Invisible Paint Brushes rock Circulation: 123,710,650 Issue: 248 | 14th day of Swimming, Y8
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True Sisters: Part One


by im_smarter_then_you

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It was a blustery Saturday morning, and I, Fan the snow Pteri, was doing my favorite thing in the whole world: flying. The cold wind whipped past my feathers as I flew through the air. Lyra, my Catamara, squealed with delight from my back as I went into a steep dive, pulling up at the exact right moment. Though she is a Maraquan petpet, she has the strange ability to venture out of her water bowl. Instead of scales, she has a soft white fur, and loves to float in the sky using her magnificent tails. The air's crispness stung our eyes, making me feel alive. I caught an updraft and floated higher into the sky, surveying our new home.

     My owner Summer had recently moved our Neohome from the heart of Neopia Central to the outskirts of Meridell. To say the least, it was a big adjustment. However, the country suited our family much better than the High Street ever would. It was especially good for me, as I was highly sensitive to almost any grooming product. This commercially expanding Neopia Central was full of tiny particles of shampoo, perfume, and anything else you could think of. I had had to spend most of my time inside in bed, so to me, this was heaven.

     My stomach rumbled, and I began to realize how hungry over an hour of flying could make you.

     "Ready for a break?" I asked Lyra, and she chirped her consent.

     I took one last breath of cool, high-altitude air, and began my descent. As I neared our new home, I saw my sister Morbid, a Mutant Scorchio, standing outside, rubbing her sleep-deprived eyes. I called out to her and she waved drowsily. Morbid is quite a night owl, and it is not uncommon to wake up to in the early hours of the morning and see her light still shining. She and Laborite, her Scout Unit, love to spelunk, or explore in caves, and were very good at it. It was a desirable skill, and I admired her. Still, I laughed as she stumbled down the steps to meet me, nearly tripping over her feet.

      "Good morning, Morbid!" I said in my high-pitched, but cheery, morning voice. "Have you seen Tid?"

      I should never have asked. Faster than you could say, "Rotten omelette with cheese... "

      "Rawr!" A small green blur rushed out of the bushes and tackled me to the grass. I blinked in surprise at the Green Ixi now holding me down. This was Tid, my favorite older sister. She was as hyper as a Bruce in winter, agile as a Kougra, and she had hooves as sharp as a Tuskaninny's tusks. Her huge purple eyes glared down at me.

      "How could you do this to me? How, I ask you, how?"

      I gaped at her. "What? What did I do?"

      She looked at me strangely. "You're just so... cheerful. I mean, it's 7:30 on a Saturday, and you're flapping around greeting people. It's unnatural."

      I laughed at her sarcasm and she grinned, helping me to my feet. The small green Tenna in her arms stared blankly at me with large unblinking eyes. There was quite a story behind Slowpoke, but I had never really gotten used to him.

     I brushed off my snowy feathers and started up the stairs, just in time to meet my sister Tears coming down. Tears is a Sketch Kiko who loves to read and daydream. She and her Slorg, Sable, are two peas in a pod in that category. They both can get very distracted very easily, and it's gotten them into trouble more than once.

      "Oh, hi Fan. I was just coming to look for you," she said. Her voice was, as usual, soft and sort of unfocused. She continued, "Mom wants you in... oh look. A butterfly." She wandered off slowly, her thoughts consuming her. I sighed; sometimes Tears can be so annoying I just can't stand it. For one, she's the only one of us who calls im_smarter_then_you Mom. The rest of us just call her Summer. Plus, she didn't even finish her sentence. Now, I had no idea where to meet Summer. I walked inside and into the main hall.

      "Summer?" I called. "Where are you?"

      "Up here!"

      I looked up to see my owner smiling and waving from the top of the stairs. I smiled back and ran up them to meet her.

      "Hey Fan," she said, giving me a quick hug. "Wanna help me with something?"

      I nodded and she led me up to the top floor. She pulled some rusty steps down from the ceiling and started up them. I followed her; unsure of what was going to happen. Lyra hummed uncertainly. We had an attic?

      As though she had read my mind, Summer spoke. "Turns out our new house has an attic that hasn't been cleaned in ages. I thought you might want to help me do the job." We clambered up the steps and into a large, crowded room. Why would I want to help clean?

      I brushed off my feathers and looked around. The attic was very old; you could see that just by looking at the floor. It was worn smooth from years of tiny feet running, chairs scuffing, and brooms sweeping. There was only one window, which was dirty and cracked, but behind all the muck it was large and majestic. The attic itself was very dirty, you could see the tiny particles of dust dancing where the window let in the sun, but with a little cleaning, it would look beautifully antique. There were piles of things in every corner, stuffed into every little space. Just from where I was standing I could see everything from what looked like a broken Sword of Skardsen to baby toys, to a half-eaten Poisonous Jelly.

