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Card Collections - Shoonee


by iwantyours

--------

Also by yatomiyuka

A pink Kacheek hurried down the stairs, pushing some school books into her Angelpuss schoolbag. Her name was Shoonee and she had been brought up by Faeries.

     "Shoonee? Hurry up; you're going to be late for the start of your new year at Neoschool!"

     A tinkling voice floated up the stairs, making Shoonee shudder. It was the voice of her Faerie sister, Anna-Maria. She was an Air Faerie and was so vain - the Faerie would look at her reflection every ten minutes.

     "Yes, yes, I'm coming..." exclaimed Shoonee, shaking her head. She hurried down the stairs, jumping a few steps as she went. The Kacheek came into the kitchen, which was painted a periwinkle blue. It was very pretty.

     Shoonee's chocolate brown eyes came into contact with a calendar. A date was ringed with a red marker pen. 25th April... It was her birthday! Her Faerie auntie, Sheena, told her she was going to be giving her something very special. Something that could change her life. Shoonee buzzed with excitement even thinking about it!

     "Um... Shoonee? Why are you grinning like that?" asked her sister, looking up from over a magazine that she had bought yesterday.

     "My birthday is coming up, silly!" she replied, forcing a smile. Anna-Maria started babbling on about how excited she must be... Shoonee didn't really take it in, but said, "Yeah... Um, I'm going to go to school now. Good bye!"

     Anna-Maria waved and went back to her magazine, whilst Shoonee rolled her eyes.

     What an airhead. It's no wonder she became an Air Faerie.

     With a soft sigh, Shoonee hopped out of the house and started the short journey to her school. Despite everything, she had to admit she had it easy. There was some part of her that wanted to give something back, to repay the debt she had incurred on that day so many years ago, when the Faeries had found her abandoned as a newborn.

     On the way into the school building, the young Kacheek pulled a timetable from her bag and perused it. Maths is first, she realised with a groan. Why do we have to do this stuff, anyway?

     The day passed without event. When she got back home, she found Sheena serving Faerie Pancakes with a big smile stretched across her face.

     "Welcome home, Shoonee dear!" Sheena was a light Faerie with long golden hair and blue eyes. Shoonee had never seen her sulk or grow angry at anyone. Much the opposite of her sister, in fact.

     "Hi," Shoonee said absently. Her mind was still where it had been all day; on the calendar. An angelpuss came slinking down the stairs and rubbed against her legs.

     "Hey, Tinky," she said, offering a chunk of pancake, which the feline snapped up eagerly. "It's my birthday tomorrow, you know." Tinkerbell gave her an odd look; a look that seemed to say 'I knew that already.'

     "I'm going to turn in early," Anna-Maria said. "See you tomorrow."

     "Goodnight," Shoonee muttered.

     "It's going to be a busy day tomorrow. Maybe you should follow," Sheena suggested.

     "Okay. Night then," she said, handing the plate back to her aunt and rubbing her eyes. But she wasn't tired, not really. She would probably be up all night in excitement, waiting for a morning that seemed an eternity away.

     As Shoonee trudged up stairs, all her mind was thinking off was her presents - wrapped up in different presents, all the individual shapes... Suddenly, she was bounding with energy and excitement. The Kacheek shoved her door open and sprinted into her bedroom.

     In was a medium-sized room which was painted soft pastel colours and decorated with posters which were carefully stuck up on each wall. The curtains had a floral pattern running all over them. The white window frames were open, making the curtains flutter in the slight breeze.

     Shoonee leapt onto her bed and clung to the soft pillow, relishing the comfort - she'd been leaning on a hard school desk all day and it felt nice to be able to perceive something cushiony.

     Then, her eyes predictably wandered to her Usuki clock - still a long way to go till the excited Kacheek was allowed to open her presents.

     I can't kid myself that my birthday will come fast... I might as well try and get to sleep now, thought Shoonee, sighing and settling down underneath the quilt.

     Her eyelids drooped and Shoonee started to wonder what she might get. She was looking forward to opening Sheena's present, though - her presents were always worth waiting for. Anna-Maria's present would probably some Grooming Parlour items and maybe an Usuki. They were always the same. Her aunt's presents were original and every year the item was completely different from the last. Aunt Sheena had told her she was getting something extra special this year...

