To Paint with Sparkles
A tiny, battered Kadoatie looked down at the world.
His patched hat slipped slightly off his head, but he did not reach to move it. His large, golden eyes were staring intently at the place he once called home. The place he clearly remembered was nearly vacant at this time of night. He longed to be off this cloud far above Neopia, and to be normal once more.
But he knew he couldn’t do that. He understood he had been given this job for a reason, and that he couldn’t back down now.
His navy blue cape draped around him gently, keeping him warm from the gentle breeze. The bottom fringe rippled in a slow, mesmerizing motion behind him. His red fur was slightly ruffled, and his tail swished gently behind him. Although he was homesick, his posture showed regality as he surveyed everything below him. He lacked what he once had, but he had gained a view to die for...
Without warning, his gaze snapped from his past to his present as he finally reached to fix his pointed hat. The sun was setting. Many people had already left the outdoors in search for candlelight and snug fireplaces. But this wasn’t the audience Colin was prepared to perform for. He was to help the others.
It was time.
With a subtle happiness, Colin raised his paws.
Clouds shifted slightly, as if they had been intently awaiting their cue.
With the appearance of a worn wizard, Colin drew a paint brush from his pocket. He gazed into the open sky from his own cloud, wielding the brush as if it was a wand. The brush glittered translucently, and Colin admired its sparkles.
With a sudden burst of speed, the paint began to twirl and pirouette through the air.
Colin leaned back, still flicking his paint brush. The entire sky looked plain, all the same colour of shaded grey. The shade of the clouds only changed when there were shadows dotting the sky, and Colin continued ignoring the multicolored sparkles coming from his wand. He never would have guessed this would soon change, never would have guessed on this first day of his job that things were about to become different...
Colin’s mind drifted to the home he once lived in, and a brilliant shade of red exploded from the paint brush. The red from his mailbox dripped across his sky, breaking the monotony of the grey.
He stared in shock. He had made a mistake, a horrible mistake that no amount of dull paint could cover. But as soon as his golden eyes met the memory, Colin understood.
With a single, intentional motion, he nodded and flicked more paint.
His mind burst of vivid memories, detailed scenes he would have given anything to be a part of once more. The purple of the flowers outside his door lined the lowest edge of the sky. Orange from the tangerines his owner used to share with him dazzled the clouds. A gentle, caressing feeling from the sun’s warmth inspired yellow. His owner’s favourite shirt trickled down the sky, a gentle blue used to transition into night...
To any fanatic of organization, this could have been a disaster. Yet Colin was fascinated for the first time in ages. He found true happiness well inside of him as he watched the paint dribble down the sky. It was far from perfect. Far from uniform and ordinary.
But Colin knew this was the way things were supposed to be.
As Colin’s smile grew, his face glowing with understanding, nobody noticed. He was far too high into the clouds. Yet he glowed with happiness, beamed although he was entirely alone. The colours comforted him.
Colin first heard the whisper. When he looked below his cloud, he could faintly see a tiny Zafara staring up at the sky, a mysterious awe surrounding her face. Magic enhanced vision allowed him to see that her face hinted of such shyness that he wasn’t sure she had even been the one to speak, or that she had ever spoken at all. A locket around her neck was open, and sparkles shimmered into it. She was simply admiring unintentional beauty, although she was all alone on a grass lawn.
That was the day Colin found himself beaming. Although it was different from the paint sparkles’ beams of light, he found he never wanted to let go of the feeling.
Lianna stared up at the sky, her brown eyes swirling a tale of unhappiness and abandonment. Yet at this time of the day, her brown eyes soon would glitter with happiness and awe. The sunset never got old. Yet she knew she couldn’t forget her past forever, that her few minutes of awe couldn’t make her forget she still lacked a solid owner...
