Glaedr stiffened. They were there again. He felt his heart fill with dread; he felt as if he were drowning in darkness, in despair. Why were they always where he was? Did they have to do what they did, torture and demean him? Did they have no lives outside of bullying him? He took a deep breath and started to walk faster.
"Hey, you stupid Gold Draik! You know I'm talking to you! Turn around!"
Should he turn around? No, no, it'd make things worse... he should just keep walking. It was getting late. He had to be home before dark.
"Turn around, you pitiful excuse for a Neopet!"
Glaedr growled as something hit the back of his neck.
That did it. He turned quickly, smoke billowing from his nostrils. Why did it have to be him? "What do you want, Galbatorix?"
The Royalboy Kyrii and his followers Zim and Heri—a Robot Ogrin and a Red Shoyru, respectively—smiled coldly. "I want what I always want, pitiful Draik. Give me some of your neopoints and no one will have to get hurt." He arched one of his dark purple eyebrows and cracked his knuckles. "I don't have all day, either."
Why did he have to deal with this monster? Glaedr felt his palms begin to sweat with nervousness; he couldn't go back home with another black eye. His owner Phroto wouldn't believe the same excuse for a third time. She wasn't dumb.
"I—I don't have any today," Glaedr mumbled, kicking the dirt. He stared at the ground. He didn't want those bullies to see the tears forming in his eyes; it'd only make things worse.
"Ha, Glaedr, very funny, very funny," Galbatorix said, heading towards him with a sneer on his face. "I know Phroto has a lot of neopoints. How else could she have turned you into a Draik? Hand 'em over now, Glaedr. Do you want to get another black eye and go home crying to mommy?"
Glaedr felt his heart beat wildly. No, he didn't want to be beaten again by this Kyrii. Oh, how he wished he could just fly away, run away, run away from it all...
He fished in his backpack for a small bag of neopoints. "Here, this—this is all I have."
Galbatorix snatched the bag from Glaedr's hands. Heri and Zim ran over to inspect the cash, both snickering and mumbling comments about how pathetic Glaedr was. "Mmm, only 20,000 neopoints, eh?" Galbatorix shook his head. "Tsk, tsk. That's not good enough, Glaedr, not good enough."
"Right, Galbs. Not good, Glaedr, not good," Heri mimicked Galbatorix, flexing his arms.
"Shut up, Heri," Galbatorix said, shoving Heri away. "Anyway, Glaedr, friend, you know what's going to happen now, don't you?"
Glaedr's breathing turned heavy as he watched Galbatorix and his followers come closer, rubbing their hands together. He gulped. He remembered the pain of last time: being punched, being kicked, and being emotionally and psychologically scarred. Despair, torture, hatred, pain, sadness, worthlessness—those were the only things he ever felt in his life. His family was the only ones that actually cared about him, but Glaedr didn't feel like that was enough.
Glaedr was tired of living this way, but he was powerless to stop Galbatorix from bullying him. He was weak and pathetic, according to Galbatorix and his friends. If he told anyone about how these Neopets bullied him, he'd never hear the end of it; it'd only make things worse. More Neopets would bully him because it would be the "in thing" to hate on him. His fellow peers were just followers; they cared only about being popular and fitting in. They couldn't care less about anyone else's feelings. Oh, how he wished he could just be done...
"Just go away," Glaedr snarled, inching backward. Oh how he wished he knew how to use his wings. He was just recently morphed into a Draik; he wasn't used to the new appendages. Come to think of it, Galbatorix only started picking on him after he was transformed into a Draik. Why was that? Did he just want his owner's neopoints? Was the Kyrii jealous of Glaedr's new looks?
"Ah, Glaedr, I thought you would have learned by now." Galbatorix smiled and his friends snickered as they walked closer and closer.
And Glaedr couldn't do anything to stop them from punching him.
Glaedr was sitting outside his Neohome, afraid to go inside. He had another black eye and some bruises, not to mention that the redness in his eyes was still there. Phroto would surely notice. 'What am I going to do?' he wondered, depressed. There was nothing, absolutely nothing he could do.
Sighing, he stood up and stretched his wings. He rubbed his eyes, trying to get rid of the tear streaks before he opened the door.
He gulped. Of course his owner was in the living room. "Er, hi, Phroto. I, uh, tripped... again."
His owner ran over to him. "What do you mean you tripped? This does not look like you just 'tripped', Glaedr. What's going on?" She closed the door and brought him over to the couch.
