Jack and the Seven Curses of Renee: Part One
She was a particularly nasty dark faerie. Not that there really is any other kind. We are all, of course, ill-disposed towards faeries of darkness here in Neopia. Perhaps that is why she decided to curse seven different Aishas this morning. After all, if everyone already assumes that you are the epitome of evil, you might as well enjoy it. But I am getting ahead of myself already...
My name is Jack the Lupe, and by the time this story gets published in the Neopian Times, I might have been cursed as well. Despite the intense narrative, this is actually a tale of one Neopet’s triumph. But don’t let that deter you, for I am quite sure there are enough depressing elements of our story to keep even the greyest of you interested. If nothing else, keep in mind that there is always the possibility of a sequel to this tale in which your narrator might be cursed by a dark faerie as well. I am in hiding writing this. I feel the tale needs to be told, but the consequences might be dire. But with that being said, and me not minding too much, let us continue with what matters, for this is not my tale.
It might be their antennae or the fact that they are the first Neopets in the alphabet; everyone loves an Aisha. Especially on Aisha Day. Kind of like when you do Illusen's quest on Illusen Day, and then disobey her every other day of the year. But I digress- we are talking about Aishas. This particular year’s festivities were nothing to sneeze at. Personally I think the seven-layer grand Aisha cake topped the list, but that of course is debatable.
Everyone knows you can’t have your cake and eat it too. I am sure the dark faerie who graced Aisha Day with her repugnant presence was a firm believer in this, as the first thing she did upon arrival was smash the cake in with one well-placed, high-heeled boot.
“I despise sugary goodness!” She shook frosting off her boot as the crowd began to thin out dramatically.
“Me too. So many calories... but it looks like you know all about that.”
I snickered and glanced towards my brother Cyrus. He looked rather bored with the entire affair. Personally I suspect his sarcastic nature erupts from a personality complex; a male Aisha is bound to have identity issues. The same goes for male Unis and Usuls.
“Are you serious?” The dark faerie raised both brows at Cyrus, who merely yawned and shrugged towards her. Suddenly the faerie’s face became a vivid red colour, which was either embarrassment or rage. Either way, Cyrus still didn’t look displeased, much less fearful.
“Why are you here?” Cyrus asked her finally, after the two had shared a silent battle of the wills through a staring contest.
“That’s not the right question. The correct question would be why wasn’t I invited?”
“We didn’t know what name to put on the invitations,” Cyrus replied sarcastically.
“Oh, well, I- now hold on just a second! Everyone knows that my name is Renee! I live right down the road from Matt, the angry programmer! And across the road from Greg, the Pernicious Programmer!” Renee jabbed bony fingers in the direction of both TNT members, who both hurriedly took a few steps back, wondering if anyone had recognized them. “Yet somehow, the invitations completely skipped my mailbox! That makes me so, so-”
“Unpopular,” Cyrus finished. A shout of laughter erupted from the crowd and Renee positively seethed with anger.
“I’ll teach you a thing or two about being unpopular...” She hissed and threw her arms into the air. Immediately dark clouds began to spill forth from her fingers and she cackled loudly and waved her arms around.
***Authorial Note*** If you’ve ever stumbled across the dark faerie on the Wheel of Excitement, you might be chuckling to yourself now. Everyone knows that nothing happens when a dark faerie cackles and waves her arms around in the air. Or at least, nothing has ever happened before. Renee was either very determined, or very lucky. ***End***
So there we all were, right in the middle of Renee’s fury. There was a very loud crashing sound like extreme thunder, and the air took on the repulsive smell of burnt rubber, possibly peppered with aroma of old socks. When the smoke cleared, Renee was of course gone. Cyrus and six other Aishas stood huddled in a sad lump of... were they Aishas? I had a hard time trying to decipher what exactly they were.
“Mutants!” That was my owner Marie, of course. Her blue eyes were wide in horror as she took a good three steps backwards, away from Cyrus and the others. There are only three things Marie is afraid of in this world: spyders, mutants, and any combination of the two. Unfortunately for Cyrus, he was now on Mum’s ‘most hated’ list, which wouldn’t sit well with any pet, even one with a slight superiority complex such as Cyrus. “Jack, stay back!” There she was again, her voice intruding into my thoughts. This wasn’t going to be fun. Especially since I had no way of letting her know-
Actually, I did. Funny thing how I forget the important things during the times they matter the most. Without a second thought I ran up to Cyrus, snagged his collar in my mouth, and took it back to Marie. The shiny gold tag read ‘CYRUS’ in huge engraved letters that she’d spent a fortune on. We didn’t eat that month. Just kidding.