Her blue fur rustled gently in the breeze as the sun crept lower and lower. The art gallery in the clouds would be on display soon. The tiny creature behind the artwork was certain to try something new every day, and she had never seen the same display twice in years. Since that first day, that first day of brilliant colour, she had never been disappointed. Her locket shone of the sparkles from day one, sparkles she had trapped inside of there to admire forever. How desperately she wished she could flutter through the clouds and the twinkling novas on her own....
Time crept on.
It was dark now. Everything had passed by colourless. And Lianna found, for the first time in two years, that she had been let down by the clouds. By the very thing she counted on in her world of uncertainty. She had been disappointed. Her Zafara eyes sparkling of crestfallen thoughts, she needed to know why the clouds hadn’t glittered. Where had the tiny kadoatie disappeared to, the kadoatie who brought colour to the dull sky?
Refusing to cry over something as ‘trivial’ as the sunset, she channeled her emotions into a new idea. A plan. Could she help get to the bottom of what had happened? All of Lianna’s life she had been sitting back, letting whatever came her way overwhelm her. But not tonight. No, Lianna realized with a sudden disgust how sick she was of this nonsense.
Her locket tingled gently, spreading warmth around her body. Lianna looked down in surprise, concerned to why her locket had decided to respond only tonight.
It did not make any more movement, and did not relent on the warmth.
The feeling was reassuring. It was guiding, caring, compassionate...
Lianna forgot all doubts she had about the sparkles. They were nothing to fear. Although she had never seen any signs of magic inside of her locket, she accepted the idea that it had stepped into action the very moment the sky needed it most.
She instinctively understood that the Kadoatie was still surrounded by the mists of the clouds. She instinctively knew that something was wrong, and she was the only one who could help. Lianna could not explain how she knew this, or why she felt so certain, but she knew there was only one thing to do. And only one way to get there.
Her locket shone a vivid red, and lifted from her neck. Her eyes widened as the air curled her fur, and the view below her grew less and less focused. This was not the same as having the faerie paint brush she had her eyes on, but it was probably the closest she’d ever get. Still attached, it continued raising her into the air, higher and higher until the lawn below here was merely a speck...
Colin shook at the cage desperately. He needed to get out. He had felt that the sunset had already passed, and although most wouldn’t notice, he knew that one would...
The cloaked figure smiled at Colin maliciously, beaming darkness and distress into his mind. It had not stated a word yet. It had not explained to Colin what was going on. All Colin knew was that it had snatched Colin off the cloud by force, and then locked him in this cage.
It was dark here. It smelled strongly of Poogle and forgotten secrets. Colin shivered as he shook the bars once more, and then allowed his gaze to reach the figure’s eyes. The only sound that filled this cloud was the muffled noise of a fountain, harshly pouring through the far side of another room, and then exiting back through the cloud in a shower of raindrops.
“Given up so soon?” The figure spoke for the first time, its voice merely more then a harsh whisper. “I’d expect more hope from the one who paints the skies.” He drew closer to the cage.
“I have hope. I just don’t understand why I’m here.”
The figure cackled slightly in amusement from beneath his mask. “You were appointed grand decorator of the skies. To paint pretty scenes of beauty and innocence. I want more power.” A faint snarl escaped from his mouth. “Darkness and secrecy. That is the night. Not vivid memories of your past. Not of everything that you love.”
Colin kept his expression the same, yet his eyes shone of faint embarrassment.
“Now that I have captured you and all your sparkles, the sky is mine. Darkness belongs to Neopia. Neopia will be different, and you will despise the change.”
“What if you don’t have all the sparkles?” Colin’s eyes shone with determination once more. The cloaked Poogle had forgotten something, had underestimated one detail...
The Poogle laughed. His grey eyes concealed all his emotions, a sea of darkness. “All of the sparkles from the brush eventually dissolve if used on the sky. They all dissolve, in time, if they aren’t kept together by magic. I’ll prove this by taking the brush, since only the true ruler of the skies can own it...”
The figure reached for the brush.
It would not slip from Colin’s hands.