"It's nothing," he mumbled, not meeting her eye. That was a lie; it was everything. His life was terrible, he was pathetic, he was worthless, he was pitiful, he couldn't do anything...
Galbatorix's words still rang in his ears. "You worthless pile of dung! You can't even protect yourself."
"Glaedr," Phroto said kindly, lifting up his chin. Her voice brought him out of his thoughts. "You can tell me. I know you didn't trip again. You wouldn't have bruises and scratches like that if you just tripped over your new wings again."
His heart beat faster. Should he tell her that he was being bullied? Would it help him? Could his owner actually do something to stop Galbatorix and his friends? Should he tell her how he feels being called names, being picked on? Should he tell her how he feels worthless? Should he tell her how he wishes that he could just run, run away from it all?
No, he couldn't. He couldn't do anything.
"No... Phroto, it really is nothing. I'm just not used to my new body yet." He tried to muster up a smile, hoping it seemed genuine.
His owner still looked skeptical. "You've been a Draik for almost a month now. You sure that nothing else is going on that I need to look into?"
Glaedr felt his insides churn. This could be his chance to let someone know that he was being bullied.
No, no, he was worthless. He didn't deserve to get help. He deserved the pain he endured.
Phroto nodded stiffly. "Okay. Go finish up your homework from Neoschool then. Dinner will be ready in about an hour. Tell the others on your way up."
"Okay," Glaedr mumbled as he climbed the stairs to the second floor.
He stopped at the first door. "Invader, Shadow, Phroto said dinner will be ready in about an hour," he said to his two brothers—a Baby Grundo and a Shadow Aisha, respectively.
"Oka—" Shadow gasped. "Whoa, Glaedr, what happened to you?"
Invader's antennae poked up from the homework he was working on at Shadow's words. "For the love of Sloth, Glaedr! Why are you all beat up?"
"It's... nothing, calm down. I just tripped again." He flailed his wings helplessly. "I'm still not used to them."
Shadow didn't look convinced. "Well, just be careful. Phroto should take you to a class on teaching pets morphed into a Draik to use their wings. You look terrible."
"Yeah, well, you don't look so great either," Invader said to Shadow, snickering at his own joke.
Shadow ignored him. "Thanks for letting us know. We're almost done with our work anyway. We'll be down in a bit."
Glaedr nodded, closing the door quietly. His brothers had noticed how bad he looked. Maybe he should tell someone...
He shook his head. No, he couldn't. He didn't deserve to have help. He's been told that enough.
"Sky," he called as he entered his Alien Aisha sister's room. The neon green wall paint and rugs nearly blinded him. "Phroto said dinner would be ready soon."
"Okay, Glaedr, thank—" She jumped off her bed, flinging her copy of The Neopian Times to the side. "What happened to you? Glaedr—"
"Nothing, will you guys stop asking me that? I tripped again. Not used to my new wings." He slammed her door shut.
Before he left, he heard Sky finish what she was saying, "What's wrong with you?"
Glaedr was lying on his bed, staring out the window. The stars looked so beautiful, so peaceful, with nothing ever to worry about.
Dinner hadn't gone that great, he reflected. Everyone had felt awkward with Glaedr's beat up face staring blankly at his plate. The questions had kept on coming, "You sure you're okay?"
Glaedr rolled over onto his belly, wishing he could just disappear. This wasn't a good life. It was a terrible existence. He was nothing.
The next day was gloomy, and the clouds looked mean, sad. Thunder crackled in the distance, and lightning lit up the almost-black sky. Glaedr sighed as he opened the door to leave Neoschool. Of course it was dark today. It matched how he felt.
He shoved his backpack over his shoulders and walked quickly down the steps, hoping he could get home before it started pouring.
"Glaedr!" a voice snarled.
Glaedr panicked. He didn't want to deal with Galbatorix today. He was tired of being treated like a piece of trash, even if he did deserve it. He was pathetic, but it didn't mean he wanted to be.
He started to run, but didn't make it that far before he was shoved to the ground. He landed in a mud pile, and got a mouthful of the dirt.
"Now Glaedr, next time, don't run and I won't shove you," Galbatorix said, grabbing Glaedr by the backpack and shoving him into an upright position.
Glaedr shoved the neopoints he had into Galbatorix's hands, hoping he would just leave him alone now.
"Nah, keep your neopoints. I don't need them anymore." Galbatorix smiled. "I just wanted to beat you up. It's fun, being in control, making you feel like you're a pitiful Neopet, which you are. You're so easy to pick on, and I'll never get in trouble when I pick on someone as pathetic as you."
