Three Wishes: Part One
“How could I possibly have been so stupid?” Elloria’s owner berated herself through gritted teeth. Her head banged against the table.
Elloria, more commonly known as Ellie, was sitting directly opposite her, and was unmoved. The slim cloud Bori clacked her black claws against the polished wood.
“I agree,” she said. “How could you have been so stupid?”
Frosti lifted her head and glared at Ellie through greeny-blue eyes. “You’re not making me feel any better,” she pointed out wryly.
“I wasn’t trying to. It’s your fault that his head’s swelled so much that he can hardly fit through the door.”
“She has a point,” piped in a scrawny desert Lupe as he trotted into the room and promptly took a bite out of his sister’s breakfast. “You offered to paint him.”
“But I didn’t know he was going to choose Royal,” Frosti argued.
“Stop that, Kodovak,” Ellie snapped as she tore the rapidly diminishing toast out of the Lupe’s paws. “Make your own food.” Then she rounded on Frosti. “Wasn’t it obvious that he was going to choose Royal?” she asked. “It’s bad enough that he acts like he rules the world. And now he has the colour to match.”
She poked moodily at her toast, then sighed and tossed it to Ko. He immediately snatched it up in his mouth and swallowed. A breath of hot, dry air wafted into her face, and she ineffectively waved it away.
“It’s so hot here,” she muttered to herself, but Ko heard her easily.
He immediately went into Talking Mode. “You should see the rest of the street. I went out and looked just now and none of the other neohomes are built with marble like ours. Marble is cool, right?” He flicked an ear at Frosti and she nodded. “Which means that it’s much nicer in our neohome than out there.” A slight pause in which he jerked his paw at the window. “So it can’t be that hot in here.”
He took a single millisecond to draw breath, but in that instant Ellie pounced.
“That’s because you chose to be painted Desert,” she pointed out loudly. “I’m cloud.”
Frosti held up a hand to halt them as Ko opened his mouth. “Stop it, both of you. We’re not discussing your choice of colour, good or bad. We’re discussing how annoying Sylkon is. And there’s no such thing as a desert Bori, Ko.”
Ko looked suitably put out. Then: “See? By talking about him you’re doing exactly what he wants.” He paused to narrow his eyes dramatically. “Inflating his ego.”
“True,” Ellie muttered darkly.
There was a loud scraping noise from the doorway, followed by the sound of a sliver of marble hitting the ground, then the horrified cry of, “Argh! I’ve chipped my horn!”
Enter Sylkon. Ellie’s previous comment about him not being able to fit through doors because of his head was true. But it was a specific part of his head – his horn – that had grown bigger since the red Uni had been painted Royal.
Shortly after Frosti’s decision to move them to the Lost Desert, she had decided to paint all her pets any colour they chose. She had been planning to build the neohome out of something expensive, but when she had visited the site herself she had hastily changed her mind to marble so that they wouldn’t all die of heat. Thus she had found herself with a lot of extra neopoints.
Ellie had chosen cloud, Ko had been inspired and chosen Desert (although it may have been the headdress that came with the colour), their other sister Ophir had chosen striped and lastly Sylkon, true to his nature, had chosen Royal. But that didn’t mean he was actually a king.
The Uni ducked his head and squinted at the floor. Then he breathed a sigh of relief and called to his audience, “It’s alright. False alarm. It was just a bit of the doorframe.”
“Like we actually care,” Ellie muttered.
At the same time Frosti said, “Just a bit of the doorframe?” and was on her feet in an instant to insect the damage. “That doorframe happens to be brand new.”
Sylkon looked faintly shocked, as if wondering how the doorframe could possibly be more important than his long, gleaming horn. Or his smooth, well-groomed coat or his polished black hooves or his flowing mane or wide-swept wings. In other words, how something else could be more important than him.
“It’s just a doorframe,” he said. Then he imperiously shuffled his wings and strode into the room, towering over the pets seated at the table. He was tall, even for a Uni. He paused by his usual chair and down his nose at it distastefully, a frown crumpling his brow.
