Ophelia the Kyrii was doing what she did best and seemingly without end: talking and brushing her hair. Morry didn’t know how she had the hair or the vocal strength to keep going on like she did, but she certainly did keep going, with a big smile on her face to boot.
“Illusen gave me this comb herself, you know,” she was saying. “She gave it to me as a reward for fetching her some cheap little thing… Oh, but she got so greedy and demanding, I eventually just stopped going to see her.”
“Uh huh,” Morry muttered. The Mutant Ixi was sitting on the couch of their neohome, trying very hard to read the latest Booktastic Book, a volume it’d taken him ages to find. He’d had to camp outside the store, which, given the lack of gravity on Kreludor, was frustrating; his sleeping bag kept floating away. Anyway, he’d worked very hard to get it, and now here Ophelia was, distracting him like she always did. He considered buying her a copy of the book No Need to be Rood as a passive aggressive gesture, but he was afraid the humor would be lost on her.
“Anyway, I’m sooo excited about tomorrow,” Ophelia said, brushing her hair faster now. “I’ve always wanted to be a Krawk! I’m not a very good at being a Kyrii, you see. I’m just awful at gambling. But you know what I am good at?”
Morry sighed. There was no way he was going to be able to finish reading his book with her around, so he indulged her. “What?”
“That Vanishing Dubloon game. I’m excellent at that. Very convincing. Where’s the dubloon? Oh! It’s gone! Must be magic! Haha, just kidding! It’s an illusion! It was in this little red box thingy the whole time!”
Morry stared at her. “How does that make you more suited to being a Krawk?”
“It’s a dubloon,” she explained. “Like the kind they use on Krawk Island. I bet those pirates play that game all the time.”
“I bet,” Morry repeated sarcastically. Ophelia’s wide, empty-eyed smile seemed to imply that she didn’t catch his insincerity.
She flopped around on the green rug where she sat. “Oh, gosh!” she cried. “I’m so excited - but I’m also so nervous! I’ve never even been to the Rainbow Pool before, let alone tried a morphing potion! I have no idea what it’s going to be like, my whole body changing! Goodness, I’m glad Krawks are the same basic shape as Kyriis - what if I became a Hissi? Could you imagine, losing your legs? But then you’d get wings! I wonder...”
Morry coughed into his hoof, interrupting her mid-sentence. “You know,” he said, “I used to be a Lupe.”
The hand that had been combing Ophelia’s hair froze. She gaped at Morry. “Of course!” she cried. “You’re a mutant! You have to have had a potion, it’s the only way! How could I not realize?” She started to giggle. “But you’re so grouchy… I’m surprised you used to be a Lupe. I’d assume you were a Grarrl or a Skeith or a…” She stopped when she caught his bitter scowl.
Ophelia hopped up on the couch next to him, a big smile on her face. “Please tell me what it’s like to transform, Morry! I’m so nervous about tomorrow, and I’d love if you could help me prepare!”
Morry fiddled with the pages of his Booktastic Book. If there was anything he loved more than gaining knowledge, it was showing off how knowledgeable he was. “Okay,” he huffed. “I suppose I can give you a few pointers.”
“Yay!” The young Kyrii clapped her paws together. “Okay! First question: did the potion taste good?”
The Mutant Ixi rubbed his chin. “Uh… define good.”
Ophelia’s normally bright smile faded somewhat. “Well, uh. Does it taste like… like Cherries, or Tigerbuggle Fruit…”
“No,” Morry said, “no, it tasted more like, uh… Have you ever had Onion Sorbet?”
“Onion Sorbet!” Ophelia cried.
“Or Sludge Pie, after it’s been left out in the sun too long, and starts to develop that weird crust around the edges?”
Ophelia jammed a paw over her mouth to keep from retching. When she was done her dramatic display, she said, “I’m guessing you’ve already answered my next question, then… which is, did the potion smell good?”
