The One Who Guards the Gate

Dear Cali,

Yes.That's how it all began. Just those two simple words on a piece of paper. How what all began? Well, what has to be the greatest adventure of my life, duh! It was a letter. A plain white envelope, well, sort of an off-white, made of heavy paper, with just my name written on it in blue, and my address.

Cali D. Andarius
6446 North Prospect Street
Neopia Central, NPA

My address. The big yellow house called Dragon's Point. No one knows who named it, or when, and everyone calls it the Prospect Dragon. It has a metal dragon plaque that had the numbers of the house on it, and there's a dragon painted on the mailbox. My work, of course. It just fit the house. No, it wasn't the address that was strange, or the envelope, or even the ink. I have some pretty weird friends. It was the NAME that bothered me. See, I live in Neopia, a virtual world. Most people here either are here part-time, or are real night owls. They sleep during the day and are on all night. I moved here from the real world. I went through the gate one day and never came back. My key, emblazoned with my passcode, is sitting in a locked drawer in my dresser collecting dust. No-one's logged into the gate as me in ages, and I'm sure that my computer was sold ages ago when mom stopped looking for me, or dad decided he really didn't need anyone to hit after all. My eyrie and xweetok were really my only friends in the world, except my neobuddies. Anyway, no one could have grabbed my cookies from my computer, if they did thy would have acted sooner. And yet, the letter had my real name on it. Not just Cali, my nickname, but my last name and middle initial, which none of my friends know. Here, I'm either known as Cali, or the Dragon Lady, or the Prospect Dragoness, or just Draco. The name that people see when they look at my look-up and they don't know about the gates is DraconianMagess. In the real world, not the virtual one, I have blue eyes, brown hair, and an attitude. Here, I'm a bit stranger. I'm part dragon. I can change human any time I like, but my favorite, and most common form, is a human with the legs, wings, and tail of a dragon. I have fire-red hair, brilliant green eyes, and, well, the attitude part is the same. I don't know why I changed my appearance, but I guess it was to distance myself from my name. Which brings me back to the letter.

Carefully, I opened up the envelope, being careful not to tear the letter inside. It read:

Dear Cali,

I hope this letter finds you well. You have been a great help to your community, namely Prospect Street and Neopia Central in general. You have also helped me, knowingly or not, do my duties as the Gateguard in your region many times. As I cannot ask for a more responsible person, or a more trustworthy one, I would like to hire you on as my apprentice, and later my successor. I know that you did not know I was Gateguard before now, and I apologize for keeping it a secret from you. My friend, know that you may not meet with such approval from the other Guards because of what you are. Also know that this has been approved by the Lady Fyora herself, so do not worry overmuch. Your initiation, if you accept, is to be held tomorrow at dawn, but I would like to see you tonight, at 9 PM. Give my regards to Arthea and Daine, and, good luck.

Until next we meet,
Kaeri Solarisra, Gateguard,
Neopia Central and Catacombs

I stared. Well, hey, not the best reaction, but when you find out that one of your best friends is the head Gateguard for your entire region, it's bound to be some kind of shock.

Maybe I should back up and explain. See, the Gates are places where the virtual world of Neopia and the normal world intersect. Most people think that Neopia is a website. In reality, it's a world that can be connected to through the Internet. People sign up for the site, and sooner or later they learn about the gates. The gates give people access to the actual world itself. When they're on the site, they're in it, if you see what I mean. You can probably think of the problems that go with these gates. If someone got through the gate who didn't deserve to be here, or if they stumbled through and saw money or fame, or slaves, they could do immense damage to this world. That's why, when humans first discovered Neopia, two measures were created to deal with it.

One is the keys, artifacts engraved with your access code that open the gates.

The other is the Gateguards.

The Gateguards are elite forces, owing allegiance to Queen Fyora herself. They are trained to protect the gates from those who might wish to bring harm to our community. They also give keys to those who are ready for them. They protect the weak, and help those who are victims to scammers, hackers, and all manner of dastardly beasts. There are also different levels of the Guard. That my friend was the Guard for the entire Neopia Central was impressive, as She was commander of all the Guards in the city and catacombs. That alone should have wowed me, but she spoke highly of me! She got approval to make me a guard from Fyora herself! There was no way I was going to say no. 9 PM wasn't too long from now, so I started to get ready. Daine, my yellow Xweetok, begged to go with me. "Cali, what if you get mugged? Or you forget your flashlight? Or this is all a trap designed to let someone know where the Gate is? Or—"

I cut her off. "If I get mugged, which I doubt considering what I am, I use my shape against the guy, then call for backup. I don't need a flashlight, I can see in the dark. It's not a trap, that's Kae's signature and handwriting, and I doubt she'd make up a lie that tremendous. I will take everything else as it comes. You're NOT coming."

"I am too, if I have to stow away in your bags." That settled it. She'd come even if I said no. "Fine, come along," I said, and that was that.