"This is terrible! This is disgusting!" Kiana cried out, angrily. "Something moved on the ground! This is so gross!"
"Kiana, calm down!" Renee, a faerie Pteri, said. "I'm tired of your complaining. It's really getting on my nerves!"
Kiana shook her green mane. The wildberries rustled, filling the room with a sweet, natural smell.
"I just think it's kind of gross. Don't you see it? I still don't understand why we moved here." Kiana loved Mystery Island. The sand was almost always warm and comforting. The smell of the sea was always pleasant, and the food was delicious. Things the Haunted Woods could never grant.
"Well, what happened, happened. Don't you think we should be happy to have a home at all?" Renee turned a page in her book. "And besides, now Leah doesn't have to buy us an air conditioner. It was much too hot in Mystery Island."
Yes, but that doesn't make it bad, Kiana thought. I just wish Renee and the others loved Mystery Island as much as I did.
"Your mane is really, really pretty," Ella said, brushing Kiana's hair. Ella had always envied Kiana, always.
"Ouch, quit it," Kiana said, angrily. "Stop messing with my hair. You'll ruin it."
Ella nodded sheepishly and pulled her arm away. She was a yellow Aisha, but she wanted to become an Island Uni, just like Kiana. She also wanted three sisters like Kiana, and a rich owner like Kiana.
"I'm hungry. What do you have to eat?" Kiana asked, getting up.
"Oh, we have some omelettes, and some jelly..." Ella stood up, placing the brush on her dresser.
Kiana pretended to gag. "Freebie food? Can't you go get something decent? I always let you eat cool stuff when you come over."
Ella had moved to the Haunted Woods with Kiana when she heard Kiana was leaving Mystery Island. Kiana was her only friend, and she was the most desirable friend Ella had ever known.
"I'm sorry, I'm so, so sorry, what can 1,000 NP buy?" Ella pulled out a bag of her savings from under her bed.
"Not much," Kiana muttered. "But let's go get something real good. You want to go to Neopia Central?"
Ella's eyes widened. "That far? A-alright..."
Kiana rolled her eyes. "No, not REALLY. Let's just go find some place that's even slightly decent."
Kiana and Ella wandered the Haunted Woods for several hours. Kiana continuously said, "I want this," or "Let's have this," but they could hardly find anything affordable.
"You really can't do anything with 1,000 NP. Why can't you bring more?" Kiana groaned, annoyed. "I am hungry and there's nothing appetizing or even edible around here."
Ella sighed. Although she was grateful to have Kiana as a friend, she was often pained by Kiana's rudeness and needy behavior.
"Hey, what's that?" Kiana pointed at a poster. "Haunted Beauties!" was written in large font at the top of the poster. "Ghouls, ghosts, vampires, and other terrifying beauty kings and queens can join together in this magnificent contest! After testing looks, agility, performances, and overall, we will crown the Lady or Sir Haunting, who will be awarded a paint brush and/or morphing potion of their choice!"
Kiana's jaw dropped. "This is perfect!" she exclaimed.
She snatched the poster and rolled it up. "This is great! I am so tired of being an Island Uni! What should I become? Huh?" she turned to face Ella.
"Uhm... I don't know, Kiana. What do you want to be...?" Ella was upset. She wanted to win so she could become an Island Uni. But she knew that, if she won that contest, Kiana would never speak to her again.
"Kiana, you have a beautiful color. Why change it?"
Kiana huffed. "Because, Ella, I'm bored of being Island! I know, I know! What would you do if I became a Faerie Xweetok? Or a Royal Zafara? Or..."
Kiana continued rambling on. Ella sighed sadly. What am I going to do? she wondered. I've wanted to be an Island Uni for as long as I remember. But I wouldn't even care if it weren't for Kiana. Maybe if she wins, she... Maybe she can be a Royal Uni, or a Spotted Uni, just a Uni... Maybe she can ask for a Uni morphing potion, and I'll save up for the Paint Brush by myself...
"Mom, Mom, Moooom!" Kiana cried out. "Mom, you never listen!"
"Huhhh?" Leah, Kiana's owner, awoke from her daze. "What? What? Kiana? What's the matter? Did something happen?"
Kiana smiled. "Something amazing! I was at Ella's house earlier, and we were walking around town, and I found this!" She presented the poster for Haunted Beauties. "This is my life. Competing, being the best of the best. And if I win, I'll get to become a Faerie Xweetok! Or a Royal Zafara! Or maybe a Maraquan Uni, but that would get boring sooo fast..."
Leah rubbed her eyes. "What in the world, Kiana? You want to enter a beauty pageant? Why don't you enter the Beauty Contest?"
