Fire with Fire
Vi sighed as she sat outside her hut on the side of the volcano on mystery island, watching the sunset on the horizon create the illusion of a burning sky. She leaned on her tail, using it as a sort of perch as many Blumaroo did, it was nights like these that she truly wished she had a friend. A yearning to be able to share this experience with someone, talk to someone about the picturesque scenery on the amazing Mystery Island.
Staring at her reflection in the mirror just inside her quaint circular hut reminded Vi just why she was alone. The wrinkled, sagging, skin the color of a rotting tree. Not to mention that she couldn't stop focusing on the jaundices colored eyes. No matter how often she tried to make friends on the island below not one person would spend time with her for anything other than buying what she would find washed up on the beach. Or what she would make from what she made of what washed up.
With a heavy sigh, she tore her gaze from her mirrored stare as the sun began its decent beneath the horizon.
"I guess I will call it a night," Vi whispered to the tropical wind. "Wait!"
Vi saw a glow emanating from behind some rocks. She bounced over with renewed vigor, curiosity burning in her veins. Excitement was a rarity in the monotonous life of this mutant Blumaroo.
"Help ..." a pained cry came from the direction of the rocks.
Vi used the adrenaline coursing through her to her advantage and with one mighty bounce cleared the ten foot gap between her and the slag, even hurdling her over it. Now there was nothing obstructing Vi's view of the entity, tilting her head down she was able to see that in a small crater was a small Baby Fireball. Its glow only visible due to the night sky, and the lack of light pollution on this level of the mountain, though farther up the magma emitted an eerie glow.
Vi's sickly eyes widened, she hadn't seen the creature fall, though it was true she had been lost in her self pity. Knowing she couldn't leave it there she quickly swooped up the injured petpet.
"AH!" The Blumaroo couldn't help but cry out in pain as the fire burnt her flesh.
Quickly, she rushed to the hut and put the small Baby Fireball into a large porcelain bowl decorated with wild flowers that she had traded for at the Island Trading Post. Vi rushed to pour some water from a large burgundy vase with onyx colored triangular designs over her hands at the claw foot tub that worked as bath and sink in her modest hut. The searing pain now more of a dull throb, Vi turned to her guest.
"Are you okay?" Vi asked looking into the bowl, the glow of her fire seeming to fade with every moment.
"I got hurt ... a dark faerie ..." She breathed, seemingly taking every bit of energy the ball of fire had.
Vi frowned. "I will find a way to help you, then you can go home."
"No home." She breathed. "No friends. They say to small... to dim ... so I'm ..." She breathed hard, trying to finish, wanting to finish. It was as if she thought no one could understand, and she felt she had to make them, she had to make Vi, even in the state she was.
"Self imposed exile." Vi completed, understood. Yet instead of the frown that should have overtaken her continence at such a statement, her face instead lit up with one of the biggest and first smile that had ever crossed her taipier like face.
'Unique' Vi thought to herself, 'She said "unique" not "grotesque" or "grody" no one has ever called me something so kind as unique before!'
"Do not worry. Once you are better you can make your new home here if you wish," Vi extended the invitation trying not to sound to exuberant about the idea while simultaNeously attempting not to raise her own expectations. Something the mutant Blumaroo rarely did for they were almost always dashed.
Wringing her hands nervously in what Vi felt to be an awkward silence, though it was likely because the Baby Fireball had fallen into a restless sleep.
"I will be back" Vi promised to the silence.
With a new sense of determination Vi went to a large mahogany chest which held her most valuable possessions. With a bounce she reached a shelf just below palm leaves that were woven together into the roof, grasping a bronze key with interlocking Hissi head design. With a quick turn of the key the dusty chest creaked open revealing bits and baubles of various values, most of which's true worth would be overlooked in their current kelp, sand and dust covered conditions. Given the severity of the matter, and her lack of Neopoints, to get the best medicine for this kindred spirit she would have to trade something worth it.
She dug deep into her own personal treasure chest and withdrew a mirror that had certainly seen better days. Now covered in barnacles, and rust, the glass cracked, the mirror was set in a gilded gold a sapphire at the top. Vi knew what it was though she heard tale that it was the curse of this very mirror that had brought down the very ship carrying it when the captain had dared to gaze at his reflection in it, that is when a ghost had attached to him and doomed the ship. So Vi knew better than to risk looking out her periphery, so to protect any who would be interested she put a cloth over it as well. Then she started her way down the mountain to her least favorite place on her lovely island home: The crowded halls of the the Trading Post.
Vi moved from stall to stall ignoring the comments she had grown used to, white noise almost to her. The stares were harder. She noticed that other mutants got the same looks, but they never stopped to talk to her or each other. It was always the same get in, get out, they always seemed happier though. Like they had something she was missing.
