Invisible Paint Brushes rock Circulation: 90,555,988 Issue: 164 | 29th day of Collecting, Y6
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Of Potions and Power

by jade_steel


The forest flashed by in a dark green blur as Aangharad raced through. She startled the local wildlife as she streaked through, but Aangharad knew They were not far behind her.

     The powerful ones. The evil ones. At the very thought of the group, a sneer touched her lips and disfigured her once-beautiful face. What had those people ever done for her? They were full of empty promises, lies, and tricks. You had to watch your back, with Them. Someone might stick a knife in it.

     Aangharad slowed, caught up in the world of her memories. It had been . . . Cloudtail that had first persuaded her.

     "Come on, Aangharad!" Cloudtail pleaded. "You can go straight to the top, or so I've been told, but you have to get other people to come in order to get promoted!"

     Cloudtail had always been very ambitious. The blue Kougra had always dreamed of being the hero of Neopia, or the ruler, or whatever would give him the most attention. He and Aangharad were good friends. Could it be a downfall for him to be so ambitious? Aangharad wondered. Naah. A bit of ambition never hurt anyone.

     "Pleeeeaaaaase, Ghara?" Cloudtail pleaded, breaking through her thoughts.

     "Why not?" said Aangharad, looking at the Kougra. "What could happen?"

     This is what could happen, thought Aangharad, jerking up out of the pool of memories to the present. The Zafara became aware that she had slowed, and was at a standstill. Acutely aware of the thundering footsteps of her pursuers, she sped off once more into the woods.

     Why? she thought bitterly. Why me? She had given up everything she knew, to follow the leader who had at the time seemed to be a faerie in disguise. So perfect, such promises, - she should have known the Aisha could never have been trusted. To promise the strength to win at the Battledome, the power to rule worlds . . . These the leader certainly had made come true, but for himself. He had used Transmogrification potions to make the pets stronger, and more fear-inspiring. One by one, Aangharad had seen the pets around her mutate. Even her best friend, Cloudtail, drank of a potion one day and turned Mutant.

     Finally, it had become her turn. But, when she looked at the other pets, who had once been such kind and welcoming creatures, turned dark and foreboding, and when she looked at Cloudtail, how he had changed from his once-lively self, she could not bring herself to drink of the potion that would bring her full initiation.

     Aangharad slowed again, once more letting the memories overtake her.

     "Here." The leader presented her with a potion. "Drink, and become one of Us. We are the powerful, the strong, the ones to be feared . . . Join Us truly, and you will reap the rewards."

     Aangharad almost drank. She wanted to stay with her friends whom she had known from childhood, most especially Cloudtail. But, as she looked at the darkened pets, she knew she could not.

     "No." The young Zafara's voice cut clearly through the muttering of the others there. "I will not. To do this would be to make a shadow of myself, to completely forfeit who I am. I will not do this, and I most certainly shall not become one of You." She stared at them contemptuously for some moments, forgetting the danger she was in. "You are but twisted shadows of your former selves. I will never submit myself to this. I am leaving now." Silently adding to herself, And I will find a way to undo this, I swear I will.

     They had been too stunned to follow her out. Aangharad had left and been safe, safe from Them and their rages. But that was not to last long . . .

     Again Aangharad came to herself. She couldn't let herself be caught. Not when she held the key to undoing all that had been done, right in her very hand.

     Aangharad had done much research. She had found the solution, but it was near-impossible to perfect. Ingredients from every place in Neopia were needed, as well as a morphing potion that was not the victim's original color and form, but the color and form that their heart would have them take. In some cases, a drop of paint had to be added, if the morphing potion did not come in the correct color.

     Aangharad had originally shied away from the solution. She was always wary of potions, ever since the incident with Them. But she read, and researched, and all she could find was the potion solution. Aangharad was not pleased with this result, but she resolved to do it anyway. For her friend.

     Aangharad had thought long and hard about what Cloudtail's true form could be, but nothing came to mind. She continued to visit Kauvara every day, in the hopes that a potion would jump out at her. Aangharad lived peacefully in Neopia central for two months before she saw it.

     One day in Kauvara's shop, Aangharad saw a Blue Eyrie morphing potion. She swooped down and picked it up, something clicking in her head. She had found a Cloud Paint Brush two weeks ago . . .

     "How much?" the Zafara asked Kauvara. Before the Kau could respond, Aangharad slapped ten thousand Neopoints down on the counter and bolted for her house. Kauvara sat still, wondering what had just happened.

     Back at her home, Aangharad carefully opened the potion. She held the Cloud Paint Brush over it until it dripped once, then quickly laid it aside. With satisfaction she watched as the potion swirled, then changed. The wings on its sides were no longer blue but clouded, and the same with the neck ruff on it. Aangharad smiled in contentment. There was the easy part done, the purification of the body. Now for the soul.

     Aangharad carefully extracted a small amount of juice from a Sniddberry, and collected it in a jug. Next, she popped a Lemon Flavor Faerie Bubble, and squeezed the juice into the same jug. Aangharad took a drop of blood from a Raptraphant Leg and dropped part of a Water Hot Dog in. Next came the Pyramibread crumbs. Then a bit of a Crab Apple Chia Pop and a bit of Cherries Jubalee from the Space Station. "Let's see . . there's the bit of Eyeball Pasta - the hair from a Blairnut - and that's it!"

     Carrying the jug over to the still-uncorked morphing potion, Aangharad spooned a small bit of the concoction into the potion, then corked it once more. She shook it, then hid under the table.

     A small explosion came from the morphing potion on the desk. Peeking over the edge, Aangharad found that the potion had changed once more. The cork was now white. "Perfect," she breathed. She was now ready to track down Them and get her friend back. "I will rest first," Aangharad said to the empty air. "I will go in the morning."

