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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 2nd day of Relaxing, Yr 22
The Neopian Times Week 123 > Short Stories > Shadows: Sprite

Shadows: Sprite

by ladyariel32

Never fear the shadows. They simply mean that there is a light shining nearby.

     "Where are we going, Mommy?"

     It was night. Two figures could be seen walking down the street. One was a woman wearing a black shawl. The other was a very young Faerie Gelert, scrawny and dirty.

     The Gelert tugged at the end of the woman's shawl causing it to fall. The woman quickly picked up the shawl to cover her long dark hair and purple eyes. She looked down at the little Faerie Gelert and observed the panic in the Neopet's green eyes. "Somewhere fun."

     She walked away and the Gelert struggled to keep up on her short legs. The woman sighed in frustration. She grabbed one of the Gelert's paws roughly and continued walking.

     "Where are we going?" the Neopet repeated, a tiny hint of fear in her voice.

     The woman didn't bother to answer. She walked even faster, dragging the Gelert along. The Neopet gave a suppressed cry of pain as she stumbled on a rock. The woman pretended not to hear.

     "Can't we stop?" the Gelert whined, wincing as she walked with a wounded paw.

     The woman halted abruptly and let go of the Gelert's paw. They were standing in front of a white building. "Alright, stay here. I'll be quick." She entered the building.

     The Gelert sat on the sidewalk, nursing her injury. She looked around furtively and wished her Mommy would hurry up. She could see trees with gangly branches and shaggy green fronds. They seemed to be closing in on her without a sound. She hated the silence. The Gelert saw a shadow approaching from the trees. Her fur stood on end. Fear seized her. She squeezed her eyes shut.

     "What's a youngster like ya doin' out here in th' dark?" a deep voice asked.

     The Gelert opened her eyes. Her good paw immediately reached for the key hanging on a ribbon around her neck. "Go away! My Mommy will be here soon," she said in a shaking voice.

     The voice that had spoken earlier belonged to a stranger. He was a Yellow Chia wearing faded denim coveralls and a straw hat. He looked at the Gelert with kind, blue eyes and smiled. "She must be one heckuva gal to leave ya out 'ere."

     The Gelert stared at the stranger's blue eyes and felt herself relax. "She's good, my Mommy. She went in that building."

     The Chia let out a noisy laugh. "She'll return alright! When m' Floating Cactus Flower sinks, I'll believe ya!"

     She frowned. The Gelert looked confused. "What do flowers have to do with my Mommy?"

     The Chia snorted. "C'mon, lil' one," he said offering his paw. "Have a cup o' hot Borovan at m' place. Or mebbe a glass o' Apple Cider soothes ya more."

     "Mommy says I shouldn't talk to strangers," the Gelert replied haughtily.

     "I'm Chill. Pleased to meet ya, miss," the Chia said. "There. Now, we ain't strangers no more. C'mon."

     "My name is Sprite." The Faerie Gelert shook the Chia's outstretched paw. "I'll go with you but you have to bring me back here after. Mommy will be waiting for me."

     "Sure, sure," Chill agreed. "But first, I'll find a bandage for tha' wound o' yours. Thought ya could hide it from me, eh? Besides tha', ya have to take a bath. Phew, what a stench."

     "Hey! I don't smell."

     Chill smiled and lunged at her. While Sprite cried in protest, Chill carried her in his arms all the way to the Chia's home. Neither of them looked back.

******

"Chill, could you stand still for a minute?" Sprite stared at her canvas with intense concentration. She dipped the tip of her brush in blue paint.

     The Chia stopped what he was doing and let out his signature guffaw, the guffaw that Sprite had learned to love these past four months. "I'm a plantin' Perfume Mallows 'ere. Ya expect m' to stand still?"

     Sprite made a face at him. "I'm almost finished with this painting. I have to get the color of your eyes right."

     Chill looked at her fondly. The Gelert stared into his blue eyes and mixed a bit of white paint to the blue. "There! I finally got the exact same shade as your eyes."

     The Chia's eyes twinkled merrily. He bent down and continued planting Perfume Mallow seeds on the fertile soil. Sprite began painting Chill's eyes on her painting.

     "So, ya finished with th' books I bought ya?"

     "I'm finished with The Big Book of Karma, In The Dark, and Rainbow Painting. I only have one book left: All About Dark Faeries."

