Harpier looked miserably at the Neopian Hospital. Her wings were drooping from exhaustion, her tail hanging low.
The last glimpses of the setting sun bounced off the walls of the hospital, sending a warm glow over the dusty path. The dusk breeze ruffled Harpier's ruff lightly, waving her hair slightly. The grass off the path waved gently.
Harpier's knees started to bend, her eyelids flitting open and closed. The weight on her back seemed to get heavier by at least a thousand pounds. She gritted her teeth, trying to ignore the exhaustion and pain in her muscles.
"Hang in there, little sis."
Pacina was perched on Harpier's back, in the space between her shadowy wings. Pacina groaned, and sent a mournful noise echoing in the sky.
Few Neopians passed by, as the sky was starting to darken. But the ones that did gave Harpier pitying looks, and Pacina concerned ones. She saw a Woodland Acara walk by slowly, giving Pacina a sad look. The Acara rushed by, her leaves flapping after her.
Pacina's extra set of green ears flopped slowly over onto Harpier's shadow-colored shoulders. Her legs flopped over onto Harpier's ribs, and her tail drooped over Harpier's hips. Pacina rested her head tiredly and trustingly on Harpier's ruff.
Harpier sighed with exhaustion again. She turned and started trotting into Neopia Central, the way the Woodland Acara had went. Her paws padded lightly against the path, and little puffs of dust rose up. She swept her tail in a circular motion against the path, leaving a trail of displaced pebbles. The soft grass brushed lightly against her paws, leaving tiny green stains on the black.
Harpier ruffled her wings and stretched them out. She flapped them and placed them over Pacina, hugging her close. Pacina groaned happily, and nudged Harpier's left wing with the back of her head.
Harpier's eyes started to water, visions of the worst flashing through her head. She had no idea what Pacina was sick with, but it seemed like a much worse disease than when Harpier had had Chickaroo or something like that.
Harpier approached the Pharmacy as the stars floated across the never-ending sky. The pinkish-orange hues of the sunset were swallowed up by the blackish-purple of the night sky.
Harpier walked slowly up to the glass doors, taking caution to make sure Pacina was comfortable on her back.
Harpier's mouth dropped and her wings drooped off of Pacina. A big fat closed sign was hanging in the window, blocking view of the medicine counter. There was a lock on the door, tightly shutting the glass doors together. And, of course, the Elephante pharmacist had already left.
Harpier really didn't want to leave Pacina in the state she was in, but there was no way to get into the Pharmacy, and no way of curing her right now.
Pacina groaned and shifted on Harpier's back. Harpier struggled under the weight, and her kneecaps buckled. She overbalanced forward, and fell in the dirt with a soft thud. A cloud of dust puffed up, finding its way into her eyes and nose. She took a sandy paw and rubbed her eyes, then sneezed like someone but black pepper into her nose.
A small Blue Tuskaninny walked by, looking pitifully at Harpier just lying there on the ground, a little Green Aisha positioned on her back. But of course, he didn't stop to help or anything, he just rushed by.
Harpier struggled to get up under the weight of her sister. It felt like she was carrying a boulder on her back. No matter how small Pacina was compared to her, the tiredness in her body made Pacina seem as heavy as Turmaculus.
Harpier sighed a deep, loud sigh and dug her paws into the dirt. Pebbles and dirt flew everywhere, covering her beak and face.
Harpier started slowly crawling towards the shore of Neopia Central. She could probably take a ferry home to Mystery Island, and-
What am I doing? Harpier thought miserably. By the time the ferry got to Mystery Island, she would have to just turn right around and get back on the ferry to continue her search. So Harpier turned and crawled towards the Neolodge, struggling to try and get up.
Harpier wrote a quick Neomail to her owner, saying she wouldn't be home tonight and would be staying in a Neolodge. Pacina's faithful petpet, Tabya, took the message from Harpier and flew towards Mystery Island. The little Carmariller was a fast flyer, and would be back to them before sunrise.
Harpier struggled over to the door, stretching her arm up to slowly open the glass doors. Surely the Neolodge would be open; they wanted to make as much business as possible.
Harpier crawled in and inched over to the desk. The receptionist, a Desert Draik, looked surprised to see Harpier. The Draik spotted Pacina and her face went blue. "Hi, how may I help you?" she said in a cautious voice.
Harpier struggled to stand up just a little. "I- I would like to get a room. We're just staying for the night."
The receptionist wrote something down on a little pad and then got up from behind the desk. She slowly led the way, down to a wooden door on the first floor of the Neolodge.
It was a small room, with patches of dust everywhere. It probably wasn't the most sanitary room.
There was one bed, a small table with a tiny lamp on it, and there was a wooden chair in the top right corner. A small door led into a cramped bathroom.
Harpier thanked the Draik, and then walked in the room. She took out a small bag of Neopoints and handed them to the receptionist. But the Draik shied away, insisting payment wasn't necessary. She walked backwards out the door, closing it slowly. Harpier could hear that beyond the door, the Draik let out a whooshing sigh of relief.
Harpier padded over to the dusty little bed and lay down with relief on it. Pacina groaned happily on her back and snuggled her head against Harpier's ruff.
Harpier lay down, her wings drooping off the sides of the bed. Her head flopped down on the sheet. She was too tired to actually squirm under the sheets. She just let Pacina rest on her back.
Harpier had no idea small little eyes, hidden in the shadows of night, were watching her start to fall asleep just outside the small mucky window.
Harpier blinked her eyes sleepily.
She yawned slowly, trying not to move too much as to wake up Pacina. She slowly inched off the bed and opened the wooden door. She quickly grabbed her coat from the rack hanging on the wall next to the door.
