The Shadows: Part Eight
There was a black gap in the clouds of Faerieland with a single claw poking through. The claw was at least as big as me.
I trembled to know what the rest of the monster looked like.
Chaos instantly broke out in Faerieland. Pets screamed and scattered around, looking for shelter from the Grundo plushie and the monster that was just about out of the hole. I could see it fully now and it was definitely a terrible sight.
The monster had four hind legs and two front arms like a Ruki that each had thick claws. Its body was hunched over in the back with huge spikes protruding from the thick flesh. Its head was big and scrunched with red eyes boring into the flesh. Its mouth was curved into a smile, huge clippers coming from under its lips. It looked like an overly large mutant Ruki, to put it bluntly.
I shuddered, seeing it in the flesh was a lot different than seeing its shadow. Still, the monster gave me the same feeling of coldness and emptiness. I shut my eyes to it but I could still hear the effect it was having on Faerieland.
“Right,” Fyora said, nodding her head. “We should probably go herd people out of Faerieland. Let’s go.”
I nodded and reopened my eyes, trying not to look at the monster that was now placing its claws on the clouds. The clouds turned grey and limp looking, a great contrast from the usual happy look of Faerieland.
I raced through the Tower with Fyora, heading out toward Faerieland and the innocent pets there that were running around like they were crazy.
Fyora went one way down one street and I went down the other. “Go to a different part of Neopia now,” I cried above all of the racket that surrounded me. “There is a monster here and it isn’t safe. We are taking care of it right now but you should hide until then.”
One pet went up to me, eyes pleading as she tugged on my shoulder. “My home is here! What am I supposed to do? What if it gets messed up?”
I gave her a sympathetic look and sighed. “I’m sorry. Just leave for now, we’ll think about the rest of it later. Just leave.”
Some of the pets actually listened to me. I think they were so deprived of advice that they needed something to believe in. I was the voice of leadership over all of the confusion. They swarmed towards the clouds and those of them that could fly carried people to the ground below, safe from the monster.
I nodded and ran towards the next street. The claw of the Ruki-monster fell down in front of me, startling me and causing the ground the crack beneath my paws. I yelped and took a few steps backwards, trying to move out of the way of the horrible claw that looked like it could tear me to pieces.
I looked up at the Ruki-monster just in time to see the blue Grundo hit the monster with a wave of blue power. The monster cried out, shaking all the world around it and scratching at the place where the power had hit him.
I raced the opposite way and continued to yell my warning to everyone that was running around, screaming. This was all I had to do; the Grundo would take care of the rest.
After an hour of yelling and running around, Fyora and I met up in the center of the city. “Is everyone gone?” I asked her, taking a side look at the battle between the Grundo and the monster. It was hard to tell who was winning. The Grundo had a rip down one of his arms and stuffing was falling out onto the ground below. It almost looked like a piece of cloud was falling from the sky but I’m sure it wouldn’t feel like that if it fell on you.
Fyora nodded at my question as she looked around as well. “Yes they are, now all we can do is wait for the Grundo to defeat the monster.” Fyora looked up at her childhood plushie longingly as it fought the menace to Neopia.
The Grundo gave the monster an evil look and let loose a low, growling yell that shook the clouds immensely. I fell to the ground as it shook beneath me and covered my head with my paws, slamming my eyes shut. Pieces of buildings fell down around us, crashing to the floor and splitting off into shards. The shards cut through my fur and pelt, adding to the wounds the monster had already given me.
The monster let loose another shriek, this one so high-pitched that the windows around us burst into pieces. I opened one eye for a moment to see a bright light surround the monster. It was brought into the air, still glowing and still shrieking. Its limbs extended, claws reaching out as far as they could.
Then something happened that I didn’t expect. The monster exploded into little daisies that slowly fell to the ground.
Silence hung in the air and everything felt still except for the falling daisies.
