The Shadow of Neopia
My story begins in Neopia Central, and to be honest, doesn't really have an ending. Not yet, anyway.
I go shopping in the middle of the night. There aren't as many others around, you see. Restockers are asleep after their long days of haggling, or sniping items for a price much, much lower than what they will eventually resell them at. The rest are asleep because, really, it's the sensible thing to be doing in the middle of the night.
But not me. Which is a good thing. Because if I had been safe at home, tucked up in bed like a sensible Neopian, I wouldn't have this story to share.
It was a warm night. I could see Kreludor clearly, not a cloud to be seen. It was peaceful, quiet. Too quiet, I thought. I pondered this a moment longer, shrugged it off, and went about my shopping.
The Neopian Petpet Shop had nothing. No Buzzers. No Flightning Bugs. Not even a Spyder.
Starlight Potion. Stream of Light. What about a Nova? I couldn't find any of them, and I couldn't find Kauvara. Why would she leave her Magic Shop unattended?
A couple of very unappetising Bitten Green Apples lay in the Food Shop, and even if I had wanted to buy one or two, no one was around for me to pay for them.
What was going on here? Where was everyone?
I wandered out of the Food Shop and sat down on a couple of rocks by the Rainbow Pool in defeat. I wasn't going to get any shopping done tonight. I sighed, and was about to get up and make my way home when I saw the water in the pool ripple. Did I do that? No... But there was no wind, no leaves from the Money Tree had fallen to cause the effect. A gust of wind brushed past me. Once. Twice. It came at me from the left, the right, every direction, circling me, swallowing me, swallowing me whole into nothing but black.
I froze. I couldn't see a thing. Nothing. I tried to cry out, but choked on my words.
A light flashed on. Another. Useless lights, I thought, I could still see only black. Only the yellow pierced the darkness. They flickered. They were... blinking? I suddenly felt as if I were being watched.
A voice broke the heavy silence. The most agonized, pained voice I had ever heard. It filled me with a deep sadness, a sorrow I had never known. I felt its pain. I was overcome by the voice, nothing else mattered at this moment, my thoughts withdrew into the black, I felt drained, as if I could no longer move, all I could do was listen.
"I have longed for you," the voice began.
Me? This... this... thing, had longed for ME?
"Not YOU!" it bellowed. It could read thoughts? "Anyone. Anything. I must tell my story. And you will listen."
To my surprise, I wanted to listen, I wanted to know. I was afraid, but I HAD to know. I knew I had no choice either way.
Somehow, the black grew blacker, it grew smaller, smaller, sleepy, sleepy...
"Hey - you playing or what?"
Huh? I opened my eyes, bright sunshine brushed warmth upon my face. I felt good. I had been dozing.
"Coming!" I yelled in excitement. "No, going!" I laughed. A game, my favourite game, Kacheek Seek was beginning. I had to find somewhere to hide! I'm the best, you know. At hiding. It can take hours for my friends to find me. I don't know why, I mean, I'm so colourful, I kind of stick out. I guess I pick places to hide that no one thinks anyone would be crazy enough to check out in the first place. Sometimes I pick rotting trees, or a deep, dark hole, or rundown buildings that look about to fall down. Anywhere there are lots of shadows to dart in and out of.
Running about frantically, I nearly passed a small alleyway. It was like a junk yard of some sort. Boxes of all shapes and sizes lined the walls, broken toys littered the path, discarded clothing was scattered all over the place. It was disgusting. It was PERFECT!
Kicking toys aside, climbing and jumping over boxes, I found a spot between two large containers I could squeeze myself into. I grabbed a piece of an old Fuzzy Pink Blanket and covered myself with it. Excellent! No one will find me for ages!
I sat humming to myself for a while. I always meant to bring a puzzle or something to entertain myself with while I waited to be found, but I always forgot. But I didn't mind, not really. It was the only time I got to be alone.
Although I was already deep within the shadows, a slight darkness covered me, I guessed my friends had found me and were hovering to see if I'd notice. (Sometimes I'd fall asleep). Aw, they found me so soon? It had only been three or four hours...
"Alright, guys, you got me, not such a great hiding place this time huh, am I losing my touch?" I asked, pulling the blanket off me. My friends weren't there.
Weird, I thought. Someone had definitely been there, I was sure of it.
The shadows I was hiding among grew darker. I knew they changed and moved as the sun made its way across the sky, I'd spent time during previous games watching them. But this was happening unusually fast. A kind of purple haze surrounded me as the shadows deepened. I couldn't see much anymore. I could make out shapes, but colours, not really.
I gasped when I heard the footsteps. Slow but steady, they became louder as they neared where I was. They abruptly stopped just before reaching me. I couldn't see who or what the footsteps belonged to. Then, a voice as dark as my surroundings caused me to flinch. So loud... I wanted to cover my ears, but I couldn't move. I was too afraid.
"I've been watching you for quite some time. You, with your bright colours, the reds, the yellows, oh! But you hide away in here! It makes no sense to me! No sense! You don't deserve those colours. Not at all. Ah, but I. I want them. I NEED them. And I shall have them. And you. You shall have your precious shadows. You will see. You will see what it's like. What it's really like. You, Usul, will never see your beautiful Rainbow colour again. You will never see your friends. Your family. You think you like your time alone now. There is plenty of alone ahead. Ah, but you will have your shadows. And I will be free."
The Faerie stepped in front of me, I could see her now. The eerie purple glow which surrounded her enabled me to see the menacing look on her face, hands bawled into fists. I would have said she was ready to burst into tears if her anger hadn't consumed her so long ago. Her ugly, hateful self lunged at me, covered me. I begged her to stop, I cried, I screamed, I...
I now knew what... no, who, had made the water ripple. The yellow lights. They weren't lights. Eyes. Eyes filled with such rage, although I could see now the agony behind them. I understood. The Shadow Usul wasn't really... evil. She was but a prisoner, trapped inside the wrath of a Dark Faerie. She was once so happy, living among Neopians who loved her.
The darkness left almost as fast as it had come, and the Usul with it. I was bathed in moonlight and drenched in my own tears. What a story. What a sad, lonely story.
So, that's it. It's been a few hours. I'm home now. But I'm not staying. Not for long. I can't do nothing, I WILL find that Faerie. She WILL return what rightfully belongs to the Shadow Usul.
Wish me luck. I think I'm gonna need it. And I advise you not to play Kacheek Seek... too often.