|The morning sun was just starting to break on the horizon in the heavens above Neopia, lighting the skies ablaze with orange and yellow hues. A young faerie Zafara wearing a loose white toga stepped out of an enormous palace in the clouds, stretching her wings and yawning widely. She shivered, the early morning breeze hitting her fur and sending a chill down her spine. It was a beautiful morning, she thought, perhaps she should take a flight to get herself going. It wasn't uncommon for her to leave without a word to her superior, seeing as she could communicate telepathically with them, but something told her to check in with them this morning.
She stepped back inside the palace, seeing her superior at the end of the hall. A tall, slender faerie Aisha wearing a very ornate gown accented with gold in many places stood at an enormous crystal ball, gazing into its surface. There was an image displayed inside that the Zafara could not see, due to the Aisha blocking her view.
"Lady Zera, is there something wrong?"
"Ah, Petali, I was just about to come speak with you." Zera replied without turning around. "Something urgent has come up."
Petali tilted her head slightly. "Urgent? What's happened?"
Zera motioned for her to come closer. "Come, gaze into the crystal of vision. It's showing what's happening now."
Petali inched closer to the crystal ball, squinting and glancing all around at the image displayed before her. Something strange was happening in the clouds above Neopia, it appeared to be...
Date: May 3rd
...a patch of sky that had been magically altered in the most peculiar way.
"Why are all of the clouds such strange colours?" Petali asked.
Indeed, the clouds Lady Zera was showing her were stained with unnatural hues every colour of the rainbow. The colours dripped from one cloud to the next, swirling into one another and dimpling the fluffy surface with pockets of pigment. It was almost as if someone had spilt buckets of paint onto the clouds themselves... but that was impossible!
"I wish I could say for sure who was responsible for this," Lady Zera responded, frowning. "Something like this could only have been done by someone very powerful... or very clumsy." She shook her head exasperatedly.
"And the clouds aren't even what concerns me most. Look."
Lady Zera gestured to the crystal again. This time, it revealed what lay beneath the oddly coloured clouds - Neopia Central, in chaos! Many dozens of pets scrambled haphazardly as a multitude of colours rained down upon them. It was clear that this was no normal rain, because any colour that touched the panicking pets seemed to affix to their skin - just like a paint brush.
"Oh my!" gasped Petali, bringing a paw to her mouth. All those poor pets, suddenly cursed with an array of strange colour combinations. This certainly WAS an emergency!
"But how can we fix it?" Petali asked. With all her time working under Lady Zera, she was used to dealing with some strange things... but this seemed above her pay grade!
"For this, I'll need to bring out one of my more powerful artifacts," Lazy Zera mused.
Petali followed the faerie Aisha as she strode into a heavily secured chamber lined with dozens of crystalline chests. She scanned the room for a while, as if trying to remember exactly where she kept it, before landing on a particularly well-adorned coffer. From it, she produced what appeared to be... a paint brush? However, something was clearly special about this particular paint brush, because it...
Date: May 4th
... hummed and sang as it pulsed with light.
Petali was transfixed by the magic that seemed to fill the entirety of the chamber. The paint brush was small, but seemed to emit energy larger than Neopia itself.
"...Wha, what is that?" Petali asked stumbling over her words. She knew it couldn't be any ordinary paint brush, as a matter of fact it didn’t seem like it could be just a paint brush at all.
"This- well, it is a key, of sorts.” Lady Zera paused and took a deep breath. “Many a time ago there was an incident that is all but forgotten in Faerieland, and Queen Fyora forged this key with Naia to mitigate the disaster.”
Petali’s eyes were still focused on the paint brush and it took great effort to pull them away to meet Lady Zera’s. “A key? What could have happened for Fyora and Naia to work together to create something so powerful?”
Lady Zera tucked the paint brush back into the coffer, dulling it’s light and causing Petali to focus solely on her. “It was the first time…
Date: May 5th
...the Rainbow Fountain had been tainted by the hands of darkness."
"The hands of darkness?" gasped Petali as she covered her face with her wings.
"To this day we don't know who the perpetrator was... But whoever did it managed to twist the pure waters of the fountain into an absolute horror." explained Lady Zera before taking a breath. "Maybe this time we will find who inspired this catastrophe... and the last one..."
Then she went on... "Someone slipped a potion into the waters of the Rainbow Fountain and it started changing the colours of the pets who bathed in it in unexpected ways... Much like the mysterious rain that falls on our world today."
"That's exactly what's happening now... This is unbelievable!" voiced Petali, disturbed by the heinous crime.