     Shoonee's door swung open slightly and the Kacheek's flow of thoughts was broke. Shoonee peered over the top of her quilt - it was just her aunt.

     "Are you still awake, little one?" Sheena asked softly, ambling over to close Shoonee's window to make sure she didn't get chilly. She also closed the floral curtains.

     The pink Kacheek nodded and replied, "I'm sorry, but I just can't get to sleep! I'm very excited, you see, especially about your present."

     As the Kacheek blushed slightly, darkening her pink fur. Sheena smiled and replied, "Try closing your eyes and let your thoughts roam free. It always helps me get to sleep."

     Shoonee nodded firmly and her aunt walked out, closing the door behind her. She lay in darkness and did as Sheena instructed. Surprisingly, what her aunt said was working! Grinning to herself, Shoonee drifted into a peaceful sleep.

     Somewhere in the depths of Faerie City, not too far from the house where Shoonee and the others lived, a homeless, nameless Yurble lay curled and sleeping behind an old cottage. His fur, though ragged and filthy, was neon-bright; almost surreal, even. His large paws lay neatly on the pavement. Between them sat a red Anubis with wide, glimmering dark eyes. They seemed to dart back and forth almost mechanically, searching in the dark for any sign of danger.

     "It's okay, Rex," the Yurble said suddenly, sitting up and dusting himself off. "I can't sleep either."

     The shadows were alive that night, alive and running. The Yurble's eyes were sharp enough to make out faces that first appeared frightened, then vicious, then vacant - faces that might not have been there at all. If there was any doubt in his mind about their possible intentions, it vanished when he realised that Rex was snarling a vicious tirade at something that only he could see. Without warning, the small canine was off, racing towards that mysterious something.

     "Rex! Rex, get back here now!" he called, cupping both hands to his mouth. It wasn't like him at all to go running off, especially not at night, in the middle of a strange town. A flash of red and white darted through a neat row of houses nearby; the nameless Yurble set off at a run after his beloved pet. It soon became clear just what he was chasing. His original impression - that of a shadow given breath and life - was an eerily appropriate description for what he now saw.

     It was a winged creature, most likely an Eyrie or Uni; the light was too poor to tell... but the Yurble had an idea that all the light in the world would have made no change to the appearance of the beast. Rex was running rapid circles around it, snarling and barking frantically as if trying to warn it off. It gave no sign that it could see either of them; it just kept on moving, regardless, towards the house at the far end of the street.

     A vivid and terrible image popped into the mind of the watching Yurble. It was the image of a young Kacheek girl, slumped powerless in a corner, facing hordes of shadows - shadows of all shapes and sizes. Things that might have been pets once, but never would be again. How did he know all this? Maybe he didn't. Maybe that knowledge belonged to the higher part of him that had revealed this piece of future to him, as it had so often before...

     Her eyes flew open, revealing pupils that had shrunk in fright and watery eyes. Had Shoonee just seen her own future? Who was the nameless Yurble? Wiping her eyes on the back of her hand and sat up, throwing the quilt back roughly. Her shining eyes shot to her Usuki clock. Surprisingly it was nearly time for everyone to get up.

     "I'll get up a bit earlier today," Shoonee muttered to herself, feeling slightly groggy now, even having felt very awake just a few moments ago. The Kacheek hopped out of bed, stumbling slightly as she stood. She ambled slowly over to her large wardrobe, opened the slightly heavy door and tugged a few clothes of their hangers. Shoonee pulled the clothes on quickly and then sat on her bed, waiting for the rest of her family to get up.

     Just as this thought entered her head, she heard movements from Anna-Maria's room, which was next door to hers. The dream was moving to the back of her mind and excitement of what her Aunt had bought her for a present was coming back to her. Her door was pushed open and an Air Faerie stood there... Anna-Maria.

     "Shoonee, happy birthday!" she gushed, bustling in and pulling Shoonee into a tight embrace. The Kacheek scowled darkly when Anna-Maria was not looking, before a large fake smile appeared on her face like a scar she could not remove. When her sister let go, Shoonee backed away from her. Anna-Maria did not seem to have noticed as she grasped the Kacheek's wrist and pulled her out into the landing.

     "We can't go and wake up Aunt Sheena!" hissed Shoonee, her eyes wide. Sheena didn't like being woken up in the morning, even though she didn't make a fuss and acted like her usual cheerful self.

