"Jazz I'm back!" Lionel, a shimmery silver Lupe, called
out into the busy shop. Dodging through the crowd all hurriedly snatching up their
purchases before anyone else could get to them, Lionel gave a quick hello to Matrika,
the gothic Usul employed to take care of the rather successful stop, before making
his way into the back room where his owner, Jazz, was preparing for the next restock.
Jazz was rather beautiful - well, as humans go anyway. She had waist-length black
hair and olive skin with bright blue eyes. She was slim and tall and was known
as Jazz owing to her love of dancing to Jazz music. Even as Lionel entered, Jazz
was dancing along to a tune while stacking boxes.
"Hello sweetie!" Jazz exclaimed whilst bending
down and opening her arms to give Lionel a hug in greeting. The Lupe pounced
into her arms and gave her a friendly lick before jumping back up to stand up
"How was your day?" Jazz asked while reaching
up higher to grab a hold of the topmost box.
"Oh, not too bad really. Madison tried to jump
into the rainbow pool when she thought it was full but it dried up before her
very eyes. Just as well too - I don't think her owner would have been too pleased
if Madison came home missing her faerie wings with a spotted bandana instead."
Lionel drawled, concluding Jazz's belief that he had considered it a boring
day. Smiling, she flicked her hair behind her shoulder and finally managed to
pull down the box she'd been reaching for.
"Well, I can see you thought it all very boring.
I've got something that might spark your interest."
Lionel's ears perked up and he watched as Jazz
opened up the box and dug through the foam packaging before finally pulling
out the object she wished to show him.
"Oh wow!" gasped Lionel gaping at the object.
It was a Golden Faerie Kacheek Toy, sparkling brilliantly in the small amount
of sunlight coming through the one window in the room. It was like a little
beacon of hope, not that Lionel had anything to despair over. He watched in
awe as the gold shone - he could almost imagine the little thing taking flight
before their eyes.
"Isn't it beautiful?" Jazz whispered breaking
"It is - very much so. Oh, do we have to sell
it, Jazz?!" Lionel whimpered. It was Jazz's policy that anything of value was
sold in their shop - which was fairly successful too. Somehow though, Lionel
couldn't bear to see this delicate thing sold. Jazz's expression softened.
"No, Lionel. We'll keep this our little secret,"
she told him, placing it back in the box and hiding it under a loose floorboard.
"We should only look at it when we need a little hope or inspiration, or maybe
to find each other or ourselves again."
Lionel was very puzzled by his owner's choice
of words, but didn't have time to question her as she pulled him into a hug.
The next day, Lionel left the Neohome without
a word to Jazz - he was eager to meet up with Madison and the rest of his Lupe
"pack". They weren't really a pack - just a group of friends, but they felt
very official referring to themselves as a pack.
At the end of the day, as he was walking down
the road to the direction of the family shop, he heard a loud boom and saw rubble
bursting out from the ground with sparks like fire just over the hill. In shock,
Lionel began to run praying to himself that it hadn't been the shop like he
thought it was. As he neared, he saw five Grarrls, all dressed in thick black
coats, standing in front of the rubble that had once been the shop where he
and Jazz had made their happy living. Lionel dived behind a bush and listened
as the Grarrls spoke, straining to hear over the loud thud of his heartbeat.
"That puts them out of the competition. No more
competing with their impossible prices. We're bound to get better business now!"
one of the Grarrls was muttering.
"I don't know if this was the best way of doing
it. What if someone heard? Did anyone check if there was anyone inside?" Another
"Don't be stupid. Of course I checked! There
wasn't anyone. It was deserted. We've taken everything of value and blown up
the rest so they've got no chance of starting over. Who cares if anyone heard
it? We're out of here now anyway!" yet another exclaimed while slinging a sack
over his shoulder and beginning to run away with the others following. Lionel
felt a growl rising in his throat, but restrained himself - tough as he was;
he knew he couldn't take down five Grarrls on his own. Waiting till their footsteps
disappeared, Lionel eventually jumped to his feet and began to dig through the
rubble. The Grarrls had said that the shop had been empty - but then where was
Jazz and Matrika?!
