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The Rumor


by honshusan

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It was early spring, but still bitter cold. While there wasn't a covering of snow anymore, the frost whitened the ground in the early morning and late night, and left a thin, glass-like layer of ice on any standing water. Because of this cold, it was much more comfortable to play inside than out. That was why the cloud Pteri Sky had chosen to occupy the living room instead of the forest out back, and why she was coloring quietly instead of roughhousing.

      She had just flipped the page of her holiday coloring book, the one she had received on the Day of Giving the previous year from one of her many brothers and sisters, to start a fresh page. At that very moment, in the gap of her focus, two of her family members walked by toward the kitchen. One was her sister, Vaelyan, a blue Uni that did all the cooking for the household. The other was Fang, a red Shoyru that acted as a parent for the others and pretty much kept the place running smoothly. They were talking to one another, but Sky only caught the tail end of a sentence as they left the room.

      "...A Faerie paint brush, and for a bunch of Neopoints, too!"

      Sky hesitated. Her green crayon fell from its grip in her wing. Fang bought a Faerie paint brush? Wasn't she saving for something..? The Pteri stood, slowly and thoughtfully, her wing stopping at her chin once she was on her feet. That must mean Fang gave up on whatever she was saving for. So who was the Faerie paint brush for? The only one that had wanted to be painted Faerie was Sky's Xweetok sister, Satho, and Fang had already painted Satho with a paint brush won from a recent plot...

      This was curious, and whenever Sky needed help coming up with answers, she knew who to go to...

     ---

      Mag could tell Sky was coming. The split Shoyru was laying across her bed in the room she shared with Sky, reading the latest Neopian Times editorial, when she heard the thumping of a running Neopet. There were clicks on the stairs like talons hitting the wood, and the footsteps were close together, like whoever it was had short legs—Pteri-short legs. But what told Mag that it was Sky was the fact that her name was being called, and it was getting louder as the footsteps approached.

      "Mag... Mag... Mag... Mag. Mag. Mag. Mag! Mag! Mag! MAG! MAG! MAG!"

      And sure enough, a cloud Pteri appeared in the door of the room.

      "Mag!" she gasped, out of breath.

     Mag sat up in her bed and gave her younger sister a strange look. "Yes, Sky?"

      "I just overheard Fang talking and I need help figuring something out," Sky said at length, after catching her breath.

      "What is it?" Mag asked, raising a brow. She was not the gossip type, but if it was enough to stir Sky up like this, it must have been important.

      "Fang bought a Faerie paint brush!" Sky gasped, obviously still excited from her dash up the stairs.

      "...Another?" Mag said, a little thrown off. "Wasn't she saving?"

      "I know!"

      "So what did you need help with?" Mag asked after a moment to collect her thoughts.

      "Well, I was hoping you could help me think of why she would buy a Faerie paint brush," Sky replied almost sheepishly, crossing the room to her own bed and hopping onto it.

      And the two began to discuss possible reasons for this out of character move by the head of their household.

     ---

      Leven was there in the hallway when Sky darted past, yelling for Mag. Now that was strange... The Christmas Pteri knew his sister never got so excited unless she had a juicy bit of gossip to share with level-headed Mag. So he followed her, holding his winter Blechy hat down with one wing as he ran.

      Obviously, though, he couldn't burst into the girls' room just to listen in on their conversation! He slowed to a halt as Sky entered the room, the muffled sounds of the two talking emanating in his direction. Just a little closer, but quiet as can be... Leven stopped right by the door to their room, barely daring to breathe as he listened.

      "Fang bought a Faerie paint brush!"

      "...Another? Wasn't she saving?"

      And that's all Leven stuck around to hear. Immediately, he turned and darted down the stairs, pausing at the bottom to catch his breath. Then he shot past the entry hall and down to his room, bursting in to surprise his Lutari brother, Yoshi, who was just coming in from outside.

      "Yosh! You will never guess what I just found out!" Leven gasped, so excited that he didn't notice he had lost his hat on the run down the stairs.

      Yoshi was looking horrified by the sudden arrival of his brother, his green fur spiked out in alarm and his matching eyes stretched wide open. "Wh-what?" he asked timidly, blinking slowly.

      "Fang gave up on saving and bought us all paint brushes!" Leven exclaimed, flying across the room to bounce happily on his bed.

