Come dance with the gypsies... Circulation: 124,467,804 Issue: 251 | 4th day of Hiding, Y8
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"Your Hands Glow Blue For A Moment...": Part One

by silvormoon


Tylla the Electric Lupe had been in the Lost Desert for only one day, but already she had drawn several conclusions about it, one of them being that it was much too hot for Neopets with fur. She stopped and fanned herself, wishing she had set out when it was cooler.

      "We should have left earlier this morning," she said to her friend Jenipur, a White Zafara.

      "You shouldn't have slept so late, then," Jenipur replied, factually as always. "Besides, you were the one who wanted to see Coltzan's Shrine. I was all for staying in Sakhmet -- you know, doing a little shopping, seeing the sights..."

      "This is one of the sights," said Tylla. "You've heard the stories! Amazing things happen to people who visit the shrine! We might get a Paintbrush, or a million Neopoints, or buried pirate treasure, or..."

      "A burnt fish."


      "I was talking to one of the vendors in the marketplace this morning, while you were snoozing," said Jenipur. "He said he went to Coltzan's Shrine one time and got a burnt fish."

      Tylla scratched her head. "Why would Coltzan give someone a burnt fish?"

      "I don't know! If we see him, maybe we can ask him," Jenipur replied.

      The two of them continued to walk slowly across the sands. The sun beat down on them, and Tylla wished she didn't have such dark-colored fur. Electric blue stripes were fun to have back in her home in Neopia Central, but out here in the desert, Jenipur's white fur had the advantage. Tylla sighed a little. Jenipur was her best friend and had kept her out of a lot of trouble over the years, but did she always have to have better luck in everything? Sometimes it seemed like nothing she did ever went wrong...

      "Hey, look, I think that's it!" said Jeni.

      Tylla looked up. Outlined against the blue sky was a spire of golden stone. Despite the heat, Tylla began to smile. There it was -- Coltzan's Shrine! She picked up her pace, forgetting about the heat as she raced across the sand. She was rather pleased that she made it there before Jenipur did. For a moment, the two of them stood there in the shrine's shadow, admiring it.

      "You go first," said Tylla.

      "No, this was your idea, so you go first."

      "No, you."

      "No, you!"

      "All right, I will," said Jenipur, and she walked directly up to the side of the shrine and laid her paws on it.

      Instantly, the wind picked up, throwing swirls of sand into miniature tornadoes. In the midst of the chaos, a ghostly face appeared in the air.

      "Thank you for coming, young Neopet," a soft voice intoned. "I will do what I can to help you."

      There was another swirl of dust and wind, and when Jenipur looked down, there was a heap of gleaming Neopoints at her feet.

      "Ooh!" said Jenipur happily. "That was easier than I thought it would be!"

      "Let me try now!" Tylla said, bounding forward.

      Jenipur scooped up her newly-found Neopoints and scooted aside so that Tylla could have a turn. Tylla walked reverently up to the shrine and laid her paws against the stone. It felt warm and a little tingly to the touch, the way she'd always imagined magic would feel, and she held her breath as she waited for something wonderful to happen. The wind picked up again, and...

      ...her paws glowed blue for a moment. Then everything died down.

      "That's it?" she exclaimed. "No treasure? No rare items? Just a stupid blue light?"

      "It's not nice to talk to Coltzan like that," said Jenipur.

      Tylla looked sulky. "It's not nice of him to give you Neopoints and not give me anything."

      "I'll share," Jenipur offered. She sounded as if she was genuinely sorry for Tylla.

      The Lupe tried to smile. "I know you will. Thanks, Jeni."

      "You're welcome," Jenipur replied. "Now, let's get back to Sakhmet. If we hurry, we might get there in time for lunch."

      Tylla nodded and began walking back to the city. Even with Jenipur trying to cheer her up, she still couldn't help but feel disappointed. She had come so far to see the shrine, and nothing had happened but some weird lights! It just wasn't fair. She let her head droop, staring sadly at the ground.

      "Don't worry," said Jenipur. "We can come back again tomorrow, and I'll let you go first. Then maybe you'll get something good."

      "Maybe so," Tylla replied, sounding distracted.

      "Oh, come on -- you aren't going to sulk all the way back to Sakhmet, are you?" asked Jenipur.

