The Lost Fuzzle: Part Three
You guessed it. Captain Scarblade. Terror of the seven seas. There was that smug old Green Lupe, standing over me with a smug, yellow smile on his wretched face. He looked more menacing than last time I’d seen him, with his filthy fur and frayed uniform.
“Miss me?” he asked. I pondered a moment to try and figure out if it was a rhetorical question. I decided it wasn’t.
“Not particularly,” I replied snidely.
Scarblade merely grinned.
“You haven’t changed one bit,” he noticed, looking me up and down, almost looking disappointed.
“Neither have you,” I lied. He had changed. He looked stronger and more confident. And the gleam in those cold eyes was more pronounced.
While we were exchanging idle enemy-to-enemy chitchat, Garin had slid his sword in my direction. It was inches from my fingertips. But Scarblade was watching me closely; he knew I would try and grab the sword. He knew me better than I knew myself sometimes. His eyes flickered from me to the sword. Me. Sword. Me. Sword.
Couldn’t he make up his mind? Maybe while he was staring at the sword I could try and move. Or maybe I could bluff. Bluffing was usually a last resort for me, but now was desperate. I needed a last resort.
I flinched my hand a bit, acting like I was going to grab the sword. Coiled and instantly alert, Scarblade moved forward to grab the sword. In one swift movement, I grabbed his arm and twisted it backward, causing him to yell. While he was distracted by his arm, I had grabbed the sword.
I held my sword confidently out in front of me, hiding the swirling emotions of fear and anxiety knotting my stomach. Remarkably, my blade didn’t even shake. Scarblade finally got over his arm, and stared at me.
“You’re braver than I give you credit for,” he said softly. His mouth was serious, but his eyes were laughing. Mocking.
He shifted his sword slightly against mine, making a metallic scraping noise. I hated that noise, and he seemed to realize that too.
“Are we going to stand here and chitchat, or are we going to fight?” I asked icily, glaring into those eyes. I hated those eyes. More than I hated anything else about him.
He chuckled in that disgusting way he managed to pull off. “As you wish,” he said.
As expected, he was first to move. He tried to catch me off guard by aiming for my shoulder. I admit he did for a moment; usually he aimed for my side, because he knows how much I hate getting hit in the side. But I still managed to block it, but just barely. The impact from the blade was staggering, but I didn’t have time to catch my balance.
The fight was slow for a little while, and I did more defending than attacking, preferring to save my strength while he wasted his with useless blows. Soon it was starting to show for him. He was starting to sweat, which really didn’t help his appearance at all, while I was completely fine, shooting the breeze.
After I while I grew cocky. “Need a break, old man?” I taunted. Scarblade took it as a rhetorical question, and sadly his determination only increased. I was starting to get bored.
When I noticed his blows were becoming increasingly half-hearted, I decided to take a whack at him. Amazingly, I managed to strike his face. Instantly a bloody gash appeared on it and he howled. He touched it gingerly, and saw his own blood.
If people ever tell you bullies grow squeamish at the sight of their own blood, don’t believe it. All they do is get more angry. Take it from me. I’ve been there.
He grew furious, and began randomly slashing at me, in a fit of rage and desperation. I managed to block three of his blows.
Then he finally got me. Right after I was about to taunt him, too. Irony had a bad habit of finding me on that one day.
He managed to get me in the side, of course, ripping my shirt and leaving a rip. That was my favorite shirt, too. But naturally I was more concerned about my condition.
As I collapsed, I tried to figure out where everyone else was. Wouldn’t they realize I was in trouble? So far, Garin was the only one that had come. And he was the last person I expected, too.
I saw him come over and start fighting that terrible old Lupe, and I fought to keep my eyes open and watch. I was forced to watch as Garin took over my fight, leaving me helpless on the ground like a damsel in distress. Being a damsel in distress was the LAST thing I wanted to put on my job application when I got older.
Eventually all I saw was Scarblade running away. Everything else was obscured, and all I could see was him. Something might have spooked him. He wouldn’t just give up like that. He wasn’t like that. Know your enemies more than you know yourself, I thought grimly.
There was a fuzzy, yellow thing in front of me. For a moment I didn’t know what it was, and it looked annoying. But I realized it was Garin’s arm. “Come on, get up, you can do it,” he said softly, in a much nicer tone than he normally used on me.
Dazed, I grabbed his arm and pulled myself up. When my vision started clearing, I noticed several other worried faces around me. One was the face of a worried red Kyrii. Jacques. Another was the face of a blue Aisha with alluring eyes. Ally. The last one was of a pale girl with big brown eyes. Anna. I could just barely make out a small Gruslen with his nose in the crowd. Fang.
Anna smiled at me and picked me up, holding me, comforting me. Good ole Anna. I can’t remember a single time she wasn’t there for me. Of course, it wasn’t always that way. She used to be ridiculously strict. But she’d lightened up. And now I felt even closer with her than ever before. Amazing what a little leniency can do.
Finally she put me down. Ally watched me closely, almost annoyingly closely. Then I realized she probably wanted her fuzzle. Panic engulfed me for a moment when I didn’t see it, but then I spotted it close by Scarblade’s sword.
