Abu's Exam: Part Two
“Abu! Abu! Wake up! WAKE UP!!!”
Abu’s green eyes snapped open. She was staring at several inky lines. Realizing her face was on a piece of paper, she lifted her head to its normal height. She recognized the half-finished work from last night.
Groaning, she stretched stiff muscles. She had such a bad crick in her neck from falling asleep at her desk last night...
Her left arm bumped into the person who had woken her up from her nightmare. Turning, she apologized to her savior. “Oh, sorry – Kat. G’morning.”
Her sister nodded at her, oddly frosty. “Were you having a nightmare?” she asked.
“Yeah,” the older Xweetok admitted, grinning ruefully. “A pretty bad one, too. Thanks, Kat.”
Kat was still looking at her in a weird, cold way. “What was it – you were failing the Exam?”
Abu was too sleepy to catch the sarcasm in Kat’s voice. “Yeah. Horrible! I dreamed we were given the test in Ancient Shenkuu –” she broke off. Her brain had just registered the look on Kat’s face. “Kat?” she asked. “What’s wrong?”
“You,” Kat said angrily. “You and that stupid quiz! It’s all you ever think about!” She paused for a moment, and then added in a lower voice, “You don’t even care about your own family anymore.”
“Kat!” Abu exclaimed. “Kat, you know that’s not true! You know I’d never forget about you guys –” But Kat had already slammed the door.
Abu rested on her bed for a moment, thinking. She hadn’t known Kat felt like that. She hadn’t known that her sister was mad. If Kat was mad, she wondered, who should she talk to?
When something was wrong, she always talked about it with Kat. They had known each other for years! But now that the other Xweetok was angry at her, there would be no talking to her.
She quickly discarded Sabby. Her owner had many skills, but sympathizing with one pet over another and suggesting solutions to their problems with each other was not one of them. Not Cela, Fen, or Xena, either. If they had been hanging around Kat, they were sure to share her feelings. Ki was too young, and Dai... Dai wasn’t the person to talk to, for sure. He wasn’t touchy-feely, or anything like that. Which left only one family member.
Immediately, she knew he was the one. Kyanry was a good kid. He was the loner of the family, but he always hung around Abu. There was a connection between them – perhaps because they were the only ones in the house who shared the dream of becoming a top scholar. Or perhaps because Abu was able to see past the tough face he showed to the world.
He wouldn’t have been talking to Kat, either. Ky lived a pretty reclusive life. The only place most people regularly saw him was at NeoSchool. Kat wouldn’t have recruited him into her Anti-Abu army.
She stood up and left her room for the first time in days. Sabby had brought her meals up on a tray – three times a day, regular as clockwork. She, at least, understood Abu’s ambition, and had understood that it was vitally important that her oldest pet study day in and day out.
Passing the stairs, Abu realized she was venturing into the boys’ side of the house. On the left side of the stairwell was the girls' section, where the five girls – Cela, Kat, Fen, Abu, and Xena – slept. It was alternatively called the Purple Wing, as all the carpeting in the hallway on that side was purple. On the right side was the Blue Wing – the boy’s rooms. Their corridor was carpeted in a beautiful shade light blue. Ky, Ki, and Dai slept there.
Usually, everyone hung out downstairs, or in their bedrooms. If someone was in their bedroom with the door shut, it was as clear in their family as a “Do Not Disturb” sign. No one trespassed into anyone else’s room. Usually, the family hung out downstairs – on the first floor, or outside. There wasn’t much need to go into each other’s rooms. The girls would occasionally spend time in other bedrooms in the Purple Wing, but only once in a while. Therefore, Abu had rarely been on this side of the house; if she ever went, it was almost always to speak with Ky.
She walked to down to the third and last door. “Do Not Disturb” signs, picked up in hotels all around Neopia, rattled as she knocked tentatively. “Ky?” she said loudly. “It’s me.”
“OK. Fine. You can come in, Abu,” a voice from the other side of the door announced.
Abu carefully eased open the little-used door. It squeaked and creaked anyways, as if defying her.
“Ky, I need some help,” she told her brother.
A blue Ogrin lay stretched out on the bed, wearing an old, old T-shirt whose logo had jumped ship a long time ago, and dark blue sweatpants. Ky looked interested. “OK. Shoot,” he said. She rarely needed help from him. He was the one who usually needed help from her.
Recently, Ky had been morphed into an Ogrin by a vile tasting potion Sabby had bought from Kauvara. He was still adjusting to his new form, and could barely do anything more than lie on his bed. He could speak, though, and think. Just physical actions were hard for him. Supposedly, this would clear up soon.
“Kat’s mad at me. Really mad. Because I’m spending all my time studying for the Exam. And she thinks I’ve... got my priorities messed up.” Abu sounded very upset.
Ky thought for a moment, and finally told Abu his idea. She nodded. It might work. It would mean extra studying for her, but it could work.
The Xweetok thanked her younger brother, and then carefully closed the door behind her. Ky didn’t want just anyone to come in, and if word got around that he was helping her out, his siblings would come into his room all the time and disturb him. But Abu was all right.
Abu crept back to her room, attempting to be perfectly silent. Her footfalls were muffled by first the blue and then the purple carpet, so she practically succeeded. At least, no one heard her.
“She’s not coming down from breakfast,” Kat informed them all. “She’s too busy with her studying.”
Sabby nodded resignedly. “All right. Xena and I will be out playing games all day.” Abu was usually her active pet, but, as she was studying, she no longer had time to go out and do stuff with her owner. Xena had stepped into her shoes. Kat was the next oldest pet, but she usually stayed at home, to make sure that everything was OK. Which meant that the red Ixi was the oldest who wanted to go.
