I Met My Shadow And It Was Not The Least Bit Nice
Let’s start off with some advice.
Keep your comments about a Dark Faerie’s poorly applied eyeshadow to yourself. No matter how tempting it may be to crack a joke, or give the Beauty Salon some free advertising—leave it alone.
Well. Perhaps I was being a bit hasty to assume that this was the work of a Dark Faerie. But I couldn’t recall any other otherworldly force that I had annoyed recently, certainly not one that could turn my shadow into a walking, insulting nightmare.
“You will perish,” it hissed as I chatted with a fellow Hissi about the weather.
“You will drown in despair,” it cackled as I checked Jim into the Kadoatery. “All you know and love will be consumed by darkness.”
“All you’ve done will be for nothing,” it jeered as I helped an Elderly Yurble bag his groceries. “You know nothing, you will become nothing.”
It didn’t look as though anyone else could perceive the annoyance I was plagued with, not even Jim, my darling Petpet. The wraith seemed to be able to hear Jim well enough, considering most of its insults and threats began to include Jim after her first night home.
There was something satisfying about watching the wraith get angrier and angrier by the day because of Jim. It was even more satisfying realizing that the wraith had come precisely to annoy him, and oh how the tables had turned.
It was hard to know if this was the work of a Dark Faerie. Were they vindictive enough to cause my shadow to insult me 24/7? Jhudora maybe—if the rumors were to be believed—but while I frequented Faerieland often, I never had the pleasure of meeting the infamous Dark Faerie.
Perhaps that was for the best. She might’ve cursed me with something worse than an irritable shadow wraith—she might have actually done something to annoy me.
I hummed as I cooked up my own dinner, to fill for Jim’s absence. I put her in the Kadoatery this time of the week to see if I couldn’t make her a bit more sociable. I could feel the wraith’s eyes on me, but it said nothing. Perhaps it was savoring the silence. It was only when I sat down to eat that it spoke.
“You already told me that,” I said without looking up. “Today I might add! I thought we agreed that you wouldn’t repeat yourself on a weekly basis.”
“I agreed to nothing, you impudent fool,” it spat, talking over my attempts to remind it that it called me ‘impudent fool’ yesterday. “Our agreement was a farce. You are a farce. You are nothing—”
“Oh are we just doing name-calling today? How exciting—”
“—you are nothing! You are nothing before the darkness. Your fellow mortals look down upon you. They despise everything about you. You are a coward. A weakling. A foolish Hissi.”
Well, two could play at that game.
“Well that’s nothing compared to being boring. Has anyone ever told you that? That you’re a bore? I have never had such a terrible conversation partner.” I said, resting my head in my fist. “And I regularly talk to Jim, you know.”
“I know,” it snarled as its body coiled itself tightly, getting right up in my face.
“No respect either,” I continued, doing my best to ignore it, looking away. “You are a terrible houseguest. Haven’t helped with the dishes, not once—”
“You would dare criticize me!?”
“I would criticize Queen Fyora if she came into my house and acted like this. Have you no manners? Do you act like this in your mother’s house?”
The wraith responded to this by shrieking rather loudly, howling as though I had instead stabbed it with the bread knife. I didn’t have a response to this, not right away, but thankfully it screamed continuously for a minute or two. I cleared the table in the meantime. When it finished its tantrum I said,
“Well you certainly took away my appetite. I hope you’re happy.” The wraith’s response was to scream again.
I was rewarded the next day with a sulking wraith. It said nothing, following me at a close distance, an ominous presence. It said nothing as I dropped off goods at the Money Tree. Nothing as I was on the road to Faerieland. Nothing as I greeted familiar faces, or as I chatted with a young Zafara about the Wheel of Excitement. It did scoff as I gave the young tyke enough money to spin the wheel, but that was the extent of its venom.
Was that all I had to do to get it down? Insult it? It seemed too easy.
I kept a careful eye on it as I helped with Faerieland’s reconstruction—the wounds from Faerieland’s fall were still fresh. It looked around moodily at the reconstruction efforts, but it did nothing. Not a hiss, nor a scoff.
It didn’t react as I casually and carefully prodded and poked the faeries for information, trying to weasel as much information out of them as I could without discussing my situation.
I didn’t expect to learn much, and I didn’t. But the faeries were overly cautious with what they told me, and that did tell me something important, very important indeed.
This was something big, bigger than Faerieland. Perhaps even bigger than Neopia.
I treated myself that night.
I brought Jim home a day early from the Kadoatery, and a whole turkey dinner from the grocer. I took an hour to absently rub Jim while I did the crossword, and gave Jim an extra helping of her dinner. She was sleeping soundly beside me, and the wraith watched us, silent as ever.
I ate a Granola Parfait slowly, composing my thoughts. The moon was high overhead when I spoke.
“It was a productive day without your whining today,” I said calmly as I looked over the latest Neopian Times. “To think! I would be able to accomplish all I wanted and have time to spare. So much so that—”
“Cease your flowery words,” it grumbled, sounding more tired than anything. “I was present when you spoke with the faeries. They are guarded, but you are clever.”
“A compliment? What a surprise.”
“You already know what it is that I seek. A vessel. I did not anticipate your nature. It has been…some time since I was present in this world. The mortals then…they were different. Cowardly. Weak. Easy to manipulate and control.”
“I’ll take your word for it. But what I want to know wasn’t something that the faeries would’ve known, or could know. In fact I think I actually learned more from you then I did from them.”
The wraith watched me. The deep purple pits that made up its eyes had ceased to be unsettling, its long serpentine body had long stopped haunting my nightmares. I looked at it now, watching it as it watched me.
“What do you want from me? And don’t say ‘vessel’. You’ve been here for three months. You must have realized that I’m not going to become your vessel, not through my own will nor through coercion. But yet, here you are, stinking up my house.”
The wraith looked at me for a long time. I wondered if it was even going to respond at all. “…I have come to understand that the life of the mortal is much more than the life of a wraith. It is not necessarily with purpose. …All I have known is the spread of chaos. All I have ever done is spread chaos.”
The wraith ignored me. “…But it is pointless. A waste of time. And thus I have decided…” The wraith hesitated there. It hesitated longer than I would have thought. I held my breath. Finally, it sniffed. “Well it’s none of your business.”
I suspected I now had a housemate. And it was not the least bit nice.