My reflexes took over twenty minutes ago. The Electric Grarrl on the mat with me was sweating buckets but still moving as fast as the lightning stripes on his fur. I was faster. The second his arm came toward my head I ducked and swung one well placed jab under his ribs and he hit the mat.
The Techo Master joined us on the mat. Shaking his head his looked down at his student.
"Are you well, Neptune?" The Electric Grarrl on the floor nodded to the Techo Master. Master held out a hand and helped Neptune up. Come on I didn't hit him that hard. Neptune bowed to me to show respect for winning the spar. The gleam I saw in his eyes says he wasn't happy he lost to me. I bowed back and Neptune went to gather his equipment and left out the door.
The Techo Master sighed heavily beside me then turned his sharp eyes to me. I bowed to him. He could take me down way easier than I took down Neptune.
"It is not wise to make enemies at this school. Many hold a grudge," the Techo Master said to me.
"Yes, Techo Master, but he challenged me. You taught me not to back down from a spar in your school." He leveled me with a stare. The Techo Master doesn't like when students talk back. Oops.
"You are dismissed, young one. Remember, three codestones for tomorrow's training." With that, the Techo Master walked over to some young Acaras doing defensive drills. One glance and I could tell the small pink one wasn't balanced.
I grabbed my pack from the back room and walked out the glass doors of the Training Academy.
My name is Karma. I'm a yellow Blumaroo that's been living on Mystery Island my whole life. After losing a volleyball game on the beach one day to some older Myncies my sister told me I was weak and I should start training to build up some strength. I took it to heart. So I did. I started training every day and now I can take out some of the Neopets that have been training for years.
Neptune was waiting for me outside. "You got lucky, girly. You won't take me down next time."
Yeah, we'll see. "Don't be a sore loser, Neptune, and don't call me girly. I won fair and square." I tried to walk past him, but he stopped me with a hand on my shoulder. I sighed and turned back to him.
"What do you want, Neptune?" I asked.
"I don't understand why you don't get a paint job. Yellow isn't very intimidating, ya know," Neptune answered me. Not the response I was looking for.
"Right. I'll give it some thought but don't hold your breath," I replied. I'd never really thought about buying a paint brush before. I thought I looked just fine yellow.
"Yeah, think about it. Pink would do you well, girly." Neptune chuckled to himself and walked off.
He's not a bully. Not really. Just full of himself.
I started my short walk home thinking to myself how ridiculous I would look painted pink. That would be a color my sister would go for. Maybe Neptune has a point. More Neopets would take me seriously if I had a nice Darigan or Fire or Halloween paint job. It'd be hard to save that many Neopoints and afford three codestones every day.
Three Codestones! Three! I can barely earn enough neopoints for the two codestone lessons I've been receiving for the past two months. Maybe I'll have to cut back on lessons to three a week. Three Codestones!! I walked the familiar path back to Russia's and my neohome.
The second I stalked through the door Russia was talking to me. She is my younger sister and a red Wocky. She never goes a day without a wardrobe change and makeup. Her eyes sparkled as she looked up at her big sister.
"Guess what? Guess what? Guess what?" she said to me in a sing-song voice.
"What?" Honestly I didn't really care, but she is my sister and I need to appease her. Thoughts of codestone costs were still at the forefront of my mind.
"I'm only one hundred thousand neopoints away from getting a faerie paint brush at the Trading Post!" Russia sang to me as she twirled into the kitchen. Why is everyone so concerned about paint brushes? There's nothing wrong with my yellow or her red. Is there?
Smells like she is making beef and broccoli. She must have won some from Dice-a-roo.
"That's really great. I'm happy for you," I called over my shoulder as I continued my trek to the living room. It was a small neohome with a small everything else. There was a Zen Sofa in the middle of the room and a Meowclops Coffee Table in front of it. The coffee table was stacked with books that Russia insists I read and the latest issue of the Neopian Times. Russia is always saying she is going to redecorate after she paints herself. She thinks all our furniture should match. I love all our mismatched stuff and I tell her every time.