Closing the door quietly, Harpier walked towards the reception desk with the strength of a night's sleep.
She got there as the Desert Draik was switching positions with an Eventide Cybunny. The Draik spotted Harpier and whispered something to the Cybunny. Most likely it was to be cautious of them.
Harpier walked up to the desk as the Draik walked away. "I'll be leaving now. Thank you for your hospitality to us," Harpier said with a forced smile.
The Cybunny ushered them out the door and wished for Pacina's well-being.
As Harpier was pushed out the glass doors onto the sidewalk, she saw the Draik by her room putting caution tape around the door. "So much for hospitality," Harpier mumbled to herself.
Harpier turned and the receptionist slammed the door closed behind her.
She started on as the first rays of morning light cast a pink glow on the ground. The light shone off the dew on the grass, making the fields next to the path sparkle and shimmer.
Harpier took a small detour and walked over to the Wishing Well. She flipped a few spare Neopoints in and wished for Pacina's wellbeing. Harpier rested her head on the stones of the well for a moment, her eyes with dark wrinkles from lack of sleep. The good thing was that you couldn't see the wrinkles, due to her being painted Shadow.
Harpier whipped around, her eyes scanning the bushes. Her gaze stopped on a small bush with little eyes peeking out at her. Ears popped out of the bush, and a small Neopet crawled out.
Harpier was surprised to see herself standing face-to-face with the little Xweetok she had given her bag of Neopoints to the night she had been looking for Pacina. The Xweetok looked no better than she had before, wearing the same torn up old coat and sporting the same messy, dirty old mane and ruff. She looked to be in an awful shape.
The Xweetok started at Pacina just lying there on Harpier's back for what seemed like an eternity. She made a small little noise to clear her throat, and then spoke. "Your little sister looks really sick." Her voice was small and squeaky, as if she hadn't spoken in a long time.
Harpier looked bewilderingly at the little Xweetok. How she knew Pacina was her little sister, she would probably never know. But it was pretty obvious that Pacina was really sick. Not only was she awfully pale, but she was breathing in nasty, shallow way.
"I don't know what she's sick with," the Xweetok piped up again, "but you might want to try taking her to the Healing Springs. I've never been there myself, but I hear the faerie there is really nice."
"You mean Marina?" Harpier asked. "She can cure diseases?"
The Xweetok nodded slightly, then turned and disappeared into the bush again.
Of all the times Harpier had gone to Marina, she never knew the beautiful Water Faerie could cure diseases. If she had known that earlier, she wouldn't have had to make her owner buy all those cures. It probably would've been useful knowing that awhile ago.
Harpier flapped a little to get in the air, and then started off for Faerieland. Though it was now on the ground, flying there would be so much faster. The eyes of the little Red Xweetok, ever staring, followed her to the edge of the sky.
Harpier looked over the seemingly calm Healing Springs. They were the only ones there, except for a Cloud Uni who was just leaving, shooting concerned looks at Pacina. But like all the others, the Uni just hurried away.
Pacina was still breathing shallowly, her head resting on Harpier's shoulders. She was making small snoring sounds; she hadn't woken up since last night. Her tail flopped over one of Harpier's wings, and her extra ears were positioned over Harpier's forehead.
A few small bubbles gurgled up from the springs. A large splash erupted from the middle of the water, blurring Harpier's vision and drenching her and Pacina. Pacina's head shifted and her tail waved weakly back and forth. The splash had obviously waked her up.
When Harpier's vision had cleared, she shook her ruff and splattered cold droplets everywhere. Pacina rested her head back down and flopped her tail downward.
Harpier blinked slowly. Marina was sitting peacefully on a rock next to the springs, her tail flipping up and down gently in the azure water. She smiled warmly at Harpier and Pacina, and it wasn't a fake smile. It was genuine, and it made Harpier feel better about doing this.
Marina seemed to glow with passion, and she beckoned warmly for Harpier to come. She wasn't like all the other Neopets. Not like the Acara, Tuskaninny, and Uni who rushed by with fake concerned looks. Not like the Draik and Cybunny who condemned the room she stayed in. She was kinder, who didn't fake being concerned or gave fake hospitality. She was real.
Harpier walked slowly over to the faerie, stepping on small rocks next to the springs. The rays of the afternoon sun shimmered across the still water, which seemed to glow a faint aquamarine. The slick rocks sparkled a sea-green color.
Harpier lay down on a rock next to Marina. The Water Faerie gently lifted Pacina off of Harpier's back. Harpier sighed with relief, as though a sack of bricks had been lifted off her back. Harpier's wings drooped tiredly.
Marina waved her hand above Pacina, the placed the little Aisha carefully in the shimmering water. A sapphire glow exploded from the water. Harpier flinched back and was momentarily blinded, but Marina seemed unfazed.
Marina smiled, her eyes staring happily at the water.
Harpier regained sight, blinking at the water.
Pacina walked out slowly, her natural green color restored. Her eyes weren't wrinkled anymore, and her extra ears weren't drooping. Her warm smile returned once again, her familiar happy feet prancing back and forth. She ran right up to Harpier and gave her a huge hug. The shining fake golden wings Pacina had always worn were hanging around Harpier's neck; Pacina grabbed them and immediately put them on. She flapped them a little and smiled at Marina.
Harpier thanked the faerie graciously and started off. It was so kind of Marina; she really did deserve a whole lot of praise for her hard-working job.
Harpier flew down to Neopia Central to take Pacina to Pizzaroo. Marina deserves almost all the praise, Harpier thought, but I wonder about that Xweetok. She must deserve some praise too for telling me.
Harpier pondered this as she walked into Pizzaroo, having no clue the eyes of the little Xweetok were watching her from just beyond her range of sight.