Invisible Paint Brushes rock Circulation: 170,229,176 Issue: 391 | 8th day of Hunting, Y11
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Millions: Part Two


by _vinegirl_

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Poor Charm was in a bad condition when they finally reached their home in Neopia Central. Pan had dragged him to the Healing Springs right after leaving the Neohospital. He couldn't understand why Pan acted so worried. Perhaps it was because of the doctor's description of the disease. Or because the water faerie at the Healing Springs wasn't able to heal Charm. All he had been thinking about was collapsing into bed for a nice nap.

     Pan was in the next room, looking at the prescription. She was thinking of what the doctor had said – 'almost incurable'. The water faerie had never failed to cure Charm before. They usually went to her when Charm had a disease with an expensive or rare cure. She would heal him with her incredible powers. And with them frequently playing games of chance, they visited her a lot. Charm had developed his interest in faeries on these trips to Faerieland.

     After half an hour or so, Pan went down to Charm's room and peered in. 'Are you asleep?'

     'No,' came a feeble reply. 'Can't sleep.'

     'Still tired?'

     'Yes.'

     'I'm going out. I'll be back in an hour.' Pan put on her coat and stepped out.

     She arrived at the marketplace and made her way to the huge building in the centre, shaped like a blue wizard's hat with stars that made it look like a squashed pyramid painted Starry. If it looked odd from the outside, it was odder within. The whole building was just shelves of books everywhere, with long windows at regular intervals. Among all these books sat an ochre yellow JubJub who wore a cape and a hat that looked almost exactly like the building he sat in. A huge blackboard was perched on the wall behind him. There was a Techo before him when Pan went in, asking him if he could search for a Mau codestone.

     'Maximum price please,' the Shop Wizard asked the Techo in return.

     '8000,' came the reply.

     The Wizard nodded and closed his eyes. Pan felt goosebumps rise on her skin. A moment of total silence echoed through the room. Then, suddenly, all the books around them, every single one on every single shelf, popped open. And then their pages began flipping very fast, as though caught in a violent wind. One by one, a few books here and there stopped flipping and lay open. The rest of the books flipped till they ran out of pages and snapped shut. When the last book had been searched, the Wizard opened his eyes. As he did this, the blackboard behind him filled with names of shops that had Mau codestones in stock, how many were in stock and how much they cost. The Wizard wrote down the names and shop numbers on a paper and handed it over to the Techo with a smile. She thanked him and left. Pan half expected her to fly out one of the windows, because walking seemed out of place in a situation where, a minute ago, millions of books had been flapping like weewoos around them and a blackboard had written on itself. The Shop Wizard, though a day-to-day experience to most Neopians, was one of those things in her beloved Neopia that filled her with awe even after her using it so often.

     After the heartening display, Pan stepped forward to face the old JubJub herself. She felt a lot more optimistic than she had on her way there. 'If it's in any shop in Neopia at all, he'll find it,' she thought to herself as she pulled out the Doctor's prescription from her pocket.

     ***

     Charm was tossing and turning in bed. He felt tired, yet couldn't fall asleep. Neither could he think of getting off bed. He couldn't even sit up when he heard the front door slamming.

     'Pan, is that you?'

     'Yes, Charm. Do you want something to eat?'

     'No, thank you. Pan, I'm feeling worse.'

     Pan came into the darkened room. 'Don't worry, dear, I've found the cure. It's just a little more expensive than I thought. I'll get it soon. I got you some books you can read in the meantime.'

     'Alright,' Charm answered, too tired to notice the darkness in Pan's voice. He really didn't think he could read anything right then, but he said nothing. Pan put some books down on his bedside table. She pulled open the curtains of the windows to let some light in and left the room without looking at Charm.

     Once inside her own room, she let her tears flow. She had been unsuccessful at the Shop Wizard and the Auction Genie. She'd asked around and found there were no shops in Neopia Central that sold it, not even Kauvara's. She'd gone to the Trading Post and searched, successfully. She'd found one vial of Rosalite Potion. Her world turned around, but for all the wrong reasons.

     The vial cost one million neopoints.

     After drying her tears, Pan stepped out of her room and opened her Safety Deposit Box. She rummaged through the huge amount of items she had saved. She was quite a packrat, though she hadn't made it to the avatar, and now she never would. But none of this crossed her mind as she took as much she could carry and went out.

     Over the next few weeks, Charm spent his time in bed. He lay motionless on his bed, with no energy or reason to move. Pan spent her days at the marketplace, selling almost everything she had. She still played games, but not games of chance. She spent what time she had away from her shop in the games room, earning neopoints. She collected her daily interest from the Bank. She checked the Trading Post every day to make sure the vial wasn't taken off the lot.