I opened the Neopian Times. Maybe there was an article on making neopoints faster or how to find codestones or advertisements for cheap paintbrushes.
Lioness, my tigermouse, jumped onto the sofa next to me. I stroked her absently as I scanned the Trading Post column. I thought I'd like to be painted Stealthy, but there weren't any for trade so I continued looking. There were Strawberry Fields Forever paint brushes and Starry paint brushes and Striped paint brushes, but those weren't what I was looking for either. Maybe Fire? Yes, there one was for eight hundred thousand neopoints.
"I can't afford that and three codestones a day. It would take forever," I said to myself or I guess Lioness since she was the only creature in the room with me. "I guess I can play one or two more games a day or try my hand at reselling." I looked down at Lioness. She was asleep. Oh well.
The ground was shaking. Is this an earthquake? What's going on?
I was jerked awake by Russia jumping on my bed.
"Wake up, Karma? Come on, wake up. We need to go play games so I can get a Faerie Paint Brush!" If I didn't get up, she was going to start chanting.
"Okay. Okay. I'm up. I'm up," I said to her and she slowed to a steady bounce. It was slightly better. "Why are you holding Lioness?" I asked her.
"She wanted to jump too. She might be hungry," Russia answered me and looked at Lioness's face. Then turned her to me.
"She might be sick after all the bouncing," I told Russia. She set Lioness on the floor and the poor thing ran under my bed.
We dressed and had our omelette breakfast. Shortly after we made our way to the games room. I was pretty good at a few games but Russia was way better. She had trophies lined across her headboard.
I went to play Kass Basher and she went to play Faerie Bubbles. I was doing really well and would get one thousand off this game easy. Then I heard a scream. Not the scream of a young neopet too frustrated with a game. Not the scream of a baby neopet but the scream of a scared one. The scream of my sister. I tore through the games room looking for her. She wasn't on Faerie Bubbles.
"Russia!" I called her name. I was so afraid some bad pet had attacked her. She isn't trained to fight like me. I called again, "Russia!"
"Over here, Karma. By Dubloon Disaster." She was crying. Something was very wrong. I ran over to her and took hold of her paw.
"What happened, Russia? Where you attacked?" My eyes scanned her over but she didn't seem injured. I sighed with relief.
"It was the Pant Devil. He took all my neopoints. I've been saving so long." She cried into my shoulder. "It's going to take so long to make them up." She continued to sob on my arm.
"It will be okay, Russia. I'll help you make them back. I'm so glad you aren't hurt."
She cried harder. "No, you can't help me. You need the neopoints for codestones."
She was right; I did. I've been training too long to stop.
"I have enough neopoints to pay for today's training. Let's just go home, okay? We can come back tomorrow and play as long as you want," I asked her calmly.
She sniffed one more time. "Okay."
I bought Russia ice cream on the way home. That perked her right up.
"Hey, I bet I can make more neopoints if I sold some of my clothes. What do you think, Karma?" Russia asked me as we walked up the steps to our small neohome.
She did have a lot of clothes. "Yeah. That's a good idea. You can go through it all today and we can go to the Trading Post together tomorrow. I want to look at some paint brushes," I said to her with a smile on my face. She beamed back at me.
I left her at home to play while I went to training. The shop wizard found a good deal on two of the codestones I needed so I was happy.
I walked in through the glass doors and bowed to the Techo Master. He bowed back.
"Three codestones today, student," he said to me. You always pay the Techo Master up front.
"Yes, Master," I replied and handed over the codestones.
"To the mat, Karma." He pointed toward the mat and Neptune. Neptune had a sly smile on his face. I guess he wanted to spar again.
"Drills!" the Techo Master yelled at us and we started moving immediately. He went to the back rooms where he kept his pay.
Neptune glanced at me. "Thought any more about painting yourself, girly?" he asked. He was already out of breath.
