Invisible Paint Brushes rock Circulation: 119,806,944 Issue: 242 | 2nd day of Relaxing, Y8
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A Quest Unlike Any Other: Part Three


by toffee_choc

--------

The door to their Neohome slammed for the second time, and Minty_choc85 watched as his other brother, Orange, made his way down the path, followed as always by his white Weewoo. He rolled his eyes and went back to his newspaper.

     "So," began TC, "got any plans for today? Besides mourning your petpet, I mean."

     Minty gave her a black look.

     "Very funny. And I have reason to mourn, now that I'm saddled with this thing."

     He indicated the plushie Huggy firmly clamped around his boot, and shook his leg in an attempt to dislodge it. He grunted.

     "A pile of soot was better than this. How long do I have to keep it for?"

     "Oh, only about a month more," replied TC absently.

     Suddenly she brightened.

     "Say, I've got an idea. Why don't you run down to get me a scratchcard from the Ice Caves? And try to pick a winning one!"

     "Yeah, I'm sure that idea only just occurred to you," returned Minty sulkily. "But I'll do it - if you agree to take care of this thing."

     TC looked at the Huggy in distaste. "Um, maybe I don't need-"

     "Excellent, that's agreed then," said the Royal Zafara swiftly, deftly detaching the petpet and depositing it in his owner's lap.

     "See you guys later!"

     Milk_choc85 chuckled from where she was clearing the dishes.

     TC glared at her, then the Huggy. She sighed.

     "Guess I walked right into that one, didn't I?"

     Minty sauntered down the road merrily. It was such a relief to finally have a moment without that thing attached to him. He couldn't wait until the time was up and he could finally be rid of it. He smiled wryly - who'd have thought he'd ever look forward to seeing that creepy Kookith again?

     As the Zafara turned towards the Ice Caves, he glanced across the peak of the mountain. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. There was the normal line of nervous looking pets clutching broken toys outside Donny's hut, the obligatory crowd round Hannah's autograph signing table. He could hear the squeals from here.

     "Fans," he muttered, rolling his eyes.

     Secretly he quite liked Hannah, but he would never go and ask for her autograph. What good was a scribble on a bit of paper anyway?

     The sky above him looked stormy; he expected it would hail any minute, so he quickly ducked inside the Caves. Once inside he paused, and looked around.

     There were a few muffled yells coming from the direction of the Snowager's cave, but that was nothing unusual. Shrugging, Minty made his way to the Scratchcard Kiosk.

     "One scratchcard please," he said to the Wocky.

     But the Wocky shook his head and pointed to the sign hanging above the kiosk, before turning back to his coffee and pastries.

     "Typical!" grumbled Minty to himself. "She sends me all the way out here to buy a scratchcard, and the Wocky's eating breakfast."

     He'd just stomped his way back to the entrance of the Ice Caves, when he heard a strange noise, like muffled sobbing. Curious, he stopped and looked around. Sure enough, there was a fluffy Cybunny tail poking out from behind a patch of ice crystals.

     Minty cleared his throat loudly, and the sobbing stopped abruptly.

     "Um, are you alright?" he asked, gently. "Did the Snowager blast you?"

     The Cybunny crawled reluctantly out of its hiding place. Minty could see it was just a kid, and large tears were welling up in its eyes again.

     "Whoa, don't cry. It can happen to anyone." He passed his handkerchief to her, trying to look sympathetic.

     "I-I didn't get blasted," sobbed the Cybunny, "I-I've lost my... my favourite p-plushie!"

     Minty watched helplessly as the tears started cascading down the Cybunny's cheeks again, soaking his handkerchief.

     "Er, can't you just buy another one?" he suggested tentatively - then immediately regretted it, for the Cybunny began crying even more.

     "Um, okay, okay - what if I help you look for it?" he asked.

     The Cybunny stopped crying and looked at him with eyes like saucers.

     "W-would you?" she stuttered.

     Minty shrugged. "Sure," he said. "I'm Minty, what's your name?"

     "Mara," replied the Cybunny. "I think I might have left it in Faerieland... I-I've already looked everywhere on the Mountain."

     "Alright," said Minty, smiling, "then we'll go to Faerieland."

     Two hours later the pair had landed on the fluffy white surface of Neopia's highest city (some argue that Terror Mountain is in fact higher than Faerieland, but the fact that this place floats ensures it wins hands down every time).

     Minty and Mara stood on the edge and considered. Minty looked at his young companion.

     "So," he began, "where have you been in Faerieland?"

     "I've been everywhere!" cried the small Cybunny, gleefully.

     Minty sighed. "Care to be a little more specific?"

     Mara looked at him with her wide eyes. "I even went to the Hidden Tower! Maybe Dar's there... or maybe he's at the Library... or the Healing Springs... or the Wheel of Excitement... or-"

     "Alright, alright!" cried Minty, interrupting, "I get it - you've been everywhere! Tell you what, let's go into Faerie City and work out from there."

     Solemnly, Mara nodded and took the Zafara's hand. Together they trekked past the Wheel of Excitement and the Healing Springs and went through the gates into the city.

     Minty had never spent so much time in the Faerie City before. First, they went to the library, but the Library Faerie refused to even hear their question until they had completed today's crossword.

     After spending several agonising minutes trying to remember all the names of random creatures across Neopia - not to mention all the Battledome abilities of various species - Minty succeeded in completing the puzzle.

