Maeryc and the Wish-Granter's Code
By the time Maeryc got home from school that evening (after basketball practice — Maeryc always had basketball practice after school on Monday), he still didn’t know what to do about Spike’s wish. He decided to talk to Ceila about it.
“So Spike really wants to be good at math, but he isn’t?” Ceila tried to clarify. “Doesn’t that go against everything your mom says? I thought Neopians could do anything within their power, if they put their minds to it.”
This was indeed Maeryc’s mom’s philosophy. He had told Ceila about it many times. “That’s for other stuff though,” Maeryc said slowly. “That’s what she said when I was learning to ride my bike without training wheels. And when my dad wanted that promotion at work (which everyone knew he was bound to get anyway). Those things didn’t require magic. Those things we were able to do on our own.”
“Well, shouldn’t Spike be able to learn math on his own?” Ceila suppressed a giggle. “It doesn’t take a miracle to learn subtraction!”
Maeryc begged to differ. “I honestly think it’s literally beyond some people to be good at math. Look, all I want to know is, is it cheating if I use my magic to make Spike’s grades improve?”
“Maybe.” Ceila was sitting on the edge of Maeryc’s bed. She held onto her tiny Ona feet and rocked back and forth (rather adorably) while she thought. “See, wish granting can be hard. In the beginning, you think, ‘Oh, this is so wonderful, I can grant wishes!’ But sooner or later you realize that it’s not all black and white, and there are ethics involved.”
“What are ethics?” inquired the baby Scorchio.
“Ethics,” said Ceila, “are about what’s right, and what’s wrong. In star school we spend years studying the Wish-Granter’s Code. The Wish-Granter’s Code tells us which wishes are morally okay for us to grant, and which wishes aren’t.”
“That sounds like a lot of reading,” observed Maeryc, finding yet another reason to be in awe of his friend.
“Stars study the Code for hundreds of years,” said Ceila. “Maybe if I had studied it a little harder, I wouldn’t have granted that spoiled girl’s wishes...”
“But then you wouldn’t have fallen into my hands!” Ceila laughed as Maeryc scooped her up and swung her onto his shoulder. “I’m glad you didn’t do your homework, Ceila.”
Maeryc was preparing to go downstairs with his new Petpet in tow, when Ceila asked suddenly, “Maybe you can show me around Mystery Island before it gets dark? I’ve barely been out of this room since we got here. Your parents are nice, but it feels strange being alone with them when you’re not home. And your mom’s Kadoatie keeps watching me like he wants to eat me.”
But Maeryc was occupied with a thought of his own. “Homework!” he cried. “I haven’t done my homework either! Ack, I’d better do it now.”
The Scorchio flew back to his room, plopped Ceila down on the bed once more, and collapsed into his desk chair, settling in for a long night of spelling and literacy practice.
“Oh,” said Ceila, reassuming her spot on Maeryc’s pillow.
When the kids of Ms. Emery’s class played knights at recess, it wasn’t just a game — it was an all out re-enactment of the Meridell-Darigan war(s).
“First squad! Get those villagers out of here! Second squad! Move to those trees! Maybe we can get a flanking position on them!”
“What’s a flanking position?” Maeryc called to Captain Jeran (played by the one and only Spike) as the enemy (the kids of Mr. Twigger’s third grade class) was bearing down upon them.
“I have no idea! Just run to the trees!”
Maeryc ran with all his might. Darigan soldiers (currently playing the double role of hypnotized Meridell peasants under the Court Dancer’s spell) were hot on his tail. His fellow Meridellians ran with him. Suddenly one tripped over a tree root and went down.
“Oh no! Matt!” Maeryc raced back to help his friend up, and so did Spike, and so did Laura. But by then it was too late. The hypnotized peasants/Darigans had caught up with them and surrounded them, roaring like Noils, holding their legs so they couldn’t escape, making scary faces, and otherwise doing what each imagined hypnotized peasants/Darigans would do to their prey. Ms. Emery’s class had lost the game.
“Darn it Matt, why do you have to be so clumsy!” A purple Ogrin named Jayson stepped into the frame.
“Oh, here we go.” Maeryc felt his tummy tighten. Jayson was always picking on Matt.
“If you can’t run, don’t play with us! You always slow us down!”
“I know,” conceded Matt, “I’m sorry.”
“Saying sorry isn’t good enough, dude! You’ve got to get your act together!”
