The Scented Candle
Even the littlest baby Neopet knows that you should never agitate a Poogle while it is resting. Relaxation time is the perfect thing for a Poogle. And as you all know, Poogles can be a bit... temperamental.
Darenna reclined further into her favorite living room chair. "Ah, Thursdays," she whispered, taking a sip of her Golden Juppie Tea. Soothing music played from her speakers, filling in the background with gentle tones. "Nothing like them. Nothing like them at all."
Sighing in content, the Purple Poogle sank into the soft folds of the chair cushions. Yawning (and displaying a fearsome row of razor sharp teeth), she curled into a ball, and allowed the smooth music to melt into her core. Sleep began to cover her like a soft blanket.
The shout vibrated in her eardrums, disturbing her peaceful nap. Subtly baring her teeth, Darenna sat up in her chair and clicked a remote, silencing her peaceful music. "What is it?" she growled impatiently. "This had better be good. I was just falling asleep!"
Her Dragoyle, Misermin (or just M&M), flew into the room and settled on his perch. "Get up! We're still not completely ready for the party yet! You've got loads of shopping you still have to do!"
Now fully awake, Darenna snatched up her tea and bolted for the kitchen. Being a very meticulous Poogle, she liked to keep everything she needed to do on a chart. Grabbing the list off of the kitchen countertop, she read the list for the party from top to bottom. Several squares were still left unchecked. "You're right!" she exclaimed, slapping the side of her head. "I completely forgot!"
M&M folded his arms across his small chest, nodding. "We still have to buy decorations and food. To the Shop Wizard!" he announced.
Darenna frowned at her loyal Petpet. "That loon? Are you sure? Last time we asked him for a Chicken Cordon Bleu, all he did was flash some sparks around, then ban us!"
"'Asked'?" M&M replied skeptically. "I believe 'demanded' would be a more correct term. And unless I'm mistaken, you took one look at the price, called him a 'n00bish lying pile of dung', and then he banned us."
Glaring at the pastel purple floor tiles, Darenna muttered something along the lines of "No need to dwell on the past."
"Good, then let's go!"
"NO! I won't go back there! He lives in a HAT! That there is PROOF that he's a lunatic!" Darenna was growing more frustrated by the second.
Her brave Petpet continued to press her. "What about the 'Little Old Aisha Who Lives In A Shoe'? You used to love that story when you were a Baby! Does that make HER a lunatic?"
Darn that Dragoyle's natural wisdom. Taking deep breaths, the Poogle tried to calm herself. "Fine. Let's go to the Shop Wizard. Let's hope he doesn't ban us this time."
A small bell tinged as the door opened, announcing the pair's most awkward arrival.
The Shop Wizard bounced up to meet them. "Hello! What can I find for you today?" He sounded just as cheery as usual, seemingly unperturbed about the disastrous last visit.
Darenna presented the list. Frowning, the JubJub took the list and gazed at it for a few seconds before turning back to the Poogle. "I can only search for one item at a time. You're going to have to read them to me so I can search for them separately."
Sighing, Darenna took the list back from him, and then read aloud the first item on the list.
A flash of sparks and a few muttered spells later, the Shop Wizard directed her to the top cheapest pumpkin pie sellers on the market. Stepping into the first small store, Darenna looked around in wonder. Obviously one of the higher-market stores, it was more lavishly decorated than the average Newbie’s’ account store. A glass counter held various types of food, and... there it was. The Pumpkin Pie.
The Shopkeeper, a Faerie Lenny, was washing a glass behind the counter. “May I help you?” she asked politely.
“Yes, I would like to purchase the Pumpkin Pie.”
“That will be sixty neopoints please.”
Darenna sighed. It was finally over. No more shopping, no more frantic searching, no more psychotic laughter from that annoying ball of Feepit dung, the Shop Wizard. Heaving her bags of food to one arm, she huffed as she settled her burden onto the kitchen counter. “I can’t wait to get this party over with,” she groaned to M&M.
