The Cherry Blossom Princess
She was the youngest of twelve sisters, all born into the royal family of Shenkuu. Ilyaren was the quietest and most kind-hearted of her sisters, she dedicated her life to learning to the arts, specifically music and art. She was most commonly found by the cherry blossom trees, everyone thought her odd, as they preferred dressing up and going to royal functions, and she preferred the comfort in the solitude she found being by herself in the cherry blossom forest.
Unfortunately as she grew older, she was only thought of for her beauty. The most beautiful of the sisters, her pink fur matched the color of the cherry blossoms she grew to love so much, and her black hair flowed in the wind around her blue and red kimono. When she was forced to go to the balls, she became ridden with anxiety, as nobody would leave her alone. All of the handsome princes from around the world wanted to meet her and see in person if the rumors were true. And sure enough they were, she was the most beautiful princess in all of Neopia. Her life had so much more meaning though, when she began to talk about her wind instruments and paintings, everyone became very bored and would change the subject to how she likes being a princess and if she would like to become queen one day. In frustration, she stormed out, to return to her safe space under the cherry blossoms.
Her oldest sister became extremely jealous as she watched Ilyaren run away from the crowd of young princes. She couldn’t figure out why they preferred her, but she decided to put an end to it. In the middle of the night, she recruited a dark spirit, and asked it to make her sister disappear. The dark spirit did so, but added in that she would live a cursed life, and she would be cursed unless she could find someone who could love her regardless of her beauty. In return, the older sister cut her long locks to pay the spirit.
And so it was, Ilyaren was gone. Not really gone, she was blissfully sitting in her cherry blossom garden, happy to be left alone from the world. The dark spirit also restricted her, she was fated to live only in the presence of cherry blossoms until the curse was lifted. After every spring, she would fade away as the last cherry blossom fell, to return again next spring when the first bud would bloom.
But hundreds and hundreds of years had passed, and the curse was still so much more than it had appeared. She became an immortal spirit as she was still cursed. No longer living, she lived in the cherry blossom forest whatching over all visitors and helping to ensure the blossoms were taken care of and bloomed beautifully every year. Stories were told of the beautiful lost cherry blossom princess, and many brave princes from all over Neopia tried to save her in hopes of making her queen, but they could not see her because they were only looking for her remarkable beauty, and thus she had no desire to see them.
One day, a Juma came wandering into the cherry blossom forest and saw her. He was dirty, covered in mud and his paws were wounded from the rough terrain of his journey. She sat and watched him limp in and drink water from the koi pond, she assumed that like all of the others, he wouldn’t be able to see her. Much to her surprise, he turned around and looked at her, turning his head to the side at the sight of the beautiful painting she was working on.
He limped over and sat by her, he lay his head on the silky pink kimono covering her lap, and she put her hand on his head. He was tired, hungry, and wounded. She ripped part of her kimono and wrapped it around his leg, and pulled out a rice cake and fed it to him in small bites. His stomach rejoiced at the kind gesture, for he could not hunt with his injury and he was coming close to starvation.
With his wounds tended to and his belly satiated, he continued to lay his head on her lap. She pet his soft fur and they watched the cherry blossom petals fall. She was startled at first by the whole event, it had been so long since anyone, any creature, was able to see her. Maybe the curse was beginning to wear off, she thought. Either way, she had a feeling this was a special Juma.
Kitsune, she called him, met her every morning in the garden. She began to paint Kitsune and his rambunctious self on her canvas, as he played and chased the petals as they fell in the breeze. Her days were infinitely much happier, she preferred the solitude, but now found that she enjoyed sharing the days with someone else. He made her laugh and she enjoyed taking care of him and restoring him to full health. He enjoyed the solitude as well, and enjoyed nuzzling his head on her lap and falling asleep, twitching as he dreamed of chasing wild Cybunnies.
She looked at him one day and wished with all of her heart that she would one day find someone who looked at her the way the Juma did. He didn't care she was cursed, and since he could see her he didn't care solely about her beauty. As he nuzzled up next to her, she cried as she saw the last few petals begin to fall from the trees. She knew her time was soon up, she would disappear to the dark world until next spring, leaving her new found friend until then if he was still around.
Not wanting to break his heart, she tried to quietly get up without waking him. He immediately knew something was wrong, and whimpered as she stood and began to walk away. "I'm sorry” she whispered to him. He whimpered again, and she turned around and picked him up. She thanked him for his companionship throughout the spring and for making her smile and laugh, something she hadn’t done in years. She hugged him, then kissed him on the forehead of his furry face.
Instantly, he sprang from her arms and began to transform. Instead of a small fox, stood before her a handsome prince. He was cursed for eighteen years and had wandered all over Shenkuu waiting for someone who could love him as he was.
“And I know how to break your curse, Princess" he said as he pulled her close and kissed her on the forehead. She gasped, she had been cursed so long, she was beginning to lose hope that anyone would be able to save her anymore. The wind started to blow, and the trees grew full and thick of more cherry blossom flowers. Kitsune looked at the breathtakingly beautiful spirit and smiled, she was his cherry blossom princess.
Everyone rejoiced, the royal family had been long gone for so many years, there was nobody to rule Shenkuu and it was facing turmoil. Ilyaren was brought to the palace and given her crown. Her and Kitsune ruled Shenkuu for thousands of years, smiling every year as the cherry blossoms began to bloom, and they thought of he beautiful spring in which they had met.