The Kacheek Who Wanted to Grow
Once upon a time there was a really small Kacheek. Her whole life she had been heads shorter than all the other neopets her age, always struggling to catch up when they played tag or overlooked in groups. She would always be picked last for team games and was constantly made fun of for her height. Her only friend was a Shoyru who was of normal size but extremely shy and could not speak. The other neopets thought the Shoyru was arrogant because he seemed to never want to talk to anyone. The two were both outcasts and from this commonality grew a tentative friendship.
One day, all the young neopets were playing a game in the woods and the Kacheek wanted desperately to join them. When she attempted to play, the ball that they were tossing around flew high above her head and no matter how hard she jumped she couldn't reach it. The other neopets, seeing her helplessness, laughed and decided to taunt her by throwing the ball just out of her reach, gleefully snickering as she hopped around in vain. However, eventually one of the taller neopets accidentally threw the ball a little too low, low enough that the Kacheek saw she could catch it this time. She reached out her arms to finally wrap her hands around the ball, yet at that moment, the tallest and meanest of the neopets shoved her and she fell violently to the ground.
The Shoyru had followed the Kacheek to the game, though he had preferred to stand to the side, watching the game rather than participating in it, despite being tall enough. As the Kacheek began to be bullied by the tall neopets, the Shoyru frowned and took a step forward, intending to try and help her. However he couldn't overcome his shyness and continued to linger at the outskirts of the game. Finally, when the Kacheek was pushed to the ground, he let out a loud cry. The other neopets all stopped laughing at the Kacheek and stared at him, startled that the silent Shoyru had made a noise. The Kacheek took this opportunity to break free from the looming crowd of taller kids and run away.
She ran sobbing, barely able to see through her tears, deeper into the woods. Her knees were hurting from the fall, and her palms were scraped. But still she ran, unaware of where she was going, not caring where her tiny legs led her. Eventually the trees started standing closer together, pushing into each other and into her and blocking out the light. She slowed down to a walk and for the first time felt a spark of fear in her chest. She looked behind her and saw the the forest had closed in on her and that all around everything was the same. Wiping her tears, she picked a random direction and began walking. She walked and walked and lost track of how long she had been in the woods. She tried calling out, in case anyone was near, but her small frame did not support a very loud voice and the trees smothered any noise trying to reach farther than a few feet.
When she was just beginning to despair, she heard a voice.
She jumped, frightened by the loud noise. The voice called out again and the Kacheek hesitantly turned towards the direction it was coming from. Slowly she made her way through the trees, the "Help!" guiding her way as it was repeated over and over again.
Eventually she entered a clearing in the woods and in the middle of it, the largest tree she had ever seen. Its branches spread over the clearing, the leaves blocking out any light that would otherwise be let in by the lack of trees. Somewhat wistfully, the Kacheek wondered how tall the tree was, if it reached past the canopy of leaves that the other trees made.
Enthralled as she was by the tree and caught up in staring at it, the Kacheek didn't notice the figure sitting by its roots until it yelled, "You there! Little Kacheek!" Pulling her gaze away from the monstrous tree, she finally saw the source of the voice that led her here. There, leaning on her paws behind her, hind legs spread out before her, sat an old Zafara. Upon closer inspection, the Kacheek realized that the Zafara's leg was trapped within the tree's roots.
The old Zafara called to the Kacheek, and her impatient tone set the Kacheek's feet moving again and she reached the base of the tree where the old Zafara seemed to be stuck. The old Zafara had been collecting herbs by the Great Tree, for the rarest herbs were only found there, and she had slipped and gotten her foot stuck in the Tree's roots. As she told the Kacheek this, the old Zafara began gesturing to the small hole in the tangle of roots where her leg was inserted. The Kacheek realized that she could fit inside the space between the roots. Ignoring the pain she felt in her knees and hands, she crawled into the cavity. She saw that the cloth of the old Zafara's shoe was caught between a stick and part of the root. Stretching out her arms, the Kacheek was able to reach the stick and knock it away. Beside her, the Kacheek felt the old Zafara tentatively begin to move her leg, before completely removing it from the crevice.
The Kacheek popped out of the nook in the roots to see the old Zafara standing over her.
"I must thank you, child. Though all I have to offer is one wish, it is yours to take," the old Zafara told her. "I advise you to choose with caution, or perhaps choose nothing at all, for who knows how these things turn out."
The words had barely finished leaving the old Zafara's mouth before the Kacheek cut in decisively.
"I wish to grow tall."
The old Zafara smiled sadly before removing a small vial from within a satchel draped over her shoulder.
"Very well. Drink this and your wish will be fulfilled. However, remember, child, often times our greatest shortcomings are our greatest strengths."
