"More tea, Mr. Penelope?"
The yellow Krawk plushie flopped forward in its
chair, smushing its nose on the table, as if in an uncanny response to the question.
Daine, a Halloween Ixi, poured some tea into the small cup in front of it and
went back to sipping her own. Amita, Daine's Shoyru friend, munched happily
on some cookies. Picking one up, she tossed it and bopped Daine in the nose.
"TAG! You're it!" the blue Shoyru cheered happily.
Daine blinked. "But it's not Tuesday!"
"Oooh yeeaah..." the Shoyru's voice and expression
drifted off, as if an epiphany to a long-puzzled question had occurred.
Daine giggled, then served more tea to the various
petpets and plushies arranged around the pink tiled patio table.
It was a bright and warm Spring day, a light
breeze riffling through the Northeast Garden plot. Taipei had taken the liberty
of naming every one of her gardens, all using somewhat confusing combinations
of the cardinal directions. Why, just next to the tiny tea party lay the East
Northern Garden and the North Eastern Garden. The Northeast Garden, where the
happy little company currently dined, was home to a very feminine landscape:
whites and pinks dotted the yard in both the forms of flowers and trees, along
with the pink tiled patio furniture.
"Ahem," Daine voiced in a light and proper tone,
"we shall now begin this meeting of The Neopian Tea Society. I do believe that
Mr. Pemberthy has some business to attend to?" Daine and Amita looked expectantly
at a Polarchuck as it chattered happily. It clapped its paws and drank some
tea once it had finished.
"Um, I thought his name was Charli," Amita announced,
"Not on tea day, Miss Amita! Hath thou any business
to announce to our fair... um... groupeth thingeth?"
Amita giggled. "Whyeth no-eth, Misseth Daineth!"
Daine laughed loudly and shook her head. "Thou
hast not need to use so many 'eths.' Anyway, on other business, Numair brings
us news from the western regions of Tyrannia. It seems that they may begin incorporating
more cheese into their omelette products. Now isn't that something?"
"Wow. Very fascinating," Amita nodded, the proper
amount of surprise on her face.
Taipei watched Daine from the small lounge room that opened into the gardens.
Thayet read quietly next to her, the Faerie Kacheek greatly engrossed in her
book. Taipei finally broke the silence with an observation.
"Daine's been a lot different since Jason left,
hasn't she? I mean, she's not quite as crazy and off-the-walls as she was before."
Thayet looked up from her page. "Yeah, I think
you're right. She hasn't said anything about it since the day you guys announced
his leaving, but I know she's sad. She's been naming and playing with a lot
of her plushies since." The Kacheek nodded towards the red Shoyru plushie that
sat next to Daine. "She hasn't named that one though. I think I know why, too."
Taipei sighed. "Too true. Jay did used to be
red, after all... I notice she doesn't really talk to that one, like she does
to the others. She just holds on to it wherever she goes. I think she favors
it even above Mr. Penelope."
"Do you... do you think we should do something?
To help her?" Thayet sat with her chin in her hands, thinking.
Taipei thought for a moment, then shook her head.
"No, I think this is something that just has to do with her. She can handle
it; I know she can. She's done a fairly good job thus far."
Amita soon went home, and the petpets went inside for a nap, leaving Daine
in the garden with her plushies. She rested a cheek on one hoof and munched
on cookies as she gazed at the red Shoyru plushie somberly. It gazed back at
her with its beady black eyes, shiny in the early afternoon sun. Its material
was whole and hardly worn, never having been seriously played with. Most of
the time, it just sat or was carried around gently wherever Daine went. The
Ixi obviously treasured it greatly, always careful not to spill on it or let
a crumb touch its crimson fabrics.
Indeed, Daine had changed since her brother's
departure for the high seas. Behind her ecstatic and cheerful green eyes lay
a depth of sadness and loneliness for the only one who had ever understood her.
Sure, she had a new friend that she could have fun with, but it wasn't the same.
"Everything was just so... so much more fun with
you around, Jay," Daine lamented softly. She poked one of the plushie's eyes
and smirked, the button sinking lightly into springy filling.
Daine stayed in the gardens until late in the
afternoons, frolicking through the grass and chasing bugs around. The sun was
nestled halfway down the western skies when she finally collected her things
and went in. Climbing the stairs to her room, she began to rearrange her plushies
and toys. Mr. Penelope went next to Snowy, the Snowager plushie, a rainbow reject
Cybunny plushie dubbed Lira, and a red Chomby plushie named Bill, on the window
seat in her room. Franklin, the blue Lupe plushie, and Ryssa, the pink Poogle
toy, sat on her bed. As for the Red Shoyru Plushie, it sat on the other end
of the window seat, away from Mr. Penelope, Snowy, and Bill. No other toys shared
its space: it was the only solitary toy in the room.
Finding her crayons and a coloring book, Daine
hopped downstairs and flopped onto her stomach in front of the Kauvara table.
She was still coloring when Thayet came in from tending one of the gardens.
"Whatcha doing, Daine?" Thayet set a fresh bundle
of Peabeanjay flowers in a vase on the table, then set one down next to Daine.
Daine shrugged. "Iunno. Coloring." She stretched
her neck over, picked the flower up in her mouth, and began to chew on in quietly.
Thayet watched as the Ixi colored. In every picture,
each of the pets soon sported crazy colorings and bizarre hairdos. Each of them,
that is, except for any Shoyru that happened to be there. Any of those were
Thayet flopped down next to her little sister.
"You really miss Jay, don't you?"
Daine stopped chewing for a second, blinked,
then started again, without saying a word.
"I miss him too, Ver. Probably not more than
you do, though. You two were bestests buddies. Well... you still are, you know."
Daine spit out the top of the flower and tucked
it behind an ear. "I know. Got any sugar packets?"
"Sure." Thayet grinned and fetched some sugar
for her little sister. She had just returned when Daine's head snapped up from
her paper, a haunted look on her face.
"Wh-what's the matter, Ver?" Thayet was a bit
scared at Daine's expression.
"The... cheese... MYNCI OF DOOM! DOOMIE DOOM
DOOM! BARREL O' MYNCI," Daine began to hop spastically around the room. "THAY
The Kacheek laughed, happy that her little sister
was finally acting normally. "Yes yes yes?"
The Halloween Ixi flopped onto her back on the
table and looked up at her big sister, eyes wide, hooves squishing her cheeks
together. "Play Barrel o' Mynci wiff me, pweeaaaassseee?!?!?"
"I think you're right," Thayet remarked to Taipei later that night. Veralidaine
had gone to bed some time before, and the two sat in front of the fireplace
while they read.
"About Daine, Ma. She totally spazzed out on
me this afternoon."
"Oh good. See? I told you she could deal with
Glittering sparks of light danced in the shadowed
dusk outside, while dreams of the better days drifted into the sleeping Ixi's