Surprise with a Twist
Legend had just arrived from the Haunted Woods. He studied the Neohome in Neopia Central. Abeje had said that no one would be home. He believed her but one of her older brothers, a yellow Pteri, was named Trick for a reason. Legend was no dummy; he knew that the Neohome was booby-trapped, especially now.
Trick was sixteen years old. At the beginning of the month of Hunting, he had gotten lost on Mystery Island for two weeks. It had been a trying ordeal for the young Pteri and now, one month later, he was still in recovery. That's why Legend was there now. Trick wasn't fully healed but he was definitely feeling better and driving his siblings mad in the process.
Legend had come prepared. Just because the Neohome looked innocent, didn't mean that was the case. With one last searching look, he stepped forward and knocked on the door.
"Come in," Legend heard Trick call.
OK, here I go, Legend thought. He put his hand on the knob and opened the door.
In the next moment, Legend was completely soaked (in water, thankfully). His mane dripped and his long forelock hung in his eyes. He blinked, trying to clear his vision.
"Classic," Trick laughed.
Trick's laugh was rough and grating. It was easily annoying but Legend was a social creature and extremely good-natured. He couldn't help but laugh along. He knew it would make Trick happy. Once you became upset by one of his tricks, he would never trick you, again.
"Legend, what are you doing here," Trick asked.
"Looking for you. I heard that you needed something to do with your life. I need help with a surprise party I'm throwing. So, are you game?" Legend looked steadily at the young Pteri.
I thought so.
"So, what's the plan?"
"I have it all figured out. So, the party is going to be on the twentieth."
Trick was suddenly silent. His quick black eyes went still. Legend could tell he was thinking. The yellow Pteri suddenly blinked and dipped his head to Legend.
"Go on, Legend," Trick said.
"I have lists of supplies that I'll need. We won't get the food until a week before the party. Take these," Legend said, handing two lists to Trick.
Trick took them and scanned them, furrowing his brow. It was a highly unusual look for the usually cheerful Pteri.
"Legend, I can't get these things for you. I've never been the strongest pet and I can't fly long distances since I got hurt," Trick said, looking up at the brown Uni.
"Don't worry about that, Trick. I have everything arranged. You'll go to the nearest port in two days time and receive these shipments. I have hired a carriage Uni to transport and assist you. I really only want you to supervise the transportation of the supplies. I'll take care of the rest," Legend explained.
"A carriage Uni? Legend, I'm a Pteri! I fly to get places. I don't take a carriage like a Neopet that doesn't have any other form of transportation."
"Trick, do you want to get out of the Neohome or not?"
That cinched it for Trick. He was sick and tired (literally) of being stuck in his Neopia Central Neohome. He, who was used to traveling, especially to Tyrannia, had been trapped within the same four walls for far too long. Two days later, a massive red Uni pulled up, carting a large wagon behind him. Trick went up to the Uni.
"I'm going to fly above you . When I get tired, I'll alight down then," Trick said.
The Uni, befitting his job, did not respond. It would take an hour to reach the port. Trick, could only manage a fifteen minute flight. For the next forty-five minutes, he rode in the wagon. Trick was not a creature of silence.
It had been complete torture for the teenage Pteri when he had been trapped all alone on Mystery Island. Legend, knowing the type of pet that Trick was, had informed the Uni he had hired of this. For a carriage Uni, it went against protocol but this particular Uni had been friends with Legend for years, he had been filled in on Trick's situation and he was sympathetic. So, when Trick began to talk, the Uni was prepared.
"My name is Trick. What's your name," Trick began.
The Uni didn't answer right away. Just because he had agreed to speak, didn't mean he had to like it. Besides that, he had been a carriage Uni for years. To break protocol was no easy task. Trick was silent for only a moment.
"What's wrong? You can't be winded. You're not going that fast and I'm not that heavy. Please don't tell me that you're not a chatty individual... I can't stand silence!"
It seemed that the Uni may not have to speak after all.
"Well, at least that makes you a good listener. I am a social creature. Makes sense, I am a Pteri. I love to laugh and I'm not called Trick for nothing. Though, I'm not cruel. If someone doesn't enjoy the trick as much as I do, then I won't trick them ever again.
"My favorite music is..."