Maeryc thought the worst day of Matt’s life must have been the day he started grade two, as that was the day Ms. Emery first sat him and Jayson beside each other in class. Almost from the day they met, Jayson had bullied Matt. He teased him about his weight (he was a rather chubby white Wocky), he made fun of his hair (it was long and rather shaggy, but Matt liked it that way), and because Matt was too meek and polite to stand up for himself, he endured Jayson’s torment submissively — and this only encouraged Jayson more.
Luckily Matt had many friends on his side. “You leave Matt alone!” screeched Laura, a yellow Xweetok in their class. “He tripped on a tree root! Anyone could trip on a tree root!”
“I almost tripped on it,” Maeryc interjected.
“Yeah! He almost tripped on it!” Laura shrilled.
“Yeah, but Maeryc was smart enough to go around it,” snickered Jayson. This was always how it went. Nothing had changed in the six weeks Maeryc was away. Jayson always had to have the last word. But Matt thanked his friends for sticking up for him anyway.
“It’s okay, guys. I mean, what else is new?” The unfortunate boy tried to laugh. “I’m used to it.”
It was impossible not to like the gentle Wocky. He was quiet. He generally stayed on the peripheral. He did not ask for attention. He was the polar opposite of Jayson. Sometimes Maeryc wondered if this was why Jayson bullied him.
“It really wasn’t your fault, Matt,” Maeryc tried to cheer up his friend as the bell rang, and the exultant voices of Mr. Twigger’s class rang louder as they celebrated their victory.
“No, Jayson is right,” admitted Matt, “I can’t run very fast at all.”
“You can do other things better than Jayson can.”
Jayson turned around and glared at Maeryc. Maeryc turned around and looked the other way.
Maeryc wished there was a way he could get Jayson to be nicer to Matt. But Dr. Sloth in a Box, that was a wish he could certainly never grant! Even if it would make Matt happy, it certainly wouldn’t make Jayson happy to lose his favourite victim!
For some reason Jayson derived pleasure from humiliating people in front of other people. Maeryc wished he could figure out why.
“What do you think, Ceila?”
Ceila was doubled over a particularly stubborn dandelion plant, which she was trying with all her little Ona strength to uproot from the garden. “Why do I think a kid would bully another kid?” Her sentence was punctuated with grunts, huffs, and puffs.
Maeryc reached over and pulled out the dandelion with one hand. It came up directly from the roots!
Ceila knitted her brow. “I could have done that.”
“You did do it! You loosened it up for me!”
The Ona shrugged. “Well, from my observation of Neopians — you know, looking down from the sky — sometimes a person will insult another person in order to look better themselves, or feel better about themselves.”
“That’s awful,” breathed Maeryc. “Does the Wish-Granter’s Code say anything about people like that?”
“It says not to grant wishes for them.”
“Oh.” Maeryc reflected on this for a moment. “Well, don’t worry. I would never dream of granting a wish for Jayson!”
Ceila had already moved on to the next dandelion. This was her first time out of the house with Maeryc since the day they had arrived in Mystery Island. “You know, another reason why a person might bully someone is to earn a reputation,” the star child continued.
“What do you mean?” asked Maeryc, stupefied. “Why would anyone want a reputation for being a jerk?”
“They say there’s no such thing as bad publicity!” Ceila giggled, to which the seven-year-old returned another confused glance. “What I mean is, some people are happy to receive any kind of attention, even if it’s negative,” Ceila explained. “These people would just be happy to be thought of as anything, even if it’s a jerk!”
Maeryc found this a difficult concept to wrap his head around, although in Jayson’s case he could very easily see it being true. “So if I could find some other way for Jayson to get attention, or feel important, maybe he would stop picking on Matt?”
“It’s worth a try!” his Petpet concurred.
“I wouldn’t even have to use my magic!” Maeryc laughed.
“Maeryc, maybe after we’re done here you can show me around Mystery Island? I still haven’t seen anything...”
“Mmm.” Maeryc frowned. “I’m sorry Ceila, but I promised Spike I would go over to his house after dinner to help him with his math homework.”
Ceila wanted to ask how Maeryc was going to help Spike with his homework if he could barely do the homework himself, but she did not.
“I want to see if Spike’s problem really requires magic or not. Maybe I can help him without it, too.”
Ceila wanted to say that it was her magic long before she had ever shared it with Maeryc! But she didn’t say this either.
“Okay, have a good time,” she answered instead. She would just have to wait for the day her new ‘owner’ had time for her.
To be continued…