Grey is Only a Color
It was a flash of lightning that awoke the Grey Ixi. Like waking from a deep dream, her heart raced at the sound of the thunder that quickly followed. There was something terribly wrong. Why was she lying in the forest of the Haunted Woods? How did she get there? Most importantly, what was her name? Panic rushed through her veins as she jumped up on all fours, another flash momentarily blinded her. Once her eyes readjusted to the darkness (which was extremely hard in the dark forest), the Ixi noticed a Grey Faellie that must have been lying next to her.
“Hey, get up...” The name of this Faellie was on the tip of the Ixi’s tongue but it faded away like a distant memory. Did this mean she knew this small petpet?
The Faellie stirred and lifted her eyelids to reveal sad red eyes. The Ixi noticed a flicker in the petpet’s eyes as well. It was like recognition, but since petpets couldn’t talk, the Ixi knew the Faellie wouldn’t be able to tell her who either of them were.
The thunder cracked above them. Through the bare tree branches, she swore she could see the sky shaking. When she looked back down, she noticed for the first time the arms in front of her. They were grey, too. She didn’t know much about what was going on or who she was, but one thing was for sure: she knew she wasn’t supposed to be a Grey pet.
She felt a nudge and looked at the Faellie at her hind legs.
“You’re right, we should get out of here,” she said and allowed the Faellie climb up on her back.
Even though she was getting extremely confused, the more she tried to remember everything, the less she came up with. She knew that for their safety, they should probably get out of the forest and away from the storm. Then at least she could hear herself think.
None of her problems were solved when the two left the forest and entered the hustling and bustling Haunted Woods. Ghost Meepits ran by in front of her talking feverishly in a language she did not know. There were multiple howls being heard in the distance, and maybe it was her imagination, but she swore the ground beneath her was shaking from whatever was beneath her. The Brain Tree moaned and the Esophagor roared.
“We need to get out of here!” she told the petpet perched on her back as she started picking up her speed. She was trying not to stare too long and the ghoulish creatures that roamed the streets with her, fearful of what they might do if she stared one second too long. However, did the two blend in because of their appearance? Surely a Faerie Ixi would gather more attention in this dark place than the grey color she was wearing that blended into the background.
The light bulb went off in the Ixi’s head. She’d go to Faerieland! The faeries knew everything. There was bound to be at least one faerie that could help her. She raced out of the remainder of the Haunted Woods and beyond the green pastures she could see Faerieland. It was in the ground. Right, she knew that at least. So, that must mean her case of amnesia must be recent since she knew Faerieland wasn’t in the sky anymore. “I think we might be onto something,” she said almost happily, a tone she hadn’t been feeling since she woke up in the dark forest of the Haunted Woods.
It was a sudden contrast of color from the Haunted Woods and Faerieland. Black turned into bright purple, grey turned into blue, and polluted green was now yellow. It started to soothe the Ixi, like she knew she would be helped. That was when she saw the Rainbow Fountain. The Fountain Faerie would definitely be able to help her! Maybe she could change her back... to whatever color she was before this.
Trotting past the Healing Springs with the Faellie on her back, she approached the Fountain Faerie, who was sitting on a perch playing with the water with her fingers, her full golden hair falling over her shoulders. The Fountain Faerie looked up when the Ixi approached and told her, “All the magic is gone.” She frowned and started to go back to playing with the water.
“I need your help,” the Ixi said. “I just woke up in the Haunted Woods with this Faellie and I know I’m not supposed to be Grey.”
The Fountain Faerie looked up, curiosity etched into her face. “What were you before?” she asked.
The Ixi shook her head. She hadn't really thought this through, had she? She was just assuming someone would be able to help her. “Well,” she started, trying to form words that made sense. “I don’t remember who I am. I woke up and I was Grey. I don’t know anything, but I know I’m not supposed to be this color.”
“Do you belong to anyone, young friend?” she asked, sitting more upright and staring intensely at the Ixi and her companion.
“I... I...” It was another thing she barely thought of. She had no idea who she was but she also had no idea if she had an owner. “I don’t remember,” she finished, defeat in her voice.
