At 68477 Aisha Ave., Korris, a shadow Peophin, brushed
her hair one more time, carefully pulling it to the side and fastening her lucky
"Are you sure?" her oldest sister, Bubbles,
a white Lupe, asked.
"Ummm..." Korris glanced in the mirror again and
readjusted her hair.
The middle sister, WinterPrincess, a faerie Aisha,
rolled her eyes. "We've been doing this for hours. Hurry up and pose already."
"These things take time. You don't get a perfect
Beauty Contest picture without effort." Korris frowned at her reflection. "Are
you sure I shouldn't draw a picture instead?"
"Yes," her sisters said in unison. Korris' last
attempt at a self-portrait looked like a potato with a tail.
"Maybe I should wear my hair to the other side."
She pulled out the barrette and began to redo her hair.
WinterPrincess began drumming her fingers. Patience
had never been her strong point. "Come on already. Just pose so we can go do
"You don't understand. This is important. If
I'm going to win the Beauty Contest, my picture has to be perfect!" Korris stopped
styling her hair and stared dreamily into the mirror. "Do you think Ryshu ever
watches the Beauty Contest?"
Bubbles started to laugh and tried to turn it
into a cough. "I don't know if he has time. He has a lot to do, what with the
Training School and all."
SQ, WinterPrincess' Kadoatie, flicked her tail
at WinterPrincess before she could comment on Korris' crush. After all, it wasn't
that long ago WinterPrincess had decided she was going to marry the lead singer
of Chomby and the Fungusballs.
"I have an idea," WinterPrincess said. "Why
don't you dress up like a princess and we take your picture in front of the
palace at Meridell?"
Korris jumped up and hugged her sister. "That's
perfect! You're a genius! How do you dress up like a princess? I'd better call
IceQueen!" She rushed off to call her friend.
Bubbles looked at WinterPrincess in surprise.
She hadn't expected WinterPrincess to help Korris take even longer.
"This way we at least get a trip to Meridell
out of the deal," WinterPrincess whispered.
As soon as their guardian, Woof, returned, Korris
ran up to her, nearly tripping over the hem of her purple dress. "I have to
go to the Beauty Parlour! I don't have any princess make-up!!"
"You spent your entire allowance there last
week," Woof pointed out.
"But I didn't buy any princess makeup. That
Woof raised her eyebrows. "Well, it's your money.
If you're sure, I'll take you."
About fifteen minutes later, Woof and Korris
returned. Korris carried a bag of what she had deemed princess makeup. Neither
Bubbles not WinterPrincess could see the difference between that and any other
kind of makeup, but they took her word for it.
Korris checked her reflection one last time.
"Let's go to Meridell!"
Bubbles picked up the camera. WinterPrincess
was already out the door and halfway down the street by the time the other two
got out of the house. Korris walked slowly so as not to risk damaging her princess
costume in any way. Bubbles, like a good big sister, tried not to hurry her
too often. Finally, they reached Meridell.
"Picture first," Bubbles said. "Then we can
explore if there's time."
WinterPrincess sighed loudly.
Korris surveyed the castle, trying to find the
perfect spot for her picture. After seventeen rejected poses, she settled on
one in front of the castle.
"Okay, say cheese," Bubbles said.
Korris did her best princess smile. Of course,
she'd never actually seen a princess smile, but her sisters assured her it looked
Korris insisted Bubbles take four pictures, just
in case one didn't come out. She watched them develop eagerly. WinterPrincess
thought they all looked exactly the same. Korris, however, agonised over which
one was the best.
While she studied them, WinterPrincess and Bubbles
wandered away to explore the palace.
"Korris is sure taking this seriously," WinterPrincess
said, watching as Korris finally eliminated one of the four pictures.
"I hope she won't be too disappointed," Bubbles
WinterPrincess frowned. "What do you mean? I
thought her picture was cute."
