Jack and the Seven Curses of Renee: Part Five
“I'm here,” a faint voice whispered from behind us. I turned around excitedly with a sarcastic comment just about to roll off my tongue and then proceeded to eat it. This mutant Aisha was... frightening. And that was a good description- a nice one. The way he moved was more like a Hissi than an Aisha, mutant or not. I wondered to myself if this characteristic was directly related to Renee's curse. ***Authorial Note*** If you don't know what I mean by 'Renee's curse,' then I suggest you start reading the Times more often. I bet you thought this note was to explain, didn't you? I think I'll leave that off until later... because that's just the kind of Lupe that I am. ***End***
So there he was--the sneakiest looking Aisha I'd ever seen in my entire life. It didn't surprise me that I hadn't noticed him before. He fit so well into the shadows that I barely noticed him now. Come to think of it... I spared a moment to glance down at the ground. It was midday, and none of the rest of us cast shadows. This Aisha, on the other hand, had a very well-defined shadow lurking at his feet. Creepy. I took a few steps back just in case excessive shadowing was contagious.
“All right,” Cyrus began as he rolled up the antidote scroll, “your job, Shadow, is to paint over this week's new exhibit at the Art Gallery with red paint.”
“Oh! That sounds rather easy compared to the other things we've had to do!” Lena was bouncing around excitedly. Probably hoping that she was next on the list to be converted back to a normal state.
“Yes... shouldn't cost much at all either. I bet we can find some red paint in the gift shop outside the gallery,” Cyrus mused while slowly turning around in a circle. “You know... I didn't pay attention at all when we were running from that angry Meerca. Did anyone else?”
There was a chorus of negative answers and we all groaned loudly with the realization that we were hopelessly lost in the middle of Neopia Central's thick woods. And so our long vigil began.
***Authorial Note*** All right... so here's where I take my privileges as the author of this story and fast-forward time to three hours later. Basically, there was a lot of blaming one another for being lost. A female Aisha named Penny found a insect eating house plant the hard way. Cyrus raised the question 'Why was a houseplant in the woods in the first place?' Then we walked for another two hours and found out we were going in circles. Large circles, but nonetheless circles.***End***
“You know, I wonder if that old trick with the moss on the trees is true? Isn't it supposed to grow on the side of the tree that faces North?” Lena was busily searching the tree trunks around us as she thought out loud.
“Well, it really doesn't matter... because we're headed south,” Cyrus answered and then fwapped me over the head for laughing.
“I have an idea! Let's sing-”
“Jack, if you suggest anything even related to Meepit Carols, I will feed you to that insect eating house plant. Don't think that I won't.” Cyrus glared at me, which was only half as intimidating, seeing as how now he only had one eye to do it with.
I chose to remain silent. However, my stomach was not quite so concerned with my well-being. Two minutes later it was growling louder than the Snowager with a toothache. This was quite the feat, because the Snowager doesn't even have teeth.
“Jack, honestly... we just ate a few hours ago. Can't you make your stomach stop?” Lena was glaring at me as well now. Great.
“No. But if we talk to it nicely, it might tell us the local weather forecast or a play-by-play of the Poogle races today.”
“Here, eat this,” Cyrus said and tossed a branch my way that was full of green berries that were smoking slightly. They looked like something Jhudora might have given away as a quest prize.
“These are probably poisonous!”
Cyrus merely shrugged and gave me an infuriating look before continuing on. I sat down and turned the branch over carefully. Maybe I really could eat them... ?
“I see the book shop,” Lena called to us. “We're saved!”
Hastily I leapt over the berry branch and ran ahead of the others to my rightful place in line. Rightful because I was faster. Also rightful because I knew if I stood near the back with that Shadow I was going to get creeped out again.
“Let's go!” Lena led the way out of the woods and we all squeezed between the book shop and food shop. ***I wish that food shop was actually real. As a side note... Neopets Staff, that is actually a really good idea. Think of it as a Tyrannian giant omelette kind of deal. Except... closer to home. With more restockers. ***End***
Finally, we made it to the Art Centre. As we passed by the storytelling section, a small group of Aishas wrinkled their noses at us. They were beautiful colors like rainbow and blue... whereas Cyrus and friends were nasty mutants. (As a side note, Cyrus and friends would make a nice band title... ) And speaking of Cyrus, he managed to insult the Aishas as we walked past by saying in an necessarily loud voice, “Did you read that last bit to the storytelling competition? It was terrible! My Moach could have written better!”
Lena chuckled softly and I saw her and Penny gazing longingly towards the Neopian Times. “I've always wanted to be in the Neopian Times,” she confided in me with a sheepish grin. “It would be so nice to have someone write a story or an article about me... ” Lucky her, eh?
After waiting in line for a very long time in the 'How to Draw' section of the catacombs, we were finally able to speak to a Kougra who seemed to be in charge. He was wearing a dark poet's hat tipped gracefully to the side. I wondered if he had glued it on, as it seemed to be defying gravity in it's current precarious position.
“Have you any red paint?”
The Kougra inched backwards, examining Shadow's surreal appearance. Shadow asked the question once more before the Kougra saw fit to answer. “Um... yes. Just one moment please.” He scurried off behind a stack of canvases.
“Well, that's the last we'll see of him,” I muttered. Ten minutes later, it seemed that I had been right. I was just about to return Lena's fwap for my earlier comment when the Kougra appeared again with a few cartons in his hands. “I have blue... and pink... but no red. We're fresh out.”
“Out of red? You can't be serious,” Cyrus mumbled and began to chuckle. “That's ridiculous. That's like Hubert's hot dogs running out of ketchup.”
“I suppose...” the Kougra answered distractedly and glanced at Shadow out of the corner of his eye. “Well, in any case... I'm sorry, but you're going to have to either draw or leave. There's a line.” I glanced behind us. If this were Tyrannia, there would have been tumbleweeds, it was so empty. Still, we decided to obey the rules and head back towards the Art Gallery. Pink paint was better than nothing.
“Give it to me... I'll be back in a second,” Shadow commanded and took the pink paint from Cyrus. “Better than-”
“Excuse me, but are you done with that?” Lena was standing over a baby Usul covered in paint. And at his feet... there were three half-full cans of red paint. A moment later she returned to us with a triumphant look on her face.
“Like taking candy from a baby. Oh wait, that was a baby!” I exclaimed and grinned at her in my debonair sort of way. I think she enjoyed ignoring me, however. She handed the paint to Shadow, and I followed him into the Art Gallery.
“Mmmm... Gnorbu Shearing Day!” This was particularly exciting because of all the excellent painting opportunities it provided. I was rather jealous that Shadow had an excuse to draw all over these paintings of furless Gnorbu. He could paint clothes on them and giant hats and skis... And a giant cave Chia!
Ten minutes later I sat in the corner of the Art Gallery with a highly disappointed look on my face. Not even one cave Chia. Shadow had painted tiny dots all over the backgrounds of the paintings. Technically, he'd done exactly what Renee had asked. Technically. I was thoroughly let down. And to even further the melodramatic scene... once he'd finished, Shadow morphed into... you guessed it! A Shadow Aisha. It was ridiculous. Why not just paint yourself grey if you're going to be shadow? Picture me sighing ridiculously heavily. I might as well be grey.
The others were excited about about Shadow's transformation, however. And as he slunk off back towards his home we all looked at each other with odd expressions. Just three more Aishas to go... Penny, Cyrus, and Lena. It was going to be easy going from now on.
To be continued...