“I am sorry but I don’t think I can help you with your color. My magic is all gone right now....” the water faerie explained and started to tap her chin. “I hate to give you this suggestion but maybe you should try and go to the pound? I’m sure there are some lovely owners that would like to adopt you.”
The young Ixi hung her head. These weren’t the words she was looking for. “Thanks for the help,” she said sincerely before turning around and walking away from the Fountain. She kicked at some of the grass, clearly upset. The Fountain Faerie suggested that she head to the pound in Neopia Central. What kind of Neopet willingly went to the pound? What if no one wanted to adopt her?
“Why so sad?”
She looked up and saw a Baby Xweetok looking at her curiously. The Xweetok’s eyes were big and round as she stared into the Ixi’s. She didn’t exactly know how to respond and before she did a Striped Pteri flew over to them.
“Aphrodite, I told you not to wander off! I go to collect our winnings from the Wheel of Excitement and I turn around and you’re gone!” the Pteri explained, waddling a little bit back and forth in place.
“Sorry, Arty. I just saw how sad she was and asked why she was sad.”
The Pteri looked at the Ixi for the first time. “Oh, hi. I didn’t even notice you at first. I’m Artemis. What’s your name?”
It was a question the Ixi could not answer. “I don’t know. I just woke up in the Haunted Woods and don’t remember anything.” The story was starting to wear the Ixi thin. How many times would she have to repeat it?
Both Artemis and Aphrodite looked at her. “You don’t remember anything?” Artemis asked.
She shook her head, “No.”
“Who’s your owner?” Aphrodite asked, her voice growing higher at each word.
“I don’t think I have one,” the Ixi admitted truthfully.
“Why are you Grey?” Aphrodite asked again and Artemis hissed at her younger sister, “Dite, we don’t ask questions like that.”
“It’s ok. I wish I knew. I know I wasn’t Grey before. I just don’t know anything about myself.”
“We could go to the Rainbow Pool in Neopia Central!” Aphrodite exclaimed. “Maybe you’ll change back!”
Artemis and the Ixi looked at each other and both shook their head. “It doesn’t work that way,” Artemis said.
“I think I might just go to the pound. Maybe an owner will adopt me and this Faellie.” The Faellie poked herself out from the Ixi’s back and looked at the other two Neopets with her sad red eyes.
“She’s so cute. What’s her name?” Artemis asked.
The Ixi shrugged. “Another question I wish I had the answer to. It was nice meeting you guys,” she offered and started walking towards Neopia Central.
“Wait! We’re headed that way, too. We could keep you company,” Artemis exclaimed. Aphrodite nodded and saddled up next to the Ixi and shuffled her small feet quickly to match the Ixi’s strides.
“I guess it couldn’t hurt,” the Ixi said and walked with the other two Neopets on the stretch to Neopia Central.
They did keep her company. It didn’t take much to get the Xweetok going. She talked about how Sloth scared her, how the Faeries were very nice, and that Freaky Factory was one of her favorite games. Artemis was more logical when she talked. She mentioned that they lived in Neopia Central and their owner, Myst, sent them out to play some games. Artemis talked warmly about her owner. It made the Ixi a little jealous. She wanted an owner like that. She wanted an owner that didn’t lose her and cared about her.
When the group reached Neopia Central, the Rainbow Pool could be seen. Already the Ixi saw a red Zafara jump in and came out as a Halloween one.
“That was so cool! Did you see that?” Aphrodite yelled and started leaping towards the pool. The Ixi could have technically part ways with the Neopets here, but she secretly wanted to stay with them longer. It was nice having pets around here that were nice enough to want to talk to her. She and the Pteri followed Aphrodite to the edge of the pool. The Ixi peeked over the edge and looked at her reflection in the water. She did look sad. Her eyes looked weary with a dulling red color. She tried to twist her mouth into a smile, but even that felt foreign. She looked... ugly. Could she really go to the pound? She didn’t even feel right. What if she didn’t get a nice owner? Maybe it would be easier if she and the Faellie lived in the wild. They could find a section in Neopia that they could call their own. They could gather food, maybe make names for themselves.
She couldn’t help but chuckle to herself. Like that would ever happen. She turned and saw Artemis looking at her. “Well, I think this is it. I think I’m going to go.” She started walking one way.
