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A Shadow and a Mist


by wonderousfool

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As the shadow Aisha trundled on back, with a sack slung over her shoulder and a loaf of bread in her hands, she muttered quietly to herself. Neopia Central, however more friendly than the Haunted Woods at night, was still not as friendly as she would like. Her owner had failed to give her more of an interesting name than Shadow, and so she was now known. At the moment, Shadow was dragging home a bag full of interesting junk she had found while digging through the trash baskets all around Neopia Central. GreyWeaver, her owner, would then go through the junk, take out the interesting pieces, and sell them for the few meager Neopoints that the objects were worth. At least then they'd have more than a loaf of bread with empty holes dotting it, she thought to herself as she stared resignedly at her flea-bitten bread.

     In the distance, quiet laughs sounded from the quaint Neohomes. Each time Shadow passed one, she stared at the glowing windows, wondering what it was like inside. Toys, she imagined. Lots and lots of toys. And....food. Large, crusty loaves of bread. Cheesecake. Feasts. Even as she thought, her stomach rumbled. Turning, she stumbled on to her Neohome. Little more than a one room shack. Hey, at least they weren't living on the streets, prey to the not so good Neopians. Optimistic thoughts did not fit with the shadow Aisha, and she soon dropped them and returned to her pessimistic self. Sometimes, she wondered how her owner had come up with the money to paint her shadow. GreyWeaver always chose to ignore that question, even after two years of living together, and one and half years of Shadow's constant badgering.

     A hug greeted her as she walked through the opening of sticks that just happened to be their door. Shadow returned GreyWeaver's hug, and soon they were going through the junk.

     "Wow, Shadow, you really outdid yourself this time. We'll make a fortune out of this!" GreyWeaver's constant response every time Shadow came back. Shadow managed a small smile, knowing they would make a couple hundred Neopoints, half of which would be spent on food and improving their lives in any way possible, half of which would go into their Neopian bank account.

     "Thanks, Mom."

     GreyWeaver picked up a necklace, one with a broken chain. Shadow had found that in an exceptionally foul alleyway. The Aisha wrinkled her nose at the smell, but both pet and owner were entranced by the beauty of the obsidian stone.

      "Wow, Mom, who do you think threw that out? It's so pretty." A rare compliment from a shadow pet.

     "I dunno, Shadow, but it looks like we'll be a lot better off after this," GreyWeaver responded, still staring at the light coming from their single candle flashing off of the stone.

     All of a sudden, a gust of wind blew in through the door, and their candle went out. "Shoot, not again!" the Aisha moaned. She pawed her way around the room, and finally grasped the matches. She swiped it against the back of the box, and pretty soon there was light again. But the obsidian was different. The light glancing off of it no longer seemed so clear. It was as if a shroud of mist had covered it, surrounding it, keeping the beauty of it from the pair who was staring at it. "What is that?" Shadow asked, keeping her voice to a whisper.

     "I dunno, but I think we should find out. And we should do something about getting a door too," she added as an afterthought. Shadow rolled her eyes and said, "Let's go to the bookstore and see if the old Nimmo knows what it is."

     "Be polite," GrayWeaver scolded. She grabbed Shadows holed jacket and threw it at her. Shadow caught the jacket and put it on, ignoring the whiff that smelled like rotten bananas and tomatoes. Cures cost a lot more, and she could deal with the smell if they could save that money.

     * * *

     Soon GrayWeaver and Shadow had reached the bookstore. An old Nimmo sat on top of a huge stack of books, looking at an old book that seemed to be twice as big as he was. Shadow called out, "Hello, sir. Can you help us?"

     For a few seconds the shopkeeper made no movement, acting as if he had not heard them. Just as Shadow was about to call again however, the Nimmo suddenly stirred and the entire stack of books came crashing down. The shopkeeper landed with a thump, and sat up, rubbing his head, while the pair stared, jaws hanging in shock. The shopkeeper glared at them. "Well, don't just stand there, help me up! This is all your fault anyway. Now I have to put all these books back up on the shelves…this is going to take me forever." As GrayWeaver and Shadow lent him a hand and paw, the Nimmo began muttering to himself, as if forgetting that the pair was even there. Shadow and GrayWeaver stood there for a second, and then GrayWeaver spoke up.

