"...an aura, in a physical sense, is described as the light that surrounds someone. In a psychological sense, an aura is a distinctive quality or character of someone. Therefore, an aura of purity simply refers to someone who is 'pure'."
As the Chia finished, Charlotte found herself looking around herself. She could see no coloured lights there, so she instantly knew that the Chia wanted her to see the aura in the psychological sense.
"So... this aura of purity. Sir, I hate to pester you but you've only detailed the aura part," Charlotte said. "What exactly does the pure part refer to?"
Lucas sighed, kicking up some dust. "Why are you even listening to this guy, Charlotte? We should just leave."
"No," Charlotte responded firmly. "I want to do this."
The Chia smiled heartily at Charlotte, before returning to his explanation.
"An aura of purity, for this task at least, is someone who is pure of heart." The Chia's statement was followed by blank expressions from both the Wocky and the Scorchio, and he was forced to explain further. "Someone who is pure of heart betters themselves only so they can better the lives of others."
Lucas glanced at his friend and he could see Charlotte's face drop.
"That can't be me, then," she sighed, placing the bag of Nerkmids on the ground. "I've been trying all day to get those spices all day just so I could win some Neopoints."
"Ah," the Chia replied, "but what did you want those Neopoints for?"
Charlotte looked up at the Chia. "So I could... buy better presents for my family and friends this Day of Giving."
The Chia nodded. "Yes, to buy better presents for others, not yourself."
"You're right!" Charlotte exclaimed, a smile returning to her face. "But do you really think I can do it? Get the manual?"
Again the Chia nodded. "You are pure of heart, I would believe in you, should we need the manual."
"But you said you're from the Defenders of Neopia. If you are, then surely someone within the Defenders would be 'pure of heart'." Lucas took a deep breath before continuing. "After all, you all better yourselves in order to better your taking out baddies."
"Alas, no one within the Defenders is pure of heart," the Chia said, his face forlorn. "Another part of being pure of heart is never resorting to violence, and that is something our job requires of us."
Charlotte imagined the Chia taking out a bad guy like the Ghost Lupe and the mere thought of it seemed impossible. This guy was puny!
"I saw that look in your eyes, Charlotte, and I assure you that size is often unimportant."
Charlotte gasped. Had this Chia really been able to read all of that by simply looking at her eyes?
"Nonetheless, do you believe my story now?"
With a glance at her friend, Charlotte nodded. Less convinced, Lucas followed the Wocky's lead and also nodded.
"Good," the Chia said, reaching for the bag of Nerkmids. "Now, Charlotte, it has come to a time when the Vending Machine is no longer the ideal place for the manual to be hidden. Will you help the Defenders of Neopia keep is safe by freeing it?"
Charlotte took a deep breath. "I will."
"Charlotte, you don't have to do this, we could just walk away now..." Lucas whispered into his friend's ear, but she shook her head.
"They believe in me, Lucas! Not even I believe in me a lot of the time."
Lucas sighed. "Well, if you've got to do it, the least I can do is stand by your side."
Charlotte looked at her friend, and a huge smile spread over her face. She could feel tears pricking at her eyes again, but this time they were tears of happiness, not sorrow.
"Thank you, you're a great friend!"
The Scorchio smiled back at his friend. "You're an even better friend."
Slowly Charlotte turned back to the Chia. "I'm as ready as I'll ever be."
Placing the Nerkmid Charlotte had initially handed him on the ground, the Chia turned over the entire bag and tipped all of the contents on the ground. Charlotte quickly counted that there were five Nerkmids in total. The bag had seemed so much heavier, like there had been a lot more. She took a deep breath before bending down and picking up the Nerkmid her hand was drawn to.
As she stood back up, Charlotte gasped. Everyone in Neopia Central had a very faint, but still visible, shimmery light around them. She hadn't seen this last time she touched the Nerkmids!
"Why am I seeing this now...?" she murmured, as her paw once again rose to the Vending Machine's slot.
With a steady paw, she placed the Nerkmid in the hole and waited for something to happen. The Alien Vending Machine made its usual clicking and whirring, but no prize came out. Charlotte glanced at the Chia.
"You're doing fine, keep going."
Charlotte felt her paw gravitate to a green Nerkmid next, and as she picked it up the lights around everyone grew stronger.
"Are these... auras?" Charlotte asked, her gaze travelling around her surroundings. Some auras were bright hues of blue, yellow, and green while others were slightly muddied. Lucas's aura was a bold, cobalt blue while the Defender Chia's aura was a dark, almost brown, green.
"You really are the right pet, if you see our auras," the Chia said confidently. "The ability to see the consequences of our actions by viewing our auras is something only the pure of heart have."
