Outcasts: Part Three
Daffodil was baffled. School was far more complicated than she had expected. And the other pets DID, in fact, own proper shoes!
Jesmin laughed at her puzzled expression. “Hard to keep up with the pace, isn’t it?”
The Kyrii girl nodded. “I never expected this school life to be so filled with intense work! I’ve lived without it for so long, it’s almost refreshing.”
“Well, Daffa, life isn’t always all work and no play. When the homework subsides, you are freer to do what you want.”
Daffodil bit her lip, pondering what her friend had said. Her arms ached with the weight of the textbooks she had acquired and refused to let Jarav carry. The Gelert followed close behind them, occasionally interjecting comments into their conversation. Jesmin had grown used to the Gelert’s presence, dismissing his constant tailing them as over-protectiveness for his cousin. The oddest quirk about him was his insistence on calling Jesmin by the name “Lady Auraglass” – Daffodil could tell that it made her confused and uncomfortable, but Jarav did not let go of his habits so easily.
On their way to lunch, the hallways were completely crowded with pets. To Daffodil, it was unusual to feel invisible. Nobody particularly stared at her expensive color – they simply passed by or gently pushed her aside in the cramped space. Save for the popular kids, whom Daffa discovered her Cloud Xweetok friend had grown increasingly annoyed with as the day passed.
Life was strange here, so very strange and different from her previous existence of finery and overindulgence. But, she had no qualms. Daffodil Evensong had mentally steeled herself for such feelings, and felt no negative emotion toward her choice. She had met Jesmin as a result of her decision, and had made a friend before the day was even halfway done.
Jesmin began to hum a tune that was unfamiliar to Daffodil. “What is that song you are singing? I have never heard it before,” she asked.
The Xweetok fixed her friend with an astonished look that screamed ‘Have you been living in a box?’ Jesmin paused a moment to search for better words. “You’ve never heard of the Black Fedoras?”
“The Black Fedoras. They’re Neopia’s newest band. Their music is awesome, and you can never tell which band members will be performing because there are so many of them.”
“That sounds intriguing,” Daffodil added, holding her chin in thought.
“Maybe you could come over to my Neohome sometime, and I’ll show you.”
Daffodil looked to Jarav, her eyes pleading.
With a sigh, Jarav stepped forward. “We have no current obligations, Lady Auraglass. That would be welcome.”
Jesmin smiled. “Good. And Jarav, please stop calling me ‘Lady Auraglass’ – just Jesmin will be fine.”
Daffodil stared at her sandwich. This new food was so unusual to her - it was certainly nothing special. Why eat it? Jarav sat nearby, saying nothing, and with an amused smile.
Jesmin, her mouth full, was watching her friend not eat. The Kyrii’s blank gaze was so focused it seemed as though her eyes alone would cut like a laser and slice the sandwich, and the concrete ground underneath it, in half. “Just eat it,” Jesmin murmured after swallowing her bite. She felt sympathy for her friend – cafeteria food was never the preferred form of sustenance, but Daffodil had arrived on a lucky day. Sandwiches were the best meal of the week.
Daffodil tentatively raised the sandwich to her mouth, opened her mouth a fraction of an inch, and took a tiny corner off of the food. A smile spread across her face as the unexpectedly tasty flavor of peanut butter and jam covered her tongue. “It’s delicious!” she exclaimed.
Jesmin smiled. She enjoyed watching her new friend discover the highs and lows of school – it was like observing a young child learning to play with his new toys. “Exactly. Simple, but beautiful.”
A new voice entered the scene. “That’s not the only thing.”
The two spun around to see a Pirate Draik, followed by his popular posse. Daffodil heard Jesmin softly growl at the presence of Darthan Glitterthorn. “What are you doing here?” Jesmin asked menacingly, the tone surprising Daffodil.
“None of your business, Brokenglass, or whatever your name is. I was talking to Daffodil.”
Jesmin snarled. “It’s Auraglass, and don’t you forget it!”
“Whatever. I said it before, and I will say it again – I was addressing Daffodil, not you.” The surrounding pets jeered and scorned Jesmin, whose pale fur was growing increasingly ruffled with tension.