"So do I, but there are some talented artists
who enter. Not to mention, many times the contestants belong to a popular guild
and can afford to spend hours seeking votes on the message boards. It's not
just who has the best picture."
"I guess you're right." WinterPrincess looked
back at her younger sister, who now had it down to two pictures.
"I'm not saying she won't win," Bubbles said.
"Like you said, her picture's cute. There's no reason she can't win the whole
WinterPrincess nodded absently. Clearly, she
hadn't heard a word Bubbles had just said.
"What are you thinking?"
"If it's based on the most votes, then all we
have to do is get her name out, right?"
"Ri-ight." Bubbles246 studied her sister with
"And most people use guilds, shops, message
boards, stuff like that, right?"
"That's right." Bubbles246's apprehension became
downright dreadful. She knew that look in WinterPrincess' eyes all too well.
"I think I have an idea."
The next day, WinterPrincess got to work. She
put Bubbles246 in charge of canvassing the chat boards. Actually, Bubbles was
doing that because when WinterPrincess explained her plan, Bubbles had said
something along the lines of "You're crazy" and decided to have no part in it.
WinterPrincess sighed. Her sisters never appreciated her genius.
Her sisters never appreciated her genius because
her schemes rarely worked out. Bubbles was remembering this as she wrote an
advertisement for the message boards. There was the time WinterPrincess took
it upon herself to paint a mural in the living room, although she was possibly
a worse artist than Korris. Then there was the time WinterPrincess decided to
go into restaurant business, leaving them with a Safety Deposit Box filled with
Tombola foods. Bubbles didn't think WinterPrincess' latest plan would go much
WinterPrincess was far more confident than Bubbles
as she and SQ stood by the Rainbow Pool, covered in paint. A few pets had made
comments like "Aren't you supposed to wait until you're in the pool to paint
yourself?" but they ignored them. WinterPrincess shifted the banner she held
under one arm and flew up several feet to get a better look at the line. Meanwhile,
SQ darted around the pets waiting in line.
"Well? Any Faerie Paint Brushes?" WinterPrincess
asked the moment SQ returned.
SQ nodded, clicking her concern.
"Oh, stop it. This will work."
And if it didn't, WinterPrincess had several
back up plans. Well, to be perfectly honest her back up plan was "Think of a
back up plan," but she was sure she could if need be. In the meantime, she drummed
her fingers on the banner as she watched the pets step into the Rainbow Pool.
"Baby, Fire, Christmas, Christmas... Are you sure you saw a Faerie Paint Brush?"
Just as WinterPrincess asked the question, an
Acara reached the pool. Her owner handed her a Faerie Paint Brush. A few moment
later, the Acara re-emerged, now with a beautiful set of wings. WinterPrincess
ran over to her.
"Hi, my name's WinterPrincess. Did you just
get painted Faerie?"
The Acara nodded, a little taken back.
WinterPrincess didn't stop to consider that she
might be scaring the poor Acara. "Want to try out your wings? I'll help you
learn to fly if you'll help me with this."
"With what?" the Acara asked.
WinterPrincess and SQ unrolled the banner. It
read "Vote for Korris_boxerbabe, queen of the Beauty Contest!" in slightly crooked
letters and gave the link underneath.
"See, my sister's in the Beauty Contest, so
I need someone to help me fly this all over Neopia. It's for a really good cause.
If you knew her, you'd agree." WinterPrincess gave the Acara her most pleading
expression, the one she used on Woof when she wanted something from the Chocolate
Factory. "Please? I promise you'll love seeing Neopia from the air."
"I entered the Beauty Contest once," the Acara
said. "I got seven votes." She and her guardian glanced at each other. "I'd
be happy to help your sister."
Her guardian nodded her assent.
The Acara grabbed the other end of the banner
as SQ climbed onto WinterPrincess' back.
WinterPrincess braced herself and began the instructing.
"Okay, the first thing you need to do is push off with your legs, like this..."