Vi was on a mission though she didn't let any of it sink in. She moved quickly knowing exactly who would have what she needed. It didn't take long. With a few quick bounces the tenacious Blumaroo had bounded over a few stalls and around a few more to land before a large stall with a beautiful faerie Pteri perched on a golden bar hanging from the ceiling. If it were possible for a smile to make its way across a beak, it would be certain that this Pteri was grinning at Vi's arrival. Certainly they were not friends, and the feathered merchant made it no secret she didn't care for Vi, but she loved the treasures that Vi would bring to her.
"Petra! I need a bottled of Condensed Faerie Essence. I found an injured petpet! Please! I have to get back quick!" Vi exclaimed as she watched Petra's radiant feathers twitched, something they always did when they thought Vi had something good to offer, but she knew that she had the upper hand.
"What have you found this time Vi?" She said trying to sound disinterested, still she knew Vi had a good eye, and was always on the beach not only after a storm but during.
"I found that Mirror you have been searching for Petra!" Vi exclaimed.
She knew Petra had been looking for it, she often searched for lost and legendary treasure. Vi had been saving it for something special. But this wasn't just special, this was vital. So she held the Mirror out, uncovering it, but facing the broken glass to the ground.
Petra flitted from her perch, she circled above studying and eyeing every detail. Finally after what felt like hours to the fretting Blumaroo Petra landed.
"Deal." She squawked, wrapping her wing around a bottle of a rare healing liquid, she passed it to Vi, who in return put the Ancient Cursed Mirror on the stall table.
"Thank you." Vi Squealed grateful for the elixir.
"You know me," Petra cooed, storing her new find. "Any item doesn't matter who its from or how they got it."
The moon was full and the clouds were scarce, something Vi could be thankful for as she bounded up the mountain. Still even if the moon had been obscured with heavy clouds Vi was sure she could get up easily she knew this Volcano well, it was just quicker on a night like this.
"Are you here?" She called into the little hut as she reached the midway point on the mountain.
"Blumaroo?" A weak voice bounced around the bowl that Baby Fireball rested in, its fire so dull no it seemed no bigger than a dime.
"Vi." She replied hopping over to the bowl. "Open up, Baby Fireball"
The petpet gave a weak smile. "Vatra"
Vi poured the Condensed Faerie Essence into Vatra's open mouth. Then waited, her tail thumping apprehensively. She didn't have to wait long, Vatra's fire began to rage. Though it was still small in comparison to other Baby Fireballs as she said, now She looked healthy, vibrant.
"Oh Vi thank you!!" Vatra flew right to Vi to give her her version of a hug, pressing into her arms.
"Ah!!!" Vi let out a shriek of pain, instinctively pulling away from her new friend.
"Oh! I'm so sorry Vi!!! I didn't think!! You're not Fire like me!" Vatra exclaimed as she floated around the room in a tizzy, uncertain how to help her new friend, her hero.
"It's alright Vatra." Vi gave a smile, still it didn't reach her eyes.
She filled the tub with cold water and hopped in, splashing water all over the hut.
"EEK!" Vatra darted as far as she could from the tub and water droplets flying around.
Vi winced. "Oh Vatra. I'm Sorry. I wanted to get in so fast I didn't think about that!"
"Well... If we can make this work we are gonna have to make a lot of rules," Vatra sighed.
Vi nodded her long ears drooping. She finally had a friend, a real friend. And yet if she got to close she got burned, which led to a need for pouring water on burns in a hurry. That would lead to a spray of water which would lead to poor Vatra getting hurt.
Once the burns were once again just a dull ache she dried off and got as close as she could to Vatra.
"Maybe you can find somewhere else," Vi suggested sadly as dawn began to break.
"Because I burnt you?" Vatra asked worried.
"You shouldn't be seen with a mutant anyway. Just because you are a little different."
"My 'self imposed exile' as you put it was because I wanted to get away yes. I didn't have friends because I didn't want to be friends with people who would treat me like that. The outside doesn't matter the inside does. There will always be imperfections. You just have to own them. Like I'm not as bright, but I'll always stand out. You have that scar on your arm that will be there mutant or faerie."
"I got it helping a Lutra out of a lobster trap it got caught in when it washed up on the beach." Vi reminisced, resting her hand on the scar.
"See" Vatra seemed to bound up and down. "It is part of you. Once you know you, own who you are no one has the power to make you feel bad only you do. Because you realize you are the only one with that kind of power in your life. I didn't like spending time with people who tried to do that to me."
Vi looked in the mirror. And for the first time Vi didn't see skin that seemed the color of a decaying tree, but the color of wet sand that she loved so much. No longer did her eyes seem sick, jaundices, rather they seemed to match the beautiful citrine stones she had often traded for.
Turning to Vatra Vi smiled another rare, genuine smile. "Thank you."
Vatra flew in circles happy that she could make her friend see what she saw and tried to fly to her for a hug, but stopped short.
It was true they both realized the truth of it now. What mattered was what Vatra had taught Vi. That she could be happy being her, that she could see her true beauty.
