The Morphing Potion
Quietly, Tatsu let herself in the front door of her neohome. She’d just come back from a shift of working at her family’s shop - and she’d been working over-time, too.
Groaning, she flopped into a squashy armchair by the fire place. Lazily, she flicked a couple more logs on the fire with her tail as she put her aching legs up. Five hours over-time. With all sorts of arrogant pets rushing to get the best deals. The red Eyrie sighed. She hated being shopkeeper.
Just then, the front door opened again, and a short glowing Lupe came in. Tatsu turned her head, screamed and fell off her chair. They were being robbed! All the hard-earned stuff! What about-
“Calm down, it’s only me.” The Kougra poked his head over the chair to look down at his half-sister. His green glow illuminated a good part of the room, clashing with the orange light of the fire.
“...Ben?” Tatsu said carefully. Last time she saw him, Ben had still been a white Kougra. She hated it when he came back totally unrecognisable. The shock she’d gotten when her striped Lupe brother had come home as a red Kougra...
“Yep. So, what you doing on the floor? Lost something?”
“Ha ha, very funny,” Tatsu muttered. “I was actually recovering from shop duty, until you came in.”
“How’d it go, anyway? How many neopoints did we get this time?” Ben helped his half-sister up and plonked himself on the chair before the Eyrie could sit down again.
“About 200 thousand.” Tatsu grinned, settling on the coach instead. “Had to work five hours extra, but still.”
“Whoa, that much?! Dragon’ll be happy. That means we’ve got enough saved up for the-”
Suddenly there was a loud crashing from upstairs, just as the door opened another time. A tall blue Gelert and a teenage girl stepped in from the night.
“Did I just hear you say it?!” Dragon, the teenager, barged past her pet Zeru to stand in front of Ben. “Did I?! You’re not allowed to mention it, remember?”
“Good job Lola had the sense to make some noise,” Zeru said, kicking off her boots. “Guess those guards do know a thing or two, after all.”
“Sorry,” Ben said sheepishly. “Forgot. Anyway, Tatsu said we’ve got enough now.”
“Really?” Dragon’s face lit up in excitement. “I’ll have to go and get it straight away!”
Whirling around, she was halfway out the door before Zeru grabbed the back of her coat.
“Wait a minute. Do you even know what time it is? The ferry to Mystery Island doesn’t even go this late.” Even as she said this, the Gelert had a bad feeling.
“What am I, a turnip?” Dragon said, frowning. As all three pets started to agree she hurriedly moved on. “Actually, no, don’t answer that. Point is, I know that the ferry doesn’t run this late, which is why you’ll have to take me, Zeru.”
“I knew it,” Zeru said, hanging her head in defeat. “Why can’t you just go tomorrow? Her birthday isn’t ‘til next week.”
“Because things like this has to be done quickly, in case they go up in price, etc, etc.”
Ben and Tatsu could hear the two of them argue all the way up the path.
“Well, better get some rest, too. That stinking lab ray; feels like a million Kaus have trampled right over you,” Ben said. “I don’t even think I’ll be able to sleep because I glow too much.”
Tatsu laughed as she flew up the stairs.
The next morning, neither Dragon nor Zeru breathed a word about what had happened that night, and the rest of the family didn’t even find out if the two had managed to get one. So they just carried on as normal; Tatsu, Ben, Pazu, Lola and Moonie going to neoschool during the day, Zeru travelling to Meridell port every day to handle her ‘business’, Hintinka the striped Kacheek doing her paintings and Dragon working on entries for the Neopian Times or playing Key Quest.
The next week it was Moonie’s birthday. The little Christmas Kougra woke up extra early, bounding downstairs, just to be sent back up by her tired half-sister/zombie, Zeru.
“Aw, but I want to open my presents!” Moonie whined, clinging onto Zeru’s leg as she stomped up stairs.
“You don’t have any presents, silly!” Zeru said irritably. “Birthdays are when you do all of the work for us. All. Day. Long.”
With that, Zeru lifted Moonie bodily off the ground and sat her inside her bedroom.
“Go and play with your plushies,” she said, closing the door after her. As Zeru turned around to go back downstairs, Lola, a camouflage Lupe, came out of her room, tying her dark blue hair back into a pony tail. Flicking her fringe out of her eyes, she noticed Zeru.
“Oh, Zeru! Have you made breakfast yet?”
“Breakfast?! I’ve had other things to do, in case you didn’t know! I’ve had to clean out the whole sitting room, sort through all of the neomail, restock the shop, and do all the dailies... I’ve been halfway round Neopia this morning and you want me to make breakfast?!”
“Oh, fine then! I’ll go and find something from the safety deposit box!” Lola snapped back. Zeru took a deep breath.
“No, no. I’m going to make breakfast. Sorry, but I’ve been up for three hours already, doing stuff just so Dragon’s got extra time to work on her latest project.” Zeru groaned and ran a paw through her hair as she headed downstairs. “I hate mornings. They shouldn’t be so early!...”
