Kallisari stared at Edna the Witch, fear and revenge warring in her heart.
She needed that Halloween paint brush dangling temptingly in Edna's hand. At
the same time, if she took it, Edna's curse would doom her to marrying her worst
enemy, which would probably be the very Kiko that had made life so miserable
that she'd traveled for days trying to find a way to protect herself!
Revenge won. "Curse" was something Kallisari had not had any experience in.
Come to that, this was the first time in her life that she'd had to worry about
anything for more than a day anyway, and "long term planning" was not in her
regrettably limited vocabulary.
"I'll take it!" she declared.
Edna's grin flashed even more blackened teeth. "Here ya go, then, dearie, and
don't say you weren't warned!" Her cackle followed Kallisari as she left the
clearing in the Haunted Woods at top speed.
Kallisari forgot all about her sore bottom, letting it rub itself raw as she
pulled her tail flukes over the roots of the trees. The trees themselves writhed,
but she ignored that, too. It wasn't until she was on the outskirts of Central
Neopia that the next question entered her mind.
Now that she had the paintbrush, how was she going to use it??? Kallisari
moaned as she collapsed. Hope and enthusiasm fled, letting her body remind her
again of its needs. Everything hurt. She'd been on land too long! But she still
kept a tight hold on her precious paintbrush as she limped into the central
marketplace. It was deserted. Everything was long shut, with all of the Neopets
safely tucked in bed... or else exploring some of the night spots elsewhere.
Water! She had to have water! Kallisari's eyes widened with amazement
as she saw a huge rainbow glowing in the middle of the square. Then she let
out a small shriek of delight as she saw the pool it ended in. She immediately
dived in, not thinking that a pool with a glowing rainbow in it might be magical.
At first she reveled in the feel of the water as it caressed her tail flukes,
but then she found herself sinking! Now, Peophins know how to swim, and Kallisari
had swum all her life in her home river. But this didn't seem to be normal!
She gulped for air as she went down. Suddenly it seemed as if the glowing rainbow
had swallowed her. She was totally blinded with the multi-hued streaks of light
that surrounded her until whump! She landed in a rounded chamber flooded
with peach-coloured light.
"Where am I?" she wondered aloud to herself.
A slightly friendlier cackle than Edna's sounded behind her. "You're in the
heart of the Rainbow Pool, little lady." Kallisari blinked as she beheld a sprightly
figure sitting behind the desk. "My name's Jack. What can I do for you?"
"I don't know," Kallisari said miserably. "I'm kind of lost. I just wanted
to get a bath before trying to figure out how to use this." She held up her
Jack doubled over laughing. "Lady, the faeries are watching out for ye! You
just landed in the one spot in all of Neopia where we can handle that little
Kallisari's ears perked up, and her heart sang a happier tune. "You can? How?"
"Step right this way...."
Some time later, Kallisari was staring happily at herself in a mirror. Her
black cape and legs were nice, but she was reveling in her new hat. She tugged
on it again, ever so slightly. The minute adjustment was more to reassure herself
that it was actually there where she had so longed for it to be!
"It's wonderful," she sighed dreamily.
Jack leaned against the wall, grinning. "Yep, one of my finest paint jobs,
if I do say so myself. Tell ya what," he winked, "seeing as how you've been
so nice, I think I'll throw in a little extra."
Kallisari brightened. This sounded good! "Extra?"
"Yep! Here, take this," he said, handing her a broom. "Not part of the standard
paint job, but hey, you're not my usual customer, either. You wouldn't believe
some of the attitudes I get... they wander in here, expecting me to bow and
scrape because they have this 'really kewl paint brush'. Ick... anyhow, take
it, it's yours."
Kallisari held the broom loosely in her hooves and stared it at blankly. "I...
thanks, but I..."
"Hey, it goes with the outfit. Real witches are always supposed to have a
broom, it's how they fly around."
"Fly? You mean I can..."
"No! No, no, no! And another no! See, honey, it's just a costume- a paint
job, get it? You're painted to look kinda like a witch."
"Oh!" Things suddenly clicked in Kallisari's mind. "So that's why Edna had
a hat just like mine. She didn't need a paintbrush, because the brush just copies
what she already had!"
Jack grimaced. "Yeah. Steer clear of her, she's bad news."
Kallisari looked at Jack's sour face and decided not to tell him where the
paint brush had come from. "Thanks, but if I can't fly, what do I use it for?"
Jack grinned. "Well, you can always use it to sweep."
"Sure! That's what it's originally for. Here, let me show you...."
Kallisari stared in fascination as Jack demonstrated. She'd lived all her
life in a river, or a forest. Dirt was dirt, and the idea of "clean" hadn't
occurred to her until she saw Jack sweeping away some loose paint dust on the
floor. "That looks like fun!"
"Well, some people might think so," Jack replied.
Kallisari failed to catch the dry note in his voice. Besides, she had just
thought of another use for the broom. "I'll take it!" she said. "Thanks so awfully
"Not at all. Take care of that paint job, now!"
"I will!" she replied cheerfully. Crossing over to the portal, she looked
at the glowing wall of light dubiously. "Uh... how do I get back?"