The Ixi and the girl left the room, and, a few moments later, the others heard the front door close behind them. That left Cela, Fen, Kat, Ki, and Dai at the table.
Ki stood up, smiled angelically, and wiped off his milk mustache. “I’m going with Dai!” the young Shoyru announced. “To Kwawk Island!” Ki still had a slight problem pronouncing his “r”s.
Dai smiled benignly, and pushed back his own chair. Standing up, he turned to Kat, who raised her eyebrow skeptically. There was no love lost between Dai and Kat. “Sabby said it’s OK.” He checked his watch – a proud birthday present. “We’ll be back at five.”
Kat nodded sourly. “Don’t forget your sunscreen, swimsuits, towels, or goggles!” she called after them. “And for heaven’s sake, don’t go to the Smuggler’s Cave! Or anywhere, Dai, that wouldn’t be appropriate for Ki!”
Fen nodded twice authoritatively. “So, what’re we going to do today, guys?” she asked her two siblings left at the table.
“I’d love to go to Meridell!” Cela announced.
“I remember the last time you said that,” Kat complained. “You wore a T-shirt with ‘I LOVE KAUVARA’ stenciled on it, and we spent our whole time standing in front of Kauvara’s shop, ‘restocking’. I swear, you talked to her (and bored her) so much that she probably has ‘Do Not Admit Blue Boris’ as a sign on her door. Or maybe just ‘Do Not Admit Crazy Fangirls’.”
Cela blushed red. “I’m her number one fan! Of course I wanted to talk to her.”
“But we’re not,” Fen said. “And, really, Cela, we didn’t get to ‘restock’ anything at all. We just spent the whole time waiting for her to put something out that we could restock. Which she didn’t, because you spent all your time bending her ear, and so she had no time to actually do anything!”
“Fine,” Cela grumped, “fine. So, what do you guys propose we do?”
There was silence all around the table. Finally, Kat had an idea. “Well, guys, it’s summer, right?”
They all nodded. The hot, humid summers of Neopia Central were unmistakably summers. The sun overhead blazed down on the world. Thermometers were brushing a hundred degrees, and then some! Very few people went outside at high noon. It was a sluggish, uncomfortable heat.
“Well, who thinks we should go somewhere cold? It’d be very refreshing!” Kat suggested.
“You mean...” Cela and Fen said at the same time.
“Yep! Terror Mountain!” Kat said happily.
“Count me in!” Cela voted at once.
“Me, too,” Fen added.
“It’s unanimous,” Kat said at once. “So, everyone, grab your winter stuff from your room. We’ll meet down here in the kitchen in fifteen minutes.”
Twenty minutes later, the Xweetok, Bori, and Poogle were happily walking together through the streets of Neopia Central. All three wore identical blue backpacks stuffed to bursting. Inside were their winter clothes – hats and scarves and jackets and mittens. They had agreed that wearing them during their long trek to a Shuttle Port would be too hot.
Reaching the tall modernistic building, they walked through the revolving doors and immediately sighted with relief. The AC inside was turned on, blasting through the room. It was refreshingly cool.
Shuttle Ports had only recently been invented. They used the space shuttles built in Outer Space to fly people up to the Space Station. Inside the Space Station, there were flights back down to every location on Neopia. This would take the siblings much less time – and money – then sailing all the way to Terror Mountain!
Three tickets to the Space Station only cost three hundred neopoints, because it was a Saturday, and they were minors. From the Space Station, it was another three hundred. Still, that was better than sailing – it would have taken them several hours longer, and cost two thousand neopoints or so to book passage on a ship.
Six hundred neopoints lighter, they touched down in Terror Mountain. “So,” Kat asked, “where to, first?” The girls had put on their winter clothing in the second shuttle, and they weren’t very cold.
“Let’s go check the Snowager!” Fen suggested excitedly. “And then buy Scratchcards, and then buy Slushies, and then go the Garage Sale, and then climb to the top of Terror Mountain, and then have a snowball fight, and then...”
The three girls were home by four, and they greeted their brothers at five. Bursting with excitement, they waited for dinner, when they could tell everyone what they had been doing! Terror Mountain had been a splendid idea, and a wonderful trip for the day. The whole trip had only cost around three thousand neopoints, too! Only a little more than half the neopoints they had been given in the morning. They returned the excess two and a half thousand to the jar on the shelf where pets’ money was held when no one was using it.
Ki and Dai, too, had enjoyed a wonderful trip. They had taken a long boat ride over to Krawk Island – fun, though expensive. They had spent most of their time swimming and making sand castles.
However, they had grown tired of that after a while, and had gone and played a few games. Dai, it turned out, was a dab hand at most of the gambling games the native pirates played, and had nearly tripled the money he had started out with! Ki wasn’t as good, but at least he lost nothing.
Finally, they had explored Krawk Island for an hour or so, before leaving. They had visited Little Nippers, watched a Food Cup competition, and even been into Fungus Cave. They had seen the some Neopets who Dai was sure were Smugglers, too, though from a distance.
“That’s not safe,” Kat said, pursing her lips in a way she was sure made her look grown up, but in actuality ended up with her appearing like she had just had a Super Sour Slushie. “You shouldn’t take Ki places like that. It’s not responsible.” Dai just laughed – along with the rest of the table.
All day long, as most of her siblings played outdoors, Abu sat in her room, plowing through the stack of books on her desk. Occasionally, she would stop to suck on the end of her quill thoughtfully. She was thorough, though. Everything she looked at she memorized. The fact that she was speeding through it did not hurt the quality of her studying. By midnight, she had finished all the books she had planned on covering that day in her planner, and the next day’s books as well.
To be continued...