The first rays of the morning sun filtered through the window into Reedias' small room. The Draik in question was currently sleeping in the bed but soon his eyelids cracked open to reveal two sleepy eyes. He blinked a few times and gazed around the room blearily. Reedias had a vague feeling that today was not an ordinary day but his mind was still half asleep so he decided to ignore it.
It was still early and he didn't feel like getting up so he closed his eyes again and enjoyed the peaceful silence of the morning. Or tried to. A few seconds later, the door to his room burst open and his best friend Lukitar, a young Aisha, jumped in with a wide grin on her face.
"Happy birthday, Reedias!"
Reedias sat up and glared at her. "You do realise that some of us might not enjoy waking up at the crack of dawn?"
Lukitar just regarded him calmly. "Oh, don't be so grumpy. You have more time to enjoy the day if you get up early. I even made pancakes for breakfast!" Before Reedias had time to respond, she turned around and walked out of the door.
Reedias grumbled quietly to himself for a while before finally getting up and following Lukitar to the kitchen where a high pile of freshly baked pancakes was waiting for him on the table. He smiled at Lukitar, sat down opposite her and dug in. He was just starting on his third pancake when someone knocked on their front door.
"I'll go. Just finish your breakfast so we can start getting ready for the celebration," Lukitar said, got up and disappeared through the doorway. Reedias smiled his thanks and continued eating. He could hear her talking quietly to someone before her head reappeared in the doorway.
"Umm, there's some Ogrin who wants to talk to you."
Reedias looked longingly at his pancake before getting up and making his way to the front door. He was slightly surprised to see an ancient looking Ogrin standing there, holding a crooked staff in his right hand. A dozen of questions sprung up in Reedias' mind but he didn't have time to voice any of them before the Ogrin started to talk in a monotonous voice.
"I've come to tell you that the day you were created, Kreludor was at an unusual angle and because of that unfortunate event a curse will fall on you on this particular birthday making you extremely unlucky."
There was a short pause when the stranger took in a quick breath.
"The curse can, however, be prevented by donating a certain amount of neopoints to the Wishing Well. The amount can be easily calculated by combining your weight with you height, dividing that by three, adding your intelligence to that and finally multiplying it all with the day you were created," with that he disappeared in a puff of purple smoke.
Reedias and Lukitar stood frozen in the doorway staring at the spot where the Ogrin had stood only a few seconds ago. Finally, Lukitar broke the silence, "Well, that was a bit... weird."
"You think?" Reedias was finding it a little hard to get his voice to work.
"So are you going to, you know, donate those neopoints?"
"Of course not. That was obviously just some stupid prank."
"A prank that disappeared into thin air."
"Yeah, well... let's just go finish our breakfast."
When the duo entered the kitchen again, they found an unpleasant surprise waiting for them there. The plate, previously piled high with pancakes, was now empty except for a few crumbs. Next to the plate, a happy looking Hasee was relaxing against a juice jug with bits of pancake on its face and paws. It didn't take a genius to figure out what had happened.
Without saying a word Reedias lifted up the Hasee and carried it to the open window where he, unceremoniously, dropped it on the grass patch underneath. He tried very hard not to think about the Ogrin's words about bad luck. And anyway, it wasn't like this was the first time this had happened. A couple of Hasees lived near their house and every once in a while they popped in for a meal, uninvited and usually through an open window, just like today. So there was no reason for this to have anything to do with the so called curse.
A small voice in the back of Reedias' head seemed to disagree with this kind of reasoning but he decided to ignore it and concentrated on more pressing matters instead. He even managed a small smile as he turned around to address Lukitar, "It seems like we have no more breakfast so maybe we should start preparing for the evening. How about we first go to the Bakery and get the cakes and cookies we ordered?"
"Sounds like a plan."
The journey to the Bakery was not as uneventful as Reedias would have liked it to be. He managed to trip over countless objects including tree roots, various misplaced items and even a couple of unfortunate petpets. On top of that, the Tax Beast had decided to visit him and he had been angry. Of all the possible days for them to cross roads this had to be the worst one. Not only did Reedias have a lot of neopoints with him but now they had had to make a detour through the Neopian Bank, which resulted in them falling behind on their schedule.
It was getting harder and harder to ignore the ominous words of the Ogrin but Reedias was trying his hardest to do just that. At least they had finally reached the Bakery. Reedias opened the door and stepped in, Lukitar following right behind him. The first thing he noticed was the apologetic look on the Breadmaster's face which couldn't bode well.
"Ah, Reedias and Lukitar. I'm afraid I have some bad news for you," the Breadmaster started. Reedias tried to prepare himself for the worst.
"It seems that there has been some confusion with my orders. I haven't gotten any flour or sugar for two days now, which, of course, means that I haven't been able to bake any cakes or cookies. I'm really sorry."
Reedias opened and closed his mouth a few times, but apart from a strangled croak no sound came out. He heard Lukitar clear her throat before she stepped forward from behind him and asked the question he had been trying to voice, "But surely you have something that we can serve at the party?"