And yet the two friends couldn't even get close to each other without fear of one hurting the other. A mishap with water and Vatra would be extinguished and with Vatra back in tip-top shape she was putting off more heat then ever, so if she got to close to Vi she would literally get burned.
Still the friends continued to learn from each other. They would talk on life and philosophize. The two would travel to the Trading Post together getting many a look, neither cared. Vi no longer walked low, trying to hide. She walked with pride in who she was, and as she did so did the other mutants. and on the says when Vi would go to the beach to look for treasures, Vatra would dance along the mouth of the volcano.
It was on one such day when a storm raged that a faerie appeared before Vi.
"I hear you are the one to come to when one needs a treasure found child." She spoke in a lyrical voice.
Vi couldn't believe her ears or eyes.
"I am Naia. I am searching for something Vi. And I have heard of you. Fyora has heard of you. She says that you have shown great strength of spirit. That she is proud."
"Of me?" Vi gasped over a clasp of thunder.
"Indeed." Naia nodded. "You gave up a treasured belonging to help an injured petpet, you learned from this petpet the importance of self worth. And loyalty, friendship. You are indeed a worthy Neopian. And yet though you have finally grown to see the beauty that you are, and learned to let others see it there is a problem that haunts you." The Faerie's melodic voice seemed to drown out the storm without being over powering. "You and your friend, Vatra must stay far apart, and the hotter the island is, the farther, you both fear the other will be hurt."
Vi looked to the sand beneath her depressed, the rain beating into her, the skies themselves shedding tears for the two friends.
"Fear not Vi." Naia smiled. Her tail flicking out of the water. "If you become a Fire Blumaroo, Fire will not hurt you. I know you now love the mutant that you are. But by learning to love the mutant you, you learned to love the real you, and so did those around you. Vatra is right. So prove you are truly worthy. Bring to me a Glowing Maractite Trident and I will bring you and Vatra to my fountain. Call my name 3 times at the Rock Pool when you have it."
Vi was elated. It was true she had never been happier with who she was, and nothing but being able to be close to her best friend would make her want to change it. As it was often Vatra would sleep outside in the small crater where she had been found. Vatra made so many sacrifices to stay around, to help Vi. To teach Vi how to be confident, to be herself. And She always felt so bad whenever she tried to hug her friend she would inadvertently hurt her. She could fix it, and surprise Vatra. Give Vatra a true gift in return for all she had done for her, the hug she had always wanted.
So Once the storm cleared and Vatra, tried of being cramped up, went to the mouth of the volcano to dance about Vi took her treasured chest and made her way down to the Trading post. She found someone with a Glowing Maractite Trident, it was just a matter of getting the right item to them.
Vi eagerly bounced from stall to stall, nervous as she noticed someone else eyeing the trident she was getting so close to. She was just three items away in her trading quest. She couldn't let this new comer win.
Bounding to the next stall she produced what had been asked for a Tyrannian Dishes Recipe Book, eyes still flicking to the trident and the Pirate Krawk eyeing it, Neopoints in hand.
Suddenly much to her surprise A whirl of colorful feathers overtook the Krawk, ushering him to a stall filled with many a unique item.
"Have a look, I have many better items then that." Petra chirped, her wears clearing capturing the pirates eye.
So quickly Vi wasn't sure it happened, Petra gave her a quick wink before going back to talking off the Krawk's ear.
Vi smiled to herself and quickly finished her trading quest. No items left to her except the one precious one that now mattered most. Storing it in the chest she made her way home and found Vatra waiting.
"Where were you?" Vatra glowed a little brighter with anger. "I was worried I haven't seen you since the storm you know."
"I'm sorry Vatra. But I have a surprise." Vi couldn't stop smiling. "Come with me!"
The two made there way to the rock pool where Vi stood now holding the trident.
"Naia!" She exclaimed. "Naia! Naia!"
Just like that Naia appeared in a waterspout, a smile on her face. "Ah, Vi! You have found it!" Her eyes flicked to Vatra, her smile never fading. "And you must be Vatra.
Please you must both come with me"
The three vanished just as she had arrive in a waterspout. only this time they appeared in the Rainbow Fountain.
Vatra looked around in disbelief. "What is going on Vi? Are we really here?"
"Yup" Vi Smiled stepping into the deep waters of the fountain and under the waterfall after a nod from Naia.
"What is going on here!?" Vatra demanded bobbing up and down.
Naia let out a silvery laugh. "You shall see."
Vi emerged from behind the waterfall and walked over to her friend. "Look Vatra."
"Vi?" Vatra dashed over.
As if she had to make sure Vatra leaned close to Vi's arm and saw the unique shape scar that she had gotten helping the Lutra. "Vi! It is you!"
Vi laughed lightly nodding, her ears bouncing up and down. "Yup."
"But I thought you said you finally loved being a mutant." Vatra asked bewildered.
"I did. I do. Loving mutant me made me love the real me no matter what. I have you to thank for that Vatra. And all you wanted was a true friend. And A real hug."
Vi wrapped her arms around Vatra, no burns.