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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 23rd day of Sleeping, Yr 23
The Neopian Times Week 59 > Continuing Series > Sibling Rivalry: Part Two

Sibling Rivalry: Part Two

by tdyans

Moeioe and Rooruon sat in the stands, watching the arrows fly and exchanging worried looks as they both noticed Achilles spending just as much time glaring at Max as at his target. Moeioe sighed. "We've got to think of something, Rooruon--and soon!"

     The mutant Cybunny leaned his head on a paw and put on his best thinking expression, but the truth was he wasn't much for coming up with ideas, as hard as he was trying. Luckily, Moeioe's face brightened a few minutes later. "I've got it!" he exclaimed. "I know the perfect birthday gift to give to Max and Achi!"

     "Birthday gift?" Rooruon exclaimed. "Moeioe, I thought we were supposed to be finding some way to get them to stop fighting!"

     "We are!" Moeioe replied, pulling Rooruon up out of his seat. "Come on, we've gotta get a message to Tdyans. We need her to send us something." Rooruon followed along obediently and the two were able to sneak away and back to the motel while Achilles and Max remained engrossed in their competition.

***

As Moeioe and Rooruon returned to the trio of stadiums that had been set up for the next day's tournament, their mission completed, they found that their brothers had moved on to the third stadium and the final part of their personal competition: jousting. Taggert was there also, having obviously been wrangled into bringing more necessary supplies and explaining to them just how the jousting worked. A pair of mechanical "horses" had rigged up in the center of the stadium. Really, they were a pair of wooden barrels with saddles on them, and a rope that could be moved back and forth with a crank was strung through each barrel. As he tried to chatter through the tension that emanated between Achilles and Max, the young Ixi noted that this had not settled very well with his mother. But she'd had no choice but to accept the arrangement, since none of the Unis, or even the Kaus, in Meridell seemed to like the idea of being anybody's "noble steed."

     "Where did you two get off to?" Achilles asked as he saw Moeioe and Rooruon approaching. Both opened their mouths to give some excuse, but Achilles cut them off with a wave of his paw. "Oh, never mind. Rooruon, I need you to help me by turning this crank here." He pointed the Cybunny toward one of the large cranks as he fitted a helmet down over his long, curling ears and climbed up onto his barrel.

     "Moeioe, come over and help me out," MaxKanine called as Rooruon headed over to assist Achilles. The faerie Moehog trotted over to the other end of the stadium to join Max and a similar barrel and crank. "We're tied now," the Lupe explained, with a determined expression set on his face. "That means whoever wins this wins the whole thing--"

     "And gets to call himself the oldest pet!" Achilles yelled from the other end of the arena.

     "Forever!" Max growled back.

     Once both Lupe and Gelert had mounted their wooden steeds and had their heavy lances--with padded ends to avoid any too-serious injuries--handed up to them, they both sat forward, staring ahead at each other with narrowed eyes and gritted teeth. Moeioe and Rooruon reluctantly backed away to man their respective cranks, waiting for the word from Taggert, who had moved around to stand facing the middle of the stadium, where the two barrels and their riders would meet. The Ixi raised one hoof in the air, held it for a few suspenseful moments, and then dropped it through the air with a swooshing sound and a shouted, "Go!"

     Moeioe and Rooruon cranked with all their might, sending the two barrels rocketing toward each other, while the two pets astride them lifted their lances and charged ahead with malicious grins. As the two brothers neared, their lances reaching out ahead of them and aimed right at each other, Moeioe and Rooruon let got of their cranks, which continued spinning away on their own, and covered their eyes, unable to watch the impact.

     There was a terrible crash, the sound of wood clashing against metal, a pair of thuds, and then silence. Slowly, Moeioe and Rooruon uncovered their eyes and turned to Taggert, wondering why they weren't hearing any triumphant yells from either side. Taggert stood in the center of the arena, staring down at the two unconscious pets that lay on the ground before him. Achilles and Max's lances had hit each of them at exactly the same moment, knocking them both out and off of their barrels.

     The Ixi exchanged glances with Moeioe and Rooruon and shrugged. "I guess it's still a tie."

***

Achilles and Max both began to regain consciousness in time to hear Taggert trying to reason with his mother in the background. "Mum, I really don't think that using the leeches is going to be necessary in this case." Madame Mavinna glared at him and he stuttered, "I mean, er, I think, milady, that thine leeches be a bit...drastic."

     "Question me not, Taggert!"

     "Yes, Mum."

     "Ye know not of what ye speak, young sir. A good leeching to drain the bad humour be just what these lads need," Madame Mavinnia said, looking and sounding far too delighted by her planned cure.

     Achilles and Max came swiftly to full consciousness then, opening their eyes wide and deciding not to mention any splitting headaches in hopes of avoiding a "good leeching." Thus, they both realised at the same time, as they looked about at their new surroundings, that they'd been stuffed side by side into the same motel room bed. They each scowled at each other, refusing to say a word, crossed their arms, turned away and scooted to the far edge of either side of the large bed.

     "You're awake," Rooruon said from where he had his front paws propped up on the foot of the bed to look in on his older brothers. He'd made sure to say it loud enough so that Madame Mavinnia sighed and left in a disappointed huff, but the smile that he turned back toward them after seeing this was not returned. Achilles and Max simply continued to stare crossly at opposite walls, and the Cybunny was soon frowning right along with them. Then he heard the bedroom door swing open again, and as he turned to see Moeioe balancing a nicely-wrapped package on his tusks, his usual happy demeanour returned once more.

