You follow the path marked "Eledranis Glade" for a good half hour. It leads you through a wood so thick, you have difficulty seeing the sun in places. Finally, you emerge in a large glade. A really large glade.
You turn and see two girls about eighteen or nineteen, one wearing a crop top and shorts and the other dressed in a black crop sweater and jeans coming down a small path, closely followed by a yellow furry creature with brown markings.
One of the girls follows your gaze and smiles.
"Oh, don't worry about him," she says. "He's very friendly, really. Derr, come on and say hello."
Derr obediently lollops over to you, puts both paws on your shoulders and pushes. You stagger back, eventually falling down whilst Derr lathers you with his tongue.
"C'mon!" the girl calls and Derr bounds off you, leaping round and giving a kind of brassy bark. "Don't mind him," the girl in jeans says. "He's harmless, really. I'm Rian, and this is my identical, annoying little sister Nass."
"In case you hadn't guessed," Nass says. You admit you could hardly fail to notice their exact same features.
"Of course, Nass is the-aaagh! Derr, quit jumping at me!"
"What is Derr?" you ask Nass, whilst Rian is busy wrestling with the large creature.
"He's a JewelEye," Nass answers. "A yellow-brown Sareb, to be exact. He was the very first JewelEye to be adopted-and the very first to be abandoned," she adds, her usually soft voice turning hard. "He's been in the Abandoned Creatures section almost as long as JewelEyes have been around. Finally, when the JewelEyes spread out through this place and left the Adoption Centre, we adopted Derr. He's not like other Sarebs; they usually leap sideways at the slightest excuse. Derr's more like a big-very big-friendly dog."
"You're telling me!" Rian says, having finally managed to get rid of him. "He's cute and playful-but sometimes I get sick of being jumped on and licked to death wherever I go."
Derr bounds off into the undergrowth.
"Anyway, back to business," Rian says. "Are you here to adopt an Eledranis?"
"Okay, so if we can find...WHERE is Flara?"
"Over there," Nass says, pointing. You follow her gaze and see a vivid orange and red creature sitting with the air of a queen surveying her realm.
"Oh right," Rian says. "Flara's a fire Eledranis," she explains to you. "There're only four types-Earth, Air, Fire and Water. Out of these, Air is the highest ranking, followed by Fire, Water and finally Earth. Flara's the mother to our current clutch, and she and all other Eledranis come originally from Liquid Mercury Castle."
"Fourteen eggs," Nass puts in.
"Right, right," Rian says impatiently. "Fourteen of 'em. And if you want to adopt an egg, you have to follow these rules."
"You have to have a website," Nass says.
"It has to be PG-13 rating."
"You must have your Eledranis up within ten days of receiving him/her."
"Unless you're on holiday or something," Rian puts in.
"Yeah, unless you're on holiday or something. In which case, tell someone."
"You have to link back here on the same page as the Eledranis..."
"No they don't," Nass interrupts.
"Yes they do!"
"No they don't! Not if they have a specific page for all adoptables' links, remember?"
"Oh. Yeah." Rian looks flustered for a minute, then rallies. "As I was saying, you have to link back here either on the same page as the Eledranis or if you have several cyberpets and one page with all the links on, you can link from there."
"Please don't paint them or anything weird like that," Nass adds.
"Uh huh, and just in case you were wondering, your Eledranis won't be wearing a collar like Flara here. She's just wearing that now to avoid people stealing her."
"Um..." Nass looks at her sister. "Anything else?"
Rian thinks for a moment.
"Nope, can't think of anything. Okay, so about adopting. If you're interested, you need to pick two numbers, one for your first choice and one for your second. These numbers, incidentally, are predetermined. So it doesn't matter how wonderful your page is, if you pick an Earth number, you get an Earth Eledranis. Right now the available numbers are 1-14."
"Still want to adopt?" Nass asks. You nod.
"Okay, just send a message via Derr and once all the eggs have been claimed, the Eledranis will be given out."
You thank the twins and start to head back to the crossroads. As you leave, you hear Rian's voice raised in irritation.
"Derr, I said 'sick', not 'stick'! You are completely-No! Don't jump on my-"
There is a muffled thump from the glade and you grin and keep going.
Back to the adoption centre