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The Allegory of the Oatmeal


by battlesunn

--------

"I think that I'll have oatmeal for breakfast tomorrow."

     Ezanna glanced up from the magazine that he had been reading. The skunk Krawk rolled his eyes and gave his sister a slightly patronizing look.

     "You don't like oatmeal," he remarked. The sister in question, an Island Gelert called Shelleylou, narrowed her eyes and glared at him.

     "That's ridiculous. I love oatmeal." She gave a wistful sigh. "It tastes so good, with milk and brown sugar--"

     "No, you're glorifying oatmeal again," Ezanna interrupted. "Every time you make it, you wind up getting sick halfway through the bowl and then you can't finish it. Then for a week you claim that you hate oatmeal. But as soon as those seven days are up, you're back to saying how great it is. It's the same thing every time."

     Shelleylou bristled angrily. "I'm not glorifying oatmeal, Ezanna. You can't 'glorify' oatmeal. And I have never failed to finish a bowl of it once I start eating."

     The Krawk shrugged his black and white shoulders. "Fine. Believe what you want; make your oatmeal tomorrow. You'll get sick, mark my words," he said as he buried his scaly snout in his magazine once again.

     Shelleylou leaned over and snatched the magazine from Ezanna's claws. The Krawk jumped up indignantly.

     "Hey, I was reading that!" he shouted as he advanced on the gloating Gelert. Shelleylou chuckled, her bright green eyes skimming the first few pages. She smirked.

     "Pirates, Ezanna? You were looking at a pirate catalogue?" She gave a sharp, barking laugh. "Don't tell me-- you want a pirate paint brush, don't you?"

     Ezanna faltered. "Well, yes, I mean... I've wanted one for awhile now..." he began lamely. Shelleylou scanned the price lists, a low whistle escaping from her lips.

     "Wow, Ez. These things cost about a million Neopoints," she said in disbelief. "There's no way that you'll ever get one. Not when our owner's already spent so much on you--"

     "What? So much on ME? What about you?" Ezanna said, cutting the Gelert off. He began ticking off purchases on his claws. "Let me see. A gold paint brush, a shadowed paint brush, millions of Neopoints worth of codestones and weapons, a Kougra morphing potion, a Darigan paint brush, an island Gelert morphing potion and a blue Meowclops! You've cost our owner way more than ME!" the Krawk triumphantly declared. Shelleylou growled in response.

     "So? I was the first Pet. It's only natural that I should have the most money spent on me. Besides, you've gotten lots of stuff too. What about your silver paint brush, back when you were still a Zafara? Or the Krawk morphing potion, or the skunk paint brush, or the black Gruslen? Have you forgotten about those?" Shelleylou spat. Ezanna sighed, feeling defeated.

     "Even so... I'd really like to be a pirate Krawk. Skunk is so..." he ran his claws through his crisp, white mane. "...It's so boring. It's dull. It's black and white! I want a new look!"

     Shelleylou snorted. "You know what your problem is, Ez? It's that you can't be happy with what you've got. You're over glorifying the concept of being painted pirate. It's just like me and my oatmeal."

     Ezanna raised his eyebrows. "So you're admitting to having over glorified oatmeal?" he asked, a small smile playing across his reptilian features. Shelleylou stifled a snarl.

     "No. I'm just saying that, hypothetically, my non-existent oatmeal problem is a direct allegory for your pirate thingy."

     "I think you misused the word 'allegory'. You should've said comparison, or maybe metaphor."

     "Allegory sounds cooler."

     "Can we just get back to the subject at hand?"

     "Certainly. My point is, you just think that you want to be a pirate Krawk. You don't really believe it. It's exactly the same as the oatmeal thing."

     "It's completely different!"

     "It is exactly the same!" Shelleylou snapped. She then relaxed, giving an exasperated sigh. "But if you're really so gung-ho on this whole pirate fantasy then go and take it up with Sunny. She's the one in charge of our finances, remember?"

     Ezanna nodded thoughtfully. "Good idea. I will go talk to Sunny," he murmured. Shelleylou disdainfully curled her long, willowy tail around her legs.

