Stone Faeries, and Other Annoying Things
I heaved at the mass of purple energy yet again. Panting, I stepped back and tossed a glare over my shoulder at Mom.
“What?” she asked through a mouthful of water from the bottle she was drinking out of. Liquid dribbled down the sides of her lips and she carelessly scraped the back of her hand across her face to clean it up.
“Nothing,” I replied. “I just wanted to say thank you for helping me save Neopia.”
“Oh.” Her brow wrinkled in confusion for a moment. “Oh.” She dragged her feet across the dew-laden field and offered me her bottle of water. “Mmkay, kid, let me try.”
Across the field, I heard crackling and saw sparks jump into the sky. From behind the barrier, a male yelled, “Ow, Xandra!”
A woman snapped, “Hold the thing still, Hanso!!”
I glanced around at the rest of our barrier reinforcement group: our container was pretty decent at her job, unexpectedly, seeing as how she was a baby Lutari. The suppressor was hurriedly placing green rods around everyone else, but was useless because he was mostly shielding himself.
Wimp, I sneered mentally. And then there was our stabilizer, who didn’t really do anything, but we, honestly, would be pretty okay without her in the group.
“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” Mom wailed dramatically a few yards ahead of me. She’d pushed the energy remnant quite far, but the middle of her shirt was scorched. Now the words “I heart Chocolate” were partially obscured so that her shirt read, “I heart Cho te.”
She shrieked, “WHO in the UNIVERSE is Chote?!”
“MOM!” I bellowed. “Keep pushing!”
Crazily, she replied, “NEVAR!” and scampered past me, ignoring the energy remnant. I groaned and dashed toward the sphere.
“Dude,” the suppressor whispered to me as he set a shield at my feet, “your owner’s a psycho.”
“Shush.” I didn’t say anything else until I shoved the sphere to the barrier. Everyone exclaimed joyously. I mean, except Mom. I glanced backward, sifting through the field for my owner. She was frantically dousing her shirt with water, as if that helped.
Come on. It was already charred.
But anyway. Mom was totally being a freak. I mean, more than usual. “THE THING WAS AN ANTIQUE, OKAY?! Stupid purple thingy!”
“Mom.” I flew to the other end of the field. “Mom. Mommy. MOMMAY.” My owner slowly turned her head. “Yes, you. It’s already stained. Water isn’t gonna help.”
She sniffled. “Yes, it will, Bella, if you just BELIEVE.”
“Yeah, okay, whatever that is. Let’s go!” I gripped her elbow and began to lug her toward Faerie City.
“No,” she insisted. Then she hissed madly, “No. We will get the stupid stain off my antique shirt first.”
“It’s not antique.”
“Yes, it is.”
“Nu-uh. Antiques are from, like, Year One, and everyone knows that way back in the Stone Age, people didn’t wear shirts. They wore... other stuff from the Stone Age.”
Mom shook her head wildly, sending her straight strands of auburn hair everywhere. “If only the faeries weren’t petrified... I’m cool with them, and they’d take out the stain for me.”
I sighed and reminded her, “Mom, the only reason faeries do favors for you is because of that one time last year...” I shuddered at the memory of a long oak table half-coated in thick green vomit.
“Sorry, *coughsneeze*,” Mom had told the Faerie Council. “I just—”
“You what?” asked Fyora. “What could be so important that you had to interrupt the monthly assembly of the Faerie Council?”
“And vomit on our table?” added Jhudora angrily.
“I... well,” Mom explained, “Illusen wasn’t home and I wanted a quest. I’m only twenty one levels away from a Honey Potion!”
So, now that the faeries are aware of Mom’s ability to destroy anything and everything, they do whatever she asks just to keep her away. But at least now, whenever I think about the whole episode, it makes me feel better about the time that I blew up Techo Mountain.
I, uh, had one too many burritos from the Island Marketplace before I went there. Let’s... let’s leave it there. Use your imagination, reader.
So, anyways, Mom hauled me through the portal to Altador and we took a ferry to the Haunted Woods. I’d go into a painfully descriptive rant about some dude whose ice cream Mom accidentally threw over the boat, or how Mom jammed the propeller after sticking a bubblegum wrapper in it, or how the captain stopped the boat to ask us to kindly jump ship...
But it was a pretty normal trip. Or, except for the fact that, as Mom had explained, we were going to the Haunted Woods to ask Sophie the Swamp Witch to remove the stain on Mom’s T-shirt.
Why a cranky old hag would do that, I hadn’t a clue. Oh—oh, um, if Sophie *happens* to be reading this right now, I... I didn’t *mean* that, I just...
*ahem* Wow, I wish I could take that back. So, yeah, we were trudging through the Haunted Woods at ten at night.
“So,” I told Mom as we strode into the dimly lit forest, “I’m going to buy some somewhat normal food at the marketplace. You can go off and get zapped into a mortog or something. I’ll pick you up in a couple minutes.”
