Caution: Quills may be sharp Circulation: 185,826,977 Issue: 501 | 1st day of Swimming, Y13
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Messenger: The Trouble With Selkets - Part One

by hedgehog_queen


“Get up!”

      I groaned and rolled over in bed, pulling my blanket up to my chin and shoving my head under my pillow. Immediately the pillow was brusquely pulled away and the blankets yanked back. “It’s your birthday!” a voice hollered in my ear. “Rise and shine!”

      “I thought I was allowed to sleep in on my birthday,” I muttered, sitting up and rubbing my eyes sleepily.

      “Of course not!” the voice shouted. As I drew my hands away from my eyes, a short grey Acara leaped into my view, waving her arms in my face. I grabbed her shoulders and sat her down on the floor.

      “Bluecloud,” I said in a soothing voice, “the doctor told you not to wave your arms around so much like that. Remember?”

      Bluecloud rolled her eyes. “I don’t listen to doctors,” she said haughtily. “Especially ones who drink parsley juice. Seriously! I’ve heard of coffee, milk, and even carrot juice! But parsley juice! And anyways, what does he know? He’s never broken his arm. At least I think he hasn’t.”

      “But he’s learned about how to treat broken arms,” I argued. “You’re going to make yourself worse. I have never met a person in my life who managed to lose three casts and explode another. How do you lose a cast? And we're all still wondering about that explosion, Bluecloud. Besides, how do you know that your doctor drinks parsley juice?”

      Bluecloud shrugged. “I dunno. But hey! The Blumaroo wants you to come out of your room. He says your cake is ready. And about the parsley juice. . .I saw him drinking some green stuff last time I went to that place. It kinda smelled like parsley.”

      “His name is Rooli, Bluecloud, not ‘The Blumaroo’,” I reminded my friend, sliding out of bed and quickly pulling off my slippers and putting on a pair of tennis shoes.

      “Rooli Bluecloud,” she murmured to herself. “An interesting name. But hey! He copied me. He’s worse than the doctor. Healers are much better than doctors, ya know. Healers don’t give shots, and they don’t have those strange white coats and briefcases and cough syrups. In the Lost Desert we had good old healers to help us when we were sick or injured. At least you know the name of and recognize what they’re going to cure you with. Take Spyder Juice Elixir, for instance. Why would you want to drink something that looks like poison? No thank you, I’ll stick to Blueberry Lozenges and Warm Green Blankets.”

      I rolled my eyes. Bluecloud was certainly not the sharpest pair of Kougra Nail Clippers in the drawer, but she was a great friend and very resourceful. I never would have guessed that such an average-looking (aside from her eyes, which were midnight blue as opposed to the normal bloodshot red) grey Acara from the Lost Desert would have such an amazing collection of disguises, grappling hooks, and knives. You’d think she was a Sakhmet thief, what with all her “survival tools”, as she called them. I had a nagging suspicion that some of her lost casts had to do with this frightening arsenal. . .and that she just might actually be a Sakhmet thief.

      “Good morning, Emma,” said a tall shadow Acara, who had just rounded the corner. Her eyes matched Bluecloud’s, but instead of excitement and energy, this Acara’s eyes sparkled with kindness and gentleness. In her arms she carried a small baby Acara with lilac eyes. The baby, Star, was sucking on a wooden spoon, both eyes totally focused on her wooden treat.

      “Hi, Midnight,” I said, smiling. Midnight was the mother of both Bluecloud and Star, which was a full-time job, considering both Bluecloud’s energy and Star’s curiosity. The small family of three was currently staying at our house, seeing the sights of Neopia Central and nursing Bluecloud’s broken arm. In Neopia Central, we had several certified doctors with large, relatively inexpensive clinics, while in the Lost Desert, Bluecloud and her family’s home, there was nothing but a few wandering gypsies with various herbs and potions, even if Bluecloud liked them better. And judging by how Bluecloud had managed to destroy or lose four casts over the past two weeks, they would be staying here for a while, no matter how many cups of parsley juice the doctor drank.

      “Your parents are in the kitchen with Lila and Rooli,” said Midnight, gesturing down the hall to the kitchen. “I’ll be there in a minute; I need to change Star’s diaper.” I nodded and led Bluecloud toward the kitchen.

      “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!” As soon as I stepped onto the kitchen’s tile floor, I was surrounded by shouting relatives congratulating me on surviving my first eleven years. The warm smell of my brother’s signature strawberry shortcake wafted up from the table. Mom had waffles on the table, along with lemonade and ice cream, a certain rarity at my family’s breakfast table.

      “Now,” said Mom sternly, her large Faerie wings twitching slightly, “I want everyone eating their breakfast BEFORE we have cake and ice cream. Bluecloud’s family can do as they wish, but Rooli and Emma, I want you to have at least one square meal today.”

      “We don’t have too much ice cream in the Lost Desert,” said Bluecloud earnestly, grabbing a spoon and devouring a scoop of vanilla ice cream. She immediately grimaced and raced over to the trash can. “Yeck, what IS this stuff?!” she gasped.

      Rooli smiled, placing his hand over his mouth in laughter. “Don’t like chili pepper, eh, Bluecloud?”

      I glared at Rooli. “That was intended for me, wasn’t it? And it’s my birthday, for Fyora’s sake!” Rooli was as mischievous as a fire Blumaroo could get. He wasn’t my actual brother, but had been adopted by my parents eight years ago. He had just turned fifteen a week ago, and had recently gone through a tremendous growth spurt, making him almost a whole head taller than me.

      Rooli smirked at me. “What’s a little chili pepper in ice cream, huh? Isn’t the cold supposed to numb your taste?”

