Kauvara turned the lights on.
The shadows that had decorated the shop in its darkness, in the middle of night, had disappeared. Nobody else was in here. The magic potions were safe in her shop, safe in their shelves. Nobody had figured out a way to get past her magic, and she was quite alone. By herself.
A sigh of relief escaped from her starry Kau body.
True, there was someone occupying her shop almost all hours of the night. Allita, her sister, would watch the shop. Kauvara was in the shop twelve hours or more a day, making new potions or selling old ones. But this was the rare hour when nothing happened in the potion shop. The sun was not even up yet. Kauvara always took this time to survey the shop herself. She preferred the morning hours, when all was quiet.
She picked up a rag from her desk, and began gently dusting potion after potion. Some were filthy and covered in ages of dust, unwanted potions that were as old as Neopia itself. Others were far newer, and in far greater demand. These had virtually no dust, but she still ran the rag over them. The better condition the potion was in, the more it was worth.
The light was beginning to creep in through an ancient window when a knock broke the silence. Startled, Kauvara jumped. She slowly snuck to the door, cautious and concerned. Nobody ever knocked on the door at this time. She was always alone. For many years, nobody had ever, ever knocked.
But there had been that one time...
Kauvara opened the door as she tried to forget her memories.
There was nobody there.
Puzzled, she walked back into the middle of the store and tried to wipe the dust off of more bottles. However, it was not the same now. Her uneasy feelings were evident now.
This was exactly what had happened last time. The first time, many years ago...
“Klum, do you like being a magician?” A young Kau looked into her uncle’s mysterious eyes from a seat over.
Klum’s red Kau face looked away as he thought. His eyes sparkled mysteriously and with knowledge. A rare sparkle that the young Kau had never seen in anyone else’s eyes. He turned back to his niece, and smiled at her. “The only hard part is when someone asks you to create a potion you do not know. And that is so rare. When you love what you do, it’s never boring.”
“Could... could I be a magician someday? Could I help you?”
Klum’s face turned to disappointment. His eyes reflected empathy and sorrow. Yet his words, his words were so carefully chosen, the young Kau would not realize he was sad until many years later. “You could help me.” He looked away before the young Kau on his lap realized he had not addressed the first question.
“KAUVARA, IT’S TIME TO GO!”
The young Kau’s eyes widened. “I should tell Daddy that I want to be a magician someday. He may be able to help me! Well, I have to go. Nice seeing you, Uncle.”
The young Kau jumped out of the chair, and ran to the door, ran to tell her father.
“He won’t help her. He won’t do anything more than crush Kauvara’s dreams...”
Klum sighed and leaned against the brick wall, unhappily looking at the ceiling above him. His fingers moved in a fidgeting motion, desperately trying to figure out a way to help. But nothing came to mind; nothing could be done.
A young yellow Shoyru looked at the sky.
The grass surrounding him was comfortable and calm. Crickets chirped nearby, and the heat from the summer sun still rested on each blade. The clouds above him glistened with mysterious whispers, told him stories he could not even begin to write down. The stars twinkled back at him, shining, calming him.
He had wings. But this was still all of Neopia he could see right now. All he could see in all directions, endless grass, endless sky.
He knew that somewhere, out there, there would be a building. And another. And soon there would be more pets than grass, more buildings than sky.
But he also knew that the people and buildings could never, never outnumber the blades of grass. They could never outnumber the stars.
Chance closed his eyes, almost comforted although he was the only pet in this vast area of millions.
The only thing that could make this moment perfect would be to blend in. To be painted shadow...
“What’s wrong?” Allita’s face looked concerned as she watched Kauvara rip off her necklace, and slam it into the table.
“Everything.” She looked at her sister with a pouting face, hoping for a solution.
“Is Father trying to convince you to work in the shop? Again?”
“No. He’s demanding it. He’s saying I can’t do anything else, that I have to work in the shop. When you know I’ve wanted to be a magician for a long time, ever since we used to visit Klum’s house when we were little. You know that I was getting ready to pack for school this week, to go learn magic...”
“I won’t let him ship you off to that smelly store without me sharing a bit of my own input.” Allita firmly stomped her feet onto the floor and got off of the bed.
“You’re just saying that because you’re the youngest. You’re just saying that because you won’t be working in the shop as long as Dad can communicate with me. As long as we’re both around. You’ll get to live your dreams. You’ll get to do whatever you want. But I’m stuck here.”
“You’re just saying that because you haven’t heard half of what I can do.” Allita turned back to her sister, determination shining in her eyes. “I promise I will help you in any way possible, even if that means I have to help run the shop.”
