The Paintbrush Princess
One day in Neopia Central…
A Chokato Kiko and a Pineapple Chia were sitting at a makeshift stand on a street corner near the Gift Shop. The Kiko was surrounded by several wood and stone carvings while the Chia was sitting on a pile of books, writing furiously on a notepad.
The Kiko sighed. “I don't know, Sativica. We haven't sold anything for a few weeks. At this rate, we're going to have to get our meals from the Soup Kitchen.”
“Well, we can always count on the Soup Faerie’s hospitality. We aren't exactly strangers to her establishment, Alude...” Sativica quipped. “Not even the Neopian Times has responded to my submissions. I do believe it's going to be one of those months. 'Tis difficult to be a Neopet of craft.” he huffed, all without looking up from his work.
Alude picked up a stone figure in the shape of a faerie and sighed. “Maybe people just don't appreciate art anymore.”
“The market on books seem to have plunged lately, as well. Not nearly as profitable as before.” Sativica added.
Alude, after some thought, got up. “Come on, let's head over to the Money Tree so we can get some money for something to eat.”
“The both of us? Who will watch over our inventory?”
“Just leave it. If nobody wants these, then they won't steal them.” Alude said, resigned.
“Alude, you were never one to mope around.”
“But what can we do? We need to eat and have shelter like anybody else. If we can't manage that, then what happens to us?”
Sativica was silent.
“Come on. If we're lucky, one of those charity guilds might be there.”
Sativica sighed and got up. “I truly hope so…”
A couple hours later…
“Well, that Pirate Draik is certainly an upstanding citizen. Surprising, given Pirate Neopets’ reputation. I only wish we got her name before she left.” Sativica mused.
Alude nodded. “The NP she passed out could possibly feed us for a week.” Her smile quickly soured. “But we can't be living solely off of handouts. We still need to sell off our wares.”
“I know, but it doesn't hurt to get some help every now and then. We can only hope that customers arrive soon.”
When the two arrived at their little store, a light blue Lenny was sitting there, painting on a canvas. She had a few books and figures next to her.
Alude drew near. “Um… hello, miss.” She looked down and noticed that the Lenny was using the carvings as models.
The Lenny looked up, and quickly scrambled to her feet. Her attire was quite regal, aside from the smock she wore over her dress. “Oh, hi! Are you the one selling these?” she asked, holding up the faerie figure.
Alude quietly nodded.
“They're so detailed! Certainly, you used a lot of time and care in making these.” The Lenny beamed, admiring the figure. “They make great references for my drawings. How much are these?”
Alude couldn't believe it. “Um… they're about 1,500 NP each.”
“Oh, don't sell yourself so short! With craftsmanship like this, you deserve to charge a bit higher.”
“But if I did, nobody would buy them…”
“Have you tried painting them? In my opinion, if you brighten things up a bit, they may make nice decorations.”
“I… I'm not very good at painting. I can barely hold a brush.”
“Perhaps I can help.”
She picked up her brush, and carefully painted the faerie's dress a bright sky blue, similar to the Lenny's feathers. She continued to cover up the grey stone until the figure resembled a cheery Air Faerie. Alude was awestruck.
“See? This looks much better! I think if they're painted, they'll catch more people's attention and they'll sell better. In fact, I think I should pay for this one.” She handed over a bag of NP.
Alude looked inside. “Th-this is 8,000 NP!”
“I told you, I think these are worth much more than 1,500 NP. I felt like I should show my appreciation.”
Alude was at a loss for words.
Sativica walked up. “I see you've also been reading my books.”
“You have quite a way with words. Aren't you the Chia who writes short stories for the Neopian Times?”
Sativica nodded, proudly. “That would be me.”
The Lenny cracked a grin. “I kind of figured. The writing styles were so similar. So how much are these?” She asked, holding up a book.
“Well then, I'll take three.” She picked up a couple more books, and handed over 9,000 NP.
“This… this is amazing! I can't believe this! What is your name?” Alude asked.
“Skysavers, ma'am. Just an artist who wishes to support other creative types! And you?”
“I'm Alude, and this is Sativica. We're here every day to sell the stuff we make.”
“That sounds quite charming! I promise I'll come back and browse around.” Skysavers gave a bright smile and went on her way.
Alude looked at the 17,000 NP they earned from one customer. “I don't think we're going hungry for a while.”
Every day after that, Skysavers kept returning to the stand to see what the two were up to. Skysavers would paint the figures Alude made while working on her own paintings on the side. Sativica sometimes recruited her to collaborate on comics with him to either sell or send to the Neopian Times. The vibrant colors that Skysavers introduced to the stand did indeed draw a few customers in.
“I can't believe this. That's the third one this week. Right before closing, too.” Alude said, packing up her stuff as an Acara walked off carrying a Bubblebee model. She tried to hand 500 NP to Skysavers as commission, but she refused.
“Alude, I keep telling you that you don't have to pay me for these. Plus, you’re trying to give me a whole third of your profits.”
“It’s only fair; it weren't for your paint jobs, I wouldn't be able to sell these in the first place.”
“Trust me, getting to work with you guys is its own reward; these past few weeks have actually been kind of fun! I've only been painting on a canvas before.” Skysavers giggled. “Besides, I don't really need any more NP than I already have.”
“If you say so…” Alude trailed off. She thought for a moment. “Hey, Skysavers…”
“Are you a Royal?”
“Well… yes. Is that a problem?”
“No, no, no… I've been wondering about that since we met.” Alude admitted.
“We've actually never met one in person, and what we've heard about them insinuates that most Royals don't like to interact with poor people like us.” Sativica added.
“I know most Royals are really snobby. Quite frankly, I hate it. Take away the money we have and we're just normal Neopets. That's why I like going around town and talking to others. I mean, doing that led me to meet you guys!” Skysavers beamed. “Most Royals are pretty lonely, too.”
“You know, being a Royal doesn't necessarily mean you always get what you want, and I kinda like that. It’s been my dream to enter the Neopia Central Art Gallery. The rules for entry state that instead of hiring someone to paint for me, I have to do my work myself. But I don't mind; I enjoy painting. It's a goal I'm still trying to reach, but once I do get it, I'll be happy knowing that I could do it without relying on cash or Royal influence.”
“That sounds like a really cool goal! I hear getting into the Art Gallery is really difficult. If you make it in, you're practically a master at art!” Alude smiled.
“I'd say you're definitely on your way there.” Sativica chimed in. “If we're all being perfectly honest about our situations, we were in danger of going bankrupt before you came along. If it weren't for your help, we would've been living out on the streets by now. You really saved us.”
“You really did. We hadn't sold anything for nearly a month before we met you.” Alude affirmed.
“I knew I was helping, but I didn't know how much it affected you!”
“We didn't want you to worry. We're doing better thanks to you. Thank you, Skysavers.” Alude bowed.
“I'm… I'm just glad I could help my friends.” Skysavers gave a teary smile.
“Well, it's getting late. Maybe we should head home. Tomorrow we can figure out what we'll sell next week. See you, guys.” Sativica gathered up his books and walked off.
“See you tomorrow!” Alude called out, and took her leave.
“See ya, guys.” Skysavers watched as they took off.
She looked around the stand to see if Alude and Sativica had accidentally left anything behind. As she looked under the counter, she found three figures on Alude’s side of the shop.
“What's this?” Skysavers asked as she grabbed them.
They were figures of a Kiko, Chia and a Lenny. They all looked happy.
Skysavers covered her beak as she gasped. Then her shock quickly turned into a big grin.
She placed them on the counter as she pulled out her canvas and paint.
“What a lovely sunset. I think I have an idea for my Art Gallery project…”