Chapter 1: Shoyru Dreams
Madison Raquel or MadiRaq for short, as she preferred to be called longingly turned the pages of her fully-illustrated Neopets Index, skimming the thick book until she found the chapter shed read countless times the Shoyru chapter.
More than anything, MadiRaq wanted a Shoyru, a cute dragon-like NeoPet. Since she was a little girl, MadiRaq had seen Neopians walking their Neopets, and very few of them were Shoyrus. But MadiRaq had seen them. On TV Shows, in magazines and books, and even once at the Neopets Pound. Why someone would abandon such a loving creature as a Shoyru she never could fathom, and MadiRaq had immediately asked her mother if they could adopt a Shoyru from the Pound.
“No, of course not,” her mother had told her. “I certainly wont have a creature running around the house while I clean up after it. Neopets are a big responsibility you have to feed them, play with them, educate them, walk them, clean them…”
Well, at the nave age of six, MadiRaq had answered, “But, Mom, Ill do all that stuff. I really want a Shoyru! Please? I even found a name for one its Misae! It means flames!”
But her mother would not budge. “I said no,” she had replied. “Youre not old enough.”
So MadiRaq patiently waited until next year, but her mother said the same thing. So MadiRaq began to collect all kinds of Shoyru novelties. By her present age of fourteen, MadiRaq owned just about every Shoyru-related item you could find in Central Neopia: every color of plushies, storybooks, magazine articles, trading cards, and more. And as she gathered all these things MadiRaq continued to annually request about the Shoyru. It was by the age of eleven that she finally realized that shed never be old enough. So, she stopped asking.
MadiRaq heaved a huge sigh and turned over on her back on her Shoyru-printed bed sheets. She grabbed her life-sized red Shoyru plushie and hugged it tightly. MadiRaqs mother may have said no, but MadiRaq had a plan a plan shed developed shortly after shed started collecting Shoyru things.
She would fill the house up with Shoyru stuff, fill it up so full that her mother would not be able to stand it. MadiRaqs mom would tell her to get rid of it all, and MadiRaq would say yes, on one condition a Shoyru, a real Shoyru for all her own! And naturally, it was a take-it-or-leave-it deal, but MadiRaqs plan was not working very well.
Shed run out of stuff to collect.
MadiRaq had started saving her pocket money, birthday checks, and holiday cash to spend on Shoyru things only, and her NeoPoints had been well spent, but…now she had bought everything she could find, and it was only her room and the guest bedroom that had been filled. What was she supposed to buy now? She had a surplus of NeoPoints now, and shed had to open up a bank account since her Shoyru Bank had been bursting with the money.
Fantasizing, MadiRaq closed her eyes and dreamed of life with a Shoyru. Once shed gotten a NeoPet, shed be eligible to own a NeoHome. And then, her mother wouldnt have to clean up after her Shoyru. But MadiRaq didnt dare mention this to her mother shed just tell her shes not ready to live alone.
Once her fantasy moment was over, the present dilemma came rushing back to MadiRaqs mind: where could she get more Shoyru stuff?!
MadiRaq sat up. She needed to take a walk, and maybe shed have a brainstorm. For the time being, she needed to get that weeks issue of the Neopian Times. There might be some new Shoyru comics or articles.
MadiRaq stood on her feet and brushed back her dark brown hair with a brush that had a Shoyru painted on it. Slipping on her Shoyru-themed tennis shoes, MadiRaq made her way down the stairs. With a murmured goodbye to her mother, the girl stepped outside.
It was a beautiful day, but MadiRaq didnt really want to go to the park. If she saw anyone with a Shoyru there, shed probably end up crying out of exasperation.
Instead, she headed to the newsstand, where the owner, Mr. Dereku, was standing, waving to her. MadiRaq stepped up to the stand and greeted him somewhat cheerfully.
“Hi, Mr. Dereku,” MadiRaq said. “Have you got this weeks issue of the Neopian Times?”
Mr. Dereku smiled. “I have,” he replied, “and have you gotten any new Shoyru things lately?”
Sadly, MadiRaq shook her head. “I havent,” she told him. “I ran out of things to buy a long time ago.”
Mr. Dereku handed her the paper. “Dont worry, MadiRaq,” he assured her. “Im sure sooner or later youll be able to get a Shoyru.”
MadiRaq took the paper and paid for it, shrugging off his comment. “Thanks, Mr. Dereku.”
“Youre welcome, MadiRaq,” he said warmly. MadiRaq walked away.