     Why had Summer thought I'd enjoy cleaning? She knows that I'd much rather be out flying or, my stomach rumbled, eating. Summer seemed to sense my doubt, for she suggested that I think on it, and that we could start after breakfast.

      Breakfast was easy and light, an omelette each. Mine was BBQ, my favorite. I licked the sauce off my feathers as I thought about my predicament. The food in my belly was starting to gear up my brain, and I saw the possibilities that the attic held. On the other hand, I'd promised Tid that I would go with her and Morbid to Illusen's Glade to check out the quests and maybe earn some items. As I sat there, weighing my possibilities, Tid ran in and started speaking very fast.

      "Oh, hey Fan. Morbid and I have been exploring the creek and boy oh boy is it exciting! I mean, it's got mud, and skipping stones, and mud, and big sticks, and mud, and fishes, and mud, and even a few shrimp! Speaking of shrimp, boy oh boy am I starving. Ooo! Green pepper omelette! My favorite!" She took a huge bite and gulped it down. "So, are you up for that big trek today? Summer says that the Glade isn't quite as near as we thought. Oh well, guess it doesn't make a difference to you, flying is much faster than walking."

      Tid had always been jealous of my ability to fly; it was the biggest adventure ever in her opinion. Summer was saving for a Halloween Paintbrush, but Tid knew just as well as I did that it would be a long time until that happened. I knew that it wasn't a good idea to make Tid angry by telling her I wouldn't be coming, but this seemed like as good a time as any to tell her.

      "Um, Tid?" I started tentatively. "You know that Glade trek thing? I don't think that I'm going to be able to make it today. Summer asked me to do some cleaning, and I thought that I'd take up on her offer."

      Tid's smile wavered, but suddenly she grinned.

      "That's ok. Actually, I was kinda hoping someone would say that." Her voice lowered to a whisper. "I've heard that Illusen can get kinda creepy, if you know what I mean. Shifty eyes... " She shifted her eyes from left to right. I laughed and so did she.

     "So, why are you all of a sudden so excited about cleaning? That's not like you."

      I told her about the attic, and the stuff piled everywhere. I thought that it would be fun to sift through all that junk; maybe I'd find some treasure.

      At the word treasure, Tid's ears perked up.

      "Treasure? Really? Can I help?"

      "Well, some company would be kinda nice... "

      Tid squealed with delight. "Thanks! You're such a cool sister! I'm going to go get my... dun-dun-dun duh... EXPLORATION SUIT!" She bounced off, singing.

     I shook my head. Sometimes Tid was so weird. I headed up the stairs as well, to Summer's room. On the way there, I passed Tears floating in the hall. She was in her meditating pose, humming an eerie little tune. It was something like one of those commercial songs; it got stuck in your head. This one, however, sounded sad and old.

      As if she had sensed my presence, Tears spoke. Her usually distant voice was a whisper with a hint of urgency.

      "Do you hear it?" She slowly opened her eyes.

      I paused, trying to make out a sound. Tears spoke again.

     "The house, it's speaking to us."

      I strained my tiny bird ears, but couldn't hear a thing. Just as I was about to ask her what she was talking about, she spoke again.

     "This house is old, very old. It has many secrets; some are, shall we say, not so good? According to the stars, today is a day of the circle. Things shall end, but others shall begin. Be careful up there, Fan." She closed her eyes and started up her humming again, and I new that was my signal to leave. Utterly perplexed, I continued on my way, humming the eerie melody.

     After informing Summer that there would be double-duty, I ran up to the top floor. I pulled down the creaky old stairs and waved away the dust. Grabbing my flashlight, I started up them, still humming the song.

     The attic was empty, which was strange. I had been expecting Tid to be up here already. I had never been up here alone, and to tell the truth, it was sort of creepy. Images of all the horror stories I had ever heard swept through my mind. I shook them away; they weren't real.

     I saw something move out of the corner of my eye, but when I turned, nothing was there. A cold breeze swept the attic, and I shivered; I wasn't alone. Suddenly, the little tune that Tears had been humming began to play from somewhere in the corner. My eyes widened and I turned towards the sound. Songs don't just start playing out of the blue, what was going on? My eyes never leaving the corner, I went closer and closer. Just as I was about to pull away the curtain, the song stopped. I heard a shuffling behind me, and turned to come face to face with a small figure clothed in black robes. Its face was hideous, grey and sagging. The worst part was its eyes; they were large and staring, with purple irises and large black pupils. I opened my mouth to scream...

To be continued...

Dedicated to my twin sister River! :-) Neomail me with comments! *dances happily*

 
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