Vira's Dagger: Part One
Vira sat alone. The flames of the fire crackled and snapped before her; but they were no great company. She was still alone, just like she had always been.
Well, not always. The Acara’s hard, cruel eyes softened as she remembered another time. She remembered the happy days that she had shared with her parents and younger sister. But those were long gone. Even her sister had been reduced to a distant, faded memory. But it was those memories that were forever haunting her. Vira knew that no matter how much those memories faded, she would always know the pain of remembrance.
Expression blank, Vira leaned back against a tree trunk and warmed her hands by the fire, gazing into its flickering depths. The orange light danced over her fur and the tree trunks beyond, lending the whole clearing a spooky orange glow. But Vira’s mind was elsewhere, lost in the past.
Alani woke with a scream. She sat trembling in the dark for a moment, listening to the ordinary, household noises, before the baby Acara grabbed her green cybunny plushie and gently lowered herself to the floor. She stood there, clutching her beloved toy tightly to her chest for a minute or two, and then tiptoed quietly to the door.
Her sister’s room was right next to hers. Alani timidly peered around the doorway, her round baby eyes wide with fear.
“Vira?” she squeaked.
Her sister rolled over, and then lay still once more. Cautiously, Alani approached her bed.
“Vira?” she said again, a little louder this time.
Vira’s eyelids flickered, before opening slowly. She yawned, and looked over at the little Acara by her bedside.
“What is it?” she asked sleepily.
“I had a nightmare, Vira.”
The older Acara made room beside her. “Come here, Alani.”
Her sister clambered up on top of the sheets, still clutching her plushie in one paw. Vira waited for Alani to make herself comfortable. Then,
“Which one was it this time?” she asked gently.
“A new one, Vira.”
Alani shivered, and hugged her toy like she would never let go.
“Eliv Thade came into my room. He took Bunny. And... he tried to take me too!”
Vira tenderly stroked her sister’s head.
“I’d never let him do anything like that,” she said reassuringly.
Alani gazed up at Vira adoringly. Her big sister was also her best friend. She knew that Vira would always be there for her.
“Can me and Bunny stay with you for a little while?” she asked.
Vira smiled. “Of course, Alani.”
She rolled over again as Alani snuggled down beside her, pulling the blankets over her tiny head. The green Acara listened to Alani talking to Bunny for a little while, but soon both sisters were fast asleep. Alani had no further nightmares that night.
Vira was woken the next morning by the family angelpuss leaping up onto her bed.
“Snowflake,” she grumbled, pushing the petpet off her chest. He meowed in protest, then curled up happily enough by her feet.
Beside Vira, Alani stirred and opened her eyes. Blinking in the early morning sunlight, which seeped through the gap between the curtains, she sniffed, suddenly breaking out smiling.
“I smell pancakes!” she exclaimed, sitting up straight. “Let’s go, Vira.”
Alani raced off down the hall, holding Bunny by her side in one small hand. After a moment, Vira slid on her slippers and followed her. A small smile graced her pretty face. She loved her sister dearly. Alani could always make her happy, even when no-one else could.
“Come on, you lump,” she called to Snowflake, pausing by the door just long enough for the petpet to catch her up. She then proceeded down the hallway, past Alani’s room and her Father’s study. But before entering the kitchen, Vira stopped by the tall mirror in the hall. She made sure that the fur on her face was clean, and combed out her hair with her fingers. It would never do to appear untidy- anywhere!
“Good morning, Vee,” her mother sang as Vira entered the room. The cheery faced Acara was busy making pancakes. Nearby, Vira’s father and Alani sat at a small table. Alani moved Bunny off the seat beside her, allowing Vira to sit.
“Hi, Mum,” Vira responded, lowering herself onto the chair. Snowflake toddled hurriedly to the corner and sniffed at his food bowl. Seeing that it was empty, he began to meow plaintively.
“Sorry, Snow!” chirped Vira’s mother, carrying a plate of fresh pancakes towards the table. “You’ll have to wait.”
Vira too found herself waiting for breakfast, while her Father and Alani piled the pancakes onto their plates. As she waited, the young neopet admired her eyes in the reflective surface of her fork. They were a warm shade of gold. But in their depths lay hidden more than a touch of vanity. For Vira, although kind hearted, was a very vain creature. She was forever wishing that she could be more than just plain pretty. No. She wanted to be the most beautiful Acara in the whole of Neopia!