“Oh yes, that will be a relief,” he replied sarcastically. “I certainly don’t want to party MY feet off tonight, do you?”
Smirking at her petpet, Darenna set to work. The list cast aside, the real work began. Quickly setting the Pumpkin Pie in the oven to heat up, she grabbed her cookbook out from the cupboard. Thumbing through the pages, she settled on the recipe for Spicy Fruit Salad.
As the cooking progressed, Darenna continuously ran between the kitchen, the dining room, and the living room where the party, along with all of its gossip and chatter, was sure to take place.
Nearly stressing out of her mind at the sheer size of her workload, Darenna was thankful she had such a loyal petpet to help her in times like this. A party with her friends was no laughing matter, and M&M was the perfect decorator. While a regular non-flying Neopet would continuously have to set up a ladder, put one pin in place for the long garland, then move the ladder and start over again, he simply flew up and hung the garland and moved on at a breakneck pace.
Stirring her whisk as fast as she could without spilling, Darenna whipped up a quick batch of cupcakes as a dessert. She knew she was running out of time, and had to make something rather simple. Her guests would arrive soon.
Sure enough, the doorbell rang within the hour, its incandescent chime filling the air with optimism.
Darenna sighed in relief and determination. All of her work, her preparations, her decorations, her food – it all boiled down to this.
Putting on the best smile she could muster (which looked very much like a strained grimace), and walked towards the front door. On her way, she noticed something different, something out of place.
She glanced at the candle set on the coffee table. Misermin landed on the table next to it, grinning widely at her appraising expression. “You like it? I found it in the attic while rooting through some old decorations. It’s a scented candle.” He leaned forward and took a sniff. “Spiced Pumpkin. I thought you would appreciate the scent – it would add some atmosphere to the room, and, ahem,” he suddenly looked uncomfortable, “it’s good to have something calming around, you know, in case something stressful should happen.”
Darenna understood. Patting M&M on the head, she smiled appreciatively. “Thanks, M. You’ve been a big help.”
M&M smiled back. “Well, let’s not keep our guests waiting any longer, shall we?”
Darenna nodded, and opened the front door.
The first face she saw was of her best friend, Clordon the Faerie Bruce. His eyes widened as he took in the room, and he reassembled his astonished expression to happiness. “Wow, Dara! You did great!”
She smiled. “Thanks, Clordon. You want some food? I’ve got a buffet laid out in the dining room.”
As she was leading her friend through the house, the doorbell rang again. “I’ll be right back.”
The party went swimmingly. Darenna couldn’t help impress every guest who walked across her threshold, along with their petpets. Everything was going perfectly, according to Darenna.
And then, disaster struck.
One of the petpets, an Angelpuss, had settled on a lamp stand, and accidentally pushed a vase over.
Darenna saw what was happening, and rushed forward. “NO!” she screamed.
In a hurry to catch it, she stumbled around the buffet table, causing the food to splatter all over the ground. One of the neopet guests tripped on the spilled food, and his glass of cider flew from his hand. It caught on the garlands, ripping their supports and causing them to fall to the ground. Meanwhile, the vase crashed, and all the flowers spilled across the floor.
Once Darenna thought nothing else could possibly go wrong, the water from the vase landed on the dual light socket. After several loud and shockingly large sparks, the lights flickered off. A blackout.
Dead silence filled the room as Darenna stared in shock at the mess her party had become. The guests watched in mute horror as that shock turned to anger and despair. All of them knew you should never anger a Poogle, or the consequences could be drastic.
Then they all started when tears welled up in Darenna’s eyes. They began to flow freely, and she covered her face.
The entire room remained silent as Darenna dashed up the stairs to her bedroom, closing the door with a sharp bang. Muffled sobbing could be heard from downstairs.
Darenna covered her face in her pillow, crying as quietly as she could (which she had to admit wasn’t very quiet). With the lights off due to the blackout, the room gained a solemn look in its darkness.