     "Sure we can!" the Air Faerie said, smiling and hurried up the stairs, pulling a struggling Shoonee along with her. Anna-Maria reached Sheena's room, she rapped smartly on the door with her pale knuckles. Surprisingly, the yellow door opened straight away, and Sheena stood there, already made up for the day. Shoonee thought she looked beautiful.

     "I knew Anna-Maria would probably knock on my door early," she said, smiling softly, "Anyway... happy birthday, my dear Shoonee!"

     She knelt down and hugged the Kacheek, and since it was Sheena who was embracing her this time, Shoonee hugged back and smiled to herself. It was almost time to get her presents...

     ***

     Dark shapes gathered around the house, a venomous plague of shadows that seemed to drain the life from everything around it. It's almost certainly too late for whoever is inside, he realised. It turned him cold to think of walking away - after all, what kind of prophet was he, if he couldn't even help this one Kacheek?

     Well, here goes nothing.

     Summoning his courage, the Yurble marched through the shadows and raised a paw to knock on the door. They soaked his fur like black water, bogging him down and draining his energy.

     "Who is it?" A beautiful Air Faerie poked her head around the door. A small, irritated frown tugged at her features when she saw the badly-dressed Yurble standing before her. "Oh, go away! We're not a charity!" With that, she slammed the door, leaving him more perplexed than ever.

     ***

     "Was that Shoonee's friends calling around?" Sheena asked.

     "No, Just some old beggar."

     "Anna-Maria! It's our duty as Faeries and users of magic to protect for the less fortunate members of Neopia. I thought you knew that." Shamefaced, Anna-Maria donned her brightest, fakest smile.

     "I'm sorry, Sheena. It won't happen again."

     "See that it doesn't." The older Faerie turned and flew up the stairs, leaving sparkling dust on the wooden staircase as she went. Something clicked in the young Kacheek's mind; something about a dream she had half-forgotten already. Hadn't that Yurble been homeless...? On top of which, Sheena never flew anywhere, abhorring the mess it created. Something was definitely wrong, and not knowing exactly what left a bitter taste in her mouth.

     Meanwhile, thoughts were streaking through Sheena's mind - she knew ever since she had taken in the young Kacheek that she was destined to be someone very special one day. However, the clever faerie did not know when or where she'd gain power. Could today be the day? Swallowing, Sheena walked briskly over to where Shoonee's presents stood, all piled into one average bag and picked them up. Then she dropped them on the polished floor because of the weight.

     "Sheena! Hurry and bring down Shoonee's presents!" cried Anna-Maria cheerfully. The Air Faerie didn't know Sheena's suspicions about the little Kacheek. Sighing, Sheena started to drag the bag with much less grace than she usually showed.

     As the Light Faerie re-entered Shoonee's bedroom, the Yurble stood outside, a grim look on his face. His lids dropped down and he muttered, "It will happen soon..."

     The shadows moved slowly around the walls of the house...

     Coloured wrapping paper flew everywhere as Shoonee tore off the delicate material, revealing all sorts of presents from relatives in different areas of Neopia. She left her aunts present till last of course. It had been placed on the top, as if to tempt her into opening it first. Shoonee had taken in and placed it to the side.

     Sheena's eyes stayed on the yellow wrapping paper that held the bow and arrow that would make the little Kacheek famous. The Faerie knew that as soon as the Neopet clutched the bow and arrow, she would change. She would grow wings, and change from her red colour, to a candy pink. Sheena's eyes widened - she sensed Evil heading towards them. What kind of Evil it was, she didn't know...

     "Aunt Sheena? What's the matter?" asked Shoonee politely. Sheena exchanged a quick smile and nodded towards the bow and arrow wrapped up next to her. Shoonee stared worriedly at her aunt before beaming and picking up the present.

     It began.

     The Evil burst through the windows and the wrapping paper vanished from the bow and arrow. The Evil, which turned out to be the Shadow kind of Evil, started towards the little Kacheek, who let a scream escape from her mouth. The Shadows turned and saw the bow and arrow she was holding, and started to fly towards her.

     "Shoonee! Shoot the Shadows with your bow and arrow! You, Shoonee, the Spreader of Love! You'll make Neopia a much happier place!"

