The streets of Neopia Central were a muddy mess; only Andromeda's
spirits seemed as bubbly as usual. Wisteria had finally woken up and had begun
to wail piteously; Celestilla cantered along in a brown study, chewing on a pencil.
Orayny and I kept our heads down and coats buttoned against the chill; the drizzle
had begun to show signs of turning into slush.
We had been tramping along for five minutes
or so when Celestilla froze in her tracks. Slowly she turned toward Orayny,
a look of enlightenment on her face.
"What is it?" barked Orayny tersely, holding
a still-howling Wisteria against her shoulder and furiously patting her back.
"Paint over it," said Celestilla triumphantly.
"Paintbrush colors cancel each other out. All Orayny needs to do is buy a paintbrush
and paint over Wisteria's Baby coat. It's that simple!"
"Of course I thought of that," said Orayny uncertainly,
"but I didn't want to chance more side effects. My baby's obviously in a delicate
mental condition as it is. I can't risk her sprouting eight wings and a radio
antenna." Andromeda giggled at the mental picture.
"It is a risk," I agreed, "and one that probably
won't do any good. Besides, we're drawing enough attention to ourselves as it
is." I gestured at the buildings around us; people and pets stared from doorways
and pointed through shop windows at Orayny and Celestilla.
Celestilla shuddered; we were radiating what
she called "scandal waves" and every rival journalist in Neopia would soon gravitate
right to us.
"It's up to you, Orayny," I said.
She looked at Celestilla hesitantly. "I think
we ought to consult Samaritain first. Perhaps he's seen a case like this before,"
she murmured hopefully.
Andromeda looked doubtful. "Wouldn't we have
heard about it on the news? Besides, this is probably what Samaritain will tell
you to do; it'll save you the money of a consultation. I think we should try
Orayny was beginning to crack. "Well, I don't
see how it could make matters much worse," she said. I groaned; this was trouble
for sure. A sixth sense for calamity is another side effect of raising a recklessly
However, I had already given the decision to
Orayny. "All right, but we don't have time for the trading post. Grab a plain
color paintbrush at one of those stands-" I gestured toward a small area of
the bazaar we were passing through devoted to paintbrushes and morphing potions
"-and we'll stop at the Rainbow Springs on the way to the hospital. Even if
this works, I think Wisteria should still have a checkup."
After hesitating for another minute or two,
Orayny ran over and chose a handsome red paintbrush. She haggled a bit, paid
the shop owner, and tucked the brush carefully in her satchel. We then steered
towards a clear pool in the midst of the bustling marketplace. The Rainbow Springs
was not difficult to find; beams of many-colored light shoot straight up into
the sky from the waters of the spring, visible for miles around.
We all agreed that Orayny with a baby Peophin
at the Rainbow Springs would be too conspicuous, so I was sent to do the dirty
work. Clutching the small bundle, I made my way through the crowd to a free
attendant. She was a young Lenny chewing a large wad of gum. "Painting over
a Baby coat, eh? Did what's-his-name with the Baby ray gun getcha?"
"Er… yeah," I mumbled as I handed over my burden,
thanking my lucky stars by name that she wasn't one of the many Neopians who
would recognize Wisteria, no matter what form she was in.
The painting process was finished in a matter
of seconds. "Here's your blankets, ma'am. Do you want to keep the paintbrush?"
the Lenny asked. I shook my head and she tossed the empty brush in a wastebasket.
"Do you think you could lift the old girl out? My wings aren't strong enough
for that kind of heavy lifting, and she don't seem capable to do it herself,
somehow," she said around the gum, eyeing Wisteria with interest.
My heart sank as I lifted a now full-sized Wisteria
from the chilly water. Her horse parts were the same size as Celestilla, standing
half my height at the shoulder. Her well-muscled fish tail looked quite capable
of powering her wherever she wanted to go, land or sea, but it was no use. Wisteria's
baby brain was still there. I gave a moan and awkwardly hoisted the heavy creature
into my arms. She was shivering from her immersion in the springs and was beginning
to cry again. The Lenny turned to another customer with a parting confused look
at me and I began staggering over toward Orayny, carrying in my arms a wailing
"Oh, yes, this is inconspicuous!" cried Celestilla
exasperatedly. She tossed her mane in irritation.
Ignoring her, I collapsed on a park bench beside
Orayny, dumping Wisteria into her lap. "It didn't work," I wheezed.
"Well, we've got to get her to the hospital,
quick," said Celestilla with a nervous look around. "I don't want her out in
the open any more. Every media company in Neopia Central has probably had spies
out following us since this morning." Orayny raised an amused eyebrow at Celestilla's
"I'm certainly not carrying her," I protested
as everyone looked at me. "I've done my duty. Look at her! She can walk by herself."
Orayny set Wisteria down on the ground. She
had stopped crying for Orayny, but now she only blinked at us.
"She needs motivation," exclaimed Andromeda.
"I've got my ball. Maybe she'll chase it." She pulled a small rubber bouncy
ball out of her Aisha collar and threw it in the general direction of the hospital.
Wisteria's eyes lit up and she galloped after it, her tail slapping the ground
wetly as she went. The rest of us jumped up and hastily ran after her.
The only problem now," I panted to Orayny as
we gave chase, "is convincing Samaritain to see us."
To be continued...