A small thud announced another presence in her room. Misermin had entered her room through his petpet door.
“Go away,” she moaned.
“The party guests are all waiting for you downstairs. Are you coming back down?” he asked gently.
“No,” she answered, stuffing her face further into the pillow. “Why bother humiliating myself further? I’m a joke.” She choked on her tears as she finished.
Another small thud resounded, but it came from outside.
“Dara?” It was Clordon. “May I come in?”
“No,” she sobbed.
A sigh sounded from outside the wood. “Please? I need to speak to you.”
A soft bounce reverberated throughout the bed when she stood up. Making her way to the door, Dara opened it slightly, just a crack. No light came in, but she could see him.
Clordon gazed sadly at her tear-stained expression. Her downstairs friends’ tension was evident – she heard no noises from the first floor apart from a low muttering. “Are you okay?” he asked tentatively.
“It’s okay, Dara. Nobody blames you. It was an accident,” he murmured reassuringly.
“Do you think that matters? My party is still a mess. All of my effort, wasted!” she sobbed.
“No, it was not wasted. Everybody is downstairs, waiting for you. We won’t start the party without you, Dara.”
Silence. Clordon dutifully remained standing beside her, his wings brushing the wall with a soothing stroking sound.
Darenna looked away, her face trailed with wet tears. She shook. “Do they really think that?”
Clordon nodded. “Of course they do, Dara. They’re your friends. Would you please come down? Please?” he begged, his eyes pleading as well.
Darenna sighed. “Fine, but only because it means so stinkin’ much to everyone.”
He couldn’t help but smile. “That’s the Darenna I know. Now, let’s get this party started.”
Darenna stepped carefully down the stairs, appraising the situation before her. To her astonishment, the group of pets were all gathered around the coffee table in the living room, resting on couches and chairs, and even the rug and carpeting. Several of her friends were deep in conversation, but the rest smiled as she reappeared.
Clordon lead her to the recliner, her favorite chair. Darenna blushed a little as the Bruce tried to squeeze himself in next to her on the small chair. His wings didn’t help much. The scented candle was lit, standing regally in the center of the coffee table. It was obviously the object everybody was centered around.
Clordon turned toward her in the small space. “Since we are now all together, let’s start by telling each other what we were thankful for. Anybody got something to say?” This sounded orchestrated to Darenna. Sure enough, when she shot a look at Clordon, he was grinning suspiciously.
Darenna’s friend Mackie, a Shadow Shoyru, raised her hand. “I do,” she announced. “I would like to say that I am thankful for Darenna, and her willingness to throw us this amazing party. Although events didn’t... go as planned, I am still grateful that she put forth such a great effort.”
Tears of joy welled up in Darenna’s eyes this time.
Clordon raised his flipper. “I, too, am grateful for Darenna. She is just such an amazing person, and I can’t wait to see what she has in store for us next.”
Darenna stared, awestruck, at Clordon’s face. He was beaming – he had meant every word of it. A slow, tender smile of appreciation crept across her face.
“Dara, do you have anything you are grateful for?”
The unexpected question brought her up short. Silence filled the room once again, but this time, it had none of the tension from before.
In that one instant, Darenna knew.
“I am grateful for many things. First is my petpet, Misermin. He stood beside me when I needed help, and was the best Dragoyle I could ever have asked for.”
Misermin settled in front of the candle, and his eyes sparkled with his own joyful tears.
“I am grateful for my best friend, Clordon. He has been a very supportive and imaginative buddy.”
Clordon looked like he was about to burst with happiness.
“And I am grateful for all of you. You were kind enough to attend my party, and I’m pretty sure I would have ripped apart at the seams if you didn’t believe in me so much.” Her voice choked up near the end.
Smiles, reassuring words and hugs were spread. And in the very center of the circle of friends, the scented candle flickered.
If I got in, yay! Second entry :D! A lot of tears, in this one, but hey, it's supposed to be touching.