Daffodil was frightened by the agitated words. What cause had he to insult her? “What do you want with me?” she asked, half suspicious and half curious.
“Why, to ask you to join us for lunch,” he replied, holding out his hand invitingly.
“But why? I’m fine here with Jesmin.”
The Draik sighed, as though this was the response he encountered every time such a moment came. “Because you belong with us, your people.”
“The popular kids. You see, Daffodil, you are painted a color that is rarer than the average Neopian’s budget. You deserve to eat with others of your kind.”
Jesmin could stand it no longer. Daffodil watched in shock as she flashed across the space until she was just two inches from Darthan’s face. Her fur ruff was completely standing on end. “’Her kind’? ‘HER KIND’?! Didn’t your mother ever tell you not to judge a book by its cover?” she yelled.
Darthan curled his lip at her fiery brown gaze. “You’re right – content is what matters, and all I’m seeing right now is garbage stuffed between two cheaply-painted covers. You don’t deserve her company.”
Daffodil stared in horror at the Draik, slowly giving rise to anger. How dare he say such a thing?!
Jesmin’s shoulders soon drooped, and the blaze of fury in her eyes dimmed to pools of sadness. Tears dripped out the corners of her eyes, and she managed to murmur “See you tonight, Daffa,” before she fled the scene to prevent her pain showing how deeply she had been hurt. Daffodil could only watch her go. The entire mob of popular bystanders said nothing, stunned into silence.
The Draik was caught off guard by a slamming punch to the face. Dazed, his vision spun until it rearranged itself into the figure of a Blue Gelert, standing above him with a piercing look of ferocity.
“You will say no more, or face the consequences,” Jarav ordered. With a contemptuous flick of his tail, he left, following Daffodil as she gathered her books.
Darthan glared at their backs. He wasn’t scared of a puny Gelert. He would certainly have the last laugh, and that Kyrii and her Gelert would pay dearly, oh yes.
Jesmin was not the same for the remainder of the day, Daffodil perceived. Her friend had lost the feeling of confidence that was once nearly tangible in the air around her. Her gaze had turned blank, staring at nothing. Her tail drooped, her ears sagged, and she walked with a slow, plodding step. The purple hair bow was no longer neat, and her sweater was not as carefully arranged as she once had meticulously cared for it. The Kyrii’s condolences had no visible effect on her.
Daffodil felt anger toward Darthan for doing this to her friend. Because of him, she seemed to have lost the will to continue existing. Her anguish was evident, but her mood remained indecipherable.
By the time the pair had left school and Daffodil rode in an Eyrie Cab for the first time, they arrived at Jesmin’s house with a lack of anticipation. Daffodil was thrilled, but only a little. Jesmin did not respond upon arrival.
When the door was opened, a new world seemed to unfold for Daffodil Evensong. The plain setting was exciting, for this was uncharted territory.
The simple Neohome was adorned with the usual family trappings, and Jesmin was greeted by her owner, Cindy. “Hey, you’re home!” she had exclaimed before reading further in her pet’s face. Concern painted her expression. “Sweetie, are you alright? And who’s your friend?”
Daffodil stepped in. “She’s okay, although her day was not. My name is Daffodil Evensong, pleasure to meet you.” She curtsied. “Please, call me Daffa.”
“Well, nice to meet you, Daffa. I’m Cindy. I received a neomail from Jesmin earlier, saying that you would be staying the night. What happened at school?”
“A Pirate Draik named Darthan Glitterthorn insulted her beyond anything I would have imagined.”
“Oh,” Cindy replied, a knowing look dawning. “Please, um, take your suitcase upstairs.”
Daffodil turned to Jarav, giving him the STOP look she had learned from royal life. Grabbing the suitcase before he had a chance, Daffodil smiled as the Gelert sighed. “Jarav, I will be fine here,” she whispered, “just leave me to console Jesmin. I am sure I will be able to cure her unhappiness.”
“As you wish, milady.”
As the night wore on, Jesmin grew steadily better. It was only noticeable after an hour or two. The company of a true friend was softening the cold, hard pain left by Darthan.
To be continued...