"Because, Mom! This contest lets me pick what morphing potion or paint brush I want. It'd be amazing!" Kiana smiled. "Oh, I know! Why don't you buy me a Halloween Paint Brush? I'd win for sure that way!" She pranced up the stairs and giddily closed the door.
Kiana searched through her closet. "This... isn't scary. This is scary! But... not scary enough." Kiana groaned. "Mom! And also, can you go buy me scary clothes?"
Ella looked at her reflection. "I'm not scary enough to compete in the pageant," she muttered to herself.
"Ella! Ella, goodness, what is taking so long?" Ella's sister, Fiona the blue Poogle, shouted. She banged on the bathroom door.
"Just hold on, Fiona!" Ella and Fiona were the only girls in their family, but they didn't necessarily get along.
"Fiona, I need to ask you something. Can I borrow your makeup? And, you know that witch laugh you do? Can you teach me how?"
Fiona rolled her eyes. "Alright, repeat after me..."
Ella cackled. Then she shook her head. "This doesn't sound right, Fiona. Maybe...?" She laughed again, but stopped herself. "Fiona, show me how you did it. How did you make it nasally like that?"
Fiona groaned. "Why do you even want to win the pageant? It's just a stupid contest."
Ella shook her head. "It is not just a contest. It is the best contest ever. If I win, I can get a paint brush and morphing potion of my own choice. And I want to be an Island Uni, but Dad would get mad at me if I bugged him too much about it. And he's saving up for your Faerie Paint Brush, so you should be nice 'cause you're getting what you want."
Ella looked through Fiona's makeup bag. "How's this one? I didn't know you had black lipstick."
Fiona shrugged. "I went through that dark phase. I also have black nail polish and tons of scary black clothing."
Ella sat up straight. "You do?! This is perfect! If I wear something scary, they'll pick me for sure!"
After what seemed like hours of trying on and taking off Fiona's clothes, Ella put on an outfit that made her smile. "This," she said, "is perfect."
"Ella? Ella? Hello?" Kiana said. "Why are you spacing out?"
"Huh? Oh, Kiana. What's the ma--" Ella stood, shocked silent.
"Ki-Ki-Kiana?!" Kiana was no longer an Island Uni.
"Crazy, I know, right? My mom got me a Halloween Paint Brush so I can win the pageant. I also bought all this scary clothing and makeup! I'll win for sure!" Kiana had a scary appearance, but she was wearing her typical girly clothes. "If I don't win, which is highly unlikely, my mom is buying me another Island Paint Brush. She doesn't want to morph me, the nerve of her, huh?"
Ella nodded silently. She suddenly felt bad.
Kiana got painted Halloween for this. Now I'll never win, she thought, sadly. And if I enter, she'll get mad at me. I don't know what to do...
"Get ready, contestants! Assemble by species! Acaras first, then Aishas, then..."
Ella stood in her species group, hoping Kiana didn't see her. Her makeup and clothing felt heavy. I wonder what would happen if I became an Usul...? She shook the thought away. No, she thought. No, I want to be an Island Uni. I've wanted to be one all my life.
"Contestant Number One... Aimee the Acara! Step up, Aimee!" the announcer said dramatically. A pretty pink Acara walked up the stage, smiling ear-to-ear, her red lipstick glistening in the bright lights. She seemed to have mistaken the contest as a typical beauty pageant.
"Thank you, Aimee! Beautiful show! Now, please proceed to the agility course!" The announcer excitedly pointed to the agility course. "Please try to complete the agility course in as little time as possible!"
Aimee stomped her foot. "What? I didn't know about any agility course! I can't run in this dress..."
"Then, Aimee, I'm afraid you are disqualified." The announcer sounded disappointed. "Please, a round of applause for Aimee. Now, Contestant Number Two, Alicia the Acara!"
"And now... Contestant Number Thirteen! Please welcome Ella the Aisha!" Ella froze up, but forced herself to walk on to the stage.
"What?!" She heard a familiar voice in the crowd. Ignoring this, she said, "My name is Ella. I have never competed before, but I am here today." She smiled, spinning in a circle. She cackled perfectly. Her messy red wig, pointy black hat, and ruffled black gown made her appear almost like a genuinely painted Aisha.
"Thank you, Ella! Now, please head on to the agility course!" Ella smiled and ran to the agility course.
"Now, on the count of three... Begin!"
Ella ran faster than she had ever run before. She jumped, crawled, and eased through the course.
"...And, time! Good job, Ella!" Ella smiled, watching people applaud. "Now, please show us your performance!"
