With such an air of excitement and desperate haste I dashed
from the Neopian shop on that fateful day and took off into the air, clutching
the precious treasure between my claws. From my hurry one might have thought that
I had stolen it, but no, I had paid for it as a lawful transaction. The only problem
was that the ignorant shopkeeper - I suppose the real one had left his assistant
in charge - had not known the true monetary value of the piece, and I wanted to
get far away before he realized his mistake. I must admit that I gloated to myself
a bit as I flew home, chuckling as I imagined the look on the shopkeeper's face
when he should return to find that this valuable item had been sold at a fraction
of its real price. But the potion that I had held between my talons had far more
value to me.
I forgot to mention that I was a yellow Pteri
in those days, a scrappy little citizen of Tyrannia. Mischievous, irreverent,
always full of boundless energy was I, a well-fed carefree pet with the best
of two worlds, Neopia and Tyrannia both- though Tyrannia was and shall always
be my homeland. Even to this day I swell with pride to know I was born in that
mighty world. I suppose I should have been happy forever as I was; I never lusted
after such things as paintbrushes or morphing potions to alter my appearance.
I was comfortable in my own skin. I was a winning, precious personality loved
by all, a little golden joy to my owner and a kind friend to fellow pets. So
why, do you ask, am I the fearsome mutant Korbat that appears before you now?
Patience friend, I am coming to that.
I suppose it began on the day my owner decided
to take me and my three sisters on a visit to the Haunted Woods. It was Halloween,
and we had decided to make a grand night of it, scaring ourselves half to death
with the exciting games and rides of the Deserted Fairground. I remember what
fun we had that night. We had stuffed ourselves with so much candy we could
hardly move, but that did not stop us from playing the sundry carnival games.
One game I remember in particular involved tossing a small talisman (for which
you paid a certain amount of Neopoints) into any number of small bowls. If your
coin went in, you won the prize that went with that bowl. I digress, it seems,
but it is strangely significant in what I am about to relate. At the moment
that I had paid my money for a talisman, I heard a disquieting yet oddly ingratiating
voice in my ear:
"Hello, little one."
I turned round quickly at the voice and found
myself beak-to-nose with a striking- even beautiful- mutant Korbat. At first
I started in fright- I had never seen one of these creatures before. But her
eyes were large, gleaming and kind and I knew at once that she would not harm
me. I greeted her in the formal Tyrannian style and she laughed in delight,
baring her long pretty front teeth. Strange to say I was quite fascinated by
her. She was graceful and elegant, not like the other Korbats I had seen in
Neopia, with small clumsy wings in ordinary shades of red or yellow. Her fur
was thick and an unusual dark bluish-green, and her ears were long and velvety,
sensitive to sounds I most likely could not hear. Where others saw ugliness,
I saw a beautiful soul.
In any case, I remember that she bought a talisman
as well and we both tossed them into the booth at the same time. Mine hit its
mark; hers, unfortunately, bounced off the edge of the bowl, chipping it. I
fancied that she appeared rather sad at having lost, and, in a moment of generosity,
I gave her the prize I had won, a mutant Blumaroo plushie. She was delighted
by my kindness and we soon became fast friends. We talked for the remainder
of the carnival, telling each other frightening tales of Halloween and exchanging
stories of our childhood. I was loath to leave her when it was time to go home,
but she stayed just long enough to tell me her name: Ligea.
"When can I see you again?" I had asked her.
She smiled - and looking back now I wonder if there was not something strange
in that smile. It was not malicious, not cruel, no - but something else, something
unsettling, which escaped me at the time.
"It is only a pity," she said smoothly, "a pity
you are not a Korbat. You are a fine creature, but alas! Not quite perfect yet."
She said nothing else, but took her leave of me, gliding away on soft wings
to her home deep in the Haunted Woods. I went home that night with fond thoughts
of this Unique creature, and wished to see her again with all my heart, thinking
about all she had said.
From that day on I could hardly stop thinking
about her. I read any books I could find about Korbats, mutants especially,
I scribbled pictures of her in the margins of my notebooks during class, but
overall, I became obsessed with the idea that she should love me. Love me! Unlikely
thought. She, a graceful and accomplished Korbat, love a ragged feathered pest
from Tyrannia! I thought on what she had said about it being a pity I was not
a Korbat. Why was I not yet "perfect," as she had said? Did she mean that I
ought to become a Korbat like her? I would have done so gladly, had it meant
that she would then love me.
Thus I agonized and tortured myself over this
hopeless passion, until one day I read in the daily news of some tragedy involving
a mix-up in the shipping of some morphing potions; instead of the expected White
Chia potion, the manufacturers had accidentally switched a large batch with
Kacheek Transmogrification potion. There was talk of a lawsuit, but that was
unimportant. The article had given me an idea. The next day I casually broached
the idea that "if we could possibly afford" the Korbat Transmogrification potion,
when could we buy one? In so many words, she told me no, and wondered why I
would ever want to buy it. I backed off and didn't mention it again, all hopes
of my transformation for Ligea shattered. I had almost given up.