"Just dive in, my young Peophin!" Jack called.
That sounded good enough to Kallisari. She jumped in, and sure enough, the
whirl of light this time buoyed her up until she was carried to the surface
of the small pond. She crawled out to see the first faint glimmerings of dawn
on the horizon. All night! Well, it had been worth it. She swayed home, humming
to herself. She was so caught up in her enraptured daydreams that it wasn't
until she got back to the banks of her home river that sleep finally demanded
Funny, she thought as she drifted off, things haven't hurt since
I got painted... this paint job must have cured my land problems too...
Kallisari awoke the next morning with a rumbling stomach. Her travels from
the day before had left her famished for food! She headed straight for her usual
negg patch to eat some health neggs. She was almost full before she stopped
to realise that she hadn't seen the Kiko. Well, it would come, she knew, and
she was ready for it!
She didn't have long to wait. She was leisurely strolling back to the river
when Wham! That all too familiar weight slammed her down to the ground.
She pushed herself back up, and her hat fell off her head.
"Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow!"
Kallisari laughed at the sight of the Kiko, upside down on the ground with
her hat shoved into his bottom. "Serves you right!" she chortled. "You've been
making my life miserable, you rotten Kiko! And not only do you get that, but..."
she grabbed up her broom. "You get this! and this! and this!
" With every repetition of the word, she whacked the Kiko. He hollered in
time to her whacks, but after the first sentence, Kallisari switched to simply
yelling "Bad Kiko! Bad, bad, bad, bad!"
"Ow! Ow! Help! Murder! Mercy! Ow! OWWW!"
"Bad Kiko! Bad-bad-bad-bad!"
After three or four minutes, both of the combatants were totally exhausted.
Kallisari slammed the Kiko up against a tree trunk with her broom, then leaned
back and braced her weight on it while she panted. The Kiko by this time had
given up trying to say anything and was simply crying. Kallisari began to feel
just a tiny bit sorry for her former tormentor, but as she remembered the misery
he'd put her through, her resolve hardened. It might not be fun, but it had
to be done or she'd never be able to eat in peace again.
"Hee...lllp, Pw-w-lease, help!" the Kiko bawled, waving its little arms in
Kallisari stared in fascination as her hat bobbed up and down from the Kiko's
futile attempts to right itself. "If I help you, do you promise not to bother
me again?" she asked.
"Yes! I pw-w-romise!"
"Never again? Ever? As long as you live?"
"Never! Honest! I promise! Just help me up!"
"OK, but if you try it again, next time I won't!"
The Kiko just pulled in on itself and cried some more. Kallisari's ears drooped.
She really didn't like this at all. Well, it was easily cured. With a firm tug,
she managed to pull her hat loose from the Kiko's bottom. "Oh!" she stared down
at the bloody hole and looked at the dark stains on her hat. On an impulse,
her tongue darted to her hat tip, and she winced at the coppery taste.
The Kiko's cries reminded her of what she'd been doing. "Oh, yes!" she murmured.
Then, bracing herself against the tree, she pushed with all of her strength
until the Kiko was rolled over onto its bottom. It lay there hiccuping for a
Kallisari watched as her now former tormentor slunk away, hopping slowly down
a small path. "Ow, ow, ow" was the tune it sang, with another "ow" every time
it hit the ground.
Guilt still threatened to plague poor Kallisari, but it was driven back as
she realised that Edna's curse hadn't come true! "Hey, I did it!" she laughed
delightedly. "I got revenge on him, and I didn't wind up marrying.... him."
A strange look crossed her face as she thought back. A picture of the Kiko's
bottom ran through her mind, and then she giggled.
"So that's why it didn't work," she crowed. "It wasn't a he after all- it
was a she!"
Kallisari strolled slowly back to her river, making sweeping gestures with
her broom along the path in front of her. Humming a happy song, she dove in,
and proceeded to try and find some of her Water Faerie friends so she could
show off her new paint job.
The faeries laughed and played with her. Kallisari found that her new hat
didn't help at all in her swimming. She still loved it, though. She also had
fun with using her broom to help steer her course as she swam in the water.
All sorts of tight turns and tricks were possible, she found, and although Jack
had told her she couldn't fly with it, she came close to it as she played underwater.
Her new black cape came in handy when it was time to hide. She would become
a dark black spot on the bottom of the river instead of a bright blue one. More
than once, she managed to dine on fish that she'd never been able to catch before,
simply because they'd always seen her. Now she could sneak up on them from ambush!
She explored on land more, too. Her thoughts that her new paint job had cured
her of her land problems proved entirely correct. She could sway rhythmically
around on land all day without a problem or care in the world. Indeed, it seemed
that she didn't have a care in the whole wide world!
And that, dear reader, is where the story could have ended. After all, Edna's
curse was defeated, and Kallisari had her heart's desire. Her life could go
back to the idyllic paradise that it had been.
But fate had stranger things in store for Kallisari. She was to find that
a curse wasn't so easily fixed. And, too, there was the matter of being a little
more careful about which neggs she ate....
To be continued...