The Kacheek took the vial eagerly and looked down to see it filled with a clear potion, thin in consistency. When she looked up again, the old woman was gone.
Only slightly disturbed, the Kacheek unstoppered the vial and with only the the smallest hesitation, downed the potion in three gulp. The potion was cold and salty and she shivered as it went down her throat. However when she looked down at herself, she saw that she was exactly as small as ever. Disgusted, she threw the vial at the tree, where it shattered, and ran from the clearing. She couldn't help the tears that rolled down her face at the stupidity of having her hopes raised and crushed so easily. As if trying to escape her hopes or perhaps it was her fears, the Kacheek ran through the forest once again, as fast as she could go.
Abruptly she came to a painful stop as she crashed into a body, her small frame easily falling backwards from the impact. She looked up to see the Shoyru, his worried expression turning to joy at the sight of her. He had been searching for her for hours and was beginning to despair at ever finding her. Without a word he helped her up and led her home, one arm wrapped around her body as she continued to sniffle.
The next morning, the Kacheek woke up cold. She sat up and realized that her legs were poking out from under her blanket. For a moment she wondered if her blanket had suddenly shrunk in the middle of the night, however with a cry of joy she realized that instead it was she who had grown.
When she examined herself she saw that she was now as tall as the Shoyru who never spoke. She ran to the other young neopets and finally she was able to play with them. They no longer were able to push her around and the Kacheek laughed at their shock. The Shoyru remained alone by himself as the Kacheek went to play with the other children, unable to join because of his shyness.
The other neopets weren't happy that the Kacheek was as tall as them now. They called for the tallest and meanest of the neopets to stop the Kacheek from joining their game. When he came, the Kacheek saw that he was still taller than her and so he was able to push her to ground.
Humiliated again, the Kacheek ran home and locked herself in her room. The Shoyru tried knocking on her door but she ignored him. The day passed and finally the Kacheek left her home the next morning. She forced herself to go where the other young neopets were playing and hoped that perhaps the tallest and meanest of the neopets would not be there.
The Kacheek yelped in shock, for he was there, but the Kacheek was at least a foot taller than him! She laughed and forced the other neopets to let her join their game. The now almost tallest and meanest of the neopets tried to protest but the Kacheek pushed him to the ground.
However, the next day, the Kacheek found that she had grown some more. Now she was as tall as the adult neopets and they took notice of her and made her join them in their business. At first she reveled in the novelty and exclusivity of it, but eventually she grew too tall even for them.
Every day, the Kacheek kept growing. Taller and taller until eventually she could see the top of the Great Tree in the forest. Soon that too was below her as Neopia became tiny and distant and she grew ever higher.
The Kacheek had grown to become a giant and the sky where the Kacheek reached was cold and she started to grow lonely. Scared and alone, the Kacheek began to cry. Her tears fell to Neopia as giant drops of water and soon the world began to flood. All the other neopets below her started to shout at her to stop crying before all of Neopia disappeared under her tears. However, their voices were too tiny and she was too far up to hear them. Those who had wings flew as high as they could, but were not able to reach the Kacheek at her height and they fell back, exhausted. They all lost their voices and grew tired from screaming too much and fell asleep, fatigued.
All except the Shoyru who never spoke. He waited and waited, without a word, and the water from the Kacheek's tears kept rising. Because the water was very salty, the Shoyru was able to easily float on the surface until finally the water level reached the Kacheek's face.
He began to wave his arms around, hoping to catch the Kacheek's attention. The Kacheek noticed a commotion in front of her and finally stopped crying to wonder what could possibly have reached her height. She brought her hand up above the water and allowed the Shoyru to fly atop it, then brought it to her eye level so she could see him better. The Shoyru leaned forward and used his arm to wipe away the tears forming at the corner of the Kacheek's eye.
Realizing what she had done, that her tears had flooded Neopia, the Kacheek gasped. She closed her eyes and suddenly wished she was small and tiny again. She wanted everything to return to how it used to be. However, the water level was up to her mouth and when she opened it to gasp, she accidentally swallowed some of the water.
Her tears were cold and salty and she shivered when they went down her throat. Suddenly, eyes still shut, she felt the water receding and her body changing. She knew something was happening and whatever it was caused her to cry out in pain as her bones and skin reorganized around her.
Finally things were still. The Kacheek opened her eyes and saw that everything was dry. Then she saw that she was small again. She felt something on her face and saw that the Shoyru was still there, his hand wiping away her last tear.
They were inside and the other young neopets were all playing outside and the Shoyru lifted an eyebrow as if asking her if she wanted to go out there with them. The Kacheek shook her head and decided that staying inside with the Shoyru who never spoke and playing something that didn't require being big was okay too.