Brothers, Ghosts, and Graveyards... Oh My!
Riley, the Royal Acara, should have known what was happening. Her owner Beth had been working around the clock to add a new room to their Neohome. She had been stockpiling one dubloon coins even though Riley was at level 25. Beth had also started bringing home unusual books such as Poogle Pages, Poogle Day Ideas, and Painting Poogles.
Riley had ignored these things preferring to recline on her Pink Castle Bed reading Being a Princess to solving the mystery of what Beth was up to.
Had Riley been just a bit more aware, then she may not have been in complete shock when Beth opened the door to her room and proudly said, “I want you to meet your new little brother Patrick.”
Riley peered over her book at Patrick. He was a Yellow Poogle. She could tell from his excited expression that he was only a few days old. Only the young had that expression of wonder.
Patrick was not like the other pets Beth had brought home from time to time.
The others had the tired eyes of those who had been brought home from the pound. They had been given a plain room with a Simple Blue Chair and Simple Blue Bed. Beth had taken them daily to the Lab Ray until their basic colors changed to something more unusual than simple Red, Green, Blue, or Yellow.
Beth had then put out ads on the boards until the perfect homes were found and the grateful pets thanked both Beth and Riley as they went to their forever homes.
Riley could feel in her bones that Patrick was going to be different. He wasn’t going anywhere.
Patrick leaped forward on to the bed to give his sister a hug.
“Gross! Don’t drool on me,” Riley shouted, pushing her brother to the floor.
“Come on, Patrick. I’ll show you to your new room,” Beth said, casting a scolding look at Riley, who sulkily turned back to her book.
“It’s not fair! Why does he get all the new stuff?” Riley shouted, her cheeks showing red under her fur.
“Patrick just got here and doesn’t have very much.”
Riley glared at Beth. She wished she had kept better track of the construction project that was being done around her. Patrick’s room was so perfect! The walls were covered with Paneled Krawk Island Wallpaper. An Aboogala Petpet Bed sat beside a Fire Fairy Canopy Bed. Then of course there was the Purple Camouflage Dresser and the Hover Chair.
And if all that wasn’t enough to make Riley green with envy, there was a Meridell Toy Box filled to the brim with everything from Candy Floss Wings to Eyrie Punching Bags.
Her own Royal Toy Box had mostly broken toys. More than a few that she had broken that morning in her tantrum.
“I saw you looking for paint brushes. How come I don’t get a new color?” Riley whined.
“I thought Royal was your dream color. Isn’t that what you begged to be painted?”
“Yes, but he gets a new color so I should too.”
“I don’t think so,” Beth said with a frown. “You have been painted many times. This is his first. I’m going to choose the color this time since he hasn’t seen too many other pets but I am sure eventually he will settle on a color that he wants.”
“What color are you painting him?”
“But I want to be Shadow.”
“You were shadow before and you didn’t like it, remember. You insisted on being repainted pink.”
“But I like it now,” Riley said.
“I’m sorry. You are just going to have to live with the fact that you have a little brother now and that since he is so new that sometimes he will need more attention than you."
“I wish you had never gotten me a brother!” Riley shouted, slamming the door behind her.
Patrick was stuck to Riley like a Vernax to a Gruslen. It didn’t matter to Patrick if Riley was browsing Uni’s Clothing with FlyAway the Faerie Pteri, riding the Roo Island Merry Go Round with Kewl the Green Krawk, or snacking with Goldy the Orange Koi at Kiko Lake Treats, he wanted to be with his sister.
Riley scowled as he followed her about.
“I don’t want to take him!” she complained to Beth.
“He is your little brother. You need to be nice to him and make him feel included,” Beth replied again and again.
“What are we doing today?” Patrick asked as he watched Riley apply the last touches from her Acara Compact Brush.
“We aren’t doing anything! FlyAway, Kewl, Goldy, and I are going to Neovia to go shopping and you can’t come. You are too little,” Riley said.
