Serving the Sculptor
To say that Marek Alabaster was a charitable Skeith would
be a lie and to say he was a nice one would be almost laughable. But he was messy;
his living conditions were possibly the vilest I'd ever seen in my young life.
It was for this reason and this reason alone that he took me into his neohome
on that stormy night one year ago.
My life before him is neither happy nor original.
I'm told it's a tale of abandonment and poverty, hardly an unsung song. I therefore
don't feel it's necessary for you to hear it.
My plight had taken me to the Haunted woods,
a creepy place full of eerie noises and watchful eyes. It had been raining of
course, as it's only natural for all things sad and destitute to occur during
a spot of rotten weather.
Perhaps now you think I'm going to tell you a
ghost story? A tale of spooks and other things that go bump in the night?
I must regrettably inform you that you're sadly
mistaken. Despite my fear (can you imagine, a little blue Kyrii all alone in
the Haunted Woods?) no ghosts or goblins came to call.
The scariest thing I saw was a lone cottage,
its crumbling dark exterior and wilted garden making it look especially foreboding.
I walked down its broken path, weeds and fungus springing up between the cobblestones.
Dead trees loomed around a rusted black gate with spiny branches reaching down
at me like fingers. I pushed the gate. It swung open with a loud creak. Slowly
I approached the door, raising a hand to knock as thunder sounded in the background.
This scene must surely give a few of you the
shivers, and I assure you it gave me quite a few at the time as well. You must
think me quite brave to dare call upon such a creepy home as this. I have but
one explanation: the stomach of an orphan child fears no strange kitchen and
their soaked fur strays from no shelter. Besides, I had figured this disregarded
place to be abandoned, for surely no pet could live in such a state.
Naturally I was quite surprised when a deep
voice answered from within.
"What creature dares pester me at such an hour?"
I swallowed hard and spoke as bravely as I could.
"I don't suppose you could spare a little shelter for the night? I'm quite small
really, I don't need much space."
I could hear loud footsteps. The door swung
open and a fat brown Skeith towered over me. Lightning sliced the sky.
"Do you think you've stumbled upon some hotel,
child? Be gone, you Zytch ridden thing. I've things to do." He prepared to slam
the door in my face but I stood between.
"Then perhaps you need a servant? I can fix
up your garden, and believe me, yours needs quite a bit of fixing, or perhaps
I can cook for you? My cooking is quite good I'm told-"
He held up a large claw.
"Your tongue moves faster than I can think.
I frowned. Rain continued to fall upon me, and
personally I do not enjoy being wet.
"Cleaning!" I shouted suddenly. "I can clean
as well, surely you need-"
"Hush!" he exclaimed. He scratched at his chin
where a scraggly, unkempt beard grew. "My work does leave me with little time
for such things." He looked down at me with a scowl. I smiled eagerly.
"Oh, fine. Inside, you persistent creature."
I leapt through the doorway, chattering away
excitedly. "You won't be sorry, sir; I'll earn my keep, I swear it!" For the
first time in my life I had a place for the long term! No worries of where I
would find myself when the sun rose! Indeed, I had all intentions to be the
best cook, cleaner, and gardener these woods ever saw.
But then I set eyes upon his living room.
Now I've seen some pretty frightening things
in my days on the street (some things that I wager would send most of you running
off to your mummy) but nothing prepared me for such a horror.
Apple cores were strewn about a coffee table,
chicken bones scattered across the floor like skeletons, ants carried away crushed
bits of cheesy neos, and empty diet big gulp neocola bottles lay inside boxes
of half eaten pizzas. There were cracked jars of pickled eyeballs on his shelves
oozing smelly liquid.
I poked at a gray looking desert. "Are you going
to eat this Chomby rock cake?" I asked hungrily.
He looked at it was a raised eyebrow. "That's
a lime Chomby cake."
I wrinkled my nose in revulsion. "You mean it
I found the nearest waste basked and threw it
"My name is Saasha, in case you were wondering."
The Skeith fumbled about in a back room. "I
"What should I call you?" I asked, brushing
the contents of a shelf (two Ant Eaten Hams and one especially smelly Fresh
Clam Jam) into the trashcan.
"Why I couldn't really care less! Call me John,
Bryce, or even Lewanhook, it makes no difference to me."
I walked towards the sound of his voice curiously,
trying to find the room he was in.
"I'd prefer to call you by your name. You do
have a name, don't you?"
"No," he said in a singsong mocking tone. "My
mother was a dull one and she decided that it would be best to simply give me
no title at all. Of course I have a name, you twit."
"Then what is it?" I saw a lighted room ahead
of me. It was the only one in the entire house that wasn't in darkness.
He sighed as if speaking were an enormous effort.
"Marek, my name is Marek Alabaster. Now put yourself to use and make me something
to eat. I'm ravished."
