Purple Paint and Blue Blood
My family thinks I’m one of those prissy, elegant Cybunnies. My title is Hestia, Princess of Sakhmet. Yep. Blue blood—that’s me. Really, I’m a tomboy, but pretty much all of us are. I mean, my mom’s definitely not a girly-girl, and so none of us girls really are. I’m hardly elegant.
Okay, so maybe I am. A little. Being sent off to live with regular people has changed me. I’m not a spoiled princess. I’ve never met my mom, my dad’s gone... no. I’m not spoiled. I’ve been through a lot.
Yeah, I probably have impeccable table manners. Sure, I’m fluent in four different languages.
So much pressure. I mean, how am I going to be able to rule over all of Sakhmet? It’s a sprawling city filled with millions of Neopets. Plus, we own part of the Lost Desert besides the city.
I mean, burning your eyeballs by staring at a map of the Sakhmetian Empire isn’t all that interesting, but I know a lot about the place. The fact that there are so many people has always popped off the page and into my head, yelling, “YOU CAN’T DO IT! Hestia, you can’t possibly rule over ANYTHING!”
“Tia!” called my mother.
I cried out in surprise. My mind was wrenched out of its reverie.
“Come on! I have a good half hour to spend with you guys.”
“Okay,” I replied. I mean, we’re on her side account.
Well, I guess you don’t know who “we” is. Waffles is my brother—well, technically, he’s Prince Gharay of Sakhmet. But we call him Waffles. He’s obsessed with waffles. He’s kind of weird, but we all are in my family, even if Waffles and I aren’t really biologically related to them. Waffles gets such a rush from taking risks. Yep, he’s a troublemaker. He’s a yellow Gelert.
Sephone is a skunk Xweetok who’s shy, modest and a writer. She’s a philosopher. She wedges her way into all those little spots no one ever notices and manages to point out every detail. Oh, there I go talking like Sephone again. Well, she’s just one of those people who notice the details.
Sephone’s twin is Love the snow Xweetok. Love is Sephone’s opposite—narcissistic, cruel and shallow. Love and I... erm, don’t get along...
Anyway, I guess I’m complicated to explain because I hardly know myself.
“Let’s go do our dailies. Well, after breakfast, I mean.”
We went downstairs and sat at the blue table in the living room. We didn’t have all that much furniture.
The twins were chattering away about some teacher giving away test answers at their school.
Mom, meanwhile, passed out slices of omelette and glasses of orange juice. We were usually stuck in the Neolodge or eating at the soup kitchen, so I was grateful for this generous breakfast.
“So,” Mom said. “I almost have enough to morph you into a Cybunny.”
I grinned. I mean, I liked being a yellow Gelert, and it would be weird to change species, but I knew that Mom liked Cybunnies. Besides, the more I thought about it, the more I realized how pretty I’d look as a Cybunny. My honey-colored eyes would still be there. I would still be Tia.
Mom was great at planning surprises. What a surprise I’d be getting.
“WOO!” hollered Waffles. The meter went up, up, up, until...
“DANGIT!” cried the Mynci at the Strength Test. “Stupid thing ain’t supposed to let you win!” He flashed a coy smile in our direction and went into the backroom for my brother’s prize.
I gasped when I saw the Halloween paint brush.
“YES!” we all yelled.
“To the Trading Post!” announced Mom. “Thanks, creepy Mynci dude!”
The Mynci grunted as we left.
“I want tons of snowglobes for my gallery!”
Love said, “Wearables!”
“Actually,” I said, “this thing’s worth around 1,700,000 Neopoints. That’s just enough for a Royal Paint Brush.”
Mom looked at Waffles and me. “Which one of you wants to be painted?”
Waffles shook his head. “I can wait just a little longer before I start advertising the fact that I’m a prince to the world.”
Mom shrugged and led us to the Trading Post.
The milky white liquid in the bottle swirled around.
“I thought you had almost enough for this!”
Mom grinned wryly. “That was to trick you into thinking that I didn’t have it yet.”
I shrugged and uncorked the bottle. “Here goes nothing...” I downed the liquid. It was like liquid peppermint.
I think that pretty much everyone stopped when they saw me morph into a Cybunny. I could feel a green and red mane around my neck. Most of my fur was turning lighter and lighter until it was white. My ears shrank, my nose changed.
“Woot!” my mom said. “Let’s go paint you!”