     "Just don't expect to see any results, Krawky," the Gelert scoffed as she flounced off in a huff. Ezanna gnawed on a claw.

     "I just have to make a good case. Now, where is my owner?" He meandered over to the bottom of the staircase, starting up the first few steps.

     "SUNNY!" he called. "Sunny, are you there?" The Krawk perked an ear to catch his owner's reply.

     "I'm in the living room! Go in there if you want to talk to me, don't stand around screaming." Ezanna noticed that she sounded rather annoyed; a bad sign under any circumstance, but particularly dangerous when one wanted to request something of her.

     The Krawk shuffled into the living room, hoping and praying that Sunny wasn't in too bad a mood. Ezanna grinned sheepishly at his owner, scuffing the carpet with his feet.

     "Sorry Sunny," he began apologetically. His owner got up from the couch that she had been sitting on and glowered at her Krawk.

     "You should be. It's noisy enough in here without my Pets screaming their heads off. What did you want, anyway?" she demanded. Ezanna cleared his throat.

     "Um, well, I was wondering if maybe you could buy me a pirate paint brush, since I've been such a good Krawk lately," he wheedled, a hopeful glimmer in his large yellow eyes. Sunny raised an eyebrow.

     "And why do you want to be a Pirate Krawk?"

     "Because Pirate Krawks are cool!" he persisted. Sunny snorted.

     "That's ridiculous. You're totally glorifying those stupid paint brushes," she muttered. Ezanna narrowed his eyes.

     "No I'm not! I love pirates!" He paused suddenly. This entire situation seemed a bit familiar... Sunny crossed the room and collapsed into a patchy red bean bag chair.

     "Forget it, Ez," she said. "Those brushes cost about a million Neopoints and I've already spent enough on you." The Krawk's owner then pulled out a Battledome catalogue and began to leaf through it idly. Ezanna bristled.

     "You've got more than that in the bank! What else are you going to spend it on?" he asked. Sunny grunted.

     "Oh, you know... Stuff," she vaguely replied. Ezanna cocked his head to the side and then scowled, having caught sight of the Battledome catalogue. The Krawk strode to his owner and tore it from her hands, scanning the pages angrily.

     "You're going to buy weapons, aren't you?" he accused. "Weapons and codestones for Shelleylou! Why should she get everything?"

     Sunny lunged up and snatched back the pamphlet. "That's none of your business," she sniffed. Ezanna growled.

     "It's not fair! You buy Shelly expensive things; why not me?"

     "Because weapons are completely different from paint brushes."

     "They're exactly the same!"

     "No, they're completely different. They're a necessity. Shelleylou needs codestones to train and weapons to fight with so that she can help defend Neopia in times of war."

     "That's Kau dung! Shelly always supports the enemy!" The Krawk began to rattle off a list of wars. "She's fought for Lord Darigan, Lord Kass, Galem--" Sunny cut him off.

     "That's beside the point," she snapped waspishly. "The point is, it's more important to train up your sister. You're already painted a very nice, practical color. I don't see why you'd want to be a stinky pirate." Sunny buried her nose in the booklet once again. Ezanna began to pace up and down the room in a frenzied state.

     "This is ridiculous," he grumbled. "If you're not careful, I might just turn GREEN with ENVY," the Krawk spat. Sunny glared at the reptilian Neopet.

     "And I might just turn RED with ANGER!" she yelled. Ezanna quailed under the onslaught.

     "All right, all right, I won't bug you about it again," he conceded fretfully. Sunny sighed, a look of pity flitting across her face.

     "Oh Ez, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to yell at you," she said sympathetically. Ezanna brightened up.

     "So you'll buy me the brush?" he asked hopefully. Sunny gritted her teeth.

     "No," she began, fighting to keep her patience. "But I'll make you a deal. If I happen to find a pirate paint brush in a random event, or win one as a prize, or get it from a friend, then I'll paint you with it," Sunny compromised. Ezanna rolled his eyes.

