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The Price You Pay

by lemonkitty13


The entire Neopian Times weather forecast for all of Friday contained one word: "Rainy." Unfortunately, the Weatherchia had been correct in his simple prediction, and the dark clouds proceeded to drench all of Neopia Central that Friday morning. The atmosphere was completely calm until late afternoon, when tension started to build over anticipation that the Twisted Roses were giving a charity concert the next day in front of the music store, as a sort of "for old time's sake" gig. Although there was some anxiety over the state of the weather, no one doubted that the Twisted Roses would give the concert anyway, because they were just like that; the local Weatherchia later assured everyone that things would "Dry Up".

     "Becky!" the shocked Ixi gasped, cornering her band mate. "Becky, come quick, it's Lycanthra... she's wrong.."

     "Lycanthra? What's wrong?"

     "She's... she's..."

     "What is it?"

     "She's gone mad," the Ixi said. "She's standing in the middle on Neopia Central, crying her eyes out, screaming at the sky.."


It starts like this:

      Lycanthra had been wanting to go home, to her real house, but her home was now a traveling trailer (albeit a nice one) and her family was Grenville, her sister's Gremble. She hadn't seen Sarah in months, and letters were coming less frequently than before; she would often talk to Grenville after a concert, or after writing or working on new music.

     Grenville was an especially good listener; he never once interrupted her, and he always listened carefully. Of course, this is generally a petpet's nature, but Lycanthra liked to think Grenville was special; partly because he was actually particularly intelligent, but mostly because she just needed someone special like that.

     "I should write her, shouldn't I?" she said to Grenville. "Everything I do is for her.. but she hasn't written in so long.."

     She picked up an ink-spotted piece of paper, her unfinished letter to Sarah. She hesitated while reaching for a pencil, and began to read the letter aloud:

Dear Sarah,

     I haven't heard from you in awhile; is everything okay? You're probably really busy with your life. Come to think of it, I haven't heard any news from anyone back home lately. What's up? Grenville's doing okay; I think he really misses you, though, he just doesn't show it -

      She looked at Grenville, who was looking out the window quite emotionlessly. She once again toyed with the idea of writing a little more, but at last she simply sighed, folded up the paper, and tucked it into a desk drawer.

     "I'll just wait for her letter," she said, absentmindedly stroking Grenville.


      "Your lyrics are too dark, Lycanthra."

     The Zafara simply sneered at her manager. "We're a Goth band. What do you mean, my lyrics are too dark?"

     "I mean, your lyrics aren't going to work. People don't want to listen to this."

     Lycanthra stared in horror as the solemn, calm Bori, always business-like, tore her tear-streaked lyrics papers down the middle, without showing a hint of emotion.

     She slammed her fist on the table and made a sideswiping motion, spilling various documents onto the floor.

     "What do you mean, they don't want to listen to that? People want to listen to US! You can't-"

     "They want to listen to the Twisted Roses, not pitiful Lycanthra's angst-ridden life story," he said.

     "I wrote those lyrics from... my... heart" she growled. "You can't just tear them up. I could fire you right now.."

     The Bori chuckled, leaning back in his chair. "Fire the one who gave the Twisted Roses what they have today? You would still have nothing if it wasn't for me. You'd have nothing. You would be nothing. Fire me? Ask your little friends, they'd kick you out before firing me."

     Lycanthra squeezed her eyes shut and turned her face away, clutching a pencil from her manager's desk. She held onto it only to keep from lashing out at him, but as she shook with anger, the pencil broke cleanly in her hands. With white makeup streaming down her cheeks, not knowing whether to scream at him or to simply break down, not consciously in control of her emotions, she simply looked the Bori in the eye, then turned and left.


      The price you pay for fame...

     "Those lyrics were from my heart," she repeated to Grenville, back in the traveling trailer. "He thought it was raindrops, but they weren't... raindrops.."

