Austere and Azure - A Ghost and a Grey Kyrii
On a frigid January afternoon, a beautiful sullen-faced Grey Kyrii leaned against the front window on the second floor of her melancholy grey house with her right elbow propped up on the window sill and her left palm pressed gently on the cold glass. The house was set along the border between the Haunted Woods and the icy mountain range to the west, so she had a sublime view of the woods but always had to suffer with the cold, unfeeling weather.
Her eyes followed the trunk of each tree to the tip of each branch, naked and bare in the dead of winter. She pictured what her house looked like from the outside; a ghost of an edifice that blended into the grey of the sky when seen from a distance. She heard a faint-- almost inaudible-- creak behind her and swung her head around, her shoulder length ashen hair flowing around her face like a crashing wave while the depths of her pale grey eyes narrowed on her approacher. The deep bruises under her eyes contrasted sharply with the paleness of her complexion. She hadn't slept well for the past year; her dreams were haunted by a dark reflection she could never see clear enough to make out the face. She only remembered the bright red eyes.
"Azure, dinner is ready." Her owner spoke gently. Due to her Neopet's bad sleeping habits, her unfortunate owner had begun tiptoeing around the house to avoid the gaze of the poor creature whose eyes showed too much. Her efforts were futile, however. Azure's ears were very sensitive and heard even the smallest footfall.
She glided past her owner and floated down the stairs, appearing never to even touch the old wooden floors of the house. She moved with the delicate grace of an angel without wings, or possibly the feather-like touch of something more phantasmal.
Just as always at every meal, she swallowed four bites of her food and declared she was full. Neither coaxing nor pleading would get her to take a fifth bite, for the small Neopet consumed only enough to sustain her basic body functions and nothing more no matter the amount of food on her plate. An uncontrollable urge seized her and she threw her plate full of remaining food to the floor where the porcelain shattered to pieces. Without waiting for a reaction from her owner, she stood up, drifted to the backdoor, and flew outside.
Their backyard had no fence at all; the dark and thick forest of the Haunted Woods backing up to the house was privacy enough. Azure took a deep breath of the fresh crisp air and exhaled slowly, letting the cold air spread from her mouth and her lungs to the rest of her body. She closed her eyes and let memory carry her along the well worn path from her backdoor to the line of trees. She heard her owner calling her back home, but she did not listen. It was as if there was a bigger force calling her – compelling her onward.
She heard footsteps crash along the undergrowth of the forest behind her, so she picked up her pace. The creature did not see the logs blocking her path, the vines threatening to twist around her thin ankles to trip her, nor the shadows growing darker by the second as the sun descended into the horizon. Azure floated onward, oblivious. Her grey hair lightened and became yellow-toned as if golden rays of sunlight were pouring down upon her. But perhaps this was not the sun, but a source inside her that made her skin and her golden hair glisten and gave the appearance that she was radiating sunshine.
The footsteps faded behind her as her owner finally gave up. Her body was awkward and unaccustomed to the constantly changing pathways of the forest; she lacked the unattainable grace of the Neopet. Slowly dragging her way back to the house, she moved cautiously and tried to avoid the vines with thorns that grabbed anything and held on tightly, reluctant to let go. The owner started to sob quietly, something she hadn't done for a year. She was frightened that her young Neopet would be gone forever.
The forest became unbelievably dark as the night crept in, but still the young creature moved on through the labyrinth of the woods almost guided by her own neon glow that seemed to get brighter with every step she took that brought her closer to her destination.
Finally the never-ending forest broke open to give way to a meadow – a perfect circle of bare, lifeless trees surrounding one single green flowering tree with branches full of leaves. It was as if neither time nor the weather had ever touched this one spot. Azure drifted toward the tree. As she got closer, she realized it had a glow of its own and there appeared to be a figure standing next to it underneath its branches. The Ghost Kyrii turned to meet her.
"Hello, Azure. Long time no see." The eyes that greeted her were her own but red, the figure's hair was a slightly lighter shade of grey, but the face – the face was her own with a slightly more masculine tone. "I have been waiting for you to come for a year, but I knew you would. It was only a matter of time, but that is okay. I am very patient." She was too mesmerized by the floating Neopet to formulate a reply. "You know who I am," the Ghost Kyrii continued, "from your dreams—or nightmares, rather."
"Austere—my brother, my twin." The corners of her mouth turned up a little as she realized that she had never met her brother in real life and only came to find out of his existence when he came to visit her every night in her dreams starting a year ago, urging her to find him in the forest.
"Yes. I have waited so long for this moment—to see you, to touch your hand..." Austere proceeded to glide over to his twin and close the distance between them with his welcoming hand outstretched. Azure's smile glowed as she raised her hand out to meet that of her brother's. Their palms met for a brief second. Suddenly, they were both thrown back by an explosive force and a flash of light brighter than any earthly eyes had ever seen.
Austere went tumbling head over heels away leaving a skid mark in the grass. He was shocked from the impact but slowly moved his now-earthy arms and legs to start to get a feel for them. The Grey Kyrii stood up a little shakily but he quickly adjusted to the weight of gravity.
After the explosion, Azure flew through the tree tops as light as a feather until she was able to slow herself down and realize where she was – in the middle of the night sky. Looking down, her torso was opaque and she could see the still perfect circle of trees in the middle of the forest. Testing her new skill at flying, she slowly made her way back down to Earth.
Her twin was running and leaping around the meadow and touching the trees, the grass, and the dirt. Then he fell down laughing and rolled back and forth, loving the earth. He was long gone before Azure was able to make it back to the tree. She tried to chase him, but the farther she got away from the meadow, the more transparent she became until she started to fade away completely.
In her mind, she had a double vision. One was her own, but the other was of someone flying through the forest—Austere, making his way home. She curled up at the base of the tree, whose limbs were now as bare as the rest of the surrounding forest. There was neither sign nor trace of the tree's luscious green foliage from before. The only difference of this tree and the rest was that it still had a slight phantasmal and surreal glow. The small Ghost Kyrii closed her bright red eyes to watch what her brother saw as his youthful body bounced along the forest trails.
The line of trees broke to give way to a grey, old house—his house now. He burst through the back door and ran through the living room to look in all the picture frames. There was one of the family on vacation in Shenkuu, the owner and Austere when he was younger at The Beach in Mystery Island, and a shot of them at Coltzan's Shrine in The Lost Desert. All contained Austere and his owner without a sign nor trace of Azure, as if she had never existed. He smiled grimly to himself. He knew that his twin could see all of this, too, and that she was watching.
Azure wanted so badly to sob-- to just break down and cry of a broken heart. She could feel her emotions but she couldn't cry or do anything about them. They were all in her head. Those where her family pictures! She was supposed to be in them! She could clearly remember looking at them yesterday and seeing herself where her twin now stood. So why wasn't she?
Azure was no longer a beautiful young Grey Kyrii; she was now a phantasmal Ghost Kyrii. Her golden, glowing complexion from earlier had now faded to a more pale shade of grey with a light neon glow.
Austere welcomed the hugs of her owner. "Austere, you're home! Why did you run off into the woods? I missed you so much!" she exclaimed. After the welcome home, his owner shyly mentioned to him that he still had the shattered plate and food to clean up in the dining room.
He smiled grimly to himself as he thought of his twin alone in the meadow, forever to remain. "Yes, owner."