Who Needs a Royal Paint Brush? II
Want to read "Who
Needs a Royal Paint Brush?", number one? Check issue 156.
Sunlight poured into a small, brown Uni's bedroom, surrounding
her with a blinding pool of light. She shaded her view until the sun hid its
rays behind a large willow tree in the distance, and then flipped a page in
her coloring book, scribbling on a picture of a big, would-be Island Quiggle.
Cuni's hoof flew back and forth as the Quiggle
slowly turned blue from her crayon, pressing down to make the darkest shade
of blue she had ever made...
SNAP! Her crayon broke into two separate pieces,
and she held each one in her hooves, looking from one to the other. Letting
out a long sigh, Cuni tossed them over her shoulder and into the pile of other
bits and halves of used-up crayons. She reached for the box, pulled the piece
of cardboard toward her, and held it upside down. A few crayon shavings sprinkled
out and littered her floor, but other than that, it was empty.
"Oopsie," she mumbled, and got gingerly to her
feet after having been sitting cross legged for so long. She took one glance
at her sleeping Miamouse, curled up into a ball on her bed, and quietly trotted
out of her bedroom.
Thundering down the stairs, Cuni sang, "Coooouurt-neeeey!"
She dashed for the kitchen, and halted abruptly in the doorway to see her owner,
a short blond-haired girl with the latest issue of the Neopian Times smoothed
out on the table in front of her. Her gaze was rested on an article as she skimmed
"Hey, Cuni," she muttered without looking up.
"What're you up to?"
"Oh, nuffing," replied the Uni casually, striding
to the table and taking a seat. "What's dat?"
"Oh, it's nothing you'd be interested in," exclaimed
Courtney, muttering under her breath. "The market prices are flying sky-high,
"Couwtney, I wan out of cwayons," Cuni blurted
out suddenly. "Can I go get more?"
"Sure you can," Courtney said, not taking her
eyes off the article. She reached into her pocket, pulled out a pouch of Neopoints
and plopped them down on the table in front of her pet, who beamed. "Be back
Cuni snatched up the pouch, and skipped through
the kitchen and stopped to grab her coat and slip into her boots. She banged
the door open to see her three siblings in the yard, chucking hard, icy balls
of snow at one another and crouching down behind slumping snow structures to
"Hey, Cuni," called her most trustworthy brother,
Snickers, the second youngest. The Skunk Kougra stood and waved, but was sent
flying back into the powdery snow as a snowball thrown by his other brother
hit him in the face.
"Awec!" shrieked Cuni, putting her hooves on
her hips. "Dat was mean!"
"It's a snowball fight," the Disco Kau, Alec,
replied slyly, packing together another lump of ice. "Wanna see?"
"No," the Uni said flatly, and glanced over at
the last melting snow fort where her eldest sister sat, her head resting in
her paws as she gazed off into the distance. Alec and Snickers seemed to have
given up throwing snowballs at her, seeing as she wouldn't throw back and drained
the fun out of it. There were chunks of snow surrounding the area where Xrai
sat. The Christmas Shoyru sighed as Cuni approached.
"What's wrong?" questioned the little Uni, still
clutching her pouch of Neopoints.
Xrai let out another long sigh, watched Snickers
pelt a snowball at Alec and miss as the Kau's head ducked behind his glob of
snow. "It's Cybana," Xrai admitted, referring to her Spotted Snowbunny. She
glanced over her shoulder, and Cuni peered into the leafless bush, which looked
like a tangle of dead, wooden branches, and saw a small Snowbunny emerge. The
Shoyru clucked her tongue, and Cybana perked up, padding through the snow in
front of Xrai.
The Shoyru gently picked her up and stroked her
fur sadly. "What about her?" Cuni asked, sitting down in the snow next to Xrai.
Her older sister wrapped her arms around the
Snowbunny before mumbling, "You know how she's been losing her eyesight lately?"