“I think she is right this time,” Beth said when Patrick begged her. “Neovia can be a bit much for a young neopet like you. How about you stay home, and as soon as I get back from the Post Office, we can play some Kacheek Seek?”
“I guess,” Patrick said as he watched Riley open the door.
“I’ll be home in about an hour,” Beth said.
Riley was having a great time in Neovia. First, they had stopped at Prigpants & Swolthy Tailors and Riley had tried on a Curled Blonde Wig with a Simple Fur Lined Cape. She had loved it but didn’t have enough in her allowance for both. She had settled instead on a Pink Silk Fan.
Then, she and her friends went to the Crumpetmonger for some Spiced Muffins. They had just settled at their table when a Faerie Uni opened the door.
Riley watched curiously as the Uni asked the Meerca behind the counter a question and then came over to their table.
“Riley?” he asked.
“Neomail delivery.” The Uni handed her a letter.
“Thanks,” Riley said taking it from the Uni’s hoof. She opened the letter carefully. “What is it?” FlyAway asked.
“It’s from Beth. She came home and Patrick was gone. She wanted to know if he was with us.”
“Oh dear,” Goldy said.
“Maybe he tried to follow us,” Kewl suggested.
“We should go and look for him. Create a search party,” Riley said.
Patrick was cold. It wasn’t exactly a chilly night, but something about passing the Game Graveyard made his fur stand up on end. He wasn’t sure where he had gone wrong. He had asked a very friendly Meepit he had met along the way for directions and he thought he had followed them to the letter.
He looked around him cautiously. Had he just missed the small sign towards Neovia? It was possible. Maybe he should turn back.
As he was about to do just that he heard a long howl. Looking up, he saw a Ghost Lupe coming towards him. He did the only thing he could think to do then. He ran.
Riley and her friends checked Chesterdrawers Antiques and the Neovian Printing Press, but Patrick was nowhere to be seen. They even doubled back and checked Prigpants & Swolthy Tailors and The Crumpetmonger again, but still no Patrick.
“Maybe he didn’t make it quite to Neovia. It can be a bit tricky. He could still be in the Haunted Woods,” Kewl suggested.
“I sure hope not. That place is huge and there are so many places to get lost,” Goldy said.
“He must be so scared!” Riley said. She was feeling panicked now. Even though Patrick was annoying, he was still her little brother. He let her borrow his toys and read his books. He even played Key Quest with her whenever she wanted even though he never won. She would never forgive herself if they didn’t find him.
Patrick wasn’t sure where he was now. He had passed a talking tree which kept shouting questions at him, a creature rising out of the ground yelling, “I am hungry. Feed me...”, and a house he wouldn’t have gone in even for double his allowance.
In the distance he could see a fire. As he got closer to the light, he saw several houses on wheels. Part of him wanted to knock on their doors. Maybe someone had a pet with wings that could take a neomail to Beth. Or maybe a bike.
Of course something awful could be in those houses. Hadn’t he had nightmares about being chased by a Zombie Grarrl. Who else would live in such a place?
Patrick was just getting up the courage to approach the door when he felt something grab his tail.
“Stop that, silly. You’ll wake up the Korbats,” Riley shushed.
“Am I glad to see you,” Patrick said, hugging his sister.
“You had Beth really worried. You shouldn’t have run off like that,” Riley said.
“I know. You are right. I am really sorry. I just wanted to hang out with you.” Patrick began to cry.
“You are much too young to be in the Haunted Woods by yourself. And sometimes I need time to hang out with my friend. Now, I am going to take you home and you are going to stay there. We are going to be coming back to the Haunted Woods the 31st day of Collecting. Maybe you could come with us then. Kewl says it will be a lot of fun,” Riley said.
“Can I really?” Patrick asked.
“I guess you can. After all, a little brother needs a big sister to teach him all the best places to see in Neopia.”