It was a couple hours after noon, and I was on the phone
"So, you going to go buy it then?"
"Yeah," I replied, "soon as I find someone who
feels like coming with me."
"Well, I still have to go shopping for FireDarkWolfX,
or I'd come."
"Don't worry about it. I'll just take Terraile
or MoonFall. Now, you sure Padiglione wants to go through with this?"
"Absolutely. She's ecstatic."
"All right then. I'll meet you at four."
I hung up the phone and walked upstairs to Terraile's
room. The Shoyru was sitting on her bed, reading.
"Hey Terraile," I said, hanging on the doorframe,
"want to come with' and buy the baby paintbrush?"
She nodded absently and found a bookmark, never
taking her eyes off the page until the last possible second.
"Told you that book was good," I said, heading
back down the stairs to Lady MoonFall's room.
She was also in there, and I gave her the same
invitation. She eagerly accepted, and I headed over to Aldrai's room to ask
him. He wasn't there, and for a moment I stood there puzzled.
"He's at Netsuko's, remember?" Terraile reminded.
Mentally cursing my horrid short-term memory,
I poked my head in Un-eairkagh's room. He wasn't there, but a note was. I picked
it up and read it with a soft sigh.
"So where's the bird-brain?" Terraile asked
once I returned to the living room.
"Off wasting his allowance on Kiss the Mortog.
The Shoyru rolled her eyes and led the way to
the front door.
"I don't think he even knows Padiglione wants
to be painted," I said thoughtfully, locking the door behind us.
"He doesn't?" Lady MoonFall asked quickly.
"Nope. She's been keeping it kind of quiet."
The two girls exchanged glances. I merely shook
my head and spread my wings, taking flight for Faerieland.
It wasn't hard to find the Hidden Tower. Ever
since I became the Essence of Neopia, I could see the currents of power at will.
Not even Fyora herself could cloak a tower so well that I could not detect the
spells worked on it to keep it invisible. To my sight, the tower was surrounded
by shimmering blue light, constantly shifting like the northern lights. I landed
at the entrance and entered, followed closely by Terraile and Lady MoonFall.
We climbed the stairs all the way to the top, where Fyora greeted us.
"Child_dragon! About time you came by for a
visit. You want anything? Tea? Neocola?"
The Faerie Queen started to bustle off and I
"Believe it or not, but I'm not here for pleasantries."
She turned and regarded me serenely.
"For business then."
"I must admit, I did not expect that. You really
aren't what I would call rich."
I flushed a bit and shrugged.
"Not enough to afford some of the better items
up here. But," I said, walking over to the shelf that held the baby paintbrush,
"I have enough for this one thing."
She stayed silent; I merely watched her curiously,
seeing a flicker of displeasure in her eyes.
"What's wrong Fyora?" Terraile finally asked.
"Un-eairkagh would never agree to be painted
I laughed, and Fyora's frown deepened.
"No, it's not for Un-eairkagh. He'd have
a Kau if I wanted to paint him baby. It's for Padiglione. She's finally decided
on a colour she likes."
The Faerie Queen sighed and immediately lightened
"Good for her. That'll be 200,000 Neopoints."
I sighed and scuffed at the ground with one
hoofed foot. I then glanced up again, giving her my most winning smile.
"Ya know Fyora, since there was that business
with the Shadows and all... how about a discount? After all, without me, Neopia
would have been overrun."
"No. 200,000 Neopoints."
I sighed and reluctantly handed the money over.
"That usually works with my physics teacher,"
"I'm not your physics teacher. And besides,
you did get quite a bit out of the Shadow incident. You have the spear, after
I nodded and placed the paintbrush in my backpack.
"All right. I gotta go meet up with Melody
and get Pad painted. And we need to fetch Un-eairkagh while we're at it. So,
see ya around Fyora."
"Goodbye child_dragon; MoonFall, Terraile."
We waved goodbye and exited the building. Once
outside, Terraile turned to give me a stern glare.
"'How about a discount?' Shesh, Kiddo, trying
to weasel something out of Fyora herself. The nerve."
"Works when I want to leave class early,"
I replied, and launched myself into the air, spreading my white Eyrie wings.
My two pets followed, and we soared in the direction of Meridell.
It never takes long to get anywhere flying.
I had no idea how I ever managed before I obtained wings – way back before Sabreur's
lab blew up. We quickly found the location of the game, and just as quickly
found Un-eairkagh. He wasn't hard to miss, really.
I stood a bit back as the striped Eyrie debated
between two Mortogs, then walked up and planted his beak on one, ‘kissing' it
in the unique way of an Eyrie. The Mortog gave a strangled sort of noise and
Un-eairkagh's face lit up with delight. The Grundo that ran the game merely
cringed. Sure enough, the Mortog gave a short ribbit, swelled, and exploded.
Un-eairkagh collapsed, laughing hysterically.