“What is it now?” Ellie felt inclined to ask as she fetched something to eat. When she turned from the pantry she saw him sitting on her just-vacated chair. “What are you doing?” she asked.
Sylkon gave her a look that clearly said ‘duh’ and prodded his chair with one hoof.
“My chair has a crumb on it.”
“A crum- Oh for Fyora’s sake, Sylkon, it’s just a tiny piece of food. What’s it going to do? Make your fur uneven? Smudge your cloak?”
“As a matter of fact, yes,” Sylkon replied, looking horror stricken. “Can you imagine?”
In her mind’s eye Ellie could imagine Sylkon drowning in a vat of two in one shampoo and conditioner, but she said nothing. She sat down on the chair with the (gasp) crumb on it and Sylkon promptly took the piece of fruit she was about to manoeuvre into her mouth.
“Thank you, Elloria. This is my favourite.”
Ellie seethed. Then she smiled.
“Oh no! Look, a speck of dirt on your mane,” she cried, pointing at him.
Sylkon’s, or should I say Ellie’s chair hit the ground as the royal Uni dashed from the room, making a beeline straight for the bathroom. Ko raised an approving eyebrow.
“Nice,” he said. But he could have just been referring to the abandoned piece of fruit, which was now disappearing into his mouth.
Frosti returned then with a tube of glue somehow attached to her hand. “It’s all fixed,” she announced, just as the last member of the family entered the room.
Ophir blinked slowly, once, then seated herself in one of the chairs. The striped Kau gazed around and then spoke.
“So what did you say to Sylkon?” she asked in her usual soft tone.
Ellie grinned. “I just saw a bit of dirt on his mane and informed him of its presence.”
Ophir sighed. “You guys are all so mean to him,” she said.
“She did him a favour,” Ko piped in. “He likes every excuse he gets to look at himself in the mirror.”
Ophir shook her head wordlessly. “Maybe if you guys took a moment to understand him,” she began, “you’ll see that he’s just trying to get your attention because he feels lonely.”
Ellie was about to counter this when she froze. Ophir would know these things. She had lived in the pound, abandoned by a previous owner. She bowed her head guiltily, and Ophir’s eyes widened.
“I didn’t mean to make you feel bad,” she said, starting to look guilty herself.
Ko patted one of the Kau’s horns. “But what you said is true, Ophir. Don’t berate yourself.”
Clop, clop, clop. Sylkon swept into the room, shaking out his mane so that it flowed evenly down his neck and back.
“Hello, everyone,” he said.
He might as well have said ‘royal subjects’, Ellie growled silently in her head. She gave up eating, seeing as her food would only get stolen by her siblings anyway, and swung herself up out of her chair. With a mocking gesture she pulled it out for Sylkon. He looked surprised for a single second, then seemed to take it into his stride and sat down.
“Thank you, Elloria,” he said snottily.
But Ellie was already out of the room. She scampered up the stairs, wincing as her black claws nearly gouged out the marble. Then she was in her room, and more specifically, on her bed. She clenched her quilt up in her claws and let out a deep breath, then turned to her pillow, considering. She had read in books of pets screaming into their cushions to get rid of frustration and was suddenly overcome by the desire to try it herself. But as she snatched it up, Ko raced into the room, looking like he had just seen a ghost.
“Ellie,” he moaned, banging his head against her bed frame. “Noooooo! How can anyone be so cruel?!”
Ellie steered his head away from the bed and held it there. ‘What are you talking about?” she asked.
He gazed at her with wide eyes. “Frosti’s leaving us with Hiiiimm!” he moaned.
Ellie tensed and her draw dropped. “Surely not?”
“Ko, come back!” Frosti’s voice drifted into the room, shortly followed by its owner.
“What are you doing in Ellie’s room?” she asked as she knocked the Do Not Enter (Especially not any Uni) sign pasted onto the door.