That was too much. Glaedr couldn't keep the tears from falling down now. He sat there and sobbed, wishing that he could just end it all.
Galbatorix's smile faltered and he backed away. He stood there for a few more seconds before he ran off, leaving Glaedr sitting in the rain.
Glaedr was still crying by the time he got home. It was pouring by then and he was soaked, but he didn't care. He needed to end it all. He was tired of being bullied by Galbatorix; he was tired of being called stupid and pathetic.
He was going to tell Phroto.
He opened the door and fell inside, welcoming the warmth and protection it provided from the weather outside.
"Glaedr!" Phroto screamed, running over. "Glaedr, what's wrong? Don't tell me lies again, I know something is wrong."
Glaedr felt his courage falter. Could he really tell his owner that he was being bullied? Would his owner actually be able to do something? Or would she think less of him because he was being bullied?
No, he had to tell her. It was becoming too much for him; he wanted to end it and end it he would. "Phroto... I—I'm being bullied."
And he told her everything. How he felt, how he lied, how pathetic and useless he was, how much pain he was in from it all...
His family came down the stairs in the middle of his story and they stood off to the side, listening sadly. Glaedr saw Sky bristle; she looked as if she'd like to destroy the next thing she came in contact with. Invader was shocked; Shadow was nodding solemnly.
When he was done, Phroto said, "Glaedr, I'm so sorry... Shadow told me that he had a feeling that something like this was going on, but I didn't think it was. I thought you would've told me if something like this was happening. It's my fault this has been going on for so long." Phroto looked up at Glaedr, a fiery determination in her eyes. She pulled him into a hug before saying, "Don't worry, Glaedr, I'll get this Galbatorix person under control. You're not worthless. You are you and you have a family and friends. We love you; don't let anyone ever let you feel the way you felt again."
Glaedr felt the tears still falling down his face, but he nodded. The darkness inside him was falling, falling, falling... he felt better. He was Glaedr; he was loved, he wasn't worthless, he wasn't pathetic, he wasn't pitiful. He was just scared.
"Thank you," he managed to say.
And now it would all be better.
Glaedr was leaving Neoschool again, feeling better than he had in weeks. He welcomed the warm breeze that flowed over him, the soft sunlight that came through the trees.
"Hey, Glaedr," a voice called from behind him.
Glaedr stiffened. It was him. He hadn't seen Galbatorix in weeks, not since he told his owner that he was being bullied.
Galbatorix had been gone from Neoschool for two weeks and those two weeks were a blessing to Glaedr. Now that he was back, Glaedr felt the darkness rising back within him, calling him stupid and worthless. 'No,' he thought, shaking his head. He was done with being called that. He was loved and no one would be able to bully him again. "What do you want, Galbatorix?" he asked, turning to face the Kyrii.
Galbatorix paused. He opened his mouth as if to say something, but then closed it.
"What?" Glaedr asked, annoyed but slightly curious. Galbatorix could no longer hurt him. If Galbatorix called him a name or started to bully him again, Glaedr would just fly away and tell Phroto. He knew how to use his Draik wings now.
"I—I just wanted to say I'm sorry," Galbatorix muttered, kicking the dirt. "I... I didn't know how much I hurt you, psychologically and physically. I didn't mean to... Okay, well, I did mean to, but I realize how wrong I was now. I really am sorry, and I won't ever bother you again, Glaedr. I promise." He stuck out his hand and looked Glaedr in the eye.
Glaedr hesitated. Could he really forgive Galbatorix for the monster he had been? 'It's the past, forgive the past, just don't forget,' he told himself.
He shook Galbatorix's hand. "I forgive you, but I won't forget the monster you are on the inside, Galbatorix."
Galbatorix nodded. "I didn't expect you to. I just wanted to apologize. I really am sorry for what I did, and Heri and Zim are too. They... aren't friends. They're followers and I no longer associate with them." He smiled slightly.
Glaedr couldn't help but smile back. "Well, thanks."
He nodded to Galbatorix before jumping off the ground and flying back toward his Neohome. He knew things would be better and he wouldn't let anyone ever bully him again, or anyone else for that matter.
If you read this, thank you. Bullying is not cool, and neither is cyber-bullying. If you or someone you know is being bullied, tell a parent, teacher, or another trusted adult. Don't let someone go through the pain of being bullied; no one deserves that treatment. Help stop it before it goes too far. ~Phroto