"All I have is this jar of Calamari Tongue Wraps which was delivered to me this morning," he said and lifted the jar onto the counter, "I didn't order anything like this but I guess I might as well sell them to you, seeing that they are the only thing I have."
Reedias eyed the jar warily and opened his mouth again, pleased to note that he had his voice back, "I think we'll see if we can find something... more conventional food from the other shops. Thanks for the offer though."
"Oh, of course, I understand. Well, good luck then. I hope the other shop keepers have had better luck with their orders." The Breadmaster bid them farewell and they proceeded to wander around Neopia Central, hoping to find something edible for the party.
Reedias couldn't believe it. They had been into numerous shops and none of them had anything even distantly edible looking food. They all said the same thing: there had been some confusion with their orders and instead of the usual ingredients they had gotten some very weird items. And some of those items made even the Calamari Tongue Wraps sound delicious, which was telling a lot.
But after fruitlessly searching the shops for hours, Reedias and Lukitar had finally decided to just take the Calamari Tongue Wraps and go home. At that point, Lukitar had, of course, pointed out that maybe the Ogrin had been telling the truth after all. Reedias had replied with a nonchalant shrug though he secretly agreed with her and it was only his stubbornness that kept him from saying it out loud. There was no way these misfortunes were only due to ordinary bad luck. There had to be some sort of magic involved and that was a very scary thought and it was much easier to ignore than acknowledge.
The party was now in full swing and it was time to open the presents. Although Reedias was a little wary about doing anything with his current streak of bad luck, he smiled valiantly and got on with the task. The first few presents weren't that bad. Perhaps the shirt wasn't exactly his favourite colour, and maybe the Glowing Skull Necklace gave him the creeps, but they were okay, no harm done. But then it was time for his good friend, Erord, to give him his gift. This would have been all right if Erord hadn't been a wizarding apprentice who wanted to cast a spell on him as a birthday present. Reedias knew something would go wrong.
"Don't worry. I've done this many times before and I've always got it right. It's only a little spell that will improve your strength and defence!" Erord reassured him. He mumbled a few words and pointed his staff at Reedias. A blue ray shot out from it and hit Reedias in the chest. Reedias closed his eyes as a weird sensation ran through his body. Other than that everything seemed to be fine. Except it wasn't.
When he opened his eyes again he seemed to be smaller than usual. Much, much smaller than usual. Actually, he felt like he had to be less than a centimetre tall. Reedias turned his head to try and look at his body, and he almost fainted when he figured out what had happened: Erord had turned him into a Mootix. How wonderful.
He looked up to see most of the guests staring at him in shock. Erord was looking positively scared and babbled something about a counter spell and a magic book. Lukitar actually chuckled a little as she reached down and lifted him gently onto the table. Reedias glared at her but if her wide smile was anything to go by, he wasn't very good at glaring as a Mootix.
"You look quite adorable, Reedias," Lukitar commented cheekily. "Don't worry though, Erord went to get his magic book. I'm sure he finds the right spell and turns you back into a Draik in no time," she added as a reassurance after receiving another glare from Reedias.
'No time' turned out to be almost two hours. Finding the right spell hadn't been as easy as Erord had thought, and performing it had been even harder. It had taken him seven tries before he had finally mastered the spell and turned Reedias back to himself. As soon as Reedias got his bearings again he turned to face Lukitar.
"Get me some paper and a pencil. He tried his best to keep his voice calm.
"What for?" Lukitar looked genuinely puzzled.
"Well, I don't know, to count the amount of neopoints I need to chuck into the Wishing Well to get rid of this ridiculous curse, maybe? Combine my weight and height and... well, I hope you remember the rest because I don't." Reedias knew he sounded quite annoyed and flashed a weak smile at Lukitar to let her know that he wasn't actually angry at her. Lukitar nodded and went to get the needed equipment.
Soon they had the correct amount calculated and withdrawn from the bank. And after a short walk they found themselves standing in front of the Wishing Well, looking into its depths. Reedias closed his eyes and drew in a deep breath. He really hoped this would work as he wasn't ready to face another day like this. He glanced at Lukitar, who gave him a small smile and a nod, before holding out the small pouch full of neopoints in front of him. He turned it upside down and watched the neopoints fall down with a series of soft splashes. He held his breath, waiting for something to happen. Finally after the last splash he suddenly felt a lot better. It felt like a heavy burden had been lifted off his shoulders. He sighed in relief.
"I think it worked," he said happily to Lukitar who grinned and stepped closer to him. For a while they just stood there side by side in silence, both lost in their own thoughts.
"Shall we go home, then?" Lukitar eventually asked.
Reedias let out a deep sigh and nodded, his gaze locked on the night sky.
Lukitar clapped him on the shoulder and turned him around. "Come on. I'm sure your next birthday won't be quite as interesting as this one."
And so they walked back home in companionable silence, both hoping that Lukitar was indeed right.