“I thought you were going to the pound?” Artemis asked her.
“I don’t think I can go through with that. I think the Faellie and I will just... find somewhere to live.”
“Come home with us!” Aphrodite said. When she joined the conversation was beyond the Ixi. Last time she looked, she was enthralled with the water.
“I- I don’t think I should. I wouldn’t want to impose...” the Ixi trailed off.
“Don’t be ridiculous. Myst loves company. She probably made too much food anyway. Are you hungry?” Artemis asked.
At that, the Ixi’s stomach grumbled. She was so caught up with her unknown identity that she forgot some of her basic needs like hunger. “Yeah... kind of.”
“Ok, then it is settled. You are coming with us.”
Aphrodite squealed and jumped on the Ixi’s back this time. She placed the Faellie on her own head. The Ixi smiled, not even caring if it didn’t look right.
“To the house!” Aphrodite yelled and pointed her paw in the direction of where they lived.
It didn’t take long to get into the neighborhoods of where owners lived with their pets. The houses were spaced far apart and as they walked, they saw Neopets playing out in the yard. Laughter could be heard everywhere. It was almost dinner time so they were getting the last of their energy out before they’d have to start calming down for the night. It was a family the Ixi longed for. She didn’t even feel like she had one in the past. It was upsetting not knowing what something feels like. Even if she didn’t know who she was, there was something in her heart that was missing. It was somewhere she could call home. Even if she and the Faellie went off and traveled Neopia, they would never really have a home.
“Here we are!” Aphrodite yelled and hopped off the Ixi’s back. She did keep the Faellie on top of her head. The Faellie looked back at the Ixi, but there wasn’t fear in her eyes. The Faellie felt as comfortable around these two Neopets as the Ixi did.
Artemis and Aphrodite’s home was cute. It looked inviting and warm. Some bouncy balls and pogo sticks were lying in the yard; no doubt Aphrodite had probably forgotten to put them away. It might have looked a little different from the other houses on the block but they looked all the same too in a way. They all had families inside that cared a lot about each other.
“We’re back!” Artemis called out as she pushed open the door.
The inside of the house was exactly how the Ixi thought it would be. There was a big red couch, a bookcase from the floor to the ceiling stacked with books. All the lights were on making the feeling inside the house very uplifting and bright.
“You guys brought a friend home?”
The Ixi looked up to see her new friends’ owner smiling down on her.
“She doesn’t know who she is,” Aphrodite explained.
“We met her in Faerieland. She woke up in the Haunted Forest and didn’t know who she was,” Artemis better explained to their owner. It was nice not having to explain her short-lived story over and over again.
Myst shifted her eyes back to the Ixi and patted her on the head, “You don’t remember your name either?”
“No. I don’t remember anything. I’m Grey, too. I just know I wasn’t before I woke up,” the Ixi said to Myst.
“Well, if you don’t remember who you are who was your owner... do you want to live here with us?” Myst asked.
“Say yes, say yes, say yes!” Aphrodite started jumping up and down, causing the Faellie to hold on tighter so she didn’t fall off.
“You don’t... think I’m ugly?” the Grey pet asked.
Myst frowned at her and shook her head. “Grey is just a color. I think you’re beautiful.”
The Ixi smiled from ear to ear and for the first time all day the smile didn’t feel like it wasn’t supposed to be there. “You guys will be my family?”
Myst, Artemis, and Aphrodite all nodded. Even the Faellie joined in.
“You need a name!” Aphrodite said.
“How about Athena?” Artemis suggested.
Myst nodded. “Athena... I like that name.”
The Ixi thought about it for a moment. She honestly couldn’t remember her real name, but Athena fit quite well. “I like Athena. I am Athena!”
“Yay!” Aphrodite said and clapped her paws together. “Athena is my sister!”
Myst stood up. “Well, dinner is getting cold. You don’t want to eat omelets cold, do you?”
The three Neopets all shook their heads and ran to the table, Athena included. She smiled again as she sat down with her family. This was exactly what she wanted. To be one of those pets inside the warm homes that had a family. Who she was before wasn’t her first thought anymore. It was how she was going to read all those books on the shelf. The mystery of who she used to be was an adventure for another day.