Kauvara hugged her spotted Kau sister, appreciation shining in her eyes. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that.”
“I knew you didn’t.” Allita shook her head at this whole mess. “I knew that wasn’t you.”
“They’re cutting down the forest.”
Chance spit his hot chocolate out of his mouth, spraying it all over the table.
“I... I... I...”
“It’s okay, Chance. You know how they’ve been saying that the Neohome developer wants homes there, and would pay us? Well, the price is even higher now! We’ll have neighbors, and we’ll get some points for all that empty grass nobody wants!”
Chance stared at his brother, his Shoyru brother with the excited blue face.
“They can’t tear it down! Can we stop them?!” Chance stood up, frantic now.
“Why not? I mean, we can’t stop it. Wasn’t our choice.”
Chance could not feel his wings. His wings that had so often flown through those skies, the wings that had rested on that grass. One of the few open areas in Meridell, and it all belonged to him.
Chance stumbled out the door.
The fact this land belonged to family members long gone, and now it was his responsibility... it hurt almost as much as the fact it wasn’t his anymore. It was all his young mind could handle.
“I could never thank you enough, Allita.” Kauvara beamed as she held her suitcase as she boarded the magnificent ship to her destination. “Telling Dad to hire someone else was the best idea I have ever heard of. I could never thank you enough...”
“Thank me by learning all you can while you’re there.” Allita nodded, her spotted Kau head almost reflecting the smile that Kauvara shone. She was smiling brighter than anything Allita had ever seen.
Kauvara was halfway on, halfway off now. “Wait!!”
“I left my necklace next to my bed. Will you take good care of it?” Kauvara smiled jokingly.
“The best.” Allita returned a smile as she waved goodbye.
“I’ll be back in three months, for a break. I’ll be sure to write before that.”
“See you then.”
A final wave, and Kauvara’s starry Kau body was not to be seen.
“So, Chance, you never told me what you wanted for your birthday.”
Sam looked at his brother through encouraging eyes, but Chance stared right through him.
“I want our field to stay.”
“Chance, will you let this go? I don’t want to see it go either, but think of all we can buy with the money!”
Chance lifted his puny Shoyru paw to his brother, not tempting him to fight, but showing how serious he was. “I want the field. I want to fly in that field someday painted shadow, painted the colour of the sky at night, and being able to blend in with the clouds, being able to be almost like a vapor...”
“You think too much.”
“But it’s true!”
“I don’t care, alright? You think too much for a little kid. There’s only one side to this Neopia, you know, and that means there is hardly any room for neohomes these days. Just tell me you want a new skateboard or a bike or even some of those Math Blocks. Just tell me something else. I can’t give you a new field. I can’t let you have our old one.”
“But I don’t want anything else!”
Sam snarled in frustration, a noise that seemed unlikely to come from his Shoyru mouth. He stomped off towards his room in anger, trying to decide how to deal with his little brother.
“You have to be kidding me!” Allita screamed in disbelief at her father.
“I’m not. I wish the guy we hired wasn’t a fake.”
“DO SOMETHING BESIDES MAKING HER COME HOME!”
“No new person is up for the job.”
“I would be! Anyone, anyone but Kauvara! I want to watch my older sister follow her dreams. I am not as determined to do anything as she is. She’s only been at the school long enough to learn magical brewing. Please. I told her I’d do anything to help, and even if that meant me running the store...”
“Allita, be quiet.” Her dad spoke with a firm voice. “All she needs to know for the job is magical brewing. And you’re a few years younger than your sister. She’s barely old enough to run a shop herself. You cannot run the shop alone. And the shop must run in the family. What am I to do? Send Kauvara a letter. Tell her... tell her she must come home. Tell her to stop dreaming about something that is never going to happen.”
Allita tied Kauvara’s necklace around her neck, and stared at her dad defiantly. “You do it.”
With that, she walked out of the room.
Chance stood at the doorway.
“Where are you going?”
“I’m going to find more land.”
“What? If the field is not by the house, I am NOT letting you go there regularly by yourself...”
“I’m not finding a field for me.”
“Chance, what are you doing?! And can I help?”
Chance shook his head. But much to his own surprise, he shook it up and down. “You know, I really think I could use your help.”
Kauvara walked into the shop. Early morning. All alone.
Today was day one. She had time to figure out how to make new potions. But thankfully her dad wasn’t going to throw her into the job without any help. All the shelves were filled to the brim with potions, potions made for her by her dad. Potions made by a man who had forgotten that he was retired for these days, just to help.
Kauvara felt blessed to have these potions. But she could still not forget the life away from this shop. Kauvara picked up the nearest potion.
