Still thwarting Sloth's mind control... Circulation: 103,901,843 Issue: 205 | 26th day of Hiding, Y7
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Serving the Sculptor


by twirlsncurls5

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To say that Marek Alabaster was a charitable Skeith would be a lie and to say he was a nice one would be almost laughable. But he was messy; his living conditions were possibly the vilest I'd ever seen in my young life. It was for this reason and this reason alone that he took me into his neohome on that stormy night one year ago.

      My life before him is neither happy nor original. I'm told it's a tale of abandonment and poverty, hardly an unsung song. I therefore don't feel it's necessary for you to hear it.

      My plight had taken me to the Haunted woods, a creepy place full of eerie noises and watchful eyes. It had been raining of course, as it's only natural for all things sad and destitute to occur during a spot of rotten weather.

     Perhaps now you think I'm going to tell you a ghost story? A tale of spooks and other things that go bump in the night?

      I must regrettably inform you that you're sadly mistaken. Despite my fear (can you imagine, a little blue Kyrii all alone in the Haunted Woods?) no ghosts or goblins came to call.

      The scariest thing I saw was a lone cottage, its crumbling dark exterior and wilted garden making it look especially foreboding. I walked down its broken path, weeds and fungus springing up between the cobblestones. Dead trees loomed around a rusted black gate with spiny branches reaching down at me like fingers. I pushed the gate. It swung open with a loud creak. Slowly I approached the door, raising a hand to knock as thunder sounded in the background.

      This scene must surely give a few of you the shivers, and I assure you it gave me quite a few at the time as well. You must think me quite brave to dare call upon such a creepy home as this. I have but one explanation: the stomach of an orphan child fears no strange kitchen and their soaked fur strays from no shelter. Besides, I had figured this disregarded place to be abandoned, for surely no pet could live in such a state.

      Naturally I was quite surprised when a deep voice answered from within.

      "What creature dares pester me at such an hour?"

      I swallowed hard and spoke as bravely as I could. "I don't suppose you could spare a little shelter for the night? I'm quite small really, I don't need much space."

      I could hear loud footsteps. The door swung open and a fat brown Skeith towered over me. Lightning sliced the sky.

      "Do you think you've stumbled upon some hotel, child? Be gone, you Zytch ridden thing. I've things to do." He prepared to slam the door in my face but I stood between.

      "Then perhaps you need a servant? I can fix up your garden, and believe me, yours needs quite a bit of fixing, or perhaps I can cook for you? My cooking is quite good I'm told-"

      He held up a large claw.

      "Your tongue moves faster than I can think. Silence it."

      I frowned. Rain continued to fall upon me, and personally I do not enjoy being wet.

      "Cleaning!" I shouted suddenly. "I can clean as well, surely you need-"

      "Hush!" he exclaimed. He scratched at his chin where a scraggly, unkempt beard grew. "My work does leave me with little time for such things." He looked down at me with a scowl. I smiled eagerly.

     "Oh, fine. Inside, you persistent creature."

      I leapt through the doorway, chattering away excitedly. "You won't be sorry, sir; I'll earn my keep, I swear it!" For the first time in my life I had a place for the long term! No worries of where I would find myself when the sun rose! Indeed, I had all intentions to be the best cook, cleaner, and gardener these woods ever saw.

      But then I set eyes upon his living room.

      Now I've seen some pretty frightening things in my days on the street (some things that I wager would send most of you running off to your mummy) but nothing prepared me for such a horror.

      Apple cores were strewn about a coffee table, chicken bones scattered across the floor like skeletons, ants carried away crushed bits of cheesy neos, and empty diet big gulp neocola bottles lay inside boxes of half eaten pizzas. There were cracked jars of pickled eyeballs on his shelves oozing smelly liquid.

      I poked at a gray looking desert. "Are you going to eat this Chomby rock cake?" I asked hungrily.

      He looked at it was a raised eyebrow. "That's a lime Chomby cake."

      I wrinkled my nose in revulsion. "You mean it was."

      I found the nearest waste basked and threw it away.

      "My name is Saasha, in case you were wondering."

      The Skeith fumbled about in a back room. "I wasn't."

      "What should I call you?" I asked, brushing the contents of a shelf (two Ant Eaten Hams and one especially smelly Fresh Clam Jam) into the trashcan.

      "Why I couldn't really care less! Call me John, Bryce, or even Lewanhook, it makes no difference to me."

      I walked towards the sound of his voice curiously, trying to find the room he was in.

      "I'd prefer to call you by your name. You do have a name, don't you?"

      "No," he said in a singsong mocking tone. "My mother was a dull one and she decided that it would be best to simply give me no title at all. Of course I have a name, you twit."

      "Then what is it?" I saw a lighted room ahead of me. It was the only one in the entire house that wasn't in darkness.

      He sighed as if speaking were an enormous effort. "Marek, my name is Marek Alabaster. Now put yourself to use and make me something to eat. I'm ravished."