Charlotte placed the second Nerkmid and soon after the third and fourth Nerkmids into the machine, and again it clicked and whirred without releasing a prize. Charlotte bent over slowly as she reached for the final Nerkmid, the first one she had pulled from the bag what seemed like hours ago now. It was the brightest gold of all of them, and as she touched it the auras around her became so dazzling bright that Charlotte felt the need to close her eyes for a moment.
As she opened them again, Charlotte was shocked to see an aura darker than all of them fast approaching the Vending Machine. The aura was such a deep, dark black void that Charlotte struggled for a moment to identify the pet at the centre of the aura. It was Dr. R... and he was flying!
"Quick!" the Chia shouted, pushing Charlotte toward the opening of the machine. "We need to keep the manual safe!"
The Chia moved away from Charlotte and Lucas, his hands forward as he readied himself to attack the villain. From a pocket Charlotte hadn't noticed, Lucas pulled out a Rainbow Gun. She shot a questioning glance at her friend and he merely shrugged.
"I always like to be prepared, in case someone challenges me to a Battledome showdown. Now protect the manual!"
Charlotte turned back to the machine, ignoring the shrieks of battle coming from mere metres away. She could feel the tension of every pet in Neopia Central as it came to her in waves from their auras, and she fought the urge to run and hide.
I've got to do this! she encouraged herself as she lifted the final Nerkmid.
Charlotte could feel the machine respond to the Nerkmid's presence, a kind of beating emanating from the great chunk of metal. Slowly but surely she placed the Nerkmid in the slot. The machine clicked and whirred once more as it received the final object, and it spluttered as it fought to release its precious bounty.
Suddenly a capsule shot out from the prize hole and Charlotte barely caught it in her paws. She turned slowly to the battle and saw both the Chia and Lucas knocked to the ground. Dr. R stood over them ominously and it was then that he turned his gaze to Charlotte.
"The manual, if you please."
The Lenny approached slowly and Charlotte shook in fear. With nothing but the capsule in her paws to try and protect herself with, she quickly opened it with deft hands and pulled out the contents. There was a tattered old book... and that was it. Exclaiming in terror, Charlotte noticed something on the ground beside her. Stuffing the manual into her pocket, Charlotte bent down to pick up Lucas's Rainbow Gun. Dr. R's putrid void of an aura was slowly fading along with the auras of everyone else as the Lenny approached her.
"If you use that gun, you will no longer be pure of heart." Dr. R sneered.
"I... I have to do this! I have to protect this book," Charlotte pointed the gun directly at her opponent, but felt her finger quiver as she reached for the trigger. Come on, Charlotte, you have to do this!
Dr. R was only a metre or so away now, and Charlotte knew she had to stop him before he reached her. Closing her eyes, her entire body quivering, she pulled the trigger. A rainbow beam of light, much larger than those usually released from a Rainbow Gun, pelted the Lenny to the ground. He let out a screech as he fell in a crumpled heap, unable to move. Charlotte opened her eyes to find Dr. R on the ground and she dropped the Rainbow Gun in shock.
This isn't what I thought I'd be doing when I woke up this morning... all I wanted to was my Day of Giving gift shopping!
Charlotte fell to her knees, tears flowing down her face as she watched the Chia get up and place handcuffs on the evil Lenny. She could no longer see anyone's aura, and for that she was grateful. As she closed her eyes in an attempt to block out everything, Charlotte felt a gentle hand on her back.
"You protected the manual, even though you didn't have to," Lucas whispered, draping his arm over her shoulders. "You should have seen the rainbow blast -- it was unlike anything I've ever seen! The light seemed to come from everyone around you, all different colours..."
Charlotte looked up at her friend, opening her eyes.
"I'm sorry, Lucas..." she whispered, pulling her friend close. "I've missed the Borovan competition, and now I can't afford presents."
Everyone was gathered around the Money Tree, the hustle and bustle of gift shopping momentarily halted as a special ceremony began. The crowd hushed as a Wocky was brought to the front, a Scorchio beside her. They were led by a small Chia to Judge Hog, who bowed before them.
"Charlotte," the Moehog's voice boomed. "We are here to thank you for your service to the Defenders."
The crowd cheered, most of them having witnessed the conflict between Charlotte and Dr. R.
"As a thank you, we are awarding you with this medal," Judge Hog handed the medallion to the Chia and he draped it over Charlotte's neck. "And we also award you with this bag of 100,000 NP!"
Charlotte gasped, tears of happiness falling from her eyes as the bag was handed to her.
"I don't know what to say; I've never seen this much money before!"
Judge Hog and the Chia smiled at the Wocky.
"Don't say anything, just let us say thank you."
Charlotte took Lucas's hand in her paw as the Defenders beamed down at them.
"Thank you, and have a great Day of Giving."