A tear fell down her face. Allita had tried so hard to help Kauvara, but even that wasn’t enough. Allita was going to be her assistant, even less than Kauvara, for all of her work. And there was nothing, nothing Kauvara could do about it.
And for Klum? Klum was gone now. Klum had died. Along with Kauvara’s dream, it seemed, although he had died years before this moment in Kauvara’s life.
She shined the bottle with a tiny rag. But she could not stop herself from staring into the reflection off of a bottle on a shelf, staring into her own unhappy eyes. It was a reflection of who she was, and now who she was going to be.
She wiped her tear off with her starry Kau paw. She would just have to turn this into her own sort of adventure.
Right as she was trying to encourage herself, a knock at the door rang throughout the shop.
Chance and Sam flew over the field. The starlight guided them.
Hours and hours. They flew for what felt like ages, what felt like entire lifetimes. Yet somehow neither of their wings hurt. Neither brother said a word now, but both knew where they were going. They weren’t going to find a new field for them. But rather a new field for others.
Chance ran the date through his head. June 23, 2006. A good date for something new to happen. A day for change.
After all the hours melted together, into a blur of thoughts and flying, they finally halted. When there was a borderline drawn in the ground.
Perhaps it was just their imagination, but there was a line to them. Something said nobody had ever gone past this point. Something said nobody ever went this way, that everyone was always far too concerned with current lands in Neopia. Maybe it was the overgrown weeds, and the fact they were on the top of a mountain.
Or maybe it was because this land was new.
Chance felt the wind blow as he reached to take a step.
As the two traveled deeper and deeper past this imaginary line, and they began to fly once more, they both realized one thing.
They were the first pets to visit the other side of Neopia.
Kauvara opened up the door and glanced all around her.
Nobody was even supposed to be awake at this hour. So why was there knocking on her door?
Kauvara shook her head. Insanity.
She walked back to a table, and continued dusting a bottle.
This time, the knocking on the door was more apparent. It was a desperate attempt to barge in. Terrified, Kauvara backed away from the front door. She tried to hide. By the time she realized that it was coming from the back door, it was too late.
The door fell off its hinges, and a very disgruntled Scorchio took its place.
He lifted a wand and began to mutter angrily. In his insane state, he turned to Kauvara, who was now trembling, and spoke something clearly to her.
“Thanks for taking my job.”
With that, he pushed Kauvara to the floor, and put the wand to her neck.
“And they say I can’t use magic.”
The next day, as soon as Chance had arrived home, the other side of Neopia had become visible to the rest of the population.
Sam had heard that there was no longer a need to build neohomes on the field. There were bigger areas to explore, bigger opportunities. Sam had declared there had been no point to their trip. Chance disagreed.
As Chance realized he would no longer be able to afford a Shadow Paint Brush to complete his look, he sank deeper in the grass. The homes being built here would have been the only way it would have worked. He had his field, but he didn’t have his color. Either way he could have lost, either way had its downfalls...
Chance stood up.
He had an idea. Some would call it useless, especially at this time of morning, but Chance knew that ‘useless’ ideas had a better chance of succeeding. He knew that he could change more than if he sat around.
Kauvara whimpered but tried to figure out a solution. What magic did she have on hand that could get her out of this madman’s grip? I’m alone. Entirely alone. And the only magic I learned was potion making. I didn’t learn anything else...
Just then, more footsteps.
A flying fist came through the air, and knocked the Scorchio to the ground. He fell as if he was in slow motion.
The face of Kauvara’s protector appeared in slow motion as well.
Her father stood above her, with his Shadow Kau paws holding on to the Scorchio.
“Came to check on you, and recognized this freak’s voice.” He lifted the Scorchio by his tail, and watched him struggle and dangle in the air. “I’m sorry if he was a trouble... The Chia Police are already on their way... I wouldn’t have guessed he wanted revenge...”
Kauvara did not whine. Rather, she hugged her dad as soon as the police had taken the Scorchio out of his hands.
“I know you don’t mean any harm. I just have to figure out how I can change Neopia from this little shop, rather than being a magician...”
The door knocked again.
Kauvara jumped a few feet, snapped out of her memories. Her eyes widened, and she began to tremble, slightly.
Picking up the deadliest potion, she quietly opened up the door once more.
An innocent looking Shoyru peered in.
He was covered in bits of grass. He looked at Kauvara with hope in his eyes. That she could make his year with whatever she had in her shop. That she could help him.
“How can I help?” Kauvara’s eyes looked around suspiciously, still unsure if the madman had escaped once more. It was a fear she held with her, even though that was years ago. If her dad hadn’t come in to check on her right at that time...
