Feathers to Flippers
My older sister, Celeste, nearly falls over when she sees me--well, she does fall over, only she can fly, so it's something of a collapsing-wild-flapping combination that, at least, allows her to stay on her hooves. (She's a Faerie Uni.)
"What happened to you?!" she gasps.
"What does it look like?" I grumble, floating over to my Fresh Bamboo Bed. "Stupid lab ray. Or, no, that scientist--"
"Hey, Celeste!" And in bounces in my hyperactive little Sketch Xweetok sister, Marikoa. Then she takes one look at me and, since Xweetoks cannot fly, falls over for real. She also screams.
I float onto my bed, close my eyes. and try not to do the same.
You're probably confused, so allow me to explain:
Before the Lab Ray, I was a Woodland Pteri named Ossawat (the woodland part courtesy of the Lab Ray).
After the Lab Ray, I am a Yellow Flotsam named Ossawat. (The Yellow Flotsam part is also courtesy of the Lab Ray.)
It's not a very agreeable change, if you ask me, especially since while Pteris walk and fly, Flotsams float. They just float. Or swim. Through air, water, maybe magma, though I won't test that out anytime soon. And Flotsams can't fly: they only float a few centimeters above ground level.
Our owner, Lydia, got an avatar from the fiasco, but she didn't look very happy. I think she preferred the Woodland Pteri me more than the Yellow Flotsam as well.
But I digress.
"YOU'RE A FLOTSAM!" Marikoa shouts. "That's so weird, I mean cool, but also weird, really, really weird!"
I press my face into the bamboo pillow and try to not hear her voice. Marikoa's too energetic, almost hyperactive, and today, right now, I don't need that.
Lydia, who looks very, very guilty, says,"Ossawat, once you turn a rare color you'll be even prettier than before--"
"Once I turn into a Skeith, you mean?" I snap. It was her idea to go to the lab ray today, after all. This was all her fault. And now I'm not myself. Literally.
"I swear, if you turn into a Skeith, I'll buy you a morphing potion."
I bury my face deeper into the bamboo and try not to hear.
When I wake up, it's morning. You know how they say everything looks better in the morning? It doesn't.
First of all, I get a huge shock from seeing, instead of my beautiful wood feathers, bright yellow Flotsam fins. Then, once my memory kicks in, the gloom comes back.
I look through the window and see Lea, my sister, a Christmas Kacheek, scraping up the cloud surrounding our Faerieland home and planting Fire Bushes. Our garden has always been her source of personal pride, even though it's nothing more than a few bushes and birch trees.
I float out of bed and into the dining room, where there's a plate waiting for me. Shell-Topped Cupcakes. Breakfast.
I practice controlling a flipper until I can pick up a cupcake, flick the shell off, and slide the whole cupcake into my mouth, sincerely hoping that other meals won't be this difficult. It's late morning, and, other than Lea, I don't know where anyone is. Floating back to my bed, I realize that somebody has piled a few books on the table next to it, and there's a note saying, "Got the Pack Rat avatar, finally! Here are a few books you haven't read." Well, something to do for the whole morning.
I read about origami until my head hurts, and then I put the book down and go outside. Lea's still planting the Fire Bushes. A few Autumn Birch Trees are lying on the ground, also ready to be planted.
I move to the edge of our yard, looking down at Faerieland, which is several meters below, down on the ground. Everyone except Lea is gone.
"I'm leaving," I shout to her, and she looks up, eyes widening, and shouts, "Ossawat! Wait!" but I've already slipped down and right in the middle of empty space I suddenly remember that I can't fly anymore.
I was hoping that maybe I would end up painlessly floating, but I suppose I'm just a naturally unlucky neopet. I hit the ground hard and then, only then, do I rise up. Convenient. I raise my head and see the Healing Springs just ahead of me. I could use some healing magic--even that water faerie's highly unreliable healing magic. The water faerie swims to the edge. "Hello? Hello? Are you alright?"
I can't move.
Ugh, this day is getting worse and worse.
"Hello?" The water faerie again. I try to signal to her that I'm in pain and I can't really move or, come to think of it, speak, but seeing as I'm completely paralyzed, this effort fails. So I float there, a few centimeters above the ground, miserable.
Even so, she's gotten the message. "Somebody bring this Flotsam over to me!" she calls. Then I see, hurrying towards me, my sister. Marikoa.
"Ossie? What happened?"
I don't say anything.
She picks me up (her strength augmented by several visits to the Training School) and carries me over to the water faerie. But the unreliable magic is still unreliable: "You've been healed by three hit points!"
Well, now I can talk, at least: "Thanks."
The faerie looks ashamed and slightly hurt, but then Marikoa says, "I'll pay for a healing potion."
"Of course, what type?"
So she buys it and I drink it and then I feel fine.
"How do I get back up?" I say. "I can't fly anymore."
"I guess you just take a taxi," Marikoa says. "Anyway, I'm off to Krawk Island. See you." She uses her superspeed (I think it's a faerie ability) and goes off.
So I take a taxi back home, all thoughts of traveling around Neopia banished by my fall. If I can't even fly, what will I do? No wonder Lea spends most of her time at home. (Marikoa has the the faerie abilities, and Celeste IS a Faerie Uni, and I was, until last night, a Pteri, so Lea was the one who stayed home and gardened and read every book Lydia brought home.)
"Hey," I say.
She looks at me. "You didn't fall?"
"Yes, I did." Then I tell her about my morning.