     She caught a glimpse of herself in the window-reflection, and thought she might be seeing a monster staring back at her. She looked like a mess, with her white eye makeup smeared across her face, and her hair still damp from the actual rain. She sat with the lights dimmed, too sick to look at herself, but too sick to wash her face and redo her makeup. She knew that Grenville would not care either way, at least.

     "It will be in the tabloids tomorrow," she said. "They saw me like this outside. They'll say I've stopped caring, I'm quitting... why shouldn't I..."

     Grenville only looked at her.


     She had lain her head down on her desk, with her sister's petpet still beside her, and fallen asleep.



     Lycanthra opened her eyes to the dimly-lit, chalky-white room; she had rubbed makeup from her face into her eyes while asleep. She blinked, trying to get things into focus.


     She did not see the Gremble anywhere. How long had she been asleep? He was not near he; he was not curled up under her desk, nor was he staring into her looking-glass..

     Gazing stupidly into the mirror, she caught sight of her desk; how could she have not noticed the state it was in? Papers were scattered everywhere, and Sarah's letter was on the floor.

     Turning to look more closely, she saw something definitely out of place.. a crimson envelope with a black rose laying atop it.

     As she picked up the envelope, she felt sick in her stomach. It read "From your biggest fan..."


      The Twisted Roses had so many fans, some of whom were most definitely a little crazy; they also had, supposedly, the top security Skeiths that their money could buy. Nevertheless, things did get stolen. Raven's favorite shirt had gone missing a month ago, and Becky couldn't find several items of jewelry. Neopets were always waiting for them to throw away trash outside, so they could take the used cup or napkin and sell it on the underground. Lycanthra herself had a simple calligraphy pen stolen from her very room once.

     Lately, someone had been leaving crimson envelopes with black roses around the girls' trailer. The security Skeiths were very concerned, although the girls thought it might just be "another crazy fan." That is, until the letters got steadily creepier, begging for a reply or a meeting and threatening dire consequences if they did not comply.. of course, the Skeiths would not let them contact the fan in any way.

     "Why him?" she screamed at her reflection in the mirror. "Why him? Why not another pen? Why not Raven's shirts? Why HIM?"

     She seized a paperweight from her desk, then hurled it toward the mirror. The glass instantly shattered, breaking her reflection into hundreds of pieces.

     "Curse me now, then!" she screamed at it. "As if I'm not already cursed! They say fame is a gift, what kind of gift takes the ones you love from you? I don't want it anymore!"

     She turned away from the mirror to sit at her desk, resting her head against the scattered stack of papers. She shook only with sadness, letting her tears spill onto those many fan letters and unfinished lyrics, not caring if she lost her brilliant words forever because of tear-smudged ink..

     " I can't stand myself... I can't stand living in this skin anymore.."


      With none of her trademark makeup on, Lycanthra was invisible. Everyone around her was talking about the Twisted Roses concert, but no one made any notice of the lone Zafara in the corner of the little cafe. She had successfully become a Shadow. With a pen that barely had any ink left, she began scratching out new lyrics on a napkin.

     "Have you heard?" an excitable little Cybunny said shrilly, tugging on her brother's sleeve. "They say the Twisted Roses have gone insane, all of them! They say that they're going to break up, and the next concert is going to be the last!"

     "You're crazy, little sis," he snorted.

     "It's true!"

     The little Cybunny caught sight of Lycanthra, then shuddered; she hid her little face behind her brother's sleeve. The legendary Zafara, now only a Shadow, was totally unrecognizable. She turned her face from the children.

     "Only one of the Roses is truly twisted," Lycanthra said to herself.

     Outside, it began pouring down rain harder and harder. The Shadow gazed out the window, and suddenly, staring through the reflection of her own black eyes into the stormy clouds, she was overcome with the idea to ask them why it had to be. She wanted, with every fiber of her being, to scream at those dark clouds; to ask them why, to scream for someone, anyone, to listen, and just hope and pray that someone was listening to her, and that they could answer her question.

The End

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