The Iced Curse: Part Four
"HA! I win!" Pacina shouted triumphantly as she tossed her Aisha game piece into the air in a fit of glee. She knocked all of our game pieces off of the board and giggled.
"Pacina, don't knock all of the pieces off just because you won. What have I told you about not bragging?" Flames picked up the game board and folded it back into the box. She looked like she was using all of her energy not to yell at Pacina for beating her. "Now go pick up all of the pieces that are lying scattered about our living room and you're not allowed to participate in our next game. You may play with the plushies or with Sunshine if you wish." I'm pretty sure that Flames was only prohibiting Pacina from playing the next game because she had won. Flames came in second, Aluendi came in third, a very annoyed Harpier came in fourth, and I, of course, had finished in last place. Why wouldn't I? It's not like I had ever played any board games or anything like that with anyone else, so I didn't have any experience with it. It was bad enough that Flames had to explain the rules over three times to me because I couldn't comprehend that all you had to do was get your Aisha game piece across the multicolored squares of the cardboard game board and to the Aisha Festival (aka the finish line) at the end.
Flames grabbed the Poogle Racing Game from the stack of old dusty boxes with large letters and all sorts of colors. The colors of the actual plastic game had began fading slightly and the Poogle pieces stuck a bit, but it still worked enough for us to play it.
"There's only three Poogles to race." Flames turned to Harpier. "Would you mind not playing this game, Harpier? I want to play and I'm sure Lodo and Alu want to play as well." She turned back to Aluendi and me. "Right, guys?"
"Yeah sure," we both mumbled in unison. It seemed that Aluendi was having just about as much fun as I was.
"Great!" Flames clapped her hands together. "I call being the red Poogle!"
I snatched the blue Poogle before Aluendi could, and she grumpily grabbed the yellow Poogle. We started playing. It was a fairly simple game; just get your Poogle across the track first to win. Flames, being as competitive as she looks, won. Aluendi came in second and again, I came in last.
"Well, that was fun," Flames said after we had finished, "but quick. How about I break out Key Quest? And one of you will have to sit out our first game."
"I will," I offered. I had heard that Key Quest was difficult for beginners to learn because it had so many different aspects. I had read about purple and green portals, starting homes, mini games and rainbow water power ups. It sounded like the absolute craziest game in the history of Neopia. I mean, who came up with that?
Instead, I walked over to the window. The edges had been strengthened with a thick layer of rubber and wood in hopes that it wouldn't break like the door had. I couldn't believe that we hadn't boarded the windows up just in case the middle of the window (aka the glass part) shattered into a million pieces. Glass wasn't nearly as strong as the wood that the door was made out of, and that still managed to break.
I sat on the sill of the window and turned to watch the game. Harpier was moving her piece gleefully around the board and snickering at Flames once in a while. The game went on like that for a little bit; Harpier's piece dancing around the tiles with ease while the rest of the pieces just stood watching and waiting for their player to actually roll something other than a one. It was obvious Harpier had practice and talent at this.
Eventually they went into a mini game of trying to feed Spooky Foods to the Esophagor as he moved around the sludgy ground. Much to Flames's delight, the mini game ended and she had beat Harpier by fifty points. Harpier nearly pounded her fist down on the game board, but quickly thought better of herself when she realized that she was still beating Flames by two keys and about twelve more spaces away from their starting homes. She grunted and folded her arms but didn't say anything.
Flames's piece jumped around the spaces and landed on a power-up square. She received a tornado ring power-up and scowled, grumbling about how it was a completely useless power-up and most often just gave your opponents better power-ups.
A slight breeze blew in through the window against my back and interrupted me, not to mention chilling me to the bone. The curtains rustled as the breeze picked up. I looked behind me and realized a very important fact to the current situation: the window was still closed. There was no way that a breeze could be blowing through it.
I saw a small cloud in the air above me. It grew bigger, but only slightly. "Snow Cloud, not in here!" I whispered fervently. "Why can't you just go outside again and enjoy the snow and cold air? Isn't it too warm in here for you?"
Apparently it wasn't. Snow Cloud settled himself directly above my head. He shook violently and started pouring snow onto me.
I heard a triumphant shout that was surprisingly high pitched, and I looked in bewilderment in the four people (and Neopets) playing Key Quest. My first thought was that it would have been Pacina, but she was sitting on the floor dejectedly so I imagined that she had come in last. Aluendi, beside her, did not look much happier. I turned to look at Flames next but she looked even more miserable than Alu and Pac combined and she was glaring directly at... Harpier.
The shadow Eyrie was covering her beak with both paws, her wings set squarely behind her back, bright pink flushing to her cheeks. She quietly reached for the gold key that was her prize, Flames greedily snatched the silver key, Aluendi hesitantly reached for the bronze key and Pacina only gingerly gripped her lead key before whipping it across the room. It smacked against the wall and came to rest near the couch. Flames scolded Pacina for being a poor sport, even though she looked about ready to tear someone's head off.