"Actually, yes. I'm saving for a Fire paint brush," I told him. I was smiling to myself and he saw it. "And don't call me girly."
"Fire! Really? How are you going to afford that?" he puffed.
We switched drills.
"I don't know yet," I replied.
"SPAR!" the Techo Master yelled the second he stepped out of the back room.
Neptune turned to me instantly, his arm swinging as he turned. I stepped back and his punch glanced my side.
What I wasn't expecting was his right leg to be heading for me also. I wasn't prepared and it hit hard and I hit the mat.
I was seeing stars. That was new.
Neptune's face blurred above me. "I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to hit that hard." I couldn't tell if he was really sorry or not. I turned my face away and met the eyes of the Techo Master.
"Karma, are you injured?" he asked me. He knew how to handle injuries his students got.
I sat up and the room swayed for a minute then stopped. My side hurt, but I thought I was okay. I told that to the Techo Master.
"Good. Why don't you sit out the rest of training today?" he asked me. I didn't want to sit out. I was fine.
"Master, please. I am fine." I begged him not to let me sit this one out.
"That was not an option. You need to rest or gather your things and go. I'll give you a free lesson when you are better." With that he walked away and told Neptune to finish his drills.
"I really am sorry, Karma. You've never not deflected one of my hits before." He did look genuinely sorry.
"Don't worry. I'll get you back," I told him with a smile as I gathered my things and left.
The day was still young and the air was fresh. Maybe I would go to the beach for an hour or so. The waves would help my side stop hurting. I started walking that direction. The ocean is easy to find on Mystery Island. Just start walking and you will find it. Find it I did.
I walked a few feet into the warm water. It felt nice. I walked in a few more feet.
Out of nowhere a water faerie dove out of the water and splashed back into it covering me in water. I was wiping water out of my eyes when she popped back up beside me.
"Lovely day, isn't it?" she asked me. She lay back in the water and gazed up at the sun.
"Yeah, it is nice."
"I need a favor. Would you mind going on a quest for me? I'll reward you with any paint brush color you like." She smiled at me.
Any paint brush color? But she is a water faerie. I looked at her harder and started to make out the tiny details that marked her as the Fountain Faerie. The blue color streaked through her blonde hair and the water drops painted on her face.
The Fountain Faerie! I don't have to save my neopoints! I can just get her the item she wants. My heart soared.
"Yes!" I told her. "Yes, I accept the quest!"
"Oh good. I can't go on the main land myself, you know." She smiled at me. "I need Blueberry Fruit Pancakes. I am just famished."
I was thinking the Fountain Faerie spoke funny but I'll keep that to myself.
"Yes. I'll go find you some. Can you wait here for me?" I asked her. I was worried she would be gone when I came back.
"Yes, Karma. I'll be here," she answered me before diving gracefully back into the water.
I rushed out of the ocean. The waves pulled against me but I finally made it to the dry land. I took off running to the local Tropical Fruit Shop. I tried my best to ignore the stabbing pain in my side as well as the locals yelling at me to slow down.
I burst into the Tropical Fruit Shop and almost knocked down an Elderlygirl Xweetok.
"Sorry, ma'am!" I called over my shoulder as I scanned the tables and shelves for the Blueberry Fruit Pancakes.
She stumbled out of the shop mumbling something about young hooligans.
I didn't see any pancakes. I started to panic.
"Sir? Do you have any Blueberry Fruit Pancakes?" I asked the exotic Techo behind the counter. Maybe he had some in the back.
"Sorry, but no. I won't have any till at least tomorrow afternoon," he answered me before helping a young Buzz find a special fruit.
Maybe Russia had some at home. I ran out the door and started making my way through the streets and back to my neohome. I rushed up the steps and almost bowled Russia over in my haste to get though the door.
"Karma? What are you doing home?" Russia asked me with a worried look on her face.
"Oh, I was injured sparing and the Techo Master sent me home," I told her as I opened the pantry door looking for pancakes.