“It can’t be!” She looked rather shocked, but didn’t pick up the name tag. I wouldn’t blame her- it was covered in mutant slime. Marie slowly directed her gaze towards Cyrus. “Well... I guess he can sleep in the barn. What in Neopia am I going to do?! We can’t afford a paintbrush to turn him back!” She dragged a hand down her face in aggravation, and I could tell by her features that she was developing another one of those run-for-your-lives headaches. “Alright... well, let’s go home. Maybe I can talk to a few neighbors... borrow some neopoints...” She began to walk off and I picked up Cyrus’ tag in my mouth, then quickly spat it out and tossed it to Cyrus. Too disgusting.
“Great,” Cyrus managed to communicate through a series of slow gurgles. I mourned the fact that he wouldn’t be able to make any more sly comments because no one would understand him. And the fact that we’d never be able to prank call again. The neighbors would appreciate the change, to be sure.
* * *
“Jack! Jack, wake up!” Something wet hit the side of my muzzle and I swished my thick tail towards it groggily.
“Jack! It’s Cyrus! Wake up!”
When I opened my eyes, he was bouncing from paw to nasty paw, the stench from his mutated form still as strong as it had been. Hay from our barn’s loft was stuck to his antennae. “Jack! Look outside!”
I peered down into the darkness outside the barn’s window and gasped. Six mutant Aishas were crouched in the barn yard, looking wistfully up at our window. I turned back to Cyrus. “Listen, I know this is hard on you and all... but you can’t just go inviting all your new friends over in the middle of the night! I need sleep, and-”
“No, Jack. It’s not that. They came here on their own. Let’s see what they want.” Before I could stop him, Cyrus was bounding down the stairs and headed out the door. Frankly, I’d never seen him like this. Except for when that pretty Wocky had moved in next door. Cyrus never got excited over anything. I was starting to worry whether the new paint job came with new emotions. I preferred grumpy, sarcastic Cyrus. Spiritedly I ran down the stairs after him.
“We have come with something to help. Renee left this yesterday. It’s a list of our curses, and their cures.” One of the Aishas pushed a scroll towards Cyrus, which he unrolled and read greedily.
I watched his eye dart over the paper for a moment before he handed it back to them. “There’s only one curse written here... and it’s not mine.”
The other Aisha who’d spoken nodded. “Yes, but that scroll is magical. There are directions. Well, there were...” He stopped to glare at one of his companions. “Charles slobbered all over the bottom of the scroll, so we ripped it off. Ironically, Charles’ curse is the first listed. Once we cure his, another Aisha’s curse and its antidote will appear. And so on...”
“That’s rather... involved. And you don’t know whose curse will be the next lifted?”
“No, we have no idea.”
Cyrus gave them one of his usual bored looks. “I bet this is just Renee’s cruel joke. Do you honestly believe that these things will work? I mean... look at Charles’ antidote! ‘Fish up seven waterlogged books in Maraqua, and then throw them at abandoned pets in the Pound.’ That’s a load of rot. You all are seriously going to believe this?”
“None of our owners have enough neopoints to change us back right now. Or they don’t care enough to. We’re taking matters into our own hands,” the Aisha answered, giving Cyrus a commanding look. “And you’re coming, because we need you. When your curse shows up on this list, you’ll need to obey Renee’s directions before the next Aisha can receive his.”
I laughed loudly at this. Perhaps a little too loudly, because my laughter quickly erupted into a howling, which spurned a few choice words from an angry Marie. She’s right good at yelling through closed windows when she wants to be. “Wait,” I started, attempting to keep my voice down, “you expect us to go on this wild goose chase with you?”
“Not ‘us.’ You’re not going. You’re no mutant.” The Aisha looked me up and down, as if seconding the statement silently in his mind. Cyrus, meanwhile, was lurking in his own brooding silence. He was probably zoning out, I mused.
“If Cyrus goes, I’m going too!” Suddenly I realized how childish this sounded, and felt the intense urge to keep myself from sounding like our baby Usul sister. “I have to protect him.”
Cyrus chuckled and looked towards the house where we both knew Marie was sleeping. “Well... we might as well go with them, Jack. I mean, Mum won’t let me anywhere near her like this. And how bad can it be?”
To be continued...