A triumphant smile curved Achilles81’s cloud-colored
muzzle and his long, curling tail wagged excitedly as he approached the Air
Faerie, the blue lipstick that she had requested clutched in his jaws. Next
to Achilles, MaxKanine the green Lupe yawned, ready to go home after spending
the day helping his brother search for the item. Behind them, Moeioe and Rooruon
were playing an unbalanced game of tag, with the Faerie Moehog fluttering around
his brother’s head and darting just out of reach every time that the mutant
Cybunny tossed his oversized paws into the air to try to catch him. Moeioe giggled
mischievously each time that Rooruon failed to tag him, but Rooruon didn’t seem
to mind that he was perpetually “it.”
Achilles’ long ears twitched at the distracting
sounds of his brothers, but his eyes remained focused on the Faerie in front
of him, who was holding the lipstick at arm’s length and watching drool drip
off of it. “Er… I mean, Wow, thanks, you found my blue lipstick!” And with that
less than convincing statement, she turned around, sweeping her flowing blue
gown along with her and began to walk away. Achilles’ ears started to droop,
but then she paused and looked over her shoulder again. “Oh yes, I’m almost
forgot,” she said. “Your reward.” She waved one hand half-heartedly over her
shoulder and continued on her way without a second glance.
Achilles and Max watched as the ray of bright
blue light that shot from her hand whooshed right by the Gelert’s head and hit
Moeioe square in the chest. Moeioe let out an exuberant “Yippee!” at the feel
of the Faerie power rushing through his body as he shot up out of Rooruon’s
reach again, even faster than before.
Achilles scowled and muttered, “Air Faerie’s
Max looked from Moeioe to Achilles and back again.
“Okay, Moeioe, come on down now. It’s time to go home—I’m sure Tdyans is expecting
Moeioe fluttered obediently back down to the
ground, taking advantage of his newly-acquired speed to still stay just out
of Rooruon’s clumsy reach as the two of them led the way back home. Max watched
them for a few moments, chuckling, and then turned back to Achilles, who was
still frowning. “Oh, come on, Achi, don’t let it get to you. You’ll get your
turn to be blessed next time.”
“Ha, that’s what you said last time,
Max, and that time the Dark Faerie blessed Rooruon. The Dark Faerie always
blesses Rooruon, because she figures from looking at him that he must be evil!”
“That’s ridiculous!” Max said indignantly, and
Achilles nodded. “Everyone knows that the evil one in the family is you.”
“I kn—” Achilles stopped himself as Max’s words
registered and turned to glare at the Lupe, who was grinning disarmingly at
him. “Not funny, MaxKanine.”
“Sorry,” Max laughed good-naturedly. “I couldn’t
resist.” Achilles still did not smile back. “Aw, don’t dwell on it, Achilles.
You’ve just had a long day. A good dinner and you’ll feel all better.” Max looked
up at the familiar NeoHome that they were now approaching in the hazy light
of dusk and lifted his long nose into the air, sniffing a couple of times. “Speaking
of which, I smell…”
“Pizza!” Moeioe and Rooruon exclaimed together,
making a mad dash through the doorway of their NeoHome.
“Hey, wait up!” Max called, running after them
and seeming to forget all about cheering up Achilles. The Gelert sighed before
trotting through the doorway after his brothers. As he entered the living room,
he saw that they had already made their way into the dining room and he was,
for once, alone, listening to the muffled sounds of their happiness. Achilles
found himself smiling faintly in spite of himself at the smell of the pizza.
Dinner did sound good.
Taking a deep breath, he took a step toward the
dining room. But instead of landing on soft, flat carpet as he’d expected, his
paw touched down on something hard and oddly-shaped, and as he put his weight
on it, it slid out from under him. Achilles went flying, landing hard — and
nose-first — on the floor. “Ow!” he cried out in surprise and pain. Nothing
happened. Achilles lay still where he had fallen for a few moments, and then
called out even more loudly, “Ow-oooowww!” Once his cry had ended, however,
the living room remained as still and quiet as ever, and the happy chatter from
the next room persisted obliviously. Achilles frowned.