“I’m sorry I knocked twice. I kinda chickened out the first time.” The young Shoyru smiled a toothless smile, indicating just how young he was. “I do hope you’re not upset.”
“No, of course not.” Kauvara shook off the entire frightful scene that had formed in her mind. “I’m fine.”
“Um... do you have any Shadow Shoyru Morphing Potions in stock? Something, anything, that would make me a shadow Shoyru?” Chance looked up hopefully, his eyes shining brilliantly.
“I don’t have anything like that in stock. Sorry.” Kauvara turned away, and began to walk back to her table. Back to solitude.
Chance’s shoulders drooped and he began to walk away, slowly, out of the shop. The realization that he would never be a Shadow Shoyru, blending in with the sky, the grass, a vapor swirling through the air, a shadow... he had almost prepared himself for this. Almost.
Kauvara looked back up as soon as he reached the door.
Her mind flashed back to all the times when she had been his age, a kid at Klum’s house.
Memories appeared of her as a kid, wishing for things, and usually getting them. The details were vague now, after years of forgetting them. But one thing stood out in her mind, and it was the remembrance of her biggest wish when she was little. And being denied it.
He’s just like I was.
“Wait!!” Kauvara’s voice rang through the shop. “I may be able to help.”
Chance turned around, hope dancing in his eyes. Along with disbelief.
“I was being honest. I have no Morphing Potion. But I have something better. Something nobody else has ever used, and something they said would be far too dangerous to put into use in Neopia.”
Chance looked at Kauvara suspiciously.
“It has no name.” Kauvara clicked a number of combination locks and opened a drawer. “It is a prototype. And will always be one. My first vial. And my last.” Kauvara sighed as she placed it onto the desk. “If I put it into my shop, ANYONE could be painted Plushie. Faerie. Any of those expensive colours. And maybe a billion new colours. For cheaper. I can’t let anyone use it. They ordered me to destroy the potion... but I couldn’t.”
Chance got the picture. He reached for the vial, in awe.
“Close your eyes. And hope. Wish for your shadowy colour, wish that all would be right, wish for whatever dreams you want. And even if this colour ends up being something that is taken away from you someday, like a Boochi visit, know that it is for a reason.”
Chance did just what she asked him to do.
Sparkles of brilliant colour surrounded him. Gold, silver, purple, yellow, orange, black, blue, pink, green, red, white, and every shade between. The colours started out as a vast amount of shades, a random cluster of colours, but they all slowly turned darker and darker around Chance, they came in closer to him, they felt cooler and cooler against his skin...
He opened his eyes, and he was a shadow, nearly transparent in a unique sort of way, and gently blending in with all around him...
Chance looked at Kauvara in shock.
“But why?” Chance stared in disbelief, stared at Kauvara, hoping for an explanation.
“When I set this vial into the drawer,” Kauvara stated quietly, with a nearly embarrassed tone, “I see my reflection. I see me, in this magic shop. But when I took it out of the drawer, I saw your reflection. I saw all you could be. All you will be.”
Chance did not understand. But Kauvara knew he might someday.
“Do not tell anyone of the potion.”
“I would never think of doing so.”
As he thanked her a million more times, and began to float out of the shop, Kauvara thought back.
She realized, that although she had never been the magician she had wanted to be, she had achieved much more fulfilling things here in the shop. She had made greater things than she would have made. She had helped more people than she would have helped. And here, she allowed the Shoyru to see what it was like to be the colour of his dreams. She had, in a way, given herself a second chance.
Yet she realized she was happier now, knowing that the rest of her family was happy, and that no phony was running the family store. She knew that Allita hadn’t been forced to work here, as Kauvara went to chase her own dreams. She knew that Klum would have been proud, no matter what. And she knew that this job was the job truly meant for her.
There were fewer bits of guilt and regret in her than she knew she would have owned if she would have been a magician.
Kauvara realized she was happier now than she would have been.
Chance soared through the air. His wings of shadow caught the wind, and he swirled, flew, and moved with the faint light coming from the sunrise. He reflected the light of the twinkling novas above him, and felt the breeze pass over him. He flew through cloud after cloud, his eyes closed, him being happier than he had ever been while flying.
He looked down and saw all of the field below him. He saw all of the grass below him. And he thought of what Kauvara had meant.
“I see my reflection. I see me, in this magic shop. But when I took it out of the drawer, I saw your reflection. I saw all you could be. All you will be.”
Chance flew faster, faster now.
He wanted to fly his fastest as the sun began to rise. He wanted to see the start of what Kauvara had seen.