He recalled Jazz's words from yesterday: "We
should only look at it when we need a little hope or inspiration, or maybe to
find each other or ourselves again".
Had she known this was going to happen? It sure
sounded like it. If she had, why hadn't she told Lionel?
Eventually his claws hit the broken floorboard
he was searching for and thankfully below it laid the box with the Golden Faerie
Kacheek Toy. Lionel began to examine every aspect of the toy until he came across
a small imperfection on one of the wings. As he touched it, it glowed and he
heard a jazz song begin to softly play in the distance.
"That's Jazz's favourite song!" Lionel exclaimed.
He began to slowly follow the source. It was days, maybe weeks of travel, and
after a while Lionel wondered if the sound was really just in his head from
the lack of food. After many moons, he found himself on the outskirts of Meridell,
and he picked berries so he didn't starve. Each step was agony, and he kept
wondering if this were really just a dream and he should just stop moving all
together. When these thoughts rose in his mind, he'd look at the Golden Faerie
Kacheek Toy - the only item he had taken with him in his search for Jazz, and
suddenly he'd see clear again and remember his mission - he had to find Jazz.
The sound grew louder as he travelled deeper into Meridell, and finally it became
a deafening roar as he reached a small Glade. He hadn't been able to take any
berries since he'd left the outskirts owing to the fact that the land was privately
owned, so he was starving. As he felt himself begin to collapse, he saw the
great Illusen stand over him, and then he fainted.
Lionel awoke to the sound of a sweet voice humming,
and when he fully opened his eyes, he saw a girl much like Jazz standing nearby
humming Jazz's favourite song. The girl had blond hair rather than Jazz's deep
black, and she seemed much thinner. The girl noticed he was awake and ran to
his side and threw her arms around Lionel, much to his confusion.
"Who are you?!" Lionel yelped, using his little
energy to push the creature away.
"Oh Lionel don't you recognise me?! It's me,
Jazz!" the girl cried, looking at him in desperation.
"Jazz had black hair… and she wasn't so thin,"
Lionel replied, gulping at his own use of past tense.
"Lionel! It's just a disguise! Illusen changed
my hair colour while I'm in hiding! I'm thinner because I haven't been able
to eat because I've been so worried that you wouldn't find me!"
Lionel stared into the girl's crystal blue eyes
"About time I found you," Lionel muttered before
pouncing on Jazz and hugging her as though he'd never let go.
"Oh Lionel! I've been so scared!" Jazz sobbed
into her Lupe's shoulder.
"What happened?!" he eventually exclaimed looking
"I overheard those Grarrls plotting a way to
put us out of business. They said they'd had the house bugged with the latest
Kreludan Technology, so we couldn't tell you. I managed to tell Jazz outside
the shop and she left you the Golden Faerie Kacheek toy to guide you here. We
sought out Illusen's help and she was the one who enchanted it so it would play
that song when you found the imperfection. We couldn't make the link obvious
in case the Grarrls found it," Matrika explained, having shown up from collecting
berries for Lionel and Jazz.
"What's going to happen now?" Lionel asked, still
stunned from the events that had transpired.
"We'll start over. Illusen is going to take care
of those evil Grarrls for us so we don't have to be afraid. She said we can
stay here until everything is safe and we can support ourselves again," Jazz
explained, still sniffling slightly from overwhelming emotions.
"So who were those Grarrls?" Lionel asked, still
bursting with questions.
"The Grarrl Gang - our number one competitors
in the shopping industry. We've been bordering on managing to shut them down
as our prices are much better. They're a nasty lot who refused to accept defeat.
They decided to play dirty," answered Matrika, scowling at the thought of the
Lionel couldn't believe that people would go
to such lengths just over a shop!
Later that day, Illusen arrived and informed
them that the Grarrls had been caught and sentences to serve cleanup duty for
life in Fyora's castle. There was much celebration over the news, and Jazz began
to make plans to start a new shop immediately. Lionel just smiled and held the
Golden Faerie Kacheek Toy up to the sunlight and watched it shimmer - it certainly
was the greatest sign of hope.