Battle Quills... ready! Circulation: 192,587,388 Issue: 653 | 11th day of Swimming, Y16
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by goodsigns


Babydrago1, also known as Dragon, sat on the small hill outside of Neopia Central. The sun was nearly setting, and the beautiful light from the sky mixed with the rainbow from the Rainbow Pool. A few Neopets were giving items to the Money Tree, and other Pets were benefiting from those items. It was a rare moment of perfect peace, and Dragon was drawing it.

      As he was applying some purple to the edges of the sky, a Scriblet climbed onto his shoulder, its antennae twitching as it studied the drawing. Quite suddenly, it leapt into the air, its blue-and-red beetle wings buzzing, aiming for the canvas.

      "Mangoes, no," Dragon scolded, catching the petpetpet and putting him back on his shoulder. "This is my drawing."

      Mangoes clicked his antennae in annoyance and watched as Dragon picked up a red colored pencil, outlining the curve of the rainbow. For a few minutes, the Scriblet allowed the White Aisha to draw, but soon it was too much for him again, and for the second time Mangoes tried to reach the drawing.

      "No, Mangoes. You'll mess it up." This time Dragon put his Scriblet on the ground. He tore a piece of drawing paper out of his pad and placed it on the grass next to the bug, anchoring it down with a couple of rocks. "Here you go. You can draw on this one."

      Mangoes plodded onto the paper, sniffing the wood pulp experimentally. He let one antenna drop to the surface and walked forward as a red ink-like substance leaked out. He turned around and let the middle antenna drop, and this time a dark-blue ink came out. He colored and doodled this way for a while, but then his eyes were drawn back towards Dragon and his drawing.

      This time the Scriblet tried a more stealthy approach; his feet gripped the soil and he made his way slowly towards his master. He lumbered towards the colored pencils Dragon was using, attaching himself firmly to the bright sunny-yellow one. He stayed perfectly still as Dragon reached for it and picked it up, and when he was close to the paper, he let one antennae out.

      "Ugh, Mangoes," Dragon complained, stopping him before he could color the drawing. He shook the petpetpet off his pencil, and Mangoes buzzed his wings angrily, flying up to Dragon's cheek and letting his right antennae brush against his skin. Bright green now stained the otherwise perfect white fur.

      "Alright, I get it, you're mad," Dragon said, reaching up to try and smear away the ink; he only succeeded in spreading it around. "This drawing is special, though. I'm going to try and win the art gallery with it. I can do it this time, I'm sure of it, and I can't let anyone ruin it."

      Mangoes clicked his antennae together, adamantly refusing to do anything else but pester Dragon, and Dragon sighed. "I'm done anyway." He carefully closed the drawing pad over his finished drawing, packing it up with his other art supplies before Mangoes had another chance to color it. "Come on, let's go home."

      The petpetpet buzzed along in front of the Aisha, still mad and refusing to allow Dragon to give him a ride home. Instead, Mangoes flied through the air, his red-and-blue wings flashing so fast that they looked purple. The bright oranges and greens of Neopia Central stood out this evening, highlighted by the light that mingled from the street-lamps and the evening sky.

      Mangoes was waiting on the front door when Dragon got home, and buzzed in as soon as he opened the door. The house was filled with talking, chirping, barking, and buzzing as its other occupants went about their business. Dragon placed his art supplies next to the couch and went into the kitchen for some dinner.

      "How'd it go?" his owner, Lina, asked, her hair up in a messy pony-tail as she poured herself cereal. She then looked into the fridge and groaned. "Ugh. Out of milk. Why are we always out of milk when I pour myself cereal?!"

      "Because we live in a house full of Aishas," Dragon said good-naturedly. "To answer your first question, though, I think this is the one!"

      "It is?" Lina said, smiling. "Great!"

      Dragon smiled. It was great! He had had no luck with drawing recently; his last good attempt had been the portrait he drew of one of his sisters. He had submitted drawing after drawing to the Art Gallery, but none had gotten in.

      But this one was different. He had truly captured what it meant to live in Neopia: the generosity, the beauty, and the peacefulness of it all.

      The next morning, Dragon set out for the Art Centre, his drawing framed and ready to be hung. The rather-bored looking Scorchio in charge of the gallery flipped the page of his book absentmindedly, and Dragon had to cough to get his attention.

      "Oh, hello. What can I help you with?" the Scorchio asked, but his tone said that he didn't want to help at all.

      "I've come with a piece to submit to the art gallery," Dragon replied, holding up his picture of Neopia Central.

      The Scorchio looked at it lazily, his eyes trailing over the drawing, reading it as easily as he read the words in his book.

      "Sorry, kid, it's not good enough."

      Dragon's jaw dropped. "Not good enough? I spent nearly all of yesterday up on that hill perfecting it!"

      The Scorchio shook his head. "It's too common, it's unoriginal, and besides all that, it simply doesn't speak." He flipped another page. "I'm sorry, but it's not going to make it into the gallery."

      "You barely looked at it, though," Dragon pleaded.

      The Scorchio didn't even look up at him this time. "If I've already said no, begging isn't going to change anything. Do you really want your art to be in the gallery because of pity?"

      Dragon sighed. "No, sir, you're right. I'm sorry." He slumped away, feeling rotten to the core. He was sure this one was good enough to get in! What was he missing? Was he just in some type of artist's slump?

      Back at the Neohome, he took the picture out of the frame, staring at it for half a moment before crumpling it up and throwing it in the trash can.

      Mangoes buzzed inquisitively from his place on top of the refrigerator. He watched as Dragon trudged through the hallway and up the stairs towards his room. Why had he thrown the drawing out?

      The Scriblet flew to the trashcan, grasping the edge of the paper with two feet and straining to pull it out. The entire trash can tumbled onto the floor, and he flew down, walking over the drawing and smoothing it out. The beautiful pencil drawings gleamed back at him, and quite happily, Mangoes started plodding along with his antennae trailing. The special Scriblet ink mixed with the wood pulp, making the once normal scene abstract and complicated. He sniffed and started trudging the opposite way, leaving a trail of red, green, and blue in his wake.

      When Dragon walked back into the kitchen an hour later, he saw the trash spilled all over the floor. "What the...?" His eyes landed on the drawing of Neopia Central, now strangely colored, with splashes appearing seemingly at random. Mangoes was on the counter, wiping his antennae clean with two of his beetle-feet.

      "Well, Mangoes, I guess you got what you wanted after all. I'm sorry I was mean to you yesterday." Dragon started picking up the trash and throwing it back in the can, and finally he got a closer look at the picture. "You know, this isn't half bad... Actually, it's pretty good."

      He smoothed it out, careful to make sure not to smudge any drying ink. "It's original, it's certainly not common..." He went back to his room and got the picture frame, carefully putting the drawing in it. "Come on, Mangoes, let's go see if this is good enough."

      The Neopet and the Petpetpet went together to the Art Gallery, back to the bored-looking Scorchio.

      "Excuse me? Sir?" Dragon asked. "I've... edited my drawing a bit."

      The Scorchio looked up, and his bored expression nearly melted off his face. "Now this... this is what I'm talking about!" he said excitedly. He walked around the table to hold the picture for himself, bringing it closer to his face to examine it. "Yes, kid, this is it. This picture speaks! It captures the chaos, unexpectedness, and uniqueness of Neopia! I'll put it up immediately. What's your name? Who should I list as the artist?"

      Dragon smiled as Mangoes buzzed happily on his shoulder. "It's by Dragon... and Mangoes."

The End

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