Jack and the Seven Curses of Renee: Part Seven
“You have to be kidding me! We just took a break twenty minutes ago, and you need another? This is ridiculous.” That was quite obviously the voice of my inferior companion, Lena. Saucy as a Kadoatie on bath day and sarcastic as my brother Cyrus, Lena was one mutant Aisha I loved to hate. Combined with Cyrus' brotherly sarcasm, their attitudes were nearly more than I could bear. Penny, a third mutant Aisha, was extremely quiet unless showing off her strange wilderness survival skills. I have a feeling she might have had one too many customizations with a daring adventurer hat, if you know what I mean.
To catch you up... we were all four climbing up the side of Terror Mountain with the intentions of setting a Baby Fireball petpet lose in Taelia's igloo. Don't look so horrified. You know you've considered it after receiving such cruddy rewards for doing those extravagant quests she offers. Anyway, we were doing it for a good cause. A dark Faerie by the name of Renee had cursed seven Aishas, including my brother Cyrus, during the festivities of Aisha Day in Neopia Central about a week earlier. They had been transformed into mutants. Cyrus had been forced to sleep in the barn, as our owner Marie is horribly afraid of mutants and spyders. After one night there we knew we couldn't stand it and decided to join the other six Aishas on a quest for their antidotes. Renee had made it awful easy on us too. She'd left a scroll with dirty work for each Aisha to do in exchange for their return to normalcy. (Which explains why we were about to melt Taelia's home.) So there we were on the side of Terror Mountain trying desperately to make our way to the top.
“Take my hand!” Penny was reaching down towards Lena, who was the last to climb up the ice shelf that we were all standing on. I could feel the ice groaning under our weight. The feeling of coming disaster was so thick in the air you could have cut it with a plastic butterknife. Finally Penny managed to pull Lena up over the edge and we all sat down in the snow, panting.
“We've a long way to go, yet,” I murmured looking up at the pointed crags and overhanging cliffs that faced us.
“Or we could try this...” Cyrus was standing near the mouth of a very dark cave. Exactly the kind of cave that no one should ever enter or even think about entering unless they are about to face certain demise.
“Yes, and be eaten. Nice plan, buddy,” I answered and flipped my furry tail so that snow flung up into the air towards the girls. It was either that or I was going to have to keep sitting on it. No way- it was cold.
“This could be a pathway linking to the Ice Caves...” Lena murmured and stepped into the entrance of the cave.
“You're both insane,” I stated in a matter-of-fact way that I had thought would end the conversation. However, that seemed to only fuel their determination to explore the cave.
“Well, let's go,” Penny stated and the three of them began heading into the cave.
“Are you three insane?! You don't know what's lurking in there! What if it connects with the Snowager's cave! Or worse- The Neggery!” I was practically breaking a sweat with all the jumping around. But could you blame me? These mutant Aishas weren't exactly doing a smart thing.
“Jack, shut it. This will save us a lot of time. And besides... you're brave enough to scare off the Snowager if we run into him. Remember last time?” Cyrus winked at me horribly and I cringed. That Snowager is really a pain in the morning...
“Hand me that torch we packed,” Lene commanded from the front of the line and Cyrus walked up to her holding the bag in his mouth. She dug in it for a second and emerged a moment later with matches and some hideous wadded up paper on the end of a stick pretending to be a torch.
“That's our protection from the dark and dank?”
Lena glared at me, lit the torch, and began walking again. Apparently she'd made it. Or something.
Three hours later I heard a high-pitched scream erupt from the end of the tunnel that sounded somewhat similar to Cyrus's impression of Marie. I'd been lagging behind sensibly. Think: if we ran into anything in the cave and have to backtrack, the one in the back of the line would be the furthest away from danger, and the closest to an exit. You always have to be thinking of these things when you go exploring in nasty caves that smell like old Lupe biscuits.
So anyway, back to the scream. It was Lena, alright. She'd just walked into a nest of spyders. Although, I think she was a bit more scared than they were. They skittered up the walls in a million different directions as Penny and Cyrus began pulling their webs off Lena's face. Her antennae ate a lot of the cobwebs. Disgusting.