Lady Zera walked back and forth, glancing at the skies through the crystal ceiling as she tried to get her mind into the bottom of the problem. "Yes, except this time, it seems like the perpetrator managed to bring mayhem into the skies... Seeing as the Rainbow Fountain has now been secured magically by the power of this key, they must have found another way to cause this mess. In order to bring order back again, just like in the old times, we must take this key to...
How will this story end?
Date: May 6th
"...the Rainbow Fountain runestone! It's well hidden deep within the waters of the Rainbow Fountain," Lady Zera explained. "The runestone was created after the original catastrophe, along with the key. When the pair are brought together and this brush used to paint the runestone, the magic of the rainbow fountain can be brought under control. Naia the Fountain Faerie serves as the guardian of the runestone, and of course knows the most about using the key. We must bring this key to her."
The two of them rushed off to Faerieland. Petali was brimming with curiosity and excitement. The magnitude of power contained in this artifact must be huge. All paint brushes are considered magical artifacts, of course. That's why they're capable of such amazing transformations! But this key must have the most concentrated magical energies of them all, seeming to contain all the colours and even the ability to control the power of the Fountain's waters?! How amazing!
They had barely arrived at the Fountain when Naia called out to them. "Oh, thank goodness you're here, Zera! I knew you would come! Luckily, I got some help chasing the intruder out already. Battling really isn't my speciality." A pair of strong-looking faerie pets, a ruki and grarrl, were escorting away a Cloud Aisha who wore beautiful golden jewelry, a blue gemstone shining on her forehead as she struggled.
"Who is she?" inquired Lady Zera, as they approached Naia.
When they arrived at the pool's edge, Petali gasped in dismay, noticing her own reflection in the water. Along the way, Petali had been covered with a few splatters of different colours herself. She now had a Darigan Zafara tail and one yellow ear. I hope Naia can fix this, she thought.
Naia looked sympathetically at her before responding to Lady Zera, "She calls herself Calabrus, a powerful weather mage. She was using the Fountain’s water to create the colour-changing rainclouds. Aethia sent warriors to get her under control though. But we still need the fountain’s key to recall the Fountain’s magic from the storm." As Lady Zera opened the coffer and passed the key to Naia, a phantom figure appeared and snatched it... Jacko the Phantom painter?!
"Finally, the most powerful paint brush of all, I've found it! Calabrus was just a distraction. I figured someone would bring it here if we created an incident," the phantom gloated, his purple eyes aglow and shining with his delight as he gazed at the artifact. "Ah, so exciting just to lay eyes on it. I really wish I could add it to my collection, but I understand it's quite a powerful thing..."
"Collection?" Petali inquires incredulously.
"My paint brush collection, of course! I have at least one of every brush that has ever existed, even the retired ones like Glass, just for the nostalgia... I often give away extra paint brushes to deserving Neopians, of course. My gallery can only hold so much." He looked sad at this before perking up, "But this one has eluded me for years. Such a delight!"
"Wait, what about the hands of darkness, the one who created the big disaster last time? The reason the key was created in the first place?"
"Oh... well," Jacko hid his dark, phantom hands within his cloak uneasily. "That was a mistake! I just wanted to know how the rainbow waters worked. Turns out pouring morphing potions straight into the pool is a bad idea, and definitely does not let the fountain morph and paint a pet at the same time."
Naia sighed deeply at this. But she recovered with a warm smile, "Hey, Jacko, it’s pretty nice to just see this artifact, but wouldn’t you like to see its power?" This caught Jacko’s attention. "Why don’t you let me have the key, so you can watch what happens when we reverse the effects of the Fountain’s misuse?"
After a pause, and one last wistful look, Jacko nodded and returned the most coveted paint brush. But he was eager to watch what was going to happen next. Naia dove into the fountain, swimming down to paint the runestone. Suddenly beautiful, shimmering rainbow beams of light filled the whole area, bathing everything in ever-changing hues. Petali gasped at the massive whoosh of magical energy she felt, channelling towards the fountain. Even Lady Zera looked a bit amazed. I suppose it’s a once in a lifetime event, Petali thought with a huge grin on her face, I’m so lucky to be here to see it! Jacko also looked impressed, his shining eyes gleeful and a phantom grin stretched across his otherwise hidden face.
As the light faded, Naia emerged from the fountain. She had recalled the Rainbow Fountain’s power back from the rain. Now even if Calabrus’ storm continues, it would be harmless. Petali inspected her reflection and noticed that she was back to her normal faerie self. Naia smiled at her, "I found a way to use the magic to correct the mismatched pets’ colours as well."
Date: May 7th