     "Oh, swell. I suppose that boosts my chances up to about one point ONE in one million, eh?" he said sarcastically. Sunny cracked her knuckles.

     "If you'd rather revert that chance back to a round zero," she threatened. Ezanna gulped.

     "No, no, I'll keep my meager odds, thank you very much," the Krawk stammered. Sunny smiled.

     "Good. Now run along, dear. I've got some work to do." Sunny promptly rose from her seat and strolled out of the room, whistling cheerfully to herself. Ezanna glared after her retreating form.

     "Work to do, that's rich. She's probably going off to buy Shelly more Battledome equipment." He sighed and flopped dejectedly onto the couch, folding his arms behind his head and staring up at nothing in particular.

     "So now I wait," he mused. "I wait until Sunny randomly finds a pirate paint brush." The Krawk snorted derisively. "Like it'll ever happen." Ezanna yawned and scratched idly at his well-kept white mane.

     "I think I'll take a little nap..." he mumbled, trailing off as he strolled into his subconscious.

     ***

     Sunny stared incredulously at the humming paint brush that the mysterious cloaked figure held in his hands.

     "Here," he hissed. "Take it."

     Sunny cringed, staring guiltily at the hook-handled brush. "Oh no... I don't know if I can accept this," she told Jacko, politely pushing the brush away. The Phantom Painter scoffed.

     "Excuse me? You would refuse a pirate paint brush? Why on Neopia would you do that? Don't you know how rare they are?" he demanded. Sunny sighed.

     "Under normal circumstances I'd have already taken and sold that brush by now. The thing is, my Krawk desperately wants to be painted pirate," she said. Jacko scratched his head.

     "Well, now he can. Why won't you take the brush?" he asked quizzically. Sunny mumbled something under her breath. Jacko put a hand to the spot on his hood where his ear might've been.

     "Pardon me, I didn't quite catch that," he said. Sunny gritted her teeth.

     "I said that I don't like pirate Pets! You don't know my Krawk, you wouldn't understand! Look, if I paint him pirate then he'll completely surrender to the will of the brush. He'll start hopping around like a Kyrii on a sugar high while spouting idiotic phrases like, 'yarr matey!' and 'shiver me timbers!' Next thing you know he'll be spending all my savings on some boat and setting out to sea! I can't let that happen!" She panted slightly, feeling somewhat winded after her rambling tirade. Sunny inhaled deeply, calming herself down. When she was sufficiently subdued, she looked Jacko in the spot on his hood where his eyes ought to have been and spoke in a calm, level tone.

     "Look Jacko, these theme brushes do funny things to your Pet. I guess you wouldn't know, since you don't have any Neopets of your own, but I've seen it happen! Pirate, Tyrannian, Halloween, Island... They can change your Pet's total personality if they're not strong-willed enough to overcome it. That's why I painted Ezanna skunk; it doesn't have any personality bending properties," she explained. Jacko inclined his head slightly.

     "I don't quite understand," he admitted. "Could you tell me an amusing yet helpful anecdote?"

     Sunny rubbed her temples in frustration but complied; pulling out the first example she could think of. "My Gelert, I painted her Island recently," she began. "Now, if she was as weak-minded as Ezanna is, then she'd be prancing around Mystery Island right now, singing songs and reciting haikus while playing a Ukulele and making little toy sailboat souvenirs. But because she's got a powerful mind, she's exactly the same as she always was."

     Jacko massaged the area on his hood where his chin probably was. "I think I'm getting it. So, your Krawk's stupid, then?"

     Sunny shook her head fervently. "No, it has nothing to do with intelligence, it's strength of mind. Shelleylou, that's my Gelert, she's got very good control of herself. None of my other Pets do. My Halloween Ixi is just as demonic as his paint job would suggest, my Lupe is a friendly green, and Ezanna... Well, he's a neutral black and white. If I paint him with that," she gestured with her hand at the offending brush. "Then he'll adopt the entire pirate shtick. And I won't have that happen!"

     Jacko held up the brush. "Why not sell it, then?" he asked. "It could fetch you a bundle of Neopoints. Nobody says you have to actually use it."

