Jack and the Seven Curses of Renee: Part Four
I caught them talking in quiet tones out under the Money Tree. The giant plant was sleeping just like the rest of Neopia. Just like the other three Aishas huddled together on the shores of the Rainbow Pool. Their dreams were probably filled with paint brushes to cover their atrocity. They had all been cursed by an angry dark faerie. Tonight, we were resting. Tomorrow, we would search for the antidotes to their curses.
“It’s just... have you realized that all the antidotes to the curses are bad? I’m thinking that Renee used this as a way to make us suffer and get us to do all her dirty work for her.”
That was Cyrus, I thought to myself. My brother. He was generally the silent, strong type. He was loyal to few and unkind to enemies. He was the one who’d gotten all these Aishas cursed in the first place by angering the dark faerie Renee. However, no one really seemed to blame him. I could just make out another Aisha’s form sitting beside him in the dull moonlight. It was Lena, I believed.
“The most we can do is hope that our antidotes aren’t evil.” It was Lena, I could tell by the voice. “They were really bad, though... being mean to the Neopets in the pound and securing a safe haven for the Meepits right in the middle of Neopia Central... I guess deep down, I feel the same way that you do, Cyrus. The least we can do is help the others. Think about it that way. For now... we’re not being selfish, because we’re not striving for our own cures. We’re helping others.”
“Yes, by being cruel to others,” Cyrus answered truthfully and rolled over onto his back.
Lena was silent for a moment, but I saw her reach out a gentle hand to Cyrus and lean down to whisper something to him. Honestly, I would have died to have known what she said that night. But weeks later, I knew. Now is not the time for that revelation yet, however. Or am I just being myself? ***Authorial Note*** I am grinning wickedly while writing that, just so you know. I just thought I would tell you, because I think that if you didn’t completely picture me being a jerk, you would miss out. It’s a necessary part of the story. ***End***
So anyway, there we all were sleeping in the middle of Neopia Central. Well, most of us were sleeping. Two of us were discussing the moral aspect of curing Renee’s curses, and I was eavesdropping. (Which is just as important, mind you.) Tomorrow’s mission is to cure a shy mutant Aisha named Sheila so she can go home to her brothers and sisters and appreciate her underappreciated owner and blah, blah, blah. When this is all over, I’m planning on playing video games. Granted, I am not one of the mutant Aishas who has suddenly come to look at life in an entirely different perspective. I am a Lupe who has managed to remain debonair and handsome throughout this entire story, so far. And I like video games.
The next morning (because at this point I fell asleep), I awoke to find the others gathered near the Rainbow Pool. A few of them were exchanging jokes such as ‘When the boogeyman goes to sleep at night he checks his closet for Dr. Sloth,’ with the Rainbow Faerie. ***Authorial Note*** Yes, I know you’re wondering why the Fountain Faerie was at the Rainbow Pool. It’s really a rather long story, but for the shorter version: she comes down to Neopia Central during the busy season for much-needed breaks every once in a while. Don’t ask how she gets down there. ***End*** The rest of our little group was discussing in hushed tones what our next move would be. Despite having a few really great Dr. Sloth jokes, I decided to join the latter group. Because I am just as tired of writing this as you are of reading it, which means that we should get on with the story.
“-check out the rooms, and then get out as fast as possible.” I caught the last snatches of Lena’s sentence, and then remembered what exactly Sheila’s curse had been. She was supposed to check out a room in Neopia Central’s best hotel, the Astrovilla, and then trash it. Completely trash it, as in tearing up the sheets and spilling borovan on the walls... anything she could think of.
“There’s no way we can possibly afford that,” Cyrus interjected into the conversation.
“We could have a fundraiser...” Sheila offered shyly.
I could tell by the look in Cyrus’ eye that he was about to shoot down her idea like a dinky prize at the cork gun gallery. “A fundraiser, eh? You mean like a bake sale? Oh yes, let’s. Let’s have a bake sale for Renee the Dark Faerie. I’m sure that people would come. Buy my blueberry scone! It’s to benefit the cause of excessive evil.”
Lena shot him a nasty look. “Cyrus, your sarcasm is taxing my patience like the tax beast. Now, Sheila... that wasn’t a bad idea, but it won’t work. Does anyone else-”
“I’ve got one,” I piped up before holding up a paw-full of shining neopoints. I motioned them away from the Rainbow Pool and lowered my voice. “People toss coins in the water, thinking that it will increase their chances of a visit from the Rainbow Faerie.” ***Authorial Note*** If you toss neopoints at me, I will be much more inclined to visit you. In fact, the more neopoints, the better! ***End***
“You’re suggesting that we steal the neopoints...?” another one of the Aishas asked. Apparently they had finally gotten bored with telling Dr. Sloth jokes and had decided to join the rest of us.