     "Wal, I'm gonna buy ya some more when I finish a plantin'."

     Chill had a humble Neohome in Neopia Central. He had a wonderful garden he tended to everyday. He gave Sprite everything a growing Neopet needed without spoiling her. Well, spoiling her too much, at least. Sprite had taken a liking to reading and painting. The Chia tried to give her books and art materials whenever he earned NP's.

     Does she think about tha' owner o' hers? Chill thought to himself. She neva mentions 'er. Mebbe she's forgotten about tha' night.

     The two of them had returned to the NeoLodge (the white building) to wait for Sprite's Mommy. She never came. The Gelert wanted to stay there but Chill would hear none of it. He persuaded Sprite to come with him and she submitted. Not without a fight, though.

     "You're a comin' home with m' 'cause there's choclit gum waitin' fo' ya if ya do," he had said as a final resort.

     "Chocolate gum?" Sprite said with curiosity.

     She followed m' home. Sprite had grown a few inches and gained some weight since then. She was a homebody who would rather watch Chill's plants grow than meet other pets in the neighborhood. Chill wondered when the Gelert would make friends. There's no time like th' present.

     "I have a friend from these 'ere parts," Chill ventured. "Ya wanna go over to 'er place n' play with 'er Neopet?"

     Sprite wasn't listening. She was too busy adding the final touches to her painting.

     "She's an Aisha, I hear, with a passion fo' choclit gum."

     "Chocolate gum?" Sprite repeated vaguely. She grinned. "Ah, my painting's done."

     "Good. Now, ya head fo' Purple's place, d'ya hear?"

     Sprite placed her painting where a patch of sun could dry it. "Why am I going to Purple's Neohome again?"

     "'Cause there's choclit gum a waitin' fo' ya if ya do."

     "Is that a bribe?" The Gelert hid a smile with her paw.

     "Wal, ya have to go out into th' world a bit. Tha's why ya have to go."

     Sprite noticed the worry lines on the elderly Chia's face. Chill had grown older and thinner. His once vibrant golden skin had been reduced to pale yellow in just a short period of time. "I'll go, then. Would you like me to bring something?"

     "Here," said Chill giving her a pack of chocolate gum. "Ya give tha' to 'er pet."

     "Okay. I'll be back before sundown."

******

Witch woke up to the sound of a song from her Jazzmosis Seasonal Album. She stretched her arms and rubbed her eyes lazily. She sighed and got up from her checkered bed.

     "Morning," she greeted herself in front of the full-length mirror. The white Aisha in the mirror gave her a crooked smile.

     Witch brushed an imaginary wrinkle out of her black Twisted Roses shirt. She reached for her black lipstick and applied some on her already dark lips. Slipping on her Jazzmosis Hat and Shades, Witch grabbed a piece of Chocolate Gum from a cluttered table. As she slipped it into her mouth, someone knocked on the door.

     "What?" the Aisha shouted in her raspy voice.

     Currant, her Zomutt, rushed toward the closed door and pounded against it. He barked continuously drowning out the reply of whoever was outside. Witch rolled her eyes and gave Currant a spooky doughnut. The Zomutt promptly stopped barking and proceeded to munch on the treat.

     She heard a tiny voice from the other side of the door. "What? Can't hear you!" Witch reached for the doorknob and opened it with a bang.

     "I SAID I'M SPRITE AND CHILL SENT ME HERE!"

     The White Aisha was greeted by a high-pitched yell. Perfect soprano, she thought. "You are?" Witch asked aloud, giving the Faerie Gelert in front of her the once-over. She could see nothing of interest on the Neopet except a rather ancient-looking gold key with a ruby in the middle. It hung on a velvet ribbon around the Gelert's neck. Stylish, she thought approvingly.

     "I… I…" Sprite stammered. She tried not to gawk at the white Aisha. A very outrageously dressed white Aisha, she corrected herself. She looked at the Aisha's black claws and lips. Eww… The lips were moving. Probably chewing on something horrible. Sprite immediately wondered why Chill would want her to be friends with a... well, with a Neopet like this one. "I'm Sprite."

     Witch could hear the forced cheerfulness in the Gelert's voice. "Witch," she replied without offering her paw for Sprite to shake.

     Sprite's jaw dropped. "Who are you calling a WITCH?" she said, outraged.