“Look! I see light ahead!” Penny dashed through the hole we'd made in the curtains of cobwebs handing down in excitement. We all followed after her stickily. I say stickily because by this point we'd all managed to become covered with spyder webs. ***Authorial Note*** Just in any of you ever find yourselves in this situation, remember that trying to rub off sticky cobwebs onto someone else doesn't quite work. However, feeding the cobwebs to a mutant Aisha's antennae does work. And they burp lovely, spydery smells for the rest of the day. ***End***
“Happy Valley!” Lena began romping around in the snow like the end of some cheesy episode on Neovision while the rest of us maturely made snow angels. “Look at the cute little Yullie!” Now Lena was pressing her charming mutant face up against the glass of the Wintery Petpets shop.
I heard Cyrus say something rather ugly behind me and turned around to face him. “What is it?”
“We forgot to bring the Baby Fireball.” He dragged a paw down his face and exhaled loudly in aggravation.
“Maybe... the Wintery Petpets shop has one in stock,” I suggested hopefully.
“Are you insane? Why in the world would they keep a fiery petpet in stock here?” Cyrus sighed again and walked into the shop, letting the door slam behind him so that the tiny silver bells tied to it jingled merrily. The sound was a staunch comparison to the situation we were in.
I followed him into the store just to catch the last words of the shopkeeper's sentence, “...well, I'm good friends with her. Let me see what I can do. We might be able to have one shipped here tomorrow morning, if you're lucky.” Cyrus thanked the shopkeeper extensively and motioned for me to follow him outside.
“Alright, Lena and Penny. The shopkeeper has agreed to try to get his buddy in Neopia Central to ship over a Baby Fireball by tomorrow morning. Let's find somewhere to stay for the night. I wonder if Mika and Carassa would let us stay at their house? You know... we might could work in exchange for a place to stay for the night. They've been cleaning out their house for that garage for years, so I bet they would appreciate some help.”
Sure enough, Mika and Carassa did need help. Their igloo was so packed full of random junk that it could have supplied every person in Neopia the pack rat avatar. Ridiculous. We spent the entire rest of the day helping them clean. Even more ridiculous.
The next morning we all rose with the sun and headed back down to Happy Valley to the Wintery Petpets shop. It wasn't open, so I convinced Cyrus that we would all greatly benefit from buying ice cream while waiting.
“And how exactly am I going to benefit from buying you ice cream?,” Cyrus asked while staring at me suspiciously. “Will it make your mouth stick together?”
“There's a high possibility,” I answered while giving him a flashy smile.
“Well, all right then! What are we waiting for?” He struck up a pace that I thought was a bit too dramatic for this sort of thing and bought me the stickiest ice cream bar he could find. We thanked the blue Lutari selling them and headed back towards the Wintery Petpets shop. By now, the place was open, and people were already milling about inside like herds of babaa. Cyrus managed to side-step all the commotion and headed towards the back of the store while Lena, Penny, and I poked at the Felfs until they tried to bite us.
Cyrus emerged a few minutes later carrying a very large case between his paws and began to usher us outside. “It's in here. He's actually on loan, because we don't have any money. Once we melt her igloo, then we grab him and book it, got it?” We all nodded and he led the way up the path towards the top of Terror Mountain.
“Alright... there she is. Remember the plan?” Lena proceeded to tick off the bulleted list that was our plan that she'd apparently memorized by heart.
“Taelia... are you busy? I was coming up here to do some errands for you when I tripped and fell on an icicle. It hurt my paw...” I was giving a one-of-a-kind performance out there in front of her igloo, and Cyrus wasn't even there to see.
“Sure, sweetie. Just come on inside and I'll-”
“Oh... but I can't walk any further. Oh please, I don't want to be a bother, but...” I was putting those large Lupe eyes to good use now. Apparently it worked, because she came right up to me and kneeled down in the snow. “It's this paw. I took the icicle out already, but it really hurt!” I could have sworn that her igloo was getting smaller, but I knew that it was going to take longer than just the few minutes I'd been at it.
“Here, the snow should help,” Taelia said softly and began rubbing snow into my imaginary wound. I watched a small stream of water begin to drizzle from her house's foundations onto the mountainside below.
“That feels a lot better! How did you learn that?”
Taelia smiled and patted my head gently. “Not only water faeries can heal, little Lupe. But the water Faerie up at the Healing Springs in Faerieland does such a wonderful job... people have kind of forgotten that I do have other talents.”
“Oh Taelia, that's so terrible...” I murmured, actually beginning to feel sorry for her. Now the water from her house's foundations was rushing down the side of the slope. Some of it hit her feet and she looked up to find half of her igloo missing.
