Caution: Quills may be sharp Circulation: 188,914,574 Issue: 543 | 4th day of Hunting, Y14
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Talents Yearned And Lessons Learned


by pastichine

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I've never been the best at games. My health had been poor since I was young, and I was much weaker and less stable than the kids my age. I still am. So games, especially the physical ones, I wasn't exactly great at. The Haunted Shootery gave me the shivers, my aim was terrible at Lost City Lanes, I've dropped countless items at Igloo Garage sale... Even games that are supposed to be easy for even the smallest Neopians got my head in a blur. I'm just not athletic.

     But what really irked me was how good Vee was at them. Verecundi the Bori, my first and currently only neopet and friend. He has some kind of a knack for these kind of trivial things, being able to dodge basically anything in Cave Gliders and hit the Kass a bajillion meters in Kass Basher. He probably could even play for Shenkuu in Yooyuball itself if he ever got the idea to go to tryouts.

     It's not that he taunted me about my imperfection, just that he was so dang good at almost everything that made me mad. I felt horrible sometimes being frustrated at something that he wasn't even trying to make me mad about, but still, I couldn't help but be jealous. It was just so stupid. Why was the owner less skilled than the neopet? Why am I less skilled than Vee?

     Oh, and the teases I would get. Every time I would go to the Games Room, there they would be. Obviously it wasn't a direct form of bullying, but the sniggers and the whispers always seem to be ten times louder when they're directed at you. I try my best not to let them get to me, but sometimes... It was unbearable. Every once in a while I'd snap and Vee would have to drag me over to Kentari's, where he would go fetch Anshu to fix up something to calm me down. It really was dreadful, taunts ringing in my ears, thrashing uncontrollably. Anshu and the Doctor Gelert had said they haven't found a cure for my disorder yet, so for the time being I have to take strengthening solutions and other medications to stay healthy.

     Anyways, one fateful day I really did... break. It was not a good day, in fact, it was a horrible one. I had lost my third match of Spinacles and had been kicked out by Sophie for ruining her potion. Vee, on the other hand, had almost reached the top scoring on the leaderboards and had been praised and patted by the witch.

     It was more than enough to get me going.

     "Vee..."

     I start steaming when he exits Sophie's hut, carrying a small pouch of free herbs she has given him for his help.

     "Yes?" he replies, examining the contents of the bag.

     I hardly ever talk to him about serious things.

     "We... need to talk," I state carefully.

     I'm curious of what's in the bag, but that will have to wait.

     "Sure. Talk."

     I don't really think he's focused on me. He's still sifting through the pouch, now eyeing what looked like a dried Meowclops claw.

     He... he's not listening to me! He's not focusing! I clench my left fist.

     "Vee!"

     "Wha-at."

     He's. Not. Paying. Attention.

     "For Fyora's sake, leave the dung-ridden pouch alone for a second, you... you... Bori!"

     I've always acknowledged Vee as another peer, never a lesser being, a pet, a different creature. And this doesn't make him take his stupid eyes of the stupid bag for a stupid moment.

     Oh my goodness! Why is he acting like such a jerk?

     "Vee! Verecundi! Just look at me for a second while I'm talking, gosh!"

     "Okay, okay... you sound like my mom or something."

     "Shut up, you idiot!"

     Okay. That was a little harsh. But he is really getting on my nerves.

     Vee looks up and glares at me. But he somehow manages to keep his composure. Maybe that's why he's so good at everything. Patience is a virtue, blah, blah.

     "Look, Pasti. I know you're mad because I beat you in basically every game there is, but seriously, being jealous will get you nowhere. If you just asked for help, maybe I'd give it to you."

     The Bori's voice is steady, calm, and downright annoying.

     In case you were wondering, this is the part where I freak out.

     "Shuuuuut! Shut shut shut shut shut it! I don't want your help! I don't want your advice, your tips, I don't want a jerk to tell me what to do! I don't want YOU, Vee! I don't!"

     My vision's getting a bit blurry, even with my glasses on. My face is red, and there are hot tears running down my face. I must look like a total mess, a complete doofus. I don't want anyone to see me like this, I don't want Vee to see me like this.