“No, it was awful,” Morry confessed. “I’ve never smelled anything like it. I’d rather go swimming in the rubbish dump than smell that potion ever again.”
Ophelia was looking terribly green, which was a problem, given the fact her fur was yellow. She stumbled over her next question. “O-okay, well, what about the transformation itself? What was that like? Did it tingle, or…?”
“Oh, yeah, it tingled,” Morry said. Ophelia started to smile with relief, when the Mutant Ixi continued, “It tingled kind of like when you high-five a Magma pet without thinking, you know? Really hot, and painful. Burning. Yeah, now that I think about it, transforming burns.”
“Oh,” Ophelia said, voice faint. Her comb was in her lap, too stunned to attend to its usual place in her dark yellow hair.
“Yeah. Transforming is very uncomfortable, actually - you feel your whole self-rearranging.” Morry caught Ophelia’s dour expression, and reconsidered. “Oh, but, eh, that was years ago! Maybe I’m remembering some parts wrong.”
“Maybe,” Ophelia repeated. She sounded unconvinced. Such a gloomy expression had fallen over her face, it was as if Morry’s description had painted her grey. In fact, Ophelia was so distraught that when she took her leave, she left her comb on the couch. Morry had never seen her separated from that thing.
Morry felt bad for disappointing Ophelia, but he couldn’t just lie about his experience, could he? Transmogrification was a nasty business! With a sigh, he picked up his book, and resumed reading. But just as he was trying to remember which character was which, a puff of orange smoke obscured the pages. Before he knew it, the whole book had vanished.
Perhaps channeling his inner Lupe, Morry howled in frustration.
The next morning, Sidney, a Spotted Lupe, came into Ophelia’s room to tell her they’d be headed to the Trading Post soon. Ophelia lay in her Zen Bed for a while, trying to absorb its calm vibes, but she failed. After all that Morry had told her, Ophelia was too nervous. She thought about wearing her favorite plaid dress for comfort, but when she pulled it out of her closet, she remembered that it was just for Kyriis. After she transformed into a Krawk, she wasn’t going to be able to wear it anymore. She looked at it sadly and then put it away, trading it for some one-size-fits-all-neopets trousers and a shirt. Before she left, Ophelia jammed some of her favorite items into her pockets for comfort’s sake.
Ophelia and Sidney stepped out into the warm Mystery Island sun. Sidney happily talked about all the low prices she saw yesterday, and about how far Krawk morphing potions seemed to have dropped in value recently. “You picked the best time to change species,” Sidney chuckled. When her friend did not reply, though, she became worried.
“What’s wrong?” Sidney asked. “Usually you chatter my ear off.”
“I’m just tired,” Ophelia answered, giving her friend a half-hearted smile. “I was so excited I didn’t get any sleep last night.” She wasn’t totally lying; she really hadn’t slept very much. But it was because she kept thinking about what Morry said. She didn’t want to drink a stinky, nasty potion, and she didn’t want to burn! If she wanted to burn, she’d jump in the Magma Pool!! Ophelia didn’t think Sidney would understand, though; unlike Morry, Sidney had never had a morphing potion before.
The Trading Post was abuzz with business deals and literal Buzzes. A Split Buzz and a Plushie Buzz to Ophelia’s right were arguing over the price of a Faerie Queen Doll, while to her left a pair of Glowing Buzzes was staring covetously at a Jade Scorchstone that was on display. Sidney grabbed her companion’s paw and guided her over to where a bunch of neopets were selling morphing potions. Ophelia spotted a whole bunch of greyish potions with little bandanas tied to their corks. She swallowed, and wiped some sweat from her brow.
“Maybe this isn’t such a good idea,” Ophelia muttered.
“Nonsense!” Sidney laughed, soldiering on through the crowd. “This is your dream!”
“Maybe it’s a dumb dream,” Ophelia muttered.