Lola glanced at Moonie’s door, and saw her sister’s shadow underneath it. She was probably leaning against the door, listening to every word they’d said. Lola resisted the urge to pull the door open and surprise her, and instead went downstairs to retrieve Moonie’s presents from their hiding spot.
Two hours later, it was finally time to get up. Moonie sat against her door, waiting for someone to come up and get her. She listened to them running around in the sitting room. It sounded like the vast room was pretty full; the usual echoes that came through the huge neohome were silent today.
Downstairs, it was absolute mayhem. Dragon was busy wrapping presents, while Tatsu and Lola were decorating the whole room. Pazu the red Bori was tidying last minute stuff away, while Ben and Tinka were helping Zeru in the kitchen. The tall blue Gelert had been baking all morning; pancakes, muffins, doughnuts, cookies, baguettes, bagels... And a big chocolate chokato cake. Finally, it was finished. Ben and Zeru were just finishing putting the great feast that was serving as the birthday breakfast on the table when Pazu poked his head through the door.
“Are you two finished yet? Dragon wants to tell you something before Moonie comes down.”
“Alright, so here’s the plan: Ben, you go upstairs and get Moonie. Blindfold her, though!” Dragon said in hushed tones when everyone was assembled in front of her. “Then you carry her downstairs, chuck her on the floor and we tip it down her throat!” When all six pets stared at her evil laugh, she cleared her throat and went on. “I mean, we let her drink it. Then we take the blindfold off and show her the mirror!”
“Great idea!” Ben said enthusiastically. “But why do I need to go and get her?”
“Oh, fine, you go and do it, Lola,” Dragon said, annoyed. Lola shook her head and crept upstairs. She could still see Moonie’s shadow underneath the doorway, and could tell that she was sitting against it. Sneaking up to the door, she suddenly pulled it open and grinned when the small Christmas Kougra tumbled out, yelping.
“There you are!” Lola chuckled, lifting her little sister up and brushing her down. “Come on then, time to start work.”
“So Zeru wasn’t joking when she said I was not getting any presents?” Moonie said, her face falling.
“No, for once, she was not,” Lola said. “Now go on. Hurry, hurry.”
Allowing Moonie to get in front of her, Lola suddenly leapt forward and had her blindfolded before she could even blink. Lola hoisted the much smaller Kougra over her shoulder and started downstairs, Moonie kicking and protesting all the way. In the sitting room again, Lola dumped her unceremoniously on the floor. Dragon rushed forward and helped Moonie up.
“What are you doing?!” Moonie cried as Dragon let go of her. “Why can’t I see anything?!”
“Oh, shut up and have a drink,” Zeru said, pushing a small, round bottle into Moonie’s paw.
“What is-” Moonie started, but Hintinka interrupted her.
“If you don’t drink it, Dragon was going to shove it down your throat.” That made Moonie stop, hold the bottle up uncertainly, and then drink it down in three big gulps.
As soon as she swallowed, Moonie began to feel remarkably warm. She found herself puzzling over what the flavour was. Was it cherry? Or raspberry? But, no, more like plum...
Her family gasped as Moonie started to transform. The tips of her hair and fur started turning purple. Her round Kougra ears started forming a point, and on her head, a pair of stalks seemed to be growing, two purple ears forming on the ends like buds blossoming on a tree. The tiny Kougra grew thinner, and just a little bit taller - and suddenly, standing before them, was a purple Aisha.
“Ha! I know it now!” Moonie said excitedly. “It tastes of blackberries and plums!”
Her remark was greeted by silence. After a couple of minutes, the silence was broken by something falling through the letter box. Silently, someone got up to get it.
“By the way, can I take the blindfold off now?” Moonie was starting to get creeped out by the lack of response.
“Erm, yeah, sure,” Dragon said.
Moonie reached up behind her head with one paw, the other still clutching the bottle. The blindfold dropped away, and Moonie saw her family staring at her.
“What?” she said, taking a step back. “What?”
“Oh yes! Take a look at this, Moonie! You just got me another avatar!” Pazu exclaimed, sticking the random event in front of Moonie’s nose.
“Something Has Happened,” she read aloud. “You are now eligible to use ‘Magical Kauvara’ as an avatar on the Neoboards!”
Moonie looked up.
“But... I thought you only get that when you drink a morphing potion!” she exclaimed as Zeru stood up.
“Well, how about having a little look in the mirror,” the blue Gelert said, ruffling Moonie’s hair as she strode over to take the great mirror off the wall.
“Careful with that,” Dragon burst out. “It was expensive.”
Everyone ignored her and watched Moonie’s face as she looked at herself in the mirror.
“But... but... I...” Moonie stammered as she took in her new appearance. She looked down at the bottle in her paw. It had a red Aisha colour around it and two purple ears.
Her squeal of excitement shattered the mirror as Moonie rushed to hug her family.