Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Create Your Own Adventure

This is definitely one of the less serious entries in my Neopets fanfic corpus, but I'm including it here because it just plain amuses me. I also think it's a good bit of character development for Hyren, lest anyone think he went soft after defecting from Virtupets to save two socially awkward children. :) (There is also a teeny, tiny bit of lore in here that comes into play in a future fic, but my main reason for including this one is that I just think it's funny.)

As for how it came about, well, one day I was feeling nostalgic and was looking at stuff about Neoadventures, a whole sub-segment of the Neopets website dedicated to allowing users to create their own choose-your-own stories. That got me thinking about how they might actually work in-universe. And then for some reason, my next thought was "what would happen if Hyren decided to write one". Maybe because he's chock-full of old war stories.

Hyren may allegedly play the straight man to the rest of his kooky family, but he is quite weird in his own special way. :)

Edits made to this fic from the version that got into the Neopian Times are just a few minor technical fixes. I think I'm getting better at this crazy writing thing!

I always suspected that my Grundo had a sadistic streak. Years of serving as a commander in Dr. Sloth’s galactic marine corps will probably do that to you. But my hunch was confirmed the day Hyren brought home an Adventure Generator.

I was sprawled on one of the library couches in our Neohome, reading, when the little blue guy walked in and spread a scroll of parchment across the table. He looked it up and down and nodded satisfactorily, and uncorked a bottle of ink.

Hyren prefers to let his swords do the talking, so his sudden interest in writing piqued my interest. “What are you doing?” I asked from behind my copy of Destruct-O-Match Basics—that fiendish avatar keeps eluding me.

“Making a Neoadventure,” he said, dipping his pen.

I raised an eyebrow. “That’s new.”

Wednesday, April 6, 2022


Yes, but do you have a Gnarfas backstory? :)

If you'll remember, Gnarfas makes an appearance in Worth Fighting For, and it got me to wondering just how he ended up with the Werelupes, anyhow (Neopian canon says nothing about it). I decided to combine these ponderings with my weighing in on whether or not Balthazar is a Werelupe. While there's nothing in canon that says he is, multiple Neopian Times authors have written him as a Werelupe, and I decided to go with a little bit of both for an answer. :)

This is the story where I firmly establish the idea that Lupes can turn into Werelupes by doing something called "letting in the wild", which basically makes them into a more bestial version of their species. In my headcanon, this was the original method by which Lupes became Werelupes, and once the Werelupe condition was discovered, it became the object of curses and the like. Thus, while many Werelupes are "natural" Werelupes who just went feral, it is also possible for a Lupe to become a Werelupe by magical means. 

It's established in later stories of mine that Kyrii can also let in the wild and become Werekyrii (i.e. Halloween Kyrii), and that other species, while unable to become full Were-pets, also have the ability to turn feral to a certain extent, explaining Lord Darigan's transformation into the Bat-Thing during the Battle for Meridell plot, as well as the condition of a certain Eyrie in one of my future stories.

Because my inspiration likes to surprise me like this, it turned out that in my headcanon, Gnarfas and Balthazar both have ties to the wild. I also mentioned in Worth Fighting For that Balthazar paid tribute to Isengrim during Isengrim's pack's time in the Haunted Woods, and I really wanted to write a story about them palling around in the Woods, and about the nature of their friendship. (Being a former villain himself, Isengrim has a lot of ties with other canon villains that I find fun to explore.)

Another big element introduced in this story was Isengrim's current, "correct" personality. As I have mentioned several times in previous blog posts about my Neopets writing, in the original version of Worth Searching For, I established a personality and character development for him that, after writing a few more stories with that personality, I realized just wasn't what I wanted for his character. It made him a rather unlikeable person in Worth Searching For, and also someone that I found I didn't enjoy writing.

So I decided his personality needed a major rehaul, and introduced my new take on the Werelupe King in this story, which worked well because I got to portray him among friends and as the protagonist the whole way through. This Isengrim is friendly, compassionate, generous, and deeply concerned with protecting and taking care of his friends and anyone he feels is in need of help. He is much more capable of being a caring, committed, reciprocal friend and family member to his owner and adoptive siblings. And I think he is a much more likable character--I certainly ended up enjoying writing him a whole lot more, and he ended up becoming an integral part of my core Neopets cast. So I'm really glad I decided to make the personality change, even if it necessitated drastically altering a few previous fics.

This story received a nomination for Best Descriptions in the 2016 fan-voted Neopian Times Awards, which I'm really grateful for. I still think it holds up extremely well six years later, and I only made a few minor edits - technical fixes and a few tweaks here and there to line up better with later headcanon - from the version that originally got into the Neopian Times.

Night in the Haunted Woods falls with swiftness upon its victims.

It is not as many stories say—the forest is not rife with yowling spooks and ghoulish spectres at every turn. It is not a scaled-up version of a Neopia Central home’s Halloween decorations, which brashly proclaim frightfulness in the most colourful of fashions.

The terror of the Haunted Woods is quieter, more cunning than that. It lies in wait, never fully asleep, a brooding heaviness of barely-heard echoes and strange feelings in the air that taunt the mind until the Woods decides to reveal its darkest secrets. Something is out there – perhaps many somethings – that makes even the bravest and hardiest Neopet return from the Woods forever shaken.

Unless they are a Werelupe—and then at one time it was home.

Friday, April 1, 2022

Unbreakable Bonds

After spending some time exploring Hyren's past, my thoughts turned to Blynn. I wanted to write something in her point of view for a change and see what was really going on in that kooky little head of hers. Turns out Blynn is a surprisingly deep person, and this story explains the nature of her relationship with her owner, and that of Neopets and owners in general (see: Isengrim's backstory). 

I also had a lot of fun coming up with my own unique interpretation of how creating a Neopet might work. On the website, Neopet creation is extremely nondescript, consisting of just checking boxes and filling out information. Other Neopian Times authors have put their own creative spin on the process over the years, and I wanted to do something kind of cosmic that really hammers home the powerful bond between a created Neopet and its creator.

Terra is inspired by my own experiences as a painfully shy and anxious teenager who had a hard time making friends. For people like that, it's especially important to have friends who unconditionally love you and take you as you are. Blynn is a goofball not just because it's her nature, but because as Terra's original bestie, Blynn has made it her life's mission to make Terra laugh. On Terra's end of things, she learns an important lesson here that friendships aren't supposed to be one-sided, and a true friend won't place all of the responsibility for the relationship on your shoulders.

The revisions I made to this story before putting it up here are mostly minor prose fixes. I did expand Terra's and Blynn's conversation at the park to better explain aspects of Terra's personality and her social struggles. I would have liked to have done this originally, but the story was pushing the 4,000-word limit for Neopian Times short stories, so rather than have to break it up into a two-parter, I opted to try to make it more concise. (Now that I'm no longer working with a word count limit, I can expand things as I see fit!)

Dedicated to all members of the Neopets Team, past and present, whose hard work and creative genius have made Neopia a safe haven and source of joy for so many. Thank you.

Even back in Year 4, Neopia Central was a busy place.

Bustling crowds of shoppers hurried from one store to the next, or stopped to eat, or unfolded that week’s copy of the Neopian Times to read the conclusion to their favourite series. All of them had a Neopet or several by their side, crowded around their owners with enthusiasm, admiration, and sometimes a good-natured snarky comment.

Amid the throng, a young human girl strode with purpose. She was a simple pale-skinned teen, with her long copper hair tied back and her blue eyes hidden shyly behind glasses. Certainly, she did not stand out among her fellow owners.

But one thing made her different.

She was alone.