Sidney stopped dead in her tracks, bumping into a Darigan Pteri. After trading a few insults back and forth with him, Sidney turned to Ophelia and grabbed her by the shoulders. “Are you really alright?” she asked.
Ophelia shrugged. “Yeah. I mean... I’m a little scared. What if transforming hurts?”
“It won’t hurt,” Sidney told her. She smiled gently. “If it does, I’ll yell at whoever sold us a faulty potion.”
Ophelia frowned. “But Morry said that transforming is…”
“Morry! Is that what this is about?” Sidney laughed, shaking her multi-colored head. “Ophelia, Morry is a mutant. He only knows what transmogrification potions feel like. His experience doesn’t have any effect on yours!”
“Can you say that for sure?” Ophelia asked, paws shaking. “You’ve never even had a morphing potion! You don’t know what it’s like!”
“That’s true,” Sidney conceded, “but I’ve heard that it’s different.”
“But you don’t know for sure.”
They bickered like this for a little while longer, before finally Sidney said, “Look, Ophelia. You’ve wanted to be a Krawk for a long time, right? Are you willing to throw that away just because the potion might taste a little bad? Because it might hurt? You’re a Battledome veteran, aren’t you? You’ve eaten Smelly Jelly without complaint, haven’t you?”
“Smelly Jelly isn’t technically gross food,” Ophelia mumbled, blushing.
“Ophelia,” Sidney said, rolling her eyes, “Smelly Jelly has flies all over it and dead fish bones inside it. You can survive one gross morphing potion to fulfill your dream, can’t you?”
Ophelia shoved her paws in her pockets. She touched something smooth and rectangular. Confused, she pulled it out. It was the Vanishing Dubloon! She’d totally forgotten that she’d brought it along for moral support.
She couldn’t give up now! Ophelia grabbed Sidney’s paw and told her to lead the way. Despite her resolve, her voice cracked a little as she spoke.
Sidney was an impressive haggler. After they spotted the cheapest lot, it took her only ten minutes to convince the Wocky who owned it to drop the price another 10,000 neopoints. When all was said and done, she turned to Ophelia and presented the Pirate Krawk Morphing Potion, expression triumphant.
“You want me to drink it here?!” the Kyrii exclaimed, scandalized. “Shouldn’t we wait until we get home? Or another day, or two?”
Sidney kept holding the potion out to her. Eventually, Ophelia lost her resolve, and snatched it away. She pulled out the cork and looked at the greyish liquid inside. Well, she thought, here goes nothing. She drank it all down.
It didn’t taste bad. Actually, it was kind of nice, and it made her whole body feel warm, like she’d been lying in the Mystery Island sun all afternoon. Drinking the potion felt like finding her favorite chocolate stocked at the Chocolate Factory, and beating restockers to it. Drinking the potion was like…
Ophelia’s limbs started to change shape. Her snout got more rectangular, and all her fur except for the hair on her head hardened, turning into scales. It didn’t burn at all. In fact, it tickled!
Ophelia transformed into a Pirate Krawk in a fit of giggles. “How fun!” she cried out. When she was finished, Sidney giggled along with her.
“Oh! What’s that in your hand?” Sidney asked.
“I think it’s a hook?”
“No, not that,” Sidney laughed. “The other hand.”
“Oh!” Ophelia held out the Vanishing Dubloon. “It’s my favorite magic trick!”
She displayed how it worked for Sidney, who was impressed by her skills. While they were exclaiming over the dubloon’s disappearance, a group of tall, scraggly-looking neopets who were passing by stopped to watch. One was a dark green Lupe, who wore a big, red tricorner hat with a skull on it.
“The Vanishing Dubloon!” Captain Scarblade cried. “I’ve never seen someone perform this trick with such skill before!”
His fellow pirates agreed, and began to cheer for Ophelia. Meanwhile, somewhere on the other side of Mystery Island, Morry had the strange feeling that he’d been bested.