Trick chattered on and the remainder of the trip passed pleasantly. They arrived at the port and the crates and sacks were loaded onto the wagon. Then, they made their way back to Neopia Central. D, Trick's younger brother, was waiting to unload. Being a red Moehog, he was the strongest in the family and could handle the heavy work with ease.
Once they were unloaded, stacked against the wall of their Neohome, Trick held his curiosity in check. He respected Legend and he didn't want to do anything that would upset the Uni. Speaking of... there was Legend now! He trotted up and beamed as he saw the supplies he had ordered, safe and sound.
"You did good, Trick. Ready for your next task? I like to send personal invitations to pets. So, you're going to help me. Here is your half," Legend said, handing a small scroll to Trick.
"Half? You call this half, Legend," Trick exclaimed.
"Yes, fifteen Neopets should keep you busy enough."
"That's for sure!"
"I'll see you about a week or so from now to get the food, OK?"
The two pets parted ways. Trick studied the list. How to do this? The majority of the pets lived in Neopia Central. The last lived in Darigan Citadel.
"Time to get to work," Trick said.
Just because most of them lived in Neopia Central did not mean that they lived in the same area. N.C. was a large place. Thankfully, four of the fourteen lived in Trick's neighborhood. The teenage yellow Pteri could not fly anymore that day but it wasn't that far to walk. Trick, however, wasn't used to walking and, as hot as it was, he was panting as he delivered the first four invitations.
Trick's reward was that three of the four accepted while one refused. He went back home to get himself a canteen of water to help combat the heat and then he headed west to deliver four more invitations to two different Neohomes. Once more the Neopets accepted and Trick went east. That was four more Neopets, Neohomes and yeses for the yellow Pteri.
"I'm on a roll!"
Trick was immensely pleased with his day's work, even with the heat. It was the longest day he had had since the month of Hunting. He wanted to get home to sleep but he had only two more invitations to pass out and he wanted to get Neopia Central out of the way. The sun was beginning to set, taking the heat with it. Trick was grateful that the heat was leaving because he couldn't handle it at the moment.
Though, now he had another problem. Being a Pteri, he had never been a nocturnal creature. Since the incident on Mystery Island, he had suddenly become fearful of the dark. He didn't like this one bit because he had never been afraid of anything before but now he felt extremely uneasy as he walked down the path, heading south towards the last Neohome.
"Behind you, Trick."
A voice hissed and Trick whirled around and almost had a heart attack when he saw no one there.
The voice hissed again and Trick whirled back around. For the first time in his life, he felt like he would faint.
"Here I am, Trick."
A hand clapped on the Pteri's shoulder and, if it hadn't firmly been planted there, Trick would have jumped a foot in the air. There stood Lure, the wraith Korbat, smiling malevolently down at the terrified Pteri.
"You're afraid of the dark, are ya, Trick," Lure said.
Trick didn't respond.
"I'm here because Legend said you would like some company and he told me why. Though, if you don't want my company, I'll gladly leave."
"No, wait! Please don't leave... I can't be alone anymore," Trick said.
"What about Isaac? He's a Calabat, a nocturnal Petpet."
"He stays up with me during the day and sleeps at night."
"I find that highly offensive."
"I'm not useful in the dark. I can't see very well. Heck, I wear glasses!"
"The point is I needed another Neopet to keep me company and who is actually comfortable in the dark."
"You got me."
While they had been walking, Trick had kept his eye out for the last address. Finding it, he delivered the last invitations while Lure stayed invisible somewhere behind him. Only as Trick was heading back home did the Korbat reappear.
"Two more yeses, Lure! All I have left is the invitation I have to deliver to Darigan Citadel and I'll have completed what I set out to do," Trick said.
Lure didn't say anything but he did walk Trick back to his Neohome. That's where they parted. Trick usually slept in a tall tree that shadowed his N.C. Neohome. Unfortunately, since his incident, he had been unable to sleep in his normal perch. So, he had actually had to sleep inside his Neohome.
The sixteen year old Pteri had first tried to share a bedroom with his fourteen year old Moehog brother. He rarely spent any time inside and if he did happen to come in it was to go to the kitchen or living room. So, he had no idea how terribly dirty D's bedroom was, not only with clothes and things scattered about, but there were muddy tracks throughout. Trick had made his way to the bed where he would be sleeping. There was little space in D's room to begin with and Trick's bed had been shoved in, so that the two beds made an L shape.
