The night air is crisp as you step out of the stuffy Poogle Racing Ground betting arena. Your pocket sufficiently lighter than when you came, you set off towards the dock where the ferry to Neopia Central is about to set off. When you hear the faraway tooting of its whistle, you speed up, taking a shortcut through the dense forest in between your path and the docks.
The whistle blows again. For some reason, it seems to be farther away. Dismissing the idea as a trick of the ears, you continue onwards_ After another ten minutes, though, it becomes clear: you're lost. Well, nothing to do but keep going, you think, and forge ahead through the trees, trying to ignore the constant reminder from your mind that the Haunted Woods are now a neighbor to Faerieland.
Ahead of you, you see a glimmer of silver light. Could it be the end of the forest? Walking faster, you approach the light and find, to your disappointment, that it is merely a glade of flowers. Glowing flowers… you muse, bending down for a closer look. A wind blows toward your face, and the spicy odor makes you sneeze. You extend a hand to touch one of the round, moon-like petals when suddenly you hear something.
Don't touch them, a silky and menacing voice says. Startled, you turn to see something that glows in a way that resembles the flowers striding towards you. As the figure draws closer, you see that it is in fact a Krawk, although rather different from the normal Krawks. Her, for she is unmistakably female, eyes glow with a force that seems, no, is, unearthly; when she moves, a cloud of light seems to hover behind it. You quickly withdraw your hand from the flower, backing away slowly.
Um… sorry, I didn't know… you mutter under your breath. I was just trying to find a way out of the forest, and this place glowed, and I was afraid— The Krawk stops your words with the raise of a hand. Not knowing whether to fight or flee, you compromise by doing nothing. Come, sit with me, she says, her voice considerably less intimidating. Gesturing with the other hand towards a silver bench that you hadn't noticed before, she seats you down on it before sitting down herself.
Allow me to tell you a bit about myself, she says. You have no cause to rush, as the next ferry is in hours, so you settle down and listen as she begins to talk.
After hearing such a description, you are filled with curiosity as to the history of Moonanise, or Nan, as she tells you to call her. What sort of creature would live so deep in the forest? How could she change her appearance based on mood alone? Why was she here in the first place, when her place was obviously in the sky?
Anticipating your questions, Nan smiles, baring small teeth as silver as the rest of her. Well, I shall tell it to you straight, she says. Raising her head slightly, she whispers something, before saying it again louder. I am the spirit of the Moon, she says. Kreludor? you ask in surprise. Nan seems to grow larger with rage. Of course not! she cries. Those bumbling Grundos and that fool Sloth only managed to get onto the moon because I wasn't there. And now look. They're polluting the space with toxins, clouding up the surface, and even drilling into the moon.
So then… if you're so, well, passionate about the state of the moon, why aren't you stopping it? you mutter under your breath, not meaning for her to hear you. She does, however, and seems to bow her head in sadness, before straightening again, eyes burning with a raw anger that went deeper than even her fury at the exploitation of Kreludor. Parpillon, she growls, with so much venom in her voice that you can't help but feel sorry for whoever Parpillon happens to be. The next two words from Nan surprise you. My sister. You are about to make an exclamation, but decide not to. Nan keeps talking, seeming to forget your existence in her emotion.
Long ago, thousands of years ago, we were both sky-spirits, spirits of the celestial bodies that surrounded Neopia. I was a moon-spirit, and she—Parpillon—was one of the star-spirits.
The star-spirits were never as powerful as me, she adds, scorn in her voice. I shone brighter than them all. The sun was not a spirit, of course, but rather a group of thousands. We were all here since the dawn of the universe, long before the Neopets came. Before that, life was dull; sleep when the sun-spirits were in the sky, then shine again when our turn came. When this— she gestured around at the world in general—formed, we had something to watch.
At first, the people were kind and gentle, never taking more than their fair share, and always looking out for each other. After a while, though, the first sin was committed. I still remember it, vaguely. Something about a stolen fruit… No matter. After that, the crimes abounded. More and more people saw, and more and more grew to be even worse than the first. The world was not the same place it had been, and will never again be as peaceful as that time long ago.
We watched this all from our lofty perches high in the sky. None of the creatures below knew of our existence, and we liked it that way. We would survey the doings of the people below, and note how each day they were different. Few of us cared much, though. It was just a way to pass the long hours between night and day.
Parpillon cared, though. She wanted to go down, to renounce her magic and her immortality, to help those below. She wanted me to go with her... Many a day did she spend pleading me to come with her, until finally, I agreed. I did not want to leave my moon, the home that I had guarded for millennia, but I did not want to leave my sister either.
And so, we abandoned our homes and forsook our immortality, and set off into the mortal world. For many years, we traveled the earth, bringing peace and solace as best we could. Her determination never ended; there was always something she could do to help those in pain. I, however... I grew tired of healing people's pains, of never living my own life. When we stopped at this clearing to rest, I stayed. She went on without me, and so I have existed here ever since.
After hearing Nan's story, you feel as if you comprehend a part of her being that you never would have guessed at before. However, there is still something that you don't understand. The flowers...? you ask. The two words hang in the air for a long time before Nan answers.
When we first came here, this was just a meadow of ordinary flowers. I tended the flowers, and as I cared for them, some of the essence of the moon went into them. For, like my sister, I had never relinquished all of my powers. We have been intertwined with our celestial forms for so long that it would be impossible.
The essence of the moon is within these flowers. The essence of the moon is also within me. As long as these flowers continue to exist, I shall stay alive. When they are all wiped out, I will fade from this realm and pass into the eternal void.
You have another question. What about your sister? Does she still have all of her essence?
Nan's answer is a silent nod towards a flower blooming in the center of the field. Knowing the significance of these flowers, you take careful steps as you make your way towards the center. There, you find a single star-petaled flower, taller than all around it, with a smell distinctly different from the moon-flowers around it, but still the same underlying scent. Star anise, you think. Moon anise, star anise, so different, yet the same underneath… just like the two sisters. Moon and star, shining in the sky, walking the earth.
You stumble, and are broken out of your reverie. Looking down, you find that the object that caught your foot is in fact a small book of some sort. Picking it up, you dust it off and see two faint words scratched on the cover: Nan's Diary. You glance over at Nan, but she seems to have forgotten your existence and is instead gazing into the sky, at what you do not know. Overcome with curiosity, you open the book.
21 Star Cycle 3, 1092 S.A.
I'm so excited! Today, the Elders will allow us to find our celestials, the planets or stars that we will be guardians of. Parpi is as hyper as usual, but I'm trying to keep it in. Our own celestials! I hope I get a planet. I heard that stars are boring, "big flaming balls of gas", they called them. They're calling us for the quests now. I'll be gone for a quarter-cycle at least. I can't believe this is happening!
14 Star Cycle 5, 1092 S.A.
Near the end of the diary, you see a page that looks like a cast of characters of sort.
You turn the last page and are startled to see a sheaf of papers. They look to be photographs. You begin to flip through them.
So, are you quite done at looking at my diary? Nan's voice is steely, and she doesn't look happy at all. She hands you a map and says in a brusque tone, The night is past. The ferries are leaving now. I think you'd best be going. You look up and find that the sun is rising. You hadn't noticed, so absorbed were you in your reading. Afraid of the moon spirit's anger, you bid a hasty farewell and turn to leave.
Before you take a step, Nan stops you again. It gets lonely here sometimes. Take this flower, and if you ever feel a need to come back, just hold it and think of the moon.
She presses a moon anise blossom into your hand, and walks away without a backward glance, seeming to fade into the forest behind.
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