Kiara hesitated, faltered and opened her paw, revealing
the Talent Orb. Flye smiled grimly.
"How will we do it?" Kiara asked.
The words rose unbidden from deep inside Flye.
"We must join together, for only one can control the Orb. To defeat the Orb,
we must become two again."
Kiara looked quizzically at him. Flye lost
"Don't play stupid, Kiara. You know that our
friendship is breaking - we're moving apart from each other. Merge with me now
and then we won't have to be together for much longer."
Kiara bowed her head and placed her paw with
Flye's on top of the orb.
"It's not working!" cried Flye.
He looked up and saw Kiara's eyes were filled
with tears. He took a deep breath.
"I'm sorry, Kiara. I didn't mean to sound
so harsh; I just want you to realise we're becoming different people and we
cannot be friends after this." Kiara nodded and closed her eyes. Flye felt the
world swirl and opened his eyes. He was floating without form in an empty world.
"Kiara?" he called.
"Here," a voice replied from somewhere around
"We have to join now."
Flye felt himself drawn inwards and being taken
into a different form. Kiara too was there: the experience of soul sharing was
unique and wonderful. They bonded to become a complete being. There was a moment
when the being hung by a thread, about to fall apart, but they pulled through.
They were a strong, complete being, contained within the Orb.
Flye and Kiara rejoiced in the body - the senses
were more acute and each step felt like a new miracle. The intensity of the
world around them, invisible but brushing tantalisingly against their fingertips,
just beyond reach. It was like being enclosed in a warm colourful bubble, free
from worries or cares, feeling but not having to think.
But they calmed down from the exhilaration
of the new form and saw clearly around them the souls of others within the Orb.
"Those who seek to master it are in turn enslaved."
The Thieves were here, all three. Lord Tanqueroy
too floated in the Orb. They tried to reach them, but they were worlds away.
"Leave them, we must complete our task."
They turned away, searching for what they would
know only when found.
"Here!" they called unanimously.
It was a large pulsating glow, the heart of
the Orb. It changed colours rapidly but was streaked through with black. They
bowed their heads and stepped into it.
"What do you seek? I offer the Talent of Neopia
to you." The Orb delivered its words straight to their minds.
"I absorb it from others and humbly offer
it to my master."
"That is you."
For a second, Flye felt Kiara begin to tear
away from their united body. He held her in with the force of his mind. A few
more minutes and the Orb would be destroyed.
"We are not your masters..." Flye felt the plural
creep in, treacherously ripping at their sole being.
"...." They could not speak as an intense
pain seared through them, severing ties that had held them fast, ripping them
apart. They opened their mouths to scream but could not. The idyllic world had
gone and they were falling...
Flye woke a little before Kiara. He crawled
over to where the Talent Orb had lain on Kiara's paw. The Orb had gone, leaving
behind only two small necklaces. With a painful beat of his heart, Flye knew
they were no longer friends. He took his necklace and crept out.
Years later, he would see Kiara again, at balls
or functions. She had married Lord Tanqueroy and was now officially the richest
female pet in Neopia. He was still plain Blue, but now with a small heart marking
on his forehead. In his eyes, this made him unique without the need for painting.
Flye also wore his necklace and his heart still ached when he saw that Kiara
wore hers too. They had separated, gone different ways, but they were still
joined in their pasts and even the Orb could not destroy that. He did not weep
for what once was...their friendship was gone beyond repair. But he had saved
Neopia, in a way that did not constitute battling anything else than what was
inside himself. Sometimes it only takes a couple of pets to make a difference....
It had taken two "outsider" Neopets to show the Aisha Thieves how corrupt
their Code had become. The Thieves still honoured the pets for their sacrifice
and began to change their ancient systems. They retreated more from Neopia,
learning about themselves too.
Sometimes, to change the world does not take
a hero; it just takes a little courage and a strong friendship.
Yes, expect to see yet more Aisha stories. This series was harder to write
but introduced more concepts - of how heroes can be ordinary, and are never perfect
and how a happy ending can be tinged with sadness. Through Flye and Kiara's sacrifice,
Neopia remains full of individuality and talent. Don't waste it. Thanks go to
Scriptfox, NTAG and all the people at the NT writers' forum.