      "No, it's not that," said Tylla. "It's just that my paws have started to glow again."

      Jenipur stopped walking and stared. Sure enough, Tylla's paws were glowing a vivid blue that showed up even under the bright light of the sun. It was particularly noticeable around her electric-blue stripe markings. Jenipur blinked.

      "Well, I've never heard of anything like that before," she said. "Maybe it will wear off after a while."

      "I hope so," Tylla replied.

      "I'm sure it will," said Jenipur more confidently. "Once we get far enough from the shrine, it's bound to fade."

      Tylla nodded. Jenipur was probably right. After all, she was always right! They just had to get far away enough from the shrine that its magic couldn't reach her, and then the lights would stop. Coltzan had been a good king, after all - there was no way he would leave a poor Neopet to spend the rest of her life walking around with glowing blue paws!

      Nevertheless, by the time the two of them returned to Sakhmet, the glow had not faded one bit. The two Neopets stood at the gates to the city, looking with puzzlement down at Tylla's paws.

      "Well, this is awkward," said Jenipur.

      "Everyone is going to stare at me," Tylla wailed. "I wish I'd never gone to Coltzan's Shrine!"

      "There's nothing we can do about that now," Jenipur said sensibly. "Just sit here a minute and I'll see what I can do."

      Without further explanation, Jenipur walked into the city. Feeling helpless, Tylla sat down against the wall and hid her paws in the sand. That helped a little, but she could still see a faint shimmer now and then if she moved. The sand was hot and itchy, both to hide her paws in and to sit on. A few other Neopets on their way to or from Sakhmet paused to wave to her, and looked mildly confused as to why this young Lupe refused to wave back to them.

      At last, Jenipur returned, carrying a pair of gloves.

      "Here," she said. "Put these on. I got the thickest ones I could find. If these don't hide the glowing, nothing will."

      Tylla stared at the gloves. They certainly looked thick - thick and heavy and much too big for her small paws. They would hide the strange light, but how was Tylla supposed to do anything while wearing those huge mitts?

      "I can't spend the rest of my life wearing gloves!" she protested.

      Jenipur gave her a patient look. "You don't have to wear them the rest of your life. You only have to keep them on as long as it takes for that weird light to go away."

      "But they don't fit!"

      "We'll get you some smaller ones later, if we need to. I had to make do with what I could find in a hurry. Come on," said Jenipur. "It's hot out here. Let's go get a drink and cool off, hmm?"

      Tylla hesitated. She didn't really want anyone to see her with glowing blue paws, but she didn't really want to wear the heavy gloves in this heat. On the other hand, she was thirsty after all that walking around in the desert, and she wasn't going to cool off sitting here in the sand like this...

      "All right," she said. She pulled on the gloves and followed Jenipur into the city.

      Once they were in Sakhmet, they made their way to the inn where they had been staying. There was a restaurant downstairs where travelers could sit down for a meal and a cool drink. The two of them found a table out of the way and ordered two glasses of Juppie juice and a bowl of fruit to share. Tylla began to relax a little. It was much cooler inside the building, and there weren't many other Neopets around to bother them. She sipped her drink and felt her spirits begin to lift. She was, after all, a naturally cheerful Lupe, and she never let her setbacks get her down for long. Soon she was happily chattering with Jenipur, planning out what they would do for the rest of their vacation.

      "We should got to Qasala tomorrow," she was saying. "I hear they've got an amazing library, and I've always wanted to try their Queela dip..."

      "I hear it's hot enough to set your tongue on fire! Better order a couple of gallons of Qando punch to go with it," Jenipur teased.

      "I'll try both!" said Tylla. She picked up a Cheops from the fruit bowl and began to pull off the leaves, but her clumsy gloves got in the way. Without thinking, she yanked them off. Immediately, all eyes in the room turned to stare at her. Out of the blazing sun, the weird blue glow was even more noticeable. Tylla blushed beneath her fur and quickly shoved the gloves back on again.

      "What was that?" said a Xweetok on the other side of the room.

      "I've never seen anything like it," an Usul agreed.

      "It was nothing! Nothing at all!" Tylla protested. She got up from the table and began running to her room, trying to get away from all the curious stares.

      "Tylla, wait up!" Jenipur called. She got up and chased after her friend.

      She managed to catch Tylla in the hallway upstairs and began trying to calm her down.