She continued her trip, trying as best she could to avoid the park, and soon she found herself at the Rainbow Pool, where people came to use their Paint Brushes to color their Neopets unique and exotic colors. There were all kinds of Paint Brushes, like the Tyrannian Paint Brush, the Christmas Paint Brush, the Lost Desert Paint Brush…
A light clicked on in her head. Paint Brushes! She could collect Paint Brushes! Sure, they werent exactly Shoyru things, specifically, but still, they could be used on Shoyrus…
Theyre expensive, MadiRaq thought to herself. And then she remembered the hundreds of thousands of NP she had in her bank account. Running, clutching her newspaper tightly in her hand, she ran to the Neopian Bank.
Outside the Bank, MadiRaq went to the electronic banking machine; she didnt really feel like walking inside and taking out so much money in front of people. Typing in her bank number, she withdrew two hundred thousand NP. That should be plenty, she thought.
Leaving as inconspicuously as she could, MadiRaq made her way next door, where the Shop Wizard computers were. The Shop Wizard had proved very helpful to MadiRaq in the past. All you had to do on the Shop Wizard computers was type in the name of a product, and the Wizard would search all of Neopia for it.
MadiRaq keyed in the word Lost Desert Paint Brush and found a cheap one for only about twenty or thirty thousand NP, and it was a small shop right in Central Neopia! MadiRaq scribbled down the address and ran off.
After about twenty minutes of running around and searching, MadiRaq finally found the place. It really was a small shop. MadiRaq pushed the door open to reveal a brightly-lit shop with an interior to contradict the outside appearance of the shop. It was a Lost Desert-themed shop, with gold, silver and jeweled ornaments hanging everywhere; the entire color scheme seemed to be blue and gold, the Lost Desert colors.
However, there seemed to be no shopkeeper at all, which disappointed MadiRaq a whole lot. She turned on her heel, her excited smile now a sad frown, when a strong, heavily accented voice called out, “Now, where do you think you are going?”
MadiRaq spun around. A tall, strongly built tanned woman with short-cropped black hair was now standing behind the counter. Her eyes bore heavy black mascara and eye liner, accompanied by glittering blue eye shadow. She wore a solid gold circlet that looked like a cobra snake, a gold armband that looked like a rattlesnake, and a crme-colored robe. She was obviously from the Lost Desert Region. If her appearance didnt give it away and MadiRaq wondered for a short moment if there was anyone that stupid her accent did. When she spoke Neopian Common, she rolled her Rs, and her words sounded chopped up.
“Oh, I thought there was no one here,” MadiRaq said.
“Well, here I am,” said the shopkeeper. “I am Rakhel.” When she said the kh, it sounded like it was coming from deep in her throat, like she was trying to cough something up this sound was not in the Neopian Common language.
“Hello,” MadiRaq said. “Do you have a Lost Desert Paint Brush?”
Rakhel grinned, her white teeth flashing dramatically against the dark tan of her skin. “I do, and only one left. You would like to buy it?”
“Thirty thousand NeoPoints, please,” Rakhel said, and MadiRaq paid for the item. “Ill be right back.” Rakhel disappeared through a door right behind the counter.
So thats where she was, MadiRaq thought. That door blends right in with the whole wall its wallpapered and everything!
Rakhel returned shortly with a small box in hand that, like the rest of her store, was also decorated in a Lost Desert fashion. She placed the box on the counter in front of MadiRaq.
“Be very careful with this,” Rakhel warned her. “It is very rare.”
MadiRaq nodded. She didnt want to lose this
“Thank you, Rakhel!” MadiRaq said, and ran out the shop.
MadiRaq went back to the Shop Wizard computer and typed in the words Halloween Paint Brush for a second go. The cheapest thing on the list showed up as 100,000 NP.
“Come on, there are cheaper ones out there,” MadiRaq muttered to herself, and tried again. This time, there was one for 5,000 NP.
“That’s cheap,” she commented. She took down the address and ran off.
MadiRaq arrived at the shop, and this one also looked dank from the outside. Expecting a surprise as she had received at the Lost Desert shop, MadiRaq pushed the door open.
Well, she didnt quite get what she expected. The dimly lit shop was even gloomier and darker than the exterior, and MadiRaq stepped inside cautiously. The door swung shut by itself behind her, making an eerie creaking noise. MadiRaq jumped.
MadiRaq looked around. It certainly looked as if it were straight from the Haunted Woods. Everything was black, orange, brown, or green, and the only source of light came from a tiny kerosene lamp hanging from the ceiling. There werent even any windows. Sitting on warped, tilting shelves were various objects, like potions, pouches of unknown substances, and things that MadiRaq had no clue as to what they might be and didnt care to find out.
“Well, hello, my dear,” said a raspy, shaky voice, taking MadiRaq by surprise. She jumped, startled, and turned around.
