A Tale of Two Brothers
"The painful truth is that you can't choose your family,"
the young Wocky sighed, leaning cautiously towards the Wishing Well, coins grasped
tightly in his paw. "But there is no harm in trying."
Taking a deep breath, he made his wish.
"I wish that my older brother were more like
Paws trembling, the little Wocky tipped his
coins into the black depths of the well.
"Just like you youngling's, never thinkin' o'
the consequences," a quiet, gravelly voice remarked from behind the Wocky. Startled,
he spun around and found himself face-to-face with a grey, scarred old Ixi,
who was watching him with apparent interest. The Wocky struggled to find his
tongue. He hadn't expected anyone to be at the Wishing Well at this early hour,
and was ashamed that the Ixi had heard his selfish wish.
"Y…you…you don't understand…" he stuttered nervously.
He trembled in the cold night air. The Ixi chuckled in an odd, rasping manner.
"Aye, I do understand. I was 'ere myself a long
time ago, an' I made the very same wish as you," he said, giving the Wocky a
friendly nudge. "Listen kid, if you know what's good fer you, you'd take back
that wish you just made."
"Why would I do that?" the Wocky asked. The
last thing he wanted was to stand out in the cold listening to some crazy old
Ixi give him a lecture. He turned to leave.
"So, you don't want to hear my story then?"
the Ixi called out after the Wocky, who - after hearing this - promptly turned
back to the Ixi.
The young Wocky was fond of stories, and had
been deprived of bedtime stories lately due to the naughty antics of his older
brother who had managed to get them both grounded and sentenced to an early
bedtime WITHOUT stories. He wandered back to the Ixi and settled next to him
on the grass. The Ixi chuckled again.
"I knew you wouldn' turn down a story," he said…
"When I was a youngin' - about the same age
as you - I didn't get along with my older brother. Actually, 'didn't get along'
is an understatement, at times I downright hated 'im. He was careless, naughty
and cruel, and he thought that because he was older than me, he could push me
around - sadly, this was true, because he was stronger than me.
He took advantage of my quiet, timid nature
and would often lead us on strange adventures with the intention of loosing
me in terrible places like the pinnacle of Terror Mountain or the centre of
the Haunted Woods. His plans of loosing me seldom worked though, 'cause I was
more intelligent than he was and figured out what he was tryin' to do before
he had the chance to pull it off.
When he discovered that loosin' me would never
work, he tried to scare me in different, more terrible ways. Narrowly missin'
the jaws of that disgustin' creature Meuka and an encounter with the Shadow
Usul are a couple of incidents that my brother caused me to endure. But nothing
surpasses the confrontation with the Snowager…"
"Snowager? He isn't THAT scary. Even I've been
into his cave while he was sleeping," the young Wocky interrupted. He wanted
to hear about Meuka, or even the Shadow Usul… but the Snowager? Even the most
timid of Neopets ventured into his cave at least once in their life.
"But have you ever been into his cave while
he was AWAKE?" the Ixi asked, a sly smile across his face. The Wocky gasped.
"You went into his cave while he was awake?!?"
"When my brother suggested another adventure
to Terror Mountain, I expected he was tryin' to loose me again and prepared
myself for a frantic game of chase through the ice caves. When he announced
that we were goin' to visit the Snowager, I was surprised, and began to think
that perhaps he was gettin' a bit more sensible. I was wrong.
"Who said we were gonna wait 'til he was asleep?"
my brother asked, laughin' hysterically at the look of utter shock on my face.
Right ahead of us - only a few short metres away - was the Snowager himself,
watchin' our every move and droolin' hungrily. I was frozen stiff, but my brother
thought the situation was hilarious. I could never understand his lack of fear.
My brother pushed me further towards the Snowager,
and it didn't matter how much I resisted, 'cause, like I said earlier, he was
stronger than me. We were directly underneath the Snowager, his gigantic jaws
opening above us, and I thought that we would be his lunch for certain. I've
never been so afraid in my life. But my brother was still laughin' like a manic.
He had other ideas.
"Ready… RUN!!!" he shouted, seconds before the
Snowager closed his jaws around us. We darted back through the caves, hooves
slippin' on the ice, until we reached the entrance. I collapsed on the snow,
and my older brother stood above me, grinnin' maniacally.
That was the last straw. I decided I had to
do somethin' about my reckless brother…"
"What'd you do?" the Wocky asked, wide-eyed.
He was glad now that he hadn't gone home, the old Ixi's story was proving to
be quite interesting.
"I did the exact thing you did only a few minutes
ago, kid. I sneaked out in the middle o' the night, threw some coins into this
very same magical well, and wished that my brother was more like me," the Ixi
"Did it work?" the Wocky ventured, hopeful.
"Aye, it did…"
"I returned home, and when I awoke the very
next mornin', I found my older brother quietly readin' on his bed. I wasn't
sure if I was actually awake, or still dreamin'. My brother didn't read!
"Oh! You're awake! Finally!" he said, smilin'
- but it wasn't the same sly smile he usually wore on his face. "Hurry and get
ready, we're going out."
"Are we going on another adventure?" I asked,
waitin' for him to tell me the strange and dangerous destination we were goin'
to today. But, instead, he informed me that we were going to the Soup Kitchen
to help feed all the poor pets. I didn't believe him at first, but that was
exactly what we did that day. He had become quiet, polite and kind - just like
I couldn't stand it! After three days, I missed
his crazy jokes. After five days, I missed his fearlessness. After a week, I
even began to miss the stupid adventures he led us on. I regretted ever makin'
that wish, and all I wanted now was my annoyin' old brother back. I'd never
expected that livin' with someone who was exactly the same as you was even more
horrible than livin' with someone who was completely different.
And so I sneaked out again and made a new wish.
I wished that my brother could return to normal…"
"Did he? Return to normal, I mean…"
The Ixi nodded.
"The next mornin' he was the same old Torne."
"His name was Torne?"
The Ixi ruffled the fur on the Wocky's head
and put something down on the grass in front of him before getting to his feet
and turning to leave. As he disappeared into the distance, the Wocky called
"What's your name, Mister?"
The Ixi looked back towards the little Wocky,
hoping he had learnt something from his story. He wondered whether he should
tell the young creature his name, and figured that it couldn't hurt. Besides,
he'd probably never see the kid again. Neopia was so crowded now.
"Loire," the Ixi called back, before finally
disappearing into the darkness.
The Wocky looked down at his feet, and discovered
that the old Ixi had left him some coins. Peering back towards the wishing well,
the Wocky sighed deeply. He had been so stupid! Why hadn't he actually thought
about how horrid it would be for his brothers personality to change completely?
He loved his brother for who he was, even if he was VERY annoying. Slowly, the
Wocky made his way towards the well and, tipping the coins into the black depths,
he made a wish…