Lynella and her friend Cheriche started off their Sunday,
as always, by calling each other up and arranging to meet someplace to have lunch
and discuss their homework from Neoschool. At least, that's what they always meant
to do. Usually they just wound up goofing off and gabbing about their favorite
groups performing at the Tyrannian concert hall. That was why they were such good
Last week it had been Cheriche's turn to pick
where they went, and she had chosen scuba diving in Kiko Lake. They had both
talked about finding treasure, but had only found an old boot, which they had
asked a visiting tourist to take their picture holding up.
"I look so lousy in that picture," Lynella gabbed
now, looking at her copy. "My fur is all messed up, my wings are soggy, I'm
a wreck!" The blue Uni unconsciously preened as she talked, stretching her wings
"You look bad? I look like a drowned rat," Cheriche
retorted, waiting to be contradicted.
"All yellow Kyrii look like rats, it's no biggie,"
Lynella teased. "We need to get you painted."
"Oh be quiet," Cheriche laughed. "So where are
Uni Meadows was their favorite picnic spot by
far, and they went there at least once a month. They met there that Sunday with
loads of baguettes, sugary sweets, and best of all: makeup. They loved to experiment
with eye shadow and lipstick and dream of being painted.
"I'd be Disco," Cheriche said when the topic
came up. She argues for a different brush ever week, depending on her mood.
Lynella stuck out her tongue.
"Oh, no way, I'd be… hmm… well, Faerie is nice,
but don't you think gold would be gorgeous?" The Uni fluffed her wings again
as she always did when she was fishing for compliments. "And Faerie is so overdone,
you know?" Cheriche nodded. "Yes, gold is about the most beautiful color a Uni
"Silverbelle is much better," a voice said.
"Oh, don't be silly, you know Uni's can't be
silver," Lynella said.
"Uh, I didn't say anything," Cheriche replied.
"Who's there?" She looked around her, and saw near the woods at the edge of
the Meadow, only a few meters from them, a Uni that was more beautiful than
any she had ever seen, even painted. She had a silvery coat with a faint white
aura, and was wearing a sparkling bridle with silver bells tinkling harmoniously
as she walked. Cheriche wondered, with all those bells, how they had not heard
this strange Uni before.
"I didn't say silver, I said silverbelle,"
the new Uni replied. "My name is Dianne, and I am a silverbelle Uni. It's an
experimental shade that is available only to Unis, and then only to a select
few." Dianne danced about, jingling, as she spoke. Lynella stared at her in
absolute awe. Cheriche understood this. Lynella wanted nothing more than to
be painted, and certainly being painted this color- silverbelle- would fulfill
all of her wildest dreams and more.
"Who?" Lynella asked dreamily, in a voice usually
reserved for the lead singers of her and Cheriche's favorite bands. Her Kyrii
friend looked at her curiously, but Lynella didn't seem to notice.
"You have to be special, you have to
meet our requirements, and very few do," Dianne replied, and looked intently
at Lynella. "You have to be special."
"Uh, I think you said that already," Cheriche
said nervously. There was something weird about this Uni. "And by the way, my
name is Cheriche, and her name is Lynella." And she's special, even if she
isn't painted, she wanted to say but didn't.
"Special," Lynella murmured, staring at the
silver Uni. "I have to be special." Cheriche watched the silverbelle Uni. She
was beautiful… but she didn't seem very nice. Not mean, either, but there was
nothing kind about her. She seemed to be looking for something, wanting something…
"That's right," said Dianne, trotting smartly
from one side to another. "And one more thing." Oh, here it comes, Cheriche
thought. There would be a price, some ridiculously large amount of Neopoints.
She and Lynella weren't poor by any means, but they weren't rich either.
"Anything," Lynella whispered. Cheriche did
a double take upon hearing this. Lynella sounded… funny. As if she was not really
there, but dreaming and talking in her sleep. Cheriche looked at her nervously
and back to the Silver Uni, who seemed almost to be performing a rehearsed dance.
It was almost as if the bells were jingling the beat to some unheard song.