Then his eyes locked on the reason for his fall:
a blue toy car that sat a few feet away now, looking completely innocent. Growling,
Achilles picked himself up off of the floor, grabbed the toy, and stormed into
the dining room. “Moeioe,” he said, “how many times have I told you not to leave
your toys lying around on the floor?” But Moeioe didn’t seem to hear him — none
of his family did as they sat around the table eating pizza, talking and laughing
about their day.
Finally, his owner Tdyans looked up to see him
glaring down at all of them. “Oh, Achilles,” she said, not seeming to notice
his frustration, “where’ve you been?” Before he could answer, she spoke again,
pointing over her shoulder at the pizza box sitting on the counter. “Help yourself.”
Achilles opened his mouth to say something, but
his owner had already turned back to her conversation with Max. Sighing, he
dropped the toy car, watched it roll across the linoleum, and trudged over to
the pizza box. He threw the lid open and then stood staring down at the inside
of the box. “Where is it?”
“Huh?” asked Max, who was walking over toward
him with his plate, apparently ready for another slice. As he got closer, the
Lupe noticed the wide expanse of empty cardboard that Achilles was staring down
at in disbelief. “Oh, uh, we must have eaten it already, huh? Oh no, look, there’s
one slice left — there you go.”
Achilles picked up the piece of pizza in question
and looked at it sceptically. “Slice? More like a sliver,” he grumbled. But
he dropped the pathetic piece of pizza onto a plate and headed back over to
the table, squeezing into a chair beside Tdyans.
“What are we having pizza for anyway?” he asked
her, picking up his pizza and watching as what little topping it had slid off
of it and onto his plate with a squelching plop.
“Well, I didn’t want there to be any leftovers
to rot in the fridge or dirty dishes to deal with. I’m going away for a few
days, so you guys are getting a short vacation — at the Mountain Lodge, like
Achilles rested his head on his paws. “I could
sure use a vacation.” He sighed again, looking around the table at his family.
“I just don’t think I’m going to get one any time soon.”
No one seemed to hear him.
Achilles sat on the living room couch, trying to read the morning Neopian Times
before they had to set off. Moeioe was upstairs, doing last minute packing —
having ignored both Tdyans’ and Achilles’ warnings to get it done the night
before — and Max and Tdyans were helping him. Rooruon, on the other hand, was
sprawled out on his belly on the living room floor, watching the television
“We are here today to see if we can get an exclusive
interview with the… Chet Flash!...”
Achilles’ears twitched with each word from the
annoying Lenny hosting the television show. He lowered his newspaper and looked
down at his brother, clearing his throat loudly. “Roory, do you think you could
turn that down, please?”
Rooruon looked up at him and then reached out
with one large clumsy claw to turn the volume down, apparently happy to comply,
as he always was. But Achilles still found himself muttering, “With ears like
that, you’d think you’d have better hearing.”
The mutant Cybunny turned back to look at him
again. “What’s that, Achi?” Achilles just raised his newspaper again and said
Tdyans’ pets lined up at the front door, their suitcases by their sides, ready
to board the Uni taxi that waited for them outside. But first, of course, they
had to say goodbye.
Tdyans bent down and pulled Moeioe and Rooruon’s
front paws off the ground in a big hug. “Be good, you two. Have fun!” Moeioe
tried to look as if he was too grown up for such displays, Rooruon smiled from
ear to ear, and once released they both waved goodbye and lugged their bags
out to the taxi.
“Bye, Max.” Tdyans reached down and ruffled
the fur on the green Lupe’s head. Max smiled and licked her face goodbye, then
followed the others outside.
“Achi,” Tdyans said, finally approaching him.
The cloud Gelert smiled up at her expectantly. But instead of a hug or a pat
on the head, she dropped a heavy bag of Neopoints into one of his paws and stuffed
some papers into the other. “Here’s some extra money, for emergencies — and
a little bit for souvenirs, but don’t let them spend too much, okay? And here
are the forms confirming your reservations that you’ll need to show at the front
desk. Take good care of your brothers.”
