Anderis's Story: Return of a Friend
A lone castle stood on a hill in the Haunted Woods. Many of the bricks were cracked, and moss grew out of the walls. It looked as if it hadn't been taken care of for years.
Inside, the castle had eleven rooms, each unique with its own sets of furniture. However, each room had spiderwebs stuck to the ceilings, and a few bugs skittered across the floor now and then. The kitchen was dark and damp; there were leaks in the ceilings, pipes were rusted shut, and the appliances were all covered in fingerprints and dirt.
There was only one room where messes were not unusual; the tower room. The tower was made into an art studio by the Neopets' owner, and one of her pets that she shared a special bond with. He and she had customized the studio. Customized benches, tables, easels. Anything that you could find in an art studio, it was there. It was a room worth looking at with all the paintings, but it had now become old and decayed. The paintings sat upon tables, untouched. The floor had become covered in paint stains, old, dried up clay, and broken pencils. The mess had escalated from normal creation messes to laziness and loss of interest.
In the family room downstairs, four Neopets sat in a circle. A Glowing Korbat, a Baby Lupe, a Purple Zafara, and a Rainbow Kyrii. They each had a petpet sitting in their lap. The Korbat had an Epuni, the Zafara had a Naleap, the Kyrii had a Goople, and the Lupe, an Anubis. The Glowing Korbat's glow had begun to fade over the years; he looked like a white Korbat who had gotten a green paint can thrown on him. The Purple Zafara, once a vibrant pinkish-purple, had fur that was now a grayish-dark purple. She had gray-pink fur that ran from her face down to her belly. Her fur was knotted and unruly. The Baby Lupe snuggled up to the Purple Zafara, trembling in fear. His little bandana around his neck had several holes. His lavender coloured fur was wiry, not silky soft and fluffy like it used to be.
The Rainbow Kyrii's colours had become faded. His face held a look of discontent, and his clothes were covered in dirt. He had a paintbrush on his ear, which had a speck of dried, pink paint on it. It was so old, he had tried to get it off before, but failed.
The room was silent. No one made any noise, except a Crokabek that screeched outside.
Finally, the Kyrii stood up. "I'm going upstairs," he replied slowly.
The Zafara looked at him. "Why... She's not here anymore."
The Kyrii sighed. "I know, Raeneya..."
The Korbat looked at him strangely. "Are you sure?"
Raeneya turned her gaze to the Korbat. "Shantaar," she whispered.
Shantaar looked at her.
"He knows what he's doing. Inspiration has become rare for him since SHE left."
Shantaar gave her a curt nod, staring after his brother.
"Maybe he's finally feeling the urge to create again."
Anderis walked slowly towards the staircase to the tower. The Baby Lupe bounded up to the Kyrii. "Anderis, can I come with you?" he asked with big, pleading eyes.
Anderis looked down at him. The Lupe looked eager. His tail was lifted high in the air.
He sighed. "I'm sorry, Bunsono, you'll have to stay down here. I don't want you getting hurt."
Bunsono's ears drooped. "But why?"
Anderis sighed. "I would just prefer to be alone when I go up there."
Bunsono snorted, then trudged back to the family room, muttering bitterly.
Anderis rolled his eyes. Bunsono used to be so happy and cheerful, but now since SHE left, Bunsono had become bitter and unagreeable. He now stayed close to Raeneya, the only one he would ever listen to. She had taken up the responsibilities as a "parent" since SHE left.
He pushed the thoughts aside, practically galloping up the steps to the old studio. The stair steps creaked, a few were broken. Anderis jumped over several on the way up.
Before long, he made it to a large, wooden door. It was covered in little doodles that SHE and Anderis had painted on it. They depicted different things: petpets of theirs, Raeneya when she had been painted cloud, a picture of what Shantaar would look like if he were Magma, Bunsono with little hearts around him, and various other things. All of it was put together with a long rainbow that stretched from one edge of the doorway to the other.
Anderis pushed on the door.
Stuck, he thought to himself.
He rammed into the door with his side, landing on the floor with a loud grunt as the door swung open.
Anderis stood up, brushing himself off. The room was just as SHE had left it before they were left alone. Old doodles lay on the tables. There were still eraser shavings on unfinished ones, which lay next to a trashcan piled high with crumpled papers. A few lay outside the trashcan, damp with water that had leaked in the roof.
Paintbrushes surprisingly stood neat in a cup on the table. No surprise there. She preferred drawing over painting. Pencils were usually left out, but when SHE left, SHE took her pencils with her in a neat pencil case. It was a Kyrii-shaped one...
Anderis shook his head. Focus. You're here for one thing.
He picked up one of the paintbrushes, briefly rinsing it off in a sink nearby. He picked up a large canvas and his paints, spreading the paint across the canvas.
Anderis felt a surge of energy. He hadn't drawn or painted anything in a long time. He had created a few drawings since SHE left, but none that he could call worthy enough of HERS. SHE was far greater than he would ever be, and he tried to match up to her, but always failed. That was why they did things together. She was the one who taught him how to do all things possible in art.
Their bond was special.
Anderis painted for hours. Raeneya and the others waited for him to come back down, but he didn't. They knew he wasn't coming out until his painting was finished.
The picture slowly progressed from a blob of peach and rainbow, to a charming painting of HER and Anderis. He paused.
One stroke left.
His eyes welled up with tears. SHE had always moved his hand to the right position, and stroked the brush with him to finish any painting.
Anderis shut his eyes, a single tear running down his cheek. He held up the brush, preparing to make the final stroke.
He froze when he felt a warm touch to his hand. He opened his eyes. A young girl, with blonde hair and a large, brown handbag was standing beside him. It was HER.
"Just one last stroke," she murmured.
Anderis smiled, watching as she moved his hand to the right position. She stroked the brush with his hand, adding in the final touch. A smile on the girl's face.
"There," she replied. She let go of his hand, crossing her arms. "It's perfect, Anderis."
Anderis stood up, giving her a huge hug that almost knocked her over. He held her tightly. "I missed you..."
She returned his hug. "I've missed you too."
Over the next couple of months, the family of pets began rebuilding their lives. The pets' fur all turned back to their normal, vibrant colours, and the castle was now clean. Every room was bright despite the outside of the castle. The appliances were replaced with new ones, and the castle always smelled of fresh foods.
And now, there was a brand new painting hung in the hallway.
The one that showed the pets' owner, and Anderis.
The one they painted together.