
Kasthie peered at the colorful image intently. "It's the new wall color of the Faerieland Petpet Shop," she answered instantly.
"I mean that," Treaphie clarified, pointing near the entryway to the shop. Kasthie saw the two Purple Grundos with their black ski masks and bulging sacks.
"Just some... shoppers?" she guessed hesitantly.
"Shoppers?!" Treaphie cried out, astonishment written all over her face. "These are clearly robbers, Kasthie! Why didn't you write about them?"
Kasthie looked fearful. "I... I saw the walls..." she managed, and Treaphie sighed.
"We'll talk about it later, then. Next!" she said, business-like, and Leti glided towards Treaphie, moving elegantly across the carpet.
"Here is my story," Leti said serenely, dropping a stack of papers onto her desk and instantly becoming mesmerized by a small picture on Treaphie's wall. As she gazed, distracted, Treaphie glanced down at the story. Her lavender eyes widened as she flipped quickly through the stack.
"How in Neopia did you manage to write all this just now?" Treaphie questioned, turning back to the beginning. She began to read the tale out loud: "Endless beads of cool rain dripped down the glass pane, seeming dismal in the presence of the darkened night. Roaring winds pounded on the thin window, demanding entrance into the small, steamy wooden hut... Leti," Treaphie said warily, "This is way too detailed and sophisticated. There's no way we can fit it in the paper, we need something... shorter and simpler."
Leti sighed and collected her story, moving aside as Kolyae trotted uncertainly up to Treaphie. Treaphie took one look at the comic in front of her and groaned. All she saw was a single panel, in which the words 'These are BERRY good!' were scribbled in a thick blue crayon.
She said nothing to Kolyae, who stared at her nervously, and simply spoke to the entire group. "You guys really need to practice your jobs more and get good at them. At this point, I'm the only one who's gotten it right!"
"And what have you done?" Leti asked, placing her golden hooves on her hips and shooting her a questioning look.
"I've gotten a delivery system," Treaphie replied smoothly. She whistled in imitation of Curesa's long, low note, and Tune fluttered through the doorway. The small Beekadoodle flapped its pastel blue wings and perched on Kasthie's matching hair bow, to which the Korbat squealed in delight.
"Grab the papers," Treaphie directed. Tune cocked her head and flapped her wings lightly, settling down into a comfier position on the silk bow.
Treaphie glanced sheepishly at the others. "You know what?" she said hastily, "Maybe the Neopian Times is the number one news source for a reason."
"Agreed," Kasthie replied immediately. She lifted her sippy cup, and the others raised theirs as well, clinking them together as Kasthie cheered, "Here's to five hundred and fifty more!"
Happy 550th issue, Neopian Times! :D