Kiana growled. "That backstabbing, good-for-nothing..."
"And now, Contestant Number Fourty-Seven... Kiana the Uni!"
Kiana snapped back to reality. She pranced up to the stage, and did a perfect twirl. "My name is Kiana! I was an Island Uni but I'm sure if I win, I'll become something better!" The crowd applauded.
"Very impressive, Kiana. Now, head to the agility course!"
Kiana smiled. She was good at physical courses like this. She breezed through the course and finished with a smug smile, as the crowd applauded.
"Good job, Kiana! A new record! Now, let's see your performance!"
Kiana didn't think she had a very good performance, but she thought her superiority in the agility course would make up for it. She put on a big smile and told the crowd, "This is a song I wrote, especially for this pageant..."
"And now, we will announce the winners! For third place, Daniel the Pirate Shoyru will claim the crown, and a fire Paint Brush! Congratulations, Daniel!" The crowd roared as the beaming, yet visibly disappointed Shoyru headed up to claim his crown and prize. He held up the paint brush, smiled, then walked down the stage.
"And, second place goes to... Georgette, the Rainbow Poogle will claim the crown, a Baby Paint Brush and a Krawk petpet! Congratulations, Georgette!" An excited Poogle ran on to the stage, tears brimming in her eyes, as if she had won more than she expected.
"And now, for the first place, Lady or Sir Haunting is..." the announcer paused, smiled, then said, "Lady Haunting Kiana! She will win all the prizes given to the third and second place winners, as well as a paint brush and morphing potion of her choice! Congratulations, Kiana!"
Kiana screamed and ran up the stage. She was crowned and given her prizes.
"What would you like, Kiana? What Paint Brush and Morphing Potion would you like to have?"
Kiana grinned broadly and said, "I want a Faerie Paint Brush and an Xweetok Morphing Potion! I don't care what color, I just want the potion!"
The announcer smiled and said, "Very well, Kiana! Thank you all for participating in the Haunted Beauties beauty pageant! And congratulations to our winners!" The crowd boomed with appraisal.
Ella sat quietly, wondering what could have been. "If I had run a little faster, I might have won..." Then she shook her head. "No, I wasn't even in third place. I wouldn't have won anyways. I need to be painted to win."
Ella brooded and wondered to herself. She stood up and walked down the stairs to the living room, where her owner sat.
"Hey, Dad." She sat down on the armchair next to him.
"What's the matter, Ella? You didn't win first place?" He folded his newspaper and turned towards her.
"No, I didn't even win third place." She tried not to cry. "I thought I would, I don't know, get at least second place. I didn't know I wouldn't even be third." She sighed.
"Did you eat? Eating helps," he said, "and besides, you don't need to win a dumb pageant to prove to yourself that you're pretty."
Ella sighed again, fumbling with the curtain cord on her right. "I'm sorry, dad. I just... I'm just disappointed. I really expected more from myself."
Her owner straightened up. "Well, I didn't want to tell you too soon, just in case it doesn't happen, but I have all the lab map pieces except for one. When I get it, I can zap you until you're an Island Uni. Or, I can zap you until you're a Uni, then I can buy an Island Paint Brush and paint you with it. Is that all right?"
Ella shook her head. "When you finish that lab map... I don't want to be a Uni anymore. I want to be an Usul. A Royal Usul, so save up for my Royal Paint Brush." She smiled playfully before slipping off her seat and going to the kitchen to get something to eat.
"I look weird." Kiana groaned, examining her new self in the mirror. "My wings are all flubbery and weird."
"Will you please stop whining? You're fine, really. They're still wet from the paint. Don't touch them." Renee took a bite of her fluffy faerie pancakes. "And besides, you didn't pay anything to get that potion. Well, you bought a Halloween Paint Brush, but that's basically all that's significant enough to list."
Renee is always so mean about everything, Kiana thought.
"Hey, Renee? What if my antenna gets caught or something?" Kiana was not willing to give up on pestering her sister.
"Look, Kiana. You look fine. You look great. If you don't like being a Faerie Xweetok, then you shouldn't have asked for the paint brush and potion."
Kiana groaned. "I really can't take it anymore. I don't like this at all. I'm going to go ask Mom to buy me a Uni Morphing Potion and Island Paint Brush. This is terrible; I feel all gross. Xweetoks are gross."
Renee rolled her eyes. "Whatever. Your loss. I personally think you look better as a Xweetok, but hey, who am I to talk?"
Author's Note: The moral of this story is that when things are going bad, there's always something to make up for it in the near or distant future. And also, when everything seems perfect and wonderful, there is always some kind of flaw that you may not be happy with.