I slowly sat up, cautiously. Everything looked like it was in ruins. Debris lay around us mixed with glass and (of course) daisies. I stood up and shook my head, amazed that everything was over. Fyora looked as surprised and pleased as I did, smiling wistfully up at her plushie.
The Grundo was frowning as it started to shrink, slowly, back into a normal toy. “Let’s go get the plushie,” I said, beckoning Fyora. I raced down the street towards where the Grundo was shrinking.
When I reached the Grundo plushie it was just that, a frowning plushie that was lying on the cloud sadly. I bent down to pick it up but was stopped by Fyora yelling, “Stop!”
I looked up and gave her a questioning look. “Why?”
Fyora shook her head, looking down at the sad plushie. “If we touch it, then it will be reactivated, except without a purpose; it’ll turn into a monster. Let’s leave it as a hero on the cloud.” Fyora waved her hand over the toy and it turned purple. “Now it has a shield around it; nobody can touch it.”
I stared at it with a sad but honored look; the poor plushie had done so much for us. That’s when I saw the one thing I feared, shadows lurking in the side of my eyes.
“I can still see the shadows,” I murmured, not moving as I looked at the slithering shadows.
Fyora nodded. “We got rid of the monster, not the shadows that work for him. They don’t have a purpose, though, so they shouldn’t bother you.”
“Just the rest of Neopia, right?” I asked sarcastically, feeling overwhelmed with frustration. “Just everyone else?”
Fyora hesitated guiltily before nodding, “Yes, just everyone else.”
“Can you have them locked up or destroyed?” I asked, my voice rising with anger. How could she have forgotten this small detail?
Fyora shook her head sadly. “No. The only thing I can do is have them drawn to an object. That’s all. That’s what the monster did before he was locked up.”
“Then do it!” I cried, waving my hands around me. “Draw them to something and throw it at the bottom of the sea, far from Maraqua as well. Do it!”
Fyora sighed and shook her head again, this time more slowly. It was almost like she was sad about my reaction, sad about what I was saying. “It needs to be activated by a living thing’s touch and then kept to that living thing. That’s why the shadows followed you when you touched the key. Which reminds me,” she extended her hand and showed me something I had loathed seeing, a rusty key. “I thought you might want it as a keepsake.”
I stared at the key in the palm of her hand, my mind racing. Your life will never return to normal, I thought. I thought of Sophie, of Faerieland, of Fyora, and of Ari. My life had been changed, been ruined for good.
I looked up at Fyora and said slowly, “Can you make an attachment to this key?”
Fyora looked surprised then nodded slowly. “Yes.” Her hand glowed purple like I had seen it done earlier that day, making the key glow with it. She then dropped it to the ground. “There.”
I looked down at the key and, before Fyora could stop me, picked it up. Instantly, I felt cold as the shadows crowded around me, attempting to grab the key from my reach. Give it to us. They hissed in my ears and breathed down my neck.
I turned, and looked into the red eyes. I saw myself drowning in the red pools, saw myself spinning, and I knew that this was it. I had decided my fate with one touch of cold metal. I would never be alone again...
I walk into the city. Faerieland looks so much better after being renovated again, making it just wonderful. No more broken glass, no more debris; the only thing that stays the same is the blue Grundo plushie sitting on the clouds, frowning. Only, no one remembers why it’s there or what it is. “No fame for you,” I whisper as I pass by it. “I appreciate what you did.”
“It can’t talk, you know,” says a familiar voice next to me.
I look up in surprise and see a familiar face, a Starry Chomby.
She smiles at me politely. “I talk to it too.”
I gape at her for a moment; it can’t be. I almost blurt out her name in disbelief but stop, deciding on a different approach. I extend a paw. “I’m Cabe. What’s your name?” I know I probably look scary to her, a mutant Lupe now, but I just needed to know.
“I’m Ari,” the Chomby says, taking my paw gently and shaking it. “Nice to meet you.”
“Yes,” I say softly, smiling at her, “it seems like I know you already.”
I can never return to my former life; all I can do is to keep running, racing ahead.