      But before I did I poked my head into the bright room.

      I gasped.

      For a moment I thought I had stumbled upon a room of faeries. Fyora stared down at me with curious eyes and a witty half smile. Her dress flowed as if it were made of real fabric. Illusen sat, long fingers picking at the strings of a lyre and a fire faerie grinned mischievously with tufts of pointed hair. A faerie doglefoxes flitted about next to white lulus and a bust of a particularly sad looking Bruce looked down at the floor.

      It was like standing in a frozen world with inhabitants forever captured in marble. I was convinced at that very moment that Marek Alabster was the grandest sculptor in all of Neopia even though he was the only one I'd ever seen.

      "Hey!" he shouted, chisel in hand. "Get out this instant! I'll not have you stumbling about in here looking and touching!" He looked down at the small and graceful head of a faellie emerging from the rock in front of him. "Fantastic. My concentration is broken. Just fix me a meal before I eat this piece of rubbish I've been working on for two months."

      So I went into his disastrously disgusting kitchen and served him a Whole Roast chicken (which I happened to think was quite good) in a bowl because all the plates were dirty. He consumed it in at least five minutes while I waited in the doorway of the sculpting room for his approval.

      He looked at me as if wondering why I was there.

      "It was edible, I suppose," he muttered.

      And this was how it went for weeks. I would clean up after him, cook his meals (which he always found something wrong with) and spruce up the garden. But then I suppose "sprucing" is a bit too delicate of a word.

      Every time I walked past the room of sculptures I felt a surging curiosity within me. What would it be like to hold that chisel, to break away at the marble and reveal the creature within? I found myself longing to find out.

      Day after day I would hear Marek in the room, crashing about, often throwing unfinished sculptures to the ground in frustration or cursing some unseen force such as the lighting or the humidity.

      But then one day his angry noises were gone. As I watered a newly planted bed of Rowzes I saw Marek walking out the door and towards the more populated area of the woods.

      "Where are you going?" I asked.

      He turned quickly in my direction. He often seemed as if he forgot I was there.

      "I need to find buyers for my sculptures," he grumbled unhappily. "It costs money to keep your useless behind fed."

      I shrugged and watched him walk down the path. His words never really hurt me, I knew I ate very little and that I certainly wasn't useless. It was just Marek's nature to be unkind. Perhaps it was masking something more.

      I glanced over towards the dusty window that looked in on the room of sculptures. It was empty. I could practically hear it calling for me, which is completely absurd because rooms can't talk.

      I knew it was a bad idea, but yet somehow there I was, standing in the doorway with Fyora's stone eyes watching me.

      It started innocently enough, as all horrible ideas seem to. I just sat on the stool for a little bit to see how it would feel. Then I grasped the chisel, but just out of curiosity mind you, of how heavy it was. I then wondered if Marek kept any scrap pieces of marble around, you know, just so I could throw them out and clean the room up a bit. I found a small one in the corner. Since I would be throwing it out anyways, why not give it an innocent little tap with the chisel? After all, that would make it smaller and all the more easy to dispose of!

      I swear to you, that was how it began. But somehow, that one tap set off a spark inside my head. I couldn't stop! Pieces of stone flew away furiously, I saw the tiny flower, the small Rowz bud, within the rock and I just couldn't let it lie there forever.

      I didn't even hear the loud footsteps approach.

      "What are you doing?" I heard the low voice say. My heart jumped to my throat.

      "This room is not your place," continued Marek in a quieter tone that usual, "I made that quite clear. Get out."

      I scurried through the door, my cheeks aflame with embarrassment. How could I be so stupid? There wasn't a doubt in my mind that I would be thrown back out on the streets. What use was an orphan child who disobeyed you the moment you left the house?

      When Merek emerged a moment later I slumped my shoulders dejectedly and said, "Don't waste your breath, I'll leave."

      "Stop."

      The word nearly startled me and I turned to see that the Skeith was holding something in his large claw. It was my little Rowz bud carved from the marble.

      "Did you think I was unaware of your curiosity? All those times you walked ever so slowly past my sculpting room?"

      I cast my eyes to the ground.

      "But I never guessed you would actually be…well…good."

      My eyes lit up. It was the first time I'd ever heard a kind word grace the mouth of Marek Alabaster.

      "And I've decided that…uh…it's been a very long time since I've had an apprentice…and even though you're hardly worthy, I suppose-"

      But before he could finish I wrapped my arms around the Skeith's round belly and gave him the strongest hug I could muster.

      "V-very well then," he stammered, awkwardly patting me on the back. "Just don't expect any compliments; you'll probably turn out to be a right awful sculptor anyways."

      That was how it went, and there isn't a day I don't thank Marek for what he's done (but that's mostly because I know he hates it when I do). Imagine, a wiry little Kyrii like me stumbling upon an apprenticeship with a great sculptor! I know now that every time he cries out names and insults that he doesn't truly mean it.

      Each day is new and exciting, and no sculpture is ever the same.

The End

 
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