     Witch smothered a chortle. "Not you. I'm Witch."

     "Oh." She paused for a few seconds. "I'm looking for Purple. Chill said to give her pet… erm… you this." Sprite brought out the pack of Chocolate Gum.

     "Purple's out. Won't be back 'til later," Witch replied, still chewing. She snatched the pack from Sprite. "Thanks for the gum. 'Bye." She slammed the door.

     Sprite blinked. She looked at her empty paw, dumbfounded. Suddenly realizing what had just happened, Sprite frowned. "How RUDE!" She stomped away angrily.

     Sprite began walking the way she had come. The sun had already set. It was dark now. Chill will be worried about me. The Gelert could see no moon and no stars. She shivered, looking at the trees with gangly branches and shaggy green fronds. They seemed familiar, somehow.

     Why?

     She could hear light footsteps from behind her. Sprite turned around hastily and glanced around. No one. The Gelert walked more rapidly, pretending not to hear the footsteps. She thought she saw a shadow but she acted as if she didn't notice.

     "Sprite…" someone hissed.

     The Faerie Gelert stopped in her tracks. The voice. She knew she'd heard it before. "Who's there?" Sprite said in a quivering voice. She looked carefully at the trees.

     Out of the dark, a woman materialized. Her long, dark hair reached the ground and her purple eyes flashed with evil. "It's time."

     "Mommy?" Sprite whispered. She stood, transfixed, at the woman she had been trying to forget for four months. "You've come back."

     "I said I'd return, didn't I?" the woman snapped. "This would have been much easier if you WAITED for me!"

     Sprite trembled. "I'm not coming with you," she murmured.

     The woman sighed exasperatedly and tapped her foot. "Stay here if you want. Hand over the key."

     Instinctively, Sprite reached for the key and closed a paw protectively around it. Something inside her told her not to give it to her Mommy.

     "No," she said firmly.

     "I GAVE it to you, didn't I?" the woman cried out with such force that the ground shook. "It BELONGS to ME!"

     "No," Sprite repeated, trying to sound brave. Her legs felt wobbly but she forced herself to run.

     "You won't escape me!"

     Sprite felt herself getting weaker with every step. It was as if something was weighing her down. "Help!" she screamed with a gasping breath. "Help…" She fell to the ground.

     The Faerie Gelert's eyes seemed to be weighing down, too. Sand. There's sand under my eyes. She compelled herself to open her eyes and they did. Sprite knew that she couldn't hold on for much longer, though. Help! she screamed mentally.

     Suddenly, she was blinded by light. Someone seized one of her paws. Panic ruled Sprite's mind. She struggled and kicked, hoping that her captor would let go. The Gelert screamed and screamed. Please, somebody hear me!

     "Stop kicking! Making it hard for me."

     Sprite did stop, realizing that the voice she heard wasn't her Mommy's voice. She opened her eyes and moved her legs without difficulty. "I'm okay!" she yelled happily.

     "Alright, already. Stop screaming in my ear."

     Sprite looked at Witch, her rescuer. The white Aisha was holding a Moon Staff, its light making everything glow. "Did you see where Mom… erm… the woman went?"

     "What woman?" Witch asked, baffled. "Found you alone."

     Sprite frowned and looked around. They were in front of the NeoLodge. Where did Mommy go? She clutched the key, relieved that it was still there. Why did she want the key?

     "What are you doing out here?" Sprite asked curiously.

     Witch looked embarrassed but she quickly regained her composure. She looked at Sprite wearing her usual expression. "Pretty creepy out here at night. Wouldn't want anyone to get hurt. Followed you when you left to make sure you get home safely. Brought my Moon Staff with me. Heard you screaming. Thought the Pant Devil appeared or something. Went here and saw you…"

     Sprite was touched by this unexpected act of kindness. She didn't know why the woman suddenly disappeared when Witch arrived and why she wasn't able to get the key. Some other time.

     "Dun' judge a flower by its seed," Chill had said one day when he was planting Instant Rose Seeds. Sprite had said that a beautiful rose could never come out of an ugly brown seed.

     "Would you mind having a cup of hot Borovan at our place? Or maybe a glass of Apple Cider?" Sprite suggested, inspired.

     "Wouldn't mind," Witch replied with a crooked smile. "Wouldn't mind, at all."

The End

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