A Hero's Journey
As we wander through Neopia, occasionally we see a Neopet that catches our eye. A noteworthy person that stands out from the rest, someone we see and say to ourselves "wow". These pets can be notable for any number of reasons, from their amazing Battledome stats and strength to their gorgeous outfits and amazing customisation. We pass through this world noticing those who stand out, but what about the rest? There are some Neopets that end up lost in the crowd, that don't have that glowing energy and outgoing personality that demands attention. They move through the world more subtly, quietly, and without making enough of a fuss for people to stop and stare. Some people enjoy being in the spotlight and others enjoy fading a bit into the background, but there are some pets out there that don't want to fade but can't seem to help it. They aren't quite sure what to do to make an impact enough, to bring every eye in the room to them. They don't necessarily want to be the focus all day, every day, but they want to be acknowledged for their accomplishments and appreciated for who they are.
So as you travel through Neopia, you'll see them. The other half, those who just blend in. Those like Rupert. Rupert is the near epitome of what you could only describe as regular. While his species used to be prized and very rare, Draik, Draiks have become much more common in recent years with the surplus of morphing potions and laboratory zaps. And as if his species wasn't enough, he is still the basic color Green. His fashion is lacking, he only wears large, thick black framed spectacles and a backpack big enough to carry a few books on his daily trips to and from the library. You see, the library is where many of those who blend in spend their time. It's a place where they can get lost in grand stories of heroes, study up on physics and computers, or experience some quiet time away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. For introverts like Rupert, this is a great place to disappear for a while and live vicariously through the stories he reads.
Rupert buries his nose in books about heroes taking down villains, old stories of Judge Hog and of the battles between Faeries. He appreciates historic truths about the way that Altador came together and how the Darkest Faerie scorned the other heroes in a selfish attempt to take over the city, and he is excited to read about how the heroes she tried to destroy were able to take her down instead. But history isn't all he's interested in, he also loves fictional stories like the tale of Gadgadsbogen and how one Neopet, determined to prove himself, was able to spread seeds across Mystery Island to trigger an annual growing of countless fruits and vegetables. Rupert reads these feel-good tales to find inspiration for the much smaller, mundane events that he has to face in life, and he tries to apply these lessons that way. An argument with his friends while they battle through round after round of NeoQuest, he'll use reasoning skills he's learned from his books to get through it and make a peaceful resolution. Or if he's late on a paper due for school, he'll employ a tactic that he may have read about in a self-help book to help remain more focused. Books have taught him everything.
But there are some things that books can't quite prepare you for. He spends his days locked away inside the library, living in fantasy instead of reality. He reads about these powerful heroes and he wants to be like him. And one day, while reading through one of the many self-help books available, he came across a simple phrase.
"Nothing changes if nothing changes."
He thought to himself about that sentence, he thought about it for days and weeks. Contemplating its meaning.
"Nothing changes if nothing changes."
If you want something to happen, you have to do something about it. Nothing in your life will change if you don't do something to change the path you are on.
A light bulb came on in Rupert's head. He spent so much time reading about these heroes, dreaming of becoming one of them, and after reading that one sentence he realized: I won't become a hero just by dreaming about it, I need to change what I'm doing in order to change myself into the hero I want to be.
So he wandered down the walls of the library, trying to find a book on becoming a hero and how to do it, but as he picked up book after book, checking the titles, he realized that he had read them all. He read all of these books about becoming a superhero and still, he was here, in the library, dreaming. He knew he had to try something different.
So he left. He left the library and walked out. He remembered that in one of the many books he read, a book about becoming stronger, that there was a Nimmo in a place faraway. Rupert had never left Neopia Central, he never had a reason to before. He had left it so many times in his head, through the pages of all his books, but he knew he'd have to leave to find this Nimmo. He knew this Nimmo could be found in a place known as Mystery Island, but he wasn't quite sure how to get there.
"Ex..excuse me...Excuse me," Rupert spoke timidly towards people walking by him, but none turned to notice him. His voice so shy and quiet people didn't even realize he was speaking.
"I need some help..excuse me," Rupert spoke a little louder this time, drawing the attention of an Ixi on the sidewalk.
"What?? SPEAK UP. No one can hear you. You need HELP??" The shrill voice of this Ixi tore into Rupert's sensitive ears like nails on a chalkboard.
"Yes...uh..I'm trying to find Mystery Island. How can I get there?" Rupert had trouble maintaining eye contact.
"OH, THAT'S EASY," the Ixi shouted. "Just go down this road a bit and you'll stumble into Kiko Lake. From there you can take a BOAT."
A boat, Rupert thought. He had never been on a boat but he had read a lot about them. He also read a lot about sea sickness and he started to get nervous.
"Hello? Did you HEAR ME," the obnoxious Ixi shouted at Rupert.
"Uh, oh, yes, sorry. Thank you. I'll go there now."
Rupert waved to the Ixi as he headed off down the road. He continued past the last shop in Neopia Central, never having gone past it before. The landscape was changing but still familiar as he arrived in Kiko Lake. His eyes widened as he got closer, he found this new type of architecture to be beautiful. He had seen many pictures of Kiko Lake in his geography books, but he could never have imagined just how beautiful they are. He realized now that this journey was going to be something magnificent, and that there might actually be some things that cannot be captured in the pages of a book like the way it is when you experience it first hand. His nerves persisted but a sense of excitement washed over him, this was going to be scary and fun, something new. Even a simple trip a few kilometers out of his hometown kicked up such spirit in him, this was going to be one wild ride.
As he approached the docks, he saw a Kiko behind a ticket booth. He approached.
"One ticket to Mystery Island please," Rupert said, his voice shaking a little bit but with a newfound bravery behind it.
"That'll be 250 Neopoints," the Kiko said with a smile.
Uh oh, Rupert thought. He hadn't considered just how expensive this trip might be. He had enough but this was going to put a serious dent in his wallet. Visiting the library is free..maybe I should go back. But he knew he couldn't. If he turned around now he would just regret it, and still be filled with the desire to chase his dreams. It was now or never, he could figure out how to get by once he arrived in Mystery Island. It will work itself out. Nothing changes if nothing changes.
He handed over a satchel of Neopoints to the Kiko and received his little paper ticket. He made his way over to little bridge stretching out from the shore, the place he would board his boat. He peered over the ledge and into the water, seeing his reflection, and letting his imagination take over. He saw himself in a new light now, he saw himself stronger, as the Draik he always wanted to be. As a notable hero, as someone that one of his favorite authors might write about some day. Someone that people would smile at when they passed him on the street, instead of acting like he doesn't exist. He saw himself as the hero he always wanted to be. And just as he saw a smile start to cross the face of his reflection, he also saw the water begin to ripple. He looked up and saw...
His boat was approaching. It was time to board.
To be continued…