      "Hey, it's all right," she said. "Everybody's just curious, that's all."

      "I hate it when everybody stares at me," Tylla complained. "Especially when I can't do anything about it! I didn't ask to be turned into a walking night-light!"

      "It'll be okay. Look, tomorrow we'll go back to the shrine, and maybe Coltzan will undo the magic for you if you ask. And if that doesn't work, we'll see if we can find somebody who knows more about this kind of thing, and maybe they'll be able to help you. One way or another, we'll get you fixed."

      "Do you think there's anybody here who knows how to cure glowing paws?" asked Tylla wistfully.

      "There might be," said an unfamiliar voice. "It's not impossible, anyway. Someone like me, for example, might be able to figure it out. But then again, I might not."

      Tylla and Jenipur looked up to see a Green Lenny climbing up the stairs behind them. He was wearing a wide-brimmed hat and glasses, and he carried a backpack slung over one wing.

      "Who are you?" Tylla asked. "Can you help me?"

      "Well, I don't know if I can or not," the Lenny replied. "It's possible, as I said. Very possible. But you never know. I might not. And to answer your first question last, my name is Shandon. I am an explorer. Well, that's what I call myself. But others might call me a researcher. Or perhaps a scholar. It could be any of those."

      "You don't sound very sure," said Tylla dubiously.

      "Well, of course I'm not sure!" Shandon replied. "It doesn't pay to be too certain. No good scholar should ever let himself become so sure of anything that he rules out all other possibilities, because there's always a chance he could be wrong. At least, that's what I think. But I might not be right about that. Don't you think?"

      "Um," said Jenipur. "Something like that."

      "Exactly," Shandon replied, sounding pleased. "So here is the way it stands, according to my understanding of things - which is purely subjective, I hope you understand. My interpretation of events is that a singularly unusual event has befallen this young Lupe here, which appears to have rendered her seriously distressed. When I reached that conclusion, I decided to follow her and make further inquiries - because after all, I may have misinterpreted the situation. However, if my assessment is correct, it would seem that she could use some help. Therefore, based on that assumption, I offer my services. If you two will consent to aid me in my current research, I in turn will do everything in my power to assist you. I think this is a fair offer, but of course you're free to disagree with me."

      "Um," said Jenipur again. "He sure uses a lot of words, doesn't he?"

      "I'll take your help," Tylla said. "I'll do anything to stop these stupid lights!"

      "Very good," Shandon replied. "Then meet me downstairs at sunrise tomorrow morning. I'll be waiting for you there. At least, I think I will, but you never know what could happen."

      The two young Neopets agreed with this meeting. Shandon, looking pleased with himself, waved a cheerful goodbye and wandered off again, talking to himself about the things he thought he would need for his explorations - thought he needed, of course, but wasn't really sure.

      Tylla and Jenipur spent the rest of the day exploring Sakhmet, but Tylla's heart wasn't in it. She kept checking her paws every few minutes to see if the glow had faded. All she could think about was what could possibly be done to solve her strange problem, and whether or not the Lenny she'd met could actually do anything to help her. It was hard to believe in someone who didn't seem to think he could do it himself. At last, the day came to an end, and the two Neopets returned to their room and crawled into their beds.

      "Turn out the lights," Jenipur mumbled sleepily.

      "They are turned out," said Tylla.

      "But..." Jenipur sat up and blinked. Even though Tylla had blown out the lamps, the room was still filled with a pale light.

      "It's my paws," Tylla wailed. "They won't stop glowing."

      "Pull a blanket over them," Jenipur suggested.

      "But it's too hot for a blanket!"

      "Then put your gloves back on."

      "I can't sleep with gloves on," said Tylla.

      "Well, I can't sleep with the lights on," Jenipur replied. "Well, it's not that the lights are on, but... you know what I mean!"

      Tylla sighed. "I'll never get a good night's sleep again if I don't fix this soon!"

      "Maybe it will fade by morning?" said Jenipur, but she didn't sound very hopeful.

      "I don't think so. I think they're actually getting brighter. I'm sure they weren't this bright earlier."

      "They probably just look brighter now because it's dark outside," Jenipur said, but she didn't sound any more sure of herself now than Shandon did. Tylla sighed and put on her gloves.

To be continued...

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