“What the--? It. Is. Gone. GONE, MOMMY!” I was shaking Mom. “Where is it?!”
Waffles looked forward like he was some detective. “Let’s inspect the place for evidence.”
“Wait!” I said. “First, let’s go interrogate people who are selling Royal Paint Brushes. When you steal a paint brush, you sell it next.”
Mom nodded. “While we do that, Sephone and Waffles will look for evidence.” She glared at Waffles. “You’d better find it!”
“But I didn’t steal it or a—”
Mom had me by the paw and was dragging me off to a stall where people were selling Royal Paint Brushes. Love trailed behind us, flipping through a magazine. She always brings magazines wherever we go.
“Hi!” she said brightly.
“Hi,” they all replied dully.
“How much are you asking for?”
“1.75 million NP,” one of them said. The other five nodded.
“MOM!” Waffles was hollering. “We found a Neopoint!” He held up a shiny golden disk. “I’m gonna dust it for fingerprints!” He pulled out a packet of powdered sugar from his pocket.
“You carry sugar in your pocket?” I asked disbelievingly.
Waffles shrugged. “Bella says—”
“Of course she does,” I broke in dryly. “Now please dust the thing already. I wanna get painted!!”
He sprinkled some sugar over the coin. “Can you buy some tape?”
Mom nodded and ran off to get some. In a few minutes, she was panting and running back, waving a roll of tape around.
“Um... and paper?”
Mom sighed and ran back.
“Hurry up!” Love ordered. “They’re showing an interview with the Hikalakas on Neovision in an hour.”
When Mom charged back and relayed the paper, Waffles pressed the tape onto the coin, then pulled it off in a flourish.
He sighed. “Pen, please? We have to color the paper black so the sugar will show up on it.”
Mom’s a writer, so she always carried a pen. She pulled out a golden pen from her pocket and handed it over.
Once Waffles had colored it and put down the tape, we all crowded around him. While Mom put away her pen, Waffles asked Love, “Where’s your VirtuScreen?”
“I always have it.” Love pulled out a black square and pressed a button on the side. Then it unfolded into a thin black screen with a keyboard at the bottom. It was still no bigger that my two paws side by side.
Waffles was pushing buttons rapidly, his tongue plastered to the side of his face. Finally, he held out the screen. On it was an enormous list of fingerprints.
“I know a guy,” he explained when we all gaped. My brother has some... er, unique friends. He slid the paper into a slot on the side of the VirtuScreen and hit a few more buttons. When he held out the screen again, there were only three fingerprints on the screen. I assumed that he’d scanned it in or something.
“Alright,” he announced. “According to this, the culprit is... one of us.”
“Well, Mom and I aren’t on here.” Waffles pointed to the screen. “So you guys will just stay locked in here until one of you fesses up and gives the paint brush up.” He said this like he was saying, “I just won a million Neopoints!”
“Waffles!” I exclaimed. I turned to Mom. “You’re not agreeing with this, are you?”
Mom shrugged. “I’ll feed you.”
As soon as we’d gotten home, Waffles had taken us into the twins’ bedroom.
“Bye!” Mom and Waffles started to stroll out the door.
“WAIT!” I ordered. As the door clicked shut, I started banging on it.
Sephone stepped up. “Let’s open it.”
But it didn’t budge.
“We’re not stupid,” Waffles said through the door. “Well, maybe I am. A little.”
Waffles is pretty clever, and a bit of an inventor, but, yeah, he’s not always the sharpest knife in the drawer.
He wasn’t smart enough to realize how much I would torture him once I got out of that place.
They’d barricaded the door. We were trapped.
Mom was scooting around the furniture outside. She popped her head in and asked for the umpteenth time, “Ready to confess?”
Three days in that stupid room.
Then Love burst out, “I DID IT!” She held out the paint brush. “I was jealous, okay? I mean, Lovoire gets painted snow, but Tia the princess gets painted royal!!” Love pointed to me accusingly. “Not all of us are princesses!”
“Anger issues,” whispered Waffles.
Mom stifled a giggle and took the paint brush from Love. “Love, the color you’re painted doesn’t matter. Plus, I don’t have enough money to repaint you yet, okay? I still love you the same.”
Love nodded. Forgive me, but I think that she was just jealous. She lives to be in the spotlight.
Anyway, we went down to the Rainbow Pool and I got painted.
Flaunting my new look around Neopia Central, I started to really feel like Princess Tia.