“As always,” Achilles said, his ears drooping
as he followed Tdyans out the door.
The rustic lobby of the Mountain Lodge was bustling with visitors, Terror Mountain
being an especially popular vacation spot whenever the rest of Neopia was suffering
through the summer months. Achilles pushed his way through the crowds, dragging
his suitcase along with him and clutching the reservation forms in one paw.
Finally, he and the others reached the front desk, behind which was a large
yellow Tuskaninny who had his back turned to them as he busily shuffled through
papers. Achilles stared at the Monocerous head that hung on the wall over the
desk for a few moments, waiting for the Tuskaninny to turn around. Finally,
losing patience, the Gelert cleared his throat.
The Tuskaninny whirled around, his blubber shaking,
and Achilles found himself staring at the over-stretched white sweater that
he wore with the words “Welcome to Terror Mountain” stitched onto it. “Yes?”
the Tuskaninny asked.
“Oh,” Achilles said, moving his eyes up to the
manager’s wide face. “Er, my brothers and I have reservations for the weekend.”
He handed over the slightly crumpled forms.
The Tuskaninny took the papers with a smile
and examined them one by one. “Yes; yes, that’s fine; yes…. oh dear, it seems
there’s a slight problem, sir.”
“Huh, what’s that?”
“Well, these three reservations were all made
here — that’s fine. But you see, this fourth one — for Achilles81, is that you?
— wasn’t made with us. It’s for our sister Neolodge, the Presidential Palace.”
“Presidential Palace?” Achilles stared in disbelief
at the paper that the Tuskaninny held up for him. Of course, he was right. “Tdyans
must have made a mistake when she was placing the reservations….”
“Well, can’t you just switch Achi over to this
hotel instead?” MaxKanine spoke up from beside the Gelert
“Oh, I’m afraid not. Even if it wasn’t against
our policy to change reservations, we’re all booked up here. But I assure you
that the Presidential Palace, thanks to its, er… distinguished prices… has plenty
of room for one more.”
“But, but we always stay in the Mountain
Lodge,” Moeioe protested.
“Together!” Rooruon added.
Achilles, meanwhile, had remained staring at
the reservation form, his mouth slightly open, not knowing what to say. There
was a part of him, of course, that was objecting right along with his brothers.
But there was another part of him that was saying that this was distinctly…
a good idea. And that side seemed to be slowly but surely winning him over.
“Mr…. Achi, is it?” the Tuskaninny interrupted
“Achilles,” the Gelert corrected with a frown.
“Of course. Mr. Achilles, I’ve already signaled
to one of my workers that we have a VIP guest in need of transportation. I’m
sure that a premium Uni taxi is already waiting for you outside. May I fetch
someone to take your bags?”
Achilles looked from the Tuskaninny, then to
his forlorn brothers, and back. “Well, I suppose there’s nothing to be done.”
With that word, the Tuskaninny clapped his chubby
paws together briskly, and somehow hearing him over the incessant noise of the
lobby, a small blue Bruce came waddling quickly through the crowds. With a quick
salute, he grabbed Achilles’ suitcase and bag of Neopoints from his paws. “Oh,
wait a moment,” Achilles said suddenly, and instantly the Bruce spun around.
Achilles took the bag of NP back from him and turned back around to face his
brothers, who looked crestfallen.
“You’re… leaving?” MaxKanine asked.
“Well, I don’t have much choice do I? Oh, stop
worrying, guys, it’ll be fine. Here, Max.” Achilles removed a pawful of NP from
the bag and handed the rest over to the Lupe “Now, that’s for emergencies, and
a little bit for souvenirs, but don’t let them spend too much, okay?” he said,
wagging a paw at his brother and trying to keep from smiling at the thought
that for once he was handing over these responsibilities rather than taking
He turned and began walking toward the doorway
of the lodge, where the small Bruce was waving at him. Once outside, he couldn’t
help but marvel at the plush, roomy Uni taxi waiting for him. It was much nicer
than the standard taxi that they had all crammed into together that morning,
as were the Unis pulling it, who were both painted gold and didn’t look nearly
as bedraggled as the average taxi Uni.
