We tumbled down the Grand Staircase in our rush to get to the door.
"No running in the house!" Mom yelled from the Garden of Tranquility.
My brother Zaebruh and my sisters Zindeera and SeelkPoof were a tangle of legs at the bottom of the stairs, but somehow I managed to separate my limbs from theirs and glide gracefully the rest of the way to the door on my Eyrie wings. In three days we would be having my birthday party, and I knew Mom special-ordered my present from a store in Mystery Island. I was hoping the person at the door was delivering my present.
"Special Delivery for Znogirl," said the Skeith from Neopian Parcel Service standing outside the door, handing me a small box. After signing for the package, I turned away from the closed door, curiously examining the box. It was awfully small. Mom's gifts were usually extravagant and they were never, EVER, small. Then I noticed it was postmarked from Central Neopia.
“But I thought Mom ordered my gift from a store in Mystery Island,” I thought.
There was no more time to think as my siblings rushed to my side in a cloud of fur.
"Who was it?"
"What is it?"
"Lemme see, lemme see!" they cried, at the same time.
I showed them the tiny box. Surprise etched in their faces as they took in its size.
"Dude," chuckled Zaebruh, "what'd you do? You only rated a tiny gift this year. That's pitiful." Laughter echoed off the foyer's walls as Zae slapped my back, while the girls fell over themselves giggling uncontrollably.
"Who was at the door?" Covered in dirt from the knees down, Mom walked in, pulling off her gardening gloves.
"It was the NPS guy, Mom. Here's the package." I looked at her hopefully as I handed her the package.
"Excellent!" she mumbled, and taking the box, she walked away, humming her favorite Gruundo song.
I kept looking out for delivery Skeiths, hoping something bigger would arrive. No one came to the house. I was very disappointed, but since I was still getting a present, I tried to put it out of my mind. Still, thoughts of the tiny box still plagued me. I knew it was in Mom's study; I'd stared at it enough since it arrived. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. I only wanted a peek... honest!
The night before my party I snuck down the stairs after everyone went to sleep. I had to be especially careful because my room was right across the hall from Zae's and he's always been a light sleeper.
I slooowly opened my bedroom door, making sure Cashew, my Urchull, did not wake up. I skulked down the hall as silently as my paws let me, avoiding the creaky spots on the stairs. Just as I stepped on the landing, I heard a door opening.
I froze. “Oh no!” I thought, shaking like a leaf. “They'll catch me.”
From the shadows I saw Poofy stumble to the bathroom. A few seconds later, she was behind the door, and I jumped the rest of the way down, letting my wings slow my descent.
Now that I was on the ground floor I had to move quickly or I would lose my nerve. I snuck past the living room door and quickly entered the study, closing the door softly behind me. And there it was, sitting on mom's desk, amid all the decorations for the party. I almost tripped over a huge box I hadn't noticed before. It was so big that it stuck out from the bottom shelf of one of the book cases, but in the study's dim light, it was easy to miss.
I made my way to the desk, carefully feeling with my paw for stray objects that could trip me. Plus, I didn't want to smash any of the decorations Mom and my sisters had slaved over for weeks. It was exhausting having to be so cautious, but I thought it'd be worth it.
After what felt like an eternity I was finally standing in front of the desk. Mom had already opened it—the tape had been ripped, the flaps were loosely tucked in, and what looked like the invoice was peeking from under one of the corners of the box. With a bellyful of Buzzers, I opened the flaps and reached in the box.
I was surprised to find only a small bluish bottle cradled in a mound of straw. I couldn’t make out the bottle’s markings in the low light filtering through the windows. I racked my brains, trying to figure out what it could be. Then it came to me: I had told Mom that I would love to, just once, try bottle of Delicious Faerie Bubbles. Sure of the bottle’s contents, I broke the seal and drank the entire concoction in a single gulp.
It tasted... different. I figured it was something of an acquired taste, but I probably wouldn’t be trying it again. I couldn’t complain, though; true to all the ads in the Neopian Times, it made me burp like a mad Eyrie. It was very hard to control the burping, but I stifled it as best I could. I didn’t want to wake anyone after all. The drink made me feel kind of funny, but it was nothing alarming. In fact, it reminded me of the time I was so bloated Mom had to give me Flat-u-less Tablets.
Creeping up the stairs, I silently retraced my steps and got back in bed. I slept like a log that night.
A blood-curdling scream ripped me from pleasant dreams and landed me squarely on my rump. Furiously rubbing my rear, I looked up from the floor to find Zindee standing just inside my door. I couldn't understand the look of horror on her face. Poofy and Zae ran in the room, responding to Zindee's scream.
"What the..." Zae started.
"Oh my..." Poofy breathed, eyes as wide as saucers.
Suddenly we heard Mom's running steps on the stairs. "Oh no! Greeph, what have you done?!" She cried, bursting into my room and roughly grabbing my arms.
"What? I haven't done anything!" I said, annoyed. I mean, they were ALL looking at me like I grew an extra head!