      I rolled my eyes and stalked over to my chair at the table, digging into Mom’s yummy waffles. Like me, Mom is a Faerie Wocky. She’s also the head doctor at our clinic, the Petpet Doctors. Rooli is her assistant, and my Aunt Lila is the receptionist. Dad is allergic to petpets, so he works at the Petpet Supply Shop with his partner, Clark the Chomby. Clark is also one of the Messengers, an unofficial group of petpet deliverers around the globe. So far, there are only five members: Clark, Midnight, Star, Bluecloud, and me. The rest of my family is too busy at their shops and clinics to join us. So far we’ve been to Krawk Island, Maraqua, Terror Mountain, and Tyrannia, and we’ve already saved the world a grand total of once. Incidentally, that was how Bluecloud broke her arm (and lost two of her fingers), helping us fight against an evil pirate to save Maraqua and ultimately the world. We were now both Official Heroes of Maraqua and the two Holders of the Trident of Peace, but that was only honorary, as I had accidentally blown up the real Trident of Peace in defeating the evil pirate, Dole. Instead, we had been given miniature versions of the Trident on a necklace, although I had already lost mine and Bluecloud was using hers as a lock pick.

      “I’m sorry, but I don’t have your birthday present right now,” Midnight apologized, striding into the kitchen with Star. She gestured for my parents, who immediately walked over for a whispered conversation. Dad, as always, looked a little distracted; his eyes kept twitching over to an unfinished Mootix Petpet Bed. As always, the tall blue Wocky was thinking about his work. Mom, however, had her lips pursed and eyes narrowed, but every so often she would nod. Finally, after what seemed like forever, they finished their conversation and sat down at the kitchen table to eat and take out their presents.

      Dad smiled as he proudly handed me a Wind Up Cooty. I put on a fake smile and muttered a quick thanks as he scratched his blue head, embarrassed. Dad meant well, but he often was too busy with his shop to really think about anything but... well, his shop. No doubt this had been one of his extra, unsold merchandise items. Hopefully it wasn’t malfunctional. I shuddered, remembering last year’s Mortog Water Bowl “of Doom”.

      Mom gave me a pretty Royal Girl Shoyru Plushie. It was pretty cute, I guess, nice and squishy. But its eyes were sort of creepy. . .but of course, I knew that plushies couldn’t talk, or look at you sinisterly, plotting world domination. Or maybe they could. This was Neopia, anything could happen.

      So anyways, of course Rooli “forgot” a present, and Aunt Lila gave me a Multicolored Pen (although I had a nagging suspicion that I had seen her using the same pen on her paperwork the other day. Sure enough, when I tried to write with it, I found that she had already used up the ink.)

      Just then the front door swung open and a tall desert Aisha walked in. She had lightly tanned brown skin, with a long white robe, and a hood covering her head. Underneath was a red dress that stretched to her knees. An elegant golden necklace covered the front of the dress, falling halfway to her waist, and silver bracelets jangled on her wrists. In one hand she held a large cage containing a dozen or so shiny red Selkets. Their yellow eyes flashed at us as they scrambled all over the cage walls, buzzing and humming angrily.

      “Hello,” said Mom, rising up from the table and quickly smoothing her white doctor’s coat. She smiled at the mysterious Aisha and frantically gestured at Aunt Lila, who quickly scurried over to the receptionist’s desk. Lila shuffled through some papers in an effort to tidy up her heavily cluttered desk, sending a fine shower of sticky notes, pencils, empty perfume jars, paper clips, and folders all over the floor. The Aisha glanced at the perfume jars with distaste and stepped daintily over a pile of them. One of the perfume jars broke and sprayed a puff of lilac vapor all over Lila's yellow fur.

      A flash of yellow eyes from a petpet in the corner caught my attention. I shook my head furiously at the crouched petpet, but it ignored me. In a flash, the petpet pounced. The Aisha slipped head over heels onto Lila’s desk, sending it crashing to the ground. Lila shrieked and gave a tremendous leap into the air, landing in a large pile of papers near the front door. The cage that the Aisha had been holding popped open, and the Selkets went everywhere.

      I dashed to the scene and grabbed at the yellow-eyed petpet, the one who had caused all this trouble. A large pink tongue immediately began mopping at my face as I held the troublemaker at arm’s length. It was Pecan, my mischievous Tyrannian Gallion. He had previously been owned by Henry, a Blumaroo living in Tyrannia, but had been replaced and abandoned. Pecan had accompanied us to Maraqua and Krawk Island, helping us save the world with his clumsiness. He would always be a troublemaking little klutz, but I always said I loved him dearly.

      “Crashing my birthday party, knocking out a potential customer, and setting a dozen Selkets loose all over our house is really pushing me ‘loving you dearly’,” I growled at Pecan. He sniffed daintily and began grooming his tail, as if he were the one who had been offended.

      “Is she okay?!” Mom asked anxiously, setting the desk upright and prodding the Aisha in the shoulder warily. Dad scooted over and flipped the Aisha over onto her back, waving a furry blue hand in front of the Aisha's eyes. Dad received no response. Immediately everyone looked at me.

      “Um...” I looked around frantically, my eyes taking in the whole mess that Pecan had caused. “What about that Warf in Overnight Room A? He’s really good at tracking things. I’ll bet that he could find those Selkets.”

      “As long as he doesn’t eat them,” Mom growled, folding her arms and glaring at me. “This is really pushing it, Emma, what Pecan did. I’m not sure I want such a petpet in my house.”

      “No!” I pleaded. “I-I’ll help you clean up this mess, and I’ll pay for the Aisha’s refund with my allowance, and I’ll-”

      “You don’t need to do all that, Emma,” Mom seethed. “I can pay for the refund, and Lila can clean up her own desk. What YOU need to do is find the Selkets. Every single one.”

To be continued...

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