Aluendi glanced up at me, looking like she wanted to take her mind off of coming in third place. "How cute," she said aloud as she stood up and walked over to me. Harpier's gaze followed her, as did Pacina and Flames's.
I instinctively cringed backwards as she got closer but I realized that could be deemed weird so I rubbed one of my snow-covered shoulders and straightened up again.
Snow Cloud seemed completely unfazed when Aluendi walked right up to him and patted what I assumed to be his head. In fact, Snow Cloud purred slightly and snuggled right up to Aluendi's furry hand. The Cybunny giggled and scratched him more.
Flames, Harpier and Pacina followed Aluendi up to me and I suddenly felt very claustrophobic. There were so many people suddenly surrounding me. But when they all let out a collective 'Awwwww', I knew that they had only walked over here to see Snow Cloud and not me. I was slightly relieved, but also slightly jealous that a cloud was getting more attention than me.
"This is an adorable Christmas Cirrus," Aluendi said as she dropped her hand to her side. Snow Cloud flew up to say hello to everyone else. "Is he yours?" Aluendi continued.
"Um..." In truth, I wasn't really sure that he was mine.
"Oh, is he not yours?" Aluendi asked.
"He is mine," I said as Snow Cloud flew back to me and settled on my shoulder. "I know that he loves to hang around with me, he'll disappear when he wants to and come back at the most inconvenient times, and he just loves to get snow all over me." As if on cue, Snow Cloud began to snow on my shoulder, which made me shiver.
"Well, Petpets are like that," Aluendi said. "I can never find Dally when I need to. Oh, maybe I can get her down here so she can meet you. After all, we Neopets aren't the only members of this family that you should meet."
"Hey, I just said that this morning," Harpier said, settling down after her shrilly outburst. At this Charge leaped from his spot on the couch with surprising agility and grace and landed in Harpier's arms. Harpier grinned at him, and again, it was one of the most genuine grins I had seen her give. And again, I wondered why everyone in this house was always so smiley. Maybe it was just around guests.
"Dally!" Aluendi called and Pacina joined in by shouting something that I think was Sunshine.
Two Petpets sped from down the hall and into their owners' arms. When they were flying, they just looked like a greenish-white blur and a blur of brownish-yellow with other colors mixed in, but resting and not really moving at all I could actually see that they were Petpets that I had read about in books somewhere.
The first Petpet was resting in Aluendi's arms. I assumed that she was Dally, considering it was Aluendi that had been calling this name. She was a wise-looking Alabriss. Her white fur glistened like newly-fallen snow. Her lime green mane flowed smoothly down her back and connected to her long green tail. They looked slightly like the lime jelly I had seen in the fridge earlier. She had polished black hooves like obsidian and icy blue eyes that kind of looked like my fur when ice was crusted over it.
The second Petpet with the name that sounded like Sunshine was resting on Pacina's shoulder making happy gurgling noises to her. She was a slightly small Carmariller with various colors. Her skin was a monochrome color of brown with a yellow stomach and a few yellow marking along her head, arms, and tail. Her wings were orange with a pink stripe on the top wings and a small dot on the bottom ones. She had a large curl on top of her head and light green eyes just like her owner had.
I wished that Snow Cloud was as interesting as any of their Petpets. While they had cool-looking Petpets with all sorts of colors, I had a white blob of a cloud that floated around. Plus he was really annoying when he snowed on me all the time. But when I really thought about it, would I ever give Snow Cloud up for a newer, cooler, more colorful Petpet, perhaps a painted Alabriss? The truth is when I really asked myself about it, I wouldn't give Snow Cloud up for all of the Neopoints in Neopia.
We talked for a little while about how great it was to be able to own a Petpet, leaving Flames to sulk because as an owner she wasn't allowed to have a Petpet. We offered her sympathy, but she said it was okay, because since she had the best pets in the world she was allowed to take care of their Petpets from time to time.
As everyone turned to walk towards the kitchen to have lunch (probably also omelette or some sort of cheap food won from the Battledome,) I hesitated. Snow Cloud was settled happily over my head once again, although he was resisting the urge to snow because Flames had told him that he shouldn't snow as much so she wouldn't have to clean up puddles of melted snow everywhere he went.
I turned to look out the window, the breeze still seemingly blowing right through the glass. When I looked outside, I nearly fainted from shock. An icy pair of eyes, glazed over with snow, were watching me through the frosty window. The creature was breathing heavily and I realized for the first time that the freezing breeze against y back was just it breathing and not Snow Cloud. Cold shivers crept down my spine and spread through my whole body until I felt like nothing more than an ice cube resting on a window sill. Snow Cloud could clearly feel my distress as I stared out the window, unblinking, at the Neopet who was staring right back at me.
The Ice Draik was here, following after me as a reminder that I could never escape, and he was watching every move that I was making.
To be continued...
Author's note: This is only here to state that I'm certainly not that competitive when I play Key Quest. *Shifty eyes* -Flames