     Sunny moaned, slapping her forward. "I can't! I promised my Krawk that if I came across a pirate paint brush by chance that I'd paint him with it. I wasn't expecting to be presented with one the second I stepped out the door!" Sunny looked to the sky and shook her fist in what she imagined to be Faerieland's general direction. "Why is it that those accursed Faeries always feel the need to give me things when I can't accept them?" She dropped her hands and kicked the ground angrily. "Fyora's probably got it in for me," she grumbled. Jacko clucked his tongue sympathetically.

     "I feel for you, buddy. Look, why not just take the brush and sell it in secret? Your Krawk will never know."

     Sunny brightened up. "Good idea! I can pull off a simple auction without Ezanna's knowledge. He'll be none the wiser!" She happily accepted the brush.

     "Thanks Jacko! I won't forget it." Clutching the item protectively to her chest, she ran off back to her Neohome.

     ***

     "Shelly! Shelly, come here, check out what I got!"

     Shelleylou looked up wearily. The Gelert had just finished eating a whole bowl of oatmeal and didn't feel at all well. Ezanna, as it happened, had been completely right. Shelleylou really did hate the warm, gloppy cereal.

     "What is it?" she burbled, her stomach gurgling unpleasantly. Sunny came skidding into the room, with a strangely wrapped package under her arm. She glanced around conspiratorationally, and then motioned for her Gelert to come closer.

     "Look at this, Shelly," she murmured, drawing out the package and pulling off the cloth wrapping. Shelly gasped, her stomachache temporarily forgotten.

     "Sweet mother of Juppie!" she exclaimed. "You actually bought him the brush?"

     Sunny shook her head. "No! Jacko the Phantom Painter gave it to me. I have no intention of painting your brother pirate."

     Shelly's eyes widened. "Wow... That'll fetch us about a million Neopoints!" She did some quick calculations in her head. "That's like two hundred codestones!" the Gelert said with a joyful bark.

     Sunny grinned. "Right!" She frowned suddenly. "But there is one problem. I promised Ezanna that if I got a pirate paint brush in a random event or something like that that I would use it to paint him!"

     Shelly groaned. "Why'd you promise him something like that?" she demanded. Sunny scowled.

     "Well I wasn't expecting to actually get one!" she snarled. Shelly glowered back at her, and just when it looked like the two were about to start throwing punches at each other, Sunny relaxed and smiled again.

     "It's no problem we can't overcome. All we have to do is sell it without Ezanna noticing," she explained. Shelly furrowed her brow, staring at the ground.

     "I don't know, Ezanna's pretty smart..." she said doubtfully. Sunny dismissed the Gelert's concerns with a wave of her hand.

     "Nonsense. We'll just go and auction it off right now; he'll never know."

     Shelly allowed her lips to split into a malicious grin. "Cool. Let's get going, then."

     Cackling like a pair of Halloween Chias, the Gelert and her owner scurried out of the Neohome, headed for Neopia Central.

     ***

     Ezanna strolled through the auction house, gazing longingly at the various items that he knew he would never be able to afford. His eyes came to rest on a large glass case that housed his heart's desire, a pirate paint brush.

     "I'll never get to be a pirate," the Krawk pined. "I don't even know why I came here."

     Ezanna was eventually able to pull himself away from the brush's hypnotic presence and continue down the aisles of merchandise. The Krawk had awakened from his nap feeling a bit bored and antsy, so he had decided to get out of the house and go for a nice walk. As fate would have it, he wound up at the Neopian auction house. Clearly, the pirate paint brush was weighing more heavily on his mind than he had thought.

     Ezanna was just examining a handsome caged Ganuthor when he heard his sister's unmistakable yell.

     "Hot bargains here! We've got a brand new pirate paint brush for the cheapest price around!"

     Ezanna's jaw dropped. A pirate paint brush! The Krawk's heart thumped in his chest as he dashed back in the direction that he had come from, cutting through the crowds and pushing aside his fellow auction patrons.

