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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 19th day of Relaxing, Yr 21
The Neopian Times Week 32 > Continuing Series > As Told by child_dragon: Part Eight - Fireflies

As Told by child_dragon: Part Eight - Fireflies

by child_dragon

It's amazing sometimes, how quickly normality can return to life. I continued with my daily habits, keeping the shop stocked, checking my stocks, and making sure the pantry was full. I was surprised that no one took an interest in the fight, I fully expected to get a call from the police. But nothing happened, and the nagging feeling in my mind remained. And then I started having nightmares.

They were always the same. I was deep within a forest, black mist swirling all around. There were no stars, no moon. Only the trees and the mist. Then the mist would take shape, creatures with glowing red eyes. I would see a figure standing behind them, staring at me malevolently. I would spread my Eyrie wings and try to fly, only to find that my ability no longer worked. And the creatures would come ever closer, until I woke, drenched in sweat.

We sat outside one night, enjoying the late warmth and the stars above. Fireflies danced around us, and Un-eairkagh and Terraile competed with catching them. Aldrai held a jar containing the latest catches. Lady MoonFall came outside and found a spot on the grass by me.

"You really shouldn't catch fireflies, you know," she said disapprovingly.

"Why not?" Un-eairkagh asked.

"Because they protect Neopia," she explained, yet at the same time making no sense.

"Huh?" Terraile asked.

The Uni blinked at her sister in surprise.

"You don't know the legend of NightHawk's Tears?" she asked, genuinely surprised.

"No, I don't, should I?"

"I don't know it either, MoonFall," I said. "You probably know something we don't."

She looked at us, and we gathered around her. "I guess you all want to hear the story then," she said. "All right. But first let the fireflies loose."

Aldrai unscrewed the jar and the pinpoints of light flew out, dancing through the night, and MoonFall began her story.

***

A long time ago, Neopia was a much different place than what we remember. It was a wild and rough land, full of magic and danger. In that time, the faeries lived apart from the Neopians, hidden away in their city in the clouds. None ventured there, except in times of great need. Now, no sane Neopian left the safety of their house after dark. As soon as the sun started to slide past the horizon, all hurried inside and locked all doors and shuttered the windows, lighting candles and waiting for the morning. For the night was dangerous, and an unseen danger prowled the darkness. There was many a time when a family would venture outside and find deep claw marks in the door and some poor animal on their doorstep. Anyone caught out in the night was doomed. And in this troubled time lived a shadowed Shoyru, by the name of NightHawk. She was the greatest archer alive, and feared nothing. She carried a powerful bow, called Nighthawk's Bow, made of wood of the deepest black. It was said to have come from the grove in the heart of the Cursed Forest, now known as the Haunted Woods. See, evil was alive in those days, and very powerful. It was said to have its origin deep within the Cursed Woods, in the same grove Nighthawk cut her bow from. But Nighthawk was not bothered by such things, and was often out after dark, laughing at the others fears. She roamed the Cursed Woods freely, and never came to any ill. And because of her dark colour, her bow, and her travels through the night, it was whispered that Nighthawk was evil herself, and was in league with this faceless danger. Things continued in this matter for many years. Nighthawk spent most of her time practising her skills, scorning all others, who in turn whispered and grew afraid of her. This evil that stalked the night grew stronger, and bolder. Now not a single night went by where a house remained untouched, and some of the more remote families simply vanished, their neighbours discovering days later the splintered remains of the door, with no trace of the occupants. The Elders of Neopia decided that this could continue no longer, and in desperation, turned to the fairies. But a petition to the faeries was not to be taken lightly, and they decided to hold a tournament to find the most powerful warrior to act as their representative. And so hundreds of Neopets streamed to the tournament grounds, eager to prove themselves and win the honour of destroying this evil. Nighthawk heard of this tournament, and decided to go. "'After all," she said, "who better than I? I am not afraid of this phantom, the Cursed Woods are my home, and I am the only one who dares to brave its depths." So she flew to the tournament, and all the other contestants quailed to see her arrive. "The shadowed Shoyru," they whispered among themselves. "Why is she here? And what chance do we have against her?"

They despaired, for all knew they could not best her. And surely one tainted by the darkness could not be a representative to the faeries? But on the last day to register, a lone Scorchio arrived. He was a brilliant rainbow of colours, red, blue, green, black, white, all the colours of the six elements of nature. He carried his head high, and in his presence one had the urge to kneel. His name was Lord BrightSong. Nighthawk glared at this newcomer, resenting his intrusion. "Never mind, I'll beat him yet," she said scornfully.

The contest began, and Nighthawk easily bested the first task. And the next. And to her dismay, so did Lord BrightSong. The days wore on, and more and more contestants dropped out, unable to compete with those two, so finely matched in skill and power. At last the final day came, and only Nighthawk and BrightSong remained. It was to be an archery contest, and the winner would determine who would petition to the faeries. Nighthawk smirked as she strung her first arrow. She was the best archer around, none could beat her. The target was incredibly far away, a speck in her eyes. She confidently drew back her bow, and took aim. There was a swish, and the black arrow sped away.

"Bull's-eye!" the watching Neopians cried.

Lord BrightSong was next, and Nighthawk smiled, feeling the tournament was hers. He drew back his own bow, made of sturdy ash, and let loose an arrow.

