Lyla the brown Ixi paced around the room, walking on
the luxurious carpet of Astrovilla Hotel. Hotel? It was a palace! Her owner,
Jade, had decided to give her and her siblings a New Year break. And since Jade
was out shopping and Ferry was at the Secret Laboratory, she was the oldest,
with nobody to boss her around -- which was great! She loved babysitting Cynna
and Rine, though Cynna insisted that she could take care of herself. Lyla had
to admit Cynna was right. She, Lyla, was seen to be the Girl-Baby of the family.
But Cynna doesn’t know how to wash dishes, clean the floor and do the laundry,
she consoled herself. And as she stared around the beautiful room, there were
no chores to do here. Servants rushed in and out of the rooms, cleaning and
tidying every two hours.
"You look deep in thought."
Lyla jumped and turned around to see a yellow
Grarrl standing in the doorway. She stepped back. "Who're you?"
The Grarrl snorted disbelievingly. "It's me,
"It turned you into a Grarrl?" Lyla gaped. She
immediately decided that she didn’t like Grarrls. The fierce, uncontrolled look
did not suit her studious, understanding elder brother.
Ferry sensed what she was thinking. "I don’t
like it very much either," he admitted, "I even have to fight to remain my own
brain. Stupid Grarrl keeps trying to make me say mean things and trample around
like some Tonu."
"Hope you change soon," Lyla murmured. Suddenly,
a burst of jealousy had sprouted inside her. Why did Ferry get to be labbed?
Why? Why not her?
"I'll be going to scare Cynna," Ferry said. He
walked away, only it looked more like limping as he tried not to stomp.
Lyla spotted a picture of an Ixi on the wall.
She had never paid much attention to it before, but now she did. This was a
Faerie Ixi! And what a beautiful one, too! She began to feel excited. Would
it be possible for her to look like that? She rushed to her mirror and tried
to imagine a curl on her head, purple fur, and wings… best of all; she would
be able to get rid of that ridiculous collar. Yes, she definitely wanted to
be painted Faerie.
"Good afternoon Madam! It's great to see you again! What can I do for you today?"
the Bank Manager Skeith greeted brightly.
"I'd like to take some money out," Lyla said
earnestly, "enough for a Faerie Paint Brush."
"I don’t know," Lyla said blankly, "the vault
_jade_em_ withdraws and deposits from."
"_jade_em_, eh?" the Manager drawled, "well,
how do I know you're not a thief?"
"I'm her pet!" Lyla said irritably, jabbing a
hoof at her collar, which had the words Lyla1152, 67940 Fruity Path, Mystery
Island. Owner: _jade_em_ neatly engraved onto it.
"I see," said the Bank Manager, "so that'll be…
" He checked a vault number in his desk. "Yes - follow me please, Madam."
He heaved his bulky body up, lumbered over to
a vault and opened it, Lyla following close behind.
"All right," he said, revealing a Number Pad
and a few buttons.
Lyla stared. "What?"
"Well, what do you want to do?" it was the Skeith's
turn to snap. "Make a withdrawal, eh? Well, press the buttons!"
"So I just press the number I want on the Pad
and then hit W?"
"YES! Now HURRY UP!"
Lyla reached up and hit number 4, then 0 5 times.
She pressed the Withdraw button, and hey presto! 400,000 NP was clutched safely
in her hoof.
"Thank you!" she said, turning and running out
of the Bank. She had the money to buy herself the desired Faerie Paint Brush!
But where could she buy one? Well, that was easy.
A shop in Faerieland! The Hidden Tower!
"Welcome to Faerieland," the Faerie greeted, as Lyla stepped onto the snow-white
fluffy cloud. She walked over to the Hidden Tower, staring around at the cheery
place as she went. She spotted a few pets painted Faerie, and her urge to look
like that as well built up higher. She reached the invisible entrance to the
Hidden Tower and started to climb… up, up, up.
"Hello," she panted, when had finally got to
the top, "I'd like… a Faerie Paint Brush."
"Sorry, no Faerie Paint Brushes in stock right
now," said Fyora in a musical voice.
Lyla groaned. "Where else can I get one?"
But Fyora need not answer. She had a second idea.
An idea that, if she had tried first, would not have troubled her to go all
the way to Faerieland. She raced back down to Neopia Central as fast as she
She burst into the Auction House just as the sky was a brilliant pink glow.
"Where's the Auction Genie?"
Nobody heard her in the rumbling noise of hammers,
calls and shouts. A Supernova was handed to somebody who had offered ten million
NP, and all the other rich people who had bid for it went out, disappointed.
Lyla found people squishing and pushing her as they all tried to cram through
the tiny exit at once.
"By yourself, kid?" a growling voice called.
Lyla turned. "Yeah. I want to bid for a Faerie…"
but the look on the Auctioneer's stern face cut her off.
Too young," he grunted, "out."
"I'm not too young!" Lyla argued back indignantly.
"S'cuse me, but when I say you're too young,
you are. Now OUT."
There was nothing she could do. Wearing a sad,
defeated expression, 400,000 NP still clutched tightly, she turned and trooped
after the humans.
It was as Lyla stepped out of Astrovilla's superbly grand elevator that it
hit her. She needn't even spend 2 NPs! Of course, why hadn’t she thought of
Just one fire of the Lab Ray can't be too
risky! she thought to herself, galloping over to Ferry's room.
"Lyla! Where have you been? You were gone for
4 hours!" Ferry said in amazement as he flung open the door.
"Ferry, can I ask you a favor?" Lyla asked sweetly.
"What?" Ferry was suspicious.
"Well… I'd really like to be the lab rat," Lyla
Ferry jumped. "What? But the Ixi is Jade's favourite
species! What if you turn into a Mynci?"