Cuni nodded, knowing the Snowbunny had recently run into the wall head-on. "Well,
I took her to the Neopian Hospital. They told me they usually can only help
Neopets, but promised to take a look at her." Xrai now looked up at Cuni, eyes
shining with unshed tears. "They said she has some disease, a rare disease not
a lot of Petpets get. The guy -- I mean the doctor -- told me something they
thought might cure her, but I checked the price and it's well over anything
Courtney would be able to afford!"
Cuni patted her sister's shoulder. "Does Couwtney
know? Did you tell her?"
Xrai shook her head. Alec let out an earsplitting
yelp as he was sent flying to the ground, shielding himself form the falling
ice as Snickers grinned. "What's da item?" questioned Cuni, ignoring her brothers,
but Xrai only shook her head once more.
"It's not worth it. You run along, Cuni."
"But maybe I--"
"Don't worry about it, Cuni. If Cybana is meant
to have her vision saved, it'll happen."
"It will?" Cuni was puzzled. "How?"
"I dunno, destiny. Fate. All that jazz."
"Destiny? Fate? What's jazz?"
Xrai heaved a sigh. "Cuni, go get your crayons."
Cuni dodged Neopians as she made her way through
the crowd that was rushing to escape the falling snow and the bitter cold. The
frozen crystals were falling more heavily now, and the mass of white was thicker
She had slipped and stumbled down her icy street,
and had now finally made it to the Bazaar. She dashed through the crowd and
grinned as the Toy Shop came into view. Cuni halted in front of the door, pushed
it open and heard bells chime above her. The indoor warmth overcame her and
her grin widened.
The Toy Shop was, by far, one of her favourite
shops in Neopia, other than Usukiland, a long-time favourite that could not
be replaced. Glancing around at the shelves upon shelves of pure toys and pricetags,
Cuni trotted up to the counter and slammed her hoof down on the bell, a little
harder than she intended to.
The shopkeeper, a tall, red female Lupe with
purple eyeshadow appeared, looking irritated. Cuni's face turned beat-red with
embarrassment. "Can I help you?" escaped from the lips of the Lupe.
"Y-yesh," Cuni stuttered, looking at her feet
nervously. "One box of cwayons, pwease?"
The Lupe slid a small colourful box of crayons
Cuni's way, and the brown Uni handed over the pouch, leaving hastily after thanking
the shopkeeper. She darted out of the shop and sprinted down the street, shivering
and trembling from the cold. Her vision seemed to be blurred from the thick
snow, and she couldn't see where she was going until--
WHAM! Cuni found herself lying on the ground,
her crayons scattered in the deep, white snow. She sat up, and nearly fell back
over when a large Grundo past, almost knocking her down.
"I'm so sorry!" cried an Acara who wore a scarf
and hat. She was on her feet, her paw extended towards Cuni, who took it was
was pulled back up. "I didn't see you! I'm sorry, truly I am!"
"No probwem," replied Cuni, shaking her mane
out so that bits of snow fluttered to the ground. "I couldn't see, either."
The Acara smiled, and gestured towards a smaller
Acara, who Cuni thought must be her younger sister. The Acara was beaming, and
gave Cuni a quick nod. In her small paws was a shopping bag, and as they apologized
once more and hurried away, Cuni noticed it was empty. Odd, she thought,
and then bent down to pick up her crayons.
Her crayons were there, as were the footprints
of both Acaras, and Cuni's as well. But it wasn't the footprints that made Cuni
gape, her eyes wide, gasping. She grabbed the item, holding it closer, just
to make sure she wasn't seeing things. There, in her arms, was the expensive
and oh-so elegant Royal Paint Brush.
Being the good girl Cuni was raised as, her first
instinct was to run after the two Acaras and ask meekly if they had dropped
it, but a sudden pang of greed shot through her. This was the item she had always
wanted! The one she had never been able to retrieve, the one she had dreamed
She got to her feet, leaving her forgotten multicoloured
crayons on the ground. Attentively, she looked up and saw the heads of the Acaras
bobbing up and down in the crowd. She hurried after them, careful to keep out
of their sight.