“Goodbye!” Achilles called out to his brothers
as his taxi took off into the sky, suddenly more cheerful than he’d been all
week. “Max, don’t let Moeioe eat too much candy, and when you go out to play
in the snow, make sure that Roory wears a scarf, and…” His voice faded away
as the fancy carriage pulled out of earshot, and then out of sight, leaving
MaxKanine, Moeioe, and Rooruon standing outside, staring up at the sky, alone.
There was a knock at MaxKanine’s hotel room door. Bleary-eyed, the Lupe got
out of bed and opened his door to find Moeioe and Rooruon standing in the dim
light of the hallway.
Max looked at the room’s clock and winced at
the hour that could either have been categorized as very early or very late.
“You guys couldn’t sleep either, huh?”
They shook their heads and shuffled into the
room. “Nope,” Moeioe said. “I just can’t stop thinking about Achilles.”
“Poor Achilles,” Rooruon said, ears drooping.
Max sighed. He didn’t know what to do. Then suddenly,
as if it had been looking for him all night, an idea flew into his furry head.
“Hey, why don’t we go visit him tomorrow? He left us enough NP to make it there
and back, I’ll bet!”
Moeioe and Rooruon’s faces lit up, until the
mutant Cybunny remembered something. “But he said that money was only for emergencies…
“Well, this is an emergency!” Moeioe
said. “Our brother’s out there somewhere all alone! What’ll he do without us?”
“Yeah,” Max said, “and we can skip the souvenirs
just this once — for Achi.”
Moeioe and Rooruon both nodded, suddenly feeling
much better. The three pets snuggled up together in Max’s bed and finally managed
to fall asleep.
“Grape,” Achilles said. The yellow-colored, tuxedoed Acara who stood patiently
beside his bed reached over to a plate of grapes on the nightstand, plucked
one particularly juicy-looking one from the bunch, and plopped it into the Gelert’s
waiting mouth. “Thank you, Jeeves. Page.” The Acara delicately licked one paw
and then used it to turn the page of the book that rested on the pillow beside
Achilles read a few lines and then lay back lazily
on his own pillow, luxuriating in the feeling of the smooth silk that covered
the bed and staring up dreamily at the canopy overhead. “Ah, this is the life,
Jeeves,” he said. “Plenty to eat, plenty of peace and quiet, Neopets to wait
on you hand and foot, and best of all, nobody else around…. Well, almost nobody,”
he amended hastily.
“Please, sir,” the Acara said in his stately
voice. “It would be my honor for you to forget my presence entirely. I am here
only to serve.”
“Thank you, Jeeves.”
Just then, there was a knock at the door. Achilles’
brow creased, but Jeeves said, “I’ll get it, sir.” The Gelert smiled and lay
back once again with a sigh of contentment, wondering if it was the extra large
gourmet pizza he’d ordered. Jeeves’ voice broke into his daydream about the
extra cheese he’d requested. “It’s for you, sir.”
Achilles stuck his head curiously out through
the curtains that hung around the bed, and his jaw dropped. “Surprise!” his
brothers shouted as they came bustling into his room.
“What are you guys doing here?” Achilles cried
out, as Moeioe immediately leapt onto the bed and started jumping up and down,
Rooruon went over to sniff at the complimentary fruit basket, and Max headed
to the window to admire Achilles’ prime view of the hotel’s garden.
When they didn’t answer, he looked to Jeeves,
who stood straight and silent as ever beside the door, awaiting his next order.
Achilles spun around again to face his brothers with a growl. “I repeat: What
are you guys doing here?”
At the tone of his voice, they stopped what they
were doing and stared at him incredulously. “We came to keep you company,” MaxKanine
“Yeah, we thought you’d be lonely without us,”
“Lonely?” Achilles exploded. “Lonely!