     "Excuse me, sir, but we found this stone and we were wondering if you might possibly know what it is?"

     The shopkeeper turned around and grinned. "Well, why didn't ye say so? Research is good. I 'ave everythin' here for ye. Let's take a look, shall we?"

     GrayWeaver brought the obsidian stone out of her coat pocket. "I think I recognize it, but I'm not completely sure from where."

     The Nimmo pulled out his magnifying glass and peered through it at the stone. The mist still surrounded it, flowing around the spherical stone. The shopkeeper paled, until his blue was almost white. "Could it be…" he whispered so quietly that the Aisha's ear had to perk forward in order to hear what he said. Of a sudden, the old Nimmo started running around, scrabbling through his books, snatching at one and then throwing it away. "No, not this one. Not this one. No, no, no!" Suddenly remembering the owner of the object, he glared at Shadow and her mom and said, "Well, don't just stand there, help me find the book. Big one, old, tattered, just pieces of tanned skin! Get crackin'!"

     Hearing the bookkeeper's urgency, the two scrambled into the tunnel of books, throwing one and then another at the bookshelves. Shadow clambered onto the sliding ladder, and threw the ladder sideways, meanwhile knocking off every single book there was on the book shelf. She did that for every row, then jumped off and started looking through the fallen ones. Meanwhile, GrayWeaver and the Nimmo burst through the sea of books, gasping for breath and glaring at Shadow.

     She looked up and glared at them. "What are you staring at? Get to work!" The two stared at each other, shrugged, and got back to reading, the Nimmo's shoulders still heaving with exhaustion. Presently, Shadow came up with a huge book, almost twice the size of her.

     "Is this it?" she asked the old Nimmo He looked at the book, and ran over, almost knocking over GrayWeaver in the process.

     "Yes, that's it! The bookshop owner started flipping through the pages, and presently found what he was looking for. "Here! I knew it!" GrayWeaver and Shadow peered over his shoulders and soon their faces were pale. GrayWeaver's face regained color as she came to yet another realization.

     "This is what turned you shadow," she whispered to Shadow. "This is it. And before it turned you shadow, we were a lot better off. You were just a baby, but I got you the best playpen, and we explored places everyday, and bought new clothes and toys for you everyday too! Then I found this, and I kept it for a few days. It turned you shadow, and after I lost it, our lives took a turn for the worse."

     "Well, how do we reverse it, old man?" Shadow said impatiently to the Nimmo Even GrayWeaver forgot her manners as she chimed in, for she dearly wanted their old life back. The Nimmo kept reading the book. The only way you can reverse it is if you find out how to break the mist that covers the obsidian. That's it.

     "Remember, when we first found it, the mist wasn't covering it," Shadow reminded GrayWeaver. It was only after we said we'd…" Realization dawned on Shadow's face. "Maybe…." she said excitedly. "Maybe when we said all we'd do with it is make a fortune, it triggered the mist. Maybe if instead we donate it to the Money Tree, or to some poor Neopian besides us, it'll reverse the mist. And the shadow," she added, almost to herself.

     "Worth a try," GrayWeaver responded. The pair turned and thanked the blue Nimmo, who was already back to rearranging his bookstore. He turned and waved, and the pair ran out to the money tree. They laid the stone down there, and the mist went away. A faerie came out, and stood under the tree. GrayWeaver and Shadow stared in awe at the faerie, who smiled at them.

     "Never stay with greed…give what is yours to give, and do not take what is not yours to take without giving back, and you will have everything you want." The faerie disappeared, along with the necklace. Shadow's color had begun to lighten, so it seemed gray, and then closer to white. Her jacked had no more holes, and the rain lightened up. GrayWeaver sat under the Money Tree, and Shadow sat with her. They sat there, together, in the rain, for a long time. They sat for a long time and neither of them said a word.

The End

 
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