"Bull's-eye!" they cried, and Nighthawk gasped. But who was the winner? The judges inspected the targets, and it was determined that Nighthawk's arrow was on the exact centre, while BrightSong's was a hair off. The Shoyru sneered at the Scorchio She had won, he had lost. She waited eagerly for the judges to proclaim her the winner.

"Though Nighthawk demonstrated magnificent skills, we have decided that Lord BrightSong would be better suited as a representative of our needs to the faeries." Nighthawk nearly dropped her bow in shock. How dare they choose him over her!! She had won, and they passed her over!

"Treacherous fools!!" she shouted, but none heard her over the cheering. She watched in fury as the placed a crown of leaves onto the Scorchio's head, then she snapped her wings open and flew off, vowing that this crime would not stand.

It was decided that as soon as night fell, Lord BrightSong would begin his flight to the city. And as the sky turned red, he spread his jeweled wings and rose from the ground. Everyone cheered and then hurried home, for night was falling. But one remained, a Shoyru with a black bow. Nighthawk watched the Scorchio fly with a sneer, then she too took to the air, placing an arrow on her bow.

"Lord indeed," she hissed, and drew back the string, taking aim. She paused for a moment, the silver moon reflecting on the jeweled scales of the Scorchio, then let the arrow fly, a shaft of darkness in the night. It struck Lord BrightSong in the heart, and he let out a cry of anguish and his wings stopped beating. Nighthawk laughed, but her laughter suddenly stopped in amazement. As he fell, a light grew around him. The colours from the scales dimmed, and crystallised into a starburst shape, then flashed once, and vanished. This was the Essence of Neopia, the core of our land, embodied in BrightSong. His body, devoid of the brilliant colours, fell to the ground, never to rise again. Nighthawk landed on a cliff overlooking the ocean, puzzled over what had happened. She stared at the spot where BrightSong had left Neopia, and then at her bow.

"Wretched thing!" she cried, and flung the bow into the sea with all her might. And she sat there and cried, realising the selfishness and hatred of her actions. The Faerie Queen had seen BrightSong's demise, and was grieved for these Neopians being persecuted by an ancient evil, existing before the faeries themselves, and beyond their power. She breathed out a blessing upon Nighthawk's tears, and as each sparkling drop fell, it was transformed into a firefly, a living creature of light to combat the darkness.

And so the fireflies live on to this day, fighting that ancient evil and keeping Neopia safe. But the fireflies are not the cure, they are only one defence against the darkness. It is said that when the evil arises again, the fireflies shall fall. And in that time, the Essence of Neopia will be reborn into a new champion, who shall destroy the evil for good. And an heir of Nighthawk shall stand by this ones side, wielding Nighthawk's Bow, and redeem Nighthawk by helping to vanquish this evil. And that is why you should never harm a firefly, for until that time, they are our only protection against the darkness that would destroy us all."

***

Lady MoonFall fell quiet, and we all pondered over her story. "So that's why I should know of this," Terraile said softly, "because Nighthawk was a shadowed Shoyru, like me." Lady MoonFall nodded.

"Well," I said, "I highly doubt you're Nighthawk's heir, after all, this is a legend. It's late, let's get to bed."

My pets rose and walked inside, sleepy and full of thoughts. I closed the door behind me, checking to make sure it was locked. Essence of Neopia, fireflies, Nighthawk's Bow. I smiled to myself. An interesting legend, nothing more. I went to bed.

***

Deep within a grove of black trees, a firefly died. A whispering began, a promise of darkness across the land again. And the fireflies flashed brightly, defying the darkness. But the whispering did not cease.

To be continued...


Feel free to Neomail me, I encourage it. I like feedback. Sabreur is really my brother, you can Neomail him also, though I ask you to go easy on that. He's in college right now, and I'd rather not have him mad at me for getting a ton of Battledome challenges, etc. Melody is also real, my best friend. She's in college too, her Neopets name is horngodess, but I wouldn't suggest bugging her, she has a very demanding major and hardly any free time. Sakuko is also real, she's a really nice person.
Previous Episodes

As Told by child_dragon: Part One - Pals

As Told by child_dragon: Part Two - A Strange Tail

As Told by child_dragon: Part Three - First Fight

As Told by child_dragon: Part Four - The Arrival of Aldrai

As Told by child_dragon: Part Five - Netsuko

As Told by child_dragon: Part Six - Royal Runaways

As Told by child_dragon: Part Seven - What Really Happened

As Told by child_dragon: Part Nine - Faerie Quest

As Told by child_dragon: Part Ten - Dragon's Hoard

As Told by child_dragon: Part Eleven - Legends Alive

As Told by child_dragon: Part Twelve - The Essence of Neopia

As Told by child_dragon: Part Thirteen - Shadows

As Told by child_dragon: Part Fourteen - Redemption

As Told by child_dragon: Part Fifteen - Trial by Fire

As Told by child_dragon: Part Sixteen - Water Quest

As Told by child_dragon: Part Seventeen - Earthen Boundaries

As Told by child_dragon: Part Eighteen - Tempest Wind

As Told by child_dragon: Part Nineteen - Song of Darkness

As Told by child_dragon: Part Twenty - Inner Light

As Told by child_dragon: Part Twenty One - Sacrifice of Love

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