Tiramisu and the Gems
Sitting on a worn sandstone block, the rainbow Kougra checked her pack for the fifth time in an hour. Everything was there – her beloved yellow Cybunny plushie, some water, some food, a healing potion, and the three gems.
The three gems.
Her sister had found them at a bazaar, and had given them to Tiramisu. Tiramisu loved them all: the shining ruby, the gleaming sapphire, and, the strangest one of all, the citrine with a sun design in the middle. All were rumored to have special powers if in the right paws.
How had a beautiful Kougra and three beautiful gems ended up alone in the desert? It all began when her owner, who was the queen of all perfectionists, had chastised Tiramisu for getting pawprints on the piano. Tiramisu was tired of her owner’s ways, and had snuck out of Qasala three days ago to find a home elsewhere.
As she dragged her paws through the seemingly endless desert, Tiramisu began seeing mirages. First she saw a shimmering lake, then a giant Lime Jelly, and finally a bottled faerie embedded in the sand... no, that was real!
Marveling at her luck, Tiramisu raced to the spot where her find was. She picked up the bottle and gazed at the air faerie inside. She was weeping, having given up hope of ever being found, not even noticing the Kougra beside her.
Tiramisu uncorked the bottle.
The air faerie flew out, suppressing a shout of joy. She began waving her hands at Tiramisu in some strange pattern. Then she spoke.
“I give you, Tiramisu, the ability--”
“Wait!” Tiramisu interrupted. “You don’t need to do that. I just wanted to free you.”
“You... you don’t want an ability?” The faerie cocked her head.
“No. In fact, I’ll give you something instead.” Tiramisu fumbled through her backpack and pulled out the shining ruby. She handed it to the astonished faerie. “Think of it as compensation for those long days in the bottle.”
“Oh, many thanks! You, dear, caring Neopet, most definitely deserve that ability. I give you, Tiramisu, the ability Haste. What are you doing in the Lost Desert, anyway?”
Tiramisu poured out her whole life story to the faerie, who listened intently. When the story was finished, the faerie began describing her life.
“My name is Thontri,” she began, “and I was born in Faerieland. I was the smartest of all my sisters, and I dreamed of becoming an advisor to Fyora herself. But my whole family was captured by Balthazar a long time ago and sold all over Neopia. I was sold to a desert Ixi, who dropped me here. I’ve been here for months, and my powers have weakened so much that I can’t even fly, oh, what shall I do?”
Before Tiramisu could answer, the shining ruby in Thontri’s hand shone even brighter. Thontri was enveloped in a bright red mist, which disappeared within a few moments. When the phenomenon was over, the gem had disappeared, and Thontri’s wings glittered like a diamond. She flapped them just for fun, and was carried into the air! The gem had somehow restored her power.
“Thank you once again for your kindness,” Thontri said after a brief flight. “In return, I shall fly you to Sakhmet.”
“No, I cannot let you do that,” said Tiramisu. “I had no idea what the ruby would do.”
“You are a caring one,” Thontri mused. “But I insist. Climb aboard!”
First the pair visited Coltzan’s Shrine.
“I will do what I can to help you,” a voice said. A Pyramicake appeared in front of Tiramisu and Thontri, who enjoyed a meal before leaving for Sakhmet.
Neither had ever seen the beautiful city before, and were speechless as they entered the gates. Tiramisu was about to suggest that they find somewhere to stay when Thontri said that she could stay with her no longer.
“I must search for the rest of my family,” she said sadly. Tiramisu offered to come with her, but the Air Faerie refused.
“You must stay and enjoy yourself,” Thontri said, preparing to take off. “Goodbye, Tiramisu, I hope we meet again!” With that, she flew into the sky, the sun making her wings look like silver.
“I hope so, too,” Tiramisu said, and began her search for a place to stay.
She finally found a small wooden building, with a sign out front saying:
HOURS 9-5 DAILY
Below that, in slightly finer print, were the words:
FULL-TIME HELP WANTED
3 NP AN HOUR, ROOM AND BOARD
Three Neopoints an hour? That was hardly enough to make a living! But she needed the room and board, so Tiramisu opened the door and went inside.
The only light in the room came from a small window. There was only one shelf, and only five items were on it. At first Tiramisu thought the shop was deserted, but soon a desert Kyrii came out of the back room.
“Hey, a customer!” he rasped. “Ye come to buy somethin’?” He gestured to the five items on the shelf. “Take yer pick. We haven’t had a customer in years, and the last ‘un was just here to look.”
Tiramisu gasped. “You mean... you’ve never sold anything?”
“Not in a while, and I ain’t had good food in a while, neither. Nothin’ but those dern Unmagines fer three years.”
“Well, then...” Tiramisu fished into her backpack and pulled out the gleaming sapphire. “Here. You need it more than I do.” She handed the sapphire to the Kyrii, who gazed at it in astonishment.
“Looky thar.” The Kyrii looked at the rainbow Kougra and cocked his head. “Maybe with this I can be successful agin. Thanks fer this, Kougra. You can have any item you like off’n the shelf.”
“I don’t need--” Tiramisu began.