The Poogle howled in rage. “How dare you trick me! Where are the other sparkles?! Why can’t I rule over you, right here and now?”
“Torture me...” Colin paused, the compassion and determination welling in his eyes. “You can do whatever you wish to me, but I will never tell you. I will never put her into danger.” His golden eyes flicked back into memory as he remembered the Zafara on the first night, wishing her dreams to the novas and caressing the sparkles. “There is nothing you can do to me to make me speak of the other sparkles.”
The Poogle snarled once more, and pound his fist on the cage. He moved as close to Colin as possible, making sure could feel every word on his face. “If you ever change your mind, let me know.” He took one step back, his paw holding the cage. “You’ll regret your stay here. You’ll regret you ever had compassion, just as I have...”
Lianna had chosen to land on the largest cloud in the sky. As far as people living in the clouds went, this the only city. She might as well start here, seeing as it’d be more of a guessing game to search the outskirts.
It was getting late. Few people were traveling on the fluffy clouds. But Lianna figured she had to try. Especially because she couldn’t bear sleeping as she knew that someone was in trouble.
She had to take action. Even if she lacked the wings that could help...
Lianna pushed the thoughts out of her mind as the scenery grew darker and darker, until she was sure midnight was approaching...
There was no longer anyone in sight. Maybe everyone still on was just in another part of town, or maybe they were all inside. Nervous feelings gathered in Lianna. She had not seen any sight of red kadoatie tails, and her locket had not changed anymore. She had been walking out here for hours, hours, wondering if she could do anything to save the kadoatie...
Lianna jumped a few feet into the air, and then turned to face the speaker.
A girl with blonde hair and blue eyes smiled shyly at Lianna. Her eyes twinkled of silent mischief and untold plots, yet her voice was barely a whisper. She almost looked as if she could be a faerie, if it wasn’t for the lack of sparkles and wings. “Oh, I’m sorry to startle you. I was just asking what you were doing out here, all alone, when it’s almost midnight. Lauryn over here noticed you were all alone as we walked to the store...”
“I’m... I’m... I’m...” Lianna’s words failed her as she noticed the faerie Wocky standing next to the girl. Where could she begin? What could she explain? “I’m looking for a red Kadoatie.”
“A red Kadoatie?” The girl looked puzzled. “Do you think we could help you? Was it your petpet? My name is Caralyn.”
“My name is Lianna.” The blue Zafara paused in contemplation. Should she explain her childish obsession? “The red kadoatie was not my petpet. But he means much to a lot of Neopians. He’s an artist. And I must find him, for I fear he is lost.”
“But couldn’t his owner find him?” Lauryn jumped into the conversation, her optimism and confusion shining.
“You see... both of us are ownerless.” Lianna’s eyes shimmered with pain as she looked down. “And I know he must be somewhere in these clouds.”
Caralyn’s mind reeled, looking for one last question. “But why do you have to find him?”
Lianna exploded with words.
The three had now walked to the outskirts of Faerieland. Nobody had said a word for minutes, still absorbing the tales Lianna had spoken of. It did make sense, at least in Neopia, but both Caralyn and Lauryn were shimmering with uncertainty.
Lianna’s feeble plea broke the darkness and silence. “Will you help me?”
Caralyn’s nod came first, and Lauryn’s followed after.
Without warning, the locket began to glow and pull Lianna off of the cloud, towards the darkest edge of Faerieland. She began rising in air, sparkles surrounding her, dancing lights brushing the other’s faces...
Caralyn climbed onto Lauryn’s back as she expertly rose into the air. Lauryn’s eyes were fixed on the sparkles, while Caralyn’s eyes were fixed on the novalight above.
As warmth filled Lianna once more, and she began to rise farther into the night, piercing darkness... for the first time in two years, someone had believed her tale about the sunset.
All eyes frightened, yet in awe of the sky, the three drifted farther and farther from the pastel clouds... deeper and deeper into the shadows...