Ha! For once I finally have something all to myself, with no one underpaw, no
one being noisy, no one making messes, no one to eat all of my food, and no
one to look after but myself… and you think I’d be lonely? I’m having the time
of my life — or at least I was!”
The others looked stricken. “Y-you didn’t miss
us at all?” Rooruon asked.
For a moment, Achilles wavered. But then he crossed
his paws, turned up his nose and said resolutely, “No.”
A moment of painful silence stretched across
the room. Then finally, MaxKanine spoke. “Come on, you two. I guess we’re not
wanted here. We’ll see you at home, Achilles… unless you plan to stay here forever,
“Hmph, wish I could,” Achilles stated, still
refusing to look at them as they filed out of the room. When the door finally
slammed behind them, he called out, “Good riddance!” and thought that for once
he’d actually been heard.
Achilles lay in bed that evening with the silk sheets pulled up over his head,
feeling miserable. The room was filled with the odor of the congealing cheese
from the pizza that he had managed to eat only one slice of before losing his
appetite. “What’s the matter, sir?” Jeeves inquired in his distant tone.
“It’s too quiet.”
“Is there anything I can do, sir?”
Achilles lifted his head to look at the Acara,
sending the sheets sliding down his neck. “Er, yes. Yes! Run around and make
noise, Jeeves! Play loud games and—and leave toys on the floor. Turn on the
TV and, uh, and eat some of this food, for goodness sake. I can’t eat it all.”
“I’m afraid that I’m not trained for any of
those things, sir,” Jeeves replied, and Achilles’ ears drooped.
“Well… do something,” the Gelert said,
walking over to stare out the window and feeling his heart sink with guilt as
he uttered the next words. “I-I’m lonely.”
Suddenly, there was another knock at the door.
“I’ll get it!” Achilles cried out before Jeeves could move. He dashed to the
door and swung it open. “Tdyans! What are you doing here?”
“I got home early,” his owner answered, looking
around in awe as she stepped into the luxurious room. “I already picked up the
other guys and took them home, and they told me you were here.”
“Oh,” Achilles said. “Did they, er… say anything
“Why yes, they did mention something about a
little incident this morning as a matter of fact….” The Gelert’s face fell in
shame. “Oh, Achi,” Tdyans cajoled as she led him over to sit on the bed beside
her, “you know your brothers. They’ll have already forgiven you by the time
you get home. What I want to know is what led up to that outburst of yours.
Achilles sighed. “I guess sometimes I just… miss
the old days, when I was an only pet, you know? I miss being the only one there
to get all the attention and the toys and books and food and… well, everything!
Being the one taken care of instead of the one taking care of everyone else….”
He paused, remembering the loneliness that he’d felt settling in after his brothers
had stormed off, despite having all those things he thought he missed. And he
realized something. “You know, I think it’s not so much being an only
pet that I miss, so much as being… your only pet.”
“Oh, Achi,” Tdyans said, pulling him into a
“Only sometimes, you know. I mean—”
“Achilles, I know you love your brothers. It’s
okay to feel jealous sometimes, even so. But Achilles,” she said, and he looked
up at her expectantly, “you know, you’ll never be my only pet again.” He sighed
and nodded, but she continued, “But you’ll always be my only Achilles81.” Achilles’
muzzle broke into a radiant smile. That was just what he had needed to hear.
“So,” he said, “I guess it’s time to go home
“Are you kidding?” Tdyans asked. “This place
is expensive and I’ve already paid for one more night. What do you say we live
it up while we can — just you and me?” Achilles laughed.
Achilles81 lay curled up in his owner’s lap, tail wagging lazily as she gently
scratched his head, eyes slowly drooping further and further as she read to
him from the book that she held out in front of them. He knew that tomorrow
he’d go back to his messy, loud, underpaw brothers. And he was happy about that.
But tonight, he felt like an only pet again… and for just a little while, it
Author’s Note: Achilles81 was the main character of my very first Neopets story,
way back in Issue 53 of the old style
Neopian Times. Since then, a lot has happened and a lot has changed, but it’s
been a great experience and I look forward to whatever the future holds.