Mom looked upset, her face was red and her hands were squeezing my arms really hard, but her voice sounded weird, like she was about to cry. "You drank the potion in the box, didn't you?" she asked, and the tears she was trying to control broke forth, leaving wet trails down her cheeks.
"The Faerie Bubbles? Yeah, I drank them. I'm sorry I ruined the surprise..." I finished, embarrassed.
"Oh honey." she released my arms, dropping tiredly on my bed. "That wasn't a bottle of Faerie Bubbles."
"Yes, it was! It made me burp and everything," I said, incredulous.
She looked up, pain covered over her tear streaked face. "I know, but that's not what was in the box."
I cocked my head, thinking it was probably a birthday prank. I constantly pulled pranks on them, and they always tried to get me back. "Riiight... What was it then?"
Mom looked up, and something in her eyes frightened me. With a leaden voice she said, "You drank an Ixi Morphing Potion."
I could feel the blood drain from my face.
"Nooo," I began, panic creeping into my voice, "it was bubbly and it made me burp. It tasted a little funny, but it was good. It was Bubbles, I know it was!" The words tumbled out of my mouth in a rush, like water bursting from a broken dam. I looked at my brother and saw sympathy all over his face. The girls were crying, devastated.
"Look in the mirror," Mom's tears had slow down, but the lump in her throat still made it hard for her to speak.
I strode to the mirror confidently, expecting to see a green Eyrie’s face staring back at me. Instead what I saw made me cry out in horror.
"NOOO!" I couldn't believe my eyes. Staring back at me was the face of a blue Ixi.
Wild-eyed, I ran to Mom, throwing myself into the circle of her arms.
“I’m sorry, Mom! I’m sorry! I’ll never do it again!” I sobbed hysterically.
She gently stroked my head and whispered, “I know, sweetie. I know.”
I was suddenly pushed from behind. My sisters sobbed quietly, hugging me tighter than they ever had.
The commotion woke poor little Cashew, who had been sleeping peacefully in his Blue Moon Petpet Bed. Confused, he began wailing even louder than I was. Zaebruh awkwardly picked him up and brought him over to me.
I reached for him, but he pulled away, confused. It didn’t take him long to recognize my scent, though. He sniffed my hand hesitantly and before I knew it he was licking my face, happy to find his friend.
My tears dried while we played. My new body felt so weird! I could remember having wings, a beak and paws where now I had small horns and hooves. Before I had been covered in gorgeous emerald feathers, but now a beautifully soft cyan fur coat enfolded my body. It would take some getting used to, being an Ixi.
Eventually everyone and their petpets joined me and Cashew on the rug. Mom watched us, me mostly, while we played. By her smile I could tell she was sad, so I gave her as bright a smile as I could, to let her know I would be okay. Tears welled in her eyes but she smiled back.
“My brave little boy,” she said softly.
After a while Mom stood from my bed and said, “Well, guys, we have a house to decorate. The guests will be arriving for the party soon.”
We looked at each other. We’d forgotten the party!
“Can I be in charge of the decorations, Mommy?” asked asked a starry-eyed Poofy.
“Sure, honey! You and Zindee can...”
But Zindee interrupted her before she could finish, “I want to help with the food, Mommy!”
Mom laughed. “Okay, okay. You can help with the food. What do you boys want to help with?”
Zae and I looked at each other. We hadn’t planned on doing anything. Suddenly Zae smiled his most mischievous smile. I knew exactly what he was thinking. “GAMES!” we said in unison. We’d have a lot of fun using my new looks to trick the guests at my party.
“Oh boy,” Mom said, amused. “Trust the two of you to turn a bad situation on its head! I just hope I can return your gifts. I don’t think you’ll want them now.” She left the room, followed by the girls.
“WAIT! What gifts?!”
Turning to me she said casually, “Oh the Eyrie Scrapbook, Feather Spray, Bubble Bath, Glowing Mousse, and all the other Eyrie items that came in that huge box sitting in my study. Finding a store that would ship that stuff all the way from Mystery Island was NOT easy!”
“Th... that HUGE box I tripped over! Oh man!” I just stood there, flabbergasted.
I had ignored everything I knew about my birthday present because I didn’t see it being delivered. If only I’d been a little patient, I’d still be an Eyrie! Still why had Mom bought that morphing potion? Was she going to morph one of my siblings?
“Mom!” I raced after her. “Why did you buy the potion?”
She snorted, something Mom never did—she said it was unladylike—and said, “I won it at an auction, Greeph. I was going to sell it at the ZnoShop. It would have brought a tidy profit; I paid next to nothing for it.” Shaking her head, she walked down the stairs.
I helped Mom with the stock at the shop to know how expensive morphing potions were. The likelihood of me ever turning back into an Eyrie were very slim. Still, I thought, shaking my new little tail, being an Ixi couldn’t be THAT bad.
I smiled and ran back to my room, already thinking of all the fun I would have when my friends saw me at the party.
“Zae,” I shouted. “Why don’t we...” As my brother and I put our heads together, thinking of games to play at the party, the shock began to wear off. My family loved me, no matter what I looked like. I knew it would be an adjustment, but I would think of it as an adventure. I had a whole new life to look forward to.