     "Well, now, that wasn't so bad, was it?" asked the Library Faerie sweetly, as Minty sat down, exhausted.

     Mara glanced at Minty in concern but, once convinced that all he had was a case of severe brain-overload, she turned back to the Faerie.

     "'Scuse me, Ma'am," she began, "I don't suppose I mislaid a plushie here this morning?"

     The Library Faerie frowned. "A plushie... no, I don't think so. I've confiscated several sticks of bubble gum, a slushie... and someone managed to leave their favourite book mark here... but I don't remember a plushie."

     Mara's ears drooped. Minty, having recovered, nodded his thanks to the Library Faerie and dragged the Cybunny out of the library.

     "Never mind," he said encouragingly, "let's go up to the Hidden Tower, and see if it's up there."

     Mara nodded glumly, and followed the Zafara to the spot where the Hidden Tower was... well, hidden. Except it was so well hidden, that both Minty and Mara were having problems remembering where it was.

     "I'm sure it's here," muttered Minty, looking upwards.

     "What do you expect to see, Fyora waving out of the window?" asked Mara sarcastically.

     Minty looked at the Cybunny in some surprise, but dismissed it as a bad mood; after all, the kid had lost her favourite plushie.

     "We'll never find this stupid tower!" he growled, swinging his leg to kick some of the offending cloud in front of him.

     "OW!" he shouted, wincing as his boot collided with solid rock.

     "I guess we found it," giggled Mara, bouncing towards the door.

     Grumbling, Minty followed her up the stairs. At the top, he could see the usual array of wonders, including various Faerie dolls and several rare paint brushes. He noticed Mara eyeing them longingly.

     "I guess you want to be painted Baby or something," he commented, following her gaze.

     "Baby!" scoffed the Cybunny in disgust. "As if! I want to be painted Darigan!"

     Minty's jaw fell open as Mara gazed at the paint brush a little longer, before hopping towards the Faerie Queen herself.

     "Um, excuse me Fyora Ma'am, I don't suppose anyone's handed in a lost plushie today?"

     Fyora smiled graciously, looking down at the anxious Cybunny.

     "I'm afraid not, my dear. But there is one plushie on the outskirts of Faerieland, maybe that's the one you are looking for."

     Mara curtseyed uncertainly, and dragged the still gob-smacked Minty out of the tower.

     "C'mon Minty, Fyora said something about a plushie on the edge of Faerieland - let's go check it out!"

     Minty rolled his eyes and allowed himself to be dragged by the small Cybunny. At the edge of the City, they came across the small, discarded plushie.

     "The Discarded Magical Blue Grundo Plushie of Prosperity," read Minty. "Is this it?"

     "No!" wailed Mara. "I don't have a Grundo plushie - mine's a Darigan plushie!"

     Minty looked at her strangely, but decided not to comment.

     Suddenly the Cybunny's eyes lit up.

     "I know where I left it!" she cried. "It's there!"

     Minty's gaze followed Mara's outstretched paw. He gulped.

     "Mara, what were you doing in Jhudora's lair?" he asked incredulously.

     Mara shrugged. "Doing a Quest, of course - she's my favourite Faerie."

     Minty swallowed. "Right. And you're sure it's there?"

     "Absolutely!" replied the Cybunny, already moving towards the ominous looking cloud.

     "It never hurts to make sure," muttered the Zafara under his breath, reluctantly following Mara.

     They seemed to be completely alone on entering the cloud, although Minty expected Jhudora was holed up somewhere, watching them and cackling to herself. He shivered.

     Mara seemed far less bothered. "Jhudoooooora!" she shouted, her voice echoing throughout the room.

     Minty grabbed her by the scruff of the neck.

     "Are you insane?" he hissed. "Let's just find your plushie and get out of here - as fast as possible!"

     "Fine," shrugged the Cybunny. "Oh look, there it is!"

     Minty watched as Mara bounded her way to the edge of a yawning crevice. On the other side lay a slightly tatty, but very recognisable, Lord Darigan plushie.

     "Obviously we all drop our plushies next to huge crevices," grumbled Minty, but very quietly.

     Mara turned to him, angelically. "Minty, I can't reach it."

     Minty sighed, eyeing the crevice dubiously. "Look, maybe it'll just be easier for me to get you another one - I mean, he's a bit used anyway, isn't he? He'll need a trip to Donny before long, and who knows what'll happen-"

     He was interrupted by a loud sniff. Mara was crying again. Minty ground his teeth in frustration.

     "Alright, alright!" he growled, "I'll get it."

     On closer inspection, the gap really wasn't that wide. Gauging the leap carefully, Minty launched himself across. He stooped to pick up the plushie, dusted if off and turned to face Mara - except she wasn't alone.

     "Heh, Jhudora, hi..." he began.

     Jhudora grinned evilly, and stepped aside to reveal Mara clutching a Darigan paint brush.

     "Fresh from the Hidden Tower," she smirked. "Far better than that tatty old thing. Why don't you keep it?"

     Minty groaned as the Cybunny grinned as evilly as the Faerie, and jumped resolutely on a panel in the floor in front of her.

     "Byeee!" she crowed, as the floor beneath Minty gave way, revealing only the black nothingness beneath.

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


» A Quest Unlike Any Other: Part One
» A Quest Unlike Any Other: Part Two
» A Quest Unlike Any Other: Part Four



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