Chet Flash wuz here Circulation: 142,862,738 Issue: 176 | 4th day of Awakening, Y7
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Who Needs a Royal Paint Brush? II


by 3dcourtney12044

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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 through.

     "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, though..."

     "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 soon."

     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 protect themselves.

     "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 than ever.

     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 about...

     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 it.

     "NO!" exclaimed the smaller one, edging away. "MINE!"

     "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 branches.

     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 in sight.

     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.

     "Cuni?"

     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 crying!?"

     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 Acara.

     "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 Paint Brush.

     "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 it, but..."

     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 golden Snowbunny.

     "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."

The End

 
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