      "R-really?!" Yoshi replied, shocked. Slowly, a smile crossed his face, too, and he ran to his own bed to hop up and down.

     ---

      Ming had just come in from some exhilarating speed-flying above the house when she tripped over something. Tired from flying around, the fire Pteri grumbled as she stood and brushed herself off. Then, she turned to pick up the offending item and give its owner what's-for.

      But she paused when she noticed what it was. Leven's hat? Ming didn't think she had ever seen the Christmas Pteri without that hat on. So why had it been discarded in the walkway for her to trip on? She picked it up and examined it. Well, at the very least, she could return it to him and find out what had happened to make him lose it in the first place.

      She walked down the hall, hat in tow, and approached the door of the room that Leven and Yoshi shared. As she approached, she heard a lot of excited noise. That caused her to hesitate. Now she knew something strange was going on.

      Ming reached out to knock on the door when she noticed it had not been closed fully. She brushed it lightly with her black-and-ash-colored wing tips, making it creak open. Fortunately, it had not been loud enough for her brothers to hear. They continued with their conversation.

      "Fang gave up on saving and bought us all paint brushes!"

      Ming inhaled sharply, dropping the hat where she stood. Could it be true? Did that mean she and her best friend, Ruazu the electric Pteri, would be getting a fresh new paint job?! She didn't bother to pick up the hat, and instead she turned to literally fly up two flights of stairs and to the room she shared with her best friend, Ruazu.

      "Azy! Azy, get this!" Ming gasped as she entered the room.

      Ruazu was in bed, for she had caught the Neoflu at school and had been sick for a number of days now. She looked up miserably as Ming jogged over to her, though she managed a smile for her friend.

      "Fang is gonna paint us all our dream colors!" Ming finished, resting her wings on the edge of Azy's bed.

      Azy had a notion to smile to her friend excitedly. However, something occurred to her before she could. "But I'm already my dream color," she replied, sounding stuffy and sick. She looked to Ming with her beak hanging open.

      Oh no! Ming hadn't thought of that! "I am, too!" she replied, looking horrified.

      Azy shook her head. "Maybe Fang's just gonna give the rest of the family their dream colors," she explained as calmly as she could, barely holding in a sneeze until the end of her sentence.

      "Yeah, that must be it..." Ming sighed, perhaps a little too disappointed.

     ---

      Satho had been sunbathing in the sky garden for most of the morning, curled up in the grass in a nice patch of sun that had just moved out of reach. Because she had been interrupted by the movement of the sun, she decided it was about time she headed down to see what the progress was on lunch. She stretched, her long tail brushing the glass wall of the indoor garden, and then she fluttered her Faerie wings and flew into the hallway to go downstairs.

      As she passed Ming and Azy's room, though, she overheard the conversation that the Pteris were holding.

      "...Fang's just gonna give the rest of the family their dream color."

      A gasp escaped the Xweetok's mouth as those words hit her ears. Now that was not fair! Especially for her! Satho was mad now. She already had her dream color, so Fang was going to have to compensate for that! Forgetting her hunger, Satho landed on the floor just so she could storm her way down the stairs and to Fang's room.

      Fang wasn't there when Satho arrived, but the baby Eyrie, Uta, was in the playroom outside Fang's room.

      "Uta!" Satho exclaimed indignantly. "Do you know what Fang is doing?"

      Uta looked up at her innocently, blinking his big eyes and tilting his head. "Momma went downstairs with Vaelyan to get lunch ready," he answered honestly.

      "Ha!" Satho exclaimed. "That's not all!" She frowned, her lower lip quivering just a bit. "She's buying everyone else a paint brush, but nothing for me!"

      Uta stared. "But you're already painted," he stated simply.

      "Don't you get it, Uta? She's playing favorites, and you and I apparently aren't in her favorites list!" Satho crossed her arms, practically glaring at the baby Eyrie as she did.

      "...What?" Uta said quietly, his eyes beginning to water.

      Now that was the kind of reaction Satho needed to make Fang buy her some new makeup or something! She swept her baby brother up into her arms. "C'mon, sweetie, let's go tell Fang she's not being fair." And before Uta could protest, Satho was darting out of the room and down the stairs.

