Invisible Paint Brushes rock Circulation: 96,313,980 Issue: 190 | 13th day of Hunting, Y7
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The White Meowclops: Part One


by auntfalcor

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Part I

"…And in other news, after four years of being trapped in a volcano, Glubgar the Scorchio has finally managed to find his way to the outside world. When questioned, he claimed to have been 'flying in a circle' the entire time, and though investigators claim there was a flashing neon sign that read "EXIT," Glubgar still insists on suing the volcano industry."

     "And now to our top story. In yesterday's press conference, residents of the Haunted Woods breathed a sigh of relief as Queen Fyora insisted that she has no intention to usurp the Haunted Woods. 'It's melancholy and generally aesthetically displeasing.' Economic advisors predict that it was a smart move for the Queen, especially following last week's rumors of -"

      "Auryn, will you put down that newspaper for a second and come and help me out?"

      Auryn_2000 reluctantly folded up the newest issue of the Neopian Times and arrived in the kitchen, where his blonde owner was seemingly trying to coax a white Meowclops into a beige carrying case about the size of a Neoschool locker. It hissed and spat at his attempts, refusing to leave its perch on top of the kitchen counter.

      "Where did you get that?" Auryn asked. Since he had been painted royal last month his owner Rubio and two brothers had found themselves consistently short of Neopoints, meaning fewer visits to the Doughnutfruit shop, less training at Techo Mountain, and omelettes every day for breakfast. The only reason they had the Neopoints to buy the brush in the first place was because Auryn worked for the Neopian Diplomatic Agency of Neopian Central, an association that assured good relations between regions, and tended to give their employees good wages in the process. After a year's savings Auryn had finally had enough Neopoints to paint himself, but it was a big purchase and needless to say there wasn't any left over to buy expensive petpets.

     Rubio replied, "I found it running in the streets when I got back from the bank this morning. Judging by its demeanor I'd say it was a stray, and it's lucky that I found it. Anyway, I've decided to auction it off since I don't think it belongs to anybody here and it's worth so much."

     Auryn shot him a skeptical look. A petpet worth more than a quarter of a million Neopoints… almost 400k… loose in the streets? And why had Rubio gone to the National Neopian? But the Royalboy Zafara spared Rubio further explanation as he glanced at the clock and realized that work would not wait.

     Apologizing for his inability to help, Auryn rushed out, almost colliding with his brother in the hallway in the process. As he left he could hear shouts of "Arrr, watch whurr yer goin', Zaffy" from the cheeky pirate Scorchio.

     *****

     "So tell me, how do you put up with it? I think I would die with two brothers." Imp stated in respect. It was lunch break and Auryn had just finished telling his co-worker, a blonde kiwi-coloured Shoyru, about the morning's events.

     Auryn shook his head. "It's not that bad. Franz is never around, and plus he's older than me and is usually pretty mature. And Patches is unpleasant but bearable. He's only been with us for a month and speaks in nothing but pirate talk. I think he secretly drives my owner crazy, but Rubio won't kick him out because he's a little nutty in the head." Auryn bit into his slice of leftover pizza, ruminating things over. "How's it like having only one sister?"

     Imp made a look of disgust not at all related to the fresh fruit she was eating. "You'd think it would be great, but I have rotten luck. A nice Aisha or Koi I could have lived with, but my owner had to get a Usul. All I ever hear about is make-up, grooming, and Usukis." Auryn took a bite of melon and said in a more serious tone, "My owner loves her though. Buys her all the latest issues of Usul Mania, and even painted her faerie. As much as I can't stand the thought of looking like a faerie princess I can't say I'm not jealous, especially considering I've wanted to be painted before we even adopted her."

     Auryn couldn't imagine Imp living with a Usul sister, especially a faerie one. The short-haired Shoyru's disposition matched her name to a tee, and anything too girly didn't seem to mesh well with her personality.

     "What color did you want to be painted?" Auryn asked, curious.

     "Pssh. Not faerie." Imp paused for a moment, considering. "Maraquan would be fun, but truthfully Halloween is my favorite color for Shoyrus."