That was, of course, until, by the most fantastic
chance, I found the desired potion in an obscure shop- and as I said, at a truly
bargain price. I was astounded- at first I thought I had lost my mind! But I
quickly came to my senses and bought the potion immediately, scurrying home
like a rat to its hole.
When I arrived home, I shut myself in my bedroom
and bolted the door. My heart beating rapidly, I gently set the squat glass
bottle on the floor and peered at it. What appeared to be bits of leathery Korbat
wings were hovering within a nauseatingly murky liquid. I could almost smell
the stuff even with the cork firmly in place; a stinking, noxious odor of a
swamp. But I did not flinch at these things. Indeed, I relished it. This Transmogrification
potion would surely make me attractive in Ligea's eyes. I could not suppress
a delighted grin.
"What luck I was able to procure this," I murmured
to myself, stroking the smooth bottle with the tip of a yellow wing. Without
another thought, I impulsively uncorked it and tipped the potion into my mouth,
swallowing the slimy fluid in a gulp.
Immediately I felt the horrible change come
over me; my mouth went dry as cotton and my legs became weak. I shuddered as
the potion slid into my belly, and a violent nausea swept over me. I watched
in terror as my bright yellow feathers turned a grayish-blue and transformed
into thick fur, my wings lengthened and grew leathery webbing between the fingers,
my tail became scaly. My stomach writhed and growled as though I had ingested
deadly poison, I gasped for breath as I felt myself blacking out and I fell
to the floor...
When I came to, the first thing I can remember
was an intense hunger within my hollow belly that I had never felt before. It
was as though the potion had completely emptied me, leaving behind a horrible
craving for sustenance. I groaned aloud and clutched my aching stomach, and
upon looking down at myself, realized that I now had long Korbat wings, terminating
in fearsome claws. Momentarily forgetting hunger I touched my face- my claws
no longer touched soft feathers and a beak, but now thick fur and a pair of
pointed fangs. I turned slowly to regard myself in a mirror, as though fearful
of what I should see there. But I felt no fear; in fact, I was pleased with
what I saw. Here was my new self, my powerful self! I was strong and dire, powerful!
Surely Ligea would accept me now. The two burning Korbat eyes that were my own
glared back at me in the mirror, and I spread my new wings in triumph.
After appeasing my raging hunger, I immediately
flew off in search of Ligea. How I searched- I questioned everyone who may have
seen her, I scoured the Fairgrounds, even went to the Pound, but she had simply
disappeared. No one knew where she had gone! As I grew more and more despairing,
I began to notice how others looked at me warily when I spoke to them, how they
seemed to back away at the sound of my voice, as if I were about to bite them
at any moment. One poor baby Eyrie began to cry bitterly upon seeing me- and
the truly sad thing was that I knew this child; we had been friends once. Even
when I went to Tyrannia again to see my friends, my own nest-brothers rejected
me after they saw what I had done. "Go back to those foul woods where you belong,
Korbat!" they shouted, and pecked me cruelly until I fled in pain and tears.
Disheartened and hungry (my appetite seemed
to have increased tenfold since taking the potion) I returned home and walked
into the dining room, where my owner and my three sisters were eating dinner.
The effect was electric; upon seeing me my sisters started in fear and screamed,
their eyes wide as saucers. Looking back, their astonished expressions were
quite humorous, but at the time my situation was anything but funny.
"Please, don't scream," I pleaded. "Please don't..."
"What are you doing here?!" shrieked Kena, my
Peophin sister. "Get out, this isn't your home!" At these words tears came to
my eyes again. My own family hates me, I thought. Beseechingly I stretched
out my hands to them, hoping for a glimmer of recognition.
"Please, Kena, Schickie, Angel- you must know
me! It's me, Peter! Please don't turn me away!" I began to cry miserably, exhausted
from my fruitless journey and feeling that now I was beyond hope.
But to my surprise, my owner rose from her seat
and approached without fear. She gently picked me up and began to wipe away
the tears from my matted fur.
"I believe you," she said. "Tell me everything
Breathlessly, with a kind of relief, I confessed
everything that had happened to me, everything about Ligea on Halloween night,
the potion, and my hopeless search. As I talked, my sisters gradually lost their
fear and began to accept me again as their brother. I was so grateful it felt
as though a weight had been lifted from my heart. I was still wanted here.
I will be eternally grateful for my owner's
kindness and understanding. However, she did remind me gently that I may have
gotten the mutating potion cheaply, but it would be near impossible to turn
me back should I ever change my mind about being a Korbat; after all, at the
time we were by no means affluent. I realized this, and resigned myself to my
Actually, I rather like being a Korbat. I am
certainly more popular at costume parties and such, and people have learned
not to be afraid of me. My only sorrow is that I never found Ligea. It was as
though she had completely disappeared into thin air, a compelling ghost appearing
once on All Hallow's Eve but never to return again.
Perhaps she never really existed at all.
Search the Neopian Times
|The Price of Faith: Part Four|
It was a cold morning. The frost lay
like lace over the frail plants and rocks. The sky was a brilliant blue without
a single smudge of cloud, and the sun was so bright it was almost shouting aloud
how good it was to be alive...