Trick had hopped up to the bed and almost lost his balance. He was not used to such soft surfaces. He moved awkwardly and he got the idea to perch on the headboard. Trick was normally a light sleeper. D had already been sleeping at that point and Trick had been on the verge of joining him when he heard the first creak of the mattress.
Instantly awake, Trick tried to fall back asleep. Then, the snores began. D shook his bed and Trick's. The snores echoed in the room and Trick knew he couldn't stay a moment longer. He quickly exited his younger brother's bedroom and entered that of his older brother, OG.
The creaky door had instantly alerted the yellow Ogrin (who also happened to be a light sleeper).
"Couldn't sleep in D's room, huh? That's why my walls are soundproof," Og had said.
Trick had perched on his brother's headboard and there he now slept. The evening that Lure had been with him, Trick had been exhausted by that day's work. He slept heavily that night. The next morning, he awoke and ate a hearty breakfast.
Trick had just stood up from the kitchen table, prepared to leave for the Citadel when a thought struck him, "Hey, Og?"
"Yes, Trick," Og said.
"How long will it take me to reach Darigan Citadel?"
"About a day and a half."
The brothers left their Neohome and Trick was momentarily stopped in his tracks as there stood the red carriage Uni from before.
"What the-," Trick walked over to the Uni.
"Maybe this Uni is psychic, Trick! That would be awesome," D exclaimed, standing beside Og.
"Don't be ridiculous, D. Legend told him to come," OG said.
"Oh, OK. That makes more sense than you being psychic. Thank you for coming. I definitely needed the ride or with my current physical limitations I would have reached the Citadel by next year," Trick said.
D and Og laughed and Trick smiled. Score! It was easy to make his younger brother laugh but his older brother was another matter entirely. The Pteri waved at his brothers as his carriage Uni began to trot off.
"I'm going to go ahead and fly as long as I can and then I'll ride for the rest of the day," Trick said, flapping his wings and gaining altitude.
Like before, Trick wasn't in the air for very long. The ride also wasn't quiet. The Pteri kept up a soliloquy, chatting up a storm about anything that crossed his mind.
The Next Day
Having expended his flight time for that day, Trick had to get a ride from his carriage Uni to reach Darigan Citadel. Once there, the Uni was about to trot away but Trick didn't want to be alone, not in the Citadel.
"Wait! Please, will you stay with me," Trick asked.
The Uni started. Apparently, this wasn't in his job description. However, he did not verbalize an opinion. He merely walked beside the young Pteri as he delivered the last invitation.
"That's fourteen yeses and one no. Oh yeah! I am so ready to go home now," Trick said.
So, the sixteen year old yellow Pteri did just that.
A Few Days Later
Legend picked Trick up at his Neohome and then they walked to the Neopia Central shops. They entered the hamburger shaped Food Shop. Legend asked for a menu and then he let Trick choose seven items from it. Trick smiled. He already knew that he was going to choose his favorite foods and things that he had never tasted before.
"I want omelettes and quesadillas, of course. Now for something fun... I don't want to leave the surprise party guests out to dry. We should all broaden our horizons! I want to thank you, Legend, for allowing me to help you with the party planning. it's the most varied thing I've done since-," Trick was cut off.
"The beginning of the month of Hunting, I know that, Trick. That's why I asked for your help. It should be I thanking you, Trick. You've done an excellent job thus far. So, anything exciting on the menu catch your eye," Legend said.
"Yup! Hairy Fungus Salad, Meerca Fruit Burger, Blended Pipper... Egg Hot Dog and Cucumber Hot Dog."
"Alright! Then that's what I'll order."
"I have two cups of Blended Pipper here, if you two are interested," the Chia shopkeeper suddenly put in.
"Alright," Trick exclaimed.
"Thank you," Legend said.
The brown Uni and the yellow Pteri exited the shop, sipping their beverages. They headed for home.
"Those certainly hit the spot," Trick said, dropping their empty bottles in a nearby garbage can.
"Yes, the Food Shop Chia is quite thoughtful about his customers' needs. He knew we needed a drink on such a hot day," Legend said.
"A Neopet doesn't know heat until they've been to Mystery Island."
"I have. So, Trick, I'll see you on the day of the party. At seven o'clock, OK?"
"Yeah, I'll be there."
Surprise Party Day
Trick was eager for the party. He had anticipated all of the fun he would have that evening since he had awoken that morning. There were times when Trick was enlisted as entertainment but not this time. Legend had told him to just relax and enjoy himself. The teenaged Pteri planned to do just that.