“What's happened to my house?!” She went running towards the place, but I knew that I didn't need to warn the others to evacuate the plan. Her yelling was so loud I didn't see how they possibly could have missed her. Sure enough, I saw the three of them sneaking back towards the path to Happy Valley with the Baby Fireball safely contained in it's case. I hurried after them, forgotten completely by Taelia as she yelled in rage. Apparently she'd found char marks and discovered that the melting had been intentional.
“Aye! There be nothin' better than a good bit o' trouble! What do ye say, matey?” Penny was grinning at me. Give you one guess as to what she normally was under that mutant exterior. “Well... arrrr, be seein' you landlubbers later. Scourge the curses like they were ye mother's own!” We watched waved her hook merrily in the air towards us and then dashed away through the chaos of Happy Valley.
“How's she going to get home?” Lena asked Cyrus and me in a very concerned, yet amused way.
“Probably steal someone's boat or force an aquatic Neopet to ferry her,” I mused. “Alright- check the list. Whose curse is next?”
Lena unrolled the scroll and we all sat down in an empty, far corner of Happy Valley to examine it. “Cyrus, it's you. This says... oh my goodness.”
“What? What is it?” I snatched the scroll from her and read out loud, “Cyrus- you must scare your owner Marie in public with a spyder. This must be completely humiliating in order for the curse to work.”
“That's just... beyond what any of the others had to do. How terrible. She would be so angry,” Lena commented softly and patted Cyrus on the shoulder. He looked up and nodded at her, though I had a feeling that it wasn't in agreement. They were plotting something silently. Mutant Aishas are good at things like that, apparently.
I watched them for a second and then shrugged, giving up. “Marie comes to Terror Mountain every Friday to visit the Snowager and try to steal a Negg for her collection. If you're going to do this, you need to catch a spyder and find out what day today is. Actually... there are spyders in that cave we came from.”
Cyrus nodded at me. “Let's go back to Mika and Carassa's house for the night. Tomorrow is Friday.”
The next morning when I awoke to the unfathomable amount of mess lying around me in the chaos that was Mika and Carassa's household, there was no sign of Cyrus or Lena. I dashed out of the igloo and down the road in search of them, but there was no sign of them. Hastily I headed towards the Snowager's cave, hoping that perhaps I could catch them. Maybe they'd gotten up early enough to have already finished Cyrus' curse antidote?
“...and you see, we just couldn't-” I heard Lena's voice as I rounded the bend of the rock cavern's passageways, “I'm willing to give up normalcy, and so is he. I know that you hate mutants, but it's really not all that bad. I mean, Cyrus and I have been living as mutants for these past few weeks, and we've kind of learned to enjoy it. If you stop looking at it as the leftovers of Dr. Sloth's plan... and start to just consider it like you would any other coat color, you can really learn to love Cyrus again.”
I sat down on my haunches and smiled, watching Lena talking to Marie while Cyrus sat near them.
“It's going to be hard,” I heard our owner say with a slight grimace. “But I'm so glad... oh Cyrus, come here. I'm your owner, and I've taken care of you for so long that I can't stop now. Not just because of appearances.” She hugged him tightly while his antennae snipped clean through her hair ribbon. “But what about you, Lena? If Cyrus doesn't change back, then neither can you, right? You won't know what your antidote is unless his name is cleared first?”
Lena nodded. “It's alright... I just can't go home. My owner won't take me back. He told me that he'd spent too much for me to become Royal, and that being cursed was a disgrace to the family...” I nearly choked. Lena had been a Royal Aisha?
“Well, that settles it. Let's go home,” Marie said and stood up while holding Cyrus' antennae tightly in her right hand.
“But Mum- what about Lena?” Cyrus looked up at her in confusion. She had never been one to ignore a Neopet's needy situation.
“Well, she's coming too. What, you thought I was going to just let her freeze here? Let's go. Oh, and Jack? Could you go check the Snowager for me? He's asleep and I want a Negg.” Marie smiled at me while Cyrus chuckled viciously.
Three minutes later I'd been MASSIVELY blasted by the Snowager and not rewarded at all for my efforts other than a 'maybe next time' from Marie. Maybe next time, my foot. I'm not ever going back into that cave again. Too many mushy, familial memories anyway.
Thanks for reading! Please Neomail me with any helpful criticism or compliments!