“All right... well, the way I see it... the Rainbow Pool is designed to make pets happy by painting them, right? So we’re just funding a pet’s happiness through a... reverse painting process. Dear, dear Sheila,” I put my hand on her shoulder for emphasis, “it’s not stealing if it’s for a good cause.”
“That is the most preposterous thing I think I’ve ever heard,” Lena retorted and exhaled so sharply she could have filled up an entire balloon. “All right... There are six of us. Let’s vote on Jack’s idea. Who’s for having a bake sale?” Sheila raised her hand, and I joined in for good measure. “All right... who’s for stealing it?” The two other Aishas raised their hands and so did Cyrus. Lena merely made a face. “All right, we’ll steal it. Who’s going to be the distraction?”
“Karaoke time!” I busted out in a loud voice while Cyrus made a very cruel ‘I’ll kill you for that’ hand motion. I laughed. And then yelled ‘Karaoke time!’ twice more just to get the point across. By the time I was done, everyone seemed to be quietly mulling over the idea. Or they were trying to figure out the best way to quietly dispose of me once and for all.
“Actually... that’s not a bad idea. We could sing a crazy song, and then two of us could sneak into the Pool the back way and steal some neopoints. Let’s try it.”
“Cyrus, would you like to sing your song?” I chanted, nearly bursting with enthusiasm. Lena gave me a dark look, followed by Cyrus making that same gesture he had only moments earlier.
“Who’s stealing?” Lena called.
“Jack. He has no conscience anyway,” Cyrus replied. “And Sheila, since this is technically her job.”
“Looks like it’s just you and me,” I told Sheila and grinned at her broadly. She recoiled sharply; probably because I had just wolfed down one of Hubert's hot dogs with extra onions only a few moments before. It couldn't possibly have been my personality.
“What song?” Lena was looking at Cyrus expectantly, as if waiting for him to start the party.
“Meepit Carols...” Cyrus said in a depressed sort of tone, giving away that he really /did/ participate in karaoke in the privacy of his own home. If you count my loud jeering and Marie, our owner's excessive laughter as privacy.
“How do they go?” Lena was trying to hold back laughter, I could tell.
“La lalalala lala la la la la la la lalalala... Bite your head! Lalala la la la...la,” Cyrus sang in a very dismal voice.
Twenty minutes later Sheila and I had managed to steal every neopoint in the Rainbow Pool. We would have all dragged the bag towards the nicest hotel in Neopia Central in a dramatic scene of victory... but we'd only managed to score one hundred and eighty-eight neopoints. The scene wasn't triumphant at all. In fact, Sheila and I were wet and freezing and the others had sore throats from singing. The distraction had worked well enough. We were now standing in the lobby of AstroVilla speaking to a very unenthusiastic Meerca.
“I am sorry, Sirs and Madams... but we cannot allow you to stay a night without paying the full five hundred neopoints!” His tail twitched angrily as he watched us, and I mused that he would probably rather be hunting neggs.
“Look... we're all really tired, especially Sheila here. Why don't you just let her take a short nap in your room? We'll pay you this one hundred and eighty-eight neopoints and you let her stay in the room for... an hour. It's a bargain, really. For you, I mean.” Cyrus was leaning over the counter in his suave way, which was slightly counteracted by the fact that his antennae were once again dueling on the top of his head.
After what seemed like five minutes (because that's how long it actually was), the Meerca complied to our pleading and gave Sheila a room key. She practically skipped down the hallway towards the rooms, large bag of tricks in one hand and the key in the other. The rest of us were obliged to wait outside.
One hour later Sheila returned to us, though only Lena recognized her. Sheila was now a bright pink sponge Aisha with a grin that seemed a little too big for someone who'd just done something bad. “I totally trashed the place! I spilled borovan down the walls and scratched up the carpet and ripped up the sheets... and the pillows were full of feathers! It looked like Terror Mountain after I was through! I knocked over all the chairs and even broke one of the wind-”
“HEY!!! GET BACK HERE!” The Meerca, now so angry that he was red in the face, was charging at us from across the parking lot followed by two gargantuan Skeiths who looked like they hadn't eaten in days. Suddenly I began to wonder whether I should have eaten that oniony goodness that was Hubert's hot dog... that wasn't going to help me in running for my life at all...
We ran for so long that we all thought our legs would fall off. Finally we lost the two Skeiths, but the Meerca still chased us until we hit the woods behind the alien vending machine. It seemed he wasn't willing to chase us that far, and we got away narrowly. Somewhere along the way we lost Sheila, which was all right, because she probably just went home anyway.
“What's next?” Lena panted as she looked around at all of us.
“I have the scroll,” I answered and unfurled the large thing in front of us all on the forest floor. “Next up is... Shadow.”
To be continued...