That morning at breakfast, Og had proposed a family nature walk. With nothing else to pass the time to the evening, Trick said yes. So, the family of four followed their oldest sibling. They trekked past the pond where Og had met Alla, his yellow Mallard and entered the forest. Thanks in part to their naturalist brother and in part to the fact that they lived close to the forest all four of the siblings had Petpets that came from the wild.
Og had met All in the pond and had formed a bond with her. Abeje had caught Abhay, her Christmas Spyder when he had spun a web in her bedroom. Trick had found Isaac while on a nature walk when the Pteri had planned on surprising his siblings but instead had been distracted by the Calabat, trapped and injured in the hollow of a tree. Though D, the youngest of the four, had the most astounding story of them all. It was told often because it was a favorite family story... at least now it was because it hadn't been then.
One day, young D had become suddenly ill while no one else was home. In a feverish state he had left his Neohome. Og had come home to find his youngest brother missing and, in complete panic, began a frantic search for the Moehog. Og hadn't spent all that time alone in the forest for nothing. He was an excellent tracker and eventually lost the track at the edge of a thick patch of brambles. There was no passage and Og fell, desperately trying to figure out a plan to reach his brother.
That's when the Ogrin had felt eyes on him. He looked up to see a Xepru studying him from the brambles. He knew that these Petpets had a connection with plants.
"Please, help me," Og whispered, delirious enough to ask the help of a Petpet.
To the then seventeen year old's utter amazement, the brambles had cleared and there lay D. With gentle coaxing, Og had gotten his brother home safe and healed, the Xepru hovering anxiously nearby. Oddly, the Xepru stayed, fiercely protective of the red Moehog it decided to call owner. When asked, D said he couldn't remember much. It was all too fuzzy.
As the nature walk continued, the siblings learned much and their admiration grew for the habitat that they had immersed themselves in. The time passed quickly and it was soon time to head home and prepare for the surprise party. As they neared their Neohome, Trick had to slow down, having lost sight of Isaac.
As he turned to look for his absent Calabat, his siblings slipped inside. Trick saw his Petpet lagging behind but at a call from his owner, Isaac soon joined him.
The pair went to the door and opened it.
"HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TRICK!"
Trick was in shock as he was surrounded by a crowd of his closest family and friends. Slowly, the crowd thinned and Trick headed for the food table. As the Pteri heaped his plate with food he had picked out, just days ago, Legend sidled up.
"So, you're obviously surprised," the Uni said.
"Oh yes. You actually had me help plan my own surprise party! I love it," Trick laughed.
"I knew you wouldn't think to ask who the surprise was for."
The food was delicious and every new food that Trick tried he loved. Dessert also brought a laugh to the happy-go-lucky Pteri. The cake was a simple sheet cake and in green icing was the word GOTCHA! The cake was scrumptious and Trick had three slices. He was admiring how Legend had turned his Neopia Central Neohome into looking like Tyrannia.
"How did you do all of this in one day, Legend? This is amazing," Trick said.
"Well, I told everyone to come at six but I've been working since you left this morning. I'm glad you like it, Trick. Though, there is one more surprise for you," Legend said with a smile.
Trick suspected a Legend play or story in the making. He looked at the Uni expectantly.
"Everyone, may I have your attention please? I would like to direct you all to the backyard where the final surprise this evening shall be revealed," Legend announced.
The party guests filed outside where a low stage had been erected. The area was lighted by tiki torches and Shenkuu lanterns. Trick wasn't sure what was happening. There was a dark curtain on the stage and his jaw dropped as the curtain revealed what was behind it.
"You brought Sticks N Stones to my party! This is the BEST PARTY EVER," Trick yelled to Legend.
Legend could only nod and smile, even as his ears were almost bleeding as the pitch and noise of the popular band rose and washed over the screaming crowd in a terrible black wave. The Uni was very much a staunch supporter of the Neopian Philharmonic. For the first time ever, Legend decided to remove himself from a party he had planned. At the beginning of the month of Hunting, his mission had been to provide a distraction for Trick during his recovery. The dull roar receded as Legend flew high and fast in the night sky, on a direct course for his own Neohome in the Haunted Woods, satisfied that his mission was accomplished at the end of the month of Hunting.