Something. Something had to help Colin as he decided a way out.
Sparkles of vibrant green and vivid blue burst from his paint brush. He wasn’t giving up just yet. His golden eyes shimmered, searching for a plan, and his wizard hat shone slightly...
His eyes moved to the heavy wooden door sitting right in front of him. The fountain roared into this room, yet it brought no light or reassurance. His chains still held him to the wall. He had been moved to a cold dungeon, a filthy room of isolation...
Colin still needed a way out. He had to leave before someone came to find him. Before Lianna did something dangerous and got all of the sky into jeopardy. No, he couldn’t let her come save him. The only way the sparkles could be kept safe would never work...
Colin’s thoughts became sharper and clearer as he imagined the possibility. The one way it would work involved him giving up everything. He’d have nothing left, and it might not even work....
He resisted the urge to reject the idea. It could save all of Lianna’s hopes, fulfill her deepest dreams. It could save an entire sky from a power-thirsty Poogle. Colin needed to forget his greed, no matter how painful this could be...
His mind shifted back to present, wishing to deal with that whole idea later. He needed to explore plan A before imagining plan B. He was trapped in a dungeon with one exit, and with nothing but a sliver of bread. And a paint brush, of course. But what could that do in this situation? The pride of the clouds could only go so far.
An idea hit Colin. The only way to combine the two was rarely tried, and seemed illogical. But what else did he have, other than a rumbling stomach?
Colin picked up the bread, and with his mind occupied with faeries and purple skies, applied a thick coat of paint. Hoping that his paint brush had powers he had not realized, he watched as the faerie bread began to sparkle, shimmer, and glitter.
Yet Colin was not satisfied.
Thinking of the shadows of night, and the gloom of this dungeon, he carefully flicked words onto the hovering snack. The words were printed in a cross of calligraphy and handwriting, much too delicate for any normal kadoatie to have written.
He scooted back to survey what he had done. A decorated, flying slice of food now presented a message on its back. The message simply read, “Do not come to find me.” Basic, but made to get a point across. The bread dripped sparkles of faerie paint brush, proving that Colin’s brush had the ability to paint anything any colour.
Colin whispered a few words of direction to the bread, not caring how foolish he looked. The enchanted bread fluttered up and down in a nod, and then flew through the tiny crack the fountain had broken in the cloud...
“What do we do now?”
“We ignore it.” Lianna’s shy, soft face was now changed with confidence and determination. Her eyes shone of anger as she read the handwritten words on the soggy, flying bread once more. Did the Kadoatie think she was incapable? And of all things, why enchanted toast? “You can turn back, but I want to try even more now.”
Caralyn peered cautiously at Lianna, wondering what changed had taken place. Yet her thoughts drifted to her pet space, and how Lauryn needed a sister... “We aren’t turning back now. Whatever you’re going to do, you need help.”
Lianna beamed as her locket glowed brighter.
“Speaking of help, does your locket have any more clues to where he might be?” Lauryn looked at the necklace with curiosity.
“We’re going the right wa-” Suddenly Lianna screeched, and fell from where she was...
In terror, Lauryn swooped from the sky, blinded by the need to save Lianna. Lianna was silent now, trusting that whatever happened would not hurt. Yet Lauryn could not be so sure... Lianna’s luck could have been used up...
A fountain approached, and Lianna plugged her nose as she pierced the cloud through the hole the fountain had made...
The first sensation she felt was an overwhelming sense of distress and magic. It smelled strongly of Poogle, yet surrounding darkness and water clutched Lianna. She opened her mouth to speak, yet no words escaped. Despair threatened to overwhelm her as water covered her entire body, and she rushed down the waterfall-like fountain.
Suddenly a burst of warmth erupted from the necklace as Lauryn and Caralyn joined her from through the fountain. Lianna was dumped onto the fluffy floor as the fountain water fit through a crack much too small for a Neopet. Moonlight was invading this place rapidly, along with the presence of hope.