"Another round, sir?"
The Eyrie hurriedly handed over 50 Neopoints
and two more Mortogs were brought out.
"Un-eairkagh," I said, walking up to stand by
him as he debated.
"Oh hi Kiddo. Which one should I kiss?" he asked,
not even looking up.
I concentrated for a moment. The strands of
power were wrapped around one, but not the other.
"That one," I said, pointing to the one on the
He nodded and walked forwards, kissing it. A shimmering light surrounded the
Mortog and Un-eairkagh hurriedly backed off with a groan.
An Aisha princess stood there, beaming in delight.
"I am normal again! Thank you, kind sir," she
said, kissing Un-eairkagh on the cheek delicately.
I watched her go as Un-eairkagh desperately
tried to scour the fur off his cheek. Three more Mortogs were brought out by
"I'm not listening to your advice anymore,"
the Eyrie said, and kissed the middle Mortog
Sure enough, the thing swelled and exploded,
sending Un-eairkagh in hysterics again.
"Ewww..." Terraile muttered, "I just can't understand
why you play that game."
"It's fun!" he said, digging for more
"No more Un-eairkagh, we need to get to
the Rainbow Pool," I said in disgust, trying to wipe a Mortog stain off
"The pool? What? Why?"
I head Terraile and MoonFall explaining behind
me, so I merely concentrated on the stain, summoning water to hand and rubbing
out the slime.
"Okay, let's go Kiddo!" Terraile said brightly.
The two took flight and headed for Neopia Central.
"How could you...?" I heard Un-eairkagh choke
from behind me.
"What? The paint brush?"
"Yeah. I mean, BABY?"
"Look, it's not that big a deal. You don't
really have a choice in this," I said irritably, remembering Padiglione's
fretting over what my Eyrie would think.
"What?! I don't have a choice? But, you, no..."
I rolled my eyes and took flight. After a few
moments, I glanced back to a certain the Eyrie was indeed coming. He wasn't.
I gritted my teeth and dropped to within earshot; hovering a couple feet away.
"Let's go Un-eairkagh," I said sternly, "stop
acting so selfish."
With a sick expression on his face, Un-eairkagh
followed. He didn't say a word on the way to Neopia Central, and I tried to
ignore his moody sulking. The Eyrie did tend to be a bit possessive at times,
but I didn't think he'd react so badly to Padiglione's decision to be painted
Sure enough, Melody and her three pets were
waiting for us at the pool. Padiglione seemed unusually nervous.
"Thank you so much Kiddo," Melody said, taking
"No problem," I replied with a grin.
"I can't believe you actually bought me that,"
Padiglione said softly from beside me.
"Are you sure about this?" I asked the blue
"Yes. I'm positive. Just a bit scared now that
it's time, that's all."
I nodded and turned to Un-eairkagh, who was
standing a good distance away with a hunted look on his face.
"Un-eairkagh. Quit being such a baby!" I finally
exclaimed. "I think I should save up for another brush and get you painted too;
judging by the way you're acting today."
"What?" he said in disbelief.
"You mean he doesn't want me to be painted?"
Padiglione asked in a shaking voice from behind me.
"I'm guessing so," I grumbled, "he's being very
immature about it."
"Wait, no, they said!" he stammered, staring
at Terraile and MoonFall.
I glanced over at the girls, who were doing
their best to look innocent.
"They said, that, that, the brush was for ME!!"
The Uni and Shoyru broke into peals of laughter
while Un-eairkagh watched in inarticulate rage. I gaped in astonishment, then
burst out laughing myself.
"I'm so sorry!" I gasped, "I thought you were
just being rude. I had no idea Terraile and MoonFall lied to you! I would never
paint you baby, honest."
He shook his head in dismay.
"Whatever... let's just get Padiglione painted."
The Kougra stepped into the water and allowed
the brush to be gently run down her back. Her fur lightened to a tawny brown,
her ears grew larger, and her body shrunk. She looked up at us with big brown
eyes, and smiled. Dripping, she stepped out of the water and shook herself off.
"I love it!" she shrieked in a much higher-pitched
"You look so cute," Melody agreed, hugging her
"Oh, Un-eairkagh, look! See, isn't it wonderful?"
Padiglione exclaimed, running up to her best friend.
"Awww, looka da ickle baby," he cooed, "does
widdle baby Padiglione want a tummy rubby?
She glared at him, then opened her baby jaws
wide and clamped down on Un-eairkagh's tail. The Eyrie let out a shriek and
started hopping around, Padiglione still hanging on to his tail.
"Looks like her teeth are just as sharp as they
were before," I remarked to Melody.
"I guess so," she agreed. "Thanks again for
the paint brush."
"Not a problem! That's what friends are for,"
I said, casting a sly glance in Un-eairkagh's direction, where he was trying
to pry Padiglione's jaw off of his tail, whimpering in pain.