     At night, she would come back to her neohome, exhausted. She would go into Charm's room with a cheerful face and open the windows to let the night air and the sounds of Neopia Central in. She played songs for him on his favourite kazoo. She would have read to him, but she knew he couldn't concentrate. She had dug out his plushie collection from the Safety Deposit Box and arranged them in his room, safe from her shop. Charm would watch her animated form flit around the room, too tired to tell her to get some sleep. He rewarded her with a weak smile at the right times. At dawn, she would give him a big hug and leave the room, and sleep for a few hours. She chose the morning to sleep because she hoped the noise outside would keep him company, rather than the quiet of the night. When she woke up, a few tears would escape, when she thought of how her dear Gelert couldn't do what she just did.

     Then one day, Pan had enough. She beamed at the Skeith at the Bank as she withdrew all the money in her account. She had saved up a little over one million. She would have run all the way to the Trading Post, except there was an ocean, a sea, and a strait to cross before she got to Mystery Island, but she hurried all the same. She reached the Lot. Her heart gave a leap as she saw the vial was still there, though she had already seen it intact that morning. The simple glass shape and the dull liquid inside looked like crystal holding molten gold to her.

     'I would like to place an offer, please,' she told Jhuidah, the caretaker of the Trading Post, trying to keep her voice steady. The Island Faerie nodded and took a slip. As she wrote down the offer and a message for the owner who had opened the trade, her eyes lingered over the vial.

     'That item is hard to sell, you know,' she told Pan.

     'That's okay, I'm not selling it,' Pan replied. Jhuidah's heavy-lidded eyes widened slightly. She had seen almost every item in Neopia in her long years at the Trading Post, and she knew the stories behind each. The slip she sent received an immediate reply. The owner had accepted the offer. Her lips spread into a warm smile as Pan held up her money.

     A completely different emotion was raging in Pan's mind. For what seemed an eternity, her mind had been fixed numbly on one thought - that she had to get the cure for her beloved Gelert. Now she had it. Now her mind whizzed from thought to thought. Now she thought about the million she had in her hand. The word 'million' seemed to stir a different memory in her.

     Over the long moment when she handed over the bag of neopoints to Jhuidah, a deep voice played in her head.

     Your greatest dream will come true.

     In a flash she remembered her old obsession. She remembered how much she used to want a million neopoints. Her mind faltered suddenly when she realized that, though only for an afternoon, the prediction had come true - she had become a Neomillionaire. Then the thought vanished as the Island Faerie put the vial in her hand. 'Congratulations, your trade was successful. Here's the rest of the money', Jhuidah said, handing Pan a smaller bag of neopoints. A faint thought of rebuilding her bank account flashed once, then faded from her mind.

     'Thank you.'

     Pan headed home, clutching her prize. On the way she stopped in front of the Neopian Petpet shop and looked in at the window. The pretty green Usul inside smiled at her expectantly. Pan looked down at the bag of neopoints in her hand. She opened the door and walked in.

     ***

     Charm was lying in bed, staring at the ceiling as he always did. He heard his owner coming in earlier than usual, but his Sleeping Sickness was at its worst stage now – he couldn't even turn his head in her direction, let alone call out to her.

     Pan went into his room and walked up to his bed, trembling, controlling her urge to jump and shout loudly. She didn't waste any time or words. She held up the vial and pulled out the cork. A smell of fresh leaves filled the room. Charm gathered the little energy that hadn't been stolen from him and opened his mouth. Pan poured the Rosalite Brew into his mouth and stepped back.

     Charm was still for a few moments. Then, for the first time in more than a month, he sat up. He almost fell down again as his owner crashed onto him, hugging tightly.

     'My baby!'

     'Call me that again and I'm going back to bed.' Charm's voice cracked from disuse.

     'Here, drink some water. You sound like King Skarl,' Pan said, moving to the table to fill a glass with water. She wiped tears from her eyes when she thought Charm wasn't looking.

     'Thank you for finding the cure, Pan. I didn't think it would take so long, though. How much did it cost anyway?' For Pan hadn't told him that she had spent her entire savings and earnings on the potion he had just drunk. And she didn't plan to.

     'Well, it was expensive. You know it's very rare, so it took some time to find it. Anyway, I have a surprise for you.'

     Pan bent down and picked up her bag. She pulled out something furry and red-brown.

     'A Doglefox!' Charm shouted, making the little petpet jump in Pan's arms. 'Oh, Pan, thank you so much! You are the best owner ever!'

     'Now that's something I hear every day,' Pan laughed, as Charm took the Doglefox from her. It licked his nose.

     'I'm gonna call him... Walter!'

     'How do you know it’s a boy?'

     'It is, right?'

     'Yes,' Pan admitted, watching Charm take Walter outside. Pan felt like a huge weight had been lifted off her chest. Millions did not matter anymore. Her Charm was happy again. The memory of the gypsy in the draped tent came back to her faintly.

     It had come true, though only for a few hours.

     Pan watched Charm playing with his new petpet, happier than she had ever seen him.

     Or maybe I'd had the wrong dream in mind.

The End

 
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