"You don't look injured, Karma," she said to me. "You look fine. And what are you looking for?"
Russia knows I try to stay out of the kitchen.
"Oh. Well, I went to the beach after the Techo Master made me leave. I met the Fountain Faerie there and she asked me to do a quest. Can you believe it?" I was grinning at Russia. She gave me a funny look before giving me a smile and a hug.
"Congratulations, Karma. You deserve it. What did the Fountain Faerie ask for? I can help you find it." She shooed me away from the pantry. I was getting nowhere anyway.
"She asked for Blueberry Fruit Pancakes. There weren't any at the Tropical Fruit Shop. Do we have any?" I asked her hopefully.
I saw her face fall again and I knew the answer.
"Oh no! I had some with my ice cream after you left for training. Oh, I'm so sorry, Karma!" She put her face in her hands and started crying for the second time that day. I pat her on the back to try to soothe her.
"It's okay, Russia. I'll go tell her I can't find what she wants. I can save up the neopoints," I cooed to her and hugged her to me. She is so sensitive sometimes.
"Okay," she said to me. "Can I come with you? I want to meet her."
"Of course you can." I held out my paw to my little sister and we stepped out the door and right into Neptune. Why are so many neopets standing right beside doors today?
"Neptune? What are you doing here?" I asked him.
"Well, I just wanted to say sorry again and I brought you some pancakes to make up for it." Neptune held up in front of him. You guessed it. Blueberry Fruit Pancakes.
I gasped with delight. Russia ran and hugged him. Come on, Russia. You don't even know the guy.
I said to Neptune, "How did you know?"
He looked at me confused. "Know what?" he asked.
"That I needed Blueberry Fruit Pancakes for the Fountain Faerie. She came to me in the ocean after I left the Training Academy and the Topical Fruit Shop said they wouldn't have any until tomorrow," I choked out and looked at him in wonder.
He gave us a sheepish smile. "It was just the only thing I had left at my neohome."
Russia started jumping for joy. "Come on. Let's go see the Fountain Faerie. I want to watch her paint Karma." She grabbed both my and Neptune's hands and started pulling us to the ocean to where the Fountain Faerie waited for me.
We saw her as we drew closer. She gave us a brilliant smile and called to me, "I see you brought some friends."
"Yes," I told her. "They helped me find the Blueberry Fruit Pancakes you asked for." I handed them over to her and she gave me a big smile.
She waved her hand over the pancakes and they glittered and disappeared. Russia gasped and I started at the spot where the pancakes were just seconds before. What happened?
The Fountain Faerie saw our expressions and laughed. "Don't worry," she said. "I just sent them to my home on Faerieland. Now," she turned to me, "what color would you like to be? Stealthy, Halloween, Shadow, Fire?"
My answer surprised us all. "I ask that you will please paint Russia Faerie. She's been saving neopoints for a long time and the Pant Devil stole a lot of it today. Besides, I'm happy being yellow." I gave Russia a smile. She looked back at me in shock.
"No, Karma. This is your quest, not mine."
"Yes. But it's your dream, Russia." I urged her toward the Fountain Faerie.
She smiled as Russia approached her.
"You have a very good sister Russia. Step into the water and you will become a Faerie Wocky." The Fountain Faerie helped Russia into the water.
The change started at her paws. The color slowly changed from red to light purple and spread up her legs then her body. The air above her back started to glitter and transformed into pink and yellow faerie wings. My sister was beautiful.
She stepped back out of the water. "Thank you," she faltered not knowing the Fountain Faerie's name.
"Naia." She smiled at the three of us. "You pets have a lovely afternoon. Practice flying with the new wings now," she called before diving back into the water and out of site.
We all hugged each other and spent the afternoon on the beach watching the sun set and Russia practice flying.
"You know," I said to Neptune as he sat beside me.
"What?" He grinned at me.
"I'm still getting you back at the Training Academy tomorrow." Then I splashed water in his face and took off running laughing as I ran because he was right behind me.