“I insist,” said the Kyrii, and Tiramisu selected the book Sakhmet Tales. “Who are ye, anyway?”
“Well, my name is Tiramisu...” Tiramisu told her story for the second time that day. The Kyrii told his afterward.
“My name’s Horus. I’s abandoned when I was young, and taken in by a rich desert Kau. Her name was Isis, and she let me work in ‘er store. It was a great life. Now one day, ‘bout three years ago, she got a good job offer, and left the Lost Desert to accept it. She left me in charge an’ said I could have all the money I made. But people heard ‘bout ‘er leaving, and stopped visitin’ here. Ever since, nobody’s bought anythin’, ‘cept a Moach I found crawlin’ around in the back room. If I could have one wish come true, I’d wish fer business to be good again.”
Suddenly, the sapphire glittered brighter than it ever had before, and Horus was surrounded by a deep blue light. After a few moments, Horus was holding five paintbrushes (a baby paintbrush, a desert paintbrush, a flame paintbrush, a striped paintbrush, and a speckled paintbrush). The sapphire had disappeared.
“Wow!” he exclaimed. “Wow! This’s great! Better ‘n great! Thank ye, Tiramisu! Is thar anythin’ else I can do for ye?”
“Well, I came in here to apply for the job,” said Tiramisu. “But you don’t have to hire me,” she added quickly.
“Yer hired!” said Horus. “Once I sell one of these paintbrushes, I’ll raise yer salary a bit. Now, here’s yer room.” He led Tiramisu through a couple of doors and into a chamber which must have been a cellar at one time. There was a bed in one corner, a stove in the next, a chair in the third, and a shelf in the fourth. Except for a tiny window at the top of the wall, that was it.
“Tiramisu, I’m so grateful to ye. Here, take this paintbrush and do what ye want with it.” Horus handed her the flame paintbrush.
“Thank you,” said Tiramisu. “Thank you very much!” She began unloading her pack.
As she lay in her bed that night, Tiramisu thought about the gifts she had given that day and what she had gotten in return. For Thontri’s freedom and the shining ruby, she had been given an ability and a ride to Sakhmet. For the gleaming sapphire (and the money that Horus made on the paintbrushes), she had gotten a book, a job, a paintbrush, and a room. Tiramisu wondered who the citrine with the sun design would help, and if she would get anything in return, not like she needed it.
Suddenly, there was a tapping on the door.
“Come in,” Tiramisu murmured, half asleep. The door opened, and in came Horus.
“Tiramisu, thar’s somethin’ I’d like ye ta know,” Horus said. “I just figured out that yer the one in the legend!”
“What? What legend?” Tiramisu was wide awake now. She covered her eyes as Horus turned on the light.
“Ye’ve never heard the legend?” Horus looked at the puzzled Tiramisu. “I guess not. Well, a long time ago, Queen Fyora ‘ad three gems forged: a ruby, a sapphire, and a citrine with a sun in the middle. She said that whoever found these gems and used ‘em fer good would one day become the happiest pet in Neopia. Closin’ ‘er eyes, she flew to a random spot in Neopia and dropped the gems. As ye may know, they landed in Qasala. Somehow they ended up in yer paws, and from what I hear, ye used ‘em fer good. So... yer gonna be the happiest pet in Neopia!”
“I... I... it can’t be!” Tiramisu stammered. “I don’t deserve this. I ran away from home, remember? And I haven’t used the citrine yet, and oh, I’m so confused!”
“Sorry, but those ‘ere the Queen’s orders.” Horus gestured to the door. “And ‘ere’s the Queen herself.”
The door opened, and in walked two faeries.
Fyora and Thontri.
“Oh, Tiramisu!” Thontri exclaimed. “You have fulfilled the legend!”
“But I don’t deserve this!” Tiramisu looked desperately at her friends. “I didn’t deserve any of the gifts you guys gave me! All I did was try and help you out.”
Fyora spoke. “That’s exactly what I wanted you to do, dear. I made the gems and the legend because I wanted peace in Neopia. I was hoping that if someone with a kind heart found the gems and became the happiest pet in Neopia, then everyone else would want to be kind, too. Then the whole planet would be peaceful.”
“But wouldn’t everyone just pretend to be kind? And why is Thontri here, anyway?”
“I’ll answer the second question first,” said Fyora. “Thontri is really my advisor. Horus here is really Faerieland’s ambassador to the Lost Desert. I gave them magic wands that would find the gems and told them to see what the owner did with them.”
“They... they lied to me?” Tiramisu asked, and her friends nodded sadly. “Well, I forgive them.”
“As for your first question,” continued Fyora, “yes, everyone would pretend to be kind. But you can be sure that their strategy won’t work! Now, Tiramisu, fulfiller of the Legend, you shall be rewarded. What is your greatest wish? Whatever it is, it shall be granted.”
“I wish...” Tiramisu began. “I wish for peace and kindness on all of Neopia, so that everyone can be as happy as I, with a home, food and water...”
The rainbow Kougra looked at Fyora, Horus, and Thontri beside her. “And friends.”
The citrine glowed even more magnificently, and Tiramisu was enveloped in a bright yellow light...