At first glance MadiRaq would have thought she was a witch. The woman had stringy, graying hair that must have been dark at one point, and she was wearing a black robe. A long, crooked nose jutted from the general center of her face and was contrasted by her tiny, beady little black eyes that sat very close together in the middle of her face. Her mouth was curved in a creepy-looking half-smile.
“How do you like my shop, dear?” the woman asked in that raspy voice of hers. “My name is Morwena. What are you looking for, dearie?”
At first, MadiRaq couldnt say anything. She just blinked, trying to choke out a sound. Finally, she coughed and said, “I Im looking for a Halloween Paint Brush.”
Morwena cackled, a dry, raspy sound that sounded like tumbleweed and thistles scratching against each other. “Ah, those,” she replied. “Ive plenty. Come with me.”
With nothing but the box from the other shop and her own feet and fists to defend herself, MadiRaq was none too eager to venture into the dark depths of the shop without a NeoPet to protect her.
“Uhthats okay,” MadiRaq said quickly. “I Ill just stay here. I can wait.”
Morwena laughed again. “Right, dearie,” she rasped. “Ill be right back.”
With a swish of Morwenas robes, the witchy woman disappeared into the back room of the shop.
Suddenly it felt a lot colder in the room. Shivering, MadiRaq rubbed her hands over her bare arms. Why was it so chilly in here in the middle of the summer?
Air conditioning, MadiRaq told herself mentally. Its got to be air conditioning.
But MadiRaq wasnt fully convincedshe couldnt hear anything like that.
About twenty minutes passed, and finally Morwena returned, holding a box the same size and shape as the one MadiRaq already had. This one, however, looked like it had a Haunted Woods theme.
“Thanks!” MadiRaq shouted, and ran out the door clutching her parcels to her chest, Morwenas bone-chilling laugh ringing in her ears.
As soon as MadiRaq was clear of Morwenas shop, she slowed down to catch her breath. She thought it best to return home not only because she was probably missed by now, but also, she really didnt want to meet another person like Morwena.
So MadiRaq started home, disappointed that shed come out of just about an hours work with only two things. So she decided to peek into the shops lining the streets, one by one.
This, of course, slowed down the walk home, and turned it into a nearly three-hour trip. But MadiRaq did come out with several new Paint Brushes: the Tyrannian Paint Brush, the Christmas Paint Brush, the Faerie Paint Brush, the Skritchy Sketchy Paint Brush, the Stripes Paint Brush, the Island Paint Brush, the Disco Fever Paint Brush, and the Robot Paint Brush. Of course, she was now broke, but she didnt mind: she had plenty in the Bank.
As soon as MadiRaq had shut the door to her house, her mother came running up to her.
“Oh, there you are,” she said briskly. “Why were you gone so long? Oh, you went shopping.”
“Yes, Mom,” MadiRaq said patiently. “I went shopping. But I have no room to put this stuff. I ran out of space in the guest bedroom. Can I put this stuff in your room?”
“Well, of course not,” her mother told her. “Put it in the kitchen. That old spice rack will work. Go, put it away.”
MadiRaq walked past her mother into the kitchen, grinning. Perfect, she thought. Soon, the kitchen will be overcrowded with my Paint Brushes!
So MadiRaq went and organized her brushes. First, she removed each of the covers and placed it underneath the box so that the glorious Paint Brushes were showing. Then she put the brushes on the double-rack, five on each level, since she had ten. She was out of room on that after. Shed need more space when she bought more.
“MadiRaq! Im going to make dinner,” said her mom, stepping into the kitchen. “Itll be ready in an hour. Oh, those are pretty what are they?”
“NeoPet Paint Brushes,” MadiRaq replied. “They color Neopets different colors and patterns. They look really cool after.”
Her mom pursed her lips. “Really, and what are you collecting them for?” she asked dryly. “Really, MadiRaq, youre not getting a NeoPet.”
“Why not?” MadiRaq protested.
“Because youre not old enough!” her mom told her.
“Youve been saying that for seven years!” MadiRaq shouted. “If I keep listening to you, Ill never be old enough!” And she stormed upstairs and threw herself onto her bed.
“Fine then!” she could hear her mother shrieking. “You wont have any dinner!”
“I dont care!” MadiRaq yelled.
“Good! I wont be wasting food if I only cook for one!”
MadiRaq buried her face in her pillow, squeezing her life-sized Shoyru stuffed NeoPet extremely hard.
“Its not fair,” she sobbed. “Everyone else has a NeoPet. Why cant I have one? Its not fair! All those poor little Neopets in the Poundits because people dont want them! Who would get a NeoPet and then not want it? Its not a toy! Its its a living thing! And besides, only heartless people could abandon a Shoyruor any other NeoPet!”
So MadiRaq cried herself to sleep.