When they came to a clearing, Cuni hid the Paint
Brush briskly behind her back and watched out of the corner of her eye as the
two Acaras sat down on a wooden bench. "Hey, Syl, can I see it?" the older Acara
asked gently, holding out her paw from the bag and trying to make a grab for
"NO!" exclaimed the smaller one, edging away.
"C'mon, Syl," the older one said persistently.
"I just wanna make sure it's still there. Then you can carry it all the way
home!" Cuni knew too well the older sister "I just want to make sure it's still
there" trick, and had to sustain a giggle.
Reluctantly, Syl handed over the bag, her gaze
rested on it, transfixed. Cuni held her breath, hoping she was wrong. It's
not dares, she thought, biting her lip. It can't be. Day weft it dare,
on da ground, so now it's mine, even it it had been dares... Her forehead
was dotted with beads of sweat. It can't be dares, it just can't be...
She was interrupted from her thoughts when a scream tore from the throat of
the older Acara.
"It's gone!" she screamed, holding the bag upside
down. "Our Paint Brush! It's... gone!" Tears suddenly began streaming down her
face, and Syl covered her furry red face, her shoulders shaking with sobs.
Her heart panged with guilt, but Cuni quickly
moved away out of sight. She walked through the crowd towards her house, but
her mind was elsewhere. Cuni had suddenly thought of a more important use of
this Paint Brush than her own greedy reasons. Her thoughts wandered back to
the poor Acaras in the street.
"The cure is really expensive," Xrai had
said. "Courtney could never afford it..."
Through her guilt, Cuni dashed away from the
Bazaar, a small, weak smile forming on her face. "I can use dis to help Xway,"
she whispered excitedly under her breath as she halted near the edge of the
forest she had to walk through to make it to her home. "Den she won't be sad!"
Cuni jogged down the small path, leaping over
fallen logs and letting the snow beneath her hooves crunch noisily. The further
away she walked from the Bazaar, the more excited she grew about helping Xrai,
but she also felt a mixture of guilt and pain tugging on her heart.
The Uni stopped halfway through the woods and
let her shoulders sag. She crouched down and took a seat on a hollow log, letting
out a sigh. The sky above could not be seen through the thickness of the forest's
She found herself facing choices she never thought
she'd have to make: doing the right thing, or cheering her sister up for life
by restoring her best friend's eyesight.
"If Cybana is meant to have her vision saved,
it'll happen." Was this what Xrai had meant? Would fate intervene like this,
forcing Cuni to do something she dreaded?
Cuni racked her brain, thinking of those three
words her older sister had said: fate, destiny, and jazz. She decided to rule
out jazz, because she had heard of the band Jazzmosis and didn't think it fit
in with the other two choices.
She faintly recalled her bookworm of a brother
Alec reading and telling them about a story at breakfast one morning. He had
said to them, "In the book, it was his destiny that he'd save Neopia once and
for all!" The Uni had actually ignored his whole "book chat", but now, those
words stuck out to her. Cuni had never thought this hard before.
Destiny sort of sounded like something that would
happen no matter what. She fit the pieces together, and almost heard a click
in her mind as the truth revealed itself; if Cybana was meant to have her eyesight,
it would have happened. It would have been her destiny.
Was this the kind of destiny Xrai had spoke about?
Stealing? "I didn't steal it!" exclaimed Cuni to no one in particular in a firm
voice. "I... found it." Her voice trailed off and she groaned. In her heart,
the Uni knew stealing and "finding and taking with no intention of return" were
the same things. She knew what she had to do, and sighed. She had been so close!
The short trip back to the Neopian Bazaar from
the forest seemed to take no time at all, and though Cuni's hooves were numb
with cold she trudged on, hoping the Acaras hadn't left Neopia Central. They
could be anywhere! she suddenly realised.