     Sheena's shout reached the Neopets ears and, panicking, Shoonee fixed the arrow in the bow and clumsily shot the arrow - it didn't miss, but it didn't hit either. It just brushed the side of the Shadow, but the power in the arrow was enough to eliminate the Evil.

     "Nice one!" yelled her Aunt. "Now, get out and find the Shadow Usul! She's controlling this type of Evil! She'll be nearby! The Yurble outside will help. I'll look after Anna-Maria. Just find the Shadow Usul!"

     Still upset about what had happened, unsure of what to do and what had gone wrong, the Yurble made his disgruntled way back down the street. His faithful companion followed closely behind him, keeping one nervous eye on the manifesting danger.

     Whumph.

     He hit the floor and rolled, instinctively covering his face with one paw. A pair of deep, golden-yellow eyes met with his, and he began to scream.

     ***

     Shoonee felt like she was sinking in a whirlpool of confusion - everything was changing, and changing fast. One moment, she was aware of an intense joy mingled with an uncertain horror that originated from the Evil presence. Next thing, she felt something like ice against her shoulder blades. It was a very strong feeling. Shaking her head, the young Kacheek pulled herself back to the present. The shadow Evil was gone for the moment, but the battle was far from over, and Shoonee knew it.

     I'm not the best, but I've got to try!

     A thin screech hammered her eardrums. Almost as if entranced, she drifted through the opening doorway and out into the cold twilight. Her breath rose in a thin mist as she ran - or flew, she wasn't sure which - towards the sound of the attack. On the street lay the same Yurble she had seen in her dream. He was clearly trying to fight back against the giant shadow, but with no success: his strength was of the wrong kind. It was up to her.

     Again, Shoonee felt herself aim the bow and nock a second arrow. The power in it made her feel fizzed up and incredibly alive. Is this how the Faeries feel when they use their magic? she wondered, momentarily.

     The arrow flew. It struck home, and the target rolled in annoyance, trying to dislodge it. Without pause, she nocked three more arrows. Thud. Thud. Thud.

     Nice try, you little--

     "Stop right there!" A flash of red on black, a startled hiss, and the red figure flew backwards.

     It gave Shoonee the chance she needed. The final arrow was a dead-on hit; right between the eyes. They seemed to burn with shock and rage in the final moments, as the Usul began to dissipate.

     You have won the battle, Shoonee, but you will lose the war...

     Shoonee fell to her knees, shocked at what she just accomplished. Sheena must've known all this was going to happen one day, that's why she had given the Kacheek the precious bow and arrow to her. A sound made her ears flick up and Shoonee looked up and saw the Yurble struggling to his feet. Shoonee ran towards him and grabbed his arm to help him up.

     "Thank you," he said, bowing. He then started to stare at her. She felt embarrassed, and asked, "Um... Why are you staring at me?"

     "Do you know what you are to become?" he said quietly, keeping his gaze on her brown eyes.

     "W-well," Shoonee said, stuttering slightly, "Aunt Sheena said I'd make Neopia a better place..."

     The Yurble replied, "You will, you don't have any other choice. Take a look at yourself."

     Shoonee looked down - her fur had turned pink and she could feel something digging into her shoulder blades. She twisted her head around, and spotted fluffy, pink wings. She fluttered them experimentally and giggled.

     "Shoonee..."

     The Kacheek looked up shocked and exclaimed, "How do you know my name?"

     The Yurble raised an eyebrow, and said quietly, "I've know your name since you were picked up by Sheena and her family. Anyway, Shoonee, you'll be flying around Neopia, fighting the Evil."

     "When do I start?" she said, looking forward to helping people.

     "Well, I'd prefer if you started today... You can't get away from this fate, Shoonee, you'll have to help Neopia sometime," the Yurble said, looking at the sky.

     "But I'd have to leave Sheena..." Shoonee said, her mouth trembling slightly.

     "You'll be able to keep in contact with them, of course. If you need any help, just whistle. I should be around... I'm your Guide."

     And then he was gone. Shoonee stared as he walked away, his red Anubis trotting along beside him. Sighing, she picked up her bow and arrow and turned towards the house. To the Kacheek's surprise, Sheena was standing there, smiling at her.

     "You must go," Sheena mouthed at her. Shoonee's eyes filled with tears and she nodded - this fate was what her aunt would've wanted her to have. To help others.

     With a wave, the Kacheek took of into the air, to do as Sheena would've wanted.

The End

 
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