"Ouch," she says. Then, "So what are you doing?"
"Whatever you are, I suppose."
"I'm bordering the house with these Fire Bushes."
So I dig with my flippers, going so slowly that when I finish one messy hole, Lea's done three. But she says, "It's better than nothing. C'mon, go dig a bigger on at thiiis corner-" she points "-and we'll plant the tree in it."
So I dig.
The sun's going down. I can see Kreludor.
"We're do-ne!" Lea sings.
I groan and float on my back. "That hurt."
"But it looks so pretty," Lea says.
And yes, in the slanting sunlight, the bushes are glowing softly.
"Let's go in," I say.
We sip cool Mystery Island Chocolate Milk Glasses (I've finally mastered the art of using my flippers to hold things) and stare out the window at our handiwork. "Wonder when everyone will be back?" Lea says.
As if on cue, the door slams open and Marikoa shoots into the hall. "THE YARD'S ON FIRE!" she screams. "QUICK, PUT IT OUT!"
"No, wait!" Lea yells, and I scream, "It's the bushes! Don't touch the bushes!" Then both of us try to restrain our frantic little sister from destroying the landscaping.
"What's going on?!" In comes Lydia and a slightly-amused-looking Celeste. Lea and I try to explain at the same time:
"They're Fire Bushes--"
"--we planted them--"
"--they're not on fire at all, well, not really--"
"--they only burn grass, Lydia, and we have cloud--"
"--and don't they look pretty?"
"--and please don't let Marikoa destroy it, we spent all day on this!"
Marikoa is still staring, horrified, at the glowing orange bushes.
Eventually, after a long explanation, Lydia understands, and says soothingly, "Mari, calm down, would you?" And Marikoa does, because Lydia is the only one she ever listens to.
Then Lydia continues, "Also, it's dinnertime. There's some food from the Lost Desert, Pyramicake and Grackle-Stuffed Turkey."
Celeste says, looking out the window, "That's really beautiful, Lea."
"I helped too!" I say, pounding my tail on the floor for emphasis (it's like stomping your feet if you don't have any feet, alright?).
"You did?" Celeste looks surprised. Why does she look surprised? Is she thinking that I'm incapable of doing any work?
"What do you think I was doing all day?" I snap, feeling annoyed. I'm about to continue with a few scathing remarks, but luckily, Lydia sees and intervenes. "I'm glad you've been productive. Now eat your cake."
I try to go to sleep, but I can't, because I'm busy wondering about what I'll do tomorrow. We're out of Fire Bushes; how can Lea stand it, being alone at home all day? Oh, right, she has her books... But I don't. Even though I'm the one who gets the books that Lea has already read, reading has never been enough for me to do for a whole day.
I want to explore. I want to fly all over Neopia again. I want to visit Tyrannia, dive into the ocean near the newly-repaired Krawk Island, listen to the poetry in Neopia Central, search for Jelly World, even though everyone claims over and over that it doesn't exist at all. (Well, Mari and Lydia at least. Celeste and Lea don't really discuss it, though I keep on getting the feeling that they know something I don't.) Because I still haven't found it yet, but maybe I will, because it took them a long time to discover Moltara, right? I want to go to the top of the mountains in Shenkuu, to the Lunar Temple, and guess as to the moon's position and maybe receive some mint rolls as a reward if I get it right and maybe some orange chicken if I get it wrong, but either way, it doesn't matter, because I like both. (Or, hey, I could get one of those cool moon combs and, even though I can't use it, it would look fantastic on the coconut table next to my bed! Just like a tiny moon; it even has a cloud holder so it can stand upright. Marikoa has one of those. I want one, too.)
But then I remember I can't. I can't get a moon comb. Or steal a chunk of shiny obsidian from the quarry. Or peek down the Symol Hole, or go cheeserolling. Or spin the Wheel of Monotony... and wait... and wait... and wait...
I can't because our house is high up, and the rest of the world is below, and this morning's episode proved that a wingless, powerless Neopet can't go from high to low, or low to high, without any trouble at all.
The door of my room swings open, interrupting my gloomy thoughts. It's Celeste. I'm still slightly angry at her because of her comment on my working in the yard today, so I say, "What?"
"Are you feeling alright?" she says quietly.
"I feel... fine," I lie.
"I have a surprise for you."
She hands me a package. "Open it." And she walks out of the room, her shimmering pink Faerie wings vanishing through the doorway.
It's a tiara made of gold and ceramic starfish. And a wand with the same, except with only one starfish. And a pair of Shell Wings...
"Celeste!" I call.
She pokes her head back in the doorway. "Yes?"
"Can I... fly with these wings?"
"Yes, you can. Now go to sleep."
How can I sleep? I stand in front of my mirror, wearing the wings, and the tiara, and holding the wand, and practicing flying again, except it's not that hard because I've never really forgotten.
And the first thing I think is that I can get a comb to match the moon hanging out my window.
"Lea," I say the next morning, "I'm going out."
"Oh, me too," she says.
"Do you think that you're the only one with a new pair of wings?" She grins, and pulls out a pair of Seasonal Wings that match her Christmas color.
"Oh!" I say stupidly.
"Let's go exploring--you can show me everything I haven't seen."
I float as fast as I can outside. She follows me, saying, "Where should we go? Tyrannia? Terror Mountain? Altador?"
"How about... Kreludor?"
"How do we get there?" She frowns.
"Fly up." I grin. "It works. Trust me."
We do. The Fire Bushes glow in the morning sunlight.