Cuni swerved through the crowd, avoiding being
trampled by Neopians much larger than her, and found herself standing in front
of the bench she had seen the two Acaras resting on earlier. They were nowhere
The small brown Uni took a seat, and felt tears
trickle down her cheeks. The Royal Paint Brush gleamed on its velvet, red cushion
next to her, and she kept it in her sight through her tears.
Though she hadn't exactly done it on purpose,
Cuni knew she had stole an item of great worth and had really ruined someone's
day. "Why?" she mumbled. Cuni knew she could have returned the paint brush right
away; she could have given it up and now she was stuck with it, and if she sold
it to make Neopoints for Xrai's Snowbunny or used it on herself she would never
live with it. Tears splattered on the ground and dotted the bench.
The brown Uni looked up and saw the blurry image
of Xrai. Wiping her tears away, Cuni let out a sob, "Xway, I didn't mean to!
Day just... just..." Cuni couldn't continue a sentence without crying.
"What do you mean?" asked Xrai. "Courtney said
you were taking too long, and told me to come get you." Suddenly, Xrai noticed
the Royal Paint Brush sitting next to Cuni and seemed to have lost her voice
in shock; she just made little gasping noises. "Cuni... do you know... th-th-there's
a Paint Brush, a R-R-Royal Paint Brush sitting next to you... and you're
Cuni continued to sob, even when Xrai sat down
next to her and tried to comfort her. The brown Uni looked up to her sister;
what would she think when Xrai knew her little sister was a thief?
"I'm sure it's around here somewhere, Syl," came
a familiar voice form in the mob of shopping Neopians.
"Paint Brush!" came the shriek of the younger
"We'll find it, don't worry," said the older
one, but she didn't sound too sure. Their voices were muffled in the crowd,
but Cuni could almost make them out clearly and she stood up, grabbing the Royal
"Where are you going?" called Xrai, astounded
as Cuni made her way towards the voices.
"Be wight back!" Cuni exclaimed over her shoulder.
She didn't know whose name to call, but when the idea suddenly hit her she screamed
over the crowd, "SYL!"
At first there was no reply but the chattering
crowd and glares from passers-by. But then, amazingly, two Acaras appeared from
the blur of rushing Neopians, both of them familiar. At the sight of the Paint
Brush, their faces lit up.
"I found it," Cuni said quietly, holding it out
to them. "I heard you looking for it. I'm weally sowwy. I wasn't going to use
The older Acara grinned as Cuni handed over the
Royal Paint Brush -- and her chance at helping Xrai's Snowbunny, Cybana. "I
should have given it to you wight away," admitted Cuni. "I'm sowwy, I just wanted
to help my sister."
"Thank you so much," exclaimed the older Acara,
tears of joy in her eyes as she beamed.
"NICE UNI!" shrieked Syl, bouncing up and down.
"It was nice meeting you, I'm sowwy," Cuni said,
apologizing once more, turning to leave, but the eldest Acara stopped her.
"Hold up," she said. "We have to repay you in
some way. It might not be enough to help your sister, but..." The Acara took
out two golden necklaces from inside her tattered pocket and held them out for
Cuni. "...at least she'll know you care." Cuni examined them, and gasped, taking
them in her hands. At the end of the silver beaded string was a small, acorn-sized
"How'd you know--" Cuni began, but when she looked
up, the two Acaras were gone and the brown Uni smiled. She spun on her heel
to go and find Xrai, only to see that she was standing right there behind her.
The Christmas Shoyru looked stunned as she cocked
her head. "I heard everything, but who were those Acaras? Why... how... what...?"
"Special fwiends," Cuni proclaimed after a small
silence and the two began walking through the crowd towards their home. She
handed Xrai one of the necklaces, and they looked at the Snowbunnies from every
angle in amazement.
"I know the Paint Brush was theirs and everything,"
Xrai said as they neared the forest. She halted, and Cuni followed suit. "But
how'd they know... about... Cybana?" She held up her necklace and let her mouth
hang open in awe.
Cuni let a huge grin play on her face. "Fate,
jazz, and destiny."