Korris was standing in the lobby of the Beauty
Contest building, trying to act like she wasn't attempted to overhear how everyone
was voting. Bubbles came to join her, tired of seeing the same advertisements
posted every few seconds on the message board.
Shortly after Bubbles arrived, a group of four
humans and pets entered, chattering about the contest.
"Did you see that banner?"
"Yeah, I was at the Giant Omelette when they
flew over Tyrannia."
"I think that's a cute idea. I should've done
that when Timmy entered."
"So are you going to vote for her?"
"Definitely. Well, unless she's a Uni. I promised
my sister I'd vote for hers."
"I voted for the one on the poster already.
She's a Peophin."
Bubbles and Korris glanced at each other.
"It's working," Bubbles said, rather amazed.
"What do you mean?" Korris' eyes widened as
she understood. "Where's WinterPrincess?"
At the moment, WinterPrincess and the Acara were
flying over Faerieland. The two of them had gotten into their roles now that
the Acara had mastered flying, and they shouted "Vote for Korris_boxerbabe!"
and other slogans as they flew. Several people waved and shouted promises that
they would vote for her. In short, their mission was proving very successful.
Successful, that is, until WinterPrincess decided
they should fly around Fyora's palace. As they approached the left side, people
shouted something to them. WinterPrincess assumed it was the usual expressions
of support or occasional outrage from other Peophin competitors. She continued
to assume that until she and the Acara collided with an invisible stone wall.
Woof met Bubbles and Korris at the Beauty Contest.
"Is WinterPrincess carrying a banner around?"
"She was planning to fly, actually," Bubbles
Woof cringed. "I just got a Neomail from someone
who said her Acara and WinterPrincess flew into the Hidden Tower."
"Is she okay?" Korris asked.
"She'll be fine. The Acara just got her wings,
so her guardian followed them. She took both of them to the Healing Springs.
We've got to go pick her up there."
The three of them left the Beauty Contest as
another group entered, talking about the pet whose banner hit the Hidden Tower.
Although sympathy votes from those who heard
about WinterPrincess' accident boosted Korris far past seven votes, it wasn't
enough. The winner was a hand-drawn Peophin that even WinterPrincess grudgingly
admitted deserved it. The only question was how to break the news to Korris.
Bubbles and WinterPrincess had rehearsed exactly
what they would say. They had a beautiful speech worked out, complete with the
stock phrases about it not being about winning or losing but how you played
the game and aren't you glad you entered at least and we're proud of you anyway.
However, just as they had the last of their lines memorised, Korris came tearing
into the room, waving a piece of paper above her head like a victory banner.
"Looklooklooklooklook!" she shouted.
"Korris, we want you know how proud we are that
you had the courage to enter the Beauty Contest," Bubbles began.
But Korris wasn't listening. "Look at this!"
"That's what really matters, regardless of the
results," Bubbles continued.
This was WinterPrincess' cue to remind Korris
that it was what was on the inside that counted. However, what WinterPrincess
said instead was "What is it?"
Korris was dancing around the room, still waving
the paper. "It's my first ever piece of fan mail!"
Bubbles246 coughed, trying to prompt WinterPrincess.
"Oh yeah. Besides, it's what's on the inside
that counts. So even though you didn't win--"
"Who cares?" Korris said.
Her sisters stared at her in amazement.
"But, you were so excited," WinterPrincess said.
"Someone sent me fan mail! Someone I don't even
know liked my picture so much she wrote to me to say so! And I'll bet next time
I go to the Training School Ryshu will tell me he saw it. I have fan mail! I'm
practically famous now."
"Um, right, so it's not whether you win or lose,
it's how you play the game," Bubbles stammered.
"I have fan mail and a sister who flew into
the Hidden Tower for me. What more do I need?" Korris asked.
"A trophy and the Neopoints would be nice,"
Bubbles246 glared at her.
"Besides," Korris went on, "I have a great idea
for my next picture. This one's definitely going to be hand-drawn. I'm even
thinking of making it abstract!"