In the firelight, Vira smiled bitterly. Oh, yes. She remembered well that wish. It had seemed to be a fine one at the time, but any wish can be used against you if heard by the wrong ears. And the wrong ears had indeed heard her. Vira clenched her taloned hands in anger. Oh, yes. Forever would she remember that day. The day her life had begun to change forever...
It was a short while after breakfast. Alani was in the hallway, playing with her wind up kacheek toy. It whirred as it marched across the passage floor. Still whirring, it bumped into Bunny and toppled over, feet rhythmically moving backwards and forwards in mid-air.
Alani scrambled over to where the toy lay. She was about to put it back on its feet when Vira appeared around the corner. Her sister was heading for the door. Alani wondered where she was going. Maybe she could go too?
“Vira!” the little Acara called, stumbling towards her.
Vira turned. She waited for her sister to catch up.
“Where are you going?”
Vira smiled. “Where do I always go? I’m going to the Uni Meadows, of course!”
“Can I come too?” asked Alani, her eyes glimmering excitedly.
Vira shook her head. “No, Alani. Mum doesn’t like you going out without her, remember?”
“Oh,” said the baby Acara, and the disappointed look on her face made Vira want to cheer her up desperately.
“Tell you what,” Vira began. “I’ll bring you back a rose. You like roses, don’t you? You like the smell.”
Alani’s frown turned upside down immediately.
“I like the red ones best,” she said happily. “I’ll see you when you get back, Vira!”
With that, Alani turned and hurried back to her toys. Glad that she’d managed to distract her sister, who could be very persistent at times, Vira stepped outside. The front door clicked shut behind her. There was a mild breeze blowing, and it played with her long blond hair as the Acara girl set off along the path. Little did she know that she would return home a changed neopet...
The flowers swaying amongst the lush blades of grass were in full bloom. They lay before Vira like a great carpet, and she sighed contentedly, digging her toes into the soft grass. Here was the one place where she could truly be at peace. No matter how much Vira loved her family, it was nice to be able to be alone. She came to these meadows most days during summertime, to plait daisy chains into her hair and enjoy the sunshine.
With these thoughts in mind, Vira settled down among the flowers. There was a large rose bush nearby, its thorns and flowers stretching out towards the sky. She would have to remember to get one of those fragrant beauties before she left. But, for the time being, Vira sat back and began to thread daises together into long chains.
Flower after flower was grasped gently in her paw. But there came a time when it was not a daisy that she held, but a flower with delicate blue petals. For a moment, Vira blinked at it stupidly, but then her eyes grew sad. It was the loveliest bloom she had ever seen.
“Oh, little flower,” she sighed. “I wish I could be as beautiful as you. I wish I was the most beautiful Acara in the world!”
She looked up as a voice sounded nearby.
“You are pretty, young one,” it said. “But only I can make you truly beautiful.”
The Acara looked around, but no-one was there.
“Who said that?” she asked fearfully.
“Reach into the rose bush,” continued the voice. “Tell me what you find.”
Hesitantly, Vira went down flat on her stomach. With one paw, she groped around beneath the bush. For a while, all she felt there was the thorns pricking her skin. Then her hand brushed against something hard and cold. She recoiled instinctively, but curiosity quickly got the better of her, and she slowly drew the thing out into the open.
It was a mirror. The frame was jet black, decorated with pictures of thorny branches that twisted around and around each other until meeting at the top in a single, black rose.
“It’s a mirror,” Vira said, confused.
“Good girl,” praised the voice. Vira screamed, threw the object away. It landed with a rustle in the grass just a few feet in front of her.
“You’re a mirror!” she cried, stepping back.
“You needn’t fear me, child. I can make you beautiful. Look into me.”
Vira cautiously approached the object. Trying to keep her body as far away as possible, the young Acara craned her neck and looked down at the mirror’s surface. Her own face gazed fearfully back at her.
She was pretty; but not terribly so.
“What am I looking at?” she asked.
But as Vira watched, the image changed. Vira’s reflected hair appeared silkier than ever now, her features heartbreakingly perfect.
“Now you are the fairest Acara of all,” the mirror said.
Vira’s eyes widened with disbelief. A little squeak of astonishment escaped her.
“How...?” she began.
“Be silent. Now, pick me up.”
Vira lifted the mirror in her trembling forepaws, still staring at her reflected self. She was so beautiful; more so than she had ever even dreamt of being. But how was this possible? And how on Neopia was the mirror talking?
“I’m stunning,” she gasped.
“Indeed you are, child. Few in this world possess such looks as you do now. You are truly lucky to have met me.”
To be continued...