     Auryn thought. Was that fair? Faerie paint brushes were valued at much higher prices than were Halloween ones, and Imp had been first in line for a new coat. It didn't make much sense, but then again there was probably a good reason for it. After all, unless he had misjudged Imp's personality, she probably wouldn't have put up with blatant favoritism.

     The two friends finished the rest of their lunch in silence, waiting until the clock chimed noon to head inside and finish the rest of the day's work.

     *****

     "So, how'd the auction go?" Auryn asked Rubio during dinner that night. "Are we going to be able to afford decent breakfasts again?" he quipped, only half-jokingly.

     "Well, to tell you the truth, the Meowclops escaped. It darted right out of the kitchen when I turned my back for one second, and I've been tearing this house down looking for it ever since but I've neither seen hide nor hair. I have a feeling that Patches let it out when I wasn't looking." Rubio glared at said pirate. "It's really quite a disappointment."

     "Arr, I've done nothing of the sort," Patches retaliated. "I reckon that I shouldn't be blamed because ye can't control a wee kitten."

     Rubio looked ready to respond, but decided to hold his tongue. Instead he motioned to Auryn to pass the peas, and devoted himself to finishing his dinner. As for the Royalboy Zafara, there wasn't much disappointment: though the extra Neopoints would have been good, there wasn't much to complain about in his life, and as he finished his meal he felt only sorry that the Meowclops was back out there in the streets instead of inside the warm Neohome with them.

     The sound of the front door opening interrupted the dinner, and as Rubio and his Neopets glanced toward the kitchen entrance, a dark figure emerged.

     "Well, if this isn't a pleasant surprise?" Rubio said to the intruder appearing in the kitchen. "If it isn't Franz?" The shadow Gelert stepped into the room, a solemn look written on his face. Franz was the older brother of Auryn, and though he had a quite and often austere disposition, Auryn had always found himself looking up to Franz for his maturity and independence.

     "Salutations, Rubio, Auryn, Patches," he said, nodding to the respective beings as he did. "I wish I could sit around and chat, but I'm on a tight schedule. Rubio… may I speak to you in private? Outside?"

     Auryn shot a quizzical look to his owner, but the blonde human just replied, "Of course," and left the room with Franz as if there was nothing odd about the request.

     The soup in Auryn's mouth turned cold as he realized that he was alone in the room with Patches, who would certainly start his loony pirate talk. And he was right; as soon as he heard the front door close, signifying that Rubio was out of earshot, Patches started blabbering.

     "Arrr, ye land lubber, did ol' Patches ever tell ye about the time me right leg was injured by 'eh rouge Jetsam? Saw 'em with me own two eyes, I did. I don't reckon' that ye've ever done anything like that, have ye? I s'pose 'eh dainty prince like yerself would rather play with dolls, wouldn't ye?" Patches taunted.

     Preferring not to listen, Auryn opted to head to his room, intent on getting some sleep. Unbeknownst to him, the Scorchio had wanted this all along, and soon after the kitchen table was left empty, with all of its former occupants, save Auryn himself, attending to important business.

     *****

     Auryn was being smothered by white fur, it was in his eyes and mouth. He couldn't breathe… he tried to push it away, but it resisted until he was sure he would suffocate right then and there. The world was fading to black…

     Auryn jolted awake. It was on his face! He flipped the light switch on, only to find himself eyes to eye with a hideous, gruesome… Meowclops?

     He felt his heartbeat slow as he realized that it had only been a dream, and that the Meowclops must have simply mistaken Auryn's furry Zafara head as a pillow, and had no intention of smothering him. But what to do about the furry petpet? Auryn thought. He could probably just put it into the carrying case for the rest of the night; otherwise, it would probably run away to some remote place in the house, where it would be difficult to find later.

     Intent on doing just that, he reached for it a second to late. In a flash it was occupying the incredibly small space between his bed and the floor, and after fifteen minutes of kind words and food bribes yielding no success, Auryn gave up and went back to sleep, too worn out to do anything more.

To be continued...

 
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