     Walking to her room Aangharad had set the potion on the side table. She had been awakened in the night by the breaking open of her front door, and gruff voices near her room.

     "Is this where she sleeps?"

     "Must be."

     "Well, come on, we're not getting anywhere standing around!"

     At the last, Aangharad's heart soared. It wasn't much like him, but it definitely sounded somewhat like Cloudtail. She couldn't face him yet, though. The potion still needed time to cure. Grabbing it and a brown sack from the table, Aangharad leapt out the window as the door opened.

     The others saw her, and followed. Aangharad ran. She had to let the potion finish before she risked anything!

     Running through the Haunted Woods now, Aangharad stopped again , the third time that night, to check on the potion. It was finally ready. As the pursuers approached, she wrapped the potion's body in the sack, leaving the mouth and neck free, and turned to face them.

     Her guess had been correct. Cloudtail was with two other mutant pets, a Kacheek and a Lenny.


     A harsh voice arrested her movement toward them. "You are Aangharad, correct?"

     Aangharad nodded timidly.

     The Kacheek continued. "You will come with us, to see our leader, you traitor!" He spat the last words at her, then turned, leaving it to Cloudtail and the Lenny to bring Aangharad.

     Aangharad was put in a small cell. Interestingly enough, her potion had been left with her. The guard assigned to her cell was Cloudtail. Luck was finally working in her favor.

     After a few minutes, she padded toward the dark form of the Mutant Kougra outside her cell. "Cloudtail!" she hissed.

     There was no response. She tried again, a bit louder. "Cloudtail!"

     He spun. "How do you know my name, prisoner?" he queried her.

     Aangharad was shocked. "And how is it that you do not know mine?" she demanded, once more forgetting her precarious position.

     "I have never seen you," the Kougra replied monotonously.

     "What? Oh, never mind," Aangharad said, shaking her head dejectedly. Suddenly, though, she perked up. "Wait, sir!" she called after him as he began to turn away.

     That got his attention. Apparently Cloudtail wanted respect more than anything. She could use that.

     Lowering her eyes demurely, Aangharad said, "I -I thought you might be thirsty. You don't get many breaks down here. Would you like something to drink, good sir?" she asked, proffering the potion and inwardly rolling her eyes at her own acting.

     It was good enough for the guard, though. "Why, thank you," he said, in his arrogance forgetting to look closely at the potion or wonder how a prisoner came by a good drink in the cells.

     Cloudtail took the potion from Aangharad, unstopped it, and downed it in one gulp. Suddenly, a change came over his face. "Ghara?" he whispered, dropping the bottle and collapsing on the floor. Aangharad caught the bottle through the bars before it could hit the ground. Pulling it inside her cell, she sat back to watch.

     First, the Kougra sprouted wings. Cloudy wings made of feathers. His jaws stretched into a beak as the rest of his head changed to that of an Eyrie's. His paws turned Eyrie and finally the rest of him. Finally, his tail lengthened and sprouted a white tuft on the end.

     Aangharad waited a moment to be sure he was done, then hissed once more, "Cloudtail!"

     The Cloud Eyrie stretched groggily and stood, looking at Aangharad. "Ghara? What are you doing here?" he asked. "And why do I not feel like a Kougra any more?"

     "That can wait," said Aangharad. "For now, would you mind getting me out of here?"

     "Oh, right." Cloudtail fumbled for the keys. "Here." He unlocked the door and Aangharad pushed out with a sigh of relief.

     "We've gotta get out of here, Cloudtail."

     "Huh? I work here! How can I leave?" asked Cloudtail.

     "Easy," Aangharad said sarcastically. "Look at yourself. You are no longer a mutant Kougra, and no longer do you belong here. Can we go yet?"

     "Right." Cloudtail led her off, through a twisting maze of tunnels. It seemed like it took hours to go through them, but finally Aangharad and Cloudtail found themselves at a steep dropoff, ending in sharp rocks.

     "Okay," said Cloudtail. "Wrong turn. We have to turn around."

     "We can't turn around!" Aangharad shouted. "We have to go here!"

     "Umm, Ghara? I can't fly."

     "Use your head, Cloudtail, you're an Eyrie!"

     "I am?" The Cloud Eyrie rapidly began an inspection of himself.


     "What?" he asked innocently.

     "Well? Can you fly us out of here or not?" Aangharad asked impatiently.

     Cloudtail pondered. "Well, I've never flown before, but . . . when I was younger, I used to watch a friend of mine, an Eyrie named Cheronti, fly all the time. I think I could maybe do it now."

     "Well, Cloudtail, you get to try. Because in about ten seconds, we're going to be pushed off."

     He nodded. "Right. Get on my back. You're light, so I should be able to carry you."

     Aangharad complied quickly.

     "Right." Cloudtail began to flap his wings awkwardly. He managed to catch a strong wind, and he pulled himself and his friend up and out from over the spikes. He managed a landing some distance away.

     "Thank you, Aangharad," Cloudtail told the Zafara.

     "No problem," she replied. "But, do you know the names of any of the other mutants there? They could be vital to over throw Them."

     "Yeah, and come to think of it, how exactly did you free me?"

     Aangharad looked at him. "I've got to have some secrets, right?"

     "Sure. Whatever." Cloudtail was sure he didn't want to know what had gone into the drink she had given him.

     "I need to see about getting flying lessons," Cloudtail mumbled under his breath.

     Aangharad's laugh sounded from right ahead of him. "Like that one?"

The End

Note: As far as I know, Cloudtail plans to stay as a blue Kougra. Thanks to roztom for letting me borrow Aangharad, silverstream_38 for letting me borrow Cloudtail, and liawnsha for borrowing Cheronti.

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