     -------

     Still sniffling, I run all the way back to our house in Shenkuu, leaving stupid, jerk-like, mean Vee standing dumbstruck, the pouch still in his hand. Once I reach the quaint little abode I call home, I go in and slam the door shut. Into my room I go. It's really embarrassing for me to be in an outbreak like this. I'm not usually such a sissy, but for the time being, I'm satisfied with clutching my Faerie Bori plushie to my chest and drowning myself in self-pity.

     I hear a knock at the door. It's probably Vee, coming up with some previous-thought-up-in-advance excuse to tell me. Well, I don't want to hear any fake apologies. This time there's no "sorry" and kiss, hug, and forget.

     "Go away!" I yell.

     My voice is scratchy and it feels awful to scream. I haven't taken my medication yet today, and already I can feel the effects. Is it really cold in here, or just me? I hear the distant sound of an opening door's familiar screech, which jolts me back into reality.

     No! I want Vee to get out! But the footsteps come closer, finally ending at the door to my room and the door slides open to reveal...

     Kentari? The short, bearded Shoyru gives me an apologetic look. He's my closest friend next to Vee, and I'm not mad at him, so I lower the plushie I was about to throw. But still, I keep my distance. I don't really want to talk to anybody right now.

     Kentari finally speaks.

     "Sorry for interrupting you, Pasti. May I sit down?"

     I nod. He looks a bit relieved at this and takes a seat at the foot of my bed. Then he begins to talk. I notice he looks quite tired, and a bit nervous.

     "I guess you're probably wondering why I'm here right now. Well, um, the thing is that your friend came over just a few minutes ago... The blue one, I believe. He woke me from my nap, saying something about you getting mad or something of the sort. He.. Verecundi, is that correct? Yes? Alright. Anyways, Verecundi looked quite worried. It was most bothering for him, I supposed. So I decided to do him a favor and come in his place, seeing as the situation was, you might not have... accepted him if he came, at least at the moment. But because I've come quickly on such a short notice, I'm afraid I haven't gotten much on what had happened. If you're feeling more, ah, stable, do you think you could tell me the accounts?"

     That explained... a lot. I nod again and begin to speak. It won't hurt to tell him, would it? But as I begin to talk, I realize I can barely get a sound out. My voice is something of a Pteri's caw mixed with a Meepit's squeak. Horrified, I try to remember what Anshu had told me about the disorder. Stomachaches, headaches, sudden dizziness, fainting, voice changes... voice changes! Oh no... in my haste, I had forgotten to pick up my prescription!

     I struggle to explain the situation to the weapon shop owner, which Kentari seems to understand after a few moments. From a pouch at his waist, (what was with neopets and pouches!) he retrieved a small porcelain jar, of which he handed to me.

     "Here."

     I smile gratefully and open the jar to find the familiar green pills. They taste disgusting, and I have to swallow the huge thing, but after a few minutes of grimacing, I manage a few words.

     "Thank... thank you."

     Kentari smiles, but doesn't speak. He wants me to carry on with the story. So I do. I spare none of the details, and most of the tale just pours out of me, even the parts not relating to what had happened physically, but all my feelings of jealously and guilt and all that bad stuff.

     The yellow Shoyru is silent for a few moments after the words are finished, letting the silence settle nicely over us like a blanket of fresh snow before speaking again.

     "I think... I think I may be able to try to do something to solve your, ah, predicament."

     He pulls out a pack of beautifully hand-painted cards from his pouch(!), and pushes away the blankets to make room, spreading the deck over the uncovered sheets. I admire the detailed handiwork, whoever made these must have been a master artist. This pulls me from my bad mood, maybe not all the way but a few feet at least.

     "I will... I will teach you a game. It's still in a bit of development, I invented it myself and it probably still needs a bit of work. But I believe the rules are simple enough, so here is how it goes. Are you ready?"

     Kentari looks at me seriously. I almost giggle with excitement. This is so cool! I've always thought all Kentari did was polish swords and look serious and noble. This is new!

     "I... I'm ready," I reply.

     "Good. So there's forty-eight cards, you see..."

     -------

     "What? Can you explain that part again? Ugh, this new game is so complicated, Pasti. Where did you even learn this from?"

     Vee's irritated voice makes me smile a bit. I thank Kentari again mentally for lending me his cards.

     "Oh, you know. Just one of those new games. So, how would you like to go try some Faerie Bubbles later?"

     "Sure. Anything but this... game."

     "Alright, dude. Whoever loses has to treat the other to a slushie!"

     "You're on."

The End

 
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