A dark figure emerged from the few shadows, choking Lianna with terror. The ominous feeling this creature brought made her revert to shyness and fear, back to how she once was. Yet, at that same moment, she saw two golden eyes that cleared her throat once more...
“What is the purpose of this?” Lianna looked braver since the last time Colin had seen her. Yet Colin grimaced, seeing as the locket had obviously pulled her here when it was the last object the Poogle needed...
Lianna’s face scanned the scene, and took note of the metal chains surrounding Colin. Shadows covered everything, hiding the villain’s expression.
“The sparkles,” the Poogle whispered in awe, staring at the shimmering locket.
Lianna clutched her necklace instinctively.
“Hand over the sparkles, and Colin over here will be released. Hand over this locket, and all will be well...”
“Don’t listen, Lianna!” Colin frantically scrambled from his chained position. “Hand over the necklace, and the sky will never glitter again...”
Lianna stared with uncertainty, wondering what to do next. How had ‘Colin’ learned her name? Had he heard her whispers to the Novas, had he heard all she had to say...?
Colin had already made up his mind.
As the Poogle lunged, Lianna cringed, and Colin flung his paint brush... time seemed to freeze. The chaos was in slow motion, and nobody seemed to be in the lead...
Colin’s mind focused on pastel clouds, on the simple determination Lianna possessed, and on faerie wings. His mind was overwhelmed with memories of all who had meant something to him, to his every happy thought, to the dreams of an owner and tales of faerie wings Lianna had whispered years ago...
The paintbrush missed Lianna, and hit Caralyn.
Although it looked accidental, Colin had known what he was doing. Caralyn’s clothes turned a lighter shade, her blonde hair sparkled, her blue eyes now included a shade of green, a gentle marking appeared on her head...
Yet the most miraculous difference was a tail.
Her tail glittered in brilliant light, a dazzling blue in a transformed cavern...
Colin looked away as Caralyn picked up the paintbrush and dipped it into the fountain behind her. The fountain turned a crystal blue, magic seeping throughout it. The hole in the floor began to close up, spraying water throughout the cloud.
Things were beyond his control now.
All traces of evil were disappearing fast, along with Colin’s chains and the Poogle’s confidence...
As he completed his last feeble lunge for Caralyn, he lost his balance and fell into the fountain. Mystical waters enveloped him, and molded him into something else, molded him into the ugliest of Neopets. The Poogle howled and screamed as he began to dissolve, and then withered into nothingness...
Everyone stared into the glistening fountain, trying to soak up all the details of what had just happened. There was complete silence for minutes, confusion and shock overwhelming the room.
Caralyn broke the quiet first by reaching out an arm and placing the paintbrush into Colin’s paw. “I believe this belongs to you.”
The group looked down to realize the cloud was slowly filling with water as Colin spoke quietly. “But you’re a faerie now. This rightfully belongs to you.”
Caralyn shook her head and pointed at the fountain. “The fountain does the same thing the paint brush does. It is all I need. Do you believe my fountain can paint someone?”
“Only one way to find out.” Colin spoke slowly. “Dream thoughts of clouds, wings, and flying with the novas..."
Lianna felt a warm sensation surround her as the water reached her knee. The sparkles enveloped her, the same sensation her locket brought, and she felt delicate wings sprout from her back...
“One dream down, Lianna.” His voice was soft in astonishment, almost in awe by what his paint brush had done. Lianna was covered in sparkles from head to toe. “One more to go.”
By the next sunset, Caralyn was the proud owner of one more pet and a magical fountain. Although the waters were not flawless, a smile overwhelmed her entire face as the first visitor waded in its shallow waters, the ‘Fountain Faerie’ fulfilling their dreams and whispered wishes...
And to this day, if you glance into the Neopian sky each sunset, you will see the artwork of one worn wizard. The masterpiece of one old kadoatie with bright golden eyes...