"Oh, it'll only be for once," Lyla simpered,
"I mean, the Ray almost never changes your species first time…"
Ferry thought it over. "Well… all right," he
sighed, "but only once, remember! And don’t blame me if anything happens to
The next day, Lyla went out (unnoticed by Jade) to the Secret Laboratory instead
of Ferry, who lounged around reading books. She walked to the Pier, where large
ships roared around. She walked the length of the pier before spotting a small
rowboat the size of the Bank Manager Skeith. She looked around. Nobody was watching.
Quick as a flash, she pushed it onto the water, jumped in, picked up the oars
and started to row.
To her surprise, she found rowing quite easy.
But maybe that was because the wind was blowing in the direction she wanted
to go: Toward Mystery Island. She checked the Secret Laboratory map. Yes, it
was definitely that way. Breathing in the sea air, with the waves lapping gently
around the boat, she leant back and relaxed.
It took longer to arrive than she thought. Ferry
must've taken a ship when he went there. An hour passed. An hour and a half.
The sky began to go from a bright blue to dull grey. And it wasn’t so relaxing
anymore. The boat rocked and turned. Lyla stopped resting and rowed.
Finally! Mystery Island came into view as a dark
green chunk, no larger than Lyla's hoof. But soon, it began to get bigger and
bigger… until at last she washed ashore.
Ferry daydreamed, watching the hazy sky with little interest. He was strong
and clever… his sisters loved him and Rine particularly worshipped him… yes,
he was definitely well off, not to mention an excellent owner… and Lyla was
on Mystery Island, labbing…
Labbing? Ferry sat up straight, bolt upright.
What had been thinking about, letting Lyla go off like that! He turned to Rine
"You two! We've got to rescue Lyla!"
"Where is she?" Cynna asked curiously, her purple
Cybunny ears folding back.
"I let her take my fire at the Lab Ray," he told
her grimly. Cynna and Rine gasped.
A few moments later, the three siblings were
hurrying outside, leaving a note for Jade to explain where they had gone.
Lyla wandered around Mystery Island. She was very poor at map reading on land.
Oh, why had Ferry not accompanied her? It would have made everything so much
She finally deciphered from the confusing piece
of paper that she was supposed to be heading north. So north it would be. She
tucked the map back into her pocket and carried on with her journey.
Now she came to think of it, was it so good to
take this risk? What if she turned into a male? UGH! She could hardly bare to
think about it. And as Ferry had proved to her, some species' instinct took
a little getting used to… but she had said so herself that species never change
first time! And yet… she knew in her heart that it was probably coincidence.
Ferry, Cynna and Rine rushed to the Pier. There seemed to be a great fuss going
"What's happening?" Rine asked, grabbing a passer-by
Kyrii with his Christmas-painted Shoyru paw.
"Somebody has stolen the rowboat!" the Kyrii
answered in anguish, breaking free from Rine's slack grasp and running on her
The three looked at each other. They all wore
a troubled face. "Three guesses who stole it!"
"C'mon, we've got to board a ship!" Ferry said,
after they had stood in silence for a full minute.
Cynna and Rine simply nodded their agreement.
They trooped up the fastest ship that was going
in the next five minutes. The wind slapped their faces as the great ship whirred
"Do you think Lyla has already done it?" Cynna
asked anxiously, holding her hat to prevent it being swept away by the wind.
Ferry turned to her. "We've got to hope she hasn’t.
After all, a boat is slow."
"But what if she drowned? What if she didn’t
get there at all?"
"What if, what if," said Ferry, trying to block
out the fact that he was thinking the same thing, "stop asking that!"
They arrived on the sandy bay of Mystery Island
in a matter of 10 minutes or so. Jumping off the boat onto the familiar place
where their Neohome was located, they all smiled in spite of themselves.
"Come on, I'll take you guys through the shortcut,"
Ferry said, looking determined to track Lyla down.
Lyla stopped outside the Laboratory door, having found it at last. She shivered,
trying to stall for time. She didn’t really want to do it now. But Ferry wasn’t
here, he wouldn’t be, and they couldn’t keep the map forever. You could only
use one set per year, and she would be wasting one of the precious 365 days.
Whimpering, she slowly, nervously, opened the door…
Ferry, Cynna and Rine cut through the crowd, dodging around rocks and splashing
across pools. Cynna and Rine were quite out of breath. Ferry had not mentioned
so much movement in the shortcut, and yet they forced themselves to go on.
Just when it seemed like their legs would work
no longer, Ferry called, "We're here!"
Cynna and Rine stopped gladly, and stared at
the place Ferry was pointing to. It was a small tunnel-like entrance.
"Leads into the corridor," Ferry said knowledgeably.
He went down on all fours and crawled inside, Grarrl tail swishing behind him.
Lyla shrieked as part of the wall shifted over,
revealing a yellow Grarrl.
"Shush! It's Ferry!"
"Ferry! How did you get here?"
"Don’t think I don’t know the way," Ferry said,
rolling his eyes as Cynna and Rine appeared after him.
"Oh, can you take it as usual, Ferry?" Lyla asked,
Ferry grinned. "That's what I'm here for." He
went through a door. Lyla, Cynna and Rine listened to something zapping inside,
and then Ferry walked out.
"Gained three movement points! Better go along,
"You got her!" Jade said in relief, holding the note as they piled into the
hotel with broad but sheepish grins on their faces.
"Sorry we took so long, Jade," said Ferry pleasantly.
"And I've decided that I like being a brown Ixi,"
Lyla announced proudly. She glimpsed a picture of a starry Lupe upon the wall.
True, it was a Lupe, but she was sure starry would look perfect on an Ixi…