But before I did I poked my head into the bright
For a moment I thought I had stumbled upon a
room of faeries. Fyora stared down at me with curious eyes and a witty half
smile. Her dress flowed as if it were made of real fabric. Illusen sat, long
fingers picking at the strings of a lyre and a fire faerie grinned mischievously
with tufts of pointed hair. A faerie doglefoxes flitted about next to white
lulus and a bust of a particularly sad looking Bruce looked down at the floor.
It was like standing in a frozen world with
inhabitants forever captured in marble. I was convinced at that very moment
that Marek Alabster was the grandest sculptor in all of Neopia even though he
was the only one I'd ever seen.
"Hey!" he shouted, chisel in hand. "Get out
this instant! I'll not have you stumbling about in here looking and touching!"
He looked down at the small and graceful head of a faellie emerging from the
rock in front of him. "Fantastic. My concentration is broken. Just fix me a
meal before I eat this piece of rubbish I've been working on for two months."
So I went into his disastrously disgusting kitchen
and served him a Whole Roast chicken (which I happened to think was quite good)
in a bowl because all the plates were dirty. He consumed it in at least five
minutes while I waited in the doorway of the sculpting room for his approval.
He looked at me as if wondering why I was there.
"It was edible, I suppose," he muttered.
And this was how it went for weeks. I would
clean up after him, cook his meals (which he always found something wrong with)
and spruce up the garden. But then I suppose "sprucing" is a bit too delicate
of a word.
Every time I walked past the room of sculptures
I felt a surging curiosity within me. What would it be like to hold that chisel,
to break away at the marble and reveal the creature within? I found myself longing
to find out.
Day after day I would hear Marek in the room,
crashing about, often throwing unfinished sculptures to the ground in frustration
or cursing some unseen force such as the lighting or the humidity.
But then one day his angry noises were gone.
As I watered a newly planted bed of Rowzes I saw Marek walking out the door
and towards the more populated area of the woods.
"Where are you going?" I asked.
He turned quickly in my direction. He often
seemed as if he forgot I was there.
"I need to find buyers for my sculptures," he
grumbled unhappily. "It costs money to keep your useless behind fed."
I shrugged and watched him walk down the path.
His words never really hurt me, I knew I ate very little and that I certainly
wasn't useless. It was just Marek's nature to be unkind. Perhaps it was masking
I glanced over towards the dusty window that
looked in on the room of sculptures. It was empty. I could practically hear
it calling for me, which is completely absurd because rooms can't talk.
I knew it was a bad idea, but yet somehow there
I was, standing in the doorway with Fyora's stone eyes watching me.
It started innocently enough, as all horrible
ideas seem to. I just sat on the stool for a little bit to see how it would
feel. Then I grasped the chisel, but just out of curiosity mind you, of how
heavy it was. I then wondered if Marek kept any scrap pieces of marble around,
you know, just so I could throw them out and clean the room up a bit. I found
a small one in the corner. Since I would be throwing it out anyways, why not
give it an innocent little tap with the chisel? After all, that would make it
smaller and all the more easy to dispose of!
I swear to you, that was how it began. But somehow,
that one tap set off a spark inside my head. I couldn't stop! Pieces of stone
flew away furiously, I saw the tiny flower, the small Rowz bud, within the rock
and I just couldn't let it lie there forever.
I didn't even hear the loud footsteps approach.
"What are you doing?" I heard the low voice
say. My heart jumped to my throat.
"This room is not your place," continued Marek
in a quieter tone that usual, "I made that quite clear. Get out."
I scurried through the door, my cheeks aflame
with embarrassment. How could I be so stupid? There wasn't a doubt in my mind
that I would be thrown back out on the streets. What use was an orphan child
who disobeyed you the moment you left the house?
When Merek emerged a moment later I slumped
my shoulders dejectedly and said, "Don't waste your breath, I'll leave."
The word nearly startled me and I turned to
see that the Skeith was holding something in his large claw. It was my little
Rowz bud carved from the marble.
"Did you think I was unaware of your curiosity?
All those times you walked ever so slowly past my sculpting room?"
I cast my eyes to the ground.
"But I never guessed you would actually be…well…good."
My eyes lit up. It was the first time I'd ever
heard a kind word grace the mouth of Marek Alabaster.
"And I've decided that…uh…it's been a very long
time since I've had an apprentice…and even though you're hardly worthy, I suppose-"
But before he could finish I wrapped my arms
around the Skeith's round belly and gave him the strongest hug I could muster.
"V-very well then," he stammered, awkwardly
patting me on the back. "Just don't expect any compliments; you'll probably
turn out to be a right awful sculptor anyways."
That was how it went, and there isn't a day
I don't thank Marek for what he's done (but that's mostly because I know he
hates it when I do). Imagine, a wiry little Kyrii like me stumbling upon an
apprenticeship with a great sculptor! I know now that every time he cries out
names and insults that he doesn't truly mean it.
Each day is new and exciting, and no sculpture
is ever the same.