     "Out of my way! GET OUT OF MY WAY!" he roared, streaking towards his sister in a blur of black and white scales.

     Upon her auctioneer's podium, Shelly visibly blanched. If what she was seeing wasn't a hallucination caused by a side effect of the medication that she had taken for her stomachache, then Ezanna was tearing through the assembled Neopians that had gathered around her pirate paint brush and looking quite mad as he did.

     "Sunny! Ezanna's here!" the Gelert shouted, grabbing the brush and cradling it against her chest. Apparently, her owner didn't hear, because she remained unseen. Shelly bared her teeth in a ferocious snarl, backing away from the enraged Krawk.

     "Shelly!" he screamed. "Where did you get that?"

     Shelly shielded the brush with her arms. "That's none of your business!" she snapped. Ezanna flexed his claws.

     "Oh, I think it is!" he said, advancing on the harried Gelert. "Sunny promised that if she got a pirate paint brush from a random event or a Neofriend that she would use it to paint me, not sell it and then use the money to buy more stuff for YOU!"

     Shelly straightened up. "Ezanna, if you try to attack me, then I'll knock you out with this nifty portable kiln that Battlesunn bought me," she said warningly.

     "THAT TEARS IT!" Ezanna roared. With a vicious war cry, the Krawk lunged at Shelly.

     The Gelert dodged easily, but Ezanna wasn't really aiming for her, anyway. As he went sailing past, the Krawk reached out and grabbed the pirate paint brush from Shelly's grasp. He hit the ground with the brush clutched tightly against his stomach, skidding a bit on the linoleum floor.

     "Ezanna!" Shelly cried. "Don't you dare--"

     But it was too late. With a triumphant grin Ezanna raised the brush into the air and brought it down against himself with a broad stroking motion. The bristles, dripping with the red and white spotted paint of the look, were less than an inch away from his scales. Ezanna was ecstatic. I'm going to be a pirate! he thought.

     It was at that exact moment that the Pant Devil swooped in and grabbed the brush.

     Ezanna watched, dumbstruck, as the little blue demon swiped the relic from the Krawk's clutches and flew off with it. Ezanna fell to his knees, gaping open-mouthed at his now empty claws.

     "Wha... What... NO!" The Krawk put his head in his hands and sobbed, his inky black shoulders heaving.

     Shelly bit her lip. Sure, she was annoyed at Ezanna for interfering with the auction and losing the brush to the Pant Devil, but he was still her brother, and she felt sorry for him. After all, he did sort of have a point, Sunny did spend a lot of Neopoints on her, and it was really only fair that Ezanna should get new paint brush every now and then. The Gelert sighed, padding softly over to her brother. She placed a tentative paw on his shoulder, clearing her throat gently.

     "Ez..." she began. Ezanna looked up.

     "What?" he spat. Shelly lowered her ears sheepishly.

     "I'm sorry, Ez. I should've convinced Sunny to let you paint yourself when she got the brush. You're right; it's really not fair that I get so much stuff and you so little." She thought for a moment. "You were also right about the oatmeal. I really don't like that stuff."

     Ezanna ran his claws through his snowy white mane, gazing idly at his reflection in the puddle of water that had formed from his tears on the floor. "That's okay," he said softly. "I think that I may have been over glorifying things too. Skunk's really not that bad of a color. In fact, it's rather nice." The Krawk smiled.

     "Pirate's not that great of a look anyway. Did you know that you lose a hand when you use that brush?" he said. Shelly laughed.

     "Great. So, for the record, we both learned a lesson, but we lost about a million Neopoints in the process," she said sarcastically. Ezanna chuckled.

     "Looks like it." He stretched and yawned, giving his sister a wry smile. "So, do you want to tell Sunny what happened or should I?" he asked jokingly. Shelly chewed a claw.

     "I think we should let her find out for herself." The Gelert glanced at the steadily setting sun. "It's getting late, we should probably go home now." She rose to her paws and gestured to Ezanna with her willowy tail.

     "Come on, Ez," she said with a grin. "I'll make us a nice pot of oatmeal!"

The End

 
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