I shoved my beige paw into the pocket of my jeans, and it came back out wrapped around a tiny bag. I pulled the shoulder strap over my head and held up the plain brown bag for Mom to see. “I stitched a bag to keep whenever we go out. ‘Cause one day I realized that you get turned into a mortog a *lot*, and so I made an adorable little carrying thingy.”
Mom scowled for half an instant. Then she stalked off the path, and was soon consumed by the dense blackness of the wood.
The wood was damp and moldy, and the foundation crumbled in some corners. The floorboards of the porch whined squeakily as I stepped toward the door. It sat somewhere way under all the oddly-colored grime, I’m sure, but the only thing that announced the presence of a door was a knob that protruded from the front of the house.
What can I say? I’m a disgusting Xweetok. I look all innocent on the outside, ‘cause I guess people make a lot of assumptions when they see a cute little faerie pet, but the doorknob didn’t bother me.
Even though it was entombed in crusty stuff and transparent slime—and, in one part, some sort of squishy, smelly substance—I turned the knob. I had to get Mom. The door reluctantly opened, and I stepped into a kitchen/bedroom/place where witches do magic.
“Okay,” Sophie told Mom. “I’ll take out the stain if you can steal Sidney’s left shoe. He has the eyesight of a rock. It’ll be easy.”
Mom stood, while Sophie was seated in a barstool in front of the kitchen counter. They hadn’t noticed me yet. “Why his left?” I inquired.
“Because,” replied Sophie without bothering to greet me. Or ask why a random Xweetok had just stepped into her shack. “Now go get it.”
Mom replied, too cheerful, “Okay!”
Whoa. Mom was actually going to steal some creep Nimmo dude’s left shoe. And just why, I’ve yet to discover.
“It’s called a dry cleaner,” I told Mom sullenly. Mom didn’t say anything.
Well, she didn’t say anything except for, “You’re gonna swoop in and distract him, okay?” She pulled a glistening golden coin from her pocket and handed it to me. “Pretend to be buying a scratchcard while I take the shoe.”
“Your plan makes a *lot* of sense, Mom,” I remarked snidely.
Mom ignored me once more, and exited the forest. We arrived in the Deserted Fairground, and she made her way toward Sidney’s kiosk, I hesitantly flew over her head and into the yellow and orange building. I plopped down in front of Sidney.
“One scratchcard, please.” I dropped the coin into his palm. ‘Cause Sidney’s hand is the one thing that I will not touch.
“Well,” he told me, “it cosssts one thousssand two hundred Neopointsss.”
*Shudder* He’s so creepy. Make up your MIND, dude: are you a Hissi or a Nimmo? And he wears such ragged clothing, and I bet he brushes his teeth less than I do, and I’m gonna stop talking because who knows? Maybe Sidney reads the Neopian Times, too.
So anyway. I insisted, “Nu-uh, it costs five hundred.”
“No, young lady, it doesss not.”
“I don’t believe you!” I shouted.
Mom was, none too covertly, slipping into the kiosk and creeping along the wall toward the back. A plan quickly built itself in my mind.
I knew exactly how to help Mom get the shoe, fix her shirt and get home.
With my coin in hand, I propped my left elbow on the counter and gestured with my hand toward Sidney as I spoke. “Yeah, um, last I checked—” I opened my hand as I gestured, and the coin went flying across the counter. It skittered to the edge and lunged for the floor at Sidney’s feet.
Mom was crouching next to the counter, and as Sidney bent down to pick it up. But I guess he really does have bad eyesight, because, with my head bent to see over the counter, I saw Sidney grope around for the coin, missing it several times.
Mom tugged Sidney’s half-destroyed shoe off his left foot and darted out of the kiosk.
Without bothering to claim my money (which was mostly because I wasn’t touching any Sidney-infested coin), I said, “Well, I guess you were right! It is one thousand two hundred Neopoints.”
And then Mom and I were off, speeding away from a very perplexed Nimmo/Hissi thing.
“Great!” Sophie exclaimed. “Now...” She pointed at the black patch on the front of Mom’s chocolate brown shirt.
“Stop it! Pointing is rude. You’re hurting its self esteem,” Mom said.
“She... she’s pretty young. And real naïve,” I informed Sophie.
Sophie replied sarcastically, “Really?”
Mom gasped. “YOU FIXED IT! I LOVE YOU!” She tackled Sophie and hugged her.
“Whoa, kid!! Get off!!” The shack was submerged in golden light for a moment, and while it was there, Mom morphed into a Mortog. Her T-shirt and jeans shrank with her in order to fit her amphibian body.
“See? This is why we keep Mortog-carrying pouches.” I stuffed Mom into my bag. Then I flew out of the shack while muttering, “Stupid plot. Stupid stone faeries...”