     ---

      Satho met Ming and Azy at the stairs. Apparently they were heading down, too. As she took the lead, Sky and Mag joined them, and they all went down the stairs single-file.

      At the bottom, Leven and Yoshi were running by in excitement. Satho wasn't going to let them get to Fang first, though. "Wait up!" she demanded, and begrudgingly, the boys slowed down to wait.

      The eight Neopets slipped through the living room and to the dining room, where they all paused upon spotting Fang at the dining table, peeling potatoes and happily chatting with Vael.

      "Lunch won't be ready for a little while, gang," Fang said with a smile when she noticed the large group.

      "Wait, Fang! I have something to ask you," Sky began.

      "Hang on, me and Yoshi want to make our requests first!" Leven insisted, looking to the cloud Pteri demandingly.

      "Az and I wanted to ask you something, too," Ming said directly to Fang.

      "No, Uta and I have to go first!" Satho exclaimed pushily, and she forced her way to the front of the crowd.

      By then, Fang was giving them all strange looks. "What's going on?" she asked, slowly and almost cautiously.

      All at once, the Neopets began to speak. Fang only heard bits and pieces, but picked up something about paint brushes and dream colors. As the group began to argue amongst themselves, Fang put her potato and the peeler she was using on the table. She stood quietly, pushing her chair in as she left the table. Then, she rounded the corner of the table, faced the group of Neopets, took in a deep breath, and yelled.

      "QUIET!"

      Everyone fell silent in shock.

      "Now," Fang began, her voice once again in its normal, jolly tone. "What in the world is going on?"

      Ming and Azy looked at one another. Yoshi glanced at Leven, who was still hatless and obviously in thought. Mag sighed calmly, nudging Sky encouragingly. But before Sky could speak up, Satho once again forced her way into first place.

      "If you're getting everyone else paint brushes, you gotta get me something, too!" she demanded. Uta frowned up at her, still clamped in her arms, but he didn't dare speak up.

      "Paintbrushes for everyone?" Sky gasped. "Is that why you bought that Faerie paint brush?"

      "Yeah, she's giving everyone their dream colors. Right, Fang?" Leven asked quickly.

      Fang looked shocked at the very idea. "Who said that?" she half-gasped, her eyes wide.

      Sky shifted her feet shyly. "I heard you telling Vael that you bought a Faerie paint brush for a bunch of Neopoints," she explained, falling quiet when everyone's eyes landed on her. When she had finished, everyone looked expectantly to Fang.

      "Bought a..?" She paused, a smile slowly growing back onto her face. "Oh, Sky, I didn't buy a Faerie paint brush. I sold one," she explained.

      Satho gasped, her grip tightening on Uta. Sky's brow furrowed and the rest of them looked at one another in confusion.

      "I got two free Faerie paint brushes as prizes," Fang explained. "I used one on you, Satho, and sold the other."

      No one knew what to say. There was a lot of sheepish shifting and glancing around. Uta had realized that Satho tricked him and he managed to squirm out of her tight grip, standing at her feet instead without a clue as to what to do next. Finally, Yoshi spoke up, just to break the awkward silence.

      "So we aren't getting our dream colors?" he asked almost sadly.

      Fang smiled. "Of course you are, Yoshi. But I'm saving right now for something very special. As soon as I buy it, I'll start saving for paint brushes, okay?"

      There were a few moments of silence, and then the majority of the Neopets murmured their agreement. Satho had a notion to get upset, but then she decided that since no one else was getting anything, it was okay. "I still need more lipstick and mascara, though," she made a point to say before leaving the dining room in a huff.

      Since everything had calmed down, the pets left the room, and Fang took her seat again to finish peeling the potatoes. As they worked along, Vael started up the conversation again.

      "So what's this special something you're saving for?" the Uni asked curiously.

      Fang grinned. "Well..." And she explained with some excitement what her plans were for the near future.

     ---

      Sky had left her coloring book on the floor in the corner of the living room. As the others returned to their rooms, to what they had been doing before, Sky laid on her belly and picked up a crayon in each wing. Some time later, when Sky had colored through most of the book and was just getting up to put it away for now, Fang trotted through the room muttering about something.

      Sky looked up. Had Fang just said something about moving to Terror Mountain? Her eyes widened in horror.

      "...Mag!"

      And the Pteri ran up the stairs to give Mag the latest news.

The End

 
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