Ellie released Ko’s head and leapt off the bed, pointing one claw accusingly at her owner.
“He just told me that you’re leaving us with Sylkon,” she said loudly.
Frosti sighed. “It’s true.” She held up a hand to stop any objections. “But it’s only for a few days while I go back to Neopia Central to fetch the rest of our furniture.’
Ellie narrowed her eyes. “Take him with you.”
“I can’t,” Frosti said. “You weren’t travelling him on the way here. He drove me crazy.”
“Ya think?” Ellie heard Ko mutter, moving his head dangerously close to the bed frame again.
“It’s only a couple of days, kids. Besides, you can use that time to explore Sakhmet, and knowing him, he’ll probably stay inside. ”
Ellie thought about that with an evil glint in her eye. Then she looked at Ko. He cocked his head, then nodded, a tiny dip of his head.
“Fine. We’ll look after him,” Ellie said.
Frosti looked relieved. “Thank you,” she gushed. “I’ll probably leave in half an hour. You’re in charge, Ellie, 'cause you’re the oldest.”
Ellie nodded, then turned on Ko, pointing to the sign on her door. “Can’t you read?” she asked, prodding him in the side of the head. “It says ‘Do Not Enter’.”
Ko glared at her, then picked himself up, rearranged his headdress so that it wasn’t threatening to topple off, and bounced out of the room. Ellie sank back onto her bed with a sigh. This was going to be an interesting few days.
One hour later the house was very quiet. Ellie woke suddenly from her doze and checked the clock hanging on her wall. Then she scrabbled to her paws and raced into the hallway, down the stars, and into the kitchen.
As she expected, Ko was inside. He pulled his head out of the cupboard and stared at her. “’Bout time you were awake,” he commented as he popped a cookie into his mouth.
She took the rest of the cookies out of his paws as pay back for breakfast. “Has Frosti already gone?” she asked in a small voice.
Ko nodded. “She didn’t want to wake you.”
Ellie chewed on a cookie despondently. “I wanted to say goodbye.”
“It’s only a few days,” said Ophir from the lounge room, curled up on a Kauvara beanbag. “She’ll be back. It’s not like it’s forever...” Her voice trailed off sadly and she returned to where she was scrawling words onto a piece of paper.
“What’s that?” Ellie asked, going closer.
Ophir gave a little start and looked up again. “Nothing. Just my diary.”
“Oh.” Ellie settled down on a nearby armchair and sighed. “There’s not much to do now,” she said. “Where’s our darling brother?”
Ko grinned. “I think he took a shower after you saw that dirt in his mane,” he said cheerfully.
“And a good thing you did tell me, Elloria,” Sylkon said as he came walking into the room. Ellie twitched when he said her full name. “I only just stopped it from staining.”
“Oh good,” she said. “Well, in that case, would you like to join Ko and me on a walk?” She looked at Ophir as well.
The striped Kau closed her diary carefully and nodded. “That would be nice,” she said.
Sylkon, on the other hand, looked horrified. “No thank you,” he said. “I’d rather stay here and...” He paused and tried to think of a plausible reason to stay.
“It’s okay,” said Ellie. “You can just stay and guard the house. Come on, guys.”
Ko bounded after her as she pushed open the front door, and after a seconds silence Ophir followed. She smiled at Sylkon as the door closed with a snap.
The royal Uni stood still for a single second, then looked down at himself. His red clothes and fur seemed in perfect order. So he raced to the door and pulled it open, calling, “Wait for me!”
Or he would have, if a puff of wind hadn’t filled up his mouth with sand. He spat it out and shook his head to clear his eyes. When he opened them again he realised that he couldn’t see his siblings anywhere. With a huff he turned to go back inside, and as he did so something hard hit him on the back of the head.
The force sent him stumbling forwards, and the door slammed shut behind him under another wave of wind and sand. He glared down at the offending object and then his eyes widened in surprise.
For lying in its own pile of sand in front of him, gleaming a bright gold, was a magic lamp.
To be continued...