     "Guys," Moeioe announced as he dropped the package onto the very middle of the bed, "Roory and I have a birthday present for you."

     Achilles and Max both turned a little bit to peer curiously at the package, making certain, however, that they were still not meeting each others' eyes. "But," Rooruon added, "it's for both of you--and you have to open it together or not at all." Now the two older pets looked up at each other with barely-contained snarls. Their glares communicated that they still wanted nothing to do with each other, but neither of them could allow a perfectly good present to simply sit there unopened and gnawing at their curiosities. Finally, their staring seemed to bring about some mutual agreement and they both grudgingly reached a paw toward the gift, ripping away the wrapping together.

     What was revealed was a large, thick book. As they leaned just slightly closer to it, and to each other, Achilles and Max both realised that the book was actually a photo album, and they had to scoot just a little bit closer in order to hold it up between them and open it together. The frowns that they'd both been clinging to steadily began to fade as they stared together at the three pictures on the first page. The first photo showed a young blue Gelert. He was surrounded by all sorts of toys and books, but he simply laid on the floor with his head resting on his paws and an expression of loneliness on his face. The second photo was of a young green Lupe, huddling shyly and uncertainly in a corner, all alone. Finally, the third picture showed the two young pets, their expressions transformed to ones of carefree joy as they tumbled playfully together on the floor of their NeoHome.

     By now, both Achilles and Max's expressions had softened completely and they were sitting shoulder to shoulder as they stared down at the visual story that the three pictures told. Finally, they looked up into each other's eyes.

     "Aw, Maxi," Achilles sighed. "I don't have any right to be jealous of you just because you were born a few days before me, when I was lucky enough to be born into a good home. I'm sorry you had such a bad start in life."

     "That's okay, Achi," Max said with a smile. "I shouldn't be jealous either, because I'm not sorry--if I hadn't had that start, I would have never ended up where I am now. And I'd have never ended up with a brother--and a friend--like you." Achilles smiled back and the two brothers embraced, as Moeioe and Rooruon at the foot of the bed let out simultaneous sighs of relief.

     "Now," Achilles said, pulling back a little, "what are we going to do about that tournament?"

***

The next day, Achilles and Max strolled across the grassy meadows of Meridell toward the Trio Tournament arena, where other excited tourists were already gathering together in anticipation of either participating in or watching the day's events. They arrived in front of a small booth where Taggert sat, looking harried already as he checked off those who had already signed up and were now arriving and took down the names for late sign-ups.

     The young Ixi looked up with interest at the cloud Gelert and green Lupe. "Well, what did you guys decide? Who's the oldest? Who gets to compete?" By now, even he was interested in the results of the previous day's events, and it looked as if the two guests were no longer feuding, so they must have come to a decision.

     Achilles and Max both smiled triumphantly, put their paws about each others' shoulders, and said in unison, "We're both the oldest!"

     "You're...both the oldest?" Taggert asked, taking a few moments to sort out just what that meant. "So, uh, you're... both going to compete?"

     They nodded together. "Yep," Achilles explained, "I'm going to do the sword fighting--"

     "And I'll be taking care of the archery," Max broke in.

     "And then we'll both do the jousting together," Achilles finished.

     Taggert's expression went from curious to worried. "Oh, I don't know if Mum's going to like that..." He trailed off, looking about as if he expected her to pop up just over his shoulder, as she did in fact have a habit of doing. But eventually his eyes fell back on the two brothers and the harmonious transformation that had come over them since the day before, and he sighed. "Oh, I suppose she's just going to have to deal with it, isn't she?" he said, offering his most rebellious smile and a wink as he handed over the sign-up sheet.

***

"Hey, second place isn't bad at all," Achilles said as the four brothers walked back to Madame Mavinnia's Magical Meridell Motel in the aftermath of the excitement of the tournament. He held up the silver trophy that he and Max had come away with, inspecting it proudly and wiping away an imaginary smudge with one paw. "After all, I'm the second oldest, and there's nothing wrong with that."

     Max chuckled a little at his brother and snatched the trophy out of the Gelert's paws. "Achilles, what are you talking about? You know that I'm the second oldest pet in the family."

     "No, no Max, I'm the second oldest--eight days younger than you, remember?" Achilles retorted, grabbing one of the trophy's handles and tugging it toward himself.

     Max kept a firm hold of the other handle and tugged right back. "Oh no, Achilles, I insist--"

     "Gu-uys!" Moeioe and Rooruon groaned in unison. At this interruption, the Lupe and Gelert turned to look at their younger brothers and then to look back at each other. Suddenly, smiles spread across both of their muzzles, and they broke down into uncontrollable laughter. Achilles81 and MaxKanine slung their paws affectionately around each others' shoulders as they held the silver trophy between them, and the sounds of their shared laughter echoed around the hills of Meridell.

The End


Author's Note: MaxKanine and Achilles81 turned two years old on September 18th and 26th respectively, and I'm still not sure which of them to call my "oldest" pet, but I love them both either way.
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Sibling Rivalry: Part One

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