"You have to wear a silverbelle bridle." The
Uni stopped moving, and Lynella snapped out of it. Cheriche gasped and realized
that she had been holding her breath. "You mean I have to wear it after I'm
painted?" she asked. The silverbelle Uni laughed musically.
"No, silly, you don't have to be painted. You
look like this by wearing the bridle. It's Faerie magic, of course." Dianne
stopped and stared at Lynella with a strange mixture of coldness and intense
longing. Cheriche gently patted Lien's back, to make sure she was still all
there. Lynella flicked her tail absently as if Cheriche was a fly.
"Well, that sounds almost like an offer," Cheriche
said, wondering if there was any way to leave without angering this strange
Uni. There was something intensely weird going on here and she didn't like it
one bit. "Are you? Offering, I mean?" The Uni looked at her with annoyance.
"Of course I am. I'm not cruel." Cheriche frowned
in thought. "But what's the catch?" Lynella looked up at this, and she looked
at her friend as if waking up form a long sleep.
"Yes," Lynella said. "There must be some… some
catch. Something you want. Paintbrushes are expensive, and none make a Uni…
or any creature… as beautiful as you are. That bridle must be worth millions
of Neopoints." Lynella, who only a few minutes before has been preening and
considering herself quite pretty, now looked at her blue fur sadly, and her
eyes became bright with tears of disappointment.
"No catch," the Dianne said. "Just follow me,
and we can have a bridle ready for you within the hour." She flapped her wings
and leaped up in the air, floating down gently, bells ringing melodically. "But
you have to come now." Lynella's eyes, still bright with unshed tears,
again fixated in that strange way on the silverbelle Uni.
"I will come…" she started. "But, my friend…
can she…" Lynella stepped back a bit, and twitched her ears in indecision.
"If your friend really cares about you, she
will let you go," Dianne replied. Lynella's ears stopped twitching and turned
back, as if she felt angry, and she turned towards Cheriche and gave her a strange,
cold, un-Lynella look.
"Will you… let me go?"
"Of course I'll let you go," Cheriche said.
"If you really, really want to go, then of course…" Cheriche stopped suddenly.
What was she agreeing to? "Of course you can go, if you promise you'll come
"You can't make her decisions for her," Dianne
cut in, sounding angry and stamping in frustration.
You sure seem to be doing a good job of that
yourself, Cheriche thought, but said instead, "Well, I mean, we have Neoschool
on Monday," she stammered. "I mean, she can't miss it."
"You'll see her," the silver Uni said.
"On Monday," Cheriche repeated. Somehow it seemed
important for Dianne to say the words.
"On Monday," Dianne snapped. "Yes, you can see
her on Monday, whatever, but we have to hurry." The silverbelle Uni seemed
more than angry now- she seemed afraid. Cheriche was completely sure that whatever
it was Dianne wanted to do to Lynella, it was something Lynella would be better
"Lynella, I think we should go." Lynella turned
on Cheriche with rage plain on her face.
"If you don't let me go, and if you try to stop
me, we are through as friends," she half-shrieked, and whinnied in obvious frustration.
Cheriche blinked back sudden tears. She had known Lynella for so long. Lynella
must have known that was the one threat that would make her give in. Cheriche
knew something bad was going to happen, but maybe this Uni was just trying to
swindle Lynella. And Lynella would realize that, and they would meet in school
on Monday, and they would laugh about it. And they would still be friends.
"All right," she said. "All right, I won't stop
you, but please, think about what you're doing. I think it's a big mistake.
There has to be a catch Dianne's just not telling you!" Cheriche stood in place,
feeling helpless and hurt. Lynella narrowed her eyes, then turned away and strutted
towards the silverbelle Uni.
"There's no catch," Dianne said to Lynella,
just loud enough for Cheriche to hear. "You are just very special."
"Special," Lynella replied, and nodded as she
walked. Cheriche watched them go, and stood even after they had disappeared
into the woods, listening to the silver bells jingling faintly. Then she sat
down at the abandoned picnic and cried.
"What have I done?" she wondered aloud. "What's
going to happen to Lynella?"
To be continued...