No, that didn’t make sense. Why would he leave it? I eyed it for a long moment, taking in its authentic, wicked look. It looked like the weapon of the monster. It was the weapon of a monster. I longed to touch it; I could feel the power radiating from it.
You’re crazy, I told myself. Honestly. Since when did I have a thirst for power? I was a Baby Shoyru, for crying out loud! Shaking off the thoughts, I grabbed the fuzzle and handed it to Ally, who instantly squealed with happiness.
We all made our way back to the boat with an uneasy silence hovering over us like an unwanted Buzzer. Anna finally opened up and started a conversation with me, startling me. She wasn’t usually a talker. Quite the opposite, she was rather a listener. She would always listen to my rants no matter how vicious they got.
The whole time, Garin was watching me with a strange expression on his face that I couldn’t read. He was like a closed book. But I could tell one thing: He looked like he wanted to talk to me.
Finally he took action. Right in the middle of our conversation, he came over. “Chili, could I talk to you?” he asked politely, as to not annoy Anna. However, Anna looked the opposite of annoyed. Instead, she pushed me over to him and winked. I couldn’t tell what she was implying.
But I didn’t like it.
He took me to the corner of the ship and said, “I have something for you.”
Completely unaware and unsuspecting, I shrugged. “Okay, what is it?”
He smiled that coy, handsome smile of his and reached into his pocket. When he held the item out in front of him, I was shocked.
It was a Golden Paint Brush. Glimmering with pride and beauty, it practically screamed “LOOK AT ME!”
“It’s gorgeous,” I said breathlessly. I regained my composure. “But why are you showing it to me?”
He looked like he expected that. “Chili, I want you to have it.”
I tilted my head sideways at him, unsure if he was making a joke or if he was serious. He looked serious. Then again, looks can be deceiving.
“Why?” I asked, still flabbergasted.
“Well,” he began, pushing some hair from his eyes and relaxing his figure like he was going to give a long, well-planned speech. “I saw how you fought today. And for someone you really cared about. It was really golden, you know? Shoyrus like you don’t come around every day. You’re something special. I think this brush would fit your personality.” He paused, and, noticing how eager my expression looked, added, “plus, you can’t stay a baby forever.” He winked.
Then he took my hands and placed the brush in them, smiling. With that he turned, and was gone, going back to talk to Jacques. Jacques looked like he was teasing him about something, and Garin good-naturedly shoved Jacques’ shoulder. Then he glanced down in my direction. He met my eye but I turned away, walking back to Anna.
Anna saw what was in my hands and gasped. “Chili, who gave you that?”
My gaze lingered unwillingly toward Garin. “Garin,” I admitted somberly.
Anna had that same unreadable look on her face. But it looked somewhat satisfied. She crossed her arms across her chest and looked straight ahead with a faint smile on her face, and she seemed to have more color in her face than usual.
We arrived in Neopia Central before I knew it, and we were greeted by the smell of fresh hotdogs, the intelligent voice of the Book Shop Nimmo shooting the breeze with customers, and the brilliant glow of the Rainbow Pool.
Anna gave me a meaningful look, and I nodded, going over to the Rainbow Pool with my paint brush clenched tightly in my hands. Everyone followed me, making me more uneasy.
I can’t really explain why I was so nervous. I wanted to grow up. But I felt like ever since that one day when Boochi zapped me, it was shaping out the rest of my life. I felt like I was interrupting destiny. Plus, I wouldn’t get nearly as much attention as when I was a baby. But I hated feeling vulnerable.
Anna walked up to me and took the brush gently. “Are you sure you want to go through with this?” she asked.
I gave a confirming nod. “Okay, here goes,” she said, beginning to paint me after taking a deep breath.
The brush on my sensitive skin tickled me, and I fought not to giggle, closing my eyes. Finally, she whispered, “Okay, I’m done. Stay still, though; let the paint dry. You can open your eyes,” she said, reading my mind. I opened my eyes and fought not to look at myself; I wanted my new appearance to be a surprise.
Finally, after moments that dragged on like days, she told me I could move. A passing orange Nimmo handed me a mirror so I could look in it to see my reflection.
My reflection startled me; I wasn’t sure why. Being the tomboy as I was, I never really looked in the mirror. But now, looking in, I felt... pretty. There was no other word for it. My eyes were golden and alluring, large and bright, and my features were smooth and even. I wasn’t just any plain old ordinary Shoyru.
I was special. And until then, I’d never realized it.
After this realization, I felt unnaturally happy. My face split into a ridiculous grin a mile wide, and I decided to try out my new Golden wings.
I took a running start, sprinting fast as a bullet, and then leaped into the air, pushing my wings up and down as I fought to gain altitude.
It took me a moment to realize I hadn’t flown in a while. But it felt so great to be able to. I felt the wind caress my face with gentle, loving fingers. I heard the occasional squawk of a Mallard.
I didn’t want to land. I wanted to stay in that azure sky and fly forever. But Anna called me down and I reluctantly landed, looking up at her. I noticed I was taller; I didn’t have to look up nearly as much as I usually did.
She gave me a gentle hug, stroking my forehead lightly like she loved to do. “